Vagablond Views

A Travel Blog with a Twist

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Clever marketers, these Icelanders

I'm likin' the lichen

Leave it to the enterprising Icelanders to package and sell things that are just lying around on the ground. I'm not saying this sarcastically. As a career marketing creative, I am truly impressed.

When I heard that, in hard times, rural Icelanders would scrape the lichen* from rocks, and eat it, I just had to buy me a bag. It's pretty much tough and tasteless eaten out of hand, but people add it to soups for roughage and grind it with sea salt for some extra zest.

Also known as Icelandic moss, or fjallagrasa, it's not just a source of food during lean times, but has medicinal properties. You can make a tea with it and sip twice a day for irritation of the mouth and throat, loss of appetite, common cold, dry cough, bronchitis, indigestion, fevers, lung disease, kidney and bladder complaints and infections. Or moisten it and apply it directly to poorly healing wounds.

Northern Japan

On Tynan

What a day. In an effort to totally avoid paying for hotels we have worked out an elaborate system of only taking night trains, where we can sleep as we travel.

Today that landed us in Aomori, a small city in Northern Japan. After spending two hours researching things to do there, I had found only one possibility: eat apples. The city is known for having good apples, and nothing else whatsoever.

With 14 hours before our next train to Sapporo, we had to find something else to do. To fuel our brainstorming we found a little trendy Italian restaurant called Piccolo. Even one-street towns in Japan have restaurants with beautiful interior design. It's important here. We lucked out - they use high quality ingredients, make their own sauces, and use extra virgin olive oil.

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