It’s more fun in the Philippines?

We recently came back from a one month vacation in the Philippines. My plan was to update the blog while there, but we had much more limited access to the Internet than I thought we would, as well as a quite full-packed time-schedule.

This was my second time in the country, and I just got more aware of the contrasts that exist there. There’s two very different sides of the Philippines, and I have had the privileged to see both of them to some extent.

On one hand we have the Philippines that tourists see; paradise. The parts with all the resorts, white beaches, waterfalls and so on, everything beautiful that the country has to offer. On the other hand we have the lives of the many people living in poverty; in homes that would barely be called homes here in Finland – or even without a home at all – with storms and floods as a part of life, without enough money to feed the family.

The reality of a country with so much natural resources and so much talent saddens me. With a government full of corruption the people who call Philippines their home struggle to stay above the surface, and it breaks my heart. Seeing kids walking around hungry in the street without shoes or proper clothes, hearing how badly workers are treated and how little rights they have, how expensive it is to get your children proper education, and how huge the gap between the rich and the poor is… the list goes on an on.

I love the Philippines. I have family there now, I have friends there, I have friends who have families there, I have people I care about in this country on the other side of the world. The more I love, the more I care, and the more the situation breaks my heart. The people of the Philippines are strong, they always work hard, and they always have a smile on their face even though how bad their circumstances get. They deserve so much better.

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A visit to Copenhagen: Sights and happenings

We had time to see and do quite a lot during our five-day stay in and around Copenhagen. Here comes a (not so) short summary:

bonfire

The first evening we were invited by one of the staff-members of the hostel to a midsummer-celebration, and decided to go. There was music, drinks, a lot of people and later on in the evening a bonfire. Following a Spanish tradition we wrote down bad things that had happened during the year that we didn’t want to happen again, and threw the papers in the fire. It’s supposed to “cleanse” you of these bad things. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn’t, but interesting anyway.

We were lucky to have great people staying in the hostel at the same time as us, so we had a really good time this first evening, and also several other evenings when staying up together with them in the hostel.

Nyhavn, Copenhagen Danish royal palace, Copenhagen

Another day we took a free 3-hour walking tour (New Europe) around Copenhagen. It took us to many of the historical spots in the city, including for example the city hall, Nyhavn, the royal palace and the statue of Bishop Absalon (the founder of Copenhagen) all while our great guide Gillian was telling about the history of Copenhagen.

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

After the tour we for some reason decided we hadn’t been walking enough (?), so we walked a little further to see the Little Mermaid, created based on the fairy-tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

Tivoli, Copenhagen

One evening we also visited Tivoli, the world’s second oldest amusement park (the oldest one is also in Denmark, a little outside of Copenhagen). It was a positive surprise, I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful since the amusement parks we have here in Finland are just centered around the rides, not so much the landscaping. We stayed until closing, so we also got to see how spectacular the park looked in darkness with all lights lit up.

Kronborg castle, Elsinore

One day we decided to take the train out of Copenhagen, so we headed north, going to Elsinore (Helsingør). There we visited Kronborg castle, or Hamlet’s castle as it is also called, since it inspired Shakespeare in writing “Hamlet”. It was a beautiful castle with an interesting history, I do recommend going here if you’re interested in old castles and history.

Apart from these things we also did a lot more; we visited Christiania (Copenhagen’s free-town) and the modern arts museum Louisiana, met friends who live in Copenhagen and just generally walked around in the city. To summarize everything: great trip, great people, great sights, even mostly great weather!

A visit to Copenhagen: Food

Something that we always do when we travel is to check out the vegan (and sometimes vegetarian) restaurants or cafes in the city or town where we go. Copenhagen has quite a lot of vegetarian places, and we did not visit all of them, but we did visit all the vegan ones (that I knew about), so here’s a post about vegan restaurants in Copenhagen. Enjoy.

Simple Raw Simple Raw

Simple Raw, Oehlenschlaegersgade 12
The place is quite small and truly simple looking. They serve raw food, juices and smoothies. Their menus were very inviting with nice pictures of the food, but text only in Danish (the guy working there – who turned out to also be the owner – was happy to translate for us, though). R had a plate of zucchini pasta, I had a tapas plate with different salads, hummus, crackers and some patties. We also had a smoothie each. The food was good, I do really like raw food and since I don’t have much experience of preparing it myself it’s nice to eat it in restaurants. The place was also calm and relaxing, not many guests at the time when we were there. The price was in the upper end, we ended up paying around 50 € for the food that we had.

 42 Degrees Raw 42 Degrees Raw

42 Degrees Raw

42 Degrees Raw, Pilestaede 32
Another raw place, located in the city center. We went there around lunch time and it was very busy, full of people and quite noisy. We waited in line for quite some time before we could order, and after that it still took quite long before our food arrived. R had a raw lasagna, I had pizza with a salad. For dessert we shared a chocolate cake. All together it cost around 26 €. The food was alright, it didn’t look that presentable but it tasted fine. Nothing special though. Eating in the restaurant was not that pleasant because of the amount of people and the noise from blenders and other equipment, but they also offer take-out, which I would recommend if you are planning to eat their food during rush hour.

Astrid och Aporna

Astrid och Aporna, Jaegersborggade 39
This is a small vegan fast-food place with a few options of mainly burgers and hot-dogs. We had a burger each and paid around 13 €. I liked the burger, the amount of times I have had a burger that I didn’t make myself since I became a vegetarian ten years ago can be counted on one hand, so it was nice. The place has both indoors and outdoors seating, we tried sitting indoors at first because all the places outside were taken, but it was just too uncomfortable, so as soon some quests left we transferred outdoors.

Woodah Café, Abel Cathrines Gade 1-3
Our hostel, Woodah, also has a cafe, like I mentioned in the earlier post. They serve breakfast, which is the same as the one for the hostel guests. When we were there it consisted of home-made bread with hummus, jam, butter or cheese, home-made muesli (with yoghurt if you wanted), fresh fruit and coffee or tea. Apart from breakfast they also serve snacks and a warm meal, as well as different kind of drinks.

Botaniq, Frederiksborggade 26
I had read good things about this place before we went to Copenhagen, so I really wanted to eat here. Unfortunately they were closed for renovation and don’t open again before in August. Thought I would mention the place here anyway, in case someone will visit Copenhagen in the future and would like to go there. If you do, please tell me about it!

A visit to Copenhagen: Woodah Hostel

We recently came back from a five-day trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. It was one of our best trips so far, we had time to see a lot of things, we met great people and we were (mostly) lucky with the weather. There’s a lot to say about the trip, so I will divide it into a few separate posts.

We stayed in Woodah Hostel, a small hostel with two dorm rooms and one double room, as well as a vegetarian café. It’s located at Abel Cathrinesgade 1-3 (Vesterbro), a few blocks away from the Copenhagen central station. We stayed in the 8 bed dorm which cost 33 € per bed, per night. The price includes bed linens, a locker with padlock and a vegetarian breakfast. They also have a donation based yoga class most mornings, if enough people have signed up the night before.

woodah hostel

We simply loved the place. Even though it is located in Copenhagen’s red light district, we never felt unsafe there. It’s simple and cozy and the atmosphere is great. The staff is very nice and easy to talk to, the breakfast is mostly vegan and we met some great people there. It was not hard to feel at home. Since you sleep in a dorm room and people come and go at different hours, the sleep will of course not be great if you are a light sleeper like me, but the bunk beds were built in a way that you could have privacy while sleeping (see picture below). If I would mention something negative about the hostel it would be the fact that it doesn’t have a kitchen for the guests, so you can’t save money during a longer stay by cooking your own food, but for us this was not really a problem.

woodah hostel

I definitely recommend this place if you are going to Copenhagen!

Vegan food in the Netherlands

I’m sorry for the absence. I haven’t had time or inspiration for blogging lately, there’s just so many things going on right now. I might tell you about some of it soon.

Me and R went to the Netherlands, to Amsterdam and Nijmegen, for our anniversary. This is a post about the food we enjoyed (and the ones we did not enjoy as much), maybe I’ll post something about the rest of the trip later, but I make no promises.

falafel

When we arrived and had finally got to rent some bikes and found our hotel, we were starving. So we had falafel for lunch at the closest Maoz Vegetarian (there are several of them in Amsterdam), which was just fine, even though it left me a little too full. I liked the fact that you could fill it with the veggies of your choice, and you could refill it as many times as you wanted.

 vegan platter tofu paté and toasted breadOur favorite restaurant during our stay in Amsterdam was a vegetarian restaurant called Bolhoed. Even though they served some foods containing milk and eggs, they had a lot of vegan alternatives. On our first visit we shared their vegan dish of the day (the first picture), which was a really great mix of different foods. The second visit I had a tofu paté with toasted bread and a salad, which I was also very contented with.

 vegan cranberry cheesecakeAt the same restaurant they also had a bunch of different desserts and cakes. Since vegan cakes is not exactly something you can buy anywhere in the small town where we live, we had to taste at least a few of them. All in all we had three different ones. Our favorite was definitely this cranberry cheesecake.

hummous salad and fresh breadOne evening we visited what I read is Amsterdam’s oldest vegetarian restaurant; Golden Temple. I liked the interior in the restaurant, it gave a quite cozy feeling. The fact that the owner’s dog was walking around the restaurant did not make it any less cozy either, but I guess not everyone would find that to be a good thing. I ended up eating a hummus salad with fresh bread, while R had a similar salad with feta cheese (which was not vegan). I would have liked to try out their vegan pizza too, but we did not have any time to go back again.

asparagus saladWhen in Nijmegen, we had lunch at a restaurant that did not have any vegan dishes on their menu, but they were happy to make me something off the menu. They asked me what was ok to use for making the food, and I ended up getting an asparagus salad which was just fine for me.

Once we also ate lunch at TerraZen Centre, which turned out to be quite a disappointment.  The food was alright, but nothing that we could not have made just as well ourselves, and the owner was very busy since he was the only one in the café at the time.

For sure we missed some great places to eat, several of the ones that seemed interesting required reservations, which did not really work for us when we had no real plan for our stay. But we had great foods anyway, and all in all a great stay (with some negative happenings too, but you can’t ask for perfection, can you?). We saw a lot of things and met a lot of nice and energetic people.

Still alive

I’m still alive, even though the blog has been quite dead for the past month. I’m sorry for that, but I have been very busy.

We came home from a month in the Philippines on Monday evening, after a long and stressful travel. It’s been an amazing trip, I’ve done and seen so many things I’ve never done or seen before, and I’ve met a lot of great people. But it still feels so great to be home again.

I will try to post something about the trip when I’ve had the time to process all my thoughts and experiences (and to go through all the 3000+ pictures). But for now I just wanted to tell you that I haven’t left the blog for good, I’m still here, just some experiences richer and a few shades darker.