Nottingham, England

It’s easy to imagine how Nottingham may have looked in the middle ages. The narrow, winding streets and bustling center of the city surrounding the castle follow much the same design as they were hundreds of years ago., when Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham were in their prime. But I’ll get to them later.

Nottingham Castle entrance, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Nottingham Castle gardens, 2014. c. Leah Putz

In the center of Nottingham, perched on a hill, sits Nottingham Castle. Since its construction in 1067, the castle has served an important role in English history, especially in the middle ages when it was a royal fortress and residence. It was famously occupied by Prince John supporters like the Sheriff of Nottingham while his brother King Richard was fighting in the crusades. In fact, Robin and the Sheriff had their final showdown at the castle in the legend of Robin Hood. Today, the castle functions as a museum and art gallery, specializing in relics from Nottingham’s history.

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Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem facade, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Neighboring Nottingham castle is one of the oldest inns in England- Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem! This quaint, adorable inn and pub was established in 1189 according to the words on the facade of the building. The small, low-ceilinged interior definitely gives the impression of an aged space, so it’s not hard to believe the claim is true and the inn is in fact almost 1000 years old. Built into the caves beneath Nottingham Castle, the inn has a rich history, having been a common stop for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem (hence the name). The inn’s pub offers delicious meal options in the way of classic English dishes such as beef and ale pie, fish and chips, and sausage and mash.

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Traditional English meal in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, 2014. c. Leah Putz

If you want to learn all about Robin Hood, his gang of Merry Men, and their escapades, make your way to the courtyard area outside the castle walls. Here you’ll find a life-sized statue of Robin himself! Behind the statue are a few copper plaques implanted in the castle wall. Each plaque depicts a scene from the legend of Robin Hood. There is also a city map in this area, highlighting all of the locations that feature in the legend, such as the cathedral where Robin and Marian were married, and Sherwood Forest.

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Robin Hood relief sculpture, 2014. c. Leah Putz

There’s much more to see in Nottingham that I wasn’t able to get to either of the times I visited- such as a tour of the caves beneath the castle, Sherwood Forest, and Old Market Square. But, I love this small city, so I’ll be certain to return and explore some more, and I highly recommend you take a trip there and explore as well!

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Robin Hood and I, 2014. c. Leah Putz

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Nashville

Nashville, TN is known for two major things: music and food. During my short time there, I got my fill of both!

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My mom and I having our first beers in Nashville, 2016. c. Leah Putz

If you’ve got music in your soul- especially country music- you’ve got to make your way to Tennessee’s biggest city. When strolling along Broadway whether it be day or night you’ll hear live music blasting from nearly every bar. There’s also a lot of talented musicians playing on the sidewalks, so you can enjoy the music as you walk!

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Tootsies, 2016. c. Leah Putz

On Broadway sits Tootsies World Famous Orchid Lounge. As the most well-known honkey tonk bar in Nashville, Tootsies has hosted a variety of famous acts on its three stages. The likes of Taylor Swift, Willie Nelson, and Patsy Cline have all performed here. Though the drinks are a bit expensive, it’s worth stopping by Tootsies to appreciate it’s hall of fame if nothing else.

History and/or art buffs should head to the Parthenon- a full scale reconstruction of the ancient temple in Athens, Greece. The building, located in the center of Centennial Park, functions as art museum. For those of us who may not get to go to Greece, it’s exciting to be able to see a complete replica of one of the world’s most iconic structure.

Parthenon in Centennial Park, 2016. c. Leah Putz

When in the south you can’t miss an opportunity to enjoy the amazing food. A big southern breakfast is a special treat, and there are many diners in Nashville that have menus stock full of delicious southern options such as chicken and waffles and, my personal favorite, biscuits and gravy. We went to 417 Union, a diner whose main floor pay homage to the WWII era and whose upper deck is styled in the Civil War era. As soon as we entered the diner it felt like we had stepped back in time!

 

Summer in Winnipeg

A few summers ago, my friend Joe and I visited Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, and came to the conclusion that Canada is like the hybrid child between America and Europe. When driving into Canada, we didn’t notice a change geographically, but suddenly there was French on all the signs and British flags everywhere. There were differences culturally as well. Everyone we met was incredibly helpful and friendly- giving us loads of advice of what to see and do in Winnipeg as soon as they heard we were Americans on our first trip to Canada.

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Me with Canadian money right after arriving in Winnipeg, 2013. c. Leah Putz

One of our Winnipeg favorites was the Manitoba museum, which is part historical museum and part science museum. Within the historical museum is the opportunity to walk alongside time and see how Manitoba has changed throughout the years, taking the viewer from Jurassic times right up to today. Alongside the exhibits are numerous plaques and videos to help you understand the gravity of what you’re looking at. The science portion of the museum is full of countless interactive activities for all ages. Although this area is geared more towards children, we also had a great time experimenting with the different activities as adults.

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Joe and a giant sloth skeleton at the Manitoba Museum, 2013. c. Leah Putz

If you cross the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge from downtown, you will find yourself in the French Quarter, which is a very interesting part of Winnipeg. Foodies should definitely make a stop here. We had some amazing crepes and, of course, the Canadian delicacy poutine. This combination of cheese curds, gravy, and french fries is one of the greatest, most artery-clogging dishes created by mankind.

 

Me before the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge, 2013. c. Leah Putz

Poutine in the French Quarter, 2013. c. Leah Putz

The French Quarter is also home to Fort Gibraltar, Winnipeg’s reconstructed fur trade fort, which gives people a chance to step back in time to a key location for the Canadian fur trade in the 18th century. The fort is full of people wearing authentic clothing from the time the fort was active as well as completing authentic tasks so visitors can get a true sense of what life was like for fur traders. For instance, we got to see a woman making a mug out of leather and a blacksmith making tools. The experience in the fort was very interactive; the employees engaged us in conversation and had answers for every question we could come up with.

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Fort Gibraltar, 2013. c. Leah Putz

Consider Winnipeg as a vacation destination this summer. We certainly had a blast taking in the history and the culture, and we loved how many friendly people we met.

 

Best Traditional Foods and Drinks in the United Kingdom

Sausage Roll

As someone who is not usually a fan of sausage, it’s weird that I swear by the United Kingdom’s sausage rolls. But I do. Typically found in bakeries and breakfast shops, sausage rolls are comprised of warm , melt-in-your-mouth pastry wrapped around a soft sausage. It’s savory, tender, and delicious and makes the perfect bite for breakfast or side for dinner.

 

Scotch Egg

Commonly a picnic food, the Scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg coated in sausage meat and breading and then deep-fried. Regrettably I have yet to try this classic dish with origins in 1738, but I’ve been told it’s not something to miss!

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Me with my first glass of Pimms in the Kings Head pub in London, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Pimms

It’s Pimms o’clock! This refreshing summer beverage is perfect for a drink on a patio and enjoying the sunny weather that doesn’t often grace the United Kingdom. The drink is made with a unique combination: Pimms liqueur, lemonade, fruit (examples include strawberries, orange slices, lemon slices, and cucumber slices), and mint leaves. It’s my favorite alcoholic beverage I’ve ever had, and I highly suggest giving it a try. Even if you don’t make it to the U.K., it’s quite an easy drink to make at home!

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Meat Pie from Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Inn in Nottingham, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Meat Pie

Though immortalized in the legend of Sweeney Todd, you may not want to think about that story while digging in to your first meat pie. Meat pies are exactly as they sounds; savory pies filled with meat. It was a staple dish in the middle ages and it’s popularity has continued into the modern age, though I’m sure they probably taste a lot better today than they did 500 years ago!

 

Tea

Tea is a symbol of British culture worldwide. Having an afternoon tea meal has been a tradition since the 1800s. Though ‘afternoon tea’ is considered a meal mainly served between 3 and 6pm, many Brits choose to drink tea all day long, rather than only indulging once a day.

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Traditional Sunday roast in a London pub, 2017. c. Leah Putz

Sunday Roast

If traditional is what you’re after, you won’t find much that’s more traditional than a Sunday roast. A standard Sunday roast is comprised of yorkshire pudding, greens and vegetables, roasted meat, and gravy. It originated as an after church meal on Sundays and dates back to medieval times.

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Fish and Chips in Windsor, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Fish and Chips

Fish and chips are synonymous with the United Kingdom, and for good reason. With hundred of coastal fishing villages, fresh fish easy to come by. The large piece of fish is traditionally fried and often served with homade tartar sauce and thick, savory chips (aka fries to Americans). You definitely can’t take a trip to the U.K. without trying this classic dish.