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

Southbank Food Market

img_8357Today I will give you 8 hotspots in 1 article! And they’re all in the same place.. how is that?! On Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and on bank holiday Mondays there is a food market with lots of nice street food, behind the Southbank Centre. I’ve known it was there since very long, but I never really took the time to take a look. I was most of the time on my way to something else. From or to Waterloo station. This time I also didn’t plan to take a look, but I happened to walk passed it when I was looking for the Benugo cafe. I couldn’t help myself this time and went for a quick look. That quick look became a very long look though. As there were so many vegan options! At least 10 stalls have vegan food. I picked 8 stalls to tell you about. I just had my lunch, so unfortunately I couldn’t eat anything, but I did have a drink! Here we go..

1. ELEPHANT JUICE
Super fresh juices! And you have a lot of nice choices for a very good price. If I didn’t have lunch just before I would have gotten a nice juice here for sure. A Berry or Passion juice would have definitely taste amazing. Next time!

2. LULIN TEA
This is the place where I had a drink. I saw the words ‘Chai’ and ‘Latte’ and I decided instantly. They have lovely ethically, hand-picked and blended tea. They do a lovely vegan chai with soy milk. It was delicious! Only downside was, that they use sugar for that.

3. BREAD TREE
A market stall with big letters that write ‘Bruschetta’ is something I had to check out of course. They do yummy looking bruschetta and they have lots of vegan options. You can basically mix and match yourself!

4. CHALÉ
Ghanaian food with a very tasty looking vegan option. With kale, pumpkin, coconut and fried plantains. It’s not something you can just get everywhere. I would have loved to try this. A lot of people did, it was very busy at this stall.

5. ETHIOPIQUES
Ok. When I saw this I really regret I had my lunch already. This looked aH-mazing! Ethiopian food with so much colour and different dishes, everything 100% vegan! I know that Ethiopian food is really good. I’m definitely going to come back for this!

6. CHOCO FRUIT
In the end I came to this. Chocolate covered fruit. Oh yes! They have 3 sorts of chocolate, but only the dark one is vegan. I would have picked the dark one anyway. They let me taste it with a strawberry. Heaven! They don’t only have that, they also have cakes which are vegan.

7.LEVANTINE
When I was already on my way back I passed this falafel place, with a vegan option. The food looked really nice and fresh. Lebanese-style falafel with lots of veggies and stone baked flatbread. I love myself some falafel, so I keep this in mind.

8. HORN OK PLEASE
Opposite the falafel place I saw this Indian vegetarian food stall. And yes, with a vegan option for dal and samosa’s. I love Indian food, so this is another very good option for the next time.

I’m so happy to see so many vegan options everywhere. I guess I have to make a few more trips to Southbank! The street food market is only there in the weekends, almost all day.

OPENING TIMES:
Friday- 12:00 – 20:00*
Saturday- 11:00 – 20:00*
Sunday- 12:00 – 18:00
Monday (bank holidays only)- 12:00 – 18:00
*In the summer open until 21:00.

Are you excited after reading about all these vegan options? What would you have picked? Please let me know by leaving a comment below. You can also show me by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel on Instagram. Thanks you! X

Vegan Partying

You are vegan? That must mean you can never have a good time at parties.. you can’t go to barbecues, events, dinner parties.. This is what you get a lot as a vegan! People think you can only have a good time if you can eat dead animals or animal products. This is so not true! People associate having a good time with good food. I agree that good food makes things enjoyable, but apart from that eating a carcass of an animal is for me the opposite of having a good time, I also think that it’s more about the fun you have in general. The conversations you have and the people you meet. Or are you only going to the party to eat the food? If that is your main reason, you might have fun wrong.. haha! I do admit, that going to parties, eating out and all things around food was the last thing what kept me from being 100% vegan. Then I got over that, because I realised that it’s my body, my life and so it’s my choice. Then there was also the aspect of having vegan food available in situations as at other peoples parties. How do you handle that?

If I go to a birthday party and I’m not sure if there will be some plant-based food there, I bring some snacks myself and often I bring a lot more, so I can share. If I go to a wedding, a restaurant or even on a long flight, I always check if there is a possibility to have a vegan meal. If not, I bring my own. But in my experience it never happened that I had to bring my own, because there was always something. A good chef will always provide you with a suitable meal. It isn’t that hard, despite what people think. A little tricker is when you’re invited to a dinner party. In this case I offer to make something too and I bring it. Think of a fancy salad, sushi rolls, pastries, cakes, chocolate mousse.. things which are easy to bring and everybody will enjoy. This way you provide food for yourself and show others that it isn’t that hard to have good food. Try not too make too much different things as in some cases you might offend the host(ess). Depends a bit on who you go to though.

But what about a barbecue? Warmer days are coming and people get excited to throw barbecue parties. I used to really enjoy that, let’s say.. before I woke up! Now I can’t imagine how I ever enjoyed that, but you still get invited sometimes. It’s up to you though, but I do not enjoy barbecues at all!! I can not stand the smell, being around all these dead animals and worst: people who are being happy about it. It makes me sad, cross and very upset. So I don’t go. Though, if you are going you can always bring your own things and ask to cook your things first, before the meat touches the barbecue. A better idea is to throw your own barbecue party. Make sure you have lots of nice goodies, to show people it’s not necessary to kill animals to have a lovely time on long summer evenings. So what can you get for a good barbecue?

*Burgers/Hotdogs/Sausages or other good substitutes.
*Perfect bbq veggies: portobello mushrooms, bell pepper, corn on the cob, onion, fennel, courgette, aubergine, asparagus.
*Perfect bbq fruits: pineapple, peaches/nectarines, mango.
*Vegetable kebabs: bell pepper, onion, courgette.
*Cauliflower wings.
*Potatoes covered in a little oil and salt, wrapped in some foil.
*Pasta salads, potato salads, leafy salads.
*To make hotdogs and hamburgers: bread rolls, gherkins, tomatoes, lettuce, fried onions, mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue sauce.
*Baguettes, garlic butter, houmous, guacamole, tortilla’s.
*Make sure you have some yummy dessert too: marshmallows, cake, nicecream, fruit salad, frozen grapes/blueberries/cherries on a skewer.
*To drink: lemonade, juices, smoothies with umbrella’s. Wine/Cocktails (if you’re into that).

Say again?! Yes exactly.. this (and I’m sure you can think of so much more) is how you enjoy a cruelty free bbq party! Put on some suitable music, decorate the garden with lanterns, little lights, candles, open fires, blankets, cushions, napkins, nice table cloths and make people ask you to do this more often. Maybe you could make it a tradition. If I had a garden, I would have! You can ask people to bring a vegan dish, to encourage them to think of a barbecue in a different way. I hope this will become a real thing instead of smelling the flesh of roasted animals everywhere on a hot summer day.

Were you always a bit anxious of how you get through parties? Did you ever have difficulties? Please share your experiences! Also, are you excited to throw a cruelty free bbq now? I am! In case you know other very good vegan bbq ideas, please comment below and share or show me by tagging me on Instagram! Thank you! X

Bob’s Cafe

As a nanny you go to lots of playgroups and activities. Once a week I also go to Kilburn library, to sing songs and read books. There are some lovely shops and cafe’s at Salusbury Road. I often get a nice tea at Starbucks and the farmers market is on every Sunday. There is also a cafe, called ‘Bob’s Cafe’. It stands out because of the nice blue-green colour. After the library we  (the 1 year old I look after and me) went to have lunch there. I did see sweet potato fries on the menu and as you know I really like those. So I was curious what they were like and what I could have with them.

They didn’t have a lot of choice for vegans unfortunately, but they did have a falafel burger. I thought that will go well with my sweet potato fries. I told the waiter I was vegan and that if this one will be alright if the yogurt sauce was left out. He was quite sure, but he would ask just in case. For the girl I look after I ordered toast with houmous and she could share my fries. It both came at the same time, but they gave me normal fries instead of sweet potato. So they were going to change it. In the meantime I had some of the toast and houmous, what was really good. Thickly sliced sourdough bread, properly toasted, very yummy! My fries arrived quite fast, what was nice. The falafel was really good, but when I was nearly finished, I noticed that the bread had quite a particular taste and also looked very golden brown. Then I realised there was probably egg used in and on it. If I was alone I would have said it and made a little bit of a fuss about it, but the baby was tired and we had to go home. Next time I will say something about it and order it with the sourdough bread. I’m sure that it will be very nice like that. My tummy started to feel weird on the way back and I had to lay down at home, because I felt so weird and uncomfortable. So I’m quite sure there was egg on the burger. A real disappointment!

I quite like the interior. They created a nice atmosphere with the booths seating on one side of the cafe, the light walls and the plants everywhere on the wall and hanging from the ceiling. It would have been nice if the plants were all real though. I really like the colours and that there are a few seats outside too. People were using them, as the weather was lovely that day. It’s child friendly I would say and if you go a bit early, like we did, it isn’t too busy. The staff was 50/50 I would say. Very helpful and open-minded (just not well informed). I’m sure if you ask them to put a vegan salad together (and make sure to tell them what is and isn’t vegan) they will. There was one lady though, who looked super moody and didn’t say anything. I think she didn’t mean it like that, but it wasn’t beneficial for the atmosphere. A shame.

WHO? Bob’s Cafe.
WHERE? 77 Salusbury Rd, NW6 6NH.
CUISINE? Diverse.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 6 (nice interior, nice fries/falafel, could have more vegan options, poor knowledge)

Do you know Bob’s Cafe already? Are you going to give them a try? Please let me know! You can do this by leaving a comment below. You can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Zizzi

img_0708Zizzi is a restaurant I kind of always knew was around, but never went to. I’m not sure why though. Maybe, and I’m not even joking, it’s because whenever I see this restaurant there is a Wagamama around the corner and as I love Wagamama, I always chose to go there instead. Silly, because now after going here, I’m actually very enthusiastic about these Zizzi restaurants. I went on the day I went to visit Richmond and strolled around the beautiful Richmond park. Richmond is a lovely area and it has nice shops and lots of nice restaurants. So after a long walk in the park, I sat down to choose a lovely dish.

img_0707I read about their vegan cheese and that is one of the reasons I went here. The menu has quite a lot of vegan options or dishes which can be made vegan. I went for a pizza, because I was curious about their cheese. Zizzi is one of the very few (for now, hopefully..) restaurants who offer a vegan alternative to mozzarella. I think they deserve a big compliment for this! I think it’s totally awesome that they do and it makes them very popular around vegans. Also because now you can easily go with a group ..family, friends or colleagues, this way everybody can order something they want, without they feel forced to go to certain restaurants. I ordered the ‘Winter Zucca’ pizza, with butternut squash, as I love butternut squash. It was lovely, though I found that they put a bit too much cheese actually, haha.. I feel like I’m being super difficult now. The cheese was very good though and the pizza was very yummy overall. Oh and if the vegan cheese option wasn’t enough, they also offer vegan ice cream. Super cool! Very tasty as well, I had a very lovely meal. Definitely recommend to eat here.

img_0706Something I noticed about the Zizzi restaurants, is that they are all based in lovely buildings. The one in Richmond is very nice and as far as I’ve seen, they all are in similar buildings. I like it. Inside it’s lovely too. A  lot of wood, warm lighting, a good overall atmosphere and super child/family friendly I would say. I think Zizzi’s is a very good restaurant to celebrate your birthday or to have a nice meal for any other occasion what involves eating with a bit of a bigger group. Because of the location and food that everybody likes. All Italian based. I mean.. who doesn’t like pizza? Also they have a lot of choice when it comes to the food in general. The staff was very friendly and helpful, what I always appreciate. They checked everything for me and were able to answer all my questions. Lovely restaurant!

WHO? Zizzi.
WHERE? 4-5 King St, TW9 1ND.
CUISINE? Italian.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 8 (good vegan options; vegan mozzarella, great locations, very approachable)

What do you think of Zizzi? Do you want to try a pizza with vegan mozzarella now? Please let me know in a comment below or show me on Instagram by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel. 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

Yo Sushi

img_7761It looks so nice.. sushi on a belt! You sit at a table or at the bar and you can pick whatever you like. When I think about sushi, I always think about a sushi belt. Though, a lot of sushi restaurants don’t even have one. There is at least one known sushi restaurant that does have one and that is ‘Yo Sushi’. Funny name! A few years ago I went to Yo Sushi, but I only remember ordering some Avocado maki. I really wanted to go again as I love Japanese food. On my last birthday my boyfriend and I went to the premier of ’50 Shades Darker’ in Westfield and as there is a Yo Sushi in Westfield, I chose to go there. So that is what we did.

img_7808It was a Friday evening, so there were no tables available anymore. Not to worry, we took seats at bar. What was fine. I asked about the vegan options and they asked if I would like to see the vegan menu. Vegan menu? Yes please! On the vegan menu you can see what dishes are vegan. To see what it looks like (every dish has a picture) and what it costs, you have to look at the general menu. If you look at the pictures I took, you can see that every plate has a different colour. Every colour is a different price. You can get the dishes from the belt or you can order them. There is plenty of staff walking around, but in case there is nobody or they’re busy helping somebody else, they invented a button. If you push the button they can see you need them to come over. Super handy! The edamame beans are on the belt quite a lot, but the img_7807maki rolls for example, you have to order. They also have a ‘Tofu Katsu Curry’ (yes!) and you have to order that one too. Of course I did, because this was one of the reasons I wanted to go here. It was super delicious. My boyfriend ordered the ‘Miso Dumpling Ramen with Rice’ and that was very delicious too. I really love that he chooses to eat vegan whenever he’s with me. He’s amazing! Another favourite of mine, is the ‘Pumpkin Katsu’ and my boyfriend really liked the ‘Vegetable Gyoza’. In total there are 17 vegan dishes and I think that really deserves a compliment! I also really like that on the bar, in a lot of places, there are 2 little taps with still and sparkly water. So you order a glass and then you can fill it as many times as you like. Next to the tabs you can also help yourself to soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

img_7752Yo Sushi is quite a fancy restaurant I think. The sushi belt makes it look really cool I guess. Though I also really dislike the belt at the same time. It’s just because you’re eating this yummy cruelty free food, but in the meantime there are all dead fish and cows passing by every second. It would have been amazing if all plates had vegan food on it. Maybe they should introduce vegan evenings?! Haha.. would be cool! The place itself is all very bright and quite colourful. There is a lot of silver, white and bright orange. I think Yo Sushi is very nice to go to with people who all like something different, because there are so many little dishes. I think you can always find something you like.

WHO? Yo Sushi.
WHERE? 2106, Westfield Shepherd’s Bush, Ariel Way, W12 7GF.
CUISINE? Japanese.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 8 (Lots of delicious vegan options, less nice to also see the non vegan options)

Do you know Yo Sushi? Do you like Japanese food? Are you going here after reading this? Please let me know! You can do this by leaving a comment below. You can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Crussh

img_2971On my way to the Whole Foods Market I always pass Notting Hill Gate and there is this cafe/smoothie bar, called ‘Crussh’. I really liked there logo and name and it just looks very appealing. Also.. reviewing smoothies is never a problem, so I went for it. I went before Christmas (I know little late to post it now, sorry!) and I was having a terrible cough at the time. They say they serve ‘fit food’, so I thought, that is what I need. I needed to be fit again! Loading myself up with a boost of vitamins and goodness, seemed like a great idea.

img_2972They have a lot of choice and you can even add extra shots of extra healthy things. Great to cure my cough, haha! I went for a strawberry smoothie and added an echinacea booster. As it was lunch time, I also ordered an avocado, red pepper and cashew nut tapenade wrap. Doesn’t that sound awesome?! It sounds awesome.. but it tasted even better. It was a super delicious wrap, with lots of nice, fresh and crunchy veggies. I really enjoyed that. They do have a few more vegan options for eating.. like a sweet potato falafel salad wrap! Gosh, that I do need to try too. The smoothie was really good too, sweet and fruity. I should come here for lunch more often.

Like I said earlier, I really like their design, the logo and the name. It’s simple, but catchy. I went to the one in Notting Hill Gate and I like that one, because you can sit upstairs. It’s quite big and because it’s upstairs, it’s quiet too. They have comfy sofa’s , but also proper tables and chairs. It’s perfect to bring your laptop and so some work (I might do that next week actually!). They have quite a lot of locations, which you can all find on their website. Go have a look to find out where the nearest one is for you. Their website is amazing btw, because you can find all their food there and filter the vegan food. How handy?! There is so much choice too. Crussh is definitely worth a visit!

WHO? Crussh.
WHERE? 59 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3JS.
CUISINE? Fit food.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? (great, healthy and fresh food/drinks/snacks, great locations, good for working)

Do you know Crussh already? Did you try one of their super smoothies or juices yet? Or are you going to try it now? Please let me know! You can do this by leaving a comment below. You can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Cable Co

img_6455I’ve got a new job since mid January. This means I’m taking a different route to work. So now, every morning, I’m walking past this really nice cafe called ‘Cable Co’. It looks really nice and I wanted to check it out. I live very close to here and so it was easy. I also decided to take my laptop, to do some work there. I found out that it works much better when I work out of the house. Working in my own flat and next to my lovely bed is just not my thing. Haha! So on a Friday morning I went here to see what vegan options they have to offer. I was pleasantly surprised.

img_6492I asked what vegan options they had and they sell 3 types of energy bombs. I chose the coconut one, but they also have a nutty one and one that’s called ‘breakfast’. She also told me that they make the porridge with almond milk and so if you order it without the honey, it’s vegan. Perfect, so I ordered that. One of the best things was that they make their Chai latte with a syrup, what means there is no milk powder. As Chai lattes are my favourite, I ordered that too. I was very lucky finding a spot next to the window and a moment later there was a nice bowl of porridge in front of me, with an even nicer Chai latte. The porridge was very tasty, though I do like it to have a little bit more runny. The taste itself was good though. It would have been amazing if they offered agave nectar, but I must day that I didn’t really miss sweetness that much, thanks to the fresh berries on top. The energy bomb was yummm!

img_5621One thing why my eye caught ‘Cable Co’ is because it’s nice atmosphere. It’s black from the outside, with simple, modern, white letters. It’s not a very big cafe, just a few tables and seats. It’s quit industrial, what I like. Though I did have a very nice spot, the seat wasn’t that comfortable. It was a very small wooden bench. Or maybe my bum is just to big.. haha! It’s ok to sit there for a while and chat, but for working a little longer I’ll make sure to pick another seat. I really liked that the staff being very helpful and they kindly answered my questions. They also have another location called ‘Wire Co’, around the corner of the West Hampstead Underground station. So if you live around there, you might want to check that one out and let me know what that one is like. Check out their website for more information.

WHO? Cable Co.
WHERE? 4 Bridge House, Chamberlayne Rd, NW10 3NR.
CUISINE? Cafe.
VEGAN? No! (omni)
OVERALL? 8 (delicious chai latte and nice porridge + vegan cake option)

Do you know Cable Co already? Or are you going to try it now? Please let me know! You can do this by leaving a comment below. You can also show me by tagging me on Instagram or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X

Rawligion

img_5733I can’t remember how I discovered Rawligion, but they have been on my to-go list for a lot longer than I wanted them to be. I was very curious about this restaurant, because there are not a lot of restaurants like this. Rawligion is raw.. not a big surprise, or was it? Hehe.. One of the reasons I was so excited to go here, is because it has a very good story. Rawligion actually exists ‘thanks’ to an illness of Rawligion’s creator. What modern medicines and knowledge couldn’t cure, juicing and raw foods did. How amazing is that?! It’s so inspiring and makes you think and realise that what you put in you body is so important. You are what you eat!

img_5735I was so excited about the food. All this goodness! There are 2 big fridges where you can pick your food yourself. You can order a yummy smoothie and then pay at the counter all together. Almost everything is vegan. I asked the girl when I came in if everything was vegan and I thought I was asking for the sake of asking, but then she told me that they weren’t. They almost are though, there is only one dessert which contains something derived from dairy (but isn’t dairy in the end? huh?) and they used honey in some things. I picked a noodle meal and it img_5736turned out that, of course, the dessert I picked was the only non vegan one. So I swapped it for another one. I ordered a smoothie and again, of course that was the only one they didn’t have anymore. Haha.. it went well! So I went for the Bluerella instead. It was a delicious smoothie and I really liked the chocolate dessert too. I did like my main meal too, it was just a bit too saucy for me or something. The sauce wasn’t particularly my thing. It was tasty though, just next time I’ll pick another one. I did really like the structure, that was very yum! Next time I think I will go for the ‘kale salad’.

img_5734I love the interior!! Standing in front of Rawligion already makes you excited to go in. I really like their name and logo, it’s so simple and still very original. Perfect! When inside you can see this lovely counter with lots of green. It looks fresh and very appealing. You just want to order a smoothie, so very clever! I did imagined it to be a lot bigger though, more restaurant like, but in fact it’s very small. I think people go here mainly for a take away or for just a quick meal. What is a shame, because I can totally see something like this in restaurant style. There are some seats in the back. Nice ones. The little tables are attached to the bench you can sit on. It’s different and I like it. There are plants hanging from the ceiling and all this green around you makes you feel in touch with nature. Great atmosphere and great marketing at the same time. The staff was very friendly and helpful, even though I kept choosing the wrong things. All together, I like Rawligion, it’s very different form what I know. Lovely experience!

WHO? Rawligion.
WHERE? 3 Tottenham St, Fitzrovia, W1T 2AF.
CUISINE? Raw food.
VEGAN? Yes! (apart from 2 small things)
OVERALL? 8 (incredibly healthy food, great interior, very different)

What do you think of Rawligion? Are you into raw food and would you go? Please let me know in a comment below or show me on Instagram by tagging me or by using #PlanetManel. Thank you! X