“Hej!” and “Hei!” from Stockholm & Oslo

Stockholm, Sweden

I have mixed feelings after my trip to Stockholm. To start, as I looked out the window on the ride from the airport to the city center, the view looked exactly like what you would see on I-94 on the drive between Minneapolis and Milwaukee – lots of snow and an endless sea of trees and farmland. It instantly put a smile on my homesick face.

But, when I arrived at my hostel, I opened the door to my room to find a very old man sitting there in his underwear. Long story short, I trusted my gut feeling that that was not where I wanted to sleep for the next two nights and switched rooms with no problems. After that, I had nothing short of a great hostel experience.

The city of Stockholm is very spread out. I usually don’t mind this because I enjoy walking around, discovering cities. However, it snowed the entire time I was there and the temperature never reached more than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn’t anything my midwest-acclimated body couldn’t handle, though.

As far as food (aka the most important part of any trip), I had one absolutely amazing experience and one really bad one. The first night, I found an all you can eat vegan buffet, called Herman’s. SO GOOD!

The next day I walked one hour to go to a raw/vegan cafe recommended to me by someone at Herman’s the night before. I got a smoothie bowl and a shake that were both beautiful and Instagram worthy. But the taste… Awful! I was so disappointed but found a falafel bar on the way back to my hostel, which made the situation a lot better.


I went to two museums while in Stockholm: The Swedish Museum of Photography (Fotografiska) and the Vasa Museum. Both were such unique experiences and well worth the visits.

 


So with every bad in Stockholm, there was always a good that balanced it out or made it much, much better. I may have had mixed feelings after my time in Stockholm, but in the end, it was completely worth every bump in the road.

Oslo, Norway

Oslo was in a way Stockholm’s opposite, as far as city size. Everything was in one area within a 20-minute walking radius, no complaints there!

However, I was in Oslo for less than 29 hours, and a few hours before I had to leave for the airport, I ran out of things I wanted to do. It was a cool city, but there were not many top attractions to go see or fun things to do in the middle of winter and during a pretty heavy snowfall.

With that being said, I did some things that were out of the ordinary and unique.

The first out-of-the-ordinary thing I did was go to my first opera! I went to see the romantic tragedy Tosca, and it was absolutely amazing. From the beautiful opera house to the exceptional singing, I loved this experience. Also, the back of every seat had a small screen that translated the show from Italian to whichever language you needed. So, I knew what was going on the entire time.

 

 

The second thing I did was attend mass at the Oslo Cathedral. This was an interesting experience for me because one, the cathedral was Lutheran, and I’ve never been to Lutheran mass before, and two, it was interesting to see the religious customs of a new religion in another country. It made me think about how mass could be so different from the same religion across different cultures. Now, I’m interested in attending more mass in different countries to see how they vary.


The two vegan restaurants I went to in Oslo deserve a standing ovation. DELICIOUS! I had a chocolate milkshake, cheeseburger and sweet potato fries with raspberry cheesecake for dessert at Funky Fresh Foods.

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Nordvegan, Oslo, Norway, Feb. 2018

Then, I went to Nordvegan and had lasagna, sweet potato wedges and a raw tofu spring roll with a slice of snickers cake AND a slice of raspberry chocolate cheesecake for dessert and peppermint tea to top it all off. I think I’ll be dreaming about having these meals again for a while…

Overall, Scandinavia was a great experience that will be leaving me feeling happy long after this long weekend of travel. Two thumbs up for two great countries!

Veganized

This past December, I made a very out-of-character decision. I became vegan!

Yes, I went from eating cheese and meat with literally every meal to consuming absolutely no animal products, cutting it out of my diet all at once, cold turkey (pun intended).

My main reason for doing so was I wanted to fully commit to a healthy lifestyle in attempts to lose weight. At the time, in my mind, this was going to be a very temporary thing until I reached my fitness and health goals because, one, I grew up on meat and cheese as the true Wisconsinite I am, and two, I think becoming vegan may be a sin for a Filipino.

Three months later, I am absolutely loving my vegan lifestyle. My overall health has improved, and I feel light and refreshed even after big meals that leave me full for hours. Also, to my surprise, finding vegan options, even while traveling around Europe, is very easy.

More and more people are becoming vegan. So, there are now more vegan restaurants opening around the world as well as restaurants adding vegan options to their menus. One of the best and most exciting things about this lifestyle is discovering foods that you can eat that you would never think are vegan. My favorite discovery thus far: OREOS!

Some vegans are more strict than others. I personally eat anything that is not directly made with eggs, milk, etc. and will eat it even if it says it may contain traces of such products. This helps me have a wider variety of options, especially when traveling.

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Brunch at Le Pain Quotidien.

I have had some of the best meals of my life since becoming vegan. Le Pain Quotidien, a chain restaurant all around Europe with some locations in the United States, has DELICIOUS vegan and vegetarian breakfast and lunch dishes (just to name a few: açaí bowls, hummus bowls, and, my favorite, warm oatmeal with fruit and chocolate).

I’ve found a couple of bakeries in Madrid with vegan options. My favorite is called Celicioso that is completely gluten-free, and their vegan options are also sugar-free. These particular vegan pastries are absolutely. To. Die. For. (Picture below: Vegan, sugar-free chocolate cupcake).

 

IMG_0166There is also a completely vegan bakery called freedom cakes with several locations in Madrid’s city center. Can you tell I have a huge sweet tooth?

The best part about being vegan is I know I’m always eating healthy! And, I don’t have to eat things that taste bad, that I don’t like, or leave me hungry. I can feel full and eat good food that I want without feeling guilty!

If you’ve ever thought of becoming “veganized”, I would highly recommend it, and there are so many resources that can help you on your journey along the way.