My trip to Budapest: What I loved the most

This post is long overdue. As I wrote in the post Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary), I travelled to Budapest in November of last year. It was an amazing trip with my best friend, in which we fell in love with the beauty of the city. Though there were a myriad of things I loved about Budapest, if you were to ask me to name the 5 things I enjoyed the most, these would be my answer:

  1. The jaw-dropping night views

Even though Budapest is beautiful during the day, I must say that when the sun sets down it is like the entire city gains a new life. The city slowly evolves as the day goes by and it has a special charm after dark that I can’t put into words. You have to see and experience it yourself.

All monuments become beautifully illuminated and the light gives them a whole new meaning. The Danube, the Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge, the Parliament get all lit by night. So in case you are planning to visit Budapest any time soon, I would highly encourage you to go for a walk at night time along the river banks. I can promise you that you will be left swoon at the stunning sight.

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2. Its countless beautiful cafes/restaurants and characteristic ruin pubs 

I think that a big deal of success of any coffee shop or restaurant is the atmosphere and culture created in it. When I visit a new spot for food or just for a cup of coffee, I want it to have a welcoming and comfortable environment. An inviting atmosphere where I lose track of time whilst having a good conversation with my friends/family/boyfriend . Because I am a huge fan of journaling or getting some work done at coffee shops, I love when I feel that the space is inspiring and builds creativity.  This was definitely the case  of this cafe we got to visit in Budapest.

 

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Seriously guys..how beautiful and special does it look? We ended up here randomly and were so glad we did. We stopped by in order to recharge our batteries with a hot beverage and got positively surprised by the cozy atmosphere and amazing decor the moment we stepped in.

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We also went to this ruin pub, Szimpla Kert, on our first evening in Budapest and it is one of the coolest places I have ever been! It is basically a giant pub that was set up in a crumbling and abandoned building; a place full of mysticism, where chaos, eclecticism and vintage design meet.

3. The dip-based dishes and Shakshouka

When my best friend and I get together we are all about chatting whilst nibbling on something. So if you, just like us, are all about it too and love warm flatbread paired with a good hearty and creamy dip… then Budapest is certainly the place to go to! We ate all the hummus, tahini, muhammara and baba ganoush we could possibly eat haha. I mean… you can never get enough, can you? We tried all sorts of dips in various places and we were not disappointed. They were all unbelievably creamy, super rich in flavour and oh-so-tasty. My friend has no dietary restrictions but I do not consume meat or dairy. We ate out nearly for every meal and this did not represent a problem. Even though traditional Hungarian cuisine is known to be heavy on meat and cheese, flatbread with dips and Shakshouka seemed to be part of every menu. So if you are vegetarian or vegan, fear not! You aren’t going to be missing out on the local cuisine 🙂

Despite following a diet that is mostly plant-based, I do eat eggs occasionally. For that reason I was able to have my very first shashouka and I loved every mouthful of it.Even though this is a dish originally from North Africa, it is very popular in Hungary.  For those of you who do not know, Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached/stewed in a fresh tomato sauce with chilli pepper and garlic. The one I ordered came topped with fresh coriander, roasted aubergine and a drizzle of tahini. It was absolutely heavenly.

 

Restaurant Dombrumba

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Restaurant Mazel Tov

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4. The thermal baths

Sadly, I got an ugly cold right on my second day in Budapest. Lucky me, hey? I woke up with a running nose, a sore throat and feeling a bit light headed. As you can imagine, the last thing I wanted was to fall sick and have the whole trip spoiled. As a good cup of lemon and ginger tea is my immunity-boosting natural remedy of choice, I made sure I drunk it first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. Every single day. It did not seem to make my cold go away but at least it did not make it worse. Anyway, on our third evening in the city we decided to got to the thermal baths. Even though this was one of the things that I was super excited to do, I was also a little bit fearful that it would make my cold worse. Nevertheless, I just had to do it because, despite being a popular attraction for tourists, it still is a public comfort for the locals. So knowing myself as I do, I was sure that I would regret skipping this experience.

We chose to go to Rudas Baths as per advice of our Airbnb owner. Apparently this thermal bath is as just as good as the other ones but less touristy. We went there at around 7pm and we thoroughly enjoyed our time. It was just the perfect way to wind down after a cold day of touring the city.

Rudas Baths

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There was this jaccuzzi on the roof terrace and it had an amazing view over the city. Priceless.

5. “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market”  with a local

What I enjoy the most about travelling is the possibility of immersing myself into the destination and the locals. Even though I like to do some touristy things, such as visiting certain monuments/museums or going on a walking tour, what I truly seek when traveling is to discover hidden gems, mingle with the locals and dive into the local culture. Traveling really is about venturing into the new, the unknown, the unfamiliar. I love leaving the destination with enriching life experiences and new knowledge about the language, the people and their unique lifestyle habits.

As my best friend shares this same view when it comes to travelling, we decided to buy an “experience” through AirBnb! I don’t know if you know it already but this online platform not only offers short-term accommodation but also experiences that allow you to delve into the local culture. The experience was called “Cooking and tasting at the farmers’ market” . We booked it for Sunday morning, which was our last full day in Budapest. We were actually the only people who attended it on that specific day, which in my opinion just turned the whole experience more special. The Hungarian guide, Reka, was a self-proclaimed travel foodie and we learnt so much about the local cuisine in Hungary with her. She talked about its influences, the most popular dishes and what are ingredients and spices most commonly used. She was super friendly and we could really connect with her through the act of cooking and tasting delicious food. The entire experience lasted for about 2.5 hours and it was absolutely worth. It was about 10:30am when we arrived to the market and we had a shot of Pálinka, the national fruity firewater waiting for us haha. No objections allowed. Remember when I wrote that I got a sore throat on my second day in Budapest?… well not anymore after drinking the shot! haha

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We actually messaged Reka before booking this cooking and tasting session and we asked her if this experience was still worth and appropriate for someone who does not eat meat or dairy products. She answered that the main dish could be cooked with no animal-derived products and that there were many vegan options for us to try at the farmers market. I really liked the fact that Reka was super flexible and did not pose any issues. We purchased the experience and we were so glad we did because it turned out to be so enjoyable and vegan-friendly.

The dish we cooked together was the Hungarian semolina dumpling soup (Grízgaluska leves). Its tradition version has pork liver dumplings but those were added separately to my friend’s plate. Funnily enough she did not really liked them and said that she would have preferred the soup made vegan like mine was.

While the soup was cooking, Reka took us on a tour around the market. We got to try food from every single stall. I skipped the stalls where cheese and sausages were being sold but I still got to eat so many things, such as vegan cheesecakes, raw cookies, granola, nuts, jams and chutneys. Everything was sourced locally, organic and homemade. The people selling these food items were so chatty, friendly and passionate about what their products. We had a great time!

 

After eating all sorts of foods, we were not sure if we had any room left for the soup… but when we noticed how yummy it looked and smelled, we changed our minds and agreed that we could certainly make room for it! haha

Anyway, here is the final result:

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Directly from the farmers’ market to the table. So hearty and comforting. We paired it with homemade mulled wine, which totally warmed us up.

This really was the best way we could have experienced the local culture. The market (and Reka) gave us an experience that we have not experienced anywhere else. We had the chance of connecting with the locals,  learn about the local cuisine and chow down delicious Hungarian food. We left the place feeling so happy, satisfied and full! 🙂

 

Our trip really was amazing and memorable. Travelling showed me once again that there is no one way to live life and that is just wonderful. ♥ Plus, Budapest is a pretty affordable city with such an unique charm and I definitely recommend it to any travellers. I hope you enjoyed to read this post and please let me know in the comment section bellow if you’ve ever been to Budapest or if it’s on your travel plans. If you have been to this city what did you enjoy the most? 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

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My trip to Switzerland

I think that it goes without saying that when we “truly love Nature, we find beauty everywhere“. Just under two weeks ago, I went for a a family roadtrip around Switzerland and it was oh-so-lovely to get reunited with my parents and sis in a country where there’s so much natural beauty. Exploring new territories always gets me pretty stoked but, as the outdoorsy person that I am, I love to wandering off the beaten track. Being completely out in the Nature is just Paradise to me and let me tell you that the landscape of the Swiss Alps is as jaw-dropping as I had imagined. ♥

Since we rented a car, we got to visit aseveral places in Switzerland and it was great to see so much of the country in just 5 days! We went to Lausanne, Interlaken, Broc, Zurich and Geneva. Sadly, we did not get to see much of Lausanne because we just stayed a night there. We did get to properly explore Zürich and Geneva, two cosmopolitan cities by the water that result in a beautiful combination of urban life with nature. Even though there is a lot going for both cities (Arts, Sciences and Design-wise), it would have been a shame to travel to Switzerland only to visit them. The highlight of our trip was definitely wander around the splendid countryside. The beautiful image of cows grazing on the mountain prairies with the Alps as a backdrop is still stuck in my mind! Also, all the hiking lovers out there, please take note of this: Switzerland is like paradise on Earth! There are plenty of hiking trails that have stunning scenery all along the way and that will make you feel glad to be alive.

I thought I would share with you the things I loved the most about Switzerland (hoping I can convince those who haven’t had the chance of visiting it, to do it)!

  • Inhaling the fresh pure air from the Swiss Alps
  • Being surrounded by plenty of greenery untouched by man
  • Breathtaking landscapes over Swiss mountains
  • The beyond beautiful crystal clear lakes that are just awe-evoking
  • The spectacular scenic roads
  • Cows roaming freely in the beautiful alpine landscape 
  • The pituresque wooden chalets
  • The delicious high-quality Swiss chocolate that is so worth indulging in
  • Hiking trails that take you through breathtaking views

Because Switzerland is world famous for its chocolate, in our third day there we decided to visit the Cailler Chocolate factory. I’d totally recommend it to anyone who loves chocolate and wants to learn more about it. The tour is very interactive and lasts for about 1 – 1.5 hours. It takes you on a very interesting, insightful and literally delicious journey through the history of Cailler, which for those of you who do not know, is the Switzerland’s oldest chocolate brand. You get to learn everything about the different stages of chocolate production; from cocoa plantation to the finished and packed product! There is a free chocolate degustation at the end of the tour, where you have the chance to try all the chocolates produced by Cailler. It is any chocolate lovers’ dream, am I right or am I right?! The tour is so insightful that makes you see and appreciate chocolate in a whole new way. It made me feel like I was trying chocolate for the very first time. The tour guided us to use all our senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste ) so we could get the real chocolate experience! It showed us how tasting chocolotate really is an experience; it is all about looking at it and trying to make up how it tastes , inhaling and pondering the aromas we can sense, sensing its texture, tasting its rich flavour and enjoying its aftertaste.

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Here are are some more of the photos taken during my trip that I found worth-sharing with you guys:

Interlaken

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Broc

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Zurich

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Geneva

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Have you had the chance of visiting any of these places? If so, how did you like it? Would you recommend visiting any other city in Switzerland? 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Sunday morning in Paris.

Sunday morning in Paris 🌸

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Sundays are my favourite, especially when I get to wake up in a beautiful city that is not my own, like it happened last weekend. My boyfriend and I flew out to France on Wednesday, the 12th September, in order to celebrate my 25th birthday in Paris, which turned out to be an amazing and very memorable one. 💛

The five days spent in Paris were so healing for my monkey mind. These holidays were a welcomed break in my usual work, fitness routine and overall day-to-day life as well as a break in my mental chatter and in the not-so-positive spin of thoughts and emotions that I sometimes experience. Plus, my boyfriend and I spent a lovely time together exploring the beautiful city of Paris.

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On my last morning in Paris, I decided to walk to a small and beautiful Parisian cafe and devote some time to journaling. I feel very lucky to have a boyfriend who is so supportive and caring. He always gives me the time and space I need and whenever I feel an urge to spend a couple of hours alone writing down my thoughts or doing something else, he immediately backs me up. I guess that this what love is: to be with someone who builds you up, rather that who drags you down 💛  

I have been journaling almost every day for the past one and a half months and I am planning to continue to do it so. Getting into the habit of journaling was from far one of the best things I have done for my mental health. There is so much rattling around my brain all the time and getting my thoughts out of my head and down on paper has been keeping me more grounded and helping me to tune into my feelings and emotions.

 

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Are you also into journaling? Would love to know in the comments! 🙂

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

A lovely day in London.

 

I travel to the UK quite often, normally to South East England, the seaside of Kent. It is absolutely beautiful there.  However, every time I have the opportunity of going to London, which is where my sis and one of my besties are currently living, I happily take it!

I’d say that London is most probably one of my favourite cities in Europe. Its hustle and bustle, all the amazing free museums and art galleries/exhibitions, the historic architecture and old stunning buildings, the food culture, the black cabs and red buses, its tucked-away shopping streets; its characteristic theatres, old English pubs and coffee shops; the riverside area; the music scene, etc (…). Plus, for a nature lover like me, the fact that you are never be far from a park is just another thing that allures me about this big city! There is always something exciting happening in London and I feel like you can never know the city too well as it is always changing.

I travelled to England about two months ago to visit my boyfriend and we decided to go to London for a day. I though I’d share what we did there as we both had such a great time, despite the grey-ish weather. Plus, as you guys must know by now, I love to talk about all my happy experiences and could not miss this opportunity.

We headed to London early-ish in the morning and shortly after having a quick breakfast at home. My boyfriend had some coffee and toast and I had a bowl of soya yoghurt with berries.

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We had a lovely and smooth train journey and we arrived to London at around 10:30am.

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11pm: Lovely stroll around St. James Park. Okay, the weather might not have been great but it did not prevent us from enjoying the greenery.

 

1pm: First stop – Restaurant Tibits. Since the day started early, when lunchtime came around, my boyfriend and I  were craving some yummy, filling and nourishing food. This vegan lunch just hit the spot! As the planner that I am, I had looked up this restaurant prior heading to London and it did not disappoint one bit. Undoubtedly, one of the best vegan restaurants we have ever been to. Even though it’s a self-service buffet, you can taste just how fresh the ingredients are. This place is seriously a haven of health with a great atmosphere and its wide variety of plant-based (main and dessert!) dishes is to die for.  It might not be the cheapest restaurant in London to get some food but it is certainly worth the money.

2pm: Catch up with my sis over a cup of green tea at the cafe bar at Royal Albert hall (no photos taken). At that time she was finishing her PhD at Imperial College London and undergoing the busiest and most stressful time since she started her studies. I was super glad that she took a break from her PhD thesis to meet us. She was able to take her mind out off it for a couple of hours and we all enjoyed the time we spent together.

 

 

4pm: A walk down Regent Street. Its beautiful architecture towering along both sides of the road amazes me every single time I see it.

 

 

5pm: Tea O’clock. Well, at least for me. Apparently, I am the only one in this relation who is not British but has the habits of someone who is! haha We have also met up one of my best girlfriends, whom I hadn’t seen in over two years, at this lovely English pub. It was so nice to be reunited with her and realise that nothing has changed between us since we both move to different countries. I have missed her so much. Seeing her again has also reminded me of how important is to make the effort to keep our friends close in order to maintain lifelong friendships. ♥

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7:30pm: Musical “Wicked” at Apollo Victoria Theatre. I really enjoyed watching it in the company of my love. I’d say that the narrative and overall performance of all actors and actresses involved is superb. The singing, the dancing, the lovely scenes were kind of magical as well as how the entire story unfolded.

 

All in all, it was a long but oh-so-fulfilling day! It was so nice to build some new and beautiful memories in London, which is the main reason why I love each and every time I go there; whether it is for several weeks in a row or just for a single day.

 

Hope you have enjoyed reading this post! Have you ever been to London? If so, did you enjoy it? What are things that you find most fascinating about the city? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully grateful

One day at the largest flower garden in the world: Keukenhof, Holland.

For those of you who don’t know I live in Holland for nearly two and a half years and absolutely love it! The fact that Holland is a relatively a small country doen’t take any beauty out of it. There is so many wonderful cities to visit and amazing things to experience. Today I am here to talk about one of them: Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in the world.

Keukenhof, best-know as the Garden of Eurone –  is the largest garden in the world with 32 hectares of flowers of all colours, shapes and sizes. Sounds almost surreal, does not it? Now that I have the chance of visiting it in fesh, I would best describe it is as this beautiful paradise full of an abundance of colourful flowers that adorn 15 kms of pathways. Everything that surrounds just glows. It is so vibrant and aesthetically pleasing that you just get lost in Nature’s beauty by walking through the vivid and vast gardens displaying so many different vivid blooming flowers.

Visiting Keukenhof has been on the top of my bucket list of ever since I moved here and this year I have finally crossed it off. I had high expectations and this beautiful spring-flowering park did not disappoint. I encourage any person who lives or come to the lowlands in Spring time to visit Keukenhof. It runs from Mid-March until Mid-May every year.

I thought that my parent’s visit in the middle of April could not be a more perfect occasion to go to Keukenhof. Since they love being out in the Nature and have a soft corner for flowers, I decided to surprise them by buying the tickets before hand and taking them there without telling the destination or plan for the day. Seeing how amazed and thankful my parents were as soon as they realize where they were made it all worth. It felt great to be able to do something nice for them.  Plus, it turned out that I could not have picked a better time to visit it. From what we heard that day, we went just when Spring was at its peak and tulips were in full bloom. It was an unique and magnificient experience to see such a wide range of different spring flowers in bloom, like tulips (my favourite 🌷), daffodils and hyacinths.

There is just this brief remark that I feel like I really need to share with you guys though. The challenge of visiting this flower garden is, undoubtedly, to take a picture with tulips without getting it photobombed by someone who was not supposed to be on it! Believe me, the struggle was real!! haha

Anyway, the Keukenhof gardens are located just outside Lisse, a cute little town in the South of Holland. Lisse is known for its scenic, long and colourful strips of tulip fields, which are in fact one of the country’s most photographed landscapes. Seeing this  wonderful scenery left me absolutely mesmerized and reminded me that there’s so much beauty in the world. Being outdoors and somewhere new allows me to fully immerse myself and, in a general way, just appreciate life more. ❤ It is impressive how Nature never fails to amaze me.

This garden certainly shows the real essence and beauty of Holland. If you love flowers, then you won’t want to miss this. Do yourself a favour and add this place to your bucket list. Trust me, you are going to literally have a “blooming great time”! 🙂

Here are some of the photos:

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Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My trip to Brussels.

As you guys might know from this blog post, I went to Brussels last year. I had been wanting to have a solo weekend getaway for such a long time and in November I made it happen. It was great to get to know Brussels. It is such a beautiful city with so much to see and experience! If you guys have some travel plans in Europe for 2018, then please make yourselves a favour and add this city to your list!

Brussels is a multi-lingual and cosmopolitan city that is home to a rather diverse population. It is quite impressive to see that there is an architectural and lavish building in almost every corner of the city. Plus, the central square – Grand Place – is so aesthetically beautiful; especially when seen at night as it is all light up. It is possibly the most spectacular square I have ever seen!

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Besides the amazing architecture spanning from Art Nouveau to more contemporary Modernism, Brussels is also know by iconic comics like Tintin. You can find various comic strip murals decking the walls of buildings spread around the entire city and I would suggest you to make your way around the “comic book route” in order to see them all! It is a rather unusual way of exploring a new city but fun is guaranteed! 

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Belgium is also known for its waffles and one of the first things that I have noticed was their distinctive smell curling along the narrow streets of the city. However, to my great disappointment, I could not find any place that served vegan waffles. I am sure that it is possible to get them somewhere in Belgium but, apparently, not in Brussels.

As a foodie who loves to explore new places and indulge herself in nourishing plant-based food as well as in great chocolate (the purest and the darkest, the better I like it),  going to Brussels was definitely a wonderful idea. You are just about to see why! 🙂

VEGAN FOOD.

Before heading to Brussels, I checked on the internet some nice cafes and restaurants that serve vegan food. I always like to do that to have at least an idea about how much offer there is. I was very happy to see that there are plenty of places with vegan options.

After spending a fair amount of hours exploring and walking around the city, I was feeling very “PECKish” and decided to have dinner at Peck 47 (yes, the pun was totally intended haha).

It is quite a small cafe but is very welcoming and cozy. I was lucky enough to get a table because the place got completely crowded in a matter of just a few minutes after I sat down. Thus, I would advise you to make a reservation if you would like to have dinner there during the weekend.

I do not eat burgers often (for no special reason really) but when I saw this one on the menu, I just thought to myself: ok this is what I want! I ordered the “Beauty and The Beet” vegan burger which is basically a beetroot based patty topped with a few oven baked sweet potatoes, some mashed avocado and vegan mayo. As I am not big on dressings and sauces, I always order them separately. The burger was super good and it came with a salad. The only thing that I did not quite liked was the staff. The girl who served me was just not the friendliest but hey, the cuteness of the place and the food itself totally made up for it.

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CHOCOLATE.

When you happen to be in the chocolate capital of the world, you just have to indulge in some, right? So, with this mind, after my lovely early morning walk on Sunday, I decided to treat myself to a cup of hot chocolate at Laurent Gerbaud Chocolatier. If you are looking for some great Belgian chocolate indulgence, then this is the right place.

I ordered a much needed cup of hot chocolate with soya milk but, as they were out of almond milk, I ended up by having a hot chocolate with coconut milk as a suggestion from one of the lovely ladies who works there. When she came with the generous cup, she said that if I did not like it, she would make me another one using soya or oat milk. How lovely? I told her that it was not necessary as it the hot chocolate she served me was simply delicious and flavourful. Besides that, when you order a hot chocolate, you are allowed to choose a small chocolate treat for free. They have about 4 or 5 different ones that are vegan. I can’t remember which one I chose but I do remember how much I liked it! Another thing that it is really worth mentioning is the super friendly and accommodating staff, which just adds up as a bonus.

Before going there, I messaged them on Facebook to make sure they served vegan hot chocolate. They messaged me back in no time with the confirmation. They also said that the only two ingredients they use in their hot chocolates are: 75% dark chocolate and (plant-based) milk. As they use a ratio of 1kg of dark chocolate to 4 litres of milk, you can imagine how dense and rich it is. YUMS.

 

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TEA.

I am a tea lover and Kusmi tea is my favourite brand when it comes to teas and infusions. So, as a (Kusmi) tea lover, you guys can imagine my enthusiasm when I am just casually roaming the streets and I see the store. I actually had to breathe in and breathe out a few time before getting in. Otherwise, my overexcitement would come across as lunacy and we do not want that lol.

The store is right in the city centre and is a must-go to all tea drinkers out there!! It really is a tea lover’s paradise; so easy to get in and so hard to leave empty-handed. I was completely amazed to see the wide range of tea assortments. So much variety and so many colours.

I ended up by buying my favourite tea, which is the one in the picture below. The BB detox tea with green tea, maté, rooibos, guarana, and dandelion and flavoured with grapefruit. It is seriously so good!

 

I hope you have enjoyed this post about my trip to Brussels and, particularly, about the places I recommend to visit. Let me know in the comments if you have been to Brussels already or if you would like to/are planning to go! 🙂

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful