Italy – Rome

I actually wanted to post this travel article last Monday, but I didn’t plan my things too well and my mum came over, so that’s why it’s a week later.. sorry! I planned to go to Rome this year and so I booked a ticket for the end of May. Steven wanted to come with me, what was extra fun. It was our first real holiday together, even though it was only for 3 nights. Steven chose a lovely hotel, right next to Vatican City, what turned out to be a super location. We also got the Omnia Card. This is a card you can use for public transport, the tour bus, 2 tourist activities and Vatican City, all for one price. We got the 72 hour card for £113. The good thing about it is that you don’t have to get transport tickets everywhere and you can skip the (very long) queues. Especially when it’s 30C, you want this! I thought it was very handy and it worked well, until we used it for Vatican City though. This was because it’s the only thing you have to book in advance, but it was very unclear how to do it and it didn’t work. Luckily we did get in, but very last minute. More about this later.

We had to get up very early the Wednesday we left. We had a quick breakfast (thank you PRET and Starbucks!) at the airport before we headed to our gate. The journey went well and before we knew it, we were in Rome. We took one of the many coaches standing in front of the airport (€4,90). With the Omnia card you can probably take the public transport from there too, but we thought before we find out where the buses depart etc. this was just easier. It doesn’t take more than 45 min before you’re in the middle of Rome. The coaches drop you off at the Termini train station. Perfect! It was lunch time when we got out and I did a little research, so I knew that there was a vegan place not far from there. We walked there and though the place, called iPhame, looked lovely, it’s very small and we couldn’t sit there. So we went somewhere else. On our way there we did see another restaurant we liked because of the floor and bar. They actually didn’t do any vegan meals, but they were very helpful and totally ok with me telling them what I wanted. I ordered a pasta with veggies and it was super delicious! We then took the tour bus, very close from there, to see most of the tour. We got out at Vatican City, because from there it was only a 10 min walk to our hotel. We stayed at the ‘Infinity Hotel St. Peter’, what is a lovely hotel. It was clean, neat and the bed was very comfy. As we woke up so early and it was already the end of the afternoon, we took a refreshing shower and relaxed a bit. In the beginning of the evening we took a little walk to explore Rome whilst there was a lovely summer eve breeze. On our way back we stopped at a pizzeria and I ordered a pizza with mushrooms and olives. Our expectations were high, being in Italy. The pizza was quite disappointing though. It looked nice, but it actually had no taste at all. It made us laugh as it seemed quite ironic, eating a pizza without taste in the middle of Rome. On our way back to the hotel we enjoyed the views of Rome by night. Beautiful really!

The next day, Thursday, we had breakfast at the hotel before we walked all the way to the Colosseum. The breakfast was quite ok for a vegan by the way. There were some fruit options, cherry tomatoes, different types of bread, jam, juice and also muesli and cereals. I did email them a few weeks in advance to ask about this, but they never replied. A shame, but I was happy to see that at least there were some options. The walk to the Colosseum was already an activity on its own, because wohw.. Rome is a beautiful city! We passed the Altare della Patria and many beautiful little streets, but to stand in the Colosseum was truly amazing. Something so historic and it’s just almost surreal to be inside. Imagining the things that happened there many years ago.. it made me feel absolutely amazed. When we came out it was lunchtime and though we did go to a place where they serve a vegan breakfast with croissants (and I really wanted one!), they were sold out. What is a good thing I guess, but a shame I didn’t get to try them. So we kept walking until we found something else, but it was a little tricky. We eventually sat down at a place that looked nice, but they also didn’t do vegan food. They were happy to serve the side dishes though. So I had potatoes and some roasted veggies. The veggies were nice and though the potatoes tasted ok, the structure felt like they were heated in the microwave. What was much better.. the gelato we had for dessert at a place around the corner from there. I had coconut (with little pieces of coconut in it) and chocolate. Gosh that was very yummy! A lot of gelato places (and you see them everywhere) do vegan options. Just ask! It was very hot, like 30C, but we did walk to the Roman Forum anyway. It was something we definitely wanted to see and the Colosseum and the Roman Forum together, counts as one on the Omnia card. It was a beautiful place and I’m very happy to have seen it. It’s hard and at the same time so amazing to believe that people actually lived there. They walked on the very same ground you’re walking on. Though in ruins, the temples there were actually used. I just love things like this. When we came out, it was the end of the afternoon already. We were so hot and we really felt our feet, so we walked back to the hotel to freshen up and relax a bit. On our way we popped into a supermarket and I was so happy to see so many vegan options! There was so much.. a lot of choices in seitan for example. In just an ordinary supermarket. I wish my Tesco across the road would do that too, haha! Steven and I chose some things to take home. (In the meantime we already tried the seitan in some wraps and it’s delicious. Only the seitan with rosemary was quite intense. Nice, but just very strong.) I also really liked the pasta with spirulina and so we took that too. We didn’t try that yet though. We walked all the way back to the hotel. On my phone I could see we took more than 21.000 steps (14 km) and so we really deserved a good break. Close to the was a place called Flower Burger and we walked there to get a take away later that evening. And YAY! This is a place you have to go to. First of all the place is 100% vegan, the place itself looks amazing (great texts on the walls) and they do the most amazing burgers. All handmade right there and they are delicious!

On Friday we planned to go to Vatican City, but we weren’t able to book it online. We tried it several times via the website and the app (which appeared to be non-existent). So we went to the Vatican and asked there. Turned out we needed to use the email we got in the whole beginning for this. What isn’t mentioned anywhere in the guide. Really unclear. Luckily there was still space for us the next day, but we had to go with a guide though. We both are not a fan of this, but it was the only way. And as it was something we both really wanted to do, we accepted. So we had to change the plan for today. We decided to go to the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps. We took the bus for the first bit and got out only a 5 min walk from the Pantheon. From there it’s only a short walk to the Trevi Fountain. I really liked seeing this. It’s also something you see in so many movies (including my favourite Eat Pray Love) etc. We took some pictures and of course we threw in a coin. We did it together.. how romantic! After the Spanish steps we decided it was time for lunch. The vegan places I looked up in advance turned out to be quite far from where we were, so we tried to look for something what looked nice. It was still quite early for lunch, but then Steven found a place with a vegetarian all you can eat buffet. Apart from 2 things, everything was vegan and I really loved the food. Very fresh and full of taste. It’s a cold buffet, so if you prefer a hot meal, you better skip this. We still had an activity to choose from our Omnia card, so in the afternoon we went to see Castel Sant’Angelo. But first.. some more gelato! We took the bus to Vatican City (Castel Sant’Angelo is next to that) and we had to go into a few shops before we found one who sold vegan gelato. This one did have so much choice though, so I had dark chocolate (obviously), banana, passion fruit and raspberry. We ate it on a wall in front of Castel Sant’Angelo, before we got in. It was nice to see the inside, but the best part was definitely to be on top of it. Not only a beautiful view from there, but also the first shot of the first Rome-scene of the movie Eat Pray Love, is filmed from Castle Sant’Angelo. I loved it!! Very hot though, but fantastic! We decided to go back to the hotel, to freshen up after we came down. Later that evening we took a stroll, trying to look for a better pizza. We found a place where the pizza looked good, so we sat down. The staff was very very unfriendly and unwelcoming. It kind of annoyed me, but we were too stubborn and determined to try a good pizza in Italy. The pizza was very nice luckily. The only thing was that they didn’t do sauce at this restaurant. Apparently the cheese was also the sauce and as I order without cheese, I got a pizza base with veggies. It was very yummy, so no complains about the food. It was just strange.

Our last day and it was Vatican City day. The day before, I bought little pack of Soy milk in the supermarket, so I was able to try the cereal and muesli at breakfast. I also suggest they put a plant based milk option next time. I hope they will. The whole guided tour started off a little odd. We had to walk around half the Vatican, before we entered and with a group of about 20 people and 813938134 tourists everywhere, it’s not the handiest thing and it takes a lot of time. Luckily we had a lovely guide and it was very nice to listen to all the things she knew about the Vatican. Being inside was ah-mazing!! I loved it, everything! So much art and all so detailed, it was fantastic really! Especially going into the Sistine Chapel and to see the famous work of Michelangelo was so amazing, that I have no words for it. Unfortunately I had a lot of pain in my neck this day and so going this day to admire Michelangelo’s work wasn’t the best combination (al lot is on the ceiling). I’m still very happy to have seen in though! Something super 
ironic and hilarious.. you were not allowed to talk in the Sistine Chapel (what is hard to begin with for me), but that every minute a man told everybody in 2 languages to be quiet.. very loud through a microphone, haha! And then, to finish our Rome adventure we went inside the St.Peter Basilica and wohw! I’ve never seen such a beautiful and such a big church in my life. It was breathtaking! We saw the Pietà and we walked around jaw dropping. We were both so happy, that in the end, we did get to see this all, even though the Omnia Card almost ruined it. We did have to keep an eye on the time for our flight that afternoon, so a few last pictures from the outside, before we went back to the hotel to get our bags. Not before we had another (pink) burger at Flower Burger for lunch though! Our flight was a little delayed, but it was alright, we just relaxed and before we knew it we were back in our beloved London!

You probably realised, after reading all this, Rome is a must go city! Rome is basically one big museum. Everything is beautiful and you keep walking around with your head turning from left to right and up and down (no wonder my neck was hurting the last day). You really feel like you don’t have enough eyes to soak it all in. I really loved seeing the Colosseum and the Vatican City, but I think what I loved the most is the little streets. There are so many beautiful little streets, with little balconies, flowers, amazing colours on the walls, old doors, going up and down, scooters lined up and even some great street art. I could walk these little streets forever. Also Rome is, surprisingly, very good with veganism. There are many vegan places and otherwise they are happy to make you something vegan. (Just make sure they have a fully understanding of what veganism is.) Most of the people we met were very helpful! Another handy thing in Rome is, that there are drinking fountains all over the city, where you can have a few sips or fill up your bottle. Perfect for when it’s hot and you have to make sure you stay extra hydrated. The thing I really didn’t like about Rome were all the people who try to sell you things, like selfie sticks, batteries, bracelets, water.. they are everywhere and even though you say no, they keep putting it (literally) in your face. It was a very aggressive way of selling and they’re everywhere you go. Try to ignore them though and keep looking around you!

HOTSPOTS:
iPhame – Via Agostino Depretis, 64, 00184.
Infinity Hotel St. Peter – Via Catone, 34, 00192.
Bar La Licata – Via dei Serpenti, 165, 00184.
Nest – Via del Leone, 23, 00183.
Flower Burger – Via dei Gracchi, 87, 00192. (!!)

TOURISTY:
Altare della Patria
Colosseum
Roman Forum
The Phanteon
Trevi Fountain
Spanish Steps
Castel Sant’Angelo
Vatican City (St.Peters Basilica + Sistine Chapel)

Have you been to Rome yet? Did you know about these cool hotspots or do you have any other recommendations? Are you really excited to go now? I would love to hear about your trip and experiences! You can leave a comment below or you can show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Netherlands – Easter

Early early! My boyfriend, Steven, and I had to wake up at 3:00 in the night. Walk to the bus stop and get to LiverpoolStreet. From there we took an Uber as the trains didn’t go as normal. So annoying, but apart from that it’s a lot more expensive, it’s easy though. Or it should be easy.. because the driver almost wanted to drop us off at Stansted. Steven noticed it just in time and so we were able to turn around. We did make it in time and didn’t have to wait long at the airport itself. The flight went well and within an hour we were in Amsterdam. We started with a Starbucks on Schiphol and then took the train to Amsterdam Central. I made a whole planning (always prepared) and so we started as planned, at Dam Square. From there we took a right to the Singel and crossed at the Blauwburgwal bridge. There in the corner is vegan shop called: Vega Life. They sell all vegan things here. For a good pair of vegan shoes, belts, shirts and much more, this is where you want to go. It’s not big, but they have a lot of choice. It was nice to have a quick look. From there we walked to the Prinsengracht, crossing the Herengracht and the Keizergracht. I wanted to have lunch at Bolhoed, a quite known vegetarian/vegan place. It was still a little early though, so we decided to walk around in the Jordaan (an area in Amsterdam) for a little while. We saw a lovely bakery and Steven wanted to go in for a coffee. But when he saw the delicious bread with jam a lady next to us was eating, he wanted that too. It was called the children’s sandwich, but who cares. He loved it! I had a fresh mint tea and after that we made our way to Bolhoed. The first thing I saw when coming in was a very big Main Coon! He looked so fake the way he was lying down, but after a while he moved, haha! Bolhoed is very vintage. Very different from everything you know. It really reminded me of Berlin. Vintage, strange art, but very easy going. I ordered pitta bread, with salad and humous and Steven ordered the soup of the day. Their menu isn’t big, but almost everything is vegan. The food was nice, but I expected a lot more from it. It was fresh and filling though, so it was definitely getting me through the afternoon. We walked on the Prinsengracht, all the way to the Rijksmuseum. On the way we passed a very cool Japanese Antique shop, called ‘Van Hier Tot Tokio‘ (translated: From Here To Tokyo). Steven’s eyes started twinkling and we basically looked at everything in there. Very nice! The Rijksmuseum is amazing. The building form the outside is already very impressive, but the inside is amazing too! I always wanted to go here, but I never took the time. It was very nice to now share this experience with Steven. We saw so many beautiful paintings from such famous artists.. Van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer.. but most impressive, was the ‘Night Watch’ from Rembrandt. It was amazing to see this in real life. It’s absolutely beautiful and a little bigger than I expected. The whole museum is very impressive and definitely worth going! When we came out of the museum, we took a little break at Museumplein (Museum Square). This is the big square behind the museum. It’s beautiful, with lots of tulips, water and grass. There are some little coffee/food stands and Steven got a veggie burger. They even had a vegan burger, but the only thing was that it was sold out.. a shame, but also very positive! Haha! I wasn’t very hungry actually, just the fact that a random food stand has a vegan burger makes me want to try it. Try it for me in case you can get your hands on them and let me know if it was good. We walked towards the Vijzelgracht and Steven drunk a beer on the corner there. We had lovely seats, next to the canal, in the sunshine! Then we followed the Lijnbaangracht and de Reguliersgracht, until we reached Rembrandtplein. It started of quite chilly in the morning, but now it was lovely and sunny, with a bright blue sky. We walked back via the Kalverstraat (shopping street) and the Rokin, towards the red district. Every tourist goes here and as it’s Steven’s first time in Amsterdam, I had to take him. It was quiet on the Wallen, but it’s a good way to make our way back to the station. In the meantime it was already a little after 17:00 and after another Starbucks and getting some snacks at ‘AH to Go’, we got our suitcases (we left them in a locker at the station, so handy!) and our train tickets. Turned out that the train wasn’t going to Zwolle and so we had to change 3 times before we got out at Assen. It was 22:00 in the meantime, but my mum was waiting for us over there and it was sooo lovely to see her and to introduce her to Steven. I love my mum and on the way home, what is only 20 min, we already had so many laughs. At home Julian (my brother) and his girlfriend Marsha were there and it was so amazing to see them too! Also aways lovely to cuddle the cats Kenya and Dublin and Nynjo the dog. And so nice to all introduce them to Steven. My mum moved houses a while ago and this was also the first time I saw her new house. A lovely black, cozy, Swedish house. I love it!! We all kept chatting a little bit, but as Steven and I were already awake for almost 22 hours and had such a busy day, we were also happy for our heads to finally touch the pillow.

The next day I had to drop my mum off at work at 7:00, so Steven and I were able to use the car in the morning. I did crawl back into bed for a little bit after I came back though, but then we really had to get up and get the Easter groceries. We had to go to 5 different shops and Steven still regrets he came with me. I’m kind of a nightmare in supermarkets. I did make a list, but I do like to take my time. Reading ingredients and think about how much I need. I love it, but it turns out, Steven and I do not have that in common, haha! We went to my mum’s work to pick her up (For the people who don’t know: she works as a hostess at Rikus in Eext, a lovely hotel-restaurant. You can read about it in my other travel posts from the Netherlands if you like.) and she showed Steven around. At home I made Vivera burgers for everybody. They’re so yummy and there will be a huge review about this amazing brand soon. Stay tuned! If I had to believe my weather app it was going to rain the whole time, but this Saturday afternoon it was actually quite nice outside. Though the wind was a little cold, we (Julian, Marsha, Steven and I) decided to cycle to the lake anyway. It’s less than 10 min and it’s very beautiful over there, with lots of good memories. We skipped stones over the water and though Steven made it look very easy (he is so good at it), I managed to do it 3 times, but with a lot of effort, haha! It was very nice to be in the forest and we even saw lots of tadpoles in the lake, yay! Later that day I started baking. I had to make the whole Easter brunch by myself, for 9 people. Normally my sister and I make it together, but she wasn’t coming unfortunately. So I started with a chocolate chia pudding, the Hopping Bread, a vegetable bread and a frittata. It all went well, but I couldn’t make more, because we (my mum, Julian, Marsha, Steven) decided to go out for dinner. We went to Breed, a wok-buffet restaurant. My dad came too, what was so nice and we had a lovely evening all together. They have a lot of vegan options and it’s very tasty. After we came home I put the veggie bread in the oven and Steven helped me preparing the carrot cake.

I woke up at 8:00 to continue making the brunch. It was going to start at around 11:00, but I still had to bake the frittata, the croissants, the little breads and bake the pancakes. I also wanted to make scones, but as there was already so much and not that much time, I decided not to. Steven helped me and that was really nice, as it didn’t only go faster, but it was also nice to make it with him. My mum and dad arrived around 9:00, Julian invited a friend from school and my sister dropped off my nephew and niece, Jinan & Joella.. and when everybody finally arrived, we started eating all the goodies. Everybody luckily really liked it and everything turned out well. I was worried about the frittata, as I never made it before and I just did something, without having a recipe, but everybody actually really liked it. A shame I didn’t write down what I did. I have to make it again and make it into a recipe I  guess. After the brunch and after everything was tidy and clean again, my mum, Steven and I went to my dad’s place. He also just moved houses, so we had to see his place too of course. He lives in the middle of the forest (the forest where we had loads of family holidays) in a lovely sweet little house with a veranda. I loved it so much! We did have to get back in time, because we were a little tired and my mum, Steven and I planned to go to the cinema. So after some nice tea, we drove back, we all had a quick nap and then drove to Groningn, where the cinema is. This cinema is inside the football stadium. It’s avery nice cinema. We went to see ‘The Beauty & The Beast’. I already watched it 2 times, but I loveee this movie and I really wanted to watch it again (and again actually). Steven also already watched it (we went together, right after it came out), so he went for the second time. My mum never watched it and that was the reason why we went. It was so nice to watch it again. If you didn’t go yet, then book your tickets now, before it’s too late! It’s the best movie I’ve every watched in the cinema, in my life. It’s like going to a musical. As soon as it’s on iTunes, I’ll buy it. In the meantime I listen to the songs and the music all day long. I can tell you that Steven doesn’t really appreciate the ‘repeat’ button atm. Hehe..

Today we planned to go to the north. To see the house where I grew up, the dikes, the sea, my grandparents and my best friends. We left a little later than we wanted to, but there was still enough time. For me it’s already a treat to drive the car, as I don’t get to do that much in London anymore and I absolutely love driving. It was so nice to show Steven the place I grew up and all the memories I have around there. Though it was very cold and windy at the dikes (as always), we did take some lovely pictures. We then went to my friend Nienke and her daughter Annemarie. Always so nice to see them, especially because Annemarie grows so fast and she looks like a different girl every time I see her. They also
have a pig, doggies and a cat.. so lots of cuddling! We didn’t stay long, because we also wanted to go to my grandparents. We had a cup of tea there, but as they can’t speak English and our flight was going in a few hours, we had to head back after that. Still lovely to see my grandparents though and to introduce Steven. I know they really appreciated this. When we got home we quickly packed our suitcases and left to the airport. Everything went smooth, but it’s never nice to say goodbye to my mum. It was so short this time, only 3 nights. But we did have such an amazing time. Busy days, but all worth it!

HOTSPOT LIST:
Vega Life
– Singel 110, 1015 AE, Amsterdam.
Bolhoed – Prinsengracht 60-62, 1015 DX, Amsterdam.
Van Hier Tot Tokio – Prinsengracht 262-HS, 1016 HH, Amsterdam.
Rijksmuseum – Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam.
Museumplein (Museum Square) Amsterdam.
Kalverstraat (shopping) Amsterdam.
Rikus – Hoofdstraat 10, 9463 PC, Eext.
Breed – Nieuwe Streek 35, 9351 BZ, Leek.
Kinepolis Cinema – Boumaboulevard 53, 9723 ZS, Groningen.

Have you been to Amsterdam? Did you know about these cool hotspots (you can find more in my earlier travel post about Amsterdam) or are you really excited to go now? I would love to hear about your trip! ..and what did you do with Easter? Please tag me in your Easter creations! You can also comment below or you can show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Netherlands – Xmas Holidays

img_3639The end of 2016 was quite hectic for me. Mainly because I had to find another job before I could book my ticket to Holland. At some points it was so stressful, but in the end I got to choose between 2 jobs. It was hard, but I did it and then I could finally book my flight to Holland for the Christmas holidays.. and a little longer, as my new job doesn’t start until the 16th (yes.. that’s today!). So I booked a flight from the 20th of December until the 9th of January. Steven, my boyfriend, left the 16th for his holiday to Brazil and was going to come back just 2 days before me. So the time in Holland would be a good distraction from missing him. Even though I basically did something every day and it sometimes felt busy, it was also quite a relaxed holiday, because I had 3 weeks. And because it’s 3 weeks and that’s quite long, I will write a little bit of what I did every day, like a journal. Of course I do have a few hotspots too! I will list them in the end, so you can easily find them.

img_3678December 20
I was so excited about this day. I was just very much looking forward to Holland. Partly cuz I already  missed my boyfriend like crazy and because I love Christmas! I left very early as my flight was at 7:40 in the morning. I like to book early flights, because otherwise the day is so long before you can finally leave and also because then you don’t feel like you’re spending the whole day traveling. I had 2 (heavy) suitcases and my handbag, but I managed to get to the airport at a perfect time. The flight was very relaxed and that 1 hour I was in the air, I even snoozed a little bit. At the airport my sister and my niece were waiting for me. It was such a nice surprise to have my niece running to me with her face all brightened up. What a lovely moment! We drove straight to Rikus, my mum’s work. I wrote about Rikus before, but for the people who don’t know yet, Rikus is a hotel – restaurant, in a former farm. It’s a beautiful renovated building, with lots of peace and amazing nature around it. So in case you ever want to escape the big city and go for total silence.. book a room! (I’ll list them as a hotspot again) It was so nice to see my mum, even though I’ve seen her not that long ago. It always feels like I haven’t seen her for ages. We went back home for some tea, before we went to the hairdressers. My mum wanted to cut her hair. I didn’t agree with it, as I like my mum’s hair long. So with me not taking my eyes of the scissors it was being cut. In the end, I must say, though I prefer it the way it was, it was looking very nice. It reminded me I have to cut my hair myself. I always do that myself and I might write an article about it one day if you guys will like that?! After the hairdressers we went to the snackbar, what is so Dutch. You can compare it with the Fish&Chips shops available in the UK. Only at the snackbar you get mainly fries, and you choose some sort of snack with it. There are no vegan options if it comes to the snacks, but I love fries so much, that I don’t mind. I brought my own Vegenaise mayonnaise and I really enjoyed the veryyy yummy fries. What a great end of my first day.

img_5242December 21
I decided to go to Germany today with my mum, my sister, my niece and Odette (a very nice colleague of my mum). It’s only an hour drive. Just across the border, in Leer, there is a very big shopping mall, where apparently things are a lot cheaper. I never went, so I was curious. Nobody knew exactly where to go to, so we first ended up in the centre of Leer. What was actually very nice. Next to where we parked the car was the Bio Markt, where I got some nice vegan goodies. Yummm! I bought a new shirt at H&M and I’m very happy with it. Though I had to keep a close eye on what I spend, I had to get this shirt. I wore it a lot already, it’s one of my favourites now, so worth it. I also bought this cute wooden sign what says ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’, on sale. We eventually used the TomTom to find this big shopping mall, called ‘Familia’. We first had some tea there and then we did some more shopping. I didn’t think it was that much cheaper, but I did get some nice things. It was still nice to be in a huge supermarket, I love that. We had so much fun too, good laughs! In the evening my mum and I did the Christmas tree.. I know, a little late. It was very nice though. As we’re celebrating Christmas, the gifts have to go somewhere.. haha!

img_4579December 22
Today my dad got the most amazing news ever! It needs a little explaining first.. my dad is ill and he can’t work anymore because of too much pain. It became impossible. Though in Holland it isn’t easy to just stop working. What is a good thing, but if what you have makes it sometimes a lot of times impossible to even function normally during the day, there comes a point where you need to stop working. My dad reached that point about 2 years ago already, but he kept trying. He is an all round carpenter/builder, specialised in renovating, so it’s heavy work. The whole process of being able to stop working, but still to receive the money you have the right to, is long and sometimes very unfair. It was super stressful, what made the illnesses worse. But today.. he finally received the letter, after all his hard work, that he didn’t have to work anymore, but would still receive his payments! To get this incredible news just before Christmas is just so amazing! You probably understand that there were a lot of happiness tears! It made the day very special. Another very nice thing was that Julian, my brother, and Marsha, his girlfriend, performed together on stage for the first time and it was so lovely. They sung a beautiful song whilst Julian also played the guitar! I watched the little video about a 100 times. So proud! In the evening my mum and I watched one of my favourite Christmas movies, ‘Love Actually’. Gosh I love that movie!

December 23
Apparently everything we did for Christmas needed to be late, because we went to get groceries today. Normally I’m never like this, especially not when it comes to Christmas (remember I started to do my Christmas shopping in October?). Lucky us, we didn’t need a lot of things other people needed too, so everything was there and it was very cheap. We had enough food for 8 people (ok and we still ate from it 2 days after, so we could have had 12 people over I think). All together it was something like 80 euros, which I think is such a good price. In the afternoon I looked after my nephew Jinan. We went to the little village supermarket, because he wanted to get Julian and Marsha something for Christmas. What is so sweet, as he’s 9. My heart melted of course. He picked sweets and chocolate and we wrapped it together. They were the first presents under the tree. When we got home I worked on my blog and he also did some things on the laptop. In the evening I cooked us some dinner and we ate it together, he’s so sweet! In Holland ‘The Voice of Holland’ is on at the moment and so my mum and I watched that together. A lovely relaxed evening in front of the telly. Did you know the program originally comes from Holland?

img_3836December 24
I planned to drive to the north today, to Uithuizermeeden to be precise. To deliver some last Christmas cards (again, I know.. late!) and my best friends and my grandparents live there. When I wanted to post my aunt and uncle’s Christmas card they just got out of the car with 2 of my cousins, so we had a little chat, was nice to see them. Then I drove to my grandparents and I stayed there for a few hours. I love my grandparents and I always see them every time I visit Holland. It’s important to me. In the afternoon I went to the house of my friends, Nienke, Jeroen and their 1 year old daughter, Annemarie. We had a late lunch together and did lots of chatting. They got me some very nice gifts and Nienke made me a very nice hand-made card and tags. I also always see them when I go to Holland. I know Nienke since I was a toddler and Jeroen since I was 13. I love them! One of the reasons I also love to go to the north is because I love to drive the car, haha! As it’s Christmas evening my parents and I decided to watch a Christmas movie together. I actually wanted to watch ‘Elf’, but my dad is not a big fan and so we looked on Netflix. I actually like movies I already watched before (haha!), but there was this movie called ‘The Spirit of Christmas’, what looked nice and none of us watched it before, so we gave it a try. Turned out to be such a nice movie, with a very nice actor.. hehe.. So I want to recommend it for next Christmas, in case you’ve watched ‘Home Alone’ too many times already.

img_3831December 25
It’s Christmas! ..but guess what.. in Holland we’ve got 2 Christmas days. 1st Christmas day and 2nd Christmas day. Today my sister still had to work and so we decided to celebrate Christmas on 2nd Christmas day. Felt a bit weird to do nothing on the 1st, but I was looking forward to tomorrow. At lunchtime we went to Rikus, as Freek was having lunch there with his son, his son’s wife and his grandchild. Freek used to live across the street, but he moved to a home for elderly now. My parents still visit him 2 times a weeks and sometimes I come with them. We just went to say ‘hi’ and I had a Christmas card for him. In the afternoon I wrapped up all my gifts, what was lot of work, but I like it.

img_4038December 26
Yay!! Was looking forward to this day and I started cooking straight away. I made sweet potatoes with a nice black bean filling (recipe), a beetroot salad with dill (recipe) and an aubergine curry with rice. It wasn’t even that much work and I really enjoyed it. I was also very excited to meet my brothers girlfriend, Marsha, as it would be the first time I would meet her. So I got myself ready, my mum was doing the table in the meantime and everybody was walking in around 16:00. We decided to first do presents, because doing dinner before presents, whilst there are a 9 and 2,5 year old excited for presents, the dinner will not be very peaceful. There were soooo many presents! We should have gotten at least 3 big Christmas img_5243trees to make it fit. It took us 2 hours to open everything, but it was so much fun. I got so many lovely things! Really appreciate them all. The only thing is that I wish that Steven could have been there too, missed him so much! Everybody liked the dinner and to make it even more perfect.. my sister made a chocolate pie with chocolate icing! Deeelicious! I’m so lucky to have an understanding family. My dad and I are the only vegans, but everything was vegan and everybody is ok with that. I feel so grateful for that! We had a very good time at the dinner table. Marsha, who’s so nice btw and a perfect fit for our family, brought her guitar and we sang lots of songs together. Was so much fun! This was one of the best Christmases I’ve had. Would have been totally perfect if I didn’t have to miss Steven though. I hope everybody had a lovely Christmas too. Tell me about it if you like!

img_3976December 27
On the 21st of August it was my nephews birthday, but I never gave him a present. I promised Jinan to go to the cinema for his birthday, but the last time I was in Holland we didn’t have enough time. Of course I didn’t forget and because it’s the Christmas holidays, there was enough time now. So we went today. He picked the movie ‘Pets’ and it was on in Assen at 10:45. Jinan absolutely loved the movie, I thought it wasn’t that good actually, haha! It was nice to be there with him though and see him laughing and having fun. After, we ate some fries at the snackbar across the street and it was so nice to spend some quality time with him. Before we went back to the car we walked to ‘Eko Plaza’, a health supermarket. We got some vegan mayonnaise, chocolate, red chilli pepper sausages and I got a hair mask from Weleda. My hair is quite dry from drying it with the blow dryer and I decided to look after it a lot better. So regular hair masks will be a good treat for my locks.

December 28
Quite a relaxed day today, I didn’t do much. Christmas is finished, but I still didn’t watch one of my favourite Christmas movies, ELF. This movie is so stupid, that it’s hilarious! Haha.. My sister and Jinan never watched it before, so in the evening we went to their house to watch it. We had tea, some yummy snacks and we laughed so much. It was a lovely evening!

December 29
Because I love Nienke so much, we planned another visit today. This time she was coming my way. She also brought Annemarie. We had lots of tea, lots of biscuits and we did lots of chatting! Melody, my sister, also came with Joëlla for a little bit and the 2 girls together are just so much fun. It’s like watching an entertainment show!

img_4148December 30
Starting the day, like every day so far, with a lovely sleep in. Opening the blinds woke me up instantly though, it was very white outside from all the frost. It looked beautiful, but it meant it was very cold outside. I don’t like cold. The only thing what excites me about it, is that I can take some nice pictures. So around lunchtime I went with my dad to walk the dogs. I took some nice wintery pictures, but we went home quite fast again, as is was way too cold. At home we made tea to get warm again and we kept chatting for a few hours, lovely! In the meantime Steven send me pictures of palm trees and sunny markets.

img_5244December 31
Tonight it’s New Years Evening! Yay! I love to end a year, to start with a new one. In the afternoon we were all invited by my mum’s work. My mum works at ‘Rikus’, but the owner has another Hotel-Restaurant, called the ‘Jufferen Lunsingh’. The party was at the ‘Jufferen Lunsingh’, same as last year. Before we went there I made some cinnamon rolls (recipe) for tonight. In Holland, at New Years Evening, we eat oliebollen. Oliebollen are typically Dutch and are some sort of fried cakes. They are not vegan, so that’s why I made the cinnamon rolls instead. I should veganise oliebollen though, that would be nice. Maybe next year! At the ‘Jufferen Lunsingh’ it was really nice, but after 2 hours we went home for dinner. We always eat the same thing at New Years Evening and everybody is always very much img_4358looking forward to it. We eat mushroom ragout with pastry cups. My dad always makes it from scratch. He used to make it with chicken, but as we’re both vegan he veganised the recipe and it’s delicious! My mum, brother, Marsha and me played a card game in the evening, what was very fun. After that we watched ‘Ik hou van Holland’ (I love Holland), a game show. They always make a special New Years Evening version of the show and it’s very nice and very funny. We kept watching that until it was 00:00!!! After wishing each other a very Happy New Year, I got a message from my amazing boyfriend. He wished me a Happy New Year all the way from Brazil (where it’s 3 hours earlier). Loved that so much! Then we went outside to img_4355watch the fireworks and to wish the neighbours a Happy New Year too. Eext is a very small village, but quite a lot of people have beautiful firework. Julian and Marsha had a wishing balloon and they asked me to help them. So we went to the dark field behind the village and we tried and tried, but the wind was just too strong and unfortunately it didn’t work. My hands got so cold, that they were stinging a lot. I was scared they might fall off. Happy to be back in the streets, I joined my mum at the neighbours house and we stayed there for a little bit. Around 2:00 we were in bed, but I wanted to wait until it was 3:00, so I could wish Steven a Happy New Year too. Around 3:30 I finally fell asleep.. cheers to a New Year!

January 1
Heading to the north again! To wish my grandparents a Happy New Year. We picked up Melody in Groningen as she celebrated New Years Evening with friends. My aunt, Renske, my uncle, Rudie, and my cousin, Blessing, were also at my grandparents and later on another aunt walked in too. So lovely to see everybody, to catch up and to wish them all a HNY! In the end I quickly went to Nienke, Jeroen and Annemarie for an hour. Had some tea there and we said our goodbye as I wouldn’t see them again until the next time I’ll come to Holland. We left in the beginning of the evening and we took Blessing with us. He always likes to stay over for a few days when it’s the holidays. He is such a nice child. He just turned 12 and it makes me realise how fast time is going, as I remember the day he was born so well.

img_4419January 2
My sister, Melody, picked me up in the morning to get groceries, because my cousin, Santos and his girlfriend, Charlotte, and also Julian and Marsha, were coming for dinner tonight and we were going to cook. It’s hilarious and partly exhausting to go to shops with Joëlla, haha, but we got everything we needed and so as soon as I was home again I started to cook. I made this yummy aubergine curry (recipe coming soon) again and the raw RainBOWL (recipe) salad. They came around 4:30 and after some chatting we had dinner. Melody made a nice pasta salad, yummy pizza and a dElicious apple pie. Everybody enjoyed it and almost everything was all finished in the end. That’s a good sign! We drunk some tea after and I must say that it was a really lovely evening, lots of fun!

img_5245January 3
In Groningen they opened the first Vegan Supermarket! Yay! My dad and I went to check it out. It wasn’t very big anddd.. they had ‘Oatly Foamable’! I didn’t succeed finding it anywhere else in Holland and there it was. I was so happy! It’s the best milk ever! So I got 3 packs. I also got some nutritional yeast and chorizo slices for my parents and 2 croissants. Apart from the ones you can roll out and bake yourself in the oven, I didn’t have a normal croissant since going vegan. I really liked this supermarket. The staff is amazing and very friendly. The man let us taste some mayonnaise and told me about the vegan supermarket in London (why didn’t I know this?! They will definitely will be a hotspot soon!). After walking outside with lots of vegan goodies we decided to go for a drink. We went to ‘Coffee Company’. It’s a very nice cafe. Lovely green tea and a cool interior. You can img_5246sit upstairs, where you can find benches and comfy chairs and downstairs you can sit at a long table. You can also plug in your laptop at the work tables next to the windows and work from there. Very popular with the 347962352 students living in Groningen. We ate our delicious croissants there and talked about all the holidays we had together when I still was a child. Lovely times! On our way back we popped into this very nice store called ‘Yantra’. You can get all sorts of nice jewellery, Buddha statues, singing bowls, crystals and a lot more. Such a beautiful store. I got myself some lovely smelling incense. Just before we got in the car I was able to quickly take some pictures of the many graffiti art around that place. Love it! In the afternoon I introduced my mum to the series of ‘Sherlock Holmes’. Steven introduced it to me and because I miss him so much I like watching it again. Luckily my mum loved it! We watched the first episode, but then we had to get ready, because we planned to go to Odette in the evening. Nicki (another nice colleague of my mum) was going to pick us up. Odette lives above Rikus with her boyfriend. ..and OMG! I love her house. It’s so cool. It’s one big space, but with just a few build-in walls to make a bath- and bedroom, overlooking beautiful fields and the forest. I’d love to live like that one day. We put on some facial masks and we watched ‘The Proposal’, with lots of chocolate, crisps and other snacks. A real girls night. So much fun!

img_4525January 4
Today I looked after Blessing, Jinan and Joëlla. Jinan and Blessing were doing things on the computer as it was cold and rainy outside. Joëlla and I went to get some groceries. I could go grocery shopping with her every day, so nice. She was behaving very well, apart from throwing the Pombears on the parking space in the end. Haha! When we got home we all had lunch and after Joëlla’s nap we watched some Peppa Pig together, with cucumber sticks and Pombears. I loved it!! I’m missing so much of my nephew and niece and to spend time with them when I can, just feels amazing. Blessing slept at Jinan’s house since, but as this was his last night he slept at ours. In the evening we watched ‘Iron Man’ and he really liked that. It’s also a movie I’ve watched with Steven.. hehe..

img_5247January 5
Happy Birthday to Melody! Normally I always have to go home just before or on my sister’s birthday, but because my new job doesn’t start until the 16th I had time to stay longer and so I finally was able to be on her birthday. We went to her in the morning and she made a very yummy yogurt cake with an Oreo base.. I had 3 pieces.. or was it 4? Oops! I braided my brother’s hair in the meantime and we drunk tea. Very nice! In the afternoon I went to my friend Esther. Blessing wanted to come too, because she has a lovely English Bulldog, Lucy. I know Esther from secondary school, but only later on we became friends, because of Pamela. Pamela was my English Bulldog and she went to Esther when I moved to img_4190the UK. I’m forever thankful for the amazing life Pamela had with her. It was lovely to see Esther and her boyfriend and wonderful to cuddle Lucy. She also got me some very nice gifts. I’m very excited for her to come to me in April. Yay! In the evening Rudie and Renske were picking up Blessing again but they also stayed for dinner. Surprise surprise.. I made the aubergine curry again! I also made pasta with a home made tomato sauce. They absolutely loved it! I knew that for sure as Rudie had 5 plates.. I don’t know how he did that, it was impressive! They stayed in the evening too and we all had Chai tea with Oatly Foamable, yum! It’s always so much fun with them.

img_4742January 6

In the morning my mum and I went to Freek and in the afternoon we looked after Joëlla, who wasn’t feeling very well. Poor her! So we stayed inside and watched some Peppa Pig again. In the evening my dad made home-made pizza, what was delicious. After that I introduced him to Sherlock Holmes. Yes, I really like to watch the same things over and over again. It’s my ‘special’ talent.

img_4911January 7
No!! Snow! It snowed in the night and everything was white outside. I don’t like snow. I love the look of it and I love to make pictures, but I don’t like that it’s cold and messy. My mum and I went to Assen, to go shopping. I still needed some gifts and it was nice to go to Assen for a bit anyway, the city I lived for 5 years. My mum needed a special kind of pencil sharpener and as we passed the arts and crafts store, we popped in. We found one and in the meantime I wrote ‘GO VEGAN’, with the big wooden letters they sell there. Hehe.. little activism! I got all the gifts and I also scored great new jeans and we had some yummy tea together. Shopping with my mum is the best! It was a good distraction too, because Steven was on his way back from Brazil and I’m always a bit worried with such a long journey. Luckily in the evening he send me a message that he landed all safely. The hard part now, was waiting for the next evening. Missed him so much!

img_4855January 8
There is somebody else I always go to when I’m in Holland and that is Mrs. Veenstra. She has been a friend of my grandma since forever and so my mum and all my aunt and uncles grew up with her. She is such a lovely lady! It’s always feels like a little party going to here. She is so sweet and super hilarious,, I love her dearly! My grandma called in the meantime and my aunt, Marieke, my uncle, Roel, and all 5 of my cousins happened to be at her place. So after we said our goodbyes we drove to Uithuizermeeden again. Was so lovely to see them all, because I don’t get the chance that often. ..and guess what?! They all turned out to be big Sherlock Holmes fans, haha, so funny! Tomorrow I’ll be going home again, this was a great last evening!

img_4769January 9
My last day here. Normally I’m not that happy to go home again, but knowing that I would see Steven again after more than 3 weeks, just made me very excited! I was going to be home around 20:00 and I was counting the minutes. I had this little suspicious feeling that he might be waiting for me at the Airport, but as today was his first day back at work, it was very unlikely. In the afternoon I packed my suitcases, what wasn’t that easy. How was it possible I had more stuff now than on my way here?! I still don’t know and though both suitcases were heavier than they should have been, the lady at the check-in was very kind. Lucky me, because normally they’re always very strict in Groningen. The journey took so long as I was so excited. heartI landed safely though and who was waiting for me there?! Steven! Gosh I love that man! I was so happy to be back in his arms.. best surprise ever!


HOTSPOT LIST
Rikus – Hoofdstraat 10, 9463 PC, Eext
Jufferen Lunsingh – Hoofdweg 13, 9337 PA, Westervelde
Bio Markt – Mühlenstraße 128, 26789, Leer
Familia – Nüttermoorer Str. 2, 26789, Leer (Germany)
De Nieuwe Kolk – Cinema/Theatre – Weiersstraat 1, 9401 ET, Assen
Eko Plaza – Torenlaan 24, 9401 HR, Assen
Vegan Super – Nieuwe Ebbingestraat 87, 9712 NG, Groningen
Coffee Company – Oude Ebbingestraat 39, 9712 HB, Groningen
Yantra – Oude Ebbingestraat 61, 9712 HD, Groningen

I hope everybody had lovely Christmas holidays and that you liked to read what I did in mine. If you have any questions or if you want to tell me about your Christmas, I’d love to hear it! Please leave a comment below or show me on Instagram by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

UK – Bath

roomFor work I had to go to Taunton. After that I was off and because Bath is quite close, I decided to go to Bath. I always wanted to go there, because everybody always says it is such a great city. I was very excited to go. When I got out of the train it was already dark, but when I was heading to the AirBnB where I was staying, I already starting to love Bath. The lights shining on the old buildings, the Bath Abbey, the water. It’s so beautiful! I couldn’t wait to see it by daylight. I arrived at my AirBnB 10 minutes later than expected, but the hostess was very lovely and welcoming. She also had a very sweet and brave dachshund and I was just delighted to be in a house with a pet. The hostess showed me my room and it was so perfect. Within 2 minutes I knew it was going to be hard to leave, haha! The room was very stylish and the bathroom very modern, I loved this surprising combination. She gave me the key, we had a little chat and then I left again to have dinner somewhere. I say ‘somewhere’, because for the firs time I didn’t plan every minute of my trip.

mcI really enjoyed walking through Bath, even while it was dark. It was quite busy on the streets, probably because there was a rugby game going on. I walked and walked until I saw the Odeon cinema. Then I thought it would be nice to watch the new ‘Bridget Jones’ movie. So I quickly popped in and it turned out I had a good half an hour to find something to eat before the movie started. Not too far back I saw a Mexican place, called ‘Mission Burrito’, so I went there and asked if they could do something vegan. You could choose whatever you wanted and so it was possible. I chose a rice bowl. What is rice and all the (vegan) toppings they had, what meant: black beans, vegetables, salad, guacamole and a dressing. The presentation wasn’t great as it was all hsjust thrown into a plastic container, but I must say that it did taste nice. The rice was perfectly cooked and the whole combination was rather delicious. It was a perfect meal before the cinema, because there was still some space left for popcorn. YUM! I love popcorn! When I was sitting in the cinema I heard Dutch people behind me and I had a little chat with them. They just moved here. How great! The movie started and I was very looking forward to it as I heard it was hilarious. And it was! OMG! I laughed so much, it was a very good movie. It’s been a while since I laughed about a movie this much. I’d love to watch it again. When I got back to my BnB I took a quick shower, listened to some music, decided where I wanted to have breakfast the next day and then fell asleep in this most fantastic bed. It was like sleeping on a cloud.

rcThe next morning it was only a short walk to ‘The Green Rocket Cafe’, but on my way I discovered this really nice shop, called ‘Grasse’. It has a lot of unique stuff and it’s really worth to take a look inside. It was a lovely walk to the cafe, as it was a beautiful sunny day. ‘The Green Rocket Cafe’ is a super nice vegetarian cafe, with lots of vegan options. I chose the English breakfast (vegan option) and a cleansing juice with beetroot. It was so tasty! Very filling as it was quite a lot, but it was a very good start of the day. Like I said before, I didn’t plan anything and I didn’t do too much research before I came here. I robadecided to just go with the flow and see what it will bring me. I started walking and went into some lovely little shops. I especially liked the art gallery ‘Imagianation’ (beautiful art!) and ‘Arcania’, with the salt lamps, buddha’s, incense and much more. The shops led to the Bath Abbey and I took some lovely pictures. Behind the Abbey there were the ‘Roman Baths’ and I went inside to look at the ticket prices. They were £15 and I knew this was going te be something I will really like. It wasn’t busy at all and so queued up. I was right, I had a lovely time over there! I loved to learn about the baths and their history. In the end you could also taste the water. It wasn’t very tasty. It was warm and had a very strong taste. A bit earthy or something. But the minerals were very high, so I drunk 3 cups! Haha! I spend 2,5 hours in the Roman Baths and I can say that this was really a highlight of my trip.

waAnother great thing about Bath (and I think that everybody who visited this city already agrees with me), it has an amazing shopping centre. It’s very divers. There are big streets, little streets and narrow alleys. Full of shops, common high street shops, local shops, hand-made stuff, it’s like there is no end. I popped into FatFace as they are an ethical shop. (If you want to know more about this, please take a look at their website.) I saw very cute pig socks and whenever I see socks with pigs on it, I buy them. So I did. A little later there was a man raising money for the ‘Bath Cats & Dogs Home’. An organisation who caferescues and re-homes cats and dogs. I gave him some money and had a cuddle with the adorable Golden Retriever who kept him company. The man gave me some treats to give her and it was so lovely, it made my day! Not much later I bumped into a sign what said ‘Art Cafe ->’. I remembered I read about this cafe and that they did some vegan things too. I was really craving a cup of tea and so I went there to get one. It’s a cafe under a chapel and it very nice. I chose a chai tea with soy milk on the side and a yummy looking piece of chocolate cake. And it was yummy! I had a lovely little break there before I did some more shopping. I got some donice things and also I did find some very good Xmas presents for family and friends. Of course I had to go into Lush (did you notice that I’m a fan?) and I bought my favourite bubble bar, ‘Rose Jam’. Then I headed to a health shop I read about, called ‘Harvest Natural Foods’. A very nice health shop you can compare with ‘Portobello Wholefoods’. I bought a new shampoo and  conditioner and some chai tea. On my way back I discovered an amazing department store, called ‘Rossiters’. You have to go here! You can buy so many amazing things here. Lovely gifts, cookery stuff, dishes, interior things and só much more! I found a very sweet and soft little bag with a dachshund on it and I bought it for my hostess. I wanted to thank her for a lovely time, for being a beautiful and kind person and for being one of the best AirBnB’s I stayed in.

acI wanted to have dinner in the ‘Acorn’, what apparently is the best vegetarian restaurant in Bath. Every time I mentioned I was visiting Bath for my blog and hotspots, the restaurant ‘Acorn’ came up. When I found it, it wasn’t open yet, so I decided to wait in Starbucks and have a small tea. When I then walked into the ‘Acorn’ I  must say I had a very good first impression. The atmosphere is great and it all looks lovely. Luckily they still had some space for me and I ordered a cauliflower dish and a chocolate cake. They gave me very nice complimentary bread with olive oil and a seed dip and it was very very delicious. Just like the rest baof the food. The chocolate cake was possibly the best I’ve ever had. It was very filling, but the taste was just define! As it was Bonfire Night I was just in time to watch the fireworks outside. It was very cold and though the fireworks were quite nice, I didn’t think it was that spectacular. When I got back to my BnB, I made myself a cup of tea, put on some music, run a bath and popped in my RoseJam bubble bar. I had the loveliest bath ever. It was so relaxing and I just felt so happy about my weekend. Everything was going so well and I just had such a good time. This bath in Bath was a perfect end for an unforgettable day.

brThe next day it was hard to get out of bed, knowing this was the last night. I really appreciated this BnB, a lovely break from daily life. I thanked the hostess and gave her back the key. I had breakfast at ‘The Green Rocket Cafe’ again. This is definitely my favourite breakfast-hotspot in Bath. This time I chose the yogurt with granola and a green juice.. it was perfect. After that I thought it would be nice to learn a little bit more about Bath by going on the HopOnHopOff bus (so touristy, I know..). There were 2 tours for 1 price. I paid £14,50 to go into the hills and overlook Bath and to go around Bath busitself. It was quite cold that day, so I pulled my hat so far over my head that I was just able to see something. I still don’t know how I survived being in an open-top bus though. It was freezing! It was also very nice. Those buses might be touristy, but I think it’s a fun way to learn about a city. When I got off I started to walk to ‘Beyond Kale’, but on the way I bumped into some other lovely shops. ‘Timber Treasures’, where they sell hand-made wooden gifts, which are ethically and sustainably sourced and ‘Pink Art’, a lovely gift shop with so many nice things.

bkI was very happy when I could warm myself up in Green Park Station. This used to be a train station, but now it’s a place with different markets, events, shops and cafe’s. To see what market is on, on what day, click here. One of those cafe’s is ‘Beyond Kale’. This is a 100% vegan cafe and it is amazinggg! I chose to have the tortilla, what came with al sorts of incredible salads. As I was so cold I chose to have a chai latte too and it was the best I’ve ever had. I know I said that about the chai latte in Rotterdam as well, but this one was just perfection. For dessert I had a little peanut butter cake, yum yum! It was all so tasty, I really loved my lunch. A good end to my Bath adventure, because after this incredible meal, I headed to the station, back home to London.

HOTSPOT LIST:
AirBnB
Mission Burrito – 4 New Street, BA1 2AF
Odeon cinema – Kingsmead Complex, James St West, BA1 2BX
Grasse – 3 Argyle St, BA2 4BA
The Green Rocket Cafe – 1 Pierrepont St, BA1 1NY
Imagianation -5 Terrace Walk, BA1 1LN
Arcania – 7 Orange Grove, BA1 1LP
Roman Baths – Stall St, BA1 1LZ
Chapel Arts Cafe – Lower Borough Walls, BA1 1QR
Lush – 8 Union St, City Centre, BA1 1RW

Harvest Natural Foods – 37 Walcot St, BA1 5BN
Rossiters – 38 -41 Broad St, BA1 5LP
Acorn – 2 North Parade Passage, BA1 1NX
Hop On Hop Off bus
Timber Treasures – 5 Abbey Green, BA1 1NW
Pink Art – 9 York St, BA1 1NH
Green Park Station – Green Park Road, BA1 1JB
Beyond Kale – 4 Green Park Station, BA1 1JB

selfieI had one of my best weekends ever in Bath and I’m sure you will have an amazing time there too. Please let me know if you decide to go there or to tell me about your experiences with Bath. You can do this by leaving a comment below or to show me on Instagram by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

rb

Roman Baths!

rob

Roman Baths!

nh

Lovely streets, parks and shops!

pig

Autumn in Bath!

mon

Roman Baths!

ma

Green Park Station, Antique/Vintage Market!

Netherlands- Amsterdam and Rotterdam

amLike I said in my last travel post about the Netherlands I was going to post my adventures about Amsterdam and Rotterdam in a separate post. So as promised, here we go..

AMSTERDAM
I arrived at Amsterdam Central station around lunchtime and after I put my suitcase in a locker, I headed to the vegan restaurant called ‘Dophert’. It’s only a 20 minute walk from the station. It was a lovely walk to a lovely restaurant. The restaurant is bright, but if you sit upstairs it still feels very cosy. You can even sit outside, but it was quite chilly that day. A few people tried though, but came inside again after while. I ordered the Dophert burger with fries. It dhtook a little longer, as I think my order was given to somebody else by accident. I really didn’t mind because the staff was so friendly and they apologised. In the meantime I ordered a cupcake for dessert and an apple juice. It was all very delicious. I was so hungry (I didn’t really have breakfast) that I ate all the fries and the whole burger until the last crumb. Then I was so full, that it was impossible to eat the cupcake too. So I had that take away to enjoy later. The fries were definitely one of the best fries I’ve ever had and the sauce that came with it was ahhhh-mazing! The burger itself was a bit like a falafel burger and the bun it came on was lovely and fresh. I so enjoyed this meal. Dophert is not only a restaurant where you can eat, they also do catering and you can order cakes. You can go to their website (only in Dutch I’m afraid) to gain more information about that. Something good to know is that you can only pay by card. Anyway, I definitely recommend going here when you are in Amsterdam. Happy with my lunch choice I walked away to explore.

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I didn’t really make a plan, so I was going to let it surprise me. I decided to walk towards the centre via the street ‘Haarlemmerdijk’ and almost immediately I found an ‘Eko Plaza’. A lovely organic supermarket. There is also one in Assen, which I often go to with my mum. I think it’s a mix between the Whole Foods Market and Planet Organic. I find it a very nice supermarkets to do some shopping. They have a lot of things. I noticed that this one had a lot more vegan products. I think because it was bigger than the one in Assen, but I hope it’s because veganism is growing. I bought a Vivani chocolate bar with organic almonds, just because it was talking to me ‘buy me, buy me!’.
The next thing I found was ‘Bagels&Beans’. This is a cafe all about.. bagels (lucky guess). They try to use organic where they can and there are a lot of vegan things to put on the bagel. I didn’t go here to eat something as I just had my lunch of course, but I did go there before amstand the bagels are delicious. In the same street I found something so nice, called ‘The Tea Bar’. A store all about tea!! I’m a sucker for tea and I love the idea of a tea bar. They have more than 100 unique flavours and also lots of nice gift ideas. Next time I’m in Amsterdam I’d love to go here, but I was just too full at that time to even have one sip of tea. So I walked towards the Prinsengracht and then I just got so lucky with the weather. The clouds were dark grey on one side and the sun was fully shining on the beautiful autumn coloured trees from the other side. It gave such an amazing contrast that I was able to make some lovely pictures. Then a little bit later it started raining and I was blessed with a rainbow. Rain, sun, rainbow, autumn, Amsterdam, canals, boats.. it really was my lucky day! I loved the rain on my skin as I walked past the canal.

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I bumped into a juice bar, called ‘The Cold Pressed Juicery’. I went inside to have a quick look and it looked very fancy! The juices looked amazing and you could almost feel the boost in your immune system by just looking at them. Looking at the prices I was almost sure you had to pay for looking at them. For 250 ml (what is just a normal sized glass) you had to pay €4,75 and for 500 ml €7,25. In their defence, all the juices are cold pressed, organic, raw, unpasteurised, HPP free, and contain a lot of vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes. They also offer Juice Cleanses (1,3 and 5 days) and I think they must be really good, but again there is this price. I really like their website though. It’s clear and with a lot of good information. Also on the Prinsengracht I found am2‘Bolhoed’ and I really liked that I accidentally found it. I heard about this restaurant a lot and it must be really good. Next time I think I’m going to have a meal over here. It’s a shame I couldn’t stay in the evening, otherwise I could have had my dinner here. A little bit further I found this lovely shop called ‘Varsana’. A shop with everything you could possibly need for yoga or pilates. I really loved this shop and I think anybody who is into yoga will love it too. The last thing I found on the Prinsengracht is the ‘Tulip Museum’. For only €5 you can learn within 20-30 minutes all about tulips. You can also buy a lot of tulip things, including tulips itself. I love tulips and because it’s not that long I think it could be a nice thing to do.

stI walked via the Westermarkt and Raadhuistraat to the Kalverstraat. The Kalverstraat starts at Dam Square (most famous square in Amsterdam) and is the biggest shopping street in Amsterdam. You can find all the well known shops like H&M, Blokker, TheBodyShop, Forever 21, Lush and River Island in this street. If you keep walking straight, you will end up on Rembrandtplein. This is a square with a statue of Rembrandt, surrounded with a lot of bars and cafes. I walked back via Rokin where you then come back on Dam Square again. From there, via Damrak, it’s only a 5 minute walk back to the station. At the station I discovered a little cafe called ‘Yoghurt Barn’, where you can get yoghurt with the most amazing toppings (think ‘mango, brownie and walnut’). You can choose any yogurt you want and it turned out they have 2 (!) vegan options: Soy and Coconut. They also have coffee, tea, smoothies and juices. It looks great! Next to Yoghurt Barn you can go downstairs and the first shop on your left is ‘WAAR’. I did post about this amazing shop before, because there is also one in Groningen. I love this shop. It has such lovely gifts (what most probably ends up in keeping it yourself) and they sell (and I bought) the ‘Tony’s Chocolonely’ chocolate. Theeeee best!

It was a lovely and relaxed day with lots of hotspots I found by coincidence. I love Amsterdam, it’s such an amazing city. Nothing compares! But around 18:00 it was time to get my suitcase out of the locker and catch the train to Amersfoort.

HOTSPOT LIST:
Dophert
– Spaarndammerstraat 49-H, 1013 ST
Eko Plaza – Haarlemmerdijk 164, 1013 JK
Bagels&Beans – Haarlemmerdijk 122, 1013 JH
The Tea bar – Haarlemmerdijk 71, 1013 KC
The Cold Pressed Juicery – Prinsengracht 154, 1016 HA
Bolhoed – Prinsengracht 60-62, 1015 DX
Varsana – Prinsengracht 100, 1015 DZ
Tulip Museum – Prinsengracht 116, 1015 EA
Kalverstraat – Rembandtplein
Yoghurt Barn – Stationsplein 17B, 1012 AB
WAAR – Stationsplein 41A, 1012 AB

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ROTTERDAM
It started with the 3 cheap train tickets my mum bought (only €13 each). You can use the tickets everywhere in Holland, in the weekends, for the whole day. Rotterdam is named best city of Europe in 2015, so that was the reason why my mum, my sister and I planned to go to Rotterdam on the Saturday I was in Holland. Before we went there was a very nice coincidence. As I was telling you guys in my last travel post, my mum works at hotel-restaurant Rikus. She gets very nice and interesting guests from all over the country. Just a few days after we decided to go to Rotterdam it happened to be that the director of the VVV tourist office of Rotterdam was a guest and she wrote down a lot of hotspots and tips for us. What is super kind of her. How lucky for us!

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That Saturday morning.. We came home so late (2:00) the night before that it was a little bit of a struggle to wake up. We did make it in time though and we took the first train allowed (the tickets are only valid from 9:00). We had so much fun and when the 3 of us are together we can be uhh.. loud! I’m sure a lot of people were annoyed by us (like the man who asked us to calm down at one point), but I also saw some people smiling and laughing at the stupid jokes we made, haha! It was so much fun! After the 1st change my mum sat next to a girl and then suddenly she was reading the book ‘VeganForHer’, the same book I was reading at

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the moment. My mum pointed it out to me and it made me so happy that I immediately started talking to her. She was vegan too and was even working for a vegan company who makes raw bars, called ‘Lifebar’. She actually lived in the Czech Republic and she told us all about it, she was so kind. She also gave us 3 different flavours of the Lifebars to try. I gave her a Vego bar(Yes.. I happen to have one in my bag, haha..) in return as she didn’t know it yet. After lots of nice chatting we had to say goodbye at the next station, but it gave me so much positive energy. What a lovely girl!mhIn the next train we directly opened the Lifebars and shared it so we could all try every flavour. Omg, they are so nice! My favourite was the ‘Brazil Guarana’ and my mum agreed with me, but my sister liked the chocolate one the best. It didn’t take long before we arrived at Rotterdam-Blaak and when you get out of this station there is a lovely architectural surprise waiting for you. The ‘Cube Houses’. It’s an amazing piece of architecture by the architect ‘Piet Blom’. When I was studying Interior Design I’ve been inside one of them and it was such a cool experience. If you like to go inside yourself, you can, because there is one open for the public. The real reason we came to this station was because here is the ‘Markthal’, what literally means ‘Market hall’. meIt’s an amazing building and inside there is a market, some restaurants and there are flats where people are actually living. It opened on the 1st of October 2014, so it’s quite a new concept. I love the building and then especially what they did with the inside. If you look up they decorated the ceiling with massive flowers, fruits and vegetables. Lovely! In the end I was slightly disappointed with the lack of vegan options though, especially because my hopes were up high walking inside and vegan treats was the first thing I saw. Silly me forgot to remember the name of the company that sells them, but if you use the entrance closest to the station, it’s right in front of you. I did like the big range of tropical and rare fruits and I got myself some red bananas which were delicious. Also there is a juice bar and a ‘Jamie’s Italian’, but overall it wasn’t what I expected. On a cheerier note, behind the Markthal is burger restaurant ‘Burgertrut’, where they sell yummy yummy vegan burgers. They’re not 100% vegan, not even vegetarian.. but they have amazing vegan options!

spIn the meantime it was lunchtime and we were all so hungry. I wanted to have lunch at ‘Spirit’ as I heard so many good things about this restaurant. It’s about a 5 minute walk from the Markthal and on the way we also bumped into ‘Poké Bowl’, what is a little restaurant with Hawaiian food. It’s actually a fish restaurant, but you can fill your own bowl and the options include tofu, rice and lots of veggies. A lot of people are crazy about this, so I’ll try it one day. Restaurant Spirit is part of a little shopping mall called ‘De Groene Passage’ and there sp2is also a health supermarket called ‘Gimsel’ and a shop what is called ‘the Wereldwinkel’, where they sell all fair trade stuff from all around the world. But first lunch.. omg, they were right, Spirit is amazing! It’s a vegetarian buffet, but almost everything is vegan too. I was being so greedy and I wanted to try it all and I ended up with a very big plate of food and it’s not very cheap. I had to pay €20, what was a bit of a shock, but I also didn’t really care as it was my holiday and I really wanted to try all these things. I forgot all about that hs2price too when I tasted it, because it was soooo good! I really want to go again, haha! Big pieces of seitan, things with seaweed, tempeh, corn cakes, fried veggies, chunky guacamole.. I’m seriously getting hungry writing this all down. My mum and my sis really liked the food too, but they both got the same drink which they didn’t like at all. It was a ‘matcha latte’ and I agree the matcha was wayyy too strong. Only after a while the matcha sunk to the bottom and though the taste was still quite strong, I actually liked it. It was just not possible to drink the last few sips. I can’t imagine that anyone will like this, so maybe a little less matcha powder is an idea?!

statAfter our tummies couldn’t even stand the thought of another bite we went to Gimsel. It was a good tactic, because walking inside I knew straight away that walking around here with an empty stomach was a bad idea for my bank account. It was a lovely supermarket with lots of great products. You could taste oat yogurt, what my mum and my sis hated, but I absolutely loved (I had to taste it twice.. hehe..). In the end I did buy 3 things. A ‘wooden toothbrush’, what was on my shopping list since forever, ‘dried grasswort’ which you can use as a salt substitute and what do you think they had there too? Lifebars! I was hoping for the ‘Brazil at2Guarana’, but they didn’t have it. They did have ‘coconut’ (hallelujah), so that was that, easy decision. I loved it btw.. this flavour was very tasty too. I didn’t see them in London yet, but I’ll keep an eye on it. We also did have a little wander around the Wereldwinkel, because it’s a lovely shop and my mum and sis bought some Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate. Can’t blame them. On our way back to the station we passed ‘Foodelicious’ and that looked so nice and bright that we had to go inside. You can get so many nice things here. They have a big range of lovely oils, vinegar, tea, beautiful bowls and dishes, books and so much more.. and a lot of very nice gift ideas too.

gd2Back at the station we decided to go to the centre of Rotterdam and that is not even 5 minutes by train. Rotterdam central station is such a cool station. It’s really one of the reasons I love Rotterdam, it has amazing architecture. Rotterdam has a very nice centre for shopping. It actually has 3 shopping streets/areas: Lijnbaan, Coolsingel and Koopgoot. Walking from the station first ‘Lijnbaan’ will appear and then you can via ‘Coolsingel’ go to ‘Koopgoot’, but before we got there we had a little break at ‘Green Delight’. My mum and sis ordered chocolate milk and I ordered the tastiest Chai latte (+ an energy bomb) I’ve ever had. What a lovely place! It’s so different from other cafe’s. We sat in a very comfy sofa and it felt like we were sitting in a living room. On the table there were lots of nice magazines, like the Happinez for example and the atmosphere was just so relaxed. In order hs3to go into the cafe you have to go through a very nice shop with amazing goodies, gifts and cactus plants(!). This is a very nice concept, but unfortunately it’s a pop up, so go before it’s too late! After we walked to the ‘Koopgoot’, what is very close from there. I think I like ‘Koopgoot’ the best, because they made it look so cool and there is a Lush. My sis got some new tooth tabs as she nearly run out and I got a new pair of comfy jeans at C&A. Then it was really time to go home, because it’s about 3 hours by train and my dad was picking us up. We didn’t want to make it too late. But before we got to the station we past this really nice restaurants called ‘Freshii’. They just closed it, but I looked them up and I think they’re pretty good. They do burritos, salads, wraps, soups and more.. all fresh and they try to make a lot of sustainable choices. They’re not 100% vegan though, but there are a lot of veggie choices and you can even custom make your own lunch.. so do I need to say more? Great for a next visit!

We had such an amazing day with so so much fun, tears of laughing all the time. I love my mum and sis so much! Also I want to thank Renske Satijn, director of VVV, who gave us so many helpful tips, they were all so good!

HOTSPOT LIST:
Cube Houses – Overblaak 70, 3011 MH
Markthal – Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298, 3011 GZ
Burgertrut – Hang 5,
Poké Bowl – Hoogstraat 117B, 3011 PL
Spirit, Gimsel, Wereldwinkel – Mariniersweg 9, 3011 NB
Foodelicious – Mariniersweg 47, 3011 ND
Green Delight
Lijnbaan – Coolsingel – Koopgoot
Lush – Beurstraverse 55, 3011 AE
Freshii – Korte Lijnbaan 18B, 3012 ED

Have you been to Amsterdam and/or Rotterdam? Did you know about these cool hotspots or are you really excited to go now? I would love to hear about your trip! You can comment below or you can show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Netherlands – Family and Friends

meLast week I was in the Netherlands. I always go back to the Netherlands about 3 times a year. I only went in the beginning of May this year (you can read about that time by clicking here) and though I always go with christmas it was too far away for me. Especially for my nephew, niece and the daughter of my friend Nienke, Jinan, Joëlla and Annemarie. They are 9, 2 and almost 1,5 and they grow up so fast and I already miss so much of them. I was really looking forward seeing them. Also my mum got very cheap train tickets you can use in the weekend and it was the perfect excuse to visit a cool city and to do some hotspot hunting. We decided to go to Rotterdam, but because I was going to sleep in
Eindhoven for 1 night and I was going to meet my mum the following evening at the birthday party, I decided to also go to Amsterdam. Those 2 city trip days were so busy, that I decided to write a separate post about that. In this one I would like to tell you about what I did the rest of the week.

hotelOn Thursday the 20th, very early in the morning (4:00) I woke up to get to the tube station, because I had to go to Liverpool Street. From there I take the Stansted express to the airport. At the airport it wasn’t busy at all and I could easily walk through security. No hassle, I like it! There is a Starbucks at Stansted Airport and I don’t need to tell you that I always go there, haha! The flight was a little bit delayed, but overall it went very well. I was going to sleep one night in Eindhoven for a few reasons. The next day I was going to a birthday party in Woudenberg and because my parents live all the way in Eext and we were going to Rotterdam the day after it would have been so much traveling. Also it gave me the chance to go to Amsterdam before the party, plus my best friend lives in Eindhoven and I didn’t see him for almost 2 years and it was our 5th anniversary this October! And if that wasn’t enough, I always wanted to sleep in the ‘Tulip Inn’ above the airport as it looks so cool. I was at Eindhoven airport at 11:15 and the hotel’s check-in was from 14:00. I could have asked to check in a little early, but I had so much work to do that I did that at the airport, assssss they have a Starbucks there too, haha! So I got a lot of work done in the meantime and I was rewarded with the most amazing room ever. My room was on the top floor, all the way in the corner. What meant that I had 2 windows and I was able to overlook the whole airport. It was amazing! The room itself was so perfect too. So spacious and with everything you need. A lovely bathroom, clean white sheets, a desk to work on, a lovely big sofa, a kettle with tea and so much more. I took a quick shower and then did some more work, until my friend came over. It was so nice to see him, I missed him so much. We had a lovely evening, talking about so many things and drinking tea. I love him lots!

pieThe next morning I woke up so well rested, without the airplanes waking me up. They have very good windows. I got myself ready and left the hotel to head to the train station to go to Amsterdam. I will tell you about my Amsterdam trip in my next travel post. So I will skip to the part where I met my mum at Amersfoort station that evening. When I arrived at the station my sister was there waiting for me. They wanted it to be a surprise, but ‘my mum’ was texting me whilst I knew she was driving the car and so I expected my sister to be there as my mum would never text and drive. It was so nice to see them both! I actually saw my mum the week before, because she came to London for 4 days to help me at work, but it was like I didn’t see her for so long. The party was very nice. It was the birthday of my mum’s friend Trudy, they know each other from school, so they have been friends for quite a while. I didn’t see her for very long and it turned out her sister and her parents were there too and it was all lovely to see them too. The biggest surprise was that Trudy made a vegan cake, because she knew I was coming. I couldn’t believe it! She has no idea how much I appreciate that. It was a lime-yogurt-cake and it was deliciousss!! I also really liked that everybody liked it so much, even though people were thinking at first that a vegan cake must come from a different planet. It turned out vegan cakes were not made out of grass, haha! I had some lovely conversations with people about my blog, though mostly I talked to my sister. I know.. but we didn’t see each other for so long, there were lots of things to talk about. Overall it was a lovely evening and I’m so happy I was a part of it. The next day we went to Rotterdam, but just like my Amsterdam trip, more about that in my next travel post. So lets fast forward a bit.. Sunday morning! I was so happy I didn’t plan anything that Sunday, as the last couple of days (weeks actually) were a bit crazy. It was the first day since ever that I didn’t have any plans. So I had a lovely sleep in and in the afternoon me and my mum did one of the things we love best.. grocery shopping! I got the ingredients to make an authentic Dutch apple pie. And honestly, that is the only thing I did that day and it was lovely!

pie2Monday I had another sleep in, yay! ..and then I made the apple pie. Never in my life I made it just right. My sister is very good at making them, but with me they were always too dry or not done. With that in mind and the fact that I was also going to veganize it, I was a little nervous. Especially the moment I was cutting it, but you know what.. It was perfect! I never made such a good Dutch apple pie. The fact that it’s all vegan must have made it perfect. I’ll make sure to share the recipe with you guys soon! In the evening my cousin Mandy was going to come as after being vegetarian for 10 years, she’s transitioning to being vegan. I’m so proud of her and I wanted to share and show all the products I have and use. Unfortunately she got very sad news that morning and had to cancel. I really hope to meet her next time. In the afternoon I watched ForksOver Knives and Cowspiracy with my mum. These documentaries made my dad go vegan. My mum is vegetarian for quite a while already and I would love her to go vegan too. She was very surprised by all the facts and really understands me more after watching it. The things what is stopping her to go vegan too is cheese and that other people will always think she is the difficult one. Though she is thinking about living more vegan and making an exception now and then. What is already making me so happy, as it such a big step in the right direction. I love that my family is becoming more and more conscious. Personally the hardest part of being vegan is that the people I love most are not caring about their own health, animals and environment enough to do something about it. I know I can’t force this upon them, but luckily my family and friends are nice enough to talk about it. I think I can consider myself very lucky with people like that. I could have been in the middle of big meat eaters who don’t want to listen to anything what matters. It meant a lot to me that my mum watched the documentaries with me. In the evening my brother came to visit. He lives in Groningen (for only 2 months) with friends. It was so nice to see him and because me and my mum dropped him back home I even saw where he lives at the moment. It’s an amazing location, in the middle of the centre. Though it’s 3 boys living there and I don’t think I need to say more, haha. Though I really liked what he did with his personal space and also that he really has a good time living there.

puOn Tuesday I got out of bed at a (for me) reasonable time, because I wanted to go to my mum’s work. My dad has a new car and  he let me borrow it, what was super nice. For the people who didn’t know yet, my mum works in hotel-restaurant called ‘Rikus’ as a hostess and she also does the cleaning. Rikus is also in Eext (didn’t make the drive very long, hehe..) and is not even 2 years old yet. My mum works there since the beginning and she loves it. I understand why, because it’s lovely. It only has 9 rooms and 1 apartment and you can make lovely strolls through the woods nearby. They grow their own organic fruits and vegetables which they use in their dishes. When I came there my mum made me a lovely tea and after I helped cleaning a room. I used to be a maid in a big hotel for a few months before I moved to the UK and it was funny to clean a room over there. They have lovely rooms, so if you’re looking for a room with a lot of peace and quiet, Rikus is definitely a good option. In the afternoon I went to get a few things at the shops in Gieten, a village next to Eext. I got all ingredients to make a pumpkin soup, some little presents for the kids I look after back in London and some other snacks (yum!). That evening I went to visit my friend Nicole, she lives an hour away, what I don’t mind at all as I love driving. Nicole and her boyfriend just bought a house and though they don’t have the keys yet she did take me there so I could look at it from the outside. A lovely house and I really like houses, so I really liked seeing it. Next time I come they’ll be living there and I can’t wait to see it from the inside. Then we went to get some groceries to make a big salad at home. The rest of the evening we did what we do best, chatting.. with tea, chocolate and left over apple pie I brought. Great evening!

pig-2The next day I was looking after Joëlla and planned on visiting my friend Nienke and my grandparents (they live in the same village). My mum was coming too and so we waited for her to come home from work. She had to work a little longer than expected, but it was so nice to spend some time with Joëlla. We sung songs, read the book ‘The Gruffalo’ twice, cuddled and made pumpkin soup together in the meantime, so we could bring it over for lunch. When we finally arrived Nienke was waiting for us with a set table and we were al so hungry that we immediately started to eat. The pumpkin soup was so yummy and I’ll share the recipe for sure. Nienke has a daughter Annemarie and it really feels like she’s my niece too. She’s such a cute girl! It was the first time I saw pigher walking and she changed so much, that I told myself I should visit a little bit more often. Joëlla and Annemarie played so lovely together and it was hilarious at times, we all had a good laugh. Children can be the funniest ever! Before we left we had to visit their pet pig.. of course!! They have a pet pig.. you understand I’m madly jealous! She’s called Madelief and the kids loved to feed her apples and chestnuts. Lucky piggy! It was a shame we didn’t have more time, but because I wanted to visit my grandparents too (I aways do), we had to go. It was lovely to see my grandparents and again we couldn’t stay long, but for me it’s very important to see them. On our way back we dropped Joëlla (who of course fell asleep in the last 5 minutes) of at her house and then went home frwhere I made dinner for my parents and myself. Already the last evening, but another amazing day with my lovely friends and family.

I started to pack my suitcase when I woke up and said my goodbyes to my brothers cats, Kenya and Dublin, who kept me company every night (normally they don’t because they only want to be with my brother). I’m really going to miss that. My dad looks after Jinan and Joëlla on the Thursdays and the Fridays and today I could pick up Joëlla from nursery with him. My dad and Joëlla have such a close bond, it’s lovely to see that. I made her and Jinan (who came home for lunch a bit later) lunch and then had to say goodbye to Jinan as he wouldn’t be back from school in time. Not long after I had to say goodbye to everybody as it was time to go. My mum dropped me off at the train station in Assen. Everything went very well, had some yummy fries for dinner at the train station in Eindhoven and before I knew it I was back in London.

I always have a good time whenever I’m visiting the Netherlands. I love my friends and family so much and I always try to see everybody, what makes it so special the times I’m there. For everybody who read this and who, in any way, made my visit worth it, a big  big thank you! Love you all!

Did you like reading my story? Did you visit the Netherlands too? I would love to hear about it! You can let me know in a comment below or via Instagram using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

France – Cessy

15Most of August I was in France, in Cessy, what is just over the border from Switzerland, only a 20 minute drive from Geneva. We stayed there with my employers family. They all slept in their house, but they also had a caravan. The caravan was surrounded by trees and quite private. Perfect! I lived in the caravan for 2 weeks straight and I absolutely loved it. It reminded me of my childhood as my grandma also had a caravan. The smell, the atmosphere, everything came back. Also it made me realise that you don’t need much. I could easily live in a caravan. Just to have a tiny living space, a simple kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom. It made me feel so happy to
be so close to nature. It’s the small things!

26There was a breathtaking view too. Almost every day (sometimes it was behind the clouds) I was able to see the Mont Blanc. And not only a nice view, but also fresh figs of the fig trees every day. Freshly picked fruit really makes my heart beat faster! So amazing! Across the field, only a 5 min walk, there were 2 donkeys and 2 horses.The first day of my weekend I walked to them and I stroked one of the donkeys for almost an hour. She was so nice. She came running to me and then just wanted to be stroked. I loved it! Donkeys are such nice animals. That day I also went to a mall called ‘Val Thoiry’, about a 30 min drive. They had a little car I was allowed

5to use, what was so kind and super handy, as it really gave me some freedom to go to things on my own. There was an H&M there, what was so handy as I needed new leggings. When I was getting them I also saw a sun-hat, a simple black one with a little scarf around it. I always wanted to have a hat like that, but I could never find one I liked. They’re so handy, because then you don’t always have to wear sunglasses. I’m so happy I got them, because I can already tell you that I used it a lot and I really liked it. Very useful and it looks nice too! There was also another hat, the ones which are always 100% wool. But this one was 100% Polyester. I really liked it too, but I had no idea how to bring it with me to 1London. So I figured the H&M here in London would  have them too. Unfortunately I didn’t find them so far. What is such a shame, because I really like to have a hat like this. There was also a very big supermarket: ‘Migros’. And I just loveeee big supermarkets. So I got all my groceries there. Mostly for the week, but also some things what was gonna last longer. It’s quite expensive there, couldn’t believe the prices sometimes. But on holidays I almost get everything I want. So I made it quite expensive in the end. I kept everything very healthy though. Very nice groceries.
14The next day I went to Divonne, a village only a 10 minute drive away. In the morning and the beginning of the afternoon there is a market. A lot of french breads, olives, but also some clothes and a lot of other things. I got new elephant bottoms. I always wanted to have a nice pair of those, but as I’m very picky I can never find exactly what I want. But they had a black and grey one and it was perfect, so I got them. I wore it a lot! It was quite a lovely market where I got the most delicious sun dried tomato spread. I got a fresh baguette, grilled some veggies when I got home and that was my dinner. It was so delicious, I could have eaten that every day. In the evenings I did a lot of reading, writing or I watched ‘Orphan Black’, a super nice show on Netflix.
18That week we went with the boat on lake Geneva and it was so much fun. We went to the other side of the lake, had lunch there and then went back. In the end everybody jumped  off the boat into the water, but I don’t dare to do that. I need to know what is under me, otherwise I panic. Must be a control thing. It looked so nice though, so in the end I sat on the side of the boat and put my feet in the water, what was amazing! I did get a wet bum as another boat past us and made a lot of waves. It was very refreshing, haha! The water is so clear and has such a beautiful colour. I really really loved it!
12The next weekend I went to the supermarket again to get fresh fruit and veggies and food for when my mum was gonna come that week. I also went to a big health store, what was called ‘Satoriz’. It was next to ‘Val Thoiry’ and it was quite a big store and very nice. A lot of vegan products. Though they didn’t know things like vegan mayonnaise and cheese. I got a lot of other very nice things though. Finally some good vegan treats. In the middle of the store there is a cafe. I had lunch there and asked for a vegan meal. They gave me a lovely plate of food, with a mash potato vegetable pie, beetroot soup, a little salad, 2 different dips and some very nice 17bread. I also had a dessert, some sort of pudding with fruit on top. Everything was very fresh and so tasty, I really enjoyed that. My mum came that Thursday and I was so looking forward to that. First of all to just see her, but also it was nice for me to show her my work and to give her a good idea from what I do. We also went to Geneva together for a few days, what was lovely. We had such a good time. It was so nice of my employers to let her come over. I really appreciated that.
The last week was very busy as I had to work the weekend too, but we did al sorts of nice things with the kids. There is so much to do in the area. Almost every day it was nice weather. Sunny, warm, but not too hot. What a lovely place to spend the summer!

Did you go to this area of France or did you do something similar this summer? I would love to hear it! Please let me know by leaving a comment below. You can also tag me or use #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Switzerland – Geneva

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Fountain of Geneva!

As some of you know, I haven’t been in London in the whole month of August. I was in Mallorca, France and Switzerland. It was for work, but I’ve had a great time. I’d like to take you to Geneva this time. I went to Geneva for 3 full days, together with my mum. I didn’t know anything about Geneva, it wasn’t on my travel-bucket-list, but as it was only 20 minutes away from where we stayed in France, what made it very logic we went there.

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Electricity boxes are all pieces of art in Geneva!

We stayed in a AirBnB just next to the Plainpalais, what means we were very central and were able to do everything by foot. Which is recommended for Geneva anyway, because it’s not a very big city and it’s easy to walk everything. The nice thing about that is that you can see so much more.
We arrived at our AirBnB at 19:00. What meant we were an hour late! We could have been on time if my mum didn’t forget her handbag in France (yes……. we had to drive all the way back!). Typical for my mum.. Anyway, we got there and it was lovely! There was nobody home for almost the whole time we stayed there and our room was next to the kitchen and sitting room, so it looked like we had a whole apartment to ourselves. After we’d freshen up a bit we decided to go to the Italian restaurant ‘La Pignata’ around the corner. Not a lot of people 14285566_1240203762690391_141837025_ocan speak English very well in Geneva. There was only one guy in this restaurant who could and even though he looked very confident in understanding everything, my pizza came with cheese.. whilst I think I’ve said ‘no cheese’ about 10 times. No worries, I just waited a bit longer and luckily that wasn’t very long, because within 10 minutes there was a cheese-free damping, delicious looking pizza in front of me! Yum!! It was a good pizza, so if you’re looking for a nice pizza, I’m sure you can get one here.. just make sure you get the ‘no cheese’ part very clear in case you’re vegan! 😉 Now the fact is.. my mum is a very active PokemonGo player. No joke! So after our pizza we walked all over the Plainpalais to catch some real Swiss Pokemons. It was starting to get dark and it looked quite nice outside actually. In the middle of the Plainpalais is a skater-park and it was nice to watch some cool tricks. Learn how to ride a skateboard is on my bucket list! Yay!!

Breakfast!

Breakfast!

The next day we went to get some breakfast at the local supermarket. I got 2 smoothies, and 2 yummy peaches. Then, without shame, we went to Starbucks, because gosh I missed that.. It was more than 3 weeks! So I really enjoyed my ‘Soy Green tea with cinnamon’. Such a treat! After a little break (not that we did so much already, haha!) we walked up to the waterside and I sat there with the most beautiful swans. The day only just started, but it already made my day. Absolutely beautiful animals! They’re so elegant and the right word for them is ‘majestic’ for sure. I could have stayed there all day. We didn’t, because we crossed the bridge, admiring the clear water of lake Geneva. Then we walked passed the water, through a lovely little park where a guy was making soapy bubbles, a little train with tourists drove around and where everybody was relaxing. 14303936_1240195976024503_754176401_oThe park is called ‘Jardin Anglais’, what literally means ‘English Garden’. It has a beautiful fountain and a clock made of flowers. We enjoyed the boats, the giggling kids chasing the bubbles and the lovely atmosphere for a while and then we went to get a very nice seeded baguette and we ate it, sitting on a step next to a junction. It was a lovely spot with lots of different people and expensive sports cars passing by. We decided to just walk around a little bit and when I really had to go to use the toilet it happened to be that we were standing next to a vegan cafe! 14285110_1240196006024500_1014325483_oAnd it looked so nice! There aren’t a lot in Geneva, so it was a real coincidence. So I joked ‘I only go to the toilet in vegan places’.. Haha! As we just had our lunch and the cafe was nearly closing I told the very friendly lady we were going to come back the next day.
We kept walking and went towards the ‘Rue de Rive’, a big shopping street. There happened to be a Lush (Yay!) and a lot of other nice shops and though I told myself a 100 times I can’t buy anything(my suitcase would explode), I found myself walking out of the ‘Vero Moda’ with 2 new shirts. Oops! Just behind the shops is the big ‘St.Pierre 14285474_1240207222690045_1493442816_oCathedral’. We walked up the stairs, enjoyed the view and took a look inside this amazing cathedral. What I really liked were the stained glass windows, wohw!
For dinner we went to the COOP supermarket quite close to our BnB. We got 2 vegan burgers, a just-out-of-the-oven-bread and some salsa sauce. Then.. at the till there was quite a bit of products from the Vegan supermarket ‘Veganz’!!! I didn’t know why they had this, it was so unexpected, but I was so happy! Even happier when they even had my favourite biscuits! So I also got the biscuits and some chocolate (of course). I prepared the burgers in ‘our’ kitchen, we ate it (very delicious!) and the rest of the evening we watched Gossip Girl together. Lovely!

14215607_1240195962691171_1122604085_oTuesday.. on the Plainpalais there was a little farmers market and I read that there is also a vegan bakery stand. I was very excited, but apart from a lot of lovely looking fruit and veggies there was no vegan bakery. They’re probably there on a different day. A shame! What I did spot was.. a Starbucks! In front of the Starbucks was this very hot guy sitting next to the entrance, but when I went inside he was gone. Just one minute later he happened to work there and was serving me.. Lucky me! He made my tea with mint instead of green tea and I had to go back to get it right.. what a shame! (I wouldn’t mind him making it wrong another 10 times, hehe..) 14285023_1240196079357826_1365087596_oWe sat outside on a bench with comfy cushions and had lovely chats and enjoyed the perfect sunshine. Very close to that Starbucks is the University and around there is a very nice park with the ‘Reformation Wall’. Also there were a lot of Pokemons there.. happy mum! I just chilled on a park bench whilst she walked around staring at her phone. I just love her!
Then it was lunchtime and as I promised the lady we would come back, we went to the vegan cafe. It’s called ‘Takinoa’ and it looks very nice. We ordered a tortilla wrap, some soup and a little chocolate cake. It was very delicious! Though the lady wasn’t very good at speaking English, she is very friendly and we had a little chat. She let me test some very tasty green juice and we talked about my blog. Her daughter was there too and they really 14303714_1240196026024498_1138491909_omade my day. (..after the Starbucks guy did that already) I just appreciate it so much if people care. I hope she will read this. (If you do, then another big thank you for the good service!) No doubt I’d really like to recommend this place. A must go! When we walked back we passed the ‘Art and History Museum’. This is the largest art museum in Geneva and I was thrilled to go inside. Only the museum was almost going to close and as rushing through a museum is no fun at all we made it an activity for tomorrow. For dinner we went to the supermarket again, we chose the broccoli burgers this time and we ate it with the left over bread and sauce from yesterday. We also found these very yummy chocolate soy yogurts. What a feast!

14285643_1240211282689639_252964178_oOur last day.. Which started with a visit to the big flea market again, at the Plainpalais (what a joy our BnB was next to this). My mum’s dream came true (she adores flea markets) and I must say I really enjoyed this too. All those old things, so many memories and the exciting feeling you have the whole time, trying to find something amazing between all that stuff. What a good start of our last day here. My mum found a very nice pendant made out of stone and a lovely silver coloured little box with a rose on top. And it was just meant to be that the flea market ended where Starbucks began.. Shame on us! We didn’t sit there for that long this time as my mum wanted to go back to the park to catch this Pokemon she didn’t have yet. So we did that and then we headed to the museum. It was beautiful, I l14285309_1240209522689815_1030736243_oove museums! It’s a shame though that everything is written in French.. and what really is even a bigger disappointment: I can’t speak or read French. It was lovely anyway. At least the numbers are the same and I was able to understand how old things were and (mostly) also where it came from. After a lovely time spend at the museum we went back to the ‘Jardin Anglais’ and just stayed there until it was time to go to the airport. There we got some food and then it was time to say goodbye. My mum was going back home and I was going back to France. What an amazing time we’ve had together though. I love my mum so much!

14341830_1240196076024493_595765759_nAbout Geneva.. it’s an absolute stunning city! The buildings are all very beautiful, with lots of lovely balconies and flowers! The people are all very classy. Everybody is dressed very stylish. We had a lovely time, but the only downside is: It’s crazy expensive!! You better save up a lot of money before going here. Especially if you’re planning to go out for food all the time. To give a few examples, a coffee and a tea at Starbucks are £11 together and a simple bottle of (0,5l) water is £3,50. So I’d recommend to bring a bottle and fill it up with water whenever you have the chance. The water in Geneva is very good, great taste! Also, if you have access to a kitchen, cooking a few meals yourself will save you quite a lot of money too.
All together I do recommend Geneva. We had a great time and it’s definitely worth going, you won’t regret it!

14303954_1240195922691175_516892243_oHOTSPOT LIST:
La Pignata – Plainpalais, Avenue du Mail 3, 1205
Lush – Rue de Rive 1, 1204
COOP supermarket – Boulevard Carl-Vogt 22, 1205
Takinoa – Rue du Nant 12, 1207
Farmers market – Sun: from early morning-17:00. / Tue + Fri: early morning-14:00. (small)
Flea market – Sat + Wed(small): 8:00-17:00.

 

Have you been in Geneva before? Or are you excited to go now? Please let me know or show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

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Love some good graffiti!

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With my friends..

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So colourful!

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Just beautiful!

 

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The boats at the lake..

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So much joy and happiness!

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The St.Pierre Cathedral!

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The beautiful stained glass windows in the St.Pierre Cathedral!

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Takinoa!

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Takinoa!

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Reformation wall..

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In loveeeee..

 

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This is totally cool!

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A lot of vegan products and even some of ‘Veganz’! YAY!

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My fave biscuits.. Happy me!

 

Spain – Mallorca

14037802_1213183238725777_1913738389_oThe family I work for go to Mallorca every year. There is a lot of their family too and they stay for a whole week in a villa with a swimming pool, vegetable garden en a lot of space. It’s breathtaking. Last year I came with them and this year I went with them again. I feel very fortunate that I can come with them as Mallorca is beautiful and the family is very nice.
In the villa there are 2 ladies who cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of us and they’re so sweet to make vegan meals especially for me. I so appreciate that! The food they make is amazing. Everything tastes so much better in Spain. The tomatoes smell like tomatoes and they’re deep red and their flavour is mouth-watering. So different from the salad 13932143_1213183205392447_749421339_otomatoes in the London supermarkets. And then the oranges.. I mean.. Oranges ripened under the Spanish sun, without pesticides. Do I need to say more?!

We arrived Friday the 29th, just before the kids dinner. The weather was amazing. Between the 30C-35C and its was going to be like that for the whole week. It’s hot, but not as hot as you think. Quite perfect actually as long as you don’t stand in the burning sun around midday.
They do dinner quite late, around 20:30. So after I did some unpacking and the kids were sleeping I just relaxed a bit, watching my series on Netflix, waiting for dinner to be ready. My starter was a lovely salad with balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, orange slices and bread on the side. 13987062_1213183165392451_570688126_oFor the main course they had super delicious rice with green beans and some delicious tofu. Th dessert was very yummy too. Fresh fruit, cut up, with freshly squeezed orange juice. The fruit here is so amazing! This was just the first evening, but the whole week I had delicious food. Like ‘avocado salads’, ‘pasta with fresh garlic, cherry tomatoes and rucola’, ‘an oven dish with tomatoes, aubergine and potatoes’ and ‘raw coconut chocolate balls’. All meals were very nice, but out of everything I think I liked breakfast the most. Just because every morning there was a big big fruit platter ready in the middle of the table with more than 10 different kinds of fresh fruits. I love fruit and every morning my heart skipped a beat when I saw it. The day the ladies had a day of I even had the chance to make one myself that morning. So lovely!

14037471_1213183282059106_572121707_oAnother very nice thing was that there was a black street cat. He was very skinny and hungry, but so sweet and lovely. He was shy at first, but with a lot of patience and calmness he felt more and more comfortable and even the kids could stroke him. And not only he liked to be stroked on his back, but you could touch him everywhere. He was a true sweetheart and I really bonded with him. What was unfortunate in a way as I of course wanted to take him home. If I had the space in London I’m sure I’d take him to a local vet on my day off, to get him vaccinated and chipped. 14037822_1213183362059098_118626460_oInstead of doing that I went to Inca on my day off. A town not far from where we were staying. Inca is quite a shopping town and the day I went there was a big market. I went here because there is a vegan cafe there and I needed to check that out of course. I parked the car under a supermarket, which was nice, because then it wouldn’t be so hot when I come back.
On my way to the market I saw such a sad thing. On the pavement, under a few trees there were animals locked op in tiny cages. Rabbits, chickens, chicks, ducklings, birds.. there was almost no space for them to move around and with 35C they were so hot. The birds were all opening their mouth, from stress and trying to keep cool. It was 14037862_1213183312059103_152760932_oheartbreaking and I wanted to shout at the people who’re selling them and shout at the people who’re buying them. I felt so powerless. How could they do this to them? Was I the only one there who thought this was just not normal?! There was a little girl who was picking out a bird. This is the trouble. Nobody was telling or teaching here that this isn’t the way of treating animals. She was happy to get a pet and she’d probably grow up thinking that this is normal. I just stood there, being angry and feeling devastated. It was such a bad start of my day. I hate to walk away and leave the poor creatures.
13987852_1213183328725768_451265783_oIt was very crowded, but I was looking for my vegan cafe. Following the map I found it easily. It’s in a little street, away from the market. You wouldn’t think there was a cafe if you’d just look at the street. I was very excited. The cafe is called ‘Acai’ and the entrance looks very nice. Inside it wasn’t really what I expected it to be. First of all there was nobody, apart from a few guys sitting around a table in the middle. Second.. the place was quite big, a bit too big to create a nice atmosphere. There were tables with chairs randomly put down to fill it up, but it looked a bit odd. Now this might sound a little negative, but it was just not what I expected. The place was only open for 2 months and so that explained a lot. I do really like it that there was a vegan cafe and that they tried to make it nice with the things 14037704_1213183382059096_505720343_oavailable. What I also really liked were the handmade things on the wall from ‘Jipita’, which were for sale. Especially the huge dreamcatcher without feathers and a peace sign was really nice. It’s not only a cafe, cuz in one corner there was a little vegan shop, called ‘Lo Vegano’ with all vegan stuff. I couldn’t resist to buy some cheese, spacebars and chocolate biscuits. Then I had my lunch. They guy who served me was very nice and friendly and though he said his English wasn’t very good, it was no problem at all to talk to him. There were a lot of nice things on the menu, but they also had a burger and of course I went for the burger, haha!  They only had 1 smoothie, an Acai smoothie and as I didn’t have a smoothie for a while I ordered that one too. The burger came with chips, cheese, bread, olives and garlic mayonnaise. Quite a lot for only 14009843_1213183318725769_1766107487_none person, but it was so good!! The burger was just amazing, the chips so tasty, the garlic mayonnaise so delicious and the smoothie.. I’ve never had such a good smoothie and I’m not joking. This was the best smoothie ever! I really enjoyed my lunch. It would have been nice to go there again, but the next day we were leaving, so no chance. I really enjoyed my lunch and I really recommend it. So when you’re in Mallorca and you happened to be close to Inca, definitely go and have a meal here. Or at least try the smoothie! On my way back to the car I walked past a jewellery market stand and saw a beautiful hanger for a neckless. A silver Ganesh! I just had to get it. Now I only have to find something to hang it around my neck, but I’m sure I can find something in London. It made me so happy, as it is so beautiful!

14045095_1213183358725765_841688693_oI still had the afternoon to spend and I decided to go to a place I also went last year, called ‘Port de Pollenca’. I’d be only 15 minutes away from the villa and so it would be easy to go back from there. I went for a little stroll near the water and the little shops and then decided to do some sunbathing. Normally I’m not a big fan of the beach, just because (and I know this sounds slightly ridiculous) there is sand everywhere. It sticks on everything and even after a shower you have the idea that it’s still there. I went anyway. I brought my towel and some smoothies I bought in the supermarket in Inca. It was actually quite nice. I figured out that, because I was on my own I enjoyed it a lot more. The sand was still sticky, but at least I was able to do what I wanted. I went into the sea, had a little dip, looked at the fishes and then back to my towel and I did that as many times as I wanted. Also I had the time and so I made sure I was all dried up and almost sand free before I put my clothes on again. I really enjoyed it! 14012969_1213183338725767_159322694_oFor dinner I went to a restaurant called ‘Cappuccino’. They had an organic quinoa salad over there and so I had that, together with a very expensive organic lemonade (8 euro’s for basically 2 glasses). It was delicious though, but knowing there are lemons growing everywhere in Spain I thought the price was just crazy. I stayed a little longer, just to watch the people and then again I went for a little stroll through the little streets and then walked back to my car. It started to be a little dark already and so it was time to go back. It was a lovely day!

14012710_1213183285392439_1023298818_oThe next morning we left to fly to Geneva, where we will be staying the rest of August. So a lot of goodbyes and not knowing I’d come back here again, I sure enjoyed this week!
It did break my heart to leave the cat and I hope he’ll be fine. I’m still thinking about him and wish I could do something for him. ❤

 

Did you go to Mallorca? Or are you going? Let me know if you know ‘Acai’ or if you’re going after reading this. You can leave a comment or show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Germany – Berlin

13711556_1192491404128294_1002160483_oThanks to the Groene Meisjes and also a lot of vegan related articles, Berlin was on top of my travel bucket list. I booked the beginning of this year and finally the time was there. First I was going alone, but as my mum and sister really liked to explore Berlin too, we made it a girls only trip. I was there one day earlier, Sunday the 10th, but they were joining me the next day.

I was so busy with work and my blog before I was going, that I didn’t really realize I was actually going. So I packed, very unlike me, last-minute and suddenly I was omw to Berlin. I had a good flight and headed straight from Shönefeld airport to our AirBnB. Which was quite an adventure on its own. I had to find the key in a keylock somewhere outside the building. Then climb 8 stairs (good work out!) before I found out the key to the apartment wasn’t working. I sat down for 10 minutes (partly to catch my breath, haha!) and texted the owner. When he didn’t respond I decided 13702291_1192490687461699_1991892145_oto try the key again. It looked like it was so stuck, but then suddenly it turned around and I was able to open the door. Yes! It felt like solving the last part of a puzzle. When the door opened there was a big weed smell coming my way. I’m Dutch, so I’m used to some, but this was quite a lot. It made me laugh as I felt this was going to be 1 big adventure! Shortly after, the owner texted me back to tell me the key was tricky (ya I got that) and that he was going to change the sheets in the afternoon. Oh and 2 minutes later he came out if his room, wasted and stoned, on his way to the bathroom. He apologised and it made me laugh even more. I sat down for a while and charged my phone before I was heading out again. It was hot (30+ C) and my tummy felt a bit upset, but the adrenaline made me walk from Alexanderplatz all the way to the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz. A lovely walk, passing the famous Berliner 13682476_1192490684128366_1655629145_oFernsehturm (the tv tower), the beautiful Berliner Dom (cathedral), the Altes museum, a nice market at Unter den Linden, Brandenburger Tor, Reichstag and crossing the Tiergarten park. As my energy wasn’t the way it normally is I walked slowly, took my time and made sure to stop a few times. It was actually rather lovely. It always gives me such a great feeling to be in a new city, by myself, reflecting on everything what happened lately, being in the now and looking at all the different people around me. When I arrived at the Sony Centre, after laying down in the park for a while, I was totally exhausted. I chose to eat a burger in one of the restaurants there, called ‘Corroboree’. It 13709633_1192491430794958_1501690639_owas an Australian restaurant with a few vegan options. It’s a very big restaurant and because the weather was so nice, everybody was sitting outside, but there is also the possibility to sit inside and you can even sit up stairs. The burger itself was ok, but the salad could have been so much better. Big pieces of raw white onion is not really my thing.
I still had to think of a way to watch the Euro Cup finals and whilst eating my burger I saw that the cinema offered Live Football. And it turned out to be free, so I got a ticket straight away. I still had 2 hours before it started, but really didn’t have any energy left to do something. Thank God there was an amazing Starbucks there. I got a nice cold bottle of water and collapsed on a chair, with my feet up and sat there for 2 hours, watching the people walk by. It was very enjoyable.
13632600_1192490744128360_2027768922_oA bit before 21:00 I made my way over to the cinema and I was very excited. Watching the finals in the cinema! Even though I supported Portugal since the beginning, I decided to support France as, I had to admit, they deserved it more. I was the only one who was by myself and the only girl. I had a lot of looks my way and I could hear all the guys thinking ‘What is she doing here by herself?!’. It was quite hilarious, but no way I was going to miss the finals. After half an hour I caught myself supporting Portugal anyway and I was very happy they won in the end. Yay!! The only thing what concerned me was that I had to go back to the AirBnB, via a very dark, dodgy station and it was past midnight. I must admit, I’ve felt a lot safer before and I was very happy when I finally was back in the building and closed the door behind me. It was 1:00 and I was so tired, so I slept very deeply.

13720654_1192491444128290_2035363968_oThe next morning I took it easy, showered, got a juicy apple and half a kg of very sweet cherries at the local supermarket and ate them on my way to the main station, Hauptbahnhof, where I was going to pick up my mum and sister. They arrived perfectly on time and it was so nice to see them! We decided to have lunch first and then we headed back to our very interesting AirBnB. My mum and sister couldn’t believe the circumstances and actually wanted to find another place to sleep, but I convinced them it was just adding to the adventure and we were only sleeping there anyway. After everybody was done freshing up we headed to the Sony Center, got a Starbucks and looked at the 13702380_1192490707461697_1850479084_olovely museum shop. Then we decided to go for a little walk and we did a little shopping. What made us decide to head over to Veganz, a supermarket with only vegan products. And wohw.. that was so nice! I didn’t want to leave. We should definitely get one in London too! It’s not a huge supermarket, but they have a lot of products. I stocked up on snacks, some lovely biscuits and of course.. chocolate! Both the coconut biscuits and the double chocolate biscuits are very nice. Also the white chocolate with coconut I really recommend. I haven’t tried the rest yet. Above Veganz is a vegan shoe shop called ‘Avesu’, where they sell shoes, bags and belts. Very nice! Also there is a very nice restaurant, called ‘The Bowl’, where we had dinner. They have beautiful food. We ordered: 13720497_1192490694128365_46356223_oBuddha bowl, the Italian bowl and the Mexican bowl, together with some sweet potato fries (because they are sweet potato fries!) on the side. We all shared and it was very yummy! I loved the interior, with the petrol blue and the relaxed atmosphere. We did have to wait for our food for quite a while, but we had a good time in the meantime. For our dessert we picked some of the nice cakes they had downstairs at ‘Goodies’, next to the supermarket. What a lovely cafe this is, we definitely need one in London too! The cakes were amazingggg and the staff very friendly. I would have loved to come back here to try some more cakes, hehe..

13694239_1192490750795026_232777385_oThe next day we had a banana bread breakfast at a little cafe called Leuchtstoff. It’s a cafe I think you wouldn’t find in London. It’s definitely Berlin style. Everything is made out of wood and there is only old vintage furniture. The banana bread and the tea were lovely and they have very nice staff too. You get your tea in a glass bottle, what looks very nice, but it’s far from practical as the bottle gets very hot and you can’t really poor it into your cup. Also not everything is vegan, but they do have a few options, also for lunch. The atmosphere is very relaxed and I liked that, so I would recommend this lovely cafe, if you happen to be around there.
13711512_1192490767461691_261713942_oAfter we went to Alexander Platz. We did a little shopping and went to Kaffee Einstein for a little break. I got a tea as I don’t drink coffee, but if I have to believe my mum and sister, they have the best cappuccino over here. They were totally crazy about it, so if you’re a coffee fan, go and try it! My tea was also very delicious btw. It was a lovely day again and we decided it was a good afternoon for a bus sightseeing tour. We got tickets from a lady who was very nice and helpful and got on the bus with live information. Already after 5 minutes the guy who was doing all the talking had to tell us to be more quiet, apparently we were chatting too much. Oops! I really enjoyed this bus tour and so did my mum and sis. It’s nice to see all the important things and get information about it. For me it really adds to the 13730744_1192490780795023_1321792965_otrip. You start to understand the city better. The only time we got out of the bus was when we were at the Berlin Wall. It was very interesting and such an important part of the city’s history. A little surreal to walk there. After getting back to Alexander Platz we agreed it was time for pizza and headed to a place called ZeroStress. They have all sorts of pizza’s here, but what I like about it, is that they have 3 vegan pizza’s to choose from. I must say it was a very interesting place. Not very big, very easy going (what you expect looking at the name), but very friendly staff and tasty pizza’s. The only thing we didn’t like so much about this place was the music. It was very loud and only techno, which is really not our thing. For ZeroStress I think the music was a bit odd.

13694061_1192490897461678_593968806_oThis morning we had breakfast in my personal favourite. A lovely place called ‘New Deli Yoga’. The place is minimalistic, pure and no nonsense. They have 2 types of vegan breakfast and a lot of smoothies to choose from. So much, that is was hard to pick one. I went for a green smoothie eventually, my mum for a coffee one and my sis had a very nice banana smoothie. I ordered the vegan omelette and I was so happy I did as it was the best one I’ve ever had. It was so nice! In the back of the cafe there is a yoga studio, can it be more perfect?! The staff was so friendly and we felt very much at home here. If I ever go to Berlin again, I make sure to go here for a lovely breakfast or lunch. Great place! Very close, 13699364_1192490800795021_1647599595_oacross the road, there is a lovely ice lolly pop store, called ‘California Pops’, where they sell amazing vegan lolly pops. I was too full from breakfast, otherwise, even though it was in the morning, I would have tried one. Next time! Around the corner is also the supermarket called ‘Bio Company’, which you can compare a little bit with the Whole Food Market. I bought a lovely hand cream from the brand Sante. This is an amazing brand I didn’t know. I have to find out if I can get it in the UK, because I love it!
This afternoon we wanted to visit 2 museums, the Pergamon Museum and the Altes museum, but the queues were so long. At least a 2 hour wait. And neither of us can stand for so long, so we decided to sit down 13692237_1192490970795004_26416911_oin the middle of all the museums, enjoy the weather, the buildings, the classical music from street musicians in the background, the people and each other. I do have to admit I was a little upset I wasn’t going to see the inside of these beautiful museums as I love visiting museums a lot. But I know my back and neck wouldn’t like the hours of standing still and the pain I would have experienced from that would have ruined the time inside anyway.
In the evening we wanted to go for another italian restaurant, called ‘Sfizy Veg’, where they apparently have 100 different vegan pizza’s (I needed to see this with my own eyes) and also other 13730751_1192490957461672_1845896633_oItalian dishes. Only when we got there it happened to be closed that day. When we walked a little further we bumped into a lovely little restaurant called ‘Let It Be’. What made me feel happy that the other one was closed, because otherwise we’d never discovered this and never ate the amazing burgers they had over there. Another very nice place for today.
For dessert we wanted to get some vegan donuts at a place called ‘Brammibal’s’, but it turned out that they recently changed their closing time from 19:00 to 20:00 and of course it was 19:10. A shame, as it looked really nice.

13692129_1192491360794965_68635277_oThis was our last morning. We took it easy this morning, but then we decided to try ‘Brammibal’s’ again. This time it was open and we each chose 4 donuts (I had: cinnamon, salted-caramel-hazelnut, maple-bacon-coconut and a peanut butter-chocolate). This is a lovely place btw, I really liked it. The interior is very simple and nice, perfect to enjoy lunch or a donut. It was very funny to find out, after we made the most silly jokes, that one of the staff members was Dutch and he was understanding everything we were saying. Oops.. Haha! I was so lucky, because when we were there an amazing, huge, most beautiful, blue merle 13718034_1192491390794962_2060185385_oGreat Dane walked in. I was instantly in love. Took a thousand pictures and cuddled her untill she and her owner left. What a lovely last highlight of this trip! We also ordered a take away bagel, we ate at Kaffee Einstein when we were at the station. The bagel was amazing!! The best bagel I’ve ever had. (The donuts were for when I got home that evening. I was very excited to try them, but unfortunately they were very dry and I didn’t like them. Maybe I should have eaten them straight away, but then I still think they would have been a bit dry.)

13718104_1192490850795016_1770118294_oThen it was time to say our goodbye’s and my mum and sister left. Because there was a train going straight to the airport and my bag was too heavy to carry around for much longer, I decided to go to the airport even though I would be a few hours early. It made it a relaxed day and my journey went well.

Overall I think Berlin really has 2 sides. There is this beautiful city, with a lot of history, breathtaking historic buildings, amazing vegan food options and the freedom you can feel everywhere. But Berlin is also very poor. There are a lot (!) of homeless people, it can be very smelly (especially in the underground), a lot of buildings seem to be forgotten and you see a lot of 13711490_1192491420794959_190343423_ocranes, fences and scaffoldings everywhere. And apart from a few very friendly people (especially in the restaurants/cafe’s) it looks like people can’t smile and the English is very 50/50, what came to me as a surprise.
I did enjoy my time in Berlin and I’m sure I’ll go back one day. There a lot of people who absolutely love Berlin and I do understand why. Just for me personally it wasn’t my kind of city perse, what made me appreciate my beautiful London. I do recommend to go and visit this interesting city as it was a lovely experience and the food was absolutely great!

HOTSPOT LIST:
Corroboree Sony Center, Bellevuestraße 5
Veganz Warschauer Str. 33
Avesu Warschauer Str. 33
The Bowl Warschauer Str. 33
Goodies Warschauer Str. 33
Leuchtstoff Siegfriedstraße 19
Kaffee Einstein Alexanderstraße 3 (there are quite a lot of these cafe’s around Berlin)
Zero Stress Colbestraße 3
New Deli Yoga Falckensteinstraße 37
California Pops Falckensteinstraße 4
Bio Company Skalitzer Str. 71-72 (there are more Bio Company’s around Berlin)
Sfizy Veg Treptower Str. 95
Let it Be Treptower Str. 90
Brammibal’s Maybachufer 8

13730668_1192490700795031_1363501348_oSo if you find yourself in Berlin, you’re sure of a list of lovely cafe and restaurants. Let me know if you know one or more of these lovely hotspots and definitely let me know if you’re deciding to go! You can show me by using #PlanetManel on Instagram or by leaving a comment below. Thank you! X

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Brandenburger Tor and Pariser Platz.

Altes Museum

Altes Museum I really wanted to go.

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When the advertisement matches the train..

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Potsdamer Platz in the evening

Portugal wins!!!

Portugal wins!!! *1-0*

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‘Corroboree’, the Australian restaurant at the Sony Center.

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A bridge at Unter den Linden. There was a lovely market along the water.

Berliner Dom

Berliner Dom, beautiful cathedral.

Museumsinsel

Museumsinsel, where all the museums are.

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Lovely brand ‘Sante’, does anybody know if you can get it in the UK?

Lovely restaurant 'Let It Be'

Lovely burger/crêperie restaurant ‘Let It Be’

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Inside ‘Let It Be’.

California Pops for yummy lolly pops!

‘California Pops’ for yummy lolly pops!

Doesn't this look amazing? California Pops!

Doesn’t this look amazing? ‘California Pops’!

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Love it! @New Deli Yoga

Zero Stress pizza

‘Zero Stress’ pizza time!

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Berlin Wall, why?!

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A few things I got at Veganz..

My tea at Einstein Kaffee..

My tea at Einstein Kaffee..

Restaurant 'The Bowl'

Restaurant ‘The Bowl’

Vegan shoes anyone?! 'Avesu'

Vegan shoes anyone?! ‘Avesu’

Veganz supermarket

Very imporant corner at ‘Veganz’ supermarket.

Veganz supermarket.. I wanted to live here!

‘Veganz’ supermarket.. I wanted to live here!

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Lovely ‘Goodies’. You are enough!

Just look at this.. 'Goodies' for your tummy!

Just look at this.. ‘Goodies’ for your tummy!

Berliner dom, what a beautiful day!

Berliner dom, what a beautiful day! ..30+C!

Lovely donut shop 'Brammibal's', GO!

Lovely donut shop ‘Brammibal’s’, GO!

All cafe's and restaurants should give you a discount if you bring your dog!!

All cafe’s and restaurants should give you a discount if you bring your dog!!

Irrisistable isn't she.. So in love! <3

Irresistable isn’t she.. So in love! ❤

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Love my mum and sis!! ❤ Thank you guys!