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Swimming with Dolphins

December 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features

There is luxury and there is luxury done right. Grand Velas Riviera Maya represents the latter. An All Inclusive resort on the turquoise waters of Playa Del Carmen in Mexico, Grand Velas combines oceanfront suites and a beautifully manicured property with several delectable restaurants including Cocina de Autor and Frida.
grand-velas-riviera-maya grand-velas-riveria-maya-resort Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Mexico © Gennaro Salamone

While such a beautiful resort has everything you need for a short or lengthy stay in Mexico, there are also lots of fun activities for couples or families that are available off grounds. One that we sampled was swimming with dolphins. If you’re planning a trip to Playa Del Carmen, a stay at Grand Velas can be combined with this or other activities. See their dolphins package for more information.

dolphins-swim-mexico Swimming with Dolphins in Mexico

We arrived at Dolphin Discovery on a cloudy day. Perfect afternoon for an excursion. The leader of the program was a charismatic man who clearly loved working with dolphins, Remón and Diana. The small group started with a dolphin kiss and hand shake. The latter felt more like a dance.
dolphin-kiss-mexico Dolphin Kiss in Mexico

After that introduction to Remón and Diana, each member of the group had an opportunity to swim with the two dolphins. The swim is exciting and quick. While you might have a few nerves as they take off, it is a safe experience that you’ll want to do again.

dolphin-tricks-mexico

In addition to the dolphin swim, participants get to partake in some dolphin tricks including playing with a ball and a dolphin jump. We were also treated to holding a manatee and a brief swim near sting rays and sharks in a separate area. Be aware that cameras are not allowed. There will, however, be a photographer taking photos that will later be available for purchase.

The dolphin encounter involves quite a few activities and a significant time with the animals. It will be nice to get back to Grand Velas with their friendly and attentive service afterwards. A relaxing seat on the beach or a drink at the swim-up pool bar is highly recommended.

This stay at Grand Velas was courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Maya. The dolphin encounter was courtesy of Dolphin Discovery. The content and opinions in the article are those of the author.

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gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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How to Travel with Kids

October 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features

Traveling with kids can be fun, but challenging. Jia Chang offers tips for getting your children to be excited for your next trip along with lessons on how to travel with kids without too much stress.

Watch travel-related movies and read books set in foreign locations

Picking the right book or movie is a great way to get your kids interested in a particular location. Presenting a trip to Great Britain as a chance to explore some Harry Potter sites will be a lot more effective than focusing on Big Ben. Some other ideas are watching The Lion King before an African safari, Finding Nemo before a snorkeling trip to the Caribbean, and The Lord of the Rings for New Zealand sojourn.

Introduce foods by country

The dinner table is a great place to teach your kids about the rest of the world. Select at least one day a week for international or regional night. An upcoming trip to New Orleans means gumbo or beignets. A vacation to Italy means pizza or their favorite pasta. A hop over to Paris means sweet macarons. Trying different food at home will get your kids’ palate familiar with eating various meals. This makes it more likely that burgers and fries aren’t the only thing they’ll eat abroad.
miniature-macarons Miniature Macarons © Stephanie Kilgast

Pick the right museums

There is no reason to skip a viewing of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre or The Starry Night at MoMa, but don’t expect your kids to be too excited by either. Consider a few museums like the American Museum of Natural History with its dinosaur collection, the National Air and Space Museum with its focus on aviation, or the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. The latter encourages kids to touch and interact with their collections.

Animals!

Select locations that give your kids an opportunity to interact with wildlife. A few ideas are to go snorkeling off the coast of Honduras in the Bay Islands with its crystal blue waters and lots of aquatic life, visiting towns with petting zoos or animal sanctuaries, riding an elephant in Thailand or India, or getting up close and personal with the inhabitants of Tiger Island in Australia.
long-island-game-park Giraffe © Gennaro Salamone

Visit natural wonders

Adults are not the only ones who are captivated by the natural beauty of the planet. Kids are more likely to appreciate a Grand Canyon rafting tour, viewing lions and cheetahs at the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya, or the lava flow of the volcanoes of Costa Rica with howler monkeys yelling in the background than visiting a big city that focuses on art galleries and upscale restaurants.

Let your kids bring a friend (especially teenagers)

Most of your traveling will be during school breaks. Most kids would prefer to hang out with their friends rather than travel to another country. This is especially true for teenagers. Consider taking one of their friends along for the trip. There are definite issues that arise ranging from cost to concern over the safety of someone’s child, but nothing can ruin a vacation more than a kid who misses their buds.

Editor’s note: This post contains affiliate links.
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gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgJia Chang is a travel and food writer. She enjoys wandering the globe with her husband and two children. Jia’s favorite places to travel include Western Australia, Central America, and France.

 

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Kabul Street Eats

September 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features, Food

Faghat seyr mikonam. For the adventurous eater venturing into Kabul’s street food scene, these three Dari words, which roughly translates to “I’m just looking,” are key. To stroll by Kabul’s food stalls is to run a gauntlet of aggressive vendors, stepping into your path and thrusting samples at you. However, the reward for wading into this chaotic scene is to foray into the varied cuisine of Afghanistan.

Follow Scott Ruddick’s tour of the Kabul food stalls:

To the outside world, Kabul has become synonymous with the strife and conflict afflicting the whole of Afghanistan. Yet beyond the headlines, the capital city is a vibrant community of three million people with a thriving street food scene.

The influx of foreigners and money since the fall of the Taliban has gradually transformed the Kabul restaurant landscape. Enterprising street chefs, tabang wallahs in the local parlance, serve up a variety of local cuisine.
street-stalls-kabul Kabul Food Stall © Scott Ruddick

Kabul’s food stalls are unassuming. They are often no more than a tin roof held up by a rough-hewn wood timber frame covering a cooking area. Electrical connections to run refrigeration are nonexistent and supplies are kept in coolers, lugged back and forth from the homes of the stall staff every day.

The best stalls are found around Shahr-e Naw Park, a large park in central Kabul that is popular with the locals for pick-up soccer matches and Friday bird fights. The stalls are clustered together along the wide sidewalks. In keeping with the business model of successful street food vendors everywhere, each stall will specialize in one or two food types, and build their business by offering a consistent, quality product at a reasonable price.
mantu-vendor kabob Mantu vendor and Kabob © Scott Ruddick

Each dish costs between 50 and 100 Afghanis ($1.25 and $2.50 USD). Busy times are lunch, the main meal in Afghanistan, when office workers and laborers are on the prowl for a cheap meal, and again in late afternoon as workers head home, and stop to pick up takeout for the evening meal.

Kabul’s street food stalls are both a cheaper alternative to more expensive sit-down restaurants and a respite from the heavy fare of traditional Afghan household cooking. A typical Afghan meal is centered on rice. Qabeli Palau or basmati rice with chopped carrots and raisins and pieces of meat is often the centerpiece, served with flat bread. While a well-done palau is a wonderful meal, the sheer ubiquitousness of it drives Afghanis and ex pats when they have been in country long enough to seek out different fare. The tabang wallahs are only too pleased to fill this void in the Afghan diet.

Kabob is the preferred takeout food for Kabul’s denizens meaning open-air kabob shops are to be found in every part of Kabul. Kabobs consist of lightly seasoned mutton, lamb, beef or chicken skewered on rough iron spikes then broiled over glowing charcoal. The kabob meat is wrapped in naan, a leavened bread that is baked by being slapped against the inner wall of a clay oven, which is in turn wrapped in old newspaper. The experienced kabob eater knows that naan serves as both a plate and an accompaniment. The rough side of the bread is always placed facing up with the meat piled on top of it. Chunks of the bread are ripped off and used to scoop up the meat. A typical mid-sized kabob stall will serve 110 pounds of meat a week.
boloni Boloni © Scott Ruddick

Other tabang wallahs serve up steaming plates of delicately spiced raviolis. Indigenous to northern Afghanistan, mantu (stuffed with minced meat) and ashok (filled with leeks) are steamed over large open-air pots and served with a tangy yogurt sauce.

Boloni or stuffed pancakes filled with either shaved potato and onion (sabzi) or squash (kadu) are deep-fried in bubbling cauldrons of oil.

The carb-heavy Afghan burger, a recent Kabul concoction, is a favorite with the city’s teenage boys. It is common to see groups of them gathered on street corners, devouring the local meal of a spiced ground beef patty with a smattering of onions, tomato, and lettuce that is wrapped in a pita-like bread along with a side of French fries jammed into the sides.

Shor nakhod or stewed chickpeas are served on large plates with an accompanying mint sauce, which serves as either an accompaniment or a stand-alone meal.
doogh-vendor Doogh stall © Scott Ruddick

Whatever your choice of entrée, wash it down with doogh, which is a carbonated yogurt drink seasoned with salt and mint.

A typical Afghan food stall will open late morning, and close around dusk Sunday to Thursday. This schedule is reversed during the religious month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. During this 30-day period, the stalls will open for iftar, the fast-breaking meal that takes place at sunset, and close at around sunrise, when the last meal before the dawn-induced fast begins.

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Scott RuddickScott Ruddick is an international development specialist and a freelance writer who focuses on the developing world. Learn more about Scott on his website.

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5 Great Reasons to Visit Japan

August 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features

Japan has had a tough time of it recently, to say the least. When it was struck in March by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, and in the following weeks had a potential nuclear catastrophe to contend with as well, things looked desperate. But the Japanese people have handled the disaster with exemplary stoicism, and the good news is that tourism is now picking up again. In no particular order, here are five great reasons to go on holiday to Japan according to Rachel McCombie:

The food

Japan may be famous for its sushi, but that’s by no means the only dish you’ll have the chance to try on your trip. Whether you choose to play safe with a delicious bowl of noodles, or brave something more outlandish such as the famed puffer fish, you’re sure to come away from Japan with a host of new favorite foods. You’re also likely to notice the very Japanese custom of restaurants displaying plastic food in their windows to show you what’s on offer – a surprisingly convenient way of ordering food if you don’t speak Japanese!
miniature-sushi Miniature Sushi © Stephanie Kilgast

The culture

Japan’s captivating culture makes for an enriching experience even for the casual tourist, but those with the curiosity to delve deeper will be even more greatly rewarded. Japan has a highly refined and ceremonious culture, and is perhaps most famous for its tea ceremony and enigmatic Geisha. It also has a wealth of stunning temples, with 2,000 in Kyoto alone, while tranquil gardens with meticulously laid out vegetation and paths provide welcome respite from the frenetic pace of the major cities. You’ll even be able to see fascinating and well-preserved castles and samurai quarters, which have survived the centuries to see huge modern cities grow up around them.

The cherry blossom

Early April sees the arrival of the cherry blossom or sakura season in Japan, a glorious natural spectacle and the subject of much celebration in Japanese culture. This wonderful event makes April arguably the best time of year to visit Japan, as the clouds of pink blossom make the temples and gardens even more photogenic than usual. You’ll see people having picnics under the cherry trees to celebrate the blossom, creating a lively and jubilant atmosphere that will be the icing on the cake for your visit to Japan.
mt-fuji-sakura tokyo-metro-woman Mt. Fuji and sakura © Tanaka Juuyoh and Woman waiting for the train © John B. Mueller

The trains

Public transport might sound like an odd reason to visit a country, but Japan is famous for its trains. With an efficiency that puts other railways to shame, the Japanese rail network is highly refined and punctual to the second. Its pristine bullet trains – known in Japanese as Shinkansen – are capable of speeds in excess of 180 miles per hour, making travel between Japan’s major cities both easily manageable and comfortable. A recommended journey for your Japan holiday is a trip from Tokyo to Kyoto by bullet train, a stretch of which offers stunning close-up views of Japan’s iconic volcano, the snow-capped Mount Fuji (providing it’s not too cloudy!).

The landscapes and cityscapes

For many people, the image that immediately springs to mind in conjunction with Japan is skyscrapers, bright neon lights and cutting edge technology. In the bustling capital city of Tokyo this is certainly true, but there’s a lot more to Japan than its urban landscapes. The stunning spectacle of Mount Fuji has already been mentioned, as have Japan’s many temples and gardens, but further afield the scenery turns to magnificent rugged mountains – an ideal destination all year round, whether for summer hiking or winter skiing.

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Rachel McCombieRachel McCombie is better known for her Rachel’s Rome Writings blog, but has traveled to and written about other countries as well. She went on a trip to Japan a couple of years ago and has been an avid enthusiast of Japanese culture ever since.

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Candy Bar Cupcakes

August 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features, Food

Nothing says Americana like candy bar cupcakes. It is the merging of a traditional American love dating back to 1900 and the Hershey bar and a newer sensation that has taken off in the last decade. Enjoy this photographic journey into the world of Melissa Gerber’s candy bar cupcakes:

A Snickers cupcake featuring rich chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, topped in Snickers candy bar bits and drizzled in chocolate.
snickers-cupcake Snickers Cupcake © Melissa Gerber

A minty chocolate cupcake featuring delectable chocolate cake, mint icing, and an Andes Mint with its mint-green layer sandwiched in between two chocolate layers.
minty-chocolate-andes-cupcake Minty Chocolate Cupcake with Andes Mint © Melissa Gerber

A colorful classic M&M’s cupcake with flavorful vanilla cake and chocolate frosting.
classic-mm-cupcake A Classic M&M’s Cupcake © Melissa Gerber

A S’mores Cupcake featuring rich chocolate cake, topped with graham cracker frosting, mini marshmallows and a Hershey bar piece, with chocolate drizzled over top.
smores-chocolate-cake-graham-cracker-filling-hershey-bar-chocolate-drizzled S’mores Cupcake with Hershey bar © Melissa Gerber

Rich chocolate cake filled and iced with peanut butter frosting, topped with Reese’s Pieces.
reeses-pieces-peanut-butter-frosting-cupcake Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cupcake © Melissa Gerber

Read about the best chocolate in NYC.
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melissa-gerber.jpgMelissa Gerber creates homemade specialty cupcakes and cheesecake pops to order in the Wilmington, Delaware area. Visit Melissa’s Cupcakery on Facebook for contact details and to “like” her work. Melissa is also an experienced freelance graphic designer. Find her portfolio here.

 

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8 Funny Travel Books

June 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features, Travel Gear

There is nothing better than finding a reason to laugh on the road. The following eight books are some of the funniest travel books ever written. The list includes something for every sense of humor and range from the Victorian period to the present day.

1. The Innocents Abroad (Mark Twain)

The Innocents Abroad was Mark Twain’s witty account of a grand tour of Europe and the Holy Land with a group of travelers in the 1860s. Unlike his better known masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s travel book is based on true events. Twain provides humorous and controversial observations about the people he encounters at each of the locations including Italy, France, and the Holy Land. In addition, Twain gives interesting insights into the human condition. He also pokes fun at elitism.

2. In a Sunburned Country (Bill Bryson)

Bill Bryson is one of the funnier modern-day travel writers. He manages to bring humor to his readers with a combination wit and thoughtful observations. In a Sunburned Country is one of the rare books that manages to poke fun at a country [Australia] and honor it as a great destination at the same time. Bryson’s run-ins with dangerous local animals and take on Australian rules football were particularly funny.
julie-falk-badlands Badlands National Park, South Dakota Badlands, South Dakota © Julie Falk

3. Holidays in Hell: In Which Our Intrepid Reporter Travels to the World’s Worst Places and Asks, What’s Funny About This (P. J. O’Rourke)

Holidays in Hell follows the travels of P. J. O’Rourke to what he believes are the hellholes around the globe. Unlike Bryson, O’Rourke’s observations are harsh and won’t win him any friends in the countries he wrote about. If political and cultural opinions given in a no-holds-barred manner work for you — this travelogue will have you either laughing or steaming. Note that it was written in the 1980s so some of the material is dated.

4. Travels with Alice (Calvin Trillin)

Travels with Alice is one of the funnier travel book you’ve never heard of. While Trillin is a well-known humorist, this gem is his only foray into the travel genre. The book consists of fifteen essays that follow Trillin and his family as they travel in search of the elusive treasures of Europe and the Caribbean. It provides funny insights into traveling with family along with unique observations about each location. The Gelati Fever chapter was a favorite in the book.

5. The Clumsiest People in Europe (Todd Pruzan)

The Clumsiest People in Europe is more about laughing at the author and the time period than chuckling about the cultural slurs that are tossed around in this Victorian period children’s guide to the world by Favell Lee Mortimer. No country or group of people escaped the nastiness of Mrs. Mortimer from the French and Portuguese to the Australians and South Africans. Makes one happy to be living in the 21st century.
Waiting at 34th Street New York City subway © Jens Schott Knudsen

6. There’s No Toilet Paper on the Road Less Traveled (Doug Lansky, Editor)

The only collection on this list of funny travel books, There’s No Toilet Paper. . .on the Road Less Traveled is a nice way to gauge which writers give you belly laughs. The short stories range from Failing to Learn Japanese in Only Five Minutes to The Art of Riding a Third World Bus. Most of the stories are light hearted and focus on the mishaps of each writer verses culture judgements. The tale about getting locked in a Dutch bathroom is priceless.

7. Westward Ha! (S. J. Perelman)

Westward Ha! is a humorous jaunt around the world taken by S. J. Perelman (wrote for The New Yorker) and caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. Perelman’s command of the English syntax is astonishing and the addition of Hirschfeld’s art will have you smirking throughout.

8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)

Far from a traditional travel guide, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is considered to be the funniest science fiction book ever written. Penned by Douglas Adams, this adventure follows Arthur Dent, an average British citizen, on a myriad of space adventures. Travelers will get a kick out of the crazy and thought-provoking situations that Dent finds himself in throughout the book. Too bad we can’t all put a Babel fish in our ear to allow the brain to understand every language in the universe.

Editor’s note: This post contains affiliate links.

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gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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Study Abroad: An Inside Look

February 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features

Dr. Craig ‘Kwesi’ Brookins is an Associate Professor of Psychology at NC State University. He also leads a series of study abroad programs to various parts of Africa. This interview with Dr. Brookins provides insight into studying abroad through the eyes of a program director. [Editor’s note: I was a participant in a 1999 study abroad program to Ghana, which was led by Dr. Brookins]

What recommendations would you give for a student contemplating a study abroad program in West Africa (Ghana, Togo, Benin)?

Dr. Brookins: It is amazing to me that most students don’t have a passport so that would be the first thing to do regardless of when and where one ends up traveling. For West Africa, read up on the people, the culture and the politics. Learn about the past and present connections between West Africans and the United States. From the history of enslavement to current economic and cultural relationships. Travel with a program or university that has a successful track record in the country. The best thing you can do is to talk with students who have previously traveled with the program you are considering.

Why did you get involved in the program? Have your motivations been satisfied?

Dr. Brookins: My first trip to Africa was as a graduate student on a Kiswahili language study abroad program to Kenya in 1983. I got the bug, wanted to travel every year to the continent but did not make it back again until 1994 after I had completed graduate school. I learned from that initial experience how study abroad changes lives. It humbles you, educates you, opens your eyes, and motivates you to want to do more with your life than you even realized was possible. We started our study abroad programs at NC State University in 1997 to provide that experience for students.  We have operated two to four programs annually to various parts of the continent since that time.  You can find more information about these programs at this website.
elmina-slave-castle Study abroad group at Elmina Castle © Gennaro Salamone

What was your favorite and least favorite experience in relation to leading a study abroad group?

Dr. Brookins: The first two weeks are always the least favorite as that is the time when many students (thankfully not all) have a difficult time pulling themselves out of their American selves. These days students are constantly plugged into technology to the point where I like to say they are uncomfortable and afraid of being in their own head. They’ve got their mp3s and cell phones with earphones and laptops and constantly in need of texting, tweeting and facebooking. So much so that they don’t initially realize they are in a really different place although it often times looks the same.

Nevertheless, my favorite part of every experience is in seeing students grow out of all of this, often to the point of not wanting to re-engage themselves in the American pace of life. Hopefully with all of this they have also gained a greater appreciation for the “other” in the world and in the process themselves.

How do locals perceive American students studying in their country?

Dr. Brookins: With the likely exception of those places where Americans are seen as occupiers, we are the most well known and often well liked people around the globe.  Indeed, the ubiquitousness of American culture causes other people to know us better than we know ourselves. Americans are also seen as privileged, often arrogant, and possessing of disposable cash. Some will want to take advantage of that but most people just want to make an authentic connection and learn about the real America. Students fit into most of this but American students often don’t take the opportunity to learn from the people and places as much as they should. American arrogance, however, is often put in check either directly or by virtue of being humbled by the experiences.
ghana-school School for street kids in Ghana © Gennaro Salamone

Do you see a significant change in students from the start to the end of the program? Explain.

Dr. Brookins: Absolutely. In the ways mentioned above, and, by the sheer fact that students slow down. They slow their thinking and reacting. Their perceived need for immediate gratification is changed as well. Students gain a perspective on the world that becomes more genuinely inclusive of other people because they have made a human connection with those people. Because students resist this for so long these changes continue to mostly occur after returning to the US.

What were the most significant changes that you’ve made from the early programs to the new ones?

Dr. Brookins: In Ghana we’ve always had home stays and according to the students they have always been the most beneficial part of the experience. Not all programs do that so the “change” has been not to make that change. In addition to West Africa (Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria) we’ve been to East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania), and Southern Africa (Botswana, Namibia and South Africa). Each program is different and, for instance, some of the programs have not provided the opportunity for staying with host families. What we’ve learned is that it is importance that each experience emphasizes making authentic and extended connections with the local people and culture, teaching about that, and placing the experience in contrast to the US experience and the future for development for the host country.

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gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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How to Make Homemade Wine

October 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features, Food

The winemaking process is uncomplicated, but it requires several steps and a lot of patience. Together with that, making homemade wine requires a few days of labor and months of fermentation in order for the wine to be ready for consumption. While there are slight variations to the process, this is a time-tested method that was learned through my father. It comes from a long tradition of Italian winemakers from a small mountain town in Italy. That knowledge was later brought to the United States.

Step-by-Step Process: How to Make Homemade Wine

Step One: Gathering the Equipment

Purchasing the right equipment is the first step to making homemade wine. It requires:

An initial fermentation container that is big enough to hold your crushed grapes. It needs to be a high quality plastic container. Modern versions have a drainage nozzle, which makes it easier to transfer the wine juice to the long-term fermentation jugs.

Long-term fermentation containers (carboys or demijohns) that can be glass jugs or oak barrels. The former tends to be more consistent year-to-year. Depending on your batch of wine the sizes can range from 1 to 15 gallons.
grape-crusher-wine ratchet-basket-grape-press Grape Crusher + Ratchet Basket Grape Press © Gennaro Salamone

Plastic tubing that’s at least 6 feet long is required for transferring the juice between containers.

A manual or motorized grape crusher (de-stemmer optional) is needed for squashing the grapes.

A ratchet basket grape press and pressure discs are necessary to squeeze the remaining juice from the grapes in the primary fermentation container.

While some add yeast or tablets, this process doesn’t use additives.

Plastic buckets are required to capture wine from the press and to move the grapes from the initial fermentation container to the press.

A funnel with a strainer is needed to transfer grape juice from the buckets to the demijohns.

Enough cases of grapes to meet your needs are also necessary.

Step Two: Preparing the Equipment

Prepare a large space that will fit your initial fermentation containers, a basket grape press, and the cases of grapes. You will also need an electrical outlet if using a motorized grape crusher. Be sure to wash all of your equipment and to open the cases of grapes and inspect to make sure that the fruit is healthy and ready to be crushed.

Step Three: Crushing the Grapes and Initial Fermentation Container

Place the manual or motorized grape crusher over the initial fermentation container, which is at least a foot off the ground. One person will be ensuring that the machine is in place and another will be responsible for dumping the cases of grapes into the crusher. Fill the container and leave at least a foot of space at the top. The grapes will stay in this container for about a week. Be sure to use a cover. A sheet or similar will do. Be sure to use a closed space.
home-wine-making homemade-wine Homemade wine © Gennaro Salamone

Step Four: Secondary Fermentation and Transfer to the Secondary Containers

Transfer the wine juice to the secondary fermentation container. If you’re using a modern high quality plastic container for the initial fermentation then simply place a bucket under the drainage nozzle. If not, use a plastic tube from the grape-filled container to the buckets. Place the funnel with the strainer into the demijohn and pour the buckets of grape juice into it. Do not fill them up. An airlock will be need for the secondary container for extended fermentation. Start with paper towels for a day or so then use an actual airlock device. The wine juice will remain in these jugs for at least 4-6 months. It’s best to store it in a cool and dark place.

Step Five: Bottling and Drinking

Once the fermentation process has been completed, you are free to bottle the wine. Rack or siphon off the sediments from the wine using a plastic tube while transferring it to the bottles. Cap tightly. At this point, the vinification process has been completed and it’s ready to drink.

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gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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Riding an Elephant in Thailand

October 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features

Chiang Mai, Thailand is the answer. Where to ride an elephant, how to ride an elephant, and where to hug and kiss a baby elephant are the musings. The voyage began with a serene 8-mile bike ride from the rustic Lisu Lodge to the elephant camp. Despite the excitement surrounding the elephant riding, the natural beauty of the Chiang Mai countryside still manages to capture your attention.

On arrival, several gentle giants standing near the river met our group of travel writers. Among the elephants was a pregnant female who managed to carry two of us along the mountainous jungle scenery down the river. The secret to riding this particular elephant was to ensure that she was fed plenty of bananas. Be sure to put aside enough bananas for the entire trip, as her trunk will be jumping back to collect a reward every few steps.
riding-elephants-thailand angela-dollar-feeding-elephants Elephant reaching for Gennaro’s feet + Angela Dollar feeding an elephant © Gennaro Salamone

Behind the pregnant giant was a 3-year old baby elephant that followed along for the journey sans passenger. He spent most of the trip using his trunk to throw dirt over his shoulder ensuring protection against the sun and insects. While the ride along the river was wonderful, the highlight of the day was bonding with the baby elephant at the end. I walked over to the receptive animal and proceeded to hug and kiss him. It’s not every day that you can connect with one of the largest land mammals.
gennaro-salamone-hugging-elephants kissing-baby-elephant Hugging and kissing a baby elephant © Gennaro Salamone

There are several options that allow for a similar experience. Elephant Nature Park is one of the better choices with over thirty rescued elephants from infants to old-timers. They have everything from day trips to three-week long volunteer stays.

This trip to Thailand was courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The content and opinions in the article are those of the author.
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gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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The Best NFL Stadiums to Visit

April 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features

While Major League Baseball is considered the national pastime in the United States, NFL football has surpassed baseball in overall popularity over the last decade. It has become a Sunday tradition for sports fans who either watch on television or attend games, which consists of hours of tailgating followed by heart-pounding action. For the best experience, visit one of these stadiums:

Lambeau Field (Green Bay Packers)

Lambeau Field is the home of the Green Bay Packers. The oldest stadium in the league has the best atmosphere for football including a stadium filled with passionate fans, often wearing cheesehead hats, who endure frigid temperatures to watch their beloved Packers. Together with an unmatched game environment, Lambeau’s Frozen Tundra has been home to three Super Bowl championship teams starting with the first two titles under coach Vince Lombardi and ending with the Super Bowl XXXI title largely won on the arm of popular quarterback Brett Favre.
lambeau-field.jpg Lambeau Field © Karen54301

Cowboys Stadium (Dallas Cowboys)

Opened in 2009, the new Cowboys Stadium is a state-of-the-art facility with the largest high definition video screen in the world. That along with an impressive franchise history including appearances in a record 8 Super Bowls makes a trip to Arlington, Texas a must for any football fan. Dubbed America’s Team after a run of success in the 1970’s, the Cowboys won 3 titles in the 1990’s lead by Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith. In addition to NFL football, Cowboys Stadium hosted a record 108,713 fans for the 2010 NBA basketball All-Star Game.

Heinz Field (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Heinz Field is the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dubbed Steeler Nation, fans of this record 6-time Super Bowl championship team fill the stadium with black and gold. This passionate group of fans is also known for following and supporting the team on road games. As with the Cowboys, the Steelers built their massive fan base during their 1970’s championship run lead by quarterback Terry Bradshaw, running-back Franco Harris, and coach Chuck Noll’s “Steel Curtain” defense. The Steelers have also won Super Bowls in 2005 and 2008 with recently troubled quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leading the way.

Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City Chiefs)

Visitors to Arrowhead Stadium will experience The Sea of Red, which is the nickname given to the loudest fans in the NFL. Though the Seattle Seahawks fans (The 12th Man) at Qwest Field would disagree since that is likely the loudest stadium in the NFL. Despite years of a home field advantage because of the high decibel level in the building, the Kansas City Chiefs have struggled over the last few years and haven’t reached a Super Bowl since the 1960’s under quarterback Len Dawson. That being said, it’s worth a trip to experience the hours of tailgating before the game along with a rarely matched fan atmosphere. Be sure to wear red and bring a pair of earplugs.
tailgating.jpg Tailgating in Cleveland © Nolosabias

Lucas Oil Field (Indianapolis Colts)

Lucas Oil Field is the home of the Indianapolis Colts. Despite the aesthetically pleasing design of the stadium, the main draw is an excellent fan atmosphere along with a consistently dominant team led by record-breaking quarterback Peyton Manning. The Colts have finished first in the AFC South for 7 straight seasons. This has led to a Super Bowl win in 2006 and a loss in 2009 to quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Though Indianapolis may be a bit off the beaten track for travelers, it also has one of the best basketball venues (read the list) called Conseco Fieldhouse.

Meadowlands Stadium (New York Giants and New York Jets)

2010 welcomes the unveiling of the new Meadowlands Stadium, which is the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. With 82,500 seats, it’s second only to the Redskins FedEx Field in overall capacity. Big Blue has been more successful over the years in terms of Super Bowls wins including wins in 1986 and 1990 led by Coach Bill Parcells and a tough G-Men defense with Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks. The Giants led by Eli Manning also upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII ruining their chance at an undefeated season. The Jets, on the other hand, won the most important Super Bowl in NFL history in 1968. The upset of the Colts in Super Bowl III led by Broadway Joe Namath solidified the AFL-NFL merger. A benefit of selecting a Jets game over a Giants game would be a chance to hear the loud chants of J-E-T-S led by Fireman Ed. The new stadium ensure that Giants games will be filled with a sea of blue while Jets games will be transformed to a haven for green.

Read about the best MLB ballparks and the best NBA arenas.
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gennaroeditor.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

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