Archive for March, 2010

Queen’s Day in Amsterdam

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on March 31st, 2010

Spring is a fantastic time to take a trip to Amsterdam, where you can see the lovely countryside and the famous tulips of Holland.  However, beautiful flowers and gorgeous scenery are not the only reasons to visit! If you travel to Amsterdam at the end of April, you can also participate in one of the Netherlands’ most fun and famous events: Queen’s Day.  It is held each year on April 30 in Amsterdam.   The event was originally intended to commemorate a day of national unity in the Netherlands.  From 1891 until 1948, it was celebrated on the late Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday, August 31.  Nowadays,  the festival is celebrated on April 30, the birthday of the late Queen Juliana.

Festivities actually begin the night before (Queen’s Night) around 7:00 p.m. The bars and clubs are open until the wee hours of the morning.

Queen’s Day is also known as the Orange Festival because the Dutch royal family are also known as the House of Orange.  Everywhere you look, you will see the color orange all around.  The revelers are usually decked out head to toe in tangerine colored costumes and apparel.  Orange flavored drinks are served, orange banners and flags are flown and some of the fountains even have pigment added to the water!

For the bargain shoppers, a flea market (or free market) is also held during the festival.  At the free market,  you can trade something you no longer need for an item you’ve been eyeing from someone else.  The locals consider the market to be more fun than for profit, so you are bound to find some great deals.

Taking in the sights of the city, feasting on the traditional Dutch fare and partaking in the singing and dancing are what makes this festival unforgettable.  The event is huge, so make sure to wear your most comfortable shoes!

World Cuisine Wednesday

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, World Cuisine Wednesdays | on March 24th, 2010

Rome is not only famous for the Vatican and other landmarks; it is also one of the most fabulous places in the world to dine.  After all, a meal in Italy is not just a meal, it is an experience.  When you visit a restaurant while on a trip to Rome, you will not feel as though you are being rushed out of the restaurant. On the contrary,  staff treat their guests as family.  You are expected to take your time and enjoy your surroundings, your company and of course, your feast of wine and good food.

Today I will share a simple recipe for a traditional Roman dish – Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino.

Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino

  • 16 oz spaghetti
  • 2 fresh hot peppers
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp¬† fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh basil
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • Grated Parmiagiano

Add spaghetti to 6 quarts of lightly salted boiling water.  While pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in a sauté pan and cook garlic and peppers (whole) until the garlic changes shade. Add fresh herbs and breadcrumbs, cook for about 30 seconds. Turn heat off, and allow the garlic to continue to brown just slightly, but do not allow the garlic to burn or get too brown!

Drain spaghetti; add to sauté pan.  Mix well and sprinkle Parmigiano cheese to your liking.

Last Minute Travel Deals

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on March 22nd, 2010

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World Cuisine Wednesday

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, World Cuisine Wednesdays | on March 17th, 2010

Top o’ the morning to you, travelers!  I hope everyone is having a grand St. Patrick’s Day!  It is a glorious day here in Portland, Maine- 58° with plenty of sunshine!  I find it only fitting that today I share with you a recipe from Ireland.  A coworker who hails from Dublin shared some of her favorite traditional Irish recipes with me today, and with her permission, I am sharing one with you all.

Guinness & Beef Stew

2 c chopped carrots
2 large onions, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp tomato puree, dissolved in 5 tbsp water
2 tbsp flour, seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne (in large plastic bag)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 ¬Ω c Guinness
2 lbs lean stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 sprig of thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place beef cubes in a bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil and toss until well coated, then place beef in plastic bag with flour mixture and toss.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over high flame.  After meat has browned on all sides, add onions, garlic and tomato puree.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes.

Transfer into a deep, oven safe casserole dish and pour ½ of the Guinness into the hot frying pan.  Bring to a boil, and pour into casserole dish.  Add bay leaves, thyme, carrots and remaining beer and stir well.  Cover and bake at 300° for 2 ½ to 3 hours.

This delicious stew will leave you hungry for more!  Maybe next year instead of making the stew in your kitchen, you will be enjoying it from across the pond in an authentic Irish pub!

Happy eating!  Have a safe and wonderful St. Patrick’s Day, 2010!

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Passengers  Adults
  Children under 11