Vegan's Chronicles + [vegan product]

Alien's day out in Holland
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Well, I'm back in Paris now, after a glorious weekend in the Netherlands! This past weekend, my sister and I were reunited with several friends from our old boarding school in Ivory Coast.

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Here's the whole gang: Jacqueline (Holland), me (Korea), Cathy (Ireland), my sister (LA), and Elisabeth (Norway). We all came in from different parts of the world for this special international reunion. It has been well over 10 years since I last saw these childhood friends and it was so amazing to get together again and find that we're really just the same people we were as kids. We all crashed at our friend our Dutch friend's house in Utrecht, which is a short train ride from Amsterdam. But before heading to her place, we got to walk around Amsterdam for a bit, and even hit up the official Van Gogh Museum. There's my sister and I giving Van Gogh some love...

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After the museum, we grabbed dinner at a random restaurant called 'Small Talk.' They didn't have many vegan options, but they offered to put together a simple salad for me, which I enjoyed with some scrumptious fries and potato wedges.

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We also took a short stroll through Vondel park, which was really lovely. When we went, the weather was rather dreary, but I'm sure that on a nice day, this park would be perfect for a picnic or for running. Here are some photos of beautiful Amsterdam. I simply love all the canals, bridges, and skinny, wonky buildings with their unique rooftop outlines.

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Gotta watch out for the various forms of traffic, especially all the bikes!

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One of my friends spotted this sweet sticker on the side of the road and pointed it out to me! I love how my omni friends keep an eye out for vegan things I might like. :)

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Later that night at my friend's house, we ended up having a midnight "snack" of crackers, fruit, tea and wine, or what I would like to call 'Dinner #2.' The cheese was obviously not vegan so I did not partake of that, but I definitely ate tons of everything else. It was so much fun catching up and chatting into the wee hours of the night while enjoying some fine food.

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Man, imagine if I ate like this every day!

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This is some vegan pâté spread that I found at a supermarket in Paris. It was primarily made of mushrooms, but tasted like real pâté.

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This stuff was soooo yummy, I was schmearing it on practically everything. Even my omni friends liked it, despite teasing me for eating "cat food." haha. I plan on stocking up on this stuff to take back home with me!

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The next day, Jacqueline (the hostess with the mostess) set an impressive breakfast table with more than enough vegan options for me to fill up on.

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I had a bowl of soy yogurt with fruit, and some delicious whole wheat bread with peanut butter on one half, margarine on the other, and topped with chocolate sprinkles, which is a very Dutch thing to do. :) I remember doing this when I was younger, and this took me right back to those happy childhood days. Infact, I think I went a bit 'chocolate sprinkle-happy' while I was in Holland, as you will probably notice.

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Here are some other similar eats I enjoyed while hanging out at Jacqueline's house. She was so generous in feeding all of us, and I'm so thankful for the way she tried to make sure I had things to eat. There was a steady supply of delicious Dutch bread, vegan pate, and chocolate sprinkles, all of which I couldn't get enough of... :)

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She also bought some carrot balls! Weirdly-shaped, but crunchy-good.

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On Sunday, some other Dutch boarding school friends stopped by, to make our reunion that much more awesome.

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A few of them had popped out some children over the years, so there were a bunch of adorable blonde-haired toddlers running around. It was indeed a full house!

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Jackie also got me to try two yummy classic Dutch desserts. I'm not sure if they are both typically vegan, but the ones she got were! The first was 'stroopwafels,' which is sticky sweet caramel sandwiched between two waffle cookies. Sooo good.

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The second was 'speculaas' cookies which had a great spicy taste, similar to that of ginger snaps. Both were totally yummy and paired perfectly with my coffee~

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I got a gift of Dutch clogs!

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During our visit, we also spent some time looking around downtown Utrecht, which is another beautiful city but with far fewer tourists than Amsterdam. Apparently, in Holland, most businesses and restaurants are closed on Sundays, so the streets were emptier than usual, but there were still quite a few things to see and enjoy. I actually think it's pretty awesome that things close on Sundays- businesses deserve to rest one day of the week! I can't imagine this catching on in Korea though... too much competition for survival... .

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That said, we ended up at eating out at this Greek tapas restaurant for dinner. While most of their tapas included meat or cheese, there were a few vegan options, as well as a fantastic salad bar with some awesome veggie sides.

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I definitely made good use of the salad bar, and also enjoyed several slices of whole grain bread which was so soft and chewy. I was especially in love with their beets, which are hard to find (or expensive) in Korea. It was another wonderful meal shared with good peeps.

For the majority of our stay in Holland, the weather was quite drizzly and overcast, but on our final day, the weather decided to grace us with some beautiful sunshine, which we took advantage of by having breakfast in the backyard!

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Jackie has a cute little patio garden which is perfect for such occasions. I'm completely jealous of her pad!

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Breakfast was a whole grain roll, a banana, and countless bowls of soy yogurt and granola.

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Oh yea, and chocolate sprinkles.

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Lots and lots of chocolate sprinkles.

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Our last day in Holland included more sight-seeing in Amsterdam before catching the train back to Paris.

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Me being a tourist.

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It was just my sister, Jackie and myself on this day, and so I ended up dragging them to check out this health club called 'RawFoodCafe.' It was basically a gym with a cafe at the front serving raw smoothies, snacks, and supplements. Even though I'm no raw foodie, I was pretty excited about this place!

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Some of the raw packaged goodies, including dehydrated crackers, nuts, fruits, and raw chocolate bars.

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They also had samples of some of various dehydrated snacks, which were all amazing. Oh, and the guys behind the counter weren't so bad to look at either. ^^

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Although their goods were quite pricey, I couldn't resist getting some raw snacks for the road: Organic Pumpkin Onion Flax Crackers, and a Probiotic Strawberry Om Bar.

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On the way to catch the train back to Paris, we saw this amazing chocolatier and absolutely had to walk in, despite the fact that we were running late. We had our priorities straight, obviously... .

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All the chocolates looked divine, but the only vegan ones were these chocolates with walnuts and sugar crystals underneath. Ofcourse I had to get one.

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On the train, I proudly unloaded all my new goodies, as well as a banana, and had myself a pretty incredible snack!

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I don't think I need to tell you how good this chocolate was... . T'was a sweet finale to a sweet reunion. I was so grateful for this chance to get to see these dear friends again, and I can't wait for our next gathering! xoxo

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So, have you guys been enjoying my Europe photos so far? Have you noticed an improvement in photo-quality? If so, that's because my sister brought the new camera I ordered from the US! :) My old point 'n' shoot served me well for the past 4+ years, but now it has a lot of trouble focusing and getting clear images. Therefore, I have replaced my old Canon powershot camera with a new Canon S95, and so far, I absolutely love it! It takes great shots (even in low-light), and it's not so big and heavy like a DSLR. My old camera will still be put to good use though, as I'll be handing it down to my parents who are in sore need of a working camera. Anyway, I hope you like the improved photo quality!