Netherlands October 2017

Hello everybody, I’m sorry I hardly posted anything in the past 2 weeks. It has just been so busy with moving houses and with getting used to being in a new place. Also, since a week I own a little piglet, that I saved from a pig farm. So the last week has been crazy crazy, with looking after him. Especially because he was (and still is a bit) very ill. He’s still very up and down, what makes me very stressed. Anyway, that was the reason why I wasn’t that active here. I’ll try to post more regularly again from now on. I just have to organise it all a little better and find a new routine. I did promise you to tell you all about my travels to the Netherlands in October and I’ve got some lovely new hotspots for you, so there we go.

I left quite early in the morning on Friday the 13th (ah oh! ..haha!) to Stansted Airport. My favourite airport to fly from and to when it comes to London. Everything went well and I had some spare time to get a Starbucks before boarding. I flew to Eindhoven, what means I had to travel another 3 hours by train from there to Assen. I actually really like this, because I can just look out of the window and relax. My mum was there to pick me up. One of the reasons I was coming to the Netherlands this time, is because my mum bought a little house and I wanted to see it of course. It’s he cutest little bungalow with an amazing garden. I love it a lot! My nephew came in the end of the day, because he was coming with us to Amsterdam the next day. So lovely to see him. That night we had to sleep at my mum’s work. For the people who don’t know, my mum works at Rikus. Rikus is a hotel-restaurant n Eext. Normally the lady who does the vegetable gardens lives above Rikus, but as she was on holiday and there needs to be somebody in the building at night, my mum slept in her house. We actually slept there for 3 nights. It’s an amazing apartment! I love it so much! Apart from the location and that it’s above a hotel, I’d totally see myself living there. In the evening we watched the movie White Chicks with the 3 of us and then went to sleep. As we had to wake up early to travel to the capital.

We caught the 7:30 train and about 2 hours later we got out at Amsterdam Central. Amsterdam is such a lovely city. We came here for 2 things. First of all we were visiting my mum’s friend and second I met Lisa (from the blog Lisa Goes Vegan) to give her the key of my flat. Lisa will live in my flat for a month, after I moved to the country side. She will work on her second book there, what is so cool. I wish her all the best! First of all I wanted to visit this place called ‘Koffie ende Koeck’. I heard so many nice things about this, that I wanted to see it for myself. Koffie ende Koeck is such a lovely cafe and 100% vegan! Yay! My mum had a cappuccino with oat milk, I (of course) ordered a chai latte and my nephew wanted a yummy tropical smoothie. I also ordered a croissant and my mum tried their brownie. It was all super delicious, though my mum did say the cappuccino could have been a bit hotter. We walked everything this day and so we passed a lot of nice looking hotspots too. We didn’t have time (and enough space in our stomach) to go everywhere, but I will mention them in the hotspot list.

We walked all the way to Olive&Cookie. This is a very nice little restaurant, run by two lovely people. It was actually closed, but because my mum’s friends knows them well, they opened the restaurant especially for us, whilst they were preparing some catering. Because you can also hire them for catering. It was so nice. Lovely to meet them all and the food.. wohw! This was such delicious food! If you get the chance, please go here and you’ll know what I mean. It’s all vegetarian, but there are also a lot of vegan dishes. They made me pastries filled with lentils and veggies, there was crispy sweet potato (I could have eaten all by myself), beetroot salad and an amazing chickpeas salad. As a dessert they made me not one, but two cupcakes. Most delicious an I ate them both, haha! This is the kind of food you do not want to swallow, because it feels so good in your mouth. I will definitely come back for this. Then we met Lisa, fairy close to there, at The Meets. A very nice eatery with several healthy vegan things on the menu. We all had a fresh coconut, what was super delicious. It was lovely to meet Lisa as we do not only share the same name, but we’re both bloggers and have a passion for veganism. She’s such a lovely girl and I’m super happy to have her in my flat. This way it feels like I gradually move from London, even though I don’t live there anymore whilst she is there. On our way back to the station we passed several amazing hotspots. Amsterdam really is more up coming. There are new hotspots every time I visit. At the station my nephew and I ordered a portion of fries, because Smullers (a snackbar you can find on almost any big train station) now offers vegan mayonnaise. I obviously had to try that. It was a lovely day in Amsterdam.

On Sunday we took a new family picture. So everybody came to my mum’s place and we took a lovely picture in the garden. It was very nice to have everybody together. After we went to the snackbar to have lunch (didn’t I have fries yesterday already? Oops!). On Monday my mum and I went to my dad’s house in the forest and we had a drink on the terrace in the nearby village. We also went to the COOP supermarket to get some Vivera products. Mainly to take them home to London. Vivera is a very nice Dutch brand, that does sell in London, but only a small selection. Now I was finally be able to try their new vegan fish burger for example. It was very yum! On our way back we stopped the car to collect some chestnuts. Later that evening I put them in the oven and my mum, my brother and I were enjoying them, until my brother and I both discovered one with a maggot in it. You kind of lose your appetite then. I felt mostly bad for putting them in the oven though.

I needed to have some new jeans and a shop I always find some good ones is C&A. So my mum and I went to Emmen to do some shopping and lucky me, I did find 2 pair of new jeans. When we finished we went to see my sister in Hoogeveen, because she just moved houses too and I wanted to see her new house of course. A lovely house, with so much space. What is good, because there is a third baby on the way.. I will become an aunty again next year April, yay! On our way back we stopped by my aunt and uncle and my cousin Blessing. I love Blessing very much. Poor him though, because he had broken his arm at football practice. So we brought him some treats. So lovely to see them all. On Wednesday I went to see my grandparents (I always visit them whenever I’m in the Netherlands) and on Thursday I went back home again. Home for only one more night, as I moved houses the next day.

HOTSPOT LIST:
Rikus – Hotel-Restaurant – Hoofdstraat 10, 9463 PC Eext.
Koffie ende Koek – Cafe – Haarlemmerweg 175, 1051 LA Amsterdam.
Juice Brothers + Van Leeuwen – Juice & Ice Cream – Haarlemmerplein 43, 1013 Amsterdam.
SLA – Salad bar – Westerstraat 34, 1015 MK Amsterdam.
Impression – Painting studio – Van Beuningenplein 1, 1051 VS Amsterdam.
Olive & Cookie – Restaurant – Saenredamstraat 67, 1072 CD Amsterdam.
The Meets – Eatery – Cornelis Troostplein 3, 1072 JJ Amsterdam.
Mastino – Pizzaria – Eerste van der Helststraat 78 hs, 1072 NZ Amsterdam.
Vegan Junk Food Bar – Restaurant – Staringplein 22, 1054 VL Amsterdam.
Smullers – Snackbar – Amsterdam Centraal (+ many more train stations).

Have you been to any of these hotspots yet? Or 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

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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