Sunday Special – Gastronomy of Lyon, France


Today we’re taking a difference angle on a place. We will head in with our taste buds to learn a bit of why the French city of Lyon has been known as the world’s Food Capital for well over eighty years.

I have of course heard of Lyon many a time but was never aware that it is a haven for foodies, even more so than Paris. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. It was only several months ago that I learned of it rich food history. I have to admit that doing research on this famed food city has my mouth watering! Although it was in 1935 that noted food critic and author Curnonsky bestowed this city as the “world capital of gastronomy” it was already a hub of culinary sensations. Back in the 1500s , Catherine de Medici brought cooks from Florence and they changed the food landscape by using local and regional produce and agriculture in new and ingenious ways. As time went on the foods of the area grew in popularity. Moving to the nineteenth century saw the rise of middle-class women going out work as cooks, providing their own special touches to the dishes they created. The food scene has continued to grow even through modern times. It’s not a wonder that Curnosky gave Lyon this title.

A local Lyon Bouchon – Photo credit:
No machine-readable author provided. Stevage assumed (based on copyright claims)., Bouchon leTablierCC BY-SA 2.5

Today Lyon boasts over 4,300 hundred restaurants that range from cozy “bouchons” (serving traditional Lyonnais foods) to 14 Michelin starred restaurants. That means it has more restaurants per inhabitant than any other place in France. The food scene is alive and well here. Home to many of the world’s top chefs, availability of high quality foods, impeccible regional wineries, and SIRHA (the world’s largest international food and hospitality event) are some of the main reason’s this city is known for its food. I think I need to go there now!

Cheese shop at Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse Markets in Lyon, France. Photo credit:
© Benoît Prieur / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0Image de Lyon 3e en mai 2017 (8)CC BY-SA 4.0

Food is a way of life in Lyon, France – Photo credit:
Jean Housen20151107 lyon076CC BY-SA 4.0
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Sunday Special – The Alhambra, Granada, Spain


In the Andalusian city of Granada you can see the stately Alhambra, a red-brick fortress and former residence of kings standing on the rocky hillside overlooking the River Darro.  It’s name in Arabic, qa’lat al-Hamra, translates as The Red Castle, reflecting the colour of the fortress.  Considered one of the finest examples of Muslim architecture in all of Spain it  is not a surprise that it is one of the most visited places in the country.  The history surrounding this complex spans centuries. Historical records indicate that it was built in the 9th century CE as a minor military fortress though its illustrious history truly began when it was rebuilt in the 13th century and a royal residence was constructed by the Nasrids. Reconstruction the oldest part of the complex (the Alcazaba) took place along with additions of towers and ramparts. Through the centuries it became a citadel with the adding of courts, royal palaces, a medina, army barracks, gardens, and more. It grew in size and splendour.  Later constructions were in the Renaissance style, during the time when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella held court there. In the early 1500s Charles V tore down and began building a new palace that bears his name.  Time went on and the fortress was eventually abandoned through the 1800s and even Napolean had a hand in the destruction of a portion of this incredible complex. Seemingly lost, Alhambra was found again in the 1900s. Extensive restoration of the complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1984 has given life once again to the is fine example of Moorish design. 

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Inside a Nasrid Palace in Alhambra – Photo credit: Ronny SiegelAlhambra in Granada 011CC BY-SA 4.0

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Alhambra at night – Granda, Spain – Photo credit: Javier rodriguez jimenez037 (2)fotofrafia nocturna del patio de los leonesCC BY-SA 4.0

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Alcazaba portion of Alhambra, Spain – Photo JebulonAlcazaba, Alhambra, Granada, SpainCC0 1.0

 

Sunday Special – Bergen, Norway


A good friend of mine is travelling through Scandinavia and is enjoying herself very much. She has been sending me and our friends photos and videos of all the places she has visited, which I have to say I love seeing. One her favourite places so far is Bergen, Norway. So I thought I would post about it today. Let’s take a look!

Situated on the southwest coast of Norway, Bergen is its second largest city and sits on the Bergen Peninsula (Bergenshalvøyen in the Norse language). Historically it has played an important role as an administrative capital in the 1200s CE and been a key player in maritime trade and shipping well into the 1800s CE. Today it still boasts various industries including shipping, petroleum, tourism, and subsea technology in addition to being a hub for education, finance, and culture. Set in the backdrop of awe-inspiring nature this city has much to offer. 

  • Fjords – With 1,190 fjords in Norway it would make sense to take in the beauty they offer. Bergen is a natural stop to start exploring some of these amazing inlets in various ways. Bergen is only one of many stops along the ‘fjord route’. Many day cruises, trains, hiking trails, and kayaking options are in the general area.
  • Bryggen – This wharf along the harbour of Bergen is an important historical trade area and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original buildings were built in the 1300s and repeatedly rebuilt after destruction due to fire, each time keeping meticulous care to the same building techniques as the original buildings. Today you see the buildings that have stood since 1702 CE.
  • Fløibanen Funicular – Spectacular vistas can be taken in at the top of Mount Fløyen. And to get there take this funicular all the way to the top. Not only does it have a great view it is a wonderful starting point for walks and hikes in the area. Additionally there is a restaurant and a fun children’s playground.
  • Bergen Fish Market (Fisketorget) – A part of Bergen since the 1200s it now has both an outdoor market (May – Aug) and indoor market (open year round). Its original location was in Bryggen but was moved in the 1556 to its current location and in later centuries buildings were constructed around it.
  • Museums – Bergen is home to a number of different museums. Some of them are the Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene; West Norway Museum of Decorative Art; the Norwegian Fisheries Museum; University Museum of Bergen (with various collections); and the Edvard Greig Museum Troldhaugen (former home of the composer).
  • Bergenhus Fortress – This fortress is home to building dating as far back as the 1200s and as recently as post WW II. The castle is the one of the best preserved stone structures in Norway.

These are only some of the many ways to take in this Norwegian city of history, nature, and culture. My friend is have a great time and the photos she has shared certainly show how pretty Bergen is and that there is always some event happening.

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Bryggen, Bergan (Norway), UNESCO World Heritage Site – Photo credit: giggel, 2010-08-06 – Bergen – Bryggen – Kontore der Hanse-Kaufleute – panoramioCC BY 3.0

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Fjords of Norway – Photo credit: The original uploader was Eltouristo at French Wikipedia., FjordCC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special – Aegadian Islands, Sicily (Italy)


I am intrigued by many islands in this world. Islands can be a fascinating microcosm of life and that often draws my attention. There a thousands of islands in the world of every size and shape. The largest being Greenland and the smallest….well, there seems to be a few claims so I’ll just leave it at that. Today we’ll look at a group of small islands off the coast of a larger island. The Aegadian (or Egadian) Islands lie in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Sicily’s northwest shores. The three main islands of Favignana, Levanzo, Marettimo and the the two small islands of Formica and Maraone total 37 sq km / 14 sq miles in size. Although not as well known as other Italian islands they do have a historic significance. Age-old cave paintings dating back to the neolithic and paleolithic periods can be found in Levanzo’s Grotta del Genovese. These islands also saw the end of the First Punic War after Romans defeated the Carthaginian fleet in 241 BCE in their very presence. Today the islands mainly attract Sicilians and some tourists looking for beaches, birding, scuba diving and snorkelling, hiking, and fishing. Easily accessible by ferry from Sicily’s city of Trapani or Marsala (Favignana only) you can day-trip or spend a few nights. One can even island hop via the ferry services. An interesting island adventure awaits.

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Levanzo coastline – Aegadian Islands, Sicily (Italy) – Photo credit: Robert Vassallo, Levanzo island – panoramioCC BY-SA 3.0

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Church interior on Favignana Island, Aegadian Islands – Photo credit: Tommie Hansen, Church at Favignana Island, Sicily (Italy) – panoramioCC BY 3.0

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The waters around Favignana, Aegadian Islands, Sicily – Photo credit: René Bongard, Crystal clear water at Favignana – panoramioCC BY-SA 3.0