Archive for November, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on November 24th, 2010

It’s that time again to look back on the year, reflect and give thanks. Traditionally people think of Thanksgiving as an American holiday, started by the Pilgrims in 1621 to celebrate and thank the native people for a fruitful harvest. Thanksgiving Day was made an official holiday in 1863 by president Abraham Lincoln and was observed on the final Thursday of November. This tradition continues today, with the exception of 1939 and 1940, Thanksgiving has been celebrated in America on the fourth Thursday of November. At the urging of many merchants, in the years of ’39 and ’40, Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving one week earlier in an effort to increase consumer spending at the tail end of the recession. Lets take a look at what other countries have their own Thanksgiving Celebrations.

Canada began celebrating Thanksgiving in 1957. Similar to the American holiday, the Canadians use this paid holiday to visit with family and friends, eat feast like meals and of course give thanks for the harvest bounty. The day is celebrated on the second Monday of October.

For Croatians, Thanksgiving means something entirely different than it does to Americans. Celebrated on the 5th of August, the day commemorates a war of independence, when in 1995, the Croatian Army took the city of Knin and ended the Republic of Serbian Krajina. The celebration includes morning prayers, parades, concerts and of course honoring those that died in the war. In 2008, Croatian Parliament also assigned the name “Day of the Croatian Defenders” to this day.

In the West Indian island of Grenada, Thanksgiving again denotes a meaning of independence and celebrates the U.S. and Caribbean led invasion of the island on October 25th, 1983. The operation was launched to restore order in the country after the death of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and many of his colleagues. The day is celebrated as a public holiday with banks and many shops closed.
So whatever reason has you thankful on this holiday, we hope you get to spend it with friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving!

A Palace that Rocks!

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on November 18th, 2010

In 1879, a French postman named Ferdinand Cheval stumbled over a stone while delivering the mail. He picked up the rock that tripped him and studied it closely. He found the shape and texture quite beautiful and bizarre, so the next day he returned to the same spot and began collecting more, taking home pocketfuls of stones each night. Over time, his wife grew frustrated with the stones tearing the pockets of his pants so he began collected the stones in baskets and eventually a wheelbarrow.

Over the next three decades, Mr. Cheval picked up stones on his daily mail route and took them home to work on what he described as his “fairy-like palace beyond imagination”. His palace was made solely of these beautiful stones which were bonded together with cement, lime, wire and mortar.

Even while the townspeople laughed at him and called him a mad old fool, he continued creating his dream, working late into the night by light of an oil lamp. Ultimately, the mocking turned to admiration and encouragement and 34 years later, his work was complete.

The name of his creation is Le Palais Ideal (Ideal Palace). It is located in the tiny town of Hauterives, about 53 miles southeast of Lyon. It is open to the public year-round with the exception of holidays.

The next time you take a trip to France, why not rent a car in Lyon and head down to Hauterives to see this wondrous work of art for yourself?

German Christmas Markets

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on November 12th, 2010

Every year, the German Christmas Markets are set up; the old town squares are brightly lit and festively decorated; holiday cheer is felt and seen all around.

Stroll through the city streets with a mug of Gluhwein (hot spiced wine) in hand while listening to carolers sing traditional Christmas songs. Shop for that special unique gift that you just couldn’t find anywhere else and then go on a romantic carriage ride while taking in the lights, smells and sounds of the revelry around you.

The Christmas Market in Dresden dates as far back as the 1400s, and therefore is the oldest Christmas Market in Germany. It is famous for having the world’s biggest Christmas cake (known as Stollen), during “Stollen Festival”. The cake at this festival weighs around 4 tons and is approximately 13-14 feet long. The Dresden Christmas Market also has the world’s tallest nutcracker on display and the highest Christmas pyramid, which is a 45 feet high carousel, adorned with nativity scenes and life sized angels.

The Christmas Market in Munich dates back to the 1600s and is set up in the Old Town of Munich, known as Marienplatz. The Christkindl Markt has over 160 booths set up where one can buy a number of great gifts and keepsakes. Free concerts are given each day at 5:30 p.m. from the balcony of the Town Hall and further down from the market, traditional wooden cribs and nativity scenes are on display at the Kripperl Market.

Almost every city in Germany has a traditional Christmas Market during the holiday season, so no matter where in the country you are going to be, one should be within an easy distance. The markets typically open at the end of November and close down on Christmas Eve.

World Cuisine Wednesday

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, World Cuisine Wednesdays | on November 3rd, 2010

World Cuisine Wednesday

Do you know the old fable, Stone Soup? It is a very old story, told in many countries throughout the world.  Although there are quite a few versions of this story, my favorite is the one in which a traveling monk is the main character. The way it goes is this: an old monk is crossing through the Algarve region of Portugal.  He is starving, weak and has nothing but a big pot and a few stones in his possession.  When he arrives in the village of Almeirim, he was given shelter for the night at an old farmhouse.

Although the monk was poor and starving, he was too proud to ask for food. Instead, he asked the wife if he might use their fire to make himself some soup and she agreed.  Putting the stones into the pot and pouring water over them, he placed the cauldron over the fire.

This puzzled the lady and when she questioned him he said, “Just be patient.” and went for a walk while waiting for the water to boil.  She felt sorry for him so while he was gone, she took what leftovers she had – a scrap of meat, a carrot, a few turnips, etc. and added them to the stones.  This resulted in a hearty, delicious soup enjoyed by the old man and his hosts.

There are many variations to this story.  One version tells of three starving soldiers who come to a village, begging for food. When no one will share their meager harvest, the soldiers dupe them into contributing just one ingredient per person. (“Oh this soup is delicious! But you know what would make it even more savory? A turnip!”)  The story ends with a huge pot of soup that feeds everyone in town.  The object placed in the crock also varies from country to country: buttons, nails, an axe, wood.

Today, to welcome in the cooling weather, let’s travel to Portugal and indulge ourselves in a nice, comforting Sopa de Pedra (Stone Soup).

Stone Soup

  • ¬Ω lb chorizo, ham or bacon
  • 2 large potatoes ‚Äì cubed and peeled
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 ribs of celery
  • 4 chopped carrots
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add meat and cook for two minutes.

Add vegetables and garlic – cook until softened, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for roughly 15 minutes.


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Fare Type Round Trip     One Way
Passengers  Adults
  Children under 11