Netherlands – The Hague

So 2 weeks ago I was in the Netherlands, visiting family and friends. I often go around October, just before Xmas, because you know what it’s like with Xmas, always so busy. Also Xmas still looks so far away in October when the last time you saw everybody was back in May. This year I also wanted to go because my best friend had a baby just before the summer and I still didn’t see the beautiful boy. Such a happy reason to go, even though there was also a less happy reason I really wanted to go. My grandpa was in the hospital and my grandma has to go to an old people’s home, because of her very severe Alzheimer. I always make sure I see my grandparents whenever I can. I went for a week and planned in al my most important visits. My mum also got her hands on some cheap train tickets and she treated my sis and me on a city trip day. It took us a long time to decide what city to go, but we finally decided on Haarlem (the city where my whole family is from), to then decide in the train that we’re going to The Hague instead. Haha!

The Hague is the city where all the Dutch politics are happening. I’ve been to The Hague 2 times already, but I never went with the purpose of hotspot hunting. We got on the train in Assen and lucky for us, it goes straight to The Hague from there. The first 50 min we had to stand, because it was so busy, but it’s never boring with my mum and sis (and Jace, my nephew came too!). My google maps was a bit all over the place and wasn’t planning on sending us into the right direction, but luckily there are a lot of signs and so we found the city centre soon. Nobody was hungry yet, because my sis brought a snack for in the train. So we first decided to go for a drink, but on the way we found this very nice shop, that we forgot about the drinks. The shop is called Søstrene Grenes. The colours and the materials in this shop make you feel super greedy. I bought a small silicone facial sponge. It will be so useful and it’s something that will last. No waste = win win! I also bought a very delicious drink, some black cotton yarn and a little bar of chocolate from iChoc.

After this shop we were hungry and so we walked to Foam for lunch. It was at least a 10 min walk from the shops, but I can already tell you that it’s so worth it. It was actually a really nice walk, because you pass all the politic buildings and ‘Escher in the Palace’ (The Escher Museum). I really wanted to go to this museum, but I was the only one and majority wins. I will go another day, by myself or with somebody who I can share my enthusiasm with. Definitely go when you have the chance though! Now about Foam. It already looks so nice from the outside and even nicer when you walk in. It’s a long narrow space, but with high ceilings and a little garden in the back, with lots of lovely daylight. We all went for a different latte (Turmeric, Hazelnut and Matcha). Foam is all vegan and so it took us a while before we were able to make a choice for lunch. My sister went for the pancakes, my mum for the BLTA sandwich and I went for the quesadilla. The food was wohw! In my opinion my mum won, because her sandwich was to die for! If I wasn’t planning on eating anything else that day, I would have ordered it to take away. I will come back for this sandwich (as I’m coming back for the Escher museum anyway), haha! The staff is super friendly and easy going. Their desserts look delicious too, so I ordered a take away pecan biscuit at the till and then we left. The biscuit was very yum btw!

On our way back to the shops we popped into a health shop called Madal Bal. We bought some chocolate here and then we walked towards all the politic buildings. There was a time when I followed politics and I found it was fascinating. But since I moved to the UK and find most politics one big corrupt lie, I don’t bother anymore. Despite of that, I do enjoy looking at the beautiful buildings. My mum and sis never seen it before and so it was nice to show them. Jace wasn’t interested at all and decided on a nap. We did some more shopping. We visited a nice EkoPlaza, where I bought some seitan and a drink and my mum bought a really nice salt light that I truly love. After some more shopping and scoring a nice gift for my grandma, it was already time to go back. Time goes so fast! But before we headed back to the station, we wanted to visit the Vegetarische Snackbar. It was also quite a walk, outside the centre. It’s the opposite from the The Hague HS station. But omg! It was so gooddddd.. A snackbar is something very Dutch and it’s as popular as a pub is in the UK. It basically is a cafe where you can buy chips and snacks. Snacks that are mostly meat and cheese based. The Vegetarische Snackbar opened a snackbar where everything is vegetarian and also a lot is vegan! We again didn’t know what to choose and so we decided on nearly half the menu. It was so good, I don’t have words for it. The chips are good, but the snacks are so so similar to the original, that you truly wonder why we keep torturing and killing animals (there isn’t a good reason anyway!). This vegetarian snackbar is the only one in the Netherlands, but we all agreed that there should be one in every city and of course that all snackbars should be like this one. When paying, we also bought both cake options (carrot and chocolate). We ate these in the train and they were so good too. Very moist and strong flavoured. Whatever you do, when in The Hague.. go to the Vegetarische Snackbar!

Oh I forgot another reason I went to visit the Netherlands. I still didn’t see my brother and sister in law’s new home. They moved to Groningen before the summer and I was super curious to see it. It’s such a lovely and cosy place and I stayed for a sleep over. We had such a good time. The next day I invited my sister in law to have brunch at Anat. Their flat is in such a good location, because within 20 min you are in the city centre by bike. So that is what we did and we enjoyed a yummy smoothie bowl at this amazing place. I mentioned them before in a travel post, but I will again, because it’s a must go! On my last day I visited my grandparents with my sister and Jace. We had a really good time all together. We bought some oliebollen (something else typical Dutch, we normally eat on NYE) and they were so good. But then all nice trips come to an end and so it was time to go home sooner than I expected.

HOTSPOT LIST:
Søstrene Grenes – Spuistraat 48, 2511 BE Den Haag.
Escher Museum – Lange Voorhout 74, 2514 EH Den Haag.
Foam – Frederikstraat 44, 2514 LL Den Haag.
Madal Bal – Denneweg 126B, 2514 CL Den Haag.
Eko Plaza – Grote Marktstraat 177, 2511 BJ Den Haag.
Vegetraische Snackbar – Stationsplein 5A, 2515 BT Den Haag.
Anat – Verlengde Grachtstraat 1, 9717 GD Groningen.

Have you been to The Hague yet? You should definitely go and check out these lovely places. Please let me know if you do! You can leave a comment or show me by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thank you! X

Advertisements

Denmark – Copenhagen

Every year I go on a city trip. Like, I’ve been to Paris, Berlin, Glasgow, Rome.. and this year I decided to explore Copenhagen. I booked for 3 nights, what also gave me about 3 days. Denmark’s capital was on my travel bucket list for quite a while as it’s so known for its sustainability. I will tell you all about my trip and I’ll give you a nice list of hotspot you should definitely check out if you decide to explore this amazing city! What might be fun is to tell you about my expectations, then tell you what I did in the time I was there and in the end I’ll tell you about my conclusion. Another thing I’d like to say before you start reading, is that I normally plan my trips into detail. I plan an exact route, put down the places I will eat etc etc. This time I didn’t. I don’t know why exactly. I just didn’t make time for it and left it a little too late. It was very new to me, but as you’ll read, it turned out fine.

EXPECTATIONS
I went to Denmark before, when I was very young, but I do not remember a lot of it. So my expectations are based on what I’ve heard and from what I’ve seen on pictures etc. I expect a lot of modern shapes, straight lines, squares etc. I also expect veganism to be very accessible. A bit like in London, but then with a whole different atmosphere. I expect a lot of sustainable choices, like paper bags, cups, recyclable materials etc. and not too much plastic. I think the Danes are friendly, with a good knowledge of the English language and for some reason to be looking very intellectual. You know, like the people you see in optician adverts, haha!


WHAT IT WAS LIKE
– Day 1
My flight was on Thursday at 14:00, from Gatwick. I drove there, what made everything so much easier. Before I headed off I wanted to quickly pick up my new glasses, but it turned out the M4 was all closed and so I didn’t want to risk it in the end. It’s a good thing, because it was quite busy on the alternative route. Even though I left a lot earlier, I arrived at the long stay parking at the same time as I had planned if I had left Newbury later. It was fairly easy to park the car and take a 5 min bus journey to the terminal. My flight was on time and everything went smoothly. It was the first time I traveled with a backpack and the first thing what made it so much easier, is that I needed a lot less space for it to fit into the luggage spaces. It was very windy and rainy in the UK when I left, but it was all sunny with blue skies stepping out of the aeroplane. What a great start! It was super easy to get to my AirBnB. It was only a few metro stations away from the airport and a 2 min walk from the metro station. My hosts were the kindest people. I felt so welcome and it was like I already knew them. I so appreciated their hospitality. I charged my phone a bit and did a little bit of relaxing, before I went to find myself some dinner. I used the super handy app from HappyCow to see where the nearest vegan restaurant was. This turned out to be ‘The Organic Boho’, what was only a 30 min walk away. So off I went. That is where the trouble started. A while ago I got new shoes, Vans. I love them, but it’s taking me a while breaking them in. I thought they will be fine and all the walking on my trip will give it the final push. Boy I was wrong! My feet were hurting so much after those 30 min, but at least I got there.

The Organic Boho > all vegan!
The Organic Boho was such a nice little restaurant. There are a few seats inside, but some lovely seats outside too. It was in the evening, but still quite warm, also because I walked. So I decided to sit outside. The only trouble from sitting outside is that it’s not the best location for this as it’s located at a very busy, not pretty looking, street and so there are cars right in front of you. I ordered inside, a cauliflower burger. There was also the option to choose for falafel instead, but all vegans know falafel by now, so cauliflower it was. It was a great choice, because it was delicious. It was such a yummy bread roll, with a cauliflower steak as a burger. Great idea! What a good first meal. I really enjoyed that. The girl at the till was super friendly and their menu looks very nice. Definitely check them out. 

With a lot of pain I made it to a bench that was overlooking the water. Luckily I was carrying some plasters with me, so I freed my feet and covered the sore areas with Peppa Pig plasters. It was actually a nice spot where I was sitting, because there were so many ducks, gees and even some swans. All with babies! The cutest thing! When the sun was all down I made my way back to the AirBnB. My feet were still painful, but a little better than it was before. I was wondering how I was going to do this trip with sore feet though. I always walk a lot on my city trips, like 12-15 km a day. I just really hoped it was all going to be magically better by the next morning.


-Day 2
My feet weren’t better and my shoes were just as painful. Somehow I still made my way to the centre. I planned to have brunch at 42 Raw. When I was almost there I came through the main shopping street and I quickly popped into the H&M. I bought some simple summer shoes. I was doubting what to get, because flip-flops were very tempting, but walking 12-15 km on flip-flops would also be quite disastrous. So I went for the in between solution. It felt a lot better than my vans though and it turned out 42 Raw was around the corner from there.

42 Raw > all vegan!
The whole lay out looks quite posh, with the pretty golden letters and the high ceilings. They have a few long tables you can sit on, no seats outside, but a few seats at the window though. I was lucky to sit right there as I always look for as much daylight as possible, to take a good picture of my food for you. I went for the brunch. This means that you get a little bit of everything. At 42 Raw this means you get a pancake with bananas and goji berries, yogurt with apple and granola, sweet potato chips with sauce and seeded bread with houmous and smashed avocado. I also got a green smoothie. It looked so nice together and it was all really delicious. They also do a lot of treats and I chose a big healthy, chocolate chip cookie for later. What I didn’t like is that the smoothie came into a big plastic cup with a straw!

I decided to walk around a little bit and that’s when I discovered a lovely shop called Plint. It’s filled with pretty things and it’s so nice to have a look around. I found beautiful black cutlery I really wanted to have, but I wasn’t sure I was able to bring the knives and forks in the aeroplane. The girls who worked there was also not sure and even tried to google it for me. Another customer said he was quite sure I wasn’t allowed and actually I was quite convinced it was going to be impossible. I almost put it back, but then came up with the idea to post it to myself. So I bought it anyway. It’s going to be so nice for in my van. The post office was around the corner and so I posted the knives and forks to myself. Next to the post office was the Rundetaarn (The Round Tower) and I’m always up for climbing something for a nice view. The entrance was only 25kr (about £3,95). The best thing was that there was an art exhibition too. So halfway (gives you a good break from climbing it too!) you can look at that. The art was from different artist, also 4 Dutch people. I loved a lot of things. It was different, but with a message and I love art like that. It makes you think about the every day things. Another round up you are able to learn about the Rundetaarn itself (another little break from climbing it). The climb isn’t that bad actually, as it’s a flat floor and it’s basically just like walking up a hill. The last bit are stairs, but then you’re rewarded with an amazing view. I stayed up there for at least 20 minutes. I just love to take it all in from the top. I definitely recommend doing this. And for less than 4 quid!

From the top of the Rundetaarn I saw a park close by and that is where I walked towards when I got down again. It turned out to be Kongens Have. This is Denmark’s oldest royal garden, it dates back from the 17th century. It’s a beautiful park and it’s the garden from the gorgeous Rosenborg Slot. It was built in 1606-34 by Christian IV. This was his favourite castle and he eventually died here too. Nowadays the crown jewels are kept here. I enjoyed my cookie from 42 Raw on a bench next to it. From there I just walked to one of the exits and across the street from there was the Statens Museum for Kunst. In front of the museum was water, like a fountain, but without a fountain. Instead there were actually chairs in there, with the possibility to sit on a chair with your feet in the water. A few people were already doing this and of course, with my sore feet, I had to do this too. The water is about 25 cm deep and my jeans weren’t the kind you can easily pull up, but who cares that they got wet, it was so enjoyable. I sat there for over half an hour just enjoying this and the sunshine. Whilst I sat there I saw the sight seeing buses pass by all the time, so I decided to get tickets from the nearest bus stop.

I went for the all including ticket, what gave me access to 2 bus routes and the boat tour for 72 hours. I know it’s super touristy to go on these sight seeing buses, but I like them. Not only because you get to see a lot of things, but I especially like them for the information you get during the tour. The history, some inside jokes, cultural habits and traditions etc. I did the whole bus tour and didn’t get off anywhere but the famous Little Mermaid statue. The bus driver stopped for 5 minutes there so I could get off and take a picture. Very nice of him. I heard that people were disappointed by the size of this Little Mermaid, but because of this I expected it to be even smaller than she actually was, haha! It is a beautiful statue though. Then I finished the rest of the tour. I must say that I was a little disappointed with the information given during the tour. It wasn’t that much. The driver also really took his time and all together it was at least 2 hours, what should have been 1,5 hour. It didn’t matter though, it was still nice to see it all and get a good feel of the city this way. When I got off the bus it was dinner time and I decided to go to Simple Raw.

Simple Raw – all vegan!
I couldn’t find it at first, but that is because the restaurant is a little under street level and their sign isn’t that clear. The girls that work there are lovely and super helpful and friendly. Simple Raw has lovely little menu books with pretty pictures, what makes it very easy (or very hard.. hehe..) to choose. I went, of course, for a burger. Maybe I should start a burger blog, because it’s my favourite. This one was super tasty too, my goodness! I really enjoyed it and the juice with strawberries I chose was delicious as well. There are quite a few tables inside, but as the weather was still so nice and I’m always quite warm from walking everywhere, I sat outside. The chairs aren’t the most comfortable though, but as soon as you bite into the amazing food you forget about that.

I headed back to my AirBnB with such a satisfied feeling. Thanks to the nutritious food of course, but also because of a very good and sunny first proper day.

-Day 3
After another great night of sleep (I always sleep so well on city trip, thanks to all the walking and many new impressions), I headed to Yellow Rose. I went there yesterday as well, just very shortly, because I saw they had waffles. Turned out the waffles come with the brunch, so I decided this was the place to have brunch today.

Yellow Rose – all vegan!
This place!! It looks amazing, with the beautiful soft yellow and soft pink colours and all the amazing details. It’s a bit like 50’s/60’s meets boho. They have window seats (I love window seats!) with comfy cushions and they have quite a lot of seats in general. It’s a good size cafe, while they kept it cosy. I just wanted to live there. Also because they do ah-mazing food! I went for the brunch as I wanted the waffles, but I got a lot more of course. It was a lot in general I think and it was all so good. The waffles were on point with the whipped up soy cream, but all the food was so fresh and delicious. I think this was really worth my money. I didn’t want to leave, but as I only have a few days, I wanted to make the most of my time of course. So before I went I also bought some snacks for later. I couldn’t choose, so I got a lemon cake with cream and fresh berries on top, a peanut butter/banana and chocolate cupcake and there was a cookie with nuts I per se wanted to try. Hehe.. oh well.. it’s the holidays! 

I went back to the starting point of the touring buses to do the Christiania tour. It was a very full bus, but they only go every hour, so I took it. It was a very nice tour, less long, but I like the neighbourhood. It’s where all the hippies live, haha! There is street art and it’s all about recycling etc. After the bus tour I went straight to the boat. I was lucky again as there was a boat just coming to pick up more people. I had a good seat in the front. When I was waiting for it to leave, it started to drizzle a little, but it was lovely to feel the cool rain on my sun-warmed skin. The best bit of the boat is that there is a live guide, a lovely girl who could speak so many languages fluently, fascinating. Halfway the tour, when we were in the middle of the big river it started pouring so badly though! The guide handed out plastic poncho’s, but I refused, because I was a little wet anyway already and I don’t want to use plastic (anyway) for something I actually love. It was crazy really, like standing in the shower. My make up washed off my face, I couldn’t look because of all the water in my eyes and within a minute I was completely soaked. After like 3 minutes it stopped, but imagine yourself standing under the shower for 3 minutes and you have an idea what it was like. It was a lovely boat tour though, you get really good views of Copenhagen this way. Especially of Amalienborg, the Opera house and the part they call ‘little Amsterdam’. When I got off the boat I considered buying new clothes, as it was only the middle of the day, but it would have wasted too much time to walk all the way back to the AirBnB. Instead I walked towards the cafe where the son of my AirBnB hosts works. I said I would have a look. It’s called the Big Apple. Next to the Big Apple is a lovely spiritual shop called ‘Tessies’. They sell:crystals, jewellery, clothes, buddhas etc. Very lovely to go inside for a bit.

Big Apple – omni!
The Big Apple is a juice and sandwich bar, but it isn’t vegan, nor vegetarian. The guy behind the bar was really nice though and he made me a green smoothie, called the ‘purifier’. He wanted to put it in a plastic cup, but I asked if he had a glass instead. He didn’t, but he did have a paper cup. So I went for that, at least it’s better than plastic. The juice was delicious. They do a vegan sandwich too, in case you want to have a quick bite to eat. The best bit of this cafe is that they have some awesome relaxing areas. I sat down stairs in a cosy corner under the stairs, filled with cushions. You can also go up stairs and there a some sort of bed you can chill on. I love this and I think every cafe should have this. I sat in this cafe for an hour, ate the peanut butter cupcake and called my mum for a bit. Just to catch up and in the meantime to get dry a little.

I really wanted to get to the popular Nyhaven and so I took the bus to get there. Just because the bus was there anyway and Nyhaven was the second stop. Nyhaven is the place you always see when you see a picture of Copenhagen. I’m sure you either think of this or the mermaid statue when you think of Copenhagen. Nyhaven is such a lovely area. It’s a shame there aren’t any vegan restaurants or cafes, but I really liked to see the colourful houses and boats. Nyhaven means ‘new harbour’, what is funny as the harbour is actually 350 years old. It’s a must see when visiting the city! I took another look at my Happy Cow app and I decided to walk towards Green Burger. It was a lovely walk, partly through Kongens Have. When I arrived I wasn’t super hungry yet, so when I got there, I first sat down a little further down, to enjoy the last sun rays.

Green Burger – all vegan!
Because their colours are green and yellow it really reminds me of the Subway. I have no idea if they did this intentional, but I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking this. I think it’s a shame actually that they used these colours, because it doesn’t make it very appealing. Or maybe they didn’t want to look too fancy, to make it look a little bit more cheap/accessible. Anyway, I ordered a classic burger menu. This included a drink and fries. I went for the sweet potato fries, of course. I took a seat at the window as your burger will be brought to you. The girl at the till was such a lovely girl. She was super helpful and even wrote down some vegan cafe’s/restaurants down for me. After about 10 min my meal was ready. It all looked so good and the sweet potatoes were so so good! I know I say this a lot, but they really were the best I’ve ever had. So crispy and delicious! The burger was very good too. I really enjoyed this meal. They were one of the cheaper places. I payed about £15 for this. The prices at Green Burger are actually the same as in London, but for Copenhagen, that’s cheap, haha! 

I walked  from Green Burger all the way back to the AirBnB, what means I walked for 1,5 hour. Lovely walk!

-Day 4
Now call me crazy, but on my last morning in Copenhagen I walked all the way back towards Green Burger. Even a little bit further, because that is where the restaurant Souls is. It was recommended by a few people, so I wanted to go. On my way I made a quick stop at Christiania. The people were just setting up their market stalls and they were dealing drugs all around me. It felt like I was in Amsterdam, haha! They sell a lot of souvenirs, but nothing I’d buy. It was nice to see though and I really liked the beautiful street art everywhere. It was nice to see it. Just before I arrived at Souls I passed a lovely eco shop, called: EcoEgo. Unfortunately it was closed, but otherwise I would definitely have a quick look. They sell all things that are reusable etc.

Souls – all vegan!
At Souls I was quite hot from the walking and as all the tables inside were taken or reserved I went for a table outside. It’s located next to quite a busy junction, but it’s ok. I ordered the brunch and also a strawberry smoothie. The smoothie was quite runny, almost a little bit like a milkshake. It was tasty though and the brunch itself was good too, with fresh fruit. I especially liked the cashew yogurt, very different, but very tasty. Even though I wasn’t sitting inside, I have to say that the interior is very nice. Even the toilets are super lovely. The staff was very friendly and I understand why it was recommended. Next to me sat a Dutch couple from Rotterdam and I spoke to them for a bit, what was nice, but as I wanted to go to the beach for a bit, I had to go. 

I walked all the way back to Christiania, but then I took the metro to the Amager Beach Park. I could easily do this, because it’s the same metro that takes me to the airport. The beach is a 5 min walk from the ‘Amager Strand’ station. The beach in Copenhagen is artificial, but it was still nice. To feel the sand and the cool water on my feet was great. It was quite a cloudy day, with a fair bit of wind, but that didn’t stop some people from going swimming. Even kids were swimming. So brave! After half an hour I had to get up and say my goodbyes to Copenhagen, because it was time to head to the airport. It was almost dinner time, but there wasn’t much to eat at the airport. There was a Yo Sushi, with a limited menu, so there were basically only 3 vegan options. Better than nothing though. Later I discovered there were a few vegan options at this place called Retreat. So I got a salad and a chia pudding. It was super super delicious, but so much plastic again. So disappointing, especially if it’s the only real meal you can get. I got to the gate on time, but then it turned out the fight was delayed. When we finally got into the aeroplane they said it was going to take another 2 hours due to the weather at Gatwick. Half an hour later we were in the queue, but then a man decided he wanted to get out. Seriously? So we had to taxi all the way back to the gate for him. Before all the safety procedures were finished and the doors were closed again there was another half an hour passed. Oh well.. I was reading Harry Potter, so that is what I did for 4 hours straight. I didn’t mind. No need to stress about things you can’t control. I’ve had a lovely holiday and I won’t ever let things like this ruin it.

CONCLUSION
I think Copenhagen is definitely worth a city trip. I really enjoyed my stay. I love the architecture and the friendly people. The people are very real, easy-going and straight forward. That is why they remind me of the Dutch. They are very good looking (guys with long hair and skateboards everywhere.. gosh!) and they are all very good at speaking English. Something what you will really notice as well is that they live a slower life. Nothing much is rushed, like it is in London. People actually wait when the light is red, even though they could have crossed at least 10 times. They cycle a lot, at a normal speed, not quick quick quick.. The food is very good. There are a lot of all vegan cafe’s and restaurants + everything is so fresh and a lot of it is organic too. So great!

Something that was disappointing to me was the amount of plastic that is still being used. For a city that wants to be carbon free by the year 2025 and the way they are good at recycling, I thought things like this would have been so much better over here. You also have to keep in mind that Copenhagen is very expensive. If you are eating all your meals out, bring a big bag of money, haha! I solved this by only eating 2 meals a day. So I would go for brunch around 11:00, get a treat (or 3.. haha..) at that same place for later in the day and then I’d have my dinner around 19:00. This easily kept me going, but it still cost me about £50 a day. But overall I loved it here! I really felt at home and even imagined myself living in Copenhagen. I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would.

HOTSPOT LIST:
The Organic Boho: Prinsessegade 23, 1422.
42 Raw: Pilestræde 32, 1112.
Plint: Købmagergade 50, 1150.
Simple Raw: Gråbrødretorv 9, 1154.
Yellow Rose: Peder Hvitfeldts Stræde 17, 1173.
Tessies: Fiolstræde 14, 1171.
Big Apple: Fiolstræde 18, 1171.
Green Burger: Frederiksborggade 26, 1360.
EcoEgo: Nørre Farimagsgade 82, 1364 .
Souls: Nørre Farimagsgade 63, 1364.

Did you visit Copenhagen yet? Or will you now after reading this? I’d love to hear about your experiences or plans to go! You can let me know in the comments below or show me your favourite picture of this lovely city via Instagram by tagging me. Thank you! X

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