I love coffee. But as some of my friends may know, I kind of have a love-hate relationship with this liquid: I am super sensitive for caffeine. This means two things: 1. I am physically addicted really easily. So only a habit of drinking one cup of coffee a day, makes me suffer from severe headaches if I ‘forget’ to drink one the previous day. 2. The direct effect that caffeine has on me is pretty strong. Besides the fact that I like the taste, drinking a cup of coffee for me means a direct feeling of excitement about the rest of the day. ‘Let’s do this’. ‘Go for it’, ‘You got this’, ‘I can do it’, that. Two cups of coffee (or one that is way too strong) makes me feel worked up and shaky. Not so nice. But I love coffee. So I try to stick with my one cup a day. And the good news is. Coffee is a THING. Hipster coffee places are popping up everywhere, no, not only in Antwerp, but also in Scandinavia. Or actually, according to the Scandinavians, I should say the ‘Nordic Countries’. Every bigger city has his own hipster area with their own hipster cafe’s. For me, these places are heaven during this trip. They have good coffee, wifi and plugs because every self-respecting hipster is working (probably in the creative industry) on his or her Macbook while drinking an extra hot extra shot latte decorated with a heart (or if you’re lucky an elephant) by a barista with a long beard. I know I’m generalizing here, but in a positive way, so than it’s okay, right?
So I’ve been drinking coffee in Malmö, where I discovered this other Swedish vegan variation on soy and almond milk: Oatly, which is oatmilk and tastes quite good! In Stockholm I discovered the Swedish version of Starbucks: Espresso House. Which is as expensive and disappointing in quality coffee as the American equivalent. The plugs and wifi make everything better though. And drinking coffee in Stockholm is in any case an expensive hobby. So it is in Helsinki, where I paid 4 euros and 80 cents for a small cappuccino. The cafe took the hipster hype to a next level though, with a living rabbit (called cappuccino, no joke) in front of the counter. But, most importantly, besides drinking the coffees, I the opportunity to check my Facebook, book bus tickets, boat or ferry tickets, edit my photos, upload an Instagram picture, or write new posts.
How did the hipster burn his tongue? He drank his coffee before it was cool
I also tried some other things. In Malmö I stayed with friends of a friend: Saga & Johan. They made me feel really welcome and I felt immediately at home in their stylish apartment. Unfortunately I had only planned 2 days for Malmö, because there is not much to see. But I got a really good vibe of the Swedish way of living, since my hosts made me try some typical Swedish (or Malmö-ish, how would you say that?) things. One of those things was ‘Snus’. Alcohol (and tobacco) in Sweden is highly taxed and only available in bottle-shops but this form of tobacco, which you cannot buy legally in any other country in the European Union, is a cultural heritage, which because of the tradition, cannot be touched by any laws. Snus is a form of powdered tobacco, which you can put under your lip. It irritates a little but makes you feel light in your head. Been there, done that. I also tried the falafel from Malmö. apparently, this city has the best Falafel places of Sweden and maybe even Europe. I must say, it was indeed better than I was used too. I think though that Falafel is a thing in the Nordic Countries in general. I’ve seen so many falafel places… (In Helsinki I got the tip to eat at Fafa’s; famous for their… falafel!). I think it has something to do with the hype of vegetarian and vegan food here, which sometimes seems to be a kind of side stream of the hipster thing. It is also strongly growing back home, where vegan food trucks and restaurants are popping up everywhere, but I think that the Nordic countries are always a little further ahead in the environmental field. So what we call a kebab place, where you can buy ten types of kebab and there is one falafel option, is here called a falafel place, with ten types of falafel roles and one type of kebab. Last but not least, I learned (and experienced) what ‘fika’ is. For the Belgians here; it means something like ‘een vier-uurtje’. You take a break, drink something (mostly tea or coffee) and you eat something “small”, a snack. Mostly sweet. And mostly not so small. I’ve seen cinnamon buns American size… So, of course, I tried the Swedish Cinnamon Rolls (Kanelbullar), not because I never tried them, but because I now had a good excuse to eat them, because I was in Sweden and I had to ‘fully experience’ fika. And Chocolate balls (Chokoladbollar) Yummie. I also had breakfast at Ikea. I ate, among other things, knäckebröd & kötbullar. Why do I even mention this.
The last delicacies I want to write about, are delicacies for the eye: street art and the colours of autumn. The street art in Stockholm’s underground is sometimes called the world’s longest art gallery. It is really stunning. Me, my co-couchsurfer Anaïs and Michaël bought a ticket for the underground and just travelled around from one station to another to get out and take pictures. apparently, there are 150 pieces of artworks hidden in all the stations through Stockholm. How cool is that! So if you go to Stockholm, think twice before buying an expensive museum ticket and have a look in the public transport system first 😉 In Helsinki, on a deserted construction site, is a free sauna with a view over the city and a lot of graffiti. Really cool area. Also, consider going to Helsinki in autumn. It’s a rather new city, so it doesn’t really have the old and pretty, typical European town. But it does have amazing parks. The city is pretty hilly and there are lots of rocky parks and islands with amazing views over the city and the harbour at the Baltic sea. The orange and red trees made the sights even better. A picture says more than a thousand words… so here (down) are the pictures (mainly of the art and the colours, but I will fit in some coffees as well 😉 ) For more pictures, I will upload all my photos on the photo gallery page. By the way, any comments are more than welcome!!