I am currently on my third day without coffee.
For anyone who knows anything about me, I am a coffee drinker.
Not just for caffeine–I really love the taste. But every once in a while the happy caffeine feelings start to go away and I have to cleanse myself, so to speak. So that’s what’s going on now. Whenever I do one of these cleanses, it’s a bit of a struggle, because even though I only drink one or two cups a day, my body does not like it when I change the routine. And, caffeine is a drug of sorts so there is going to be some withdrawal.
The first day was alright.
Then the second day, my body was like wait, YOU’RE ACTUALLY DOING THIS?!?!
Mild headaches, general gloominess, all that jazz.
So to comfort my soul, I made pancakes this morning. Unfortunately London was mean to me and didn’t give me much light to work with, but oh well. I hope even through the haze of the rainy morning, the darker photos will speak to a glorious breakfast. Most mornings I do oatmeal with a sprinkle of granola and a blob of almond butter. I’m a bit in love with the stuff. When I’m in the States, I’m all about the Ezekiel english muffins, almond butter, and iced coffee in the morning. I’m salivating a little right now just thinking about it. Here’s some banana pumpkin oatmeal I had recently. Mmmmmm.
But back to the almond butter oatmeal. Why not make a pancake version? Tender, moist pancakes with a subtle nutty flavor.
Darn it. No maple syrup.
Homemade brown sugar vanilla syrup.
Almond Butter Oatmeal Pancakes
Yield: 4 Medium Pancakes
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup +2 tbsp soy milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp almond butter
Mix all ingredients in bowl. Heat lightly greased non-stick skillet to medium**. Drop batter by 1/4 cup and flip when bottoms are browned and batter is full of air bubbles.
**or a little hotter if you like your pancakes on the crispy side like I do :)
Brown Sugar Vanilla Syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla
Put sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat on high until boiling, swirling occasionally. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, remove from heat, add vanilla, and let cool.
This isn’t a great quality picture, but I was just so obsessed with how cute the little ball of brown sugar looked!
I use raw, natural almond butter, which is why it’s on the lighter side.
Oatmeal time? Not this morning, no sir.
My favorite was the extra crispy one in the middle :)
I know that I’ve neglected this section recently, but now that I’ve finished my midterms, I have a teeny bit of time before finals season to talk to you guys about some of my adventures through Europe. As I told you last time, I went on a grand trip through Paris and Italy. Through this trip and previous travels, I learned some things about traveling in Europe that I would like to share with you. So, here is my list of…
10 Travel Tips Every Abroad Student Should Know
- Book Early: In Europe, you are rewarded for booking early with lower prices, higher availability, and so forth. Especially with transportation, but also with accommodation There is really no benefit to booking last minute, so figure out your travel plans as early as humanly possible. For transportation, don’t bother with the Eurail pass. It’s loaded with extra fees and isn’t applicable on all trains. I would, however, recommend an overnight train–accommodation and transportation in one? Amazing. Also check out EasyJet. I’d avoid RyanAir, as it usually services more remote airports, but you can consider all the options. Just be careful of the baggage restrictions, as they are strict. Also, some trains only mail tickets, but have weird mailing requirements–we had to have ours mailed to the U.S., then back to the U.K. So bizarre. For accommodation I highly recommend using Airbnb if you’re in a bigger group, Couchsurfing if you’re just a couple people, and Hostelbookers.com for just about any group. Make sure you look at reviews, location, and so forth to make sure you’re safe, but one of our best experiences was staying at the “The Sunny House” in Mira, just outside Venice, which we found on Airbnb. You can still get good rates on these websites up to the last minute, but they’re cheaper the earlier you reserve them.
- Country-Specific Items: Definitely invest in a good map (they are absolutely indispensable, especially if you’re in a country where you’re not super confident speaking the language), and if you’re going to be in any place for more than a couple days, definitely get a travel guide. We got an Italy travel guide and found a bunch of places in Venice, Florence, and Rome using it as a reference. Also, make sure you bring electrical adapters for the different countries, as there are at least 3 or 4 different outlet types throughout Europe. Dying phones are not okay.
- Snacks: One of the best things I did was bring snacks with me on the trip. Food can get really pricey in the touristy areas, so it is really good to have snacks that are cheap and easily accessible. Also, if you get grumpy when you’re hungry like I do, it can keep you happy throughout your trip. I spent about £17 on snacks before my trip, and they lasted me almost the entire trip, which was about 9 days long. That saved me a ton of money and emotional distress, let me tell you.
- Research Customs: No matter how similar you think the country you’re visiting will be to what you know, do some research. For instance, at cafés in Italy, you pay about a third of the price if you drink your coffee standing at the bar, and that’s what most of the locals do. Also, look up the tipping situation in the destination country, as many Europeans countries actually pay their waiters a living wage, so they don’t need or expect tips. If you do a 20% tip or something of the sort, you’ll just look like a silly American. And, of course, this may seem obvious, but research some basic vocabulary of the country’s language. A lot of people in Europe speak English, but many don’t. Be prepared for the basics–asking for the bathroom, the check, saying thank you and you’re welcome, and so forth.
- Research Your Food: This was something I was not prepared for, ironically. If traveling as a tourist taught me one thing, it is that even if you are in Paris or Italy, that does not guarantee consistently good food. Do your research to find the best bang for your buck. You can get a TON of amazing food for relatively cheap if you just look online or ask the locals. Our favorite restaurant on the trip was a place recommended to us by our hostel manager–amazing pizza, bread, and olive oil kept us happy every day in Rome. You can also pay exorbitant rates for awful food. I had some really disgusting jelly-filled pastries, a gelatinous alfredo sauce, a sub-par croque-madame, and nasty styrofoam cups. *shiver*
- How to Carry Things: Get a very secure bag (zipper and flap), and keep your hand on it. There are lots of pickpockets in Paris and Italy, especially at tourist attractions and on the metro. If you have an inside pocket in your jacket, or some similarly secure place on your person, put your cash and identification there. Try to avoid carrying your passport with you everywhere if you can–I kept mine in a locked bag back at the hostel. On that note, bring a baggage lock! Whether you’re on the train, plane, in the hostel, or just walking to your accommodation, it’s good to have the very valuable stuff secure.
- Travel with the Right People: This is absolutely the MOST IMPORTANT TIP. I went on two major trips this semester–one was horrendous, and one was amazing, and it was mostly because of the people I traveled with. Make sure you have similar interests and priorities, compatible personalities, and similar budgets. Otherwise, there will be conflict and frustration, which will ruin your experience.
- Relax, Slow Down, and Reflect: You’re going to have a bunch of things on your to-do list, inevitably. There are some incredible things to see in every place. But don’t forget to slow day and take in your surroundings. Wander. Talk about what you’ve seen, notice the little beautiful things. Look up at the architecture and sit down in the sunshine sipping a coffee and enjoying a croissant. Some of the best moments on this trip were spent just talking in the piazza or sitting down at a café for a couple hours. Give yourself time to appreciate where you are. Also, if you, like me, do not go to these places more than once or twice in a lifetime, my advice is to eat without guilt and splurge within a budget. So many people restrict themselves from getting what they want because they’re thinking about keeping their svelte figure or saving money. Set your budget before you head out, and go wild within that budget. Instead of thinking about keeping your spending to an absolute minimum, give yourself a reasonable maximum so you manage yourself but still allow yourself to have some fun. And this is one week or a few days of your life. Your health will not be compromised by an extra gelato or croissant. Live in the moment, and don’t have any regrets.
- Nightlife…or Not: So, I am not a fan of bars, pubs, and clubs. I find them to be (in many cases) smelly, dirty, and quite the opposite of classy. So, I tend to just avoid them. However, touristy things tend to close around 5 or 6, so after you’ve had dinner, the number of things to do is reduced dramatically if you don’t want to go to those types of places. However, I would highly suggest looking up where you can find some good music or late-night adventures. The Eiffel Tower is open late and glitters on every hour. In Florence we went out and had a drink outside while listening to a fantastic jazz band. There are things to do no matter what your preferences, as long as you do your research ahead of time.
- Miscellaneous Tips: For the attractions that mean the most to you, get an audio guide–I loved having one at the Château Versailles (where they are free)–you learn SO MUCH. Or, you could always stalk a tour group. Also, don’t get metro passes if you can avoid them–the cities are very walkable, and you see so much just walking around the city rather than being trapped in the dirty underground. Also, be careful of closing times. Many shops and restaurants are closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays depending on the city/area, and many attractions close before sunset. Next, I know I said not to carry your passport around, but some museums need to see them to give you reduced admission prices for studying in Europe. As a general rule, keep your student id with you. So do your research on that. I could probably come up with a bunch more, but I’ll leave it at that for now!
If you didn’t catch them, I put up some pictures on the previous post :)