Bolzano Evenings – Easy Surprises

Our time in Bolzano is coming to an end! In fact, we only have one full day left! And we just got back from our second last night in town. And let me tell you, our nights in town have been wonderful.

Since we’re staying in a hotel, we have been going out for food every night. In some towns, that can be a bit challenging depending on how picky you are. Right atmosphere, right kind of food, right price, right location, etc. But in Bolzano, it’s easy as pie. There are restaurants seriously everywhere and, unless you go onto the main square, they are all super decently prized (at least compared to Belgian food). They generally offer a wide range of Italian and Tiroler food: pizza, pasta, and deliciousness such as knödeln, spinatspätzler, schnitzel, etc. And with drinks and sometimes even starters, it never comes to more than 40 euros for two people! I’m impressed. And also super well fed. Our favourite so far: the Paulaner Restaurant. Excellent food, excellent service, and a nice variety of both wine and beer! We’ll be going back tomorrow for our last night 😉
We also sort of pigged out on pre-dinner drinks this one time (or like they call it here: aperitivo). There is this hotel, the Grifoncino Bar, that has an outside cocktail bar on their first floor where they make you feel so super fancy! Which they really should, for the price you pay. Let’s just say we spent more on our aperitivo than on the meal we had after. But it really was perfect. The staff was so very friendly without being pushy, and as soon as we sat down we received the drink menus, some water with fresh strawberries and a little bowl with olives and crisps. The cocktails were impeccable. The staff definitely wasn’t stingy on the alcohol or the quality of the ingredients, and the flavours were perfectly balanced out. For example: my first cocktail contained amongst other things ginger, but it totally didn’t overrule all the other flavours. And the boyfriend had a fruity cocktail as his second one, which I usually avoid since I’m not a fan of fruitflavoured liquors, but this one had actual real passion fruit and real raspberries, no cordials or grenadines! De-li-cious! Of course, I stole the half passion fruit that was floating around in it before the boyfriend could even blink. Tasty! The atmosphere of the bar totally finished the picture. I’d call it a lounge bar: comfortable outside longchairs, plants and cheerful lights everywhere, and some lounge music in the background. Even though I would never consider spending all that money for cocktails back home, it did make for a perfect holiday experience and it was totally worth it.
But the best part by far was the random music we found in town. I think we might have just caught the end of some Bolzano festival thingy? In any case: we’ve been having good fun! Yesterday, there was a cover band on the main square, playing songs like Mustang Sally, Jailhouse Rock, and Freedom. The band looked like they were having so much fun on stage, with little dance routines amongst the musicians and some fancy tricks here and there: proper rock ’n roll performance. Naturally, the boyfriend and I boogied the night away. Tonight, after food we went for ice cream on the main square, secretly hoping we might catch another show. No luck this time, there was only a dj playing some unimpressive dance. But then we heard some trumpets in the distance and guess what we found on a nearby square: a Tirol brass band! They were all dressed in the traditional Tirolian attire and played a wonderful variety of songs: from a Mary Poppins Medley to a Benny Goodman tribute and the Game of Thrones theme tune. And also some classical gems of which I really should’ve written down the names!
We’ve really had some amazing nights in Bolzano, without really trying to! Thank you for surprising us, Bolzano!
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Bolzano The Holiday – Some Hikes

Our holiday is three days in now and they have been wonderful! So far: two hikes, a picnic, a museum, a pool session, some ice cream, a lot of espressos, and not to forget some wining and dining.

For our hikes we have stayed in Bolzano up to now. (Tomorrow, we are taking a bus to Val Gardena for a new challenge.) Our first one was super cute. I had planned it meticulously in the previous weeks when the boyfriend was still at home and I was filling up my free time between the classes at summerschool with scouting for our holiday.

In the afternoon of our first day, we walked along the river to the Runkelstein Castle. Sadly it was already closed, but we admired the outside and marched on. We went up quite steeply between the vineyards and had some insane views of the city, but didn’t dilly dally for too long since we were on a tight schedule: we had sunset plans. A little bit before sunset, we arrived at our planned picnic destination: a viewpoint over the city, with bench, on the Oswald Promenade. The sun was slowly sinking behind the hills, battling heavy with the clouds for an impressive sunset. We opened a bottle of Lambrusco and got out the bread cheese salami ham for a picnic Alla Italiano. We watched the sky go dark and Bolzano go light as the lights in the city came on. When the first stars came out, we put on our head torches, packed up, and headed home (where we got to enjoy a well-timed lightning storm above the hills from our hotelroom window).

For the second hike we went to the other side of town, to the Haselburg Castle. Sadly, also closed! Note for self: check castle opening hours before you plan a hike. But nevertheless, the hike was totally worth it. Very different from our picnic one. The path was a lot more challenging, and the views more forresty and less vineyardsy. And which better way to celebrate our new achievement than to head straight for ice cream on the town square: raspberry and straciatella, don’t mind if I do!

For our third one, we’re heading to unexplored territory! The Mountains of Val Gardena! I’m so super excited, I’ve been training so hard for this in the gym… We haven’t really picked a hike yet but we’re hoping the tourist office on site will sort us out. Bring it on 😀

How Do You Get Healthy in a Healthy Way?

It has come this far, I think I would like to try the whole protein shake madness. Now, for me to say that is a big thing.

I have always been of the opinion that you should eat and sport in such a way that your body can handle it without extra help. For sports, this means that I used to refuse taking extra supplements, like magnesium to stop your muscles from cramping. My philosophy was: if I eat the correct way, my body will tell me how much sports is good for me. Therefore cramps meant either less sports or more varied food. Likewise for the food: if I sport the correct way, my body (and my scales) will show me when to cut down on the food. And that’s where it has been going wrong for a while now, as I have told you many times before.

My body is far from ideal. And it’s getting worse. Even us bigger girls that like to eat have a limit. And I’m afraid I have more than reached mine, at 73.5kgs and a BMI of 27.3, which makes me officially overweight. So I have been trying to go to the gym as often as I can, and I’m actually making some really good progress on the fitness side! My cardio is going better and better and I can feel myself getting stronger. But the scales are still as dissappointed as ever. I even had to start taking magnesium pills as a normal diet does not provide me with enough to keep the cramps away. But I guess it’s healthier to take some supplements than it would be to gain even more weight?

I’m also really trying with the food. I really don’t want to go on a diet, but I just try to be healthy and eat less. For breakfast I have yoghurt and muesli, or I would have some porridge with jam. For lunch I try making nice salads (today’s one had lettuce, beetroot, feta cheese, chick peas and grilled peppers, well tasty) or I buy soup at work. For dinner I only eat one serve (if it is really really tasty I still fall for seconds) and for snacks, I have bananas or apples or grapes, or just a little piece of cake to stop myself from going mental. Like I said, I do NOT want to diet, but I don’t mind making myself a few new healthier habits. I even cut down on the wine in the evening. Only in the weekends from now on. Sigh.

But it’s not enough. The weight keeps worrying me and it is making me unhappy like it never has before. I have never been this heavy before. I don’t mean to be skinny, but I just wonder how, after nearly 5 years of staying below my 70kgs limit (still being overweight, but not feeling bad about it), I have managed to fail. So I’m looking for extra tips and tricks. And if I already gave in to the magnesium supplements, I guess maybe some other supplements could be next, like a protein shake after the gym?

I wish I could just be healthy and happy, but even though I think I really am living a healthy life, I do not have a healthy body. Being overweight brings with it risks to heart diseases, and might have something to do with my bad back and feet too. I would love to hear some of your advice on how to get healthier in a healthy way!

 

 

A Girly Afternoon – High Tea at Nosh in Leuven

Last weekend it was time to try one of those places in town you keep walking by thinking it’s a good idea, but you never manage to make the plans to do so. I went to the café called Nosh to try their High Tea!

I really liked the idea. Nosh is generally one of the only places you can find open in Leuven between lunch and dinner time for something other than pancakes (which I do love, but I was wanting something more special). We had to make a reservation before, which made total sense if you saw all the stuff they gave us.

We were sat at a table a lot bigger than necessary for our company, but it turned out to be a good plan when all the food started showing up. First we were brought, one by one, a glass of cava to start with, then a pepper and cream soup, a piece of quiche and some finger sandwiches. And then it was time for the sweets tray! A feast on the eye just as much as on the tummy! Not to forget the all-you-can-drink offer on the tea.

The tea menu really took my fancy, and apparently they are extending it soon to 20 different kinds of teas, so I’ll definitely be back. I first had a green tea mix with some extra herbs, then I had a herbal tea with mint and elderberries. My friend, more into the sweet kind of teas, started with a strawberry and lime infusion, which was surprisingly fresh while at the same time still sweet, and finished with a rooibos and caramel tea. I do like rooibos, but the caramel was definitely to sweet for me. I can imagine that for proper tea specialists (if such a thing exists) it might be a bit weird that we were switching teas between our snacking, but it was just so much fun to try out all the different flavours.

The whole experience was perfect for a girlfriend afternoon, it wasn’t too loud so we could have a proper chat, we were surrounded by nice little bits and bobs totally finishing off the cosy decor, and between every story we told we could fill our bellies with cute little yummy thingies. The sweet tray held little marzipan cakes, gingerbread, scones, tiny biscuit cakes, vanilla rice, a sort of raspberry bavarois cake, and lots more.

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The only downside of the place is the price. I would never go in there for a normal coffee or tea stop. The teas go for 3 euros, bagels are easily 7 euros, and the English breakfast goes for 16 euros! I guess the location plays a part in the pricing, as it’s located right in the centre, very close to the two main squares in town. But for me as a local, I can think of other places in town where all of this is a lot cheaper. However, for the High Tea it is different. It is 25 euro a person, and even though it is a bit much for an afternoon snack, you do get a lot of value for your money. Consider the tea being all-you-can-drink, the glass of bubbly, and all the little treats. And also, the fact that this really is a unique experience in Leuven.

So if you’re in want for a fun girlie afternoon in Leuven, and you don’t mind eating a crazy amount of food in front of these girlfriends, this is definitely your thing! The table next to us was a nice crowd of ladies in their early 30s, but they seemed to be very concerned with being judged by each other and didn’t eat even half of the food! What a waste! We all know it, girls, we really can eat that much. And we would. If no one was watching. So make sure that when you do come here, you enjoy it to the fullest! And if you don’t, I’ll come have your leftovers, thankyouverymuch.

 

Holiday at Home – Day 2

I am totally getting everything I can out of my week of no work. This morning I went to the gym again. I have to say, this idea of had of going to the gym every day, I’m slightly regretting it. It’s a lot tougher than I’d thought. I used to have a super active lifestyle when I was still a waitress. On my feet at work all day, and in my free time to the gym with my bodybuilder friends. I could eat whatever I wanted and had never felt stronger and fitter. Yes, those days seem to be long behind me and harder to get back to than I had hoped. I’m still making good progress at the gym though, I think if I could keep it up I really could get back to my fittest self. But once work starts again, no more time for daily gym sessions unfortunately. So I’ll try to stick out this week and see how far I get. I wonder if I’ll feel a difference!

Now, I’ve told you before that the reason I work out, is because I like to eat too much. I do Not want to go on a diet because it makes me more than sad. So now that I have time for daily gym sessions, I also have time for extensive cooking sessions. Today I was in the kitchen for four hours! I made samosas for the first time ever, from my new Indian cooking book. It was a lot of work, also because our kitchen is quite small and I had to be very inventive with where to put all the bowls and cutting boards and oven dishes. But the result was amazing. I made two different kinds: one was a veggie one, with beetroot (first time I ever cooked beetroot; even though I love eating it, I’ve never bothered to cook it myself) and feta cheese and of course a whole load of spices like cumin and coriander seeds, the other was with lamb mince and even more spices, like ginger and chilli flakes. I served it with a nice salad in which I put some of the left over ingredients, like the rest of the beetroot, the feta, and some spring onions. Definitely a succes.

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I also did some more gardening, even though the weather wasn’t on my side. It was quite cold, and very windy. I hope my seeds didn’t all blow away. I cleared the space on the side of the garden for the veggie garden of all weeds and sowed some silverbeet. I also want to plant horseradishes and rucola, but I’ll have to wait until May for those. I then started digging the little ditch to plant the hedge tomorrow. My goodness, I am still amazed at the volume of dirt that comes out of the ground! It’s like the soil quadruples once you shovel it out! Our garden is now full of boxes with dirt in them, which I can’t move anymore because they’re too heavy. I’m seriously wondering if I’ll be able to put all the dirt back once the plants are in the ground. Well weird. I also found a lot of potsherds, unfortunately none of them antique. Otherwise I could’ve opened a serious museum by now. Maybe even become rich. Oh well.

The boyfriend is now doing the dishes (such a hero) and I am finally sat down. I have to say, I am even more tired than I was yesterday! And so are my legs! But I’ll try to go to the gym again tomorrow. Then plant the hedge. And also do some cleaning. No rest for the wicked!

The Perfect Lunch Celebration – Kyoto Sushi in Leuven

The boyfriend found a job! Woopteedoooooow! As soon as he got the call, we wanted to go celebrate. Turns out though, that spontaneous celebrations are hard to plan for. So we decided on lunch in town on the last day of my easter holiday. We went to Kyoto Sushi in Leuven.

I’d been to Kyoto Sushi many times before, for the sushi. Both for take away as to eat in. And every time I am more than delighted with the food. The sushi is absolutely delicious and they have all sorts of fun stuff to eat! From salmon to tuna and crab, avocado and creme cheese, crispy stuff and things that melt in your mouth in all sorts of genius combinations. All being prepared right there and then for you to watch behind the bar. I am definitely a big fan.

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Now, the restaurant isn’t located in the centre, and it doesn’t look very inviting, probably because the flooring gives it a slight cafeteria look. I think they mostly do well on their take-aways. But the few times I went their to eat, I was always happy with the super friendly service (maybe a bit slow, but I really don’t mind if you get a thousand smiles in return) and the beautiful ways they served their food, like on your typical sushi boat and all sorts of cute little plates and bowls.

The boyfriend isn’t much of a sushi eater, but last time I was here I saw one of the waiters carrying in a massive plate of noodles. Now, the boyfriend sure loves a good stir-fry or curry, so I’ve been wanting to take him here for a while now. And let me just say, it was everything we wanted it to be!

For starters, we ordered Gyoza-chicken and Gyoza-shrimp, which turned out to be some of the most delicious dumplings I’d ever had, served with a yummy sauce (something sweet-chilli like) and some salad. For mains, I went for the salmon teppanyaki with noodles, the boyfriend went for his favourite: sweet-and-sour chicken stir-fry with rice. You should’ve seen his face when he detected this on the menu. Like a little kid on Christmas morning!

My teppanyaki was served on two plates: one plate came with a delicious mountain of noodles, full of veggies and some egg, and the other plate came with the grilled salmon, baked so crispy, swimming in a pond of delicious teriyaki sauce. Also served with salad. For me, the salad wasn’t really necessary. It seemed to be a rather Belgian side to this delicious Japanese dish. Also, the food wasn’t served the traditional teppanyaki style, that is, on a burning hot sizzling dish where the food cooks while it is being brought to your table. But who am I to complain if it was all so tasty!

The boyfriend was quite happy with his sweet-and-sour too, although it was a bit thin on the sauce. In his words: more sweet than sour. But nevertheless it made for a tasty meal! And a big one at that. No more space for dessert, but we wobbled home perfectly satisfied.

Why I Will Never Diet, But Opt For an Active Lifestyle Instead

I finally started going to the gym again! I got a bit bored of it a few months back, so I decided to go kickboxing once a week and to take up running again. But then I had a problem with my foot and I was out for 2 months. And I gained so much weight, again 😦

Weight and me have always had a bad relationship. I blame it on a thousand things. I have never been skinny, not even as a child, so I think I can safely blame it partly on my metabolism. Also, as you might have noticed from some of my previous posts on food, I absolutely love eating. It is one of my favourite hobbies, rather than merely a necessity. And an annoying little side note: I hardly ever feel full. It is insane how much food I can eat without feeling ill. So naturally, if it is yummy, I eat too much of it. I also like cooking and baking. And if I decide to bake some brownies just because it’s a fun way to spend your Sunday afternoon, of course I end up eating them all. Even when I know perfectly well exactly how much butter and sugar go in there. Not to forget one of my all time favourite foods: cheese. I could have cheese for breakfast lunch and dinner, months at a time, and not get sick of it. Dutch cheese French cheese Italian cheese, even the English cheddar can take my fancy, not to forget some mature Stilton!

Once, I went on a diet. I even went to a food specialist, wanted to do it right. I was 15 years old and 15 kilos lighter than I am now. Yes, it didn’t go so well. Let’s just say I tend to overcompensate. 1 weak of good dieting (i.e. a lot less cheese, smaller portions, no more sandwiches with chocolate spread for breakfast, bye bye to the occasional pizza,…) usually ended with one meal consisting of a bag of crisps, a massive pizza, a whole package of chocolate, and all the cheese I could find. I never crave all this stuff (at least not in those quantities and combinations) when I’m not on a diet. Dieting makes me binge, badly. So to conclude: I will never go on a diet again. Not only does it make you moody as fuck, I end up gaining more than I wanted to lose. And those binge kilos stick. I’d even dare say: I am too scared to try dieting again!

The only way for me to feel more healthy: sports! When I lived in Australia, I was at the most skinny (yes, that is relative) I had been in a long time. 68 kilos. And I didn’t even try. I worked as a waitress and housekeeper, so I was on my feet all day. In my free time, I’d go running simply because the scenery was so nice, it was a good way to enjoy it. Or I’d go for long hikes with friends. Or I’d go swimming. It’s just the perfect country for an outdoor and active lifestyle and I miss it every day.

Since I got back, it’s been nearly impossible to keep my brand new active lifestyle up. I’m back at the old 72kgs. If you know I am only 1.64m tall, you know it is too much. I sit behind my desk all day at work, the furthest I walk is to the coffee machine and back. When I get home after a boring train ride, I want to spend some time with my boyfriend and enjoy a nice meal together, and then there is no time left to go to the gym. And I don’t like running in the dark. It’s boring. And cold.

But now the boyfriend decided he wants to go to the gym too! So we can go together! I am absolutely loving it. I had a sufficient break from the boring work outs and I know so many different exercises, I can mix my work out up a little bit and have little chats with my favourite person in between. And when I’m on the cross trainer and he’s on the treadmill, I like staring at him and making faces when he notices me. We try to go three times a week and I hope it’ll get me healthier again.

I’m trying to cut back on the food as well, but not as a diet. The only changes I am making are changes I am willing to be permanent. So I am NOT saying goodbye to cheese. I’m simply trying to maybe not put it in every dish I make. I choose lighter breakfasts in the week and when I feel like it in the weekend, I only have three chocolate spread sandwiches at most. (Mind you: I could eat a whole loaf of bread with the heavenly spread if really wanted to. So cutting down to three slices will do for now.) I cook slightly less food as well, so that I am not tempted to go for seconds. It’s not that I am ever still hungry after the first serve, more that I just want to have more. And if I want the occasional pizza, I will have the occasional pizza! That way I ease my craving and won’t go binging.

Ever since I can’t wear make-up anymore because of my allergies, I am a lot more conscious about my weight. I have chubby hamster cheeks, and somehow they are less prominent if I make my eyes jump out a bit more. Really, make-up was never the solution, but it did make me feel more pretty. Now, I guess I’m gonna have to really work hard to feel more pretty.

I will never be skinny and I have been fine with that for a long time, but I would like to feel healthy. And finally, I feel like I am on the right track again. When it gets to summer, I’ll be ready for spending all my free time outside again! And hopefully this time it won’t stop!