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

A week of self care.

It was just over two weeks ago when things got quite tough and, subsequently, I found myself craving a reset button that I could press to escape. All I was wishing for was to get away for a few days and then come back with a fresh and brand new perspective. An entire week of holidays scheduled in Portugal could not have come at a better time. I was in need of ditching my work and fitness routine for some time and was looking forward to going back “home”. Nevertheless, after a couple of days in Portugal, I ended up by feeling quite out place. It seemed to me that “home” no longer felt like “home”? ..or I guess that I could no longer see “home” like a place but more like a feeling instead. A feeling that comes and goes and that is out of reach when life seems to be going downhill. A feeling that is unreachable when I am in the midst of – what it seems to be – an endless storm and internal battle. Seeing the positive in every situation and looking on the bright side of life can be a real challenge sometimes. I guess that I saw these holidays abroad as an opportunity to temporarily escape my reality, which is a silly thought…We can’t run away from the things we do not want to face. We need to embrace the uncomfortable and challenge our fears in order to free ourselves. We need to firmly believe that we are going to overcome whatever we are currently going through. Life gets better and this too shall pass. It is just a matter of time and attitude until we are able to get back on our feet. And, in the meantime, we are just a work in process and that is OKAY. So, with this in mind and in order to feel like myself again and get out of the rabbit hole I found myself in, I tried to practice self care every day during my holidays. Incorporating simple habits that allow myself to connect within and with the world around me helped me to find some joy and gratitude in the midst of all the chaos.

It is no novelty that by practicing self-care on a regular basis, we can ensure that we are at our optimum – emotionally, mentally and physically. Thus, I’d like to share with you the things I have done during my week of holidays. I hope that this can give you some ideas about how to give yourself the care you need when life gets tough.

  • Walks on the beach

Beach strolls are always restorative. They make me feel calmer, more at peace and aware of all the beauty and wonder that surrounds me.

  • Sea Kayaking with my family

I have done kayaking before but never in the sea. It was an overall great experience shared with my parents and sister (despite my dad’s motion sickness haha). Spending about 3 hours at sea allowed me to really dive into Nature’s true beauty (no pun intended), soak up some vitamin D and connect to the Earth’s magical, powerful and soothing energy.

 

 

  • Going to the spa

I decided to take 1h30-2hours aside to go to the spa and it made me feel so good. Because relaxation and stress management are key to living a happy life in a healthy body, mind and soul, I decided to take 1h30 – 2 hours to go to the spa .. and let me tell you how great it made me feel! My serotonin level, the “feel good” hormone, was boosted and I felt very relaxed.

I did a Spa-hydrotherapy circuit that consisted of Sauna, Turkish bath, neck waterfalls, cascade, jet showers, bubbles, cold water, Jacuzzi, bucket of cold water, pebble walk and a relaxation bed. This was all followed by a nice cup of tea to end the day in perfection.

 

 

  • Reading a good book is an escape for me. – it soothes me

Reading soothes me. I personally love to read inspiring books that flood my mind with uplifting ideas, positive thoughts and promising prospects about my future. I absolutely love to loose myself in books that contribute to my personal growth and development and that motivate me take positive actions to accomplish my goals in life.

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  • Yoga and meditation

These two practices help bring awareness to the present moment at the same time that increase stress resilience and well-being. They also restore mental clarity and improve focus, which is needed to get though difficult times.

We all know how conducive self-care is to better coping with life and improve overall well-being but … how often do we really take time to ourselves? How often do we give our bodies (and mind) time to recoup and unwind? Let’s all prioritize small habits that allow us to rejoice in hope when life gets hard ♥ Wish you all a great week ahead.

 

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Karibu Cafe (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

There is nothing better than waking up right next to your significant other and slowly (but happily) realise that it is weekend. I can enjoy a slow start to my day, with no alarm to disable or rush to get up.

This was what happened last weekend. It was Saturday morning and my boyfriend and I decided to go for a hearty late breakfast at a recently opened cafe in town. Luckily, the weather was fairly warm and beautifully sunny and we had a lovely morning walk to the cafe.

The place we went to is called “Karibu Cafe” and is situated in Utrecht, Holland. It is an African inspired cafe that resembles a green oasis. I absolutely love the jungle vibes it irradiates.

 

The inside is very spacious, colourful and oh-so-pretty! I absolutely love the jungle vibes this cafe irradiates due to being filled with green plants and the use of wood all over it.

This is definitely the spot to chill with creative souls/your most beloved ones over some yummy food or to simply get some work done.

They also serve breakkie all day. How awesome is that? Seriously?

I ordered an Acai bowl that came with homemade granola and toasted nuts, avocado/raspberry/date mousse, chia pudding, coconut and seasonal fruits! It was so delightful and heavenly that just the thought of it waters my mouth! If you happen to come to this lovely cafe and feel like having a healthy (i.e. antioxidant-rich), refreshing and naturally sweet breakfast or snack, I’d totally recommend ordering it.

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My boyfriend went for the huevos rancheros that came with a crispy veggie tortilla topped with black beans, melted cheese, two fried eggs, fresh tomato salsa,
jalapeños and sour cream. According to him, if you feel like eating something savoury and are vegetarian (or just someone who eats animal products), then this would be also a tasty food option. He has also ordered a fresh homemade apple juice that did not disappoint.

 

What do I like the most about this coffee shop?

  • Hearty servings at a reasonable price. Plus, you can see and taste how food dishes are carefully prepared using fresh ingredients
  • The diverse vegan options available in the menu, from healthy salad bowls to naturally sweet treats and fresh cold pressed juices
  • The inviting atmosphere with fantastic light and welcoming touches of nature
  • Friendly and hospitable staff. I love going to places and feel that the staff are really happy to work there. They are friendly and welcoming not because they should be but because they genuinely want you to have a great experience
  • It is such a hidden gem! The fact that this cafe is tucked away, being situated just outside the city centre, is actually a plus for me. Otherwise, I am sure that it would be hard to find a place on a late Saturday morning

The only downside I would point out is its schedule: open from Wednesday till Saturday from 8:00am – 4:00pm. The opening and closing times during the weekdays and weekend are, sadly, not the most convenient for someone who has a full-time job.

Anyway and all in all, this place has not only met but also exceeded my expectations. It is a cafe with soul and a real paradise for foodies just like me. It has effortlessly became one of my absolute favourite places in town. ♥ So, if you happen to be around, please go to Karibu cafe and let it amaze you.

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

Nature is love.

Funny as we, humans, crave deep nature connection but often times forget to notice its reaction to our presence. We tend to undervalue it but Nature is really a true gift. Why? Because:

Natures gives without demanding

Nature listens without interrumpting

Nature heals with no side effects

Nature cares without having second intentions

Natures exists without destroying

Nature speaks without making sound/in silence

What Nature will not do though, is to be forever here for us if we do not treat her right.

Let’s not forget that what we do to Nature, we do ultimately to ourselves. So let’s protect it. Let’s take very good care of it. Let’s cherish it every single day of our lives. As Gary Snyder once said, Nature is not a place to visit. Nature is home.” ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

 

Taking care of plants.

When the sky is bright and the sun is shining, when I am barefoot on the grass and surrounded by Nature… that is when I feel the most grounded, the most content and the most free.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a huge garden and to have two wonderful parents who taught me how important it is to take care for living things. They have always nurtured my connection with Nature and, thanks to them, I became environmental aware by exploring the workings of nature. I have learnt to treasure wildlife and to appreciate this beautiful Planet Earth that we are so lucky to live in.

Currently, I live at an apartment in the city centre and despite the undeniable perks of the urban environment, I miss being closer to Nature’s sheer beauty. I can’t complain much about my surrounding because I can easily leave the house and go for a stroll in the park or by the Dutch canals but sometimes… sometimes I just wish I could look out the window and have a view of Nature in its purest form: leafy, green and raw.

That being said, bringing plants into my life was the best way I found to feel the closest to Nature when I am indoors. With the Spring approaching I felt this sudden urge of buying a zillion of plants. And oh well, I sort of did. Though I have to admit that I have unintendly  killed a few during these last couple of months…I know, I know. Shame on me. Nevertheless, now that Spring is finally here to stay, I am fully committed and firmly determined to properly take care of my house plants. I want to plant a few herb and flower and herbs seeds in some pots and I am super excited to nurture them and (hopefully!!) see them grow! The other day, I bought this tiny white Hyacinth at the supermarket and exactly one day after, it beautifully bloomed.

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It might sound silly but I can’t even tell you guys how truly happy and grateful it made me feel. Of course that this feeling would be heightened if I had actually sowed the seed myself.. but this is actually what I love about gardening: having the opportunity of seeing one of your “creations” to develop into something so beautiful.

As I have dabbled in gardening in the past, I know that taking good care of my house plants and seeing them grow can give me this indescribable sense of achievement, inner satisfaction and aesthetic pleasure. It might be a trivial thing for many but I feel like seeing my flowers blooming for the first time is a really rewarding endeavour. It makes me tap into a natural rhythm that is so powerful and that leaves me truly happy with myself. I feel like owning plants has this amazing power of improving my overall outlook on life and of brightening up my days.

Another amazing thing about gardening is that we are able to observe the cycle of life first hand. Growing a plant from seed and looking after it until it dies down for winter is quite a learning experience.

Even though plants react to the surroundings and circumstances they are in, they also move through life at their own pace. I feel like we, as humans, have so much to learn from Nature. After all, it gives us so much without asking anything in return. How amazing and rare is that? ♥

Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful

Sunset gazing

I have spent the last week in the UK and it felt so good to be back there.

It was a beautiful and bright Sunday on the Kent seaside and, for that reason, my boyfriend and I decided to drive to the beach to watch the sun setting over the vast blue ocean.

It is no secret that Nature is fuel for the soul and I love the power that sunset gazing has over me. It always manages to bring me into the present moment and feel grateful for being alive. There is something so special about the way how the sun seems to melt and drip into the water; something so inexplicably unique about how it gently kisses the ocean good night (…) and it was as if life had stopped whilst we watched the live show in the sky. It was just me, my partner and the glorious spectacle of dancing colours we had in front of us – the true epitome of fleeting beauty. Nothing else seemed to exist or matter.

Isn’t it wonderful how Mother Nature is capable of truly enriching our lives if only we let it? If we force ourselves to stop and shift our focus to appreciating the surrounding natural beauty? 

 

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Much Love,

Blissfully Grateful