Posted in food, travel

Day 35 – Sweden

This chilly weather has got me thinking about Scandinavia and, more importantly, about food. My parents worked in Sweden for many years and still miss it to this day so, naturally, Swedish food comes out in the form of a smorgasbord whenever we have a big celebration e.g Christmas Eve tomorrow!

Here are 7 of the best foods to try in Sweden (they’re not all Christmassy) πŸ’›πŸ’™

1. Marabou chocolate is perfection. Try the milk or daim versions and the rolls are amazing!

2. Toast Skagen – these are basically open shrimp sandwiches with mayo, salad and sometimes even caviar! Decadent 🐟

3. Chai lattes – I know, I know, you can get these in any country that has a Starbucks but believe me, the Swedes have taken this spicy drink to a whole new level! Try Espresso House if you can 😘

4. Jansson’s temptation – this is the classic and delicious potato and fish combo that we Brits know and love but in an even more comforting bake!

Recipe here!

5. Semla – a cardamom spiced bun filled with cream, what more could a person want? Eat with coffee or warm milk β˜•

6. Kalles kaviar – trust me on this one, it looks weird but it’s so tasty served on toast or Swedish crispbread with egg and/or cucumber:

7. PrinsesstΓ₯rta – said to have been a royal favourite, this is the famous green cake that everyone needs in their life. Go and channel your inner princess πŸ‘‘

Thank you for the good-enough-to-eat photos πŸ™ŒπŸ˜

Happy Christmas Eve’s Eve! πŸŽ…β›„πŸŒ²πŸΎ

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Posted in inspiration, lifestyle, travel

Day 33 – A Great British Christmas

Santa, I’ve been a bad daily blogger this Christmas but I’m back from my travels so I can catch up πŸŽ…πŸ˜€ 

In honour of being back in the UK, I thought I’d share a few of the unusual things that Brits do at Christmastime (whether we would admit it or not πŸ˜‰)

1. We all pour alcohol on a pudding and set it on fire…

🍾

2. We wish and wish for snow and then panic when we get it

β›„β›„β›„

3. We’ll desperately try anything to get rid of leftover turkey but end up throwing it into a curry with all the veg anyway πŸ—

(Recipe here, as if you need it)

πŸ›

4. Whether to grumble about it or to nod along, we put the Queen’s speech on the TV and then debate it

πŸ‘‘

5. On second thoughts, we get grumpy enough to debate anything, really:

πŸŽ…

6. We pull Christmas crackers and then wear the paper hats to eat our dinner 😍

The countdown is on, thanks for reading!

πŸŽ…πŸŒ²πŸ‘Ό

Posted in art, travel

Day 32 – Photography

Today I wanted to share some fascinating Russian photography collections with you πŸ“·

Irina Popova is a Russian photographer and I recently came across her photobooks If You Have a Secret and LTP on her website.

I am slightly late to the party, though. If You Have a Secret was published in 2014 and LTP in 2015 but Popova is currently crowdfunding a project to find and photograph the 8000 other Irina Popovas and compile a collection called the Incomplete Princess Book.

If You Have a Secret is a book of photographs of everyday Russia. The collection has been made into a video which showcases the powerful way that Popova puts jarring images next to snowy scenes next to photographs of couples with an inspiring true-to-life touch. It’s interesting and also key to keep in mind that this is the artist’s reaction to her ‘motherland’, described here:

The β€˜mysterious Russian soul’ however, is by nature complicated, uncontrollable and absurd, making the task of finding one image impossible and therefore resulting in the series, If You Have a Secret. The images represent the β€˜lost generation’, people steeped in poverty and hardship, yet somehow colourful and full of hope. […] The artist states, β€œyou feel at the same time unbearable pain and highest joy” that is so typical of modern Russia.

Definitely worth a look! Find the video here.

The second, thought provoking collection I wanted to share with you is LTP. It is made up of photos that Popova took when she went to Belarus’s detention centre for alcoholics and substance abusers.

As this article explains, these “rehab prisons” were part of a Soviet-era justice system which attempted to cure dependencies through labour. There are 8 centres of this kind in Belarus, with just a 5% rate of efficacy.

Here is the photobook video. Popova’s use of light is pretty glorious on its own, but the uneasy “I-cannot-believe-this-is-real” feeling makes it a gripping watch.

Enjoy πŸ˜πŸ“Έ

Posted in inspiration, lifestyle, travel

Day 30 – Travel

I know I said that this wasn’t intended to be a travel blog but today I have to break my rules (again) πŸ™ˆ

The Netherlands at Christmas is something you have to see, especially Leiden. I’ve been to Leiden a few times and it never disappoints but even I was amazed by how beautiful it is at Christmas!

The best thing about Leiden at this time of year is the floating Christmas market

The market is assembled on barges in the centre of town and you can even ice skate where the water used to be.

At/near the market you can also:

– Have a beer and soak up the atmosphere! There is a stand in the market serving Pronck, a highly recommended local beer. Also the waterside pubs like Einstein have outdoor seating under the Christmas lights with blankets.

– Visit bakeries such as Bakker Van Maanen and Jacobs which have special Christmas treats (they’d also make great presents)

– Pop in to the Waag bar for a boozy coffee or a hot chocolate!

– EAT DUTCH WAFFLES or maybe go to Oudt Leyden for enormous, xl pizza sized pancakes πŸ•

Photo credit to 3rdspaceproject!!

– Buy Christmas decorations, gifts, scarves, hats, jumpers, socks… All things festive!

Have a beautiful evening πŸŽ…πŸ˜

Posted in inspiration, lifestyle, travel

Day 26 – Travel

As a language student, I’ve spent a lot of the last year travelling and most of the rest of my time talking about it… 

I didn’t want to write a travel blog or use this site just as a place to reminisce but today I’d like to share a few of the best things about Moscow! πŸ‡·πŸ‡Ί

I know that no one really factors Russia into their holiday plans on the reg. 

You need a visa, there will be a language barrier, everyone is convinced Russia is scary etc etc πŸ€” but stay with me because it’s SUCH an interesting country and Moscow is well worth a visit. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The architecture

When you mention Moscow, everyone thinks about the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral and for good reason, they’re gorgeous:

But also, look at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour:

Moscow State University:

The State Duma:

The White House:

Moskva City:

  • Transport – it’s not a stereotypically sexy reason to go to a place but in Moscow you can get around so easily and it’s actually a pleasure!

You can take the metro – just look at the art: 

Look at the ingenious layout *gasp*

And if you take the light blue line from Alexandrovsky Sad you can see the White House and Moskva City from the window! P.s it’s so cheap to use 🏧

You can get to St Petersburg on the Sapsan train in 4h and the journey is gorgeous πŸ›€πŸš„

Also, after the metro stops running around 1am, the Yandex taxi app is excellent and cheap and there is also Uber πŸ™Œ

  • The museums:

You can learn about architecture at the Shchusev museum, history at the State Historical Museum, visit the State Armoury and Diamond funds in the Kremlin, learn about space at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, or see a 360 painting of the Battle of Borodino

Also you can visit every single one of these galleries!

  • The food

For Russian food, visit Kafe Pushkin

For Georgian food try Jon Joli or Π‘Π°Ρ‚ΠΎΠ½ΠΈ (Batoni) at Novoslobodskaya:

Experience the best, inexpensive sushi I’ve ever had at Yakitoriya, a chain all over the city BC Russia is obsessed with Japanese food. They do amazing hot rolls as well 🍱🍱

Moscow has excellent vegetarian and vegan restaurants, I spent a lot of time in both Fresh and Avocado πŸ‰

Another great food place is Danilovsky Market, there are small stalls, hot food and baked goods.

  • The hangouts

Ziferblat cafe on Tverskaya is cosy and adorable and you pay by the minute, not per drink. At 2 roubles per minute (around 2p) you can have a coffee and go and spend 30 pence!

Gorky Park

ВДНΠ₯ park

The cafes and restaurants near Belorusskaya are also great for relaxing with friends 😍

Bar Strelka has a great view of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and also a MOZZARELLA BAR πŸ™Œ

  • The shopping:

Internationally famous GUM on Red Square is particularly beautiful at Christmas.

The underground shopping centre ΠžΡ…ΠΎΡ‚Π½Ρ‹ΠΉ ряд near Red Square has everything you could need, even a great organic cosmetics shop and it has very cool architecture:

Central Detskiy Mir is a shopping centre for children, it is full of toys with a cinema at the top and an incredible view from the roof 🎈

  • There are excellent events!

You can see the ballet at the Bolshoi or the Kremlin theatre, watch a musical, visit the ice cream festival, go into the streets to celebrate Victory Day (it is difficult to comprehend the sheer number of weapons of war paraded but it’s massively important in the Russian calendar), visit the Christmas and New Year market on Red Square, and then the Easter market, or even look around the summer fish festival 🐟🐠

I’m sure I’ll write about Moscow again because it is huge and there is so much more to say!

Thank you for reading πŸ˜πŸ‡·πŸ‡ΊπŸ™Œ