Step Back In Time In Carcassonne

Step Into a Time Machine and Experience Life in a Medieval City

Set in the countryside of the south of France this small city is a major tourist attraction. Walking into Carcassonne is like walking through a time portal to Medieval times. This 13th century city existed long before the modern age and you can feel that every second you're there.

UNESCO

Carcassonne is really one very large castle that is acting as a city. Everything just as it was in the Medieval era is contained within the castle walls. The countryside lays low outside the citadel so you can see it from far away. The massive structure welcomes you with multiple defensive walls, a moat, heavy portcullis, and a drawbridge.

Inside those high walls is a world of weaving alleyways, towering turrets, and tiny shops selling their wares. The streets of Carcassonne seem like they have not changed in centuries except for some modern marvels of convenience. The setting is so authentic it almost doesn't feel real, like you've stumbled through time or ended up in Medieval Disneyland.

While it seems like an ancient small town masquerading as a fairytale village, it has the problem of becoming a tourist destination as much as an honest retelling. As Carcassonne booms as a tourist favorite, it loses some authenticity while trying to please so many visitors. As a result, there are a lot of gift shops and overpriced restaurants. However, there are still plenty of stores to explore that are selling authentic souvenirs, and you'll have no problem finding a great place to eat.

flickr

If you are a history buff looking to experience the real deal, then you've found it. It's heavily restored but it still stands with thousands of years of history in its roots. If you want to experience the lush French countryside, it rarely gets more beautiful than Carcassonne with its architecture and stunning views.

My recommendations are inspired by my trip there in 2011. You should take the time to walk around and experience the citadel and royal keep. You can walk atop the city walls and experience breathtaking views of the surrounding areas, or wander the winding streets brimming with life. While you're there, eat some of the local specialties that are part of the history of the people of this region, and get yourself a souvenir if your heart desires.

photo by jenny h.

Carcassonne is a wonderful stopover destination, great for a day or two. It's unique and fascinating so it shouldn't be missed if you have an opportunity, and is small and it doesn't take too long to explore. The size could be a benefit or a problem depending on your trip and how convenient it is to stop in Carcassonne. Overall it is an incredibly popular destination for a reason -- it is a breathtaking time capsule of times gone by.

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The call of the open road has never been more tempting for adventurers, who are facing travel restrictions indefinitely. But sharing the highways is not just annoying—it can be deadly when you do not know who is behind the wheel and heading toward you. Watch out for these signs of a bad driver. Quiz yourself to learn if you are one, too.

Chatting

Everyone knows that it is not worth the consequences to hold a phone while driving. But not everyone has put that free hand back on the steering wheel. They may be gesturing to acquaintances who cannot see them, or turning around to interrupt passengers in the backseat. They might be lip-syncing to the Backstreet Boys or even attempting some car choreography. Closing your mouth can make the world a safer place.

Speeding

Some travelers never seem to see the signs that say SPEED LIMIT 65. It is especially egregious when you consider that today's signs feature technology that makes them too bright to ignore. While it may be fine to push the limits a bit, it is easy for drivers on open straightaways to forget how fast they are going until it is too late to slow down safely.

bad driver


Racing

You probably will not have to worry about illegal street racing, unless you are visiting certain parts of Virginia. But there are a lot of people on the road in a real hurry to beat you. If you notice drivers impatiently passing cars only to wind up waiting at the same light, give them a wide berth.

Tailgating

Are they trying to read the dealer's phone number from your license plate holder? Run you off the road? Are they angry, or just lonely? Daring you to rear-end them? Do not even pause to wonder. Switch lanes to get out of their way as soon as you can and let them latch onto the next car.

It can be hard to detect distracted drivers until it is too late. But you can look for the signs of a bad driver and avoid speeders and reckless drivers, each responsible for about a third of fatal car accidents. And if a car is swerving, you should assume there is alcohol involved. Just give yourself plenty of space to protect yourself on road trips, and the journey might be better than your destination.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving in what many people are calling the "worst year ever," it's important to remember this holiday is all about appreciating the blessings in your life. As we gather together with friends and family to celebrate—however small the gathering may be—it's important to remember to keep things in moderation to avoid spending too much. Here are four tips for preparing Thanksgiving dinner on a budget.

Factor for Guests

For any gathering, it's important to know how many guests you'll be inviting and who they are. More guests may seem like a higher cost for food, but hosting a potluck-style dinner can work in your financial favor by splitting the cost among all the diners. If you would prefer to cook the entire meal by yourself, try to prepare only enough food for what your guests will eat to avoid wasting food.

Prioritize Food

Consider the foods your guests are likely to eat instead of what a traditional dinner may consist of. Consider dietary restrictions and religious observations when compiling your menu. Once you have an idea of the meal you'll be serving, go through your pantry to see what you already have in stock. Remember to include the cost of beverages, especially alcohol, if you plan on including that in your celebration.

Beat the Rush

The best way to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients to prepare your feast is to get your shopping done as early as possible. Buying food early will ensure you can complete your menu without running into issues with grocery store inventory. This is especially important when you're purchasing the turkey. Spreading out your purchases over time can also mitigate the financial effects of hosting Thanksgiving dinner.

Comparison Shop

The fourth of our tips for preparing Thanksgiving dinner on a budget is to do some comparison shopping. Putting in the time to get the best prices will allow you to save money. Keep in mind the grocery store might not always be the best option for purchasing ingredients. Local markets will often have better prices than national chain stores for many vegetables traditionally served at Thanksgiving. If you put in the time to find the right local butcher, you might even be able to get your turkey for a discounted rate.

There are many food products you likely love to buy but end up frustrated with when you don't use them quickly enough. Many products start to spoil in just a couple of weeks. The good news is that there are also many foods that never spoil. Consumers often don't realize that many of these products have no expiration dates. For some of the top food product that surprisingly never expire, read below.

Non-Iodized Salt

One of the first major food products that never goes bad is non-iodized salt. Natural salt is commonly used as a preservative, so the fact that it doesn't spoil makes sense. Salt doesn't contain any water, and it also won't ever lose its flavor because it isn't plant based.

The key is to store it in the correct environment so that the flavor is unaffected. If you live in a humid environment, storing your salt in an airtight container to prevent the absorption of moisture is best. Salt with additives such as iodine and other anti-cracking agents is the kind you'll see with a sell-by date on the shelf.

salt

Honey

Honey is another significant product that doesn't expire. After 20, 50, or even 100 years, honey will still taste the same. Raw honey doesn't go bad for several reasons. Honey has little water in it, which most microbials need to grow. It also has a low pH level.

The natural sugars in the honey also give it preserving properties. These elements make it virtually impossible for bacteria to grow in honey. Honey also naturally contains antibacterial ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide. Even crystallized honey is still safe to eat.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee isn't always the most ideal option for coffee-lovers, but many people do enjoy using it for its practicality, especially if they're on the go. People often use instant coffee while they're camping, backpacking, or traveling. However, very few people understand it stays fresh for good. This is because instant coffee is a dried-out, concentrated form of the coffee we normally brew. The process it goes through eliminates any water, which prevents it from spoiling.

Instant coffee


Virgin Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of the food products that surprisingly never expires, so if you're looking for a cooking oil you can hang onto for some time, it's perfect for you. Unrefined coconut oil is what you want.

When coconut oil is refined, it goes through a process that weakens the saturated fat's ability to stop oxidation, which makes the oil become rancid. All the saturated fats in unrefined coconut oil are untouched, preventing rapid oxidation.