The Bourgie Traveler Is Back

Passport Photo BT Is Back

I’m about to leave the country for thirty days and life couldn’t be more normal.  In a matter of hours my grandmother will be cruising her way through Atlanta to pick up David and me to go to the airport and I’m in my PJ’s casually making breakfast. What the hell is wrong with me? Preparedness. That’s David’s explanation. To his point, our trip has been seven months in the making, but that doesn’t reasonably describe why were so relaxed and reserved this morning.

A smile crossed my face when I woke and realized that today was the day, but where’s the unabashed enthusiasm? Thirty days. 3-0 days of vacation. On the inside I feel like a kid cracked out on a giant pixie stick, the blue one of course, but on the outside I’m the exact opposite. Why aren’t I dancing in my underwear to Donna Summer?? Could it be that I’m…tired? NO!

Clearly I need to pull myself together here.  In less than 24 hours, I’ll be stepping foot on European soil and you know what that means. Beautifully manicured parks, buttery pastries stuffed with chocolate for the hell of it and glass after glass of wine just because I can. There will be no real sense of time unless I’m chasing the sun for its grand morning appearance or it’s lazy descent into the horizon. It’s only a matter of time until I’ll be staring up into a vast starry sky from the comforts of my desert tent, post camel ride. And I can’t forget about all of the gelato I intend consuming. My guesstimate is about twenty cones, a little conservative, but we’ll see.

I’m psyched about the countless experiences that are before me, I just need to have someone pinch me to remind that this is real. It’s real and it’s happening right now. Maybe when I’m being felt up by TSA, a fun beat will pop into my head.  And when I order a milkshake in the terminal as a toast to America, my shoulders will begin to shimmy in time to my hips. And finally, when my butt hits my seat on the plane, I’ll have an uncomfortably awkward smile plastered across my face as other passengers pass me by, because this trip is going to be AMAZING (my preferred vacation descriptor of all time, at least so says my dear friend David Munz)!

So the long of the short of it is that the Bourgie Traveler is back! And it’s high time that we all get excited for what’s to come.

Vino Fun

I love fall.  It’s one of my favorite times of the year; all of the delicious seasonal foods, the cooler weather and the other half of my wardrobe.  Me, cozied up in an oversized sweater by a warm fire and a slice of sweet potato pie is my idea of a wonderful fall afternoon. Now that I’m home, I plan on taking full advantage of the season.  Fortunately for me, I haven’t missed the changing colors of the foliage.  Yes, I still have the opportunity to witness the leaves turn those beautiful shades of amber and crimson.

This past weekend, David and I met up with one my dear friends, Allison, to enjoy a particularly beautiful Georgia day.  We had plans to drive up from Atlanta to the North Georgia mountains to enjoy the weather and do a little wine tasting. I’m not talking overly sweet muscadine wine that most people associate with the state.  We do in fact have some quality wine makers; a secret that I’m sharing with you.

Our first stop was at Yonah Mountain Vineyard, a bourgie boutique winery at the base of Yonah Mountain that I absolutely adore.  I discovered this place several years ago when I was planning a camping trip.  Let’s just say that as a group,we were better at drinking wine than spending the night outside. This winery has become one of our favorites, a definite stop when we head up to North Georgia .  Instead of doing the full tour, we opted to save a little time and went straight to the tasting room to enjoy the live music and take in the mountain view.

Allison and I outside of Yonah Mountain Winery.

Allison and me outside of Yonah Mountain Winery.

Allison and I normally cover a wide range of topics when we get together but this afternoon, there was lots of girl talk.  So much so, that poor David had to busy himself with our camera. Lucky for him, he found another camera obsessed husband to pass the time with. We all eventually finished the tasting and made our purchases and headed out to walk the property and take more photos.   It was such a lovely start to our afternoon and we had one more stop.

We carefully drove around the winding bends to The Cottage tasting room.  Upon arriving, we gasped in shock of the incredible view.  The sun had just begun to go down and was setting the mountainside ablaze with crazy warm colors.  We couldn’t help but take as many photos as possible.

Getting cozy with Allison at The Cottage Tasting Room

Getting cozy with Allison at The Cottage Tasting Room

The Cottage lived up to it’s name, it was a snug space with a laid back atmosphere.  This place was just fun; the staff was more than welcoming and the Viognier was delicious.  We watched the afternoon fade into night as we lounged on the couches, sipping wine and enjoying the company. The perfect ending to a great afternoon.

North Georgia sunset at The Cottage Tasting Room.

North Georgia sunset at The Cottage Tasting Room.

The First Saturday- Market Day and Hlebec

Every Saturday, near the castle, there’s an open market where the locals go to buy fresh produce, cheeses, meats and breads. I’ve been to open markets in Europe but this one had a different feel to it.  It seemed that the whole town went there to take their morning coffee and get the fresh stuff; none of that grocery store food for them today.  I was amazed at one of the women who sold chicken.  Her line stretched so far that it blocked shoppers from approaching the other stands.  Everything looked so incredible that I was ready to go on a grocery shopping spree.  Thankfully, David put me in check and made me realize that we don’t need three heads of cauliflower just because they were so beautiful.

Stacked up red peppers ready to be taken home by a girl like me.

Stacked up red peppers ready to be taken home by a girl like me.

Delicious nectarines and tomatoes, so juicy and ready to eat.

Delicious nectarines and tomatoes, so juicy and ready to eat.

Look how fresh everything is, and the amazing part is that it was grown maybe 10 minutes from the outdoor market.

Look how fresh everything is, and the amazing part is that it was grown maybe 10 minutes from the outdoor market.

For the afternoon, I really wanted to go wine tasting because I’ve read so many raving reviews about the region’s wine offerings.  We were advised to take a 40 minute drive across the border to Slovenia, to find a winery called Hlebec (the h is silent-ish) in the city of Kog.  Note to self, avoid Google map directions while traveling the Croatian countryside.

One of the many vineyards we passed along the wine.  This is wine country!

One of the many vineyards we passed along the way. This is wine country!

We’re about an hour into our trip and I see that we’re almost at the border but it doesn’t look very official, like the other border crossings we’ve been too.  Google tells us to turn down a narrow road surrounded by woods, so we reluctantly did. This narrow road turned into a twisty gravel road that somehow took us into a field behind an abandoned house where  the dead-end border crossing is.

The road or as I would call it, a field, in front of the closed border crossing to Slovenia.

The road or as I would call it, a field, in front of the closed border crossing to Slovenia.

After another hour and two additional dead-end border crossings, we finally found our way into Slovenia and in the city of Kog.

A crest from the city of Kog, Slovenia.

A crest from the city of Kog, Slovenia.

In a matter of minutes, we approached Hlebec Winery. I loved everything about Hlebec; the wine, the atmosphere, the owners, everything was wonderful.  We decided to go with a tasting which turned out to be more like full pours of wine, but let me get to the nibbles.  The owner’s son suggested we get the cold platter with meats and cheese and vegetables.  This platter was to die for!

Ham, Onion, Tomatoes, Cow Cheese with Pumpkin Seed Oil, Wild Garlic Spread, Red Pepper Sauce, Pickled Peppers, Lard Spread, and Sausage

Ham, Onion, Tomatoes, Cow Cheese with Pumpkin Seed Oil, Wild Garlic Spread, Red Pepper Sauce, Pickled Peppers, Lard Spread, and Sausage

Everything on the plate was made by his mother or grown in their garden.  My favorite part was the red pepper sauce; this sauce would be amazing just dipping with tortilla chips or adding it to bread with the cow cheese spread on top.  This stuff was so good, that I bought a jar of it.  I’m hiding it away from my husband so he won’t destroy the jar of goodness.  I was a little hesitant about the lard spread (lard from a pig with salt and other spices cooked down) but it was actually quite delicious.  The health-nut in me only allowed for a few tastes, but it was something special.

The wines ranged from the very dry to the very sweet.  My favorites were the Sauvignon and the Muškat, called Illuminati.  I wonder if Jay Z or Beyoncé have anything to do with it…  By the fourth pour, I began to wonder how we were going to get back home and that’s when he broke out the Cognac.  Oh, was it delicious.

From the beginning, David had been secretly pouring some of his wine into my glass while I wasn’t paying attention, so he was more than good to drive us home.  I love how sneaky he can be sometimes, especially when I get to reap the benefits!  With our bottle of Illuminati and jar of red pepper goodness, we made it back across the border and home to Varaždin in 35 minutes, with no border crossing problems to report.