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Posts Tagged ‘Travelling’

I’ve always been a lazy person at the weekend. I usually sleep in until noon, or if I have plans I wake up at the latest possible moment and rush to get there. It usually works well for me, but I can’t deny I sometimes yearn to be a get-up-and-go kind of person.

However, I’ve recently discovered a much more satisfying kind of weekend laziness. It still involves spending a good chunk of the morning in bed so don’t panic!

This morning I woke up at 8:30 am which is very early for me on a weekend. Why? Because I decided to attempt (for the first time) making one of the best breakfasts I have ever had: bircher muesli! This involves soaking oats in apple juice overnight, and then assembling the dish in the morning. So having put the oats and apple juice in the fridge last night, I was extremely excited this morning to make the dish and see if it would be as nice as when I’ve tried it before. That’s probably why I woke up so early – I was basically experiencing the Christmas morning effect but for yuppies who get excited about farmers markets and organic oats (don’t worry, I’m judging myself).

If you’re wondering, the rest of the recipe involves mixing the soaked oats with some grated fresh apple, yoghurt and topping with fruit of your choice (I used blueberries). If you want a slightly more coherent version of the recipe, the one I used is here on the Guardian website. One small variation is that I used freshly squeezed apple juice (thanks to my housemate’s juicer), to avoid any added sugars found in store-bought juice.

It was absolutely delicious! I would happily have this for breakfast every day. Because I’ve never been a big oat eater, I only recently discovered this dish during a weekend brunch session at a local cafe. I fell in love with it which is why I decided to try making it myself. It’s incredibly fresh and light, while at the same time moreish and satisfying. For those who have never tried it, I’m including a picture below in the hope you will be tempted (disclaimer: not a picture of my actual bowl, as I literally ate it too quickly and forgot to take one!)

Bircher muesli

So having had my muesli, I made myself a cup of coffee, and with no other plans for the morning, I returned to bed to continue my lazy Sunday morning. This involved watching an episode of a very old Jamie Oliver show I discovered (I know, food food food!) where he travels to exotic destinations to discover their local cuisine (basically a British version of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations). I watched the first episode where he travels to Morocco. Having never been myself, I was overwhelmed with a desire to pack my bags and go after seeing Jamie walking through the markets filled with mountains of spices, enjoying a home coked tagine in a local’s riad (a traditional Moroccan house with an interior courtyard – an oasis!), and sampling the delicious street food late at night. If you live in the UK and want to watch this, you can find the show on 4OD (just search for “Jamie does…”).

I think the show has also inspired my next cooking challenge! Jamie made a Moroccan “snake cake”, or M’hanncha, which is basically flavoured almond paste wrapped in filo pastry and baked to crispy perfection. I found a recipe for this here, and I will be making it the next chance I get!

To round off my lazy morning, I read a bit while listening to Australian band’s Boy & Bear two albums: Moonfire and Harlequin Dream. I’m seeing them tomorrow evening, so I wanted to get in the mood. On the one hand, they’re the kind of dreamy indie rock that has become omnipresent nowadays (I’m not selling it I know), but at the same time I find them quite different from Mumford and Sons or similar bands. Most of theirs songs are quite dreamy and comforting, while at the same time being upbeat and showing some interesting influences I think. They’re definitely worth a listen especially if you like this genre, but would like to try something slightly different.

Boy & Bear's two albums: Moonfire and Harlequin Dream

Boy & Bear’s two albums: Moonfire and Harlequin Dream

So that was my lazy, but very satisfying morning. Hope yours was equally enjoyable.

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Last week I went on a short city-break to Stockholm, Sweden. I’d never been to a Scandinavian country before and despite the freezing temperatures, I enjoyed my time there very much. I don’t want to write a long-winded travel article type of thing, just highlight a few things I was particularly impressed with and what I think is worth doing, as well as some travelling tips:

1. Local knowledge – this applies to any holiday, especially if you’re trying to get as much out of your limited time as possible – it’s good to research the place you’re going to and seek out the main attractions and things to do, but nothing beats local knowledge! The main reason I had such a good time was because by asking locals about the best museums and areas to visit and the best places to eat, we were able to see a lot more of the city than we expected, have some great meals out (for decent prices) and get a real flavour of the place.

2. Stockholm transport – the Metro system in Stockholm is very easy to use. It has only three lines, trains come often and, shock and awe, it runs throughout the night! After having experienced the capricious London Underground, this was a breath of fresh air. Don’t waste your money on pay as you go if you’re planning on using the metro at least a couple of times a day. You can get one day, three day or weekly travel cards which make it quite affordable.

3. The archipelago – Stockholm is very different to other cities I’ve visited before in that it’s build on a series of islands. For example, the old city Gamla Stan is on a self contained island. There is a whole island dedicated to museums, an amusement park and a natural reserve. And so on. What is interesting is that when you go from island to island, the differences in architecture are quite pronounced and often you feel like you’re visiting a series of small cities. I found this very interesting and it definitely kept things fresh.

4. Museums – as is most often the case on a city break, museums are at the top of the list of things to do! Stockholm is not lacking in them: according to one of the brochures I brought home, there are over 84 museums in the city. Pretty impressive but with such a large number, it’s hard to narrow it down. I would definitely recommend the Skansen museum, which is part zoo, part heritage museum. It’s set in an extensive natural reserve and the zoo, which consists of spacious enclosures, gives you the opportunity to see some of the most iconic Nordic animals, such as wolves or reindeer. The heritage part consists of various buildings from different periods, including farm houses, workshops and mills which provide a capsule history of life in Sweden throughout the ages. Visiting Skansen can take up as much as half a day. In terms of choosing other museums, I think the best idea is to ask locals what they enjoy the most. We also visited the Fotografiska museum which is a modern photography museum at the recommendation of our local hosts. This was one of the best museums I have ever been to. The exhibitions were fascinating and they were cleverly combined with multimedia elements such as films. The view from the museum cafe over Stockholm is also unbeatable!

5. Budget – for anyone thinking of going to Sweden and Scandinavia in general, the prices will shock you even if you’re coming from somewhere like London. I would say on average things were at least twice as expensive as in London. The most pronounced differences were in meals out and drinks. Also, museums charge quite high entrance fees in Stockholm (around 100 KR or about £10). However, with a little bit of local knowledge you will be able to get the most out of your money. On a recommendation, we went to a wonderful Lebanese restaurant which was delicious, had great atmosphere and was decently priced. The main lesson is that you shouldn’t panic, try to assess which places are clearly geared at the gullible tourist and avoid them.

I think that’s about it for now. In conclusion I had a really enjoyable trip, got to experience a new culture and see beautiful architecture, and last but not least had some great meals. If you have any specific questions please feel free to comment and I will answer based on what I experienced. I’ll leave you with a few pictures of Stockholm!

Gamla Stan (The Old City) with it's narrow, pebbled streets

Fotografiska museum

Panoramic view of Stockholm

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