The Temple of Hercules at sunset.
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Amman: Middle East Meets West

Look at Jordan on a map and you might not think “tourist destination.” Bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the east, Israel and Palestine to the west, Jordan is the calm eye in the center of the Middle East storm. And its capital city of Amman is full of surprises…

Read more on CascadianAbroad.com

The statue of Horus at Edfu temple.
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Nile River Cruise and the Temples of Upper Egypt

After 26 hours of travel from Portland through Vancouver B.C. and London, I finally arrived in Cairo late on Christmas night, excited to see Viktoria after four months apart. My time on the ground was short-lived. We woke up the next day and headed back to the airport to embark on a Nile River Cruise of the temples of Upper Egypt.

Visit CascadianAbroad.com for the rest of the story!

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Petra: Secrets of the Lost City

Westerners have a long tradition of discovering things that were never lost in the first place. The ancient city of Petra, hidden away in Jordan’s southwestern desert, was “discovered” by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. However, the Rose City—named for the color of the sandstone in late afternoon—had long been an object of curiosity in the region.

Today, Petra is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World (check out our rundown of the Seven Wonders we’ve visited) and Jordan’s most popular tourist destination. But 2,000 years ago, it was the capital city for the nomadic Nabataean people. They lived in caves chiseled deep into the sandstone and carved intricate facades into the outer walls to indicate temples and tombs…. Read the rest at CascadianAbroad.com

New Cascadian Abroad
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We Haven’t Heard From You Lately…

Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work preparing a new Cascadian Abroad. Not only will it provide more flexibility for us, but we’ll be able to display larger photos and more interactive posts. We’re excited about the new look and the opportunities that go along with it.

We’re back to a more regular posting schedule at CascadianAbroad.com and we hope you’ll continue to follow along. Keep reading to make sure we can stay connected to you!

How do I keep following Cascadian Abroad?

You can still find us at CascadianAbroad.com. In fact, if this is how you usually find us, you might have been surprised to see the new look!

Subscribe to Cascadian Abroad

Subscribe to Cascadian Abroad

If you’re a WordPress follower or e-mail subscriber, we should have brought you over with us. You can double-check by searching for us in the WordPress.com Reader and making sure you see the “Following” indicator.

If you’d rather follow by e-mail, visit cascadianabroad.com and click on the “Subscribe” link at the top of the page (or if you’re on a mobile device, you’ll find the link in the menu). Enter your e-mail address and we’ll send you notifications whenever we post new content.

If you have any trouble, e-mail subscription@cascadianabroad.com and we’ll get you set up.

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Family dinner in Ukraine.
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Things I Ate in Ukraine

One of the things I’m most proud of in my culture is the sharing of food. My mom instilled in me the love of cooking and eating and not being afraid to try new flavors. Robert likes to tell the story of the first time he came to my parents’ house for dinner and my mom continued to fill his plate with food every time it was empty. Food is how we show love.

One of the central activities of my visit in Kiev was shopping for, cooking and eating meals as a family. The kitchen in my aunt’s house was the central area where everybody stayed up late talking and joking and of course, gathered for meals, snacks, drinks and nibbles.

My first night, and almost every night following, we had cake. The Roshen brand of cakes in Kiev are so good. My mom bought one once in the states, which was imported from Ukraine, and it just wasn’t the same.

Left to right: “Smetanyk,” a sour cream cake, and “Kyivsky” cake named after the city of Kiev/Kyiv. This cake has two light layers of meringue with hazelnut, chocolate glaze, and a buttercream icing. Easily my favorite cake.

Left to right: “Smetanyk,” a sour cream cake, and “Kyivsky” cake named after the city of Kiev/Kyiv. This cake has two light layers of meringue with hazelnut, chocolate glaze, and a buttercream icing. Easily my favorite cake.

The next day, we went to a membership bulk store called Metro. My mom and I wanted to buy everything! The aisles of tea, chocolate, bread and cookies were amazing!


Obolon brand of beer. I liked the label of the traditional red embroidery. We chose a few beers to try. Slavic beers tend to be high alcohol and very low in price (50 cents).

Obolon brand of beer. I liked the label of the traditional red embroidery. We chose a few beers to try. Slavic beers tend to be high alcohol and very low in price (50 cents).


Bottles of kefir, a fermented milk drink. It has become popular in the states, but again, does not taste as good in the states as it does in Ukraine.

Bottles of kefir, a fermented milk drink. It has become popular in the states, but again, does not taste as good in the states as it does in Ukraine.


Very happy to sample different types of black and rye bread, with and without caraway seeds.

Very happy to sample different types of black and rye bread, with and without caraway seeds.

When we came home, my aunt started preparing the dough to make vareniki, also called pierogis. These are filled dumplings of Eastern European descent. My mom usually made them with mashed potatoes inside. My aunt prepared them with sour cherries. I think I ate a dozen, or at least I wanted to!

Cherry vareniki with a little bit of honey.

Cherry vareniki with a little bit of honey.

The next day, we went to a Roshen factory store. Roshen is a confectioner that is owned by the current president of Ukraine; how interesting is that? It was also previously called the Karl Marx Kiev Confectionery Factory. At any rate, it was like we were all Charlie visiting the Chocolate Factory.

The refrigerated cakes section. The boxes are so pretty. It was tempting to want to try them all.

The refrigerated cakes section. The boxes are so pretty. It was tempting to want to try them all.


My cousins and I next to the cakes and eclairs. Yum.

My cousins and I next to the cakes and eclairs. Yum.


Pink zefir in bulk at Roshen. Zefir is sort of like a marshmallow, but better. It’s made by whipping together fruit puree, egg whites and sugar.

Pink zefir in bulk at Roshen. Zefir is sort of like a marshmallow, but better. It’s made by whipping together fruit puree, egg whites and sugar.


Robert loves orange jelly slices so I made sure he got a bag of these.

Robert loves orange jelly slices so I made sure he got a bag of these.


“Cherry Queen” cake from the Roshen store. It was sort of like a Black Forest cake.

“Cherry Queen” cake from the Roshen store. It was sort of like a Black Forest cake.

For breakfast, my aunt made pancakes called oladi. They are made with kefir in the batter and they get really puffy and doughy as they cook. We usually top them with sour cream and sugar.

Oladi pancakes browning in the pan; my aunt is not afraid of oil!

Oladi pancakes browning in the pan; my aunt is not afraid of oil!

For dinner, my cousin went down in the cellar to take out a jar of tomato juice and pickles. My aunt and uncle have a farm where they grow a lot of produce and can it for the winter months. We had a simple dinner of potatoes, pickles and bread.

Herbed potatoes with pumpernickel bread and homemade pickles. The small jar has “adjika,” which is a spicy sauce.

Herbed potatoes with pumpernickel bread and homemade pickles. The small jar has “adjika,” which is a spicy sauce.

The following day, we made the hour-long bus ride to the country where my aunt and uncle have a house. It is next door to the house where I grew up. My uncle was there keeping an eye on the property and he met us. Although it had decided to snow lightly, my uncle wanted to have an outdoor barbecue. The small village was so quiet and peaceful, especially with the fragrant smoke of the outdoor fire and light dusting of snow. And the air was so crisp and clean.

My uncle grilling some pork skewers.

My uncle grilling some pork skewers.


Proudly displaying the finished skewers.

Proudly displaying the finished skewers.


The finished dinner. My aunt fed us so well. I think this picture exemplifies a simple, country feast.

The finished dinner. My aunt fed us so well. I think this picture exemplifies a simple, country feast.


This was one of my favorite things I ate: home-canned tomato juice, black bread and a sprinkle of seasoning salt in unrefined sunflower oil. The oil was so thick and had a flavor of its own. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest sunflower oil producers.

This was one of my favorite things I ate: home-canned tomato juice, black bread and a sprinkle of seasoning salt in unrefined sunflower oil. The oil was so thick and had a flavor of its own. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest sunflower oil producers.

Dinner the next night consisted of borscht, the famous Eastern European soup made with beets and cabbage. In addition to the soup, we had vodka, black bread, roe and “salo” pork fat.

Sour cream for the borscht soup, salted fish, vodka, bread, “salo” pork fat, and roe.

Sour cream for the borscht soup, salted fish, vodka, bread, “salo” pork fat, and roe.


Red beet borscht soup with an eggplant dip and a layered crepe dish.

Red beet borscht soup with an eggplant dip and a layered crepe dish.

One of my cousins wakes up so early for work—like 4 a.m.—and returns home around 10 a.m. On her way home, she would pick up some cookies or pastries for us to try. My mom and I had been requesting these walnut shaped cookies called “oreshki.” The next day, she brought these rolled waffle straws and various pastries.

Oreshki cookies filled with boiled sweetened condensed milk (dulce de leche).

Oreshki cookies filled with boiled sweetened condensed milk (dulce de leche).


Rolled wafers with caramel and cream, coffee cakes, poppy seed rolls and cheese muffins.

Rolled wafers with caramel and cream, coffee cakes, poppy seed rolls and cheese muffins.

Our last meal, we (by “we” I mean my aunt; she didn’t let my mom or I help the entire time) made a giant salad and fried potato pancakes called “deruny.” They were so good. When I try to make the oladi or deruny pancakes at home, they never come out very good. I think it’s because I’m scared to use too much oil.

A giant SPACEBA (thank you) to my aunt, uncle and cousins for all the cooking, shopping, chopping and preparing they did during our visit.

Salad and potato pancakes topped with sour cream, of course!

Salad and potato pancakes topped with sour cream, of course!

Philadelphia's Independence Hall, the birthplace of the United States.
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48 Hours in Philadelphia

It’s been nine months since we left Japan and although we did some exploring around Cascadia, I haven’t had much opportunity for travel since Viktoria left for Cairo. Fortunately, a recent work trip took me to Pennsylvania and I stretched it into a weekend in Philadelphia.

I dropped my co-worker for an early flight, which gave me an opportunity to get a jumpstart on sightseeing. I dropped the rental car off at my Airbnb in the historic Italian Market neighborhood, put on my walking shoes and set out on the town. The unseasonably warm November weekend would be full of walking as the transit workers decided to go on strike, but we’ve had experience navigating a transit strike before, so I was good to go!

48 hours and 60,000 steps later, I checked off everything on my Philadelphia bucket list.


The South 9th Street Curb Market, better known as the Italian Market, has been home to produce stands, cafes and shops run by not just Italians, but immigrants from around the globe, since the late 19th century. Today's market has an increasing Latin American influence.

The South 9th Street Curb Market, better known as the Italian Market, has been home to produce stands, cafes and shops run by not just Italians, but immigrants from around the globe, since the late 19th century. Today’s market has an increasing Latin American influence.


The beautiful Washington Park is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier memorial. Completed in 1957, a bronze statue of George Washington overlooks the remains of either a Colonial or British soldier.

The beautiful Washington Park is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier memorial. Completed in 1957, a bronze statue of George Washington overlooks the remains of either a Colonial or British soldier.


An icon of America, most stories around the Liberty Bell are more myth than fact. The truth is that the bell actually cracked during its first test strike and had to be recast twice. It was finally replaced in 1876.

An icon of America, most stories around the Liberty Bell are more myth than fact. The truth is that the bell actually cracked during its first test strike and had to be recast twice. It was finally replaced in 1876.


Independence Hall as seen from Independence Square where a crowd gathered for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Independence Hall as seen from Independence Square where a crowd gathered for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.


The Assembly Room in Independence Hall. The “Rising Sun” chair at the front of the room is where George Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention that drafted the United States Constitution.


A sign outside the front door of Independence Hall, the birthplace of the United States of America.

A sign outside the front door of Independence Hall, the birthplace of the United States of America.

A view of the Christ Church Burial Ground from a window in the U.S. Mint building. Benjamin Franklin is the cemetery's most famous occupant

A view of the Christ Church Burial Ground from a window in the U.S. Mint building. Benjamin Franklin is the cemetery’s most famous occupant


The gravesite of Benjamin Franklin and his wife Deborah in Philadelphia’s Christ Church Burial Ground. Visitors leave pennies in honor of Franklin’s motto of “a penny saved is a penny earned,” but the combination of weather and the penny tosses have caused damage to the gravestone including the large crack.


Outside the United States Mint. Photos aren’t allowed inside the largest of the Mint’s four coin-producing facilities. If your coin has a “P” or no letter, it was produced in this building!


A statue of a lion squashing a snake in Rittenhouse Square, one of the original five public park spaces planned by William Penn in the late 1600s.

A statue of a lion squashing a snake in Rittenhouse Square, one of the original five public park spaces planned by William Penn in the late 1600s.


Philadelphia’s City Hall was the world’s tallest habitable building from 1894 until 1908. Until the completion of One Liberty Place in 1987, builders in downtown Philadelphia had a “gentleman’s agreement” that no building would be taller than the hat of the William Penn statue atop the City Hall spire.


Located across the street from City Hall is the Board Game Art Park, home to an installation of oversized board game pieces called “Your Move.”


Since 1892, Reading Terminal Market has been the home to butchers, produce vendors and more. Today you can find Amish specialties and three shops run by descendants of original market vendors.

Since 1892, Reading Terminal Market has been the home to butchers, produce vendors and more. Today you can find Amish specialties and three shops run by descendants of original market vendors.


The battle of the cheesesteaks... in this corner, Pat's King of Steaks!

The battle of the cheesesteaks… in this corner, Pat’s King of Steaks!


... and in this corner, Geno's Steaks!

… and in this corner, Geno’s Steaks!


The rowhouse has been the domicile of choice in Philadelphia since the 1700s. Even today, nearly 60 percent of Philadelphians live in a rowhouse.

The rowhouse has been the domicile of choice in Philadelphia since the 1700s. Even today, nearly 60 percent of Philadelphians live in a rowhouse.


Looking down South Broad Street toward Philadelphia City Hall early on a sunny autumn morning.

Looking down South Broad Street toward Philadelphia City Hall early on a sunny autumn morning.


Dilworth Park outside of Philadelphia's City Hall has been transformed into a community skating rink for the holiday season.

Dilworth Park outside of Philadelphia’s City Hall has been transformed into a community skating rink for the holiday season.


The Thinker sits outside Philadelphia's Rodin Museum. Casts of the statue exist around the world today. We saw the original two-foot tall version in Musee Rodin in Paris during our travels around Europe.

The Thinker sits outside Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum. Casts of the statue exist around the world today. We saw the original two-foot tall version in Musee Rodin in Paris during our travels around Europe.


Since 1897, George Washington has kept watch over Eakins Oval in front of the famed steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Since 1897, George Washington has kept watch over Eakins Oval in front of the famed steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.


The Lion Fighter, cast for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, now stands outside the Philadelphia Art Museum.

The Lion Fighter, cast for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, now stands outside the Philadelphia Art Museum.


A statue of Rocky Balboa, cast for the movie Rocky III, stands in the shadow of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Several visitors ran up the steps, recreating the inspiring scene from the original Rocky movie.

A statue of Rocky Balboa, cast for the movie Rocky III, stands in the shadow of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Several visitors ran up the steps, recreating the inspiring scene from the original Rocky movie.


Boathouse Row lines the shores of Fairmount Dam on the Schuylkill River. The boathouses are home to 15 rowing clubs and is considered to be the home of rowing in the U.S.

Boathouse Row lines the shores of Fairmount Dam on the Schuylkill River. The boathouses are home to 15 rowing clubs and is considered to be the home of rowing in the U.S.


The neo-Gothic Eastern State Penitentiary operated from 1829 until 1971 and pioneered the modern approach of prisoner reform vs. punishment. The gargoyles are not permanent, but placed as decorations for the annual Halloween haunted house event, “Terror Behind the Walls.”


A sign on St. Stephen's Episcopal Church signifies that it was the site where Benjamin Franklin conducted his famous kite experiment, although the Historical Commission oval above it actually pays homage to the nearly 200-year-old church.

A sign on St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church signifies that it was the site where Benjamin Franklin conducted his famous kite experiment, although the Historical Commission oval above it actually pays homage to the nearly 200-year-old church.


A ship is moored in the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia's Navy Yard.

A ship is moored in the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard.

Colorful embroidered dresses and flower crowns.
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Kiev Bazaar

I love perusing local markets whenever we travel—farmer’s markets, craft fairs, bazaars, souks in Egypt, flea markets, night markets. It’s even better if they are happened upon spontaneously. Some of our best meals while traveling have been at outdoor markets in Rome, Bangkok, Tokyo, Taipei, Berlin and Brussels.

While staying with my aunt in Kiev, Ukraine, we went several times to the local bazaars to look for souvenirs, clothes, household items, vegetables, and even wedding veils. It was definitely one stop shopping.

I was reminded that in a lot of parts of the world, people don’t go to a grocery store or a department store to buy the things they need. Going to an outdoor market and haggling for the best price is a daily occurrence and one of the best ways to experience a culture as a tourist.


I liked the texture of these knit shawls. I can’t imagine how much work it would take to make one.

I liked the texture of these knit shawls. I can’t imagine how much work it would take to make one.


2 Wool gilets and fuzzy slippers. My mom bought wool socks for the whole family and a warm vest for me. I am a crybaby when it comes to the cold. Thanks, Mom!

Wool gilets and fuzzy slippers. My mom bought wool socks for the whole family and a warm vest for me. I am a crybaby when it comes to the cold. Thanks, Mom!


My cousin with me while I tried on a mink hat. It was very warm but… poor mink!

My cousin with me while I tried on a mink hat. It was very warm but… poor mink!


Rows of colorful embroidered linen shirts. Some are embroidered by machine and the ones done by hand are more expensive (and rightly so!).

Rows of colorful embroidered linen shirts. Some are embroidered by machine and the ones done by hand are more expensive (and rightly so!).


My sister is getting married so we checked out the multiple aisles of wedding dresses and accessories. The dresses were about $100.

My sister is getting married so we checked out the multiple aisles of wedding dresses and accessories. The dresses were about $100.


One of the many aisles of the market, thankfully with a roof for the winter weather.

One of the many aisles of the market, thankfully with a roof for the winter weather.


Souvenir t-shirts. The ones in yellow and blue say Ukraine and display the three-pronged crest.

Souvenir t-shirts. The ones in yellow and blue say Ukraine and display the three-pronged crest.


These meat pies were baked in a clay oven. The dough is thrown against the walls of the oven and sticks to the side as it bakes. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like it.

These meat pies were baked in a clay oven. The dough is thrown against the walls of the oven and sticks to the side as it bakes. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like it.


Bags and bags and bags of onions. My aunt says that people stock up and keep them in their cellars. This guy’s wife is probably telling him over the phone how many onions she wants.

Bags and bags and bags of onions. My aunt says that people stock up and keep them in their cellars. This guy’s wife is probably telling him over the phone how many onions she wants.


I thought it was funny this vendor had a couch in his watermelon truck.

I thought it was funny this vendor had a couch in his watermelon truck.


Everything you can imagine, pickled, brined or fermented and for sale!

Everything you can imagine, pickled, brined or fermented and for sale!


These look like colorful, waxy candles, but they are actually like dried fruit roll-ups.

These look like colorful, waxy candles, but they are actually like dried fruit roll-ups.


Every variety of shallot and onion imaginable.

Every variety of shallot and onion imaginable.


These winter pears were so juicy. There were lots of signs that said, keep your hands off!

These winter pears were so juicy. There were lots of signs that said, keep your hands off!


Trays of cranberries just in time for the holiday season.

Trays of cranberries just in time for the holiday season.


Peppers, onions, beets and more for sale in bulk.

Peppers, onions, beets and more for sale in bulk.