Tag Archives: London

8 Ways to Eat Potatoes in 8 European Countries

By: Austin Davis

It was my first trip to Conad living in Italy. (Newbie mistake number one – I didn’t even bring my own bag). I wandered into the vegetable section and scanned the colorful bins in search of the one food I ate on a daily basis back in the States: sweet potatoes. Not a single orange potato was found amongst the rows of various varieties of white ones. In a panic, I ran to Carrefour… Still nothing. I found a few at a small vegetable stand a few weeks later, but in the meantime, I made peace with the fact that I would have to settle for the sweet potato’s bland relative, the potato. Since my grocery store panic, I’m beginning to understand why the potato is such a staple in Europe. In my travels, I’ve encountered tons of unique uses for the fiber-packed wonder food. If you’re a picky eater, chances are you can find a potato dish in any city you visit that you will enjoy. Here are 7 ways to eat potatoes in 7 of Europe’s most popular cities!

  1. Brussels: French Fries

Contrary to popular belief, French fries are neither French nor American. The original and tastiest fries can be found in the beautiful country of Belgium! Served in a paper cone and slathered with the sauce of your choice, fries make a great snack at any point of the day or night. Try them with mayo instead of ketchup for a more authentic experience!

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  1. Amsterdam: Stamppot

Stamppot is a traditional Dutch meal consisting of mashed potatoes, kale, and sausage. You can find it at traditional dutch restaurants like Moeder’s, or pre-made at the Albert Heijn to grab and go.

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  1. Florence: Potato Gnocchi

So maybe Italy isn’t known for potatoes, but make no mistake, you can find them here too! The best way to enjoy potatoes in Italy is baked inside another Italian delicacy: pasta. Potato gnocchi is heavenly, particularly when drowned in cheese. You can find some delicious cheesy potato gnocchi at Osteria Gatto e la Volpe in Via Ghibellina

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  1. Barcelona: Patatas Bravas

You can’t go to Barcelona without eating tapas, and no tapas meal is complete without a plate of patatas bravas. These roasted potatoes are covered with mayonnaise or aioli and a smoky hot tomato sauce. Try them at any tapas bar in Barcelona, you can’t go wrong.

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  1. Interlaken: Potato Rösti

Every time I order rösti, I tell myself there is no way I can possibly finish it. Twenty minutes later, there I am again, staring at an empty plate within my ski pants had an elastic waistband. I never fail to instantly forget that regret and do it again the next day because it’s that good (it’s worth the calories every time). During a long day on the mountain, a mound of hash browns with cheese and meat just feels – and tastes – so right.

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  1. Krakow: Perogies

Perogies are like dumplings, except they’re commonly filled with potato and pan fried. Sign me up.

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  1. Crisps

Not only do the British drive on the opposite side of the road – they also like to confuse us with the naming of their potato dishes. In Britain, potato “chips” are called crisps. In Britain, to order french fries, you’ll really be asking for chips (a little weird to get used to, right?). Remember that the next time you order a plate of fish and chips.

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  1. Paris: Whipped and Mashed

No one knows how to cook with cream and butter quite like the French. Which helps to explain why the mashed potatoes that come out of Parisian kitchens are some of the lightest, silkiest, and richest you’ll find.

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The next time you are wandering around a new city, unsure of what to eat and struggling with all the choices, remember that your friend “the potato” will have your back no matter what part of Europe you’re exploring.

 

To Fall Break or Not to Fall Break

To fall break or not to fall break? That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, planning a ten day trip alone, or to take arms against a sea of planning troubles, and by opposing, end them.

This excerpt from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, truly raises a question of deep thought. Leaves are falling, sweaters and booties are creeping their way to the front of your growing European wardrobe, and you can finally start wearing that jacket you impulsively bought your first week abroad. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’re a few weeks away from a fall break, aka the peak of your travels this semester. You have ten days to fill, so what are you going to do?

Picture yourself at your computer as that question lingers in the air above you. You search the internet in a wild terror, knowing at any moment, your wifi can crap out and you’ll be lost in a disconnected limbo. You google flights and hostels, trains, buses and more as you sit there with your hands on your face in frustrated defeat. Who knew trip planning could be so hard? This is the point when you send your Mom a text, commending her for so seamlessly executing those family trips to Disney World. Seriously! How did she pack for the whole family, remember your little brother’s baby formula, keep up with work emails, all while mastering the perfect blow-out? As you sit at the computer, twirling the hair you haven’t washed in days, you don’t know if you can pull it off. You’re about to give up but then your computer starts glowing blue, you see Bus2alps flash upon the screen. And begin to explore all the fall break opportunities waiting for you.

First on the list you see the words  “Northern Loop”, a trip that covers Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Paris. You begin to picture yourself running your fingers along the John Lennon Wall in Prague. Sipping wine under the Eiffel tower, as your silk scarf blows in the  Parisian wind. You visualize, your minds version of the Berlin Wall and Amsterdam’s Red Light District, and wonder if they’re as you picture it. Then you do something we all do and, see if you can save money by planning it on your own. The Northern Loop costs 660. That’s 66 a day to stay, explore and shuttle between four of Europe’s coolest cities. You stop doing your research when you realize a train from Prague to Berlin would cost you over  90 alone.

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Just when you think you’re hooked you see,  “Western Loop”. This trip replaces Prague for Barcelona. No longer hindered by the complications of planning your own travels, you struggle to decide between Gaudi and Lennon. You know Barcelona’s nightlife is unparalleled, that the Sagrada Familia is over 200 years in the making, and you wonder, what to do.

You think you have it figured out,  you know where you want to spend your fall break and you’re happy with your decision. But then you see Greece Island Hopping flash across your screen, and you’re back to decision making square one. Athens, Corfu, Santorini and more, your head spins as you imagine the Instagram’s you could snag in Greece’s most beautiful places.

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Ugh now you’re totally confused, and to make matters worse, just as your new copy of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child falls to the floor, you stumble upon the UK Celtic Loop. Ireland, Scotland, and England all wave happily from behind the screen. You picture yourself clinking glasses in a Scottish pub, bursting through the wall at Platform 9 ¾ and, admiring on the epic Cliffs of Moher.

So where you  going. North, West, East or Greece? Oh yea, did scroll down? There’s also the Best of Italy trip. Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan, with a little stop-over in the city of love Verona. The history of this trip is enough to really push you over the decision making edge. Feel Shakespeare’s influence in Florence, and visit the birthplace of Romeo and Juliet in Verona.
The possibilities are endless, the stress is minimal and the good times to be had are plenty. No matter what you choose, Bus2alps will be there with you every step of the way to make this fall break the most epic move of your life. Bon voyage!

10 delicious foods you can’t get in American grocery stores

By Nicole Souza

It’s important to experience other countries’ traditional cuisine while traveling. The escargot in France, the pizza in Italy, and soft pretzels in Germany are all must-have foods that you have to try once in your lifetime. But what about the options at your local city’s grocery store? Living in London, I’ve been able to eat at quite a handful of restaurants all specializing in different cuisines ranging from Indian, Thai, Italian and classic British pub food. To my surprise though, I’ve been able to get a rush of excitement about international food from simply going weekly grocery shopping at a nearby Tesco or Sainsbury’s. It’s so sad that America doesn’t have the same products that the British store on their shelves. Here is a list of hidden food gems that I believe should be brought to local grocery stores in the States:

  1. Crumpets

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This is the sponge sister of English Muffins. While the texture differs from the Thomas brand, the subtly sweet taste in the bread is what made me obsessed at first bite. I can simply toast them, make an egg sandwich with two slices, or spread jam, butter, or honey on them. You can also try the large version, or even the mini version, which are called Picklets! Thank you, Warburtons!

  1. Rekorderlig: Strawberry Lime

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Buying your Angry Orchards in America just isn’t the same as getting your Rekorderlig. This hard cider brand comes in a variety of flavors including pear, wild berries, mango-raspberry, passionfruit, and the all-time favorite strawberry-lime. It’s a super sweet alcoholic drink, practically without any trace of alcohol, so it’s almost like drinking an extra-sugary juice (my kind of drink)! If you aren’t into alcoholic drinks, this is the perfect starter for you.

  1. Bon Bons

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The British version of your favorite confectionary candy, but in ball form! These cuties can accompany your afternoon tea, be a late night snack, or can be enjoyed at any time of the day! Flavors range from Toffee, Apple, Chocolate, and Rhubarb. The name comes from the French word bon, meaning good. (Basically they are good goods! 🙂 )

  1. Giraffe Bread

image03Originally named Tiger bread, this animal-skin bread tastes nothing like the name implies. The crusty outside provides a texture with the spotted “coat”, and when eaten warm, it is delectably delicious! Pair it with any meal, and you can even slice it up and make garlic bread. If you aren’t hungry, just looking at it can give you enough satisfaction as well. Who wouldn’t prefer this cool-looking bread compared to your average grocery store loaf?

  1. Scotch Egg

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I thought the egg burger was genius, but an egg coated with deep fried bread crumbs and sausage meat is just brilliant. You eat a mouthful of protein with this ball of wonderful-ness (speaking from a vegetarian who made an exception to try this baby!) Not only did I find these in grocery stores, but most of the markets in London I explored had these as well. This ups your hard boiled egg game so many levels!

  1. Sushi cone

image01Ok, so maybe you can’t get this at your local grocery store, but a handful of sushi restaurants and bars, including the famous Wasabi sushi place, offer these cones in a variety of flavors. What makes them so great is that you can eat it on the go!

  1. Digestives

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Love your Belvita biscuits? Then Digestives are the next cookies you gotta try. They were originally invented in the United Kingdom by Scottish doctors who were trying to create a treat that could aid people’s digestive problems (hence the name!) They are illegal to sell in the United States, unless you visit an international market that imports them and has a license to sell them. Eat them plain, or eat em’ covered in dark chocolate. And while you do that, you can watch this cutest commercial ever created:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg1fJlrIQGU

  1. Penguin candy bar

image06Featuring your favorite arctic animal, Penguins are chocolate covered biscuits that have a filling in the middle. They are another product of the McVitie’s manufacturing company, and you can try the orange, mint, toffee, or in cake roll form. If you’re dying to try them, you can order them from Amazon.

  1. Hot Cross buns

image00Occasionally eaten during the Easter holiday, I’ve noticed that the British sell these buns all year round. The frosting cross over the top clearly is supposed to be a religious symbol, but you don’t have to be celebrating the end of Lent to enjoy them. The original kind contains raisins and currants, but now you enjoy them in flavors such as chocolate chip, orange, and even sour-dough!

  1. Clotted cream

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It’s not butter, it’s not buttercream…this light and fluffy spread is a dairy product that is produced by steaming the milk then letting it sit to cool. As it settles, the cream substance rises or “clots,” hence where it gets its name. I love it because it is not dense like butter, and the look of it reminds me of vanilla ice cream! It is commonly found to be paired with biscuits at afternoon tea, but you can use it anytime of the day on your breads, and you can pair it with your favorite jams!

You never know what you’re going to like, so why not test out a new food at an affordable price at your local grocery store instead of a high end restaurant? It’s fun and affordable!

7 ways to save money while studying abroad

By Nicole Souza

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If you know someone who’s studied abroad, then you know that after you’ve lived in a foreign country for four months, most likely you’ll be crying when you look at your bank account statement when you get back home. Being abroad sparks a thrill and sense of excitement in almost everyone, which ultimately leads to spontaneous spending, such as on that cute authentic Italian leather bag, visiting numerous cathedrals and museums, and going out to eat and drink multiple days during the week. While you’re probably having the time of your life, there’s that nagging conscious reminding you that you’re gonna have to work long hours this upcoming summer to try and get back all that cash you spent. But there are many ways you can feel less guilty while living it up abroad. Living in one of the most expensive cities in the world (London), here are some of the ways you can save money that I learned about that may be easier than you think.

  1. Bring your own grocery bags

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I’m so used to using a store’s plastic bags to carry my stuff. But it took me by surprise when I had to pay 5 pence per plastic bag at my local grocery store. 5 pence may seem like nothing, but when you’re grocery shopping, it can add up to 20-70 pence per trip, not to mention all of those other times during the week you suddenly realize you didn’t buy enough food, perhaps adding 30-50 more pence. In the end, after 16 weeks, you would have spent nearly £20, which could have bought you almost twelve Caffé Nero coffees! Save yourself the pence by just sticking a few recyclable totes, or even bags from retail stores or restaurants you obtain, in your backpack when heading out to shop.

  1. Save your food storage containers

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The British life highly emphasizes sustainability, and one way I found that I could be environmentally-friendly and save myself money was to use my produce and snack boxes as plastic containers. The bins that held my produce now hold my makeup brushes and beauty products, which saved me about £20 (the average price of jewelry storage containers) at H&M. You also don’t have to worry about bringing these bins home, as they are easily disposable at the end of your stay!

  1. Use a drying rack

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Although my flat does provide me with a dryer machine, it still costs £1.50 per load (and sometimes my clothes aren’t even dry!). If you do two loads per week for sixteen weeks, you will have spent £48 in your semester ON JUST YOUR DRYER. Buy an £8 dryer rack and save those coins of yours.

  1. Book trips far in advance

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This should come as a given, but it seriously helps. Especially if you plan to be traveling on weekends or holidays, booking in advance (at least 4-6 weeks) will truly save you. I booked one weekend trip to Spain one week before, and spent about £55 for a one-way boarding pass. Then I booked my spring break the next weekend (about 2 months in advance before my trip), and ended up only paying £35 for a one-way boarding pass. Manage your scheduling, and at the same time manage your money.

  1. Avoid public transportation

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Especially if you’re visiting another country, try not to use the metro or buses. That extra £3 metro ticket and £15 taxi will quickly add up. Plus if you walk, then you can truly see the country’s scenery AND get that exercise. On my weekend trips, I ended up walking for about 5-7 hours each day I was abroad when I didn’t pay for public transportation. In Italy, I was able to eat pizza and gelato every day, and I probably still lost weight because we walked everywhere. (Skip gym day AND save money).

  1. Bring your own water, breakfast and snacks while traveling

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Traveling can be exhausting, and it’s easy to end up paying for an £8 fruit cup or £5 water bottle at the airport out of convenience. Pack a reusable water bottle and snacks for your trip. Apples, nuts, fruit, and granola bars are all great (and healthy) options. Even a peanut butter jelly sandwich is easily transportable, and it will curb your hunger more than those cookies you would probably end up buying. If your hostel/hotel doesn’t provide breakfast, these snacks can save you an extra £6-10, plus you have more time in the morning to go explore the country you’re visiting.

  1. Do your research

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If you’re tired of eating out at restaurants and paying £25 for a meal, or if you hate spending £10 to get into a bar, then listen up. The Internet is a handy tool, and it can be used to find fun events and activities, groceries, and shopping areas that are affordable. Google affordable places to eat or cheapest restaurants in your current city or area. Check which bars and clubs have discounts or happy hours. Look up cheap retail stores where you can buy those work clothes (Primark in London is one store). The less touristy places are also most likely going to have less expensive eateries and shopping stores since they are less populated. You can also find coupons online for your local grocery stores, or even join rewards programs (Waitrose and Boots offer them in London). Most of the museums in London are free, you can get many free food samples at food markets, and in many countries there are free walking tours offered. Bus2alps even offers discounts on trips; do some searching, sign up for their newsletters, and you could save 15% off of your next weekend getaway with special voucher codes. You should be spending money while abroad, but if you’re trying not to spend your entire life savings, give these tips a try.

7 historical monuments not to miss when you visit London

By Allie Filmanowicz

History is everywhere when you visit the wonderful city of London. Although you may be more tempted to spend all your nights at Tigre Tigre or Cirque le Soir and your days recovering, don’t miss the chance to learn about what made London, London!

  1. Kensington Palace

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The Kensington Palace was the childhood home of Queen Victoria, and the late princess Diana. Although now the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William calls this beautiful place home with his wife Kate and their two children. See how the other half lives when you explore this part of royal history!

  1. The British Museum

If you want to learn about world history in addition to the history of London, this is the spot for you! This world renowned museum is filled with famous artifacts and hidden gems.

  1. St. Paul’s Cathedral

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You absolutely recognize this beautiful cathedral from London’s iconic skyline! Being completed in the eighth century, this integral part of London’s history is something not to be missed.

  1. The Tower of London

My personal favorite historical site was home to terrifying prisoners and the most regal of royals! Tour the tower to hear of the horrors and wonders that occurred between those walls.

  1. Westminster Abbey

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Visiting Westminster abbey is nothing less than a humbling experience. People come from all over the world to be in the presence of the deceased fame. Check out the graves of London’s most famous rulers and social influencers.

  1. Banqueting House

One of London’s hidden gems famous for its extraordinary ceiling paintings. Don’t miss the stone balcony on your way out, where King Charles I got beheaded.

  1. Buckingham Palace

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If you are obsessed with the Kardashians don’t miss the chance to experience a real taste of royalty! Head to Buckingham Palace for a tour or to witness the infamous changing of the guards.