Travel Thursday: Part 2 Netherlands and Iceland

Here’s Part 1

Part 2

The next morning we ate an okish breakfast at the hotel, rented a car from the Schiphol airport and met my cousin and her husband. We were so excited for Geithoorn! I was a little nervous about driving in another country (excluding US) but it was not a problem at all! I love playing various radio stations and listening to the language/music while driving.  The drive through the countryside was beautiful!

Giethoorn is a must visit! Many places to eat, beautiful houses, travel by boat, quite romantic. I even snuck a drink onto the boat that hubby and I shared. We felt so relaxed ❤

On our drive back to the Schipol airport, we drove past Zanse Schans to see the windmills. Zanse Schans is a full-day visit, something I want to do the next time I stop by the Netherlands!

Grabbed some delicious chocolate (for the family) and Dutch-fries with dip before we boarded our flight. Yumm!

Iceland

Hotel: AirBnB

Vegan Eats: AirBnB had decent breakfast (soy milk woohoo!), we had bought several falafel wraps from the Schipol airport grocery store, Amsterdam ahead of time to get us through lunch for the next day.

We initially had planned a road trip within Iceland but our late arrival into Iceland from Amsterdam threw off our plans. The flight overall was smooth, but when the pilot tried to land in Keflavik airport the weather and visibility was quite poor. Eventually, we flew for another 1 hour and landed in another airport on the East side of Iceland. We waited in the plane for several hours, refueled, before the flight took off again to land in Keflavik airport. The view of Iceland from the plane was pretty spectacular!

By the time we landed it was almost 4 am and quite chilly! Our original plan was that we would land by 11:00 pm, sleep and get up by 6 am and do a 3-4 hour road trip around Iceland and catch our flight at 3 pm to Pittsburgh, but it did not work out that way. Instead, we landed at 4 am, woke up much later and drove to Reykjavik.

We rented a car from Hertz at Keflavik airport. My recommendation, DO NOT rent from them. We did not have a good experience.

Iceland’s scenery is indeed breathtaking and quite different from places we have seen in Vancouver, Netherlands, and places in the US. We saw several cairns on our drive to Reykjavik and many lupine flowers. We had time to quickly visit the Hallgrimskirkja and grab some coffee (woohoo they had soy milk!) opposite the cathedral. Then we made our 40-minute drive back to the airport, right in time for our flight – we cut it quite close!

Our flight view over Greenland….

We would LOVE to visit Iceland more leisurely next time, so many things to do and see! On the downside, it is VERY expensive in comparison to the Netherlands. We will figure out a way to keep our expenses down. Some tips I came across online: https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/iceland-budget-tips/

I am currently watching the movie Bokeh that has been filmed in Iceland. The story line is interesting but I am primarily watching it for the scenery 🙂

 

Till our next adventure in BC! 🙂

 

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Cold Pasta Salad (vegan)

Cold Pasta Salad (vegan)

My brother was invited to his friend’s potluck BBQ so I thought I would help the kid out and make him a pasta salad. It turned out pretty good! Best eaten cold and on the same day you make it, as it is most creamy then!

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Ingredients – feeds 6 – 8 people (leftovers are always yummy!)

  • 3 to 4 cups Penne pasta, but you can use any type of pasta you have handy
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons Hellman’s vegan mayo, depending on how creamy you want it
  • 1 cup onion/red pepper/yellow pepper mix veggie bag
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels
  • green/black olives cut in half (many as per your liking)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika powder
  • 0.5 tablespoon lemon juice
  • black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • garnish with fresh chopped coriander (not seen in picture)

Boil pasta in salt water until it is cooked but still firm to bite (al dente). After cooked, wash thoroughly in cold water and set aside.

Thaw and stir fry the onion/red pepper/yellow pepper veggie mix. Keep aside and let cool.

Thaw frozen corn. Cut olives in half.

In one big pot mix together the pasta, mixed veggies, corn, and olives. Add the tablespoons of mayo, cumin powder, paprika powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir it all in. Store in fridge. Just before serving garnish with freshly chopped coriander.

Something simple and tasty to eat! Enjoy!!

Travel Thursday: Part 1 Netherlands and Iceland

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Hi everyone! This is a lengthy post so I will split it into a Part 1 and Part 2.

I have been MIA for a while. After my exam, I escaped to the Netherlands to join my husband on his PhD conference as he was one of the presenters. We spent about 5 days in the Netherlands. While traveling back to Pittsburgh at the end of our visit, we had a 12+ hour stopover in Iceland.

Netherlands

Cities visited: Eindhoven, The Hague, Giethoorn, Zaandam

Hotels: The Student Hotel, Hampton by Hilton

We spent most of our days in The Student Hotel. I give this place 4/5 stars! It was cute, quirky, free laundry. We played table tennis while we did our laundry. Our last night there they had a pool party for the students. It was wild….we didn’t attend it though as we were our with our cousins having a wonderful time! I deducted a star because the bathroom was open-concept….take a shower and the water was everywhere!

 

Vegan Eats:

  • The Student Hotel, Eindhoven had a budget-friendly restaurant below hotel, it was a hit and miss though. Depended on the chef working in the kitchen. The first day the service was quick, I had a wonderful cheeseless mushroom garlic pizza and huge salad with peanut sauce. The second day I waited for over 45 minutes, ended up getting squid soup (yikes), and then after they apologized for the mistake, they gave me pizza with cheese. By this point I was hangry and walked out of there. At least they got my husband’s order right 😉
  • Falafel Masters, Eindhoven really awesome food and many vegan-friendly options on the menu,
  • Happy Italy,  Eindhoven once again loved their option of pasta and pizzas (just order without the cheese, large pizzas and loved the flavour!
  • FOAM, Den Haag, their dessert was so yummy!
  • I packed some instant rice packets, Larabars and Cliffbars to keep me from getting hangry
  • A Subway had newly opened up and was right across from our hotel, so that was helpful as well
  • Schipol airport/train station has a grocery store with vegan/veggie wraps and other items

Travels:

 

I was tired from finishing up the exam and flew directly to Toronto. Hubby (from Pittsburgh) would meet me at my parents house in Toronto and then we flew together to Amsterdam airport. We landed and met up with my cousin and her husband that night for dinner. They got married just a few months ago so it was wonderful catching up on our lives over food and drinks!

The next day while Hubby was at his conference, I slept. It was glorious! I don’t sleep at all during flights, so when I got the hotel room all to myself I caught up on my sleep.

The people of Netherlands are BIG on biking. It is very cheap to rent a bike and travel to wherever you want. Also, their train/bus services are great and on time! There was not a problem with language, everyone we met spoke English. If there was something we came across written in Dutch, Google translate was very helpful.

 

With the remaining time we had, we walked around Eindhoven. I love the canals in just about every place we visited. Next day, took the train and visited The Hague. Walked around the city, the architecture was beautiful! Ate at FOAM. Visited The Peace Palace in the Hague. I left a note on the Peace tree outside the Peace Palace. Walked around the World Peace Flame.

 

Walked through a beautiful park to reach Madurodam!! The intricate details on the miniature buildings and mini trains running through the park are just adorable! Hubby and I spent the rest of the day there.

 

By the time we caught the train to our hotel in Amsterdam (Hampton by Hilton near the Amsterdam airport) it was late in the evening. Touring Amsterdam was definitely on the list of to-dos but we had to keep in mind that we had something else planned for the next day early in the morning – Giethoorn, the Venice of the Netherlands! So sadly we had to skip Amsterdam tour for another visit in the future. I had planned to visit the Ann Frank museum in Amsterdam but tickets were sold out!! A word of advice: book early!

 

More on the next post!!!

Cookie monster

I become a cookie monster when I study. My CAP exam is a few days away and I have been cramming as much info as I can into my head. I also got in some practice sessions with the family medicine resident who is working with me. SO THANKFUL that he could spare some time for me! Got some good feedback about what I need to improve on! Confidence was the main thing!

High yield topics that I could be tested on (history taking, physical and tests, mx, tx, counseling): DM, HTN, headache, chest pain, SOB, abdominal pain, vaginal bleed, back pain, fatigue, dementia and delirium.  Sigh. Will the studying ever stop? 🙂 Well yes, when I bake cookies! A few ingredients, very simple and hits the spot.

Choco Chip Pretzel Cookies (vegan)

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Turn oven on to 350-375 degrees.

  • 1 cup white flour + 1/4 teaspoon baking power and 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • maple syrup (I only added 2-3 tablespoons, but feel free to add more for something sweeter)
  • Almond milk (I didn’t measure this, poured a little at a time until the batter was thick enough consistency)
  • Lots of crunched up pretzels and vegan chocochips
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vanilla essence (half teaspoon)

In one bowl I mixed it all together. Greased the baking tray with some vegan butter. Plopped some of the cookie dough on there (once again I was not particular on the shape because I just wanted some COOKIES) 🙂 Baked for a good 20-25 mins, checking to make sure it didn’t burn.

It was not too sweet and I got the crunch from the pretzel pieces and sweetness from the chocolate chips. Yummy!!