Saturday, July 11, 2009

Breakfasts healthy or not?

I´m not a role model when it comes to having breakfasts, especially if I have to get up at 6. But normally I´d say we have a quite healthy breakfast habits in Finland; multigrain cereals or breads, cheese, yougurt, mysli, fruit juice, vegetables, tea, coffee and oat porridge are some examples.

Breakfast in the UK is also filling, but is it healthy? Well, at least it has proteins :) And it´s salty.
Bacon, egg, sausage, beans, mushroom etc. But once you are there it doesn´t seem like people really eat this filling breakfast that much, or do they? Maybe mostly on weekends as a brunch.

But I couldn´t belive my eyes when I realized what people in Spain have...
Donuts, cakes, buns, cup cakes.... On the other hand; those sweet things are my painful weaknesses. Should I move to Spain after all..?

UK: Derby and Matlock Bath

DERBY is a compact and cosy little city in the middle of England that hosts around 250.000 inhabitants. Typically English with old red stone houses and old churches in many corners; churches that interestingly enough are used as pubs, resturants etc these days.

Matlock Bath

There are many beautiful places around Derby, such as The Peak district. A small town close to the district was called Matlock bath since warm springs were discovered in the 1600 century and later baths were built here. Matlock bath has a beautiful river with green walking paths such as the "lovers walk" along the side and in the woods. Walking up to the hill sides to look at the great views and the houses made me think of an alp village.

Wherever I go I seem to make new nice friends :) I´ll greet my own two cats from them when I get home.

I love apple cake with vanilla custard or ice cream. And I truly got my share at the decorative little cafe "The victorian teashop" in Matlock bath. Visit this place if you can! English scones with jam and cream + tea was not a bad option either.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Turkey: Istanbul: The endless shopping districts of Taksim and Grand bazaar

The Taksim Square and central district is a part of the modern Istanbul with an endless amount of shops, hotels and restaurants. The mainstreet is longer than your eyes can reach and is crowded with people shopping, walking & talking, eating and entertaining themselves. My local host (from Couch surfing) told me it´s as crowded until early morning, like 4 am or so and even the shops keep their doors open as long as they like, for example til´12 pm or 01 am. Hm, where do all those people come from? Istanbul is huge. I´ve never seen so many shops and so many people in one street in my life before. Shop til´you drop, or...?

Turksish water pipe with light fruit

tobacco :)


The grand bazaar is one of the world´s largest covered markets. Here you can especially find spices, pottery, carpets, silver & gold, scarves etc. The perfect place to find souvenirs! It´s very easy to get lost there in the 58 streets and 6000 shops... which both me and my son did. I knew we would the minute I walked in there :)

Turkey: Istanbul: Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque


During our days in istanbul we chose to visit following historical buildings: the famaous museum Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque.

Hagia Sofia (the former mother church of all eastern Christianity, both ortodox and catolic) was constructed already at 530 AD! It was originally a Roman patriarchal church where the eastern Ortodox religion florished and ruled for nearly 1000 years. At that time Istanbul was "the new Rome", called Constantinople. Later the Ottoman Turks concored and turned Istanbul Islamic. Hagia Sofia then became a Mosque. Today it´s a museum filled with historical vibartion and valuable art.

Don´t miss this huge master piece if you are in istanbul!
The entrance fee is 10 Lira (about 5 euro).


The Blue Mosque is an impressive landmark for Istanbul with its Dome, semidomes, yards and minarets. The mosque was founded by Sultan Ahmed and was built in the beginning of 1600.
The Muslims still go to the mosque for daily prayers so be prepared for respecting the customs concerning non-muslims when you enter; enter barefoot and have scarves to cover your head, arms and legs as a female (also my son had to cover his arms). Scarves and bags for your shoes are provided at the tourist entrance.

Turkey: Istanbul

Istanbul is so huge!!

As a Finn I was lost in the amount of people (around 12 million), the lively streets, the colourful bazaars, the very old historical buildings, the gorgeous architecture, the beauty along the riverside and the geographic distance within this great city.

Istanbul is a heterogenous city built on two continenets; Europe and Asia. Most people live on the Asian side. The European side holds more commersial and cultural activity. This side is divided into two main districs; the Old city and the modern downtown.

The best way for me was to move around with the ferry along the Bosphorous river! It´s just fresh and you see the most beautiful parts of Istanbul passing by. They don´t go that often, though. Trams and buses are also ok and go all the time, although being quite crowded and sweaty. Taxi is a very nice alternative when you feet aces, not being too expensive.

The people are very friendly and helpful and on the whole I felt safe and sound being there no matter where I moved around. I didn´t see the poorest places, though.

The history is amazing having traces from 3000 BC! It was not until the 15th century that Istanbul slowly changed from being a Christian empire (the Roman Constantinople) to slowly becoming Islamic. You can witness all this in the very old and breath taking Mosques and museums!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bulgaria: Nice foods

Raki (schnapps) to the entries

Mixed grılled

Bulgarian moussaka

What is Bulgarian food like?

Stuffed peppers and sallads

In Finland many of us know Bulgaria (as a country...) partly because of the Bulgarian youghurt from the supermarkets :) So as I arrived in Bulgaria I was curious about what the real youghurt was like. And as a friend of good food I'm always up for tasting the local specialities!

The Bulgarian food is an interesting mixture of southeastern European cousine with obvious influence from Greece, Turkey, Italy, Hungary and other Mediterranean countries. What interests me most wherever I go is not only the type of ingredients used (that might be strange to me) but also how they are used and combined! Each time I get home again I try to do it all myself. And practically I realize I might have used those same ingredients for years in my own cooking at home not coming to think of those exciting, good tasting and decoratıve ways to use and combine them! Many times the food ideas are the best souvenirs from my travels. They wil lıight up my ordinary life in between and will live with me the longest. Hopefully they sometimes lights up my family's appetite as well.

My favourite dishes from Bulgaria:

- the Bulgarian moussaka!
- Shopska salad (made of tomato, pealed peppers, fresh cucumber, red onion, dressing and white cheese: serene that reminds of the feta cheese we have in Finland)
- Sarmi (the stuffed and rolled cabbage or wine leaves)
- Popa (a sweat but healthy breakfast drink made of cearials)
Cheers to our host (from Hospitality club) Svetla & her nice kids for introducing us the the great Bulgarian foods!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bulgaria: Beautiful Varna by the Black sea coast

Being at the beach listening to the waves and drinking Cappuchino is one of my favourite things to do in Life!

Varna is a positive surprise to me. It's nice, green, fresh and with many open and friendly people! Coming from Bucharest in Romania I can't help to notice the difference.
Varna has become touristic (with advantage and disadvantage?) with all the beach resorts outside the city (Golden sands, Albena) but it seem like the locals lives in happy co-existance with the tourism, especially in Varna city. The city itself has quite nice beaches and many beach cafees and restaurants. One important thing to discover is the beautiful Sea side park, which is considered to be the biggest in Europe with its 8 km promenade, museums and historical monuments. The sea side park is a popular strolling ground for locals as well as curious visitors in all ages.

From may to september the place is very much alive and many locals get their extra income during this high season. In winter it gets cold and the temperature can even go down to -20 degrees celsius (which is tough since the house heating systems are not made for such temperatures). Hard to imagine it can be like that when it's so warm, sunny and green right now. But that's what we say about Finland too. We have such a green and warm summer (most of the time) but in the winter it gets too cold... AND dark (which is not the whole truth, though, since it can be very shiny in February when the sun starts shining and reflecting its strong light over the ice and snow).

Varna has the most famous museum in Bulgaria. We didn't go there cos of lack of time. But you can sense the exciting history of Bulgaria everywhere: in people's mentality, in the architecture, in the delicious food! Bulgaria has a peaceful and friendly connection to Russia but is now building up their own policies much under the American influence, my host (from Hospitality club) told me.

The history is interesting cos there are traces from Indo European tribes (the Tracians) as old as 4000-3000 years BC! In the 500 century BC the Greeks came to Varna and formed a colony and a port. Since then the city has been an important Black sea port. Today Varna is also known for its ski resorts and for its academic world. The city is a fascinating culture mix of ancient, medieval and modern styles. And the people are open and friendly to most diversity.
If you go to the Varna area, don't miss out on the real local Bulgaian city and its surrouings. There is much more to Golden sands and Albena that the beach resort area! Apart from the city of Varna you can for example visit smaller towns and monasteries by micro bus.