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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
last year and this year I lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, for six months studying English. It was truly amazing. This will be the first article of a mini-series that will be featured on my blog about Vancouver , in these articles I will give some tips on how to spend your time in this gorgeous city, some pros and cons of moving to Vancouver and about my experience studying abroad. In this article I will give you a full guide to Vancouver, the touristic attractions, food, useful information etc.
One of the main things I would recommend is just taking a walk through the city, take a map and map out the things you want to see in downtown. Neighborhoods such as Gastown and Chinatown are certainly worth a visit. Walk on Davie street, the gay street of VC with rainbows everywhere, Granville street, the entertainment street with the nightclubs and Robson street the shopping street. And also Robson Square with its Art Museum, which you can visit by donation on a Tuesday night, otherwise the tickets are about 30 dollars. You do however want to look out for some places, Vancouver is known for its homeless population, and drug use (mainly weed which is quite harmless but also fentanyl users). These issues are to be found on Granville street, and in Chinatown mainly on East-Hastings street. It’s not necessarily something bothering and for sure not dangerous, but it might be something you want to avoid.
Outside of downtown
Places a little bit outside of downtown are Stanley Park and Granville Island. Stanley park is one of the biggest city parks in the world (even bigger then Central Park). The best thing to do when you’re visiting the park is the rent a bike (very cheap in the beginning of the park approx. 8 Canadian dollars an hour) and to bike around the park, on the seawall. From the seawall you’ll get the perfect skyline view of the city, you can see the Lions Gate Bridge and some Totem Poles created by the indigenous people. Another thing to do when visiting the park is to walk the Lost Lagoon trail, it’s a short trail in the park with, I would say, the biggest chance of spotting raccoons. Also to be found in Stanley Park is the Vancouver Aquarium, fun to visit when you’re into that kind of stuff or when you have kids but otherwise I wouldn’t put it on top of your list. The other thing to visit just outside of downtown is Granville Island, at the end of Granville Bridge. Granville Island is a big market place with the best food you’ll find all over Vancouver, fresh fruit, fish and chips and the best damn cheesecake ever! Fun place to go for lunch or on a rainy day (rain is something that happens a lot since Vancouver has about 161 rainy days a year). On Granville Island you can also find a kids market and several cute shops with often handmade or hipster stuff. Also from there you can take a little boat to go to several spots in the city (very fun to do on a day with nice weather), most popular spot to stop it is probably Olympic village or Science world, which is a big science museum that is fun to visit with kids by day, and sometimes there are parties at night.
Vancouver is also the city of hiking, my favorite hiking trail is the Quarry Rock trail in Deep Cove ( North Vancouver). It’s a trail about 1,5 hours in the forest with at the end a beautiful viewing point. Another hiking trail I would recommend is the Grouse Mountain trail up the mountain (only open in the summer). It’s a trail that’s not for the weak, it’s one of the toughest I’ve ever done but it’s worth it for sure. I would say that I walked the trail in about 1,5 hour but the duration varies a lot per person (some people just run up that mountain like it’s nothing). On top of the mountain you will find a restaurant, a fun lumberjack show and some brown bears (behind bars may I add). If you’re not feeling the hike you can take the cable cart up the mountain (also the way to go back, going back by foot is too dangerous). Another “hike” that’s often popular among tourists is to go to Capilano Suspension Bridge , a good place to go to when you have money to spend because the entrance costs about 35 Canadian dollars, which is in my opinion totally not worth it. A better and free option is to go to Lynn Canyon where they also have a suspension bridge. Last but not least another amazing hiking place if the Lighthouse Park, a beautiful place to watch the sunset.
Although nine out of ten times it doesn’t snow in Metro Vancouver, up in the mountains there is plenty of snow and ideal for winter activities. There are three main mountains: Cypress mountain, Seymour mountain and Grouse mountain. If you’re by car then you should go to Cypress or Seymour because they are the cheaper ski/snowboard options. However, if you’re like me without a car, your best option is to go to Grouse since it’s the only mountain that’s easy accessible with public transport. For both Seymour and Cypress you have to take a shuttle bus which costs quite a bit of money.
If you are looking for a shopping experience you have three options. The most popular one is to go to Robson street in downtown, there you will find your Victoria Secret and Forever 21. If you want easy and convenient shopping you can go to Metrotown, the classical mall in Burnaby just outside of Vancouver, easy accessible by the Skytrain. The last option is Mainstreet, probably the most convenient since the stores on that street are quite divided, however if you are looking for the thrift shops and hipster shops it’s probably your only option.
Personally what I think is the most amazing thing about Vancouver is that it’s so versatile, because besides the shopping, the mountains, the forests and it’s city life it also has beaches. The main beach in downtown is English Bay at the end of Davie street, the place of the Canadian geese, seagulls, illegal fires in the evening and of course in the summer the place to relax. Another favorite beach of mine is at the UBC Campus which is accessible by the public is Wreck Beach. This is by far my favorite place in Vancouver, an easy way to escape the city and the perfect place to watch the sunset. However it is a nudist beach, no, no this doesn’t mean you have to go naked to visit this place it just means you might spot some naked people. While I was there mainly in the winter, I only saw a couple who were crazy enough to show off their bums at 5 degrees. Besides that the Campus of UBC in general is a nice place to visit, very popular among Asian tourists. It has one of the most popular museums of Vancouver: the museum of Anthropology. Which is fun to visit, again when it rains, but also if you would like to know a little bit more about the history of Vancouver and it’s indigenous populations.
Hollywood of the north
If you are a great lover of films, Vancouver is the city for you. Because the price of producing movies is cheaper in Vancouver a lot of shows and movies are shot there. It’s fun to spot actors or places where movies have been shot, think of the Fairmont hotel downtown which was used for The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. You can think of movies such as Fifty Shades, Deadpool, The Interview, and many more. And series such as The 100, The Flash and Supernatural. Another nice thing is that on Tuesday it’s cinema day, which means you can go to the cinema for half the price ( again a great activity on one of those 161 rainy days)
Food and stays
For some cheap and delicious food I would always go to either Umeda or the Warehouse, both situated on Granville street. Umeda is a sushi place with truly terrific sushi, for the lowest price ever. My favorite pick from the menu is the “sushi deal” where you can pick three different kinds of sushi (nigiri, cones, rolls etc.) and then they will bring you a plate with 20 pieces of sushi and a free miso soup for only $7,59, and after all of that you will have a foodbaby for sure. The other cheap pick is the Warehouse, where everything on the menu is $5,-, they have various kinds of food from the classical Canadian dish: poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds) to hamburgers to noodles to tortillas. If you’re looking for something a little bit more high-end but still affordable, I would go to the Pacifico on Smithe street. Your classical Italian restaurant, with amazing pizza’s that are pretty close to the real thing, and pasta of course. If you are looking for something “more Canadian” you can of course try poutine which they basically sell everywhere. Or you can go to the fast food chain A&W, which is kind off the MacDonald’s of Canada or try going to Tim Hortons, the Canadian Starbucks but then way cheaper and more food options. Also the place to get your coffee, not into coffee then try going to a Blenz where they have a variety of teas and other beverages, and the best hot chocolate ever. When I lived in Vancouver I stayed at the Sandman Suites on Davie street, a hotel a would recommend if you are looking for a place where you can cook as well, although keep in mind that a lot of students life there which can cause some noise disturbance. Another place I stayed during the Christmas Holidays was the Hyatt hotel on Burrard street, a nice hotel if you don’t mind spending some money with probably the best breakfast I’ve ever had (they even had rice options and so on, it was great).
The city of Vancouver has a very convenient public transport system, if you’re staying for a longer time I would recommend buying a Compass Card. On a Compass Card you can put money and use it for the public transport, in the bus you can also pay with coins but the train is only with the Compass Card. You can buy a Compass Card at London Drugs, which is the main drugstore in Vancouver. You can load your Card in the train stations, but you can also buy a one day card in the station. Another thing to note is that in restaurants, just like in America, the waiters expect a tip of at least 15%, and that is considered quite rude if you don’t give a tip.
I hope this information will help you out when visiting Vancouver and that you enjoy it as much as I did.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Last summer I visited Wroclaw with a friend, truly a city chosen at random. I received the trip as a graduation present, for three short days we were off to the city in southwestern Poland. By losing two days to travelling we had time to spent one day in the city. And this is how we spend it, with my recommendations and reasons why you should consider Poland worth a visit.
Because we went in the beginning of July the temperature was more than great in Wroclaw, we arrived at the airport and we found are way easily with the help of Google Maps and convenient public transport throughout the city. One of the best reasons to visit Poland is because it’s cheaper than cheap, while I don’t know what was paid for the hotel since it was a gift, things such as a bus ticket will only cost you 2 zlotys which is about 45 eurocents (!) or just casual dinner in the center of the city, pizza with a coke perhaps? About 11 zlotys which is only €2,60. While cheapness is not the only reason why Poland is worth it, it’s also its eastern-European culture and architecture. What we of course found in the city of Wroclaw. If you only have a day to spend in the city I would recommend just taking a tour by foot through it, like we did. We first of walked to the love lock bridge ( like every city has of course) on our way stopping at a few statues and little churches ( that you have to visit for sure). After some picture taking, we made our way to the famous Rynek Market Square where you will find fun colorful buildings with beautiful architecture, the town hall and an abundance of restaurants. After we walked around the square for a bit, we went to a church from where you could look out over the city. In the evening we ate dinner, what I found surprising about Wroclaw is that they had the biggest variety of food places, we ended up in a vegan restaurant where I ate a classic Polish delicacy, perogies which are like dumplings (I would highly recommend you try them out). What was another surprising aspect of the city was the great deal of art they had throughout the city, you can find wall paintings and statues of all kinds (which was great since I’m a true art junkie). Also there are little dwarfs statues spread throughout the city as part of an art project, there were 50 of them to be exact and can work as a fun activity by trying to spot them. After a day of doing all that we sadly had to go home, when you’re staying longer there are still plenty of things to explore in the city such as the zoo or botanical gardens.
If you are looking for an eastern-European city quite unknown to the big heaps of tourists, why not give Wroclaw a try? Or Poland in general, the perfect cheap and cultural getaway.
-Until next time-
One of the 50 dwarfs just chillin’
A “classical” European city thing; a love lock bridge
A couple of weeks ago a visited my friend in Switzerland, who lives in this gorgeous place, to be exact she lives in Giubiasco which is a city in the canton of Ticino. First of all some background information about Switzerland. Switzerland exist out of four language groups, so kind of four main cultures. The biggest part is the Swiss-German part which takes up about 64% of the population, after that you have the French part, the Italian part which is 8% of the people and then last but not least Reto-Roman part which is also the smallest part of Switzerland. Ticino, the canton that I visited, is the main Italian speaking canton of Switzerland. So here are some of my recommendations when visiting the area of Ticino.
What makes Ticino the perfect get-away is it existing out of two cultures, the Italian one with not wholly unimportant to mention its delicious food and the rich and unique Swiss culture, and of course it’s pleasant climate which I was happy to escape to in rainy mid-April Netherlands. During my stay in Ticino I stayed, as above mentioned, at a friend’s place in Giubiasco, which means that I unfortunately have no accommodation recommendations. However I would recommend flying to Milan instead of Lugano, which is the canton’s city airport, mainly because it’s way cheaper and it will give you some time to spend in the city of shopping. And from the airport it´s quite easy to take the train which will take you wherever you desire in Switzerland (and big bonus, going by train is beautiful, it will give you quite some time to appreciate the beautiful landscape).
While I stayed with my friend I visited a few of the main attractions in the area. The first day me and my friend hiked up to Ponte Tibetano, which is a suspension bridge connecting two of the mountains in Bellinzona ( the capital of Ticino). Definitely worth the long and heavy hike, would recommend going a little bit early in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day unless of course going in the winter. In my opinion was the hike quite hard especially in the beginning but when you reach the bridge with its view, you will realize it’s worth the struggle. After the hike we went to downtown Bellizona to get this (I think) very Italian thing which is called an aperitivo, it’s where you go to a bar or restaurant (wherever they serve this magical concept), you order a drink ( Aperol Spritz is most common), while you’re sipping your alcoholic beverage they will serve several rounds of food, food that you can just take for free as long as you pay your drink. You can think of foods such as fried things, but also little bowls of pasta. Aperitivo is common to eat before dinner, but you can even eat it instead of dinner (like me and my friend did, and we were full for sure).
Another great thing to visit is the castles of Bellinzona, easy to reach with public transport like everything in the area. The first castle you will find in the city center of Bellizona, the second one is a little higher and the third one is the highest up which is best to reach with a car. I preferred the third castle due to the beautiful view it comes with, so if you’re short on time I would recommend skipping the first and second one to give you a little bit more time to reach the third castle. The third castle you can also reach by foot, but it takes quite some time and quite some effort. Another thing that’s fun to do when you’re visiting the castles is to go for lunch there, the third castle has a restaurant inside the castle that’s open sometimes. As for the first and second, what we did was ordering a pizza in the city center (of course you have to eat pizza when visiting a place with Italian culture) and then you take the pizza to the castle so you can have a little picnic in the castle fields.
Another recommendation would be to visit on the lakes, the one I visit was the one in Locarno which is called Lago Maggiore. The lake is a perfect place to hang out, although it’s quite touristy. Also the city of Locarno is fun to walk through, with little markets. I would recommend this lake because it’s beautiful but if you’re not that much into places booming with tourists I would certainly skip it.
So, if you’re ever in the area of either Italy or Switzerland, why not bring a visit to beautiful Ticino?