A day in Amsterdam

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Last weekend one of my best friends  from Belgium visited me, besides some fun in my neighbourhood, I decided to show him a bit of Amsterdam. Normally when I go to Amsterdam it’s mainly for shopping, so I’d never seen Amsterdam through the eyes of a tourist and I decided that it was about time. So this is how I had a blast doing touristy things in Amsterdam.

In the morning we took the train from the town next to mine, to Amsterdam. In about 1,5 hours we arrived at the always crowded station of Amsterdam Central. One of the things that had always peaked my interest when visiting Amsterdam, was the sexmuseum. Which sounds a bit like a strange sight for a city, but it is one of the main ones. And the entrance fee was only 5 euros, so naturally we decided to visit it. The only thing I really have to say about the museum is that it was quite odd and rather shocking, but what do you expect from a sexmuseum, and I would still recommend it.  After the museum we just did a little bit of a city tour, we walked along the canals, through the red light district which was rather empty since it was a Monday morning. After that we walked around on Dam Square, through the abundances of pigeons, and after that of course I also had to show my Belgian friend the shopping street. When we finished the walking tour it was lunch time, for lunch we ate some classical Dutch fries, meaning that they are served in pointy paper bags with peanut sauce on it (makes sense right?), served with a snack you get out of the wall (aka a fending machine placed in a big wall that serves hot snacks, again makes sense). After lunch and all the half-naked bodies we had seen  that morning, we decided to go for something fun and bubbly, so we went to Artis, Amsterdam’s city zoo. Artis I one of the things I would highly recommend when visiting Amsterdam, even though almost every place has a zoo. Artis is definitely one of the best ones I’ve ever visited, it’s not only the oldest zoo of the Netherlands, but it also has a galore of animals, and it’s very spacious, for both animals and humans. And above all Artis is really big on education, which I always appreciate in a zoo. For example in the aquarium they portray the fish life in Amsterdam, and how littering has an effect on animals and the envirionment. We had spend much time in the zoo that afterwards it was dinnertime already, we bought some snacks at the Albert Heijn To Go (city-supermarket) and ate them at the side of one of the canals.

So yeah, that’s basically how I tried being a tourist in my own country. I hope it brought you some inspiration to do touristy stuff close to your home, or just some ideas of what to do when you visit the beautiful city of Amsterdam!

-Until next time-

Brit

4 hours in Seattle

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Whenever I go on a trip  I like to beat the clichés, discover the unknown. Now being an inexperienced traveller this can be quite hard, often it’s just easier to follow the mainstream. Something I experienced when I had exactly four hours to spent in Seattle. How did I ended with such a short timespan you might ask? Well it was a daytrip with a travel organisation from Vancouver, the only way I could go there for a short time in a cheap way, being carless and driver’s license less and all.  So, being curious as I am of course I had to see as much as possible in my short 4 hours. And I ended up at the clichés, learning that the clichés can also be quite fun.

Space needle

Of course out of all the attractions I had to stop at the space needle, just to see it, just to say I’ve been there. But due to my time plan and little money that I had, I decided not to go up there. At the end I think that was the best decision, I’ve been there I’ve seen it, and at the end of the day it’s just another viewing point, am I right? But still a great one.

First starbucks

For y’all not basic white girls or coffee fanatics out there, Starbucks originated in Seattle. So naturally the first Starbucks can be found downtown the city of Macklemore and Jimi Hendrix. Every once in a while I do enjoy myself a Starbucks so it was quite fun to see where it all started. To see the mermaid logo as a whole. Also quite convenient is that the first Starbucks is near to all the other popular tourist attractions, so you can just pop by it on your way to the other things .Of course if you’re a diehard fan you have to go inside, but then again time.

Pike place market

So then we moved on, across the street of the first Starbucks is the famous Pike Place market. Nice to walk around, seeing people throwing fish in the air and to have the lunch of the day ( some traditional fish and chips). Spent quite a lot of my 4 hours here, and there are no regrets. If you take your time to walk around you will discover these funky nooks and shops. Which are always fun in my opinion. Also the place to get your ingredient for the next attraction: chewing gum.

Gum wall

Might be the most disgusting Instagram hotspot of the world, walls and walls covered in colorful gooeyness. And of course you have to help to build the wall, leaving a piece yourself behind. Although I found the Gum wall overall quite disturbing, with the colors overall it was still kind of beautiful, and the thought behind it that wherever you come from, whatever you look like you can just put a piece of gum on the wall and be part of a whole. Like many many people did before.

Seattle great wheel

The last attraction we visited was the great Seattle wheel, another viewing point yeaah. With some time left on our hands we decided that the wheel would be the perfect last attraction to visit, so we would still get some view over the city, while all cosy in a cabin and without paying the maximum. It was actually quite nice, although it was a gloomy and rainy day the view was still tremendous.

After that with some spare minutes we still ended up at a Starbucks scoring a coffee. I had glorious fun that day visiting the clichés, seeing what all the hype was about. I guess staying on the beaten path can also be refreshing. My only regrets are not having enough time to visit the Museum of Pop Culture, but who knows what the future holds, maybe I will be back.

Hope you enjoyed, and as always

-Until next time-

Brit

Food& travelling

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Wherever I go I love eating some unfamiliar  stuff, I won’t go all the way like eating chicken feet or cow brain because those things definitely don’t sound appetizing to me (no offence towards people and cultures that do eat foods like that, just not something I’m used to). However I do like to try out a fair amount of traditional food, if its snacks or a full on main course it doesn’t matter! Food is just part of the experience. So here by I would like to give a list of top picks food wise of a few of the countries I’ve visited, just for good old fun and maybe for you to try out. And although this article might not include pictures of the foods I’m talking about, in a strange way I always find it fascinating and satisfying to read stuff about food, especially when foreign.

Finland

Since I go to Finland quite often I’m quite familiar with the cuisine. My favorite dish by far, is reindeer stew, with mashed (or as I always like to pronounce it smashed) potatoes, cranberry sauce and pickles. I may sound strange but oh boy it truly is a combination made in heaven.  The Finnish are also great in their chocolate, every time I go there I have to eat Fazer chocolate, whether it’s a basic bar or a classic peppermint crisp one. I. Have. To. Eat. It. And I also love Tupla chocolate nougat bars.

Switzerland

One word: cheese. You can truly wake me up for a delicious cheese fondue. Combined with veggies or bread, just true perfection. Also I what I learned in Switzerland is to eat cheese next to your dinner, although this is not necessary a Swiss thing. Still fun to try out. Also rösti is a delicious thing that the Swiss cuisine has brought me, these potato pancakes used to be breakfast food, but are now enjoyed anytime of the day. I strangely enough always eat that with Christmas at home, in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands

Although I’m not a big fan of the cuisine in my own country, we do have some delicious things. Most common thing for us and foreigners to eat are stroopwafels, these are two waffles fused together with caramel sauce, truly yummy an often enjoyed with a cup of tea. Another thing which other people seem to like are the haring fish, eaten with onions. Not a fish person so something I really really hate. But we do however have some great fries traditions, we classically eat our fries in pointy bags (great explanation) together with peanut sauce and a frikandel (kind of sausages but not really, again great explanation) highly would recommend you try it out if you ever come to the Netherlands.

Canada

I really wish I could say poutine with this one, but I’m not the biggest fan. Poutine are fries with cheese curds and gravy, but you can also add bacon, onions etc. When you find them in a good place they can be quite delicious, but in some cases (most I’ve tried) the fries get to soggy because of the gravy which is not really appetizing to me. However they do have some delicious snacks: Namaimo bars for example. These are bars with that mainly exist out of coconut flakes and chocolate. And damn, they are phenomenal.  Another typical Canadian thing that I really enjoy is maple syrup, I loved that stuff. Maple syrup on pancakes, in pastries, in cereal, you name it I’ve eaten it. A drink I really enjoyed in Canada, although it’s more local Whistler and Vancouver, was the Whistler bear paw honey lager. I’m not a great beer lover but this one was truly delicious with its hint of honey.

Greece

Greece has quite an interesting cuisine, something I really like is souvlaki, basically meat on a stick. Can be chicken, pork or lamb. Times I had it, it was served with fries and I mean, who doesn’t like fries. I also really enjoyed the pita bread with meat and tzatziki sauce (yogurt, cucumber and spices), something I also make at home quite often.

Norway

Something extraordinary I had in Norway, which I’m pretty sure is just a general Scandinavian thing, is cloudberries. Cloudberries are these orange berries shaped like a cloud (surprise). When I had them in Norway they were served in cloudberry sauce, with vanilla ice cream on warm waffles. Terrific combination, one of the best desserts I ever had.

Poland

As I mentioned in my article about Wroclaw, something I loved in Poland, were perogies. Dumpling like lookalikes with either sweet or savory filling. I’ve never had a try at the sweet ones, but the savory ones I tried with both a potato filling and a mushroom one. I also once bought them in a Canadian supermarket as a freezer dish, but nothing beats the real thing.

I can talk on and on about food, one of the great enjoyments of life. Hope you liked reading about these view dishes that I love!  Maybe this article will get a part two who knows.

Anyway

-Until next time-

Brit

Studying abroad: the pro’s, cons and what it taught me

 

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This school year I’ve spent six months in the beautiful city of Vancouver studying English. Last year when I finished high school I didn’t want to start university right away, I wanted to travel around for a bit and explore the world. So I decided to look around for ways I could do that. I landed upon this organisation called EF who provided language studies abroad for people who are taking a gap year. I ended up choosing English because I thought I could use some improvement, and I choose Vancouver because it seemed like the city that fitted me and what I wanted out of this trip the best. After being away for six months I’ve experienced all the ups and downs that came with the decision I made.

Decision making

The first thing you want to do when you are deciding to study abroad is finding out exactly what you want and why you are doing it. My main reason was to see something of the world, that’s why I chose to study English for a short amount of time in a big city, because it was something I could already do and it gave me the opportunity to meet people from different countries, something a high school year abroad, for example, wouldn’t give me. If you are more looking for a fulltime study or going to university somewhere I would recommend you visiting the university before hand, believe me if you’re studying there for so long you want to know what the university is like but above all what the place is like you’re staying. Because in some cases studying abroad somewhere can be such a culture shock that you must be sure that you want to stay in that place for such a long time. Also decide on what you want to study, me deciding to study English was quite a mistake, because I was already quite fluent in English, 4 hours of lessons a day for six months didn’t taught me a lot more while it should have. I think it’s better to study something you’re interested in but maybe unfamiliar with, another language such as Spanish for example. Also deciding where you want to stay is important, the first couple of weeks I stayed in a host family, and after that I moved to a student home. Especially staying in a host family was something I had to get used to, don’t always expect a host family to be like a replacement of your real family. You’re just their guest and they most of the time just do it for the money. After I turned 18 I moved to the student home, something I would recommend doing right away if you have the possibility.

Homesickness

Believe me studying abroad is not all about roses. There are always times when you are going to miss home, whether it’s culture related, family, friends, you name it, homesickness and feeling sad is inevitable. Something I’ve experienced for sure. The best thing to do is just to keep yourself busy, go out there, you’re in a new place, go on and explore stuff. Try to meet new people, through school, in a café or even on Tinder. But also try to keep in touch with your friends and family at home, just video-chatting with them can brighten up your day. Being sad is just temporarily so just try to remember to have fun, you don’t want to look back on this experience full of regret.

So these are some of the things you have to look out for when you want to study abroad, although there are some downsides, studying abroad was still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was a great opportunity to meet new people, but it also gave me some time to think about what I wanted out of life and what I want to study. But an important thing to remember is that you’re going to have rough times, but if you just stay open-minded and if you go out there it will all be fine at the end.

-Until next time-

Brit

 

4 tips on how to cure a “travel hangover”

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We all know the feeling, going back home after a trip.  On the one hand on cloud nine because you just had the best time of your life, but one the other hand you get a little bit of reversed homesickness, wanting to go back to the fun times you had. After trips it’s always hard to get back into your daily routine, especially when you have been gone for quite a while. Something I’ve experienced when I came back from Vancouver where I studied for over six months. I went from  being busy everyday with fun stuff, studying and so on back to the farm lands of the Netherlands with my next study only starting in another 5 months, no money left and nothing to do. Being quite depressed at first I slowly found my own way to cure this “travel hangover”.

1. Although we don’t always want to go back to reality when we are bitten by the travel bug, it sometimes is inevitable. The best thing to overcome gap of being between studies or trips is to keep yourself busy. Just by keeping yourself busy, with a job for example, getting a job even if it’s just a summer job like me is the best way to fill your time, and of course also the way to save money for the next adventure.

2. Another thing to keep yourself busy is starting something new, start a language course for example. Not only super useful because it can help you learn the language of your next destination, which can come in handy when visiting places where English is not really spoken, but it’s of course also a great addition to your skill set. Or just starting another course: learn how to paint, how to build websites, whatever seems interesting to you. Or join a club, there are plenty of unique sports or adventure clubs out there. Or you can start a blog like I did, or a youtube channel where you can talk about your adventures.

3. Something else that happens when you’re gone for a long time is that you lose grip of your social relations. Another important point is to rebuilt these relationships, meet up with people, your friends or family it doesn’t matter. Rebuilding these relationship will help you fall back in to your daily routine, in the most easy way possible.

4. My last tip is, what I find to be the best cure, is having a goal. Have a goal for a next trip, or whatever. Something that will motivate you to keep yourself busy, by saving money and working for example. And also it will give you something to look forward to. Something I did was making a travel plan, my goal is to visit either Asia or Latin-America this Augustus, for both destinations I’ve made a plan and how much money I have to save to reach the goal of going there. This helps me to stay motivated and above all it keeps me busy ( and the prospect of going there also helps a lot).

I hope you enjoyed this small article and that it will help you to cure your travel hangover, although it’s sometimes not the most fun thing to go back to your old routine, often it’s necessary.

-Until next time-

Brit

 

My top 5 travel essentials

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Whenever I go on a trip, I of course like to be prepared. Down here you will find the things that I absolutely take with me on my adventures (or at least I always try to take with me). So these are essentials for me, I just wanted to share them and maybe you will learn something from it.

  1. Sunscreen

The absolute most important of them all when going on a trip; sunscreen. I feel like  it’s always important to protect your skin no matter what you do or where you go, especially since I’m a light skinned gal. A myth about sunscreen is that it prevents you from getting a nice tan, the only thing sunscreen does is preventing your skin from getting burned, which is damaging for your skin and can also speed up the ageing process of your skin, which is something we all like to avoid of course. The sunscreen I use the most is by Vision with SPF 30 or higher.

  1. Hiking shoes

Again wherever I go I take my hiking shoes. I’m that kind of person who is more into  adventurous trips, so hiking is a big part of that. In the beginning I always thought of hiking shoes as ugly and unnecessary, but at one point, when I moved to Vancouver (the best place for hiking), I decided that it might be worth to give the ugly shoes a try. It was quite an investment but now I can’t go without them,  for instance  I forgot them when I went to Ticino, I had instant regrets. Now, while it’s quite an investment it’s important to get the right shoe that fits you perfectly and that meets all the criteria. So when you’re looking for hiking shoes I would recommend going to a camping shop or any store that specializes in outdoors. Get someone to help you, and find that perfect shoe, believe me you won’t regret it.

  1. Plastic bottle or glass bottle

No matter where I go , whether there is drinkable water or not, I always like to take a plastic bottle with me. It’s easy to fill up at a tap in your hotel, a washroom or wherever, which will save you a lot of money, and a big bonus is that it’s environmentally friendly. If the water is not drinkable in the place your visiting or you just want to play it safe, bringing your own plastic bottle will allow you to buy big bottles in the grocery store ( 1, 2 or more liter bottles). Buying bigger bottle will save you money, and when you bring your own smaller bottle you can fill it up with the big bottle, so you don’t have to carry that one around (leave it in your hotel, tent, car whatever) (confusing explanation, I know). The bottle I always take with me is the DOPPER bottle, a bottle which a believe is from a Dutch company, but any bottle will do.

  1. Backpack

When I’m travelling I like to mobile since I’m  most of the times hopping from place to place. A backpack is of course great for that. You don’t have to drag it behind you all the time like a suitcase. The only downside is that it’s harder to fit all your stuff in a backpack, also because the more stuff you will have the heavier the backpack will be (logic stuff). But that doesn’t stop me from bringing them everywhere. I personally have three of them, a small leather thrift shop one that I take when I just go somewhere for a day, an Eastpak which is also very popular as a high school backpack, I take it when I go on weekend trips and last but certainly not least I have a very big Fjall Raven backpack ( about 30 liters I would say) that I take on almost all of my trips.

  1. First aid

Personally I’m very prone to having blasters (for example when I forget my hiking shoes), so I always like to have some Band-Aids on me. And in general I’m quite a clumsy person, so some disinfectant also comes in handy from time to time. And lastly I always take some aspirins with me because you never know.

I hope you liked this article and that you might found it useful, and as always:

-Until next time-

Brit