Vegetarian in the UK

It’s time for a FOOD post!!
One thing I can say I’m enjoying about the UK is the plethora of food options! Feel like Thai? No problem! Curry? Just go around the corner! Salad? Take your pick! Greasy, delicious deep-fried goodness to cure your hangover? Not to worry!
Yes, I am back in my element!
Check out my foodie finds!!
Edinburgh, Scotland
First of all, loads of the pubs in Edinburgh offer a vegetarian version of the classic Haggis, yay!
1.) So no need to go to Pub 1780; but, I really enjoyed theirs so I have to give them a shout-out! Check-out my post about veg-Haggis here.

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2. Hula Juice Bar
They offer fresh juice, smoothies, milkshakes, lattes and have soy milk! The menu clearly labels vegetarian and vegan options, too! I had a Moroccan chick-pea soup and a wrap for only £5.50!

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3. Baked Potato Shop
This isn’t a healthy option, but an affordable and filling one. It’s also completely vegetarian and clearly labels vegan options (including haggis!)
Try their haggis samosa!

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Also, check out my Facebook status after my visit:

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London, UK
4. inSpiral Lounge
This place is amazing! Located right beside the Camden Locks, overlooking the canal with plenty of seating and a kick-ass menu, inSpiral is exactly what I needed. I indulged in a raw mushroom burger, a side of steamed root vegetables and a raw carrot cake for dessert.

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The raw burger was well-seasoned and very filling. The steamed veggies were also yummy. The real winner was the carrot cake. Yummy! Not too sweet but definitely had the perfect texture: almost a mix between a cheesecake and a muffin. I’m drooling just thinking about it…I want to go back for some smoothie action. If I do, I’ll let you know 😉
5. Comptoir Libanais
Middle-eastern deliciousness at a great price! I was so full after my meal.

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You MUST get the fresh rose-mint tea!
For more on London check-out this post.
6. Ben’s Cookies! A sinful treat. The white-chocolate & cranberry cookie was amazing! (sorry no picture for this one)
7. I did not go here, but wanted to very badly! So, someone else check it out and let me know how it is! The Coach & Horses on Greek St. in Soho is vegetarian!
8. M & S Supermarkets
There were loads of vegetarian options, as well as a few vegan ones, for take-away! And, they’re always close-by to metro and train stations. Super convenient!
There was so much more I wanted to try but my wallet did not allow it. Next time!

Haggis: WordPress Failed Me

Sorry! I wrote a long post about Haggis and for some reason WordPress didn’t upload it with the rest of my post yesterday! Truth: writing a blog with your iPhone is easy but also very frustrating. It fails, a lot. … Continue reading

Haggis in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Above: Scott Monument for Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish poet.
This was my first view of Edinburgh as I walked early in the morning from the bu station, through the new town, and into the old town of Edinburgh.

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Above: This was my second view. Breathtaking, right?! And lucky for me, it was a very clear day in Edinburgh, so no clouds or fog obstructed my view of the looming (extinct volcano) Castle Rock.

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Above: Edinburgh Castle as seen from Princes Street Garden.

Unfortunately I only have one full-day in Edinburgh, and although I got here early, I didn’t sleep very well on the overnight bus from London so as much as I wanted to see all of Edinburgh, my sightseeing didn’t extend further than the Free Sandeman Walking Tour. So, check out a few of my pictures (not many, as my poor fingers were frozen after 3+ hours of walking) and then at the end of this post I’ll tell you about Haggis!

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Above: St. Giles Cathedral as taken with my iPhone 4S. And believe it or not this is the original photo, no alterations! I love the bright blue sky contrasting with the stone building.

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How about a creepy graveyard? This is Greyfriars Kirkyard and There are a ton of Ghost Tours offered here in Edinburgh, and after hearing about the very dark past of this city, I understand why. Also, this Graveyard served as inspiration for J.K. Rowling as she wrote the Harry Potter series! I don’t have photographic proof but our tour guide told us that graves for many Potter’s exist, as well as a McGonagall (William) and a Tom Riddle grave!
Anyways, I learned a lot of historical facts about Scotland and Edinburgh: hangings, torture, wars and dogs.
I’ve found some other online sources to share some of these stories with you (because I’m lazy and I would probably get the facts wrong if I tried to write it on my own):
Greyfriar Bobby: the story of the loyal dog and his master (ever seen the movie Hitachi?!)

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The dark and disturbing history of Edinburgh: the Covenanter’s Prison.
Seriously, take a read, it’s really interesting (albeit disturbing).

Head into the Grassmarket and you can see where the gallows used to be, as well as the ‘Last Drop’ pub which got its name as it was where individuals sentenced to death went to get their last taste of Scotch Whiskey.

My favourite story was of Maggie Dickson. She was sentenced to death for concealing her pregnancy, which was illegal back in 1724. Oh, she also got knocked up illegitimately by another man after her husband left her, hid her pregnancy (the real crime), had a still-born and attempted to discard of the corpse in the river.
Anyways, Maggie had her last drop, was hung and pronounced dead. Then, during her body’s journey to her grave, she ‘came back’ and was heard banging and knocking from inside her coffin.
She was quickly taken back to the gallows, about to be hung again, but then the judge intervened, saying that it was double-jeopardy and she was allowed to live. Well, that’s the version I was told, here is a link to the story according to the Grassmarket website.
I could go on-and-on with all the stories I learned today, except typing on an iPhone is not very easy, so I’ll end my rambling now.

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Above: Beautiful Victoria Street.

Haggis Time

**uh oh! Sorry all-wordpress screwed up! I wrote an entire post about Haggis and it didn’t upload! :(**
I’ll write one again for tomorrow!!

London in Photos

This gallery contains 29 photos.

Fact: London is HUGE Fact: English does not make it any easier Fact: London is really really expensive. Fact: I still love it. I’m too exhausted after walking the streets for 7+ hours to explain in detail what my day … Continue reading

Foodie Haven in Prague

Hey everyone!
I’m counting down the days: only 19 more to go before I’m back in Canada! And yes, despite all of the awesomeness that is Europe I am really looking forward to being back home; but more on that later!
FOOD!
I had done my research prior to coming here, so I knew that there were plenty of vegetarian options in the city. For instance, The Vegan Backpacker has a post from 2010 and it made me drool.
So what have I found?
First of all: PEANUT BUTTER! I literally eat PB everyday back home, so finding it was the highlight of my day! Also, in the large Tesco Supermarket they have soy-meat! Awesome! So, if you have access to a kitchen, cooking for yourself is really simple!
Anyways, back to the important bit.
Dhaba Beas

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Lucky for me this place is less than a minute walk from my hostel and it’s really affordable! I’ve spent less than 100 Czech koruna ($5 CAD) each visit, and I’m always in a food coma by the time I finish eating.

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Pictured above: some sort of bugler-wheat salad, cabbage rolls in a tomato sauce, a samosa and some mango chutney (yummy!) and a sweet bread pudding. Obviously it’s an Indian restaurant, so curries and potatoes are plentiful. I’ve eaten here 3x already, not only because of the price, but because the options change, so it’s a surprise each visit! So far, Dhaba Beas is my favourite veg find: delicious, nutritious and affordable! Also, vegan items are clearly marked!

Country Life – Cafe and Store
I read about this place on Vegan Backpacker, and I was really excited to try it out! So, what did I think?

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Just like Dhaba Beas, Country Life is buffet style and you pay by weight. The options were plenty-a salad bar, a variety of hot dished including a vegetarian style goulash typical in Czech. There was also Pizza, lasagna and roasted potatoes with a spinach sauce. They also had many dessert options, but I was looking for the highly acclaimed Vegan Kokoska (look at this Vegan Backpacker post). But, no luck! There were cakes, but none really caught my eye.
I (stupidly) did not take a picture of my purchases but it was less than what I usually get from Dhana Beas. A cucumber-dill salad, some ‘tenderloin sauce with chick-peas’ and some potatoes with spinach sauce. Cost: 193 Czech Koruna – double the price of Dhaba Beas, and not worth it. The only reason I plan on returning is to look for the dessert!
The store was small but had a lot. But, unless you are staying a while or cooking for more than one, I think a $5 dinner from Dhaba Beas is a way better idea.

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*sidenote: Country Life is closed Saturdays*

Friend’s Coffee House
I have a ‘secret’ to share: I usually find hidden gems via the website Spotted by Locals. There is a version for many major European cities: London, Berlin, Paris, Prague, Barcelona and Lisbon (just to name a few).
I found a write-up for this cafe via this site.

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I had some fresh ginger tea with honey (so good) and treated myself to a home-made carrot cake. The cake was perfect: fluffy, cream-cheese icing in the middle and on the sides and soft raisins and pieces of walnuts to add a bit of crunch. It was fairy large, and it was the type of place I felt like I could sit for hours reading or writing. And, they have free wifi! I hope to return one more time: I just read on their site that they have a library and a food menu!

Globe Bookstore and Cafe
This isn’t really a hidden gem, as most English speaking expats in Prague surely know of its existence. It’s not just a cafe, but also a bookstore (English), bar and restaurant!
I stopped in to look for the third installment of Game of Thrones (no luck) and decided to stick around for some more ginger tea.
Their menu is extensive and includes many vegetarian and even vegan options! The staff are all English, and they also have happy-hour specials. It can get fairly busy, and the crowd is a mix of students, professionals and travelers. They play jazz in the background, and there is enough light to read, but it’s dim enough to have a feeling of intimacy. 45 Koruna for a tea isn’t the best, but given the atmosphere and the area I would definitely pay it again! And yes, I do plan on returning to nibble on some menu items, so stay tuned!

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Campanulla Cafe
When you head over the the John Lennon Wall, you’ll pass an adorable cafe.

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Had myself a ginger tea with lemon and honey, and because the staff was so very friendly I’m going to suggest that you stop in and do the same!

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Trdelnik is a typical pastry made by rolling dough around a stick, roasting it over a fire then rolling in while it’s still hot in sugar and walnut pieces.
I didn’t need to eat it, but the smell was too much to resist.

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Barcelona: Catalonia Capital

Hola my friends and family! I have finally left Portugal. I’ve only been gone for a couple nights but already I know I’ll be going back! Such a beautiful country. Anyways, I took an overnight train to Madrid then a … Continue reading

The Food of Portugal

I am a foodie.
Initially I was confused as to how people gain weight while traveling. But, after Portugal, I now understand.
First of all, it is all about pastries in Portugal! Each region and each city seems to have a pastry that they are known for. Now, eating a treat now and then is okay, but as a traveler you have to eat a treat everyday, sometimes twice! Sure, some people would be okay if they didn’t try a Pastel de Nata from the famous Pastéis de Belém, but not me! Oh no, for me food is the culture of a country.

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So, I’ve compiled a list of my top five favourite meals/pastries I had in Portugal.
Top Favourite dishes in Portugal
1. Pastel de Nata (pictured above) specifically from Pastéis de Belém.
2. Acorda de Marisco
I had this at the restaurant down a few doors from ‘Super Mario’ (refer to the bottom of this post). I didn’t take a picture of my own meal, but what it is is a bread paste with garlic and coriander and shrimp and then they put a raw egg on top and mix it in the warm mixture. No, it doesn’t sound or look appetizing but I loved it! It is popular in the Alentejo region of Portugal.

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Image link
3. Nahnahbah – Veggie Burger
No, this isn’t a traditional Portuguese meal, but this particular restaurant is known for having a burger rated in the top 50 in the world.

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The Toucan Burger is it’s name and my fellow traveler’s all raved about the taste! But, if you are a vegetarian, their veggie burger is definitely in the top 10 for me. It tastes like a burger, which is perfect when you are trying to cure a hangover and prepare yourself for drinking again.
You can find Nahnahbah in Lagos.
4. Olives.
Seriously, the olives in Portugal are tastier than anywhere else! My advice: plan a picnic ( or 5) and buy olives, cheese some crackers/bread and fruit and you have yourself a meal! Top it off with a cheap bottle of regional wine and honestly with a great view you’ll remember it as your best meal in Portugal.

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5. Espresso
The coffee in Portugal is some of the best (and cheapest) in the world. Every cafe, no matter how small, has the best espresso equipment money can buy. Combine that with delicious beans and an old man who has been serving ‘bica’ for many generations and you will swear you’ve never had anything so satisfying. End a meal with an espresso or be a local and stop in at the many pastry shops and stand at the bar and enjoy a bica for only 60 cents.

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6. Roasted Chestnuts

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Yummy! For only 2 euro you can have a tasty dessert that even the locals eat!
7. Encharcada do Convento de Santa Clara

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Image link.
So sweet. So fattening. So delicious! Egg yolk and sugar.
8. Noori Sushi
Sherry showed me this gem during my last day! A small take-away or eat-in sushi place. I disliked the all-you-can-eat sushi, so I was happy to pay extra for good sushi. Also vegan and vegetarian options are clearly marked! The vegetable tempura roll was AMAZING!
9. Lost In Restaurant
Amazing views, awesome food and delicious wine. This is a MUST! Check out this post for more info. Try the pumpkin butter, goat-cheese tartlets and the soup of the day.

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10. Nakite – Porto
My favourite meal, and possibly healthiest, was a tofu pizza from Nakite. Their menu looked awesome and their tea was also tasty. As a vegetarian I highly recommend this and the vegetarian restaurant in Guimaraes.

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How hungry are you right now? I’m starving!!

Road Trip Day One: Lagos, Portugal

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Welcome to Lagos, Portugal in the Algarve (south).
Stunning beaches, crashing waves, surfing towns and amazing scenery await.

I had talked about renting a car in Portugal well before I left for my trip, but once here it seemed a bit daunting. But, after meeting a few groups who had rented a car I realized that maybe it wouldn’t be that difficult.

I got online and reserved a small car through Europcar for about 40 euro a day. Finding people to come with me was fairly easy, and the next day four of us started our amazing journey.

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Alan, me, Natalie and Jochen; an Australian, a Canadian, a Londoner and a German.

We got ourselves a tiny Fiat Panda. The horsepower in this baby was…non-existent. But, that was okay since I didn’t really have to worry about my speed when passing cops since the car could barely make it to 130 KM/H (speed limit is 120).

We drove right down to Lagos since we wanted to see the sunset from a viewpoint Nick (Gspot hostel owner) recommended to us. It was only a 3 hour drive down on the A22–but be aware there are tolls to pay!

We got to Lagos and checked-in to the Rising Cock hostel and took a walk to the lighthouse.

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We took this teeny-tiny path to walk out onto the cliffs and were pleasantly surprised with an amazing view. And, we made it just in time for the sunset.

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We sat on the cliffs, drinking wine and chatting and it was in this moment that I realized this was a memory I was going to cherish forever. That time I took a road trip with 3 strangers to the coast of Portugal and sat on the cliffs during sunset with a few bottles of wine.

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Next we headed to the famous Nah Nah Bah.
It has been voted as one of the top 50 Burger Joints in the world!
The most famous is the Toucan Burger which a few of my fellow travel mates ordered, while Alan ordered the Luis Figos Wet Dream chicken burger and I ordered the Veg burger topped like the Blue Ball Buster.

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Oh yeah! We also ordered a starter of Nachos which were amazing (I haven’t had any since in Europe). Jochen ordered their famous drink, the Bottom Line.

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Needless to say we were extremely full after dinner and quickly fell asleep at the hostel. Stay-tuned for Day Two: Picnic at Marinha.

Sunny days in Porto, Portugal

This gallery contains 21 photos.

After yesterday’s trip to Guimarães, I was feeling sore, tired and ultimately unmotivated to do another day trip from Porto. Instead, I opted to spend another day in Porto while the sun was shining. Weather really does make a difference … Continue reading

Day Trip: Guimarães, Portugal

This gallery contains 31 photos.

Before coming to Portugal, I knew little about the country. I knew it was beside Spain, that the language was Portuguese and that the capital was Lisbon. So, imagine my surprise when I arrived in Portugal to discover that it … Continue reading