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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A lousy Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 2

Some days are just harder than others. Sometimes life gets a bit too much. And today was just like that. I was not necessarily sad but I just felt really empty. Unexplainably empty. As a result, I found myself wishing to have my boyfriend, best friend or mum around just so they could hold me tight and I could feel safe. No words would be needed. Just a hug and their heartfelt look that speaks silently “heyI get you. It is not easy but you are gonna be ok.” (…) They are my support system and not having them around (because they live in a different country/city) makes it harder to cope with this kind of days. Nevertheless, this has also taught me how I can “pick myself up”. I called it a day, went home and allowed myself to have some peaceful downtime. As I went to bed I whispered to myself these few words in the most gentle and kind way that I know: You are safe. You are ok. You will still succeed despite these bad days. First I let it hurt and then I let it go.

So, If today is one of those days where you are feeling a little bit lost inside, do not dwell on it. Instead, show some compassionate for yourself and for how you feel and let this post be a reminder that:

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Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Bairro Alto (Nijmegen, The Netherlands).

As you might have guessed from my other posts so far — I love to explore new spots with delicious food! A few weekends ago my boyfriend and I went for a Sunday brunch at a new place and I am here to share my thoughts about it.

What primarily brought me to this cafe was its name: Bairro Alto. For those of you who do not know, Bairro Alto is one of the oldest and most picturesque neighborhoods in Lisbon. It is located in the downtown area and is best characterised by its cobbled streets. Though calm and quite by day, it is actually one of the city’s most vibrant and full of life areas by night. It has countless bars, restaurants and fado houses. Due to the small sizes of these places, people end up cheerfully socialising in the streets (most likely with a glass in their hand). This creates a very unique and special environment. One that I so dearly miss. ♥ Thus, as someone who is Portuguese and has lived in Lisbon for 4 very happy years, you can imagine how stumbling upon this cafe’s name in The Netherlands has immediately aroused my curiosity and interest to visit it.

The first thing I asked to the staff was if it was owned by someone Portuguese (yup, Miss Curious right here!) They told me that it is actually owned by a Dutch lady who has travelled to Lisbon and fallen in love with this specific neighbourhood in Lisbon. As someone who is  proud of her country of origin, this really has made me smile and has somewhat made my day.

 

First of all, I was delighted by its outward appearance. Pretty colours, lots plants and natural light. Seriously, does not it just look lovely?

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(photo from their instagram page)

My boyfriend and I went here on a Sunday morning and though busy, we managed to find a table for the two of us. It was quite crowded when we got there but it got less busy as the time went by. However, something to bear in mind is the fact that since it is a small-ish cafe, the seating space might be limited during the popular times/hours of the weekend.

Food and overall atmosphere

As we love a good cup of coffee, ordering a cappuccino is always a given. I ordered mine with decaf coffee and soya milk and my boyfriend ordered his regular. Both cappuccinos came beautifully served and mine in particular tasted wonderfully (a cafe with good quality decaf coffee gets extra points from me!).

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After having a thorough look at the menu, I decided to go for a toast sandwich. This is something I have been craving for so long! I can literally count with my fingers the times I had one ever since I stopped consuming dairy (5 years ago).

I chose the toast filled with grilled seasonal veggies, hummus and chimichurri sauce . In the menu this specific toast sandwich had goat cheese but I asked them if it would be possible to have it without. They said that they could do it for sure and proposed swapping it for hummus! As the hummus lover that I am, I happily said “oh yes PLEASEEE”.

Apparently they can make every item available in the menu vegan! How awesome is that?

I am so glad I could satisfy my craving with this toast sandwich that was both so rich and filling. The slices of wholegrain seeded bread were thick and flavoursome. The root veggies gave it that perfect crunch and the hummus added that creaminess that I love. For sure one of the most delicious toast sandwiches I have ever eaten. It hit all the right spots!

My boyfriend went for the smoked salmon sandwich with cream cheese, hard boiled egg and red onion. It came served with a mixed greens salad, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes and pine nuts. He really really enjoyed it!

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The food totally filled us up and we left the cafe feeling both happy and satisfied! Big win.

Another thing that I loved about the cafe was their attention to detail, something pretty evident in the crockery used. Just have a look at it:

 

cheeky and beautiful work of art ♥

I also loved how pretty it is the inside. Simple but still somewhat artsy, which makes the overall atmosphere great.

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Pricing

In general terms, I find Nijmegen to be slightly cheaper when compared to Utrecht and Amsterdam and the price we paid just goes to show that. My toast sandwich costed 7,5€ and the one of my boyfriend costed 5€. Quite affordable and “great value for money” in my opinion.

Staff and service

I found the staff to be super friendly, accommodating and chatty. They took their time to serve us but the wait was worth.  On our way out, I made sure to let them know how much we enjoyed our food, their attention to detail and the cafe overall vibes. They were pleased to hear this!

Though I only wish I had also given a slightly more constructive feedback. I should have called their attention to the fact that their menu does not come across as being vegan-friendly. There is not even a single item that is actually vegan in the menu. However, I did decide to go there anyway because of two reasons. Firstly, I was really really curious about the cafe’s name. Secondly, my previous experience with cafes/restaurants that do not seem to be vegan-friendly has taught me that I should not let the online menu put me off. It might not be up to date and oftentimes the staff is so accommodating that they will just “veganize” their food options for you. This is exactly the case of Bairro Alto.

Despite having vegan sweet treats available (that are not even mentioned in the menu), they are also able veganize every single of their food items (just like they did with my toast sandwich). Thus, I really think they changing their menu and website in a way that reflects the reality would just go in their favour. Otherwise some people may decide to put it off, which is a real shame given the fact that it is such a lovely cafe with yummy food. Next time I go there, I will let them know this for sure. I think that it is important to give our feedback, whether we have a positive or less positive experience. This is because, in my humble opinion, I believe that anyone who is passionate about the business he runs (or helps running) appreciates it

Location

The cafe is conveniently located right at the heart of city centre (at Kannenmarkt 6) and for that reason is not hard to find at all.

Just to wrap my final thoughts, I am very glad that this was the chosen spot to have our first coffee and brunch in Nijmegen. It did not disappoint in the slightest! I want to come back again to try one of their lovely-looking cakes and/or cookies and I am certainly planning to do so! When you add in the lovely and attentive service, it was an all round great brunch spot!

Thank you very much for reading and enjoy the rest of your day x

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

My Easter weekend in pictures.

I know, I know it is nearly June and Easter is long gone but.. I still would like to share some pictures and captions about this holiday since it held some real special moments! So let’s get straight into it 🙂

Friday

Because the company I work at gave us this paid day off, my Easter weekend started earlier. This was not only great but also much appreciated given the fact that at that point in time I was running on fumes. It was such a beautiful day of Spring. The sun was shinning and the weather was incredibly warm. I bought myself two bunches of gorgeous flowers and I also got to wear one of my favourite floral-print dresses. All in all, pretty simple things that make my soul very happy.

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This  day off gave me the perfect opportunity to go to a cafe, sit down and devote some time to writing. This is something that brings me peace and makes me feel grounded, especially when I am loaded down with work and have a lot on my mind.

 

Even though I love this cafe vibes, staff and overall service, I do not get to come here often because is a bit far from my house. Thus, I was so happy I could use my time off work to pay a visit.

Firstly, I ordered a cappuccino with unsweetened soya milk. Despite being a coffee lover, I try to avoid drinking it at weekends due to my (oftentimes slightly exaggerated) caffeine intake during the working week. One of the reasons why I love to come to this cafe in particular is because they have this freshly brewed coffee, whose beans they roast and grind there, with a really low caffeine percentage. It tastes just like regular coffee. Plus, everyone working at the cafe seems to have proper barista skills. The cappuccinos are always perfectly served with beautiful latte art on them.

I did some journaling whilst slowly sipping my delicious cappuccino and it was oh-so-lovely.

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After doing my journaling,  I decided to order a teapot of Oolong green tea and a vegan raw matcha and chocolate bar. This was a delicious focus booster and made me feel so inspired to write and just keep on writing some more.  I lost track of time and ended up by staying at the cafe for nearly 3 hours.

Raw treat made of toasted nuts, dates, chocolate, coconut, chocolate, lemon and matcha. It was so good that I am tempted to make it myself at home 🙃

Back in January, I deliberately took the decision of reducing my weekly workouts for the balance of my mind and body. However, despite no longer working out on Fridays, I really felt like moving my body when I left the cafe. As I was quite close to my gym, I decided to go there for a 1-hour workout. I did some weight lifting and core exercises and I really enjoyed. I usually go to the gym for certain group classes (HIIT, strength training, body combat, etc..) but this doing this different workout on my own was exactly what I was craving. And it felt great in the body (and mind).

I am all for trying new things (like this one) that test and challenge our mind and body in a positive way. Though it is important to assess and understand why we do what we do. What it seems to be a positive habit may actually have a not so positive intention or drive behind. This is something I learnt as a result of falling into the habit of overexercising (obsessively and in an unealthy way) in the past and of experiencing its resulting negative effects both in my mental and physical health.

I have been making a continuous conscious effort since June 2018 to approach fitness (and everything it entails e.g. eating) with balance in mind. I have come to learn that if something makes you feel good, that does not necessarily mean that more is better.. and I guess that it is great to realise that nowadays I am able to exercise out of a palce of abudance, rather than of lack. It is so empowering to be able to move my body in a way that feels good; in a way that feels right and without overdoing it, you know? Anyway, sorry for digressing. Back to my Easter weekend.

So, after my gym session, I just went straight back home and cooked myself a good nourishing dinner. I actually felt inspired to try a new recipe that was on my list for a while.

How wonderful is it to feed our bodies with foods we enjoy whilst giving them the fuel and energy they so need to thrive?

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This is the vegan version of a traditional Portuguese recipe (one of my fave actually) and was developed by @madebychoices . It is called Tofu à Brás (english name: tofu and mushrooms “à Brás”) and you can find right here It is soooo dang good and the ingredients could not be more simple! All you need is: sweet potato, leek, fresh coriander, mushrooms, white onion, firm tofu and a few spices and dried herbs. I did add green beans because I somehow seem to never be able to stick to a recipe haha For the perfect final touch, you should add black olives on top but sadly, I did not have them at the time. So, if you are keen to give this recipe a go, please make sure you have them at hand because I trust that they would make the dish even tastier!

Saturday

I went to my usual Saturday morning gym class. This is a group class of strength training intercalated with cardio exercises that I particularly love. While it is true that a great sweat is guaranteed, I always end up by having great fun. It is impressive the fitness instructor makes these classes the most intense, enjoyable and entertaining!

Gym was then followed by a good shower, the usual house chores and a late lunch. I end up by eating late on Saturdays most of the times because I always like to clean and tidy up the house first. Only when that is done can I actually relax and sit down to enjoy my meal (and well enjoy the weekend for that matter). Does anyone can relate?

The boyfriend arrived just after lunch time. He knocked on my door and I opened it only to find him standing there with a bouquet of pink tulips (my favourite). This really was a lovely surprise. He also got me some super yummy chocolate. It might be cliché to receive flowers and chocolate but… after being in a long-distance relationship for several years straight, these lovely gestures really have extra meaning for me. Plus, it is impossible not to be over the moon with unexpected flowers and chocolate, right? He surely knows how to own this girl’s heart haha

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How pretty.

Because a pretty cool looking spot with lots of outdoor seating had recently opened in my street, we decided to go there for the first time. We sat down in the bustling terrace and ordered a glass of prosecco and beer. The weather was absolutely perfect and we got to spend a great time soaking up some vitamin D and sharing laughs. What a well-spent afternoon.

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Since the weather was still pretty warm when with we left the terrace, we decided to go for a short walk in the neighborhood.  How I love to be surrounded by this greenery and boat houses so typical from The Netherlands.♥

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After the sun setting down, we went back home and had a chilled evening in. I made my coconut chickpea curry (recipe here) for dinner and we just called it a day.

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Sunday

I used to spend Easter at my home country with my family up until the second year after I moved abroad. At that time, I was really busy with my Master Degree, priorities changed and… I guess that life just happened. I still make Christmas at a home a must but Easter is now usually spent in The Netherlands, which is where I live for over three years now. This does not mean that Easter stopped being about family for me or that it has lost its meaning. Not at all. Easter is still about gathering around the table with my family and sharing a nice home cooked meal (aka an unbeatable feast). It is still about waking up and starting to cook right way. It is still about spending hours at the table indulging in finger lickin’ good food, sharing funny stories and laughing out loud.  It is still about going for a lovely walk all together in the late afternoon. It is still about valuing one another… and when it comes to all that, this year was no different. The thing is that it just involved less people and instead of talking with the fam in person, I talked with them over the phone. I still enjoyed it a whole lot. I still got to spend it doing the things I’d usually do and with someone who I dearly love: the boyfriend. I cooked us a brunch, we watched some episodes of Games of Thrones (since I was still stuck in season 3. shame on me, I know) and then we went for a sunny walk by the harbour near my house.

 

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Food dEATs: Rice crackers to dip in homemade hummus spinkled with paprika + lupin beans + leek, tofu and spinach quiche, organic chickpea puffs from @Hippeas, salad with mixed greens and traditionally Portuguese Easter bread. All vegan with the exception of the Easter bread that had a boiled egg on top for the boyfriend.
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..and I finally nailed down a foolproof recipe for making the most ethereally smooth, creamy and dollop-ing hummus! Because this recipe is from the amazing @pickuplimes , all credits should actually go to her!

Anyway, it ended up by being a really special Easter because it was actually the very first time that my boyfriend and I got to spend it together. Also, I was more than happy to cook us an Easter brunch. This is mainly because I see cooking for other people, especially for my dear ones, as an act of nurturing. It is one of my favourite ways of showing my love and care. My boyfriend really praised me and showed his gratitude for the food I cooked, which made it all worth.  Knowing that he really appreciates every time I cook a good (and well, sometimes not-so-good haha) hearty meal is a big motivator for me to keep on putting all my passion into creating and trying new recipes.

Monday

I had a very slow start to the week due to the Easter Monday. I let myself to natually wake up and made two waffles using chickpeas flour for breakfast. I topped one of them with fresh strawberries and caramel syrup* (shown in the picture below) and another one topped with dark tahini and a dash of cinnamon. I dellightfully ate them whilst writing my morning pages as per usual.

 

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Homemade freshly baked waffles are such a comforting treat.
*just to clarify: this syrup is one of those that is calorie, sugar and fat free and despite not being a big fan of this kind of products that is also free of nutrients, I decided to give this one a try. The main reason for that is its really short ingredient list with no wacky names. It is good to complement my waffles toppings but not to replace them 😉

Even though I really enjoy working out in the morning, I only have the chance to do it on Saturdays due to my work schedule. So for that reason, I decided to use the fact that I did not have to go to work and went for a full-body workout gym class.

After that I went grocery shopping for the week and then went home, took a much needed shower and cooked myself a good nutritious lunch.

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Food dEATs: Oven baked sweet potato chips + roasted turmeric, turmeric and ginger cauliflower florets + concoction of meat free mince from @quorn, green beans, mushrooms and spices + smashed avocado with lemon juice + fresh coriander leaves

 

One task that sat on my to-do list for, let’s call it, ” a considerable amount of time” was to spring cleaning my wardrobe. Finally I got round to doing it! It was about time to give my closet a spring refresh.

Declutering my wardrobe turned out to be so freeing and somehow physically relieving. It was like purging physical stuff opened up something on the inside too, you know?

I think that this just goes to show how items take up both physical and mental space. I am a firm believer that physical space and mental space go hand-in-hand. Because by freeing up physical space we are also able to freeing up mental space, declutering leads to greater mental clarity. Thus, if you feel like your brain is in serious overdrive, clearing out your closet might just do the trick! It surelly did it for me.

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I donated my clothes to charity with the hope that someone out there can give them a better use than I would. Plus, I find this to be a great way to recycle and to stop clothes from going to waste and end up in a landfill (a huge problem nowadays).

Also, now that I have done this spring cleaning to my wardrobe, I feel actually somewhat inspired to make the task of “mindfully decluttering” a more frequent thing in my life. I know I can only benefit from it because stuff I own but do not need can really take a toll in my mind.

As for the rest of my day, well I just relaxed, read a good book (picture below) and watched the movie “Mary Poppin returns”. Definitelly a classic fantasy/musical that made me feel nostalgic for my childhood.

 

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All in all, a long weekend taken really easy.  I hope you had a lovely Easter holiday/weekend filled with joy, love and good food!..and for those who do not celebrate it, I still hope you had a weekend filled with all those great things. ♥

Much Love, 

Blissfully Grateful

Morning pages.

Morning Pages. A keystone habit that is now part of my daily routine for over 10 months. Every morning I write down my thoughts, worries, to do lists, goals, exciting ideas, monthly/weekly/daily intentions and/or self-realizations. I basically put everything that is swirling around my mind on paper. I find this to be very liberating.

It is so important to create habits that build us up, bring us stillness and put us in a good headspace. Journaling does that for me. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle and forget what really matters. Living in such a fast paced world makes it easy to lose track of what we want to achieve. And this is where journaling can play a paramount role. If we are consistent with it, it can lead to the important mindset shift from a reactive to a proactive lifestyle. It can help us understand what is the way forward, pull us back to the present moment and give us focus and a sense of groundedness.

Some additional and more detailed reasons why journaling has become such a life-changing habit for me are:

  • It helps me to release any pent-up emotions
  • It helps me process what is happening in my life and get my mind clear.
  • It unlocks my creativity. Oftentimes when I am in the process of writing, solutions to problems and interesting ideas unexpectedly come up.
  • It helps me name my fears, which is the first required step to overcome them
  • It is a way of cultivating self-compassion and gratitude, increasing self-awareness and of finding within

My morning pages have naturally become part of my morning routine and they are not something that require me to wake up earlier than I would normally would. I usually do my journaling whilst having breakfast and I find that doing it in the morning sets the tone for a positive day. However, I sometimes also like to write before going to bed. There are days where I get home and I feel this urge to write about something that might have happened and that left me feeling excited or overwhelmed. Though dumping always turns out to be a helpful thing and, from my personal experience, I can safely affirm that any time devoted to journaling, whether that is 10 minutes, 1 hour or more – is never time wasted.

 

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That being said, if journaling is not part I challenge you to give it a go. If you are already into journaling, I would love to hear how it is has been helping you.

Additionally, I would also be very curious to know if, just like me, you also put time aside each day to engage in an activity that calms your mind? What are some other positive habits that you have incorporated into your day-to-day life and that have comparable benefits to journaling? You can let me know in the comment section below! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

LUI (Groningen, The Netherlands)

Last Sunday I caught a train to Groningen, which, for those who do know, is a city pretty much in the very North of Holland. This was the Dutch city where I did my Master’s Degree and where I spent what was one of the best times of my life. *Fun fact about it: “61% of all trips into the city are made by bike” (thus, calling it a “bicycle-friendly city” is quite an understatement haha)

I went to Groningen to visit and catch up with a good friend of mine, who is still living there. It was great to spend some quality time with her. It was a lovely sunny day, which made it easier to notice how dazzling tulips and daffodils were starting to bloom everywhere.

Roaming the same streets that I used to bike on every day just over two years ago left me feeling a little bit nostalgic. It brought me so many memories back. Though I must say that experiencing the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia about this time of my life does not necessarily mean that I would want to bring it back if I was given the chance to. To feel a longing for times gone by is a natural human emotion. I am a firm believer that things happen at the right time. Life is constantly changing and it has its own seasons. So, all we can do is to recognise that there is a season for everything.. and with that in mind, we can choose to cherish and treasure those beautiful memories. That is how we keep them alive. ♥

Anyway, sorry for digressing. Back to the main point of this post: a review of the cafe I got to visit last Sunday!

Because nothing beats a great catch up over a great cup of coffee, my friend and I decided to go to a cafe in town that apparently has only opened November of last year. It is called “lui”, which in Dutch means “lazy” (hence why the sloth in the big front window).

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The cafe is not hard to find as it conveniently located in the city centre. It is fairly small but because it has a big window that lets the natural light come in, I’d say that it is the perfect definition of “coziness”. There are even a few pairs of fluflly slippers right at the entrance of the door in case you want to put them one and get that true warm fuzzy feeling. Another curiosity about things they have available for customers are board games! It is quite a typical thing at Dutch cafes because this is an activity the Dutchies love doing when the sun refuses to make an appearance.

The cafe is just gorgeous inside and emanates a feeling of spring due to being full of plants. Actually, since you seem to be able to buy some of the plants in pots, it is almost like a plant shop in simultaneous. Totally love the concept and I can see why this cafe is one of my friend’s favourite.

We got there at around 3pm and I think we were very lucky to get a table. The people sitting at it were just about to leave when we arrived. What a win guys, what a win.

We ordered two oat cappuccinos (almond milk is also available), which despite being very tasty, lacked some cute latte art. However, the fact that the ratio of espresso/milk/foam was absolutely nailed made up for it. My friend advised me to get one of their homemade sweet treats claiming that they were absolutely scrumptious. Guess what? She was darn right. I got myself a slice of their raw berry cake and, boy was it good.

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I was just so nutty, fresh, creamy and coconutey. It was perfectly sweetened with natural sugars and so darn YUMMY. If you are an avid reader of my blog, you would know by now how I love raw desserts. This one surely did not disappoint. My friend had a slice of their mocha cake, which she also loved. It had a white frosting with big chocolate chunks on top. Sorry for not having a picture of it but…I guess I was way to busy with eating mine? Oops.

I was so positively surprised to hear that all their four available homemade sweet treats were vegan *what an happy me jumping for joy*. The mocha cake is the only one I would most likely happily skip because its texture and look were more like cake. As I have said earlier, I am not a big sweet tooth and if I am craving something sweet, I would hardly go for fluffy, spongy cakes with cream or icing. Anyway, the other two cakes available (carrot cake and a more traditionally looking cheesecake) were more to my taste. The carrot cake looked super moist and nutty, just how I would like it to be. Though, I would also be very eager to try the more traditionally looking cheesecake. Now that I actually come to think of it, I haven’t had a cheesecake that is not the typically vegan raw one since I stopped consuming dairy… Well, I guess that I will have to change that soon. I am sure I will  be coming back here again given the fact that I have two very “sweet” good reasons for it haha.

Even though the price for the oat cappuccino was quite ok (2,75€), the sweet treat I ordered was not particularly cheap (4€). However, that is a price I am happily willing to pay given how pretty the cafe itself is and the quality of the food/drinks served. Plus, the staff was also very welcoming and friendly with us.

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Overall, I would hand-on-heart say that Lui is worth a visit, whether you come with friends or on your own. In my opinion, it is just the perfect place to spend some quality time catching up with friends, reading a good book or even journaling whilst sipping a good cup of coffee. Plus, in you case you are in for something sweet or savoury, you can rest assured that you will have a good variety of vegetarian and vegan choices to choose from. I am going to certainly come back here when I happen to be in the city again! 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed this post and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Wish you all a lovely week ahead xx

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

what if writing hotspot reviews is the answer I need to overcome what I am going through? What if I use to challenge myself more? Because I want to expand this section in my blog, I go try more places, I go try different foods, I challenge myself and I don’t even notice.. (what makes me tick the most, the posts where I feel like my writing just flows)

Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro (Budapest, Hungary)

I flew to Budapest at the end of last year to meet my best friend, who is currently living in Germany. When we were University students and flatmates living in Lisbon we used to say “once we start making money, we will travel together to all the places we have dreamed of and it will be just epic”. Now that the time has come, I am so happy to see that we are actually making happen what we our younger selves once promised. This was our first time in Hungary and our very first trip abroad together and it could not have been more amazing or memorable really. It exceeded both our expectations. ♥

Even though my bestie eats everything and does not have any special dietary requirements like I do, she is also a huge foodie who is always keen on trying new foods! I really admire her love for food in general. She is great cook who loves to experiment in the kitchen, which I find to be quite inspiring. I showed her the list of cafes and restaurants that I wanted to visited and that I compiled prior to our trip. Gathering a list of cafes and food spots that seem to be unique/characteristic in the way they look or in the vegetarian/vegan food they serve is something I always do before traveling! 🙂  It was a real joy to see that she was as excited as I was to go to all the spots I have looked up.. and as a result, we got to eat so much good food in amazing looking places!

After a long walk by the Danilo in the freezing cold, we were ready for a sweet treat and a hot beverage to warm us up. Hence, we decided to stop by the cafe “Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro” before heading to the thermal baths. This cafe was in my list due to its mouth-drooling raw sweet treats and that whole idea seemed just perfect since we were way too cold and in much need of a break from all the walking. As I have mentioned before here, raw vegan cheesecakes are my kind of dessert. They are usually very rich in flavour, creamy and not too sweet. They are also normally made mainly with real and simple ingredients, like nuts and fruits, which I absolutely love.

 

My friend ordered a cappuccino with coconut milk and I ordered a hibiscus tea that came in a big cuppa! It fell like a huge hug coming from a cup. We also ordered these two slices of vegan raw cheesecake (gluten free and only naturally sweetened) to share. And yes, they were as good as they look. * win win *

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If I remember well, these were flavours of the cheesecakes we ordered: Dried apricot and Chocolate & Pomegranate and Raspberry cheesecake.

There was a wide variety of them, which just made it harder to decide which ones to get. Anyhoo, we were both very happy and satisfied with our choices. They were not only aesthetic pleasing but also pretty sinful.

About the cafe and service offered

I found the cafe to be slightly overpriced (certainly more expensive than most places in Budapest) and perhaps a little bit overhyped too. It is a small cute cafe with tasty vegan sweet treats but it seems like it is just lacking in soul. It is not exactly the food spot that I would describe as cozy or inviting.  The entire atmosphere is a bit “meh” and the fact that there is not a real coffee espresso machine, makes it all seem a bit amateurish. Also, the staff did not come across as being very welcoming, friendly or even passionate about her work. This was, in all honesty, a bit disappointing to experience. I mean, do not get me wrong, we still enjoyed to come here due to the delicious sweet treats and hot beverages we had. They hit the spot and were just what we needed but I feel like this would not be a honest review if I did not mention the less positive sides of the service.

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All in all, I think that the place is just not being explored to its full potential. It is a real shame because the food concept is attractive (i.e. all 100% plant-based, raw and gluten free food ) and the menu offers a good variety of healthy and nourishing savoury dishes and sweet treats. Plus, it is in a fairly central and popular area (near the Parliament).

From what I have looked up online,Veggie Raw Vegan Bistro was actually the first 100% raw vegan restaurant opening in Hungary. I am glad I had the chance to visit it and I have now formed an opinion by having experienced it first-hand. I’d still recommend this place in to any person who happens to be in Budapest and is curious about raw vegan food and/or who is a cheesecake lover.

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful