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8 Great First Time Solo Travel Destinations

March 18, 2019

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I see lots of people saying I want to travel solo, but I am unsure where to go first. Many people want to go somewhere they can be assured that it is safe and that their families will not object. Others say they want to make sure they won’t be lonely or bored. It can also be an overwhelming choice to make as there are so many great places to visit in this world. Here are eight great first time solo travel destinations.

1. London

First Time Solo Travel Destinations

 

I have traveled solo to London several times, and it never disappoints. I like it for solo travel for several reasons. One is that it is easy to get around on public transportation. Solo travel can get expensive so having access to public transportation is excellent. It is also a great first time solo travel destination because the primary language is English making it easy for most people to travel to even if English isn’t your first language.

You will never be bored in London either. There are tons of museums, historic sites, parks and shows to see here. There are also things happening at all times of the day. The great thing about being solo is that if tickets are close to being sold out, they usually have space for one! One drawback to solo travel can be that restaurants sometimes want to sit you at the bar instead of a table. Speak up if you don’t want to sit at the bar and if they won’t sit you, go somewhere else.

2. Florence

First Time Solo Travel Destinations

SONY DSC

Florence is one of my favorite cities to visit. It is like walking in a museum. Walking is the reason it makes it a great solo destination. You can walk to all the major attractions in Florence. There is also tons to look at on the way. Plus, you can’t go wrong with Italian food! I don’t think I have had a bad meal in Florence in the four times I have been there. Although, you might need reservations at some of the more popular places. If you aren’t keen on eating alone, I recommend getting a ham sandwich to go and walk around with it. The same can be done with gelato! Just don’t sit on church steps when you do it as it is frowned upon.

Getting into attractions in Florence will also be easier as a solo traveler. The lines can be long for many museums so booking a ticket in advance is recommended, and you might get your desired slot because you are just one. While Italy is one of the more expensive destinations in Europe, you can find hostels and cheaper Airbnbs in Florence. If you stay across the Arno River rather than in the central area, you will also get lower prices, and the bonus will be seeing the Arno every day!

3. Thailand

First Time Solo Travel Destinations

Almost everywhere in Thailand is a great first time solo travel destination and a good solo travel spot in Asia. That is because there are so many other solo travelers in Thailand. You will never be lonely here. In Bangkok, there is great public transportation. It is also single travel budget friendly. Thai food is also excellent and can be had at decent prices.

From Bangkok, there are flights to all the other destinations you might want to go to. This includes Chaing Mai in the North were many travel bloggers and digital nomads hang out and to the south to the beaches. Again, these areas in Thailand are budget-friendly and offer company. Even if you don’t want to save money in a hostel dorm room, you can book a private room and still enjoy meeting new people in a hostel.

4. New York City

 

After living in New York City for seven years, I can say that New York City is probably the ultimate solo travel destination. The New York subway is a breeze to navigate. It is also one of the cheaper public transportation systems around the world, which will help in this notoriously expensive city.

In the city that never sleeps, you will never be bored or lonely nor will you ever feel odd if you choose to eat alone. New Yorkers eat alone all the time. They even go to the movies alone. There is so much to do in New York, you could visit multiple times and still not see it all. One drawback is that accommodation can be expensive in New York City. To help with that I recommend not going in the summer or around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

5. Greece

First Time Solo Travel Destinations

As many of you know Greece is one of my favorite places to visit. The Greek Islands make an excellent solo travel destination. This is because the locals are friendly and it is very safe! Every year I got to Greece and every year I come back with new friends. Plus Greece is less expensive than most European countries due to their financial crisis a few years ago. So you benefit and you are helping some lovely Greeks get back on their feet when visiting.

Did I mention Greek food?! Greek food is amazing. You will never run out of things to try in Greece. My favorites are zucchini balls, pasticcio and mousakka. And the beautiful beaches aren’t bad either. All the Greek islands have great beaches to enjoy. Go in September or October to avoid the crowds and still have great weather.

6. Dublin

First Time Solo Travel Destinations

Dublin was a huge surprise to me when I visited a few years ago. I only stayed a few days but it was an easy city to navigate. Not only that but it was very walkable. Except for my visit to the Guinness factory, I walked everywhere. It also was very safe.

The food was also a pleasant surprise. Irish cuisine was great and there were plenty of things I hadn’t tried before. Don’t worry about being lonely in Dublin either as you can also visit a pub in Trinity Hall and make new friends!

7. Paris

 

This list would not be complete without Paris on it. Paris is known for being a romantic destination but I think it makes a great solo travel destination as well. This is mainly because there is literally something for everyone to enjoy in Paris. Love art, visit one of the many museums. Love history, see so many historic sites including Notre Dame or the Sacre Cour. Love architecture, look up!

The one drawback to Paris is that not everyone will willingly speak English to you. In fact, several people were rude to me when I tried to speak a little French to order a coffee. Don’t let this discourage you, there are plenty of people that speak English and most will be nice to you especially if you try.

8. Porto

First Time Solo Travel Destinations

Porto, Portugal is a great option for a solo traveler. It is very walkable and there is plenty to do. I enjoyed walking around this city looking at all the tiles. All of the entrance fees to the sites were very reasonable and because Porto isn’t a popular as many places in Europe, there were only two places with lines to get in.

Porto really comes alive at night along the Riberia district and you won’t be lonely or bored. You can get dinner there and people watch. Most of the restaurants have outdoor seating even when it is cool as they offer heaters. The food was really great as well with lots of seafood options.

Picking a destination for your for solo trip can be hard but hopefully, this list will help guide you to the perfect destination for you. Then after visiting one of these, you can venture further afield on your next solo trip!

Where do you recommend people go on their first time solo trip?

 

Greece, Travel

15 Fantastic Things to do in Naxos

March 4, 2019

Things to do in Naxos

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Spending three months in Naxos, Greece gives you plenty of time to explore all the things to do in Naxos. Since Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, you need more than three months to do all there is to do in Naxos. I made a good effort in trying to do as many things in Naxos as I could without sacrificing my need to relax on a Naxos beach. Here are the things I recommend doing on your Naxos holiday.

1. Naxos Castle (Kastro)

Naxos Old Town

Sitting on the hill above Naxos town is the castle. You may hear the locals call it the Kastro. Built in 1207 by the Venetians, the Kastro is still used today. You can wander inside and explore the Archaeological Museum that is housed inside. Some people still live in the castle. The castle is easy to reach from Naxos town by following the signs or look for the white arrows on the ground. Once there you get an amazing view of Naxos and on a clear day, you can see Paros. The Kastro is a great place to watch the sunset as well.

2. Domus Festival

From April to October, the Domus Festival puts on several shows a week in the Catholic Church located in the Kastro. The festival features music, film and dancing. Most of the activities are Naxos or Greece related. There are posters all over town telling you what will be on that week. I went one night to see the Traditional Naxos Singing and Dancing, which was excellent. During the show, someone would come on and explain the meanings of the songs and the dances. The host did this in both English and Greek. Included in the €20 cost were wine and other drinks.

3. Visit the Beach

Since Naxos is so large, there are tons of amazing beaches located all over the island. Agios Georgios is one of my favorite beaches on Naxos and is located right in town. It is less than a ten-minute walk from Naxos Old Town to the beach. To reach the beaches further away from town you can take the public bus. The bus leaves from the bus terminal that is near the ferry terminal. During the summer the buses run often. You should purchase both your tickets to go and return on the bus at this station.

4. Check out some Street Art

Things to do in Naxos

At Alyko Beach, there is a hotel that was never finished or torn down. For several years, an Indonesian street artist has been visiting Greece to do some street art. In this case, some beach art. He has used the abandoned hotel as his canvas and his work is stunning. In several cases, the piece covers several walls making it important to stand in the right spot and has marked the best spot to stand in for you!

Things to do in Naxos

5. Go to the Olive Press Museum

Things to do in Naxos

This tiny museum is worth the trip to Eggares village. It shows the traditional olive press and they will tell you how it operates. There is also a demonstration. They also have a shop that has so many unique homemade products. My favorites were the olive jam, it is way better than it sounds, and the fig jam. They also have non-food products for sale if you are only taking a carry-on bag on your flight.

6. Visit the Portara

Things to do in Naxos

You can’t miss this ancient Greek temple if you are in Naxos. It sits at the entrance of the port. The temple is not in ruins, it was just never finished. The part you see, the portara is the door to the temple. In Greek, Portara means large door. This is one of the best places to catch the sunset in Naxos! Get there early to score a good spot.

7. Take a day sail to the Small Cyclades

While Naxos has plenty to do, you would be missing some incredible smaller islands if you didn’t take a trip to the Small Cyclades. There are many sailboats in the harbor that will take you on a day sail to these islands. The best thing about these is they can take you to caves on these islands that are not reachable by land. The Small Cyclades are not touristy at all so you will be getting an authentic look at Greek life on a small island.

8. Wander through Naxos Old Town

Things to do in Naxos

 

Naxos Old Town is the historic part of Naxos. If you arrive by ferry, the Old Town is just steps away. Here you can shop, get lost or just enjoy the traditional Greek architecture in the Old Town. I recommend exploring both during the day and night. It has a totally different feel at different times of the day. I also recommend you explore it a few times during your trip to Naxos as you will discover something new everytime.

9. Visit the Archaeological Museum

Nestled in the Kastro is the Archaeological Museum of Naxos. All of the artifacts at the museum were found on Naxos or surrounding islands and date back to 5300 BC. The collection of Early Cycladic marble figurines is second only to the collection in Athens. Be sure to check out the kouros torso that dates back to the 6th century BC.

10. Take a trip to the Temple of Demeter

Things to do in Naxos

The Temple of Demeter is located near the village of Sangri in Naxos. The temple has been restored to some degree but you can still see the original marble in some parts of the temple. It was built around 530 BC. Not only is the temple a beautiful site to behold but it sits in the middle of Naxos farmland and offers great views of the countryside.

11. Go to the village of Halki

Things to do in Naxos

Not all of the things to do in Naxos are in Naxos town. One of the best villages to visit is Halki, the original capital of Naxos. You can reach Halki by taking the public bus from the port. In Halki, you will discover a quiet but fun village. You can visit the Kitron distillery there, which is a popular Naxianliquorr. There is a wonderful pottery shop that produces some amazing pieces of art, called Fish and Olive. Take a ten-minute walk to visit the Byzantine church of St. Georges. It was built in the 11th century. If you want to go inside, you will need to go in July and August as it is closed for the rest of the year.

12. Eat in the village of Melanes

Some of the best food I had in Naxos was eaten in Melanes at Giorgis. This family-run restaurant overlooks the valley below and has wonderful food. Unlike many restaurants in Naxos, they only close briefly after the season in October and reopen in December just in time for the holidays. If you are with other people, I recommend everyone ordering one or two things and sharing it. This way you get to try many different things.

13. Take home some of Naxos

Things to do in Naxos

One of my favorite shops in Naxos is Aegean Blue. While I am not a big shopper when traveling but when I find a place where I can buy a souvenir that is useful or practical, I am a fan. I actually discovered Aegean Blue before I went to Naxos on Instagram. I couldn’t wait to check out the shop. I purchased a beautiful purse that has a distinctly Greek feel and I used it for the rest of my time in Naxos. They have clothes, home decor and jewelry. Some pieces are more expensive but they have something for everyone. You can even make a day of it since it is located on Plaka Beach and right in front is the wonderful Picasso on the Beach restaurant.

14. Climb Mount Zas

Mount Zas is the highest peak in the Cyclades. It is a popular place to hike for a variety of reasons. The legend is that this is where Zeus was born. There are several routes you can take to get to the summit. One route takes you past the Cave of Zeus but is the most difficult route. No matter which route you choose to take you will be rewarded with stunning views of Naxos at the top. Just be sure to leave early and take plenty of water with you.

15. Explore Ancient Naxos

Located underground is the Metropolis Museum. This museum is the remains of ancient Naxos. The settlement was built in the 11th century BC. The museum contains the remnants of the Mycenean settlement. It is believed the settlement was abandoned due to the fear of sea flooding. You can see the settlement through glass panes that cover the artifacts

As you can see there are plenty of things to do in Naxos and there is something for everybody. Have you been to Naxos? What was your favorite thing to do?

Things to do in Naxos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel

Coffee Culture Around the World

February 25, 2019

Coffee Culture Around the World

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Coffee culture is so much more than what coffee you should order. In many countries, coffee culture involves how you take your coffee, the expected behavior and the social aspect of drinking coffee. Many countries have had a coffee culture for hundreds of years, and many countries are a bit newer to having a coffee culture. Travel bloggers from around the world are sharing their experiences of the coffee culture around the world of their home country or places they have spent a significant amount of time in.

Coffee Culture in the Americas

United States – A Girl and Her Passport

Coffee Culture Around the World

Whether we like it or not, Starbucks has had an influence on coffee culture in the United States. Before Starbucks being in almost every city in the US, our coffee culture was limited to coffee drunk at home, coffee at a diner or coffee made by office workers. I cannot remember my father every making coffee at home or going to a coffee shop before Starbucks becoming so popular. He only drank it at work or on long road trips in the car. In college, I had a coffee maker in my apartment but there wasn’t a coffee shop on campus, this is the late 90s for reference.

Now we don’t just have Starbucks now, but small independent coffee shops all over the country. Of course, we like sweet things, so many people here don’t just order coffee or Americanos but Vanilla Lattes and Caramel Macchiatos. We have adopted the coffee shop culture of hanging out in them with friends, working in them and even as a place to meet new people. More and more people are learning about good coffee in these small coffee shops and are reconnecting with their local community this way.

Canada – Eric from Ontario Away

Coffee Culture Around the World

Need a good cup of coffee? Come to Canada – you’ll find more than enough! Canada is among the highest countries in the world when it comes to consuming coffee. Coffee culture is pretty strong, and Canadians are very social. Local coffee shops are a great place where people meet, chat, and catch up on a daily basis.

While there are a few chain brands (which we’ll get to), smaller, local, or artisan coffee brewers are popping up in smaller towns. These places are bringing back the “barista” coffee with flat whites and espressos making a push into Canada.

That said, coffee time is ingrained into our social culture – we even have a brand that is synonymous with “Canada.” You may have heard of Tim Horton’s – the popular Canadian coffee chain. Named after a famous ice hockey player (go figure), Tim Hortons or “Timmies” is a go-to for coffee, baked goods, sandwiches, and more.

If you want to truly embrace Canadian culture and a bit of our lingo – go order a “Double Double” at Tim’s. This is a coffee made with two cream and two sugar – and it’s a classic that you either love or hate!

Argentina – Erin from Sol Salute

Coffee Culture Around the World

Coffee in Argentina is more about the ritual than the coffee itself. The day begins with coffee as the star of the show, accompanying a bare breakfast of toast and jam. Every afternoon, locals pause their day for a merienda, which roughly translates to snack time but is much more than that. At home or a traditional café, the café con leche or cortado is served with sweet, buttery pastries called facturas. Coffee in Argentina is simple, a shot or two of espresso mixed only with a bit of milk. Like most traditional Argentina food, coffee culture is heavily influenced by the mass immigration to Argentina from Italy and other European countries.  

The best coffee-related tradition in Argentina reflects the importance of relationships here, the sobremesa. There’s no rush to end a meal and rush home afterward in Buenos Aires. Family and friends linger at the table, slowly sipping their coffee and enjoying their time together. This coffee centered tradition is the final course of any meal, the sobremesa. New cafes are opening every week in hip neighborhoods like Palermo, filled with hipsters and freshly ground beans imported from far away nations, but give me sobremesa or a merienda in a historic, traditional café any day.  

Brazil – Bradley from Big Dream Travel Far

Coffee isn’t just part of daily life in Brazil; it’s an essential part of their economy and history. At breakfast, lunch, dinner, at a business meeting, or any activity that requires a wait, having a little coffee is common practice in Brazil. Known locally as a “cafezinho,” it’s cheap and super delicious. A cup of cafezinho is an intense, yet small shot of pure black coffee that comes in a little plastic cup. You can opt to add sugar, liquid sweetener or leche (milk) as you wish.

It’s small, but it’s mighty, and it was one of my favorite drinks, not just in Brazil, but all across South America. Coffee was always there when I needed it, such as when I came off an Amazon boat ride and was desperate for a decent cup of coffee for only 25 cents, or when suffering from a hangover after dancing the samba and drinking cachaca in Vitoria. Whether you’re buying coffee from a local vendor or entering an independent coffee shop, you’ll never fail to find a perfect cup of coffee all across Brazil!

Mexico – Gena from Gena’s Adventure

Coffee Culture Around the World

When I lived in Mexico City, I discovered that the country is not only famous for its history, beautiful culture, and delicious food. I learned that coffee is an important beverage for Mexicans as they take pride in preparing their own traditional drink. Mexican coffee called “Café De Olla” is a spiced drink traditionally brewed in earthenware made with freshly ground coffee, cinnamon, and piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar).  An “olla” is a tall, ceramic pot used in Mexico for simmering.  This is where the name comes from. When coffee grinds are boiled, it’s important to add piloncillo and cinnamon to tame the coffee’s bitterness and acidity.

Café de Olla is highly appreciated in the morning, and during cold months as its unique aroma, mild flavor, sweetness and the smell of cinnamon bring the feeling of comfort to the house.  If you travel to Mexico City, local coffee shops, often hidden in the neighborhoods, and places like taquería “El Califa” are perfect for trying the authentic coffee. If you are currently in Cancun, Mexico, pay a visit to a breakfast restaurant called “La Orgánica” for a delicious cup of “Café de Olla.”

Pro tip: the authentic café de Olla is served in a clay mug and does not need any additional sugar since piloncillo added when boiling makes it sweet enough.

Cuba – Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic

Coffee Culture Around the World

Many people visit Cuba and have fond memories of the people, the music, the mojitos, and the beaches. But often they leave never knowing just how important coffee is to the Cuban culture.

Coffee in Cuba is at the center of everything social. When people come to your home, you must first offer them something to drink, either water or rum, or most always coffee. Cubans will give you their last ration of coffee if you visit, not knowing when they’ll have it again because it’s the hospitable thing to do.

When I moved into an apartment in Havana one of the first things I learned how to make was coffee. In Cuba, it’s made in a metal contraption on the stove called a cafetera, but Italians and most Europeans will know this as a Moka pot which makes espresso. It’s not hard to make, but this is the only thing you’ll be offered as a coffee machine in Cuba, so it’s best to learn before you go.

And while the coffee culture is so strong here, there aren’t a lot of cafes. And that’s because Cubans usually stop into a cafeteria to drink a lot of strong coffee, standing up, for 8 cents whereas tourists drink americanos for $2-3 in hotels.

However, my Cuban friends approve one spot as a splurge. Cafe Escorial in Old Havana has strong, high-quality coffee. There are seats that look out onto the square, and while it’s pricey at $2, the coffee and view are worth it.

Colombia – Bianca from NomadBiba

Coffee Culture Around the World

As one of the major coffee producers in the world, coffee culture is deeply ingrained in Colombia’s national identity. Coffee is the country’s biggest export, and it’s grown on a lot of different places throughout Colombia. And the coffee that is produced in each region has its own unique characteristics. However, most of the very best beans are exported to keep up with the growing international demand. That means that most Colombians rarely get to try the premium varieties that their country is so famous for.
Most of the coffee that is served in Colombia is tinto, which is cheap, made with lower quality beans, and drank in small cups. This is the kind of coffee that you’ll find in most places in the countryside and working-class neighborhoods. More recently, with the growing popularity of barista culture, it is getting easier to find better coffee made with an espresso machine or other more refined methods. In fact, in any of Colombia’s bigger cities, you can easily find a Juan Valdez coffee shop, the local equivalent to Starbucks; which has become so popular that it has expanded internationally and you can even find some of its shops in the US.
Still, for Colombians drinking coffee is a social activity. It is something you do to take a break and enjoy a conversation with your friends, family or colleagues. It is not something you do for just a simple caffeine boost.

Coffee Culture in Europe

Slovenia – Tereza from Czick on the Road

Coffee Culture Around the World

Slovenia most probably isn’t on your radar of coffee countries, and yes, it definitely doesn’t belong to them, but that doesn’t mean Slovenes don’t drink coffee, on the contrary. One thing which never stops surprising me is, how much time people in Slovenia spend in cafes.

When you head for a coffee in Slovenia, you can forget about fancy names as ‘Americano,’ ‘flat white’ or ‘long black’ – in Slovenia, there are just five basic types of coffees:

  • Kratka kava – ‘short coffee’ which you know as espresso (and you can order it by this name)
  • Dolga kava – ‘long coffee’ – which you now as Americano
  • Kava z mlekom – coffee with milk
  • Kapucino – cappuccino (usually with loads of milk foam and not so much milk)
  • Bela kava – ‘white coffee’ which is basically café late (lots of milk foam and lots of milk)

In the center of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, you will see one café next to another, and they are all full all the time. The price for espresso is 1 – 1,4 €, while a cappuccino is usually 1,5 – 2,5 €. Most of the cafes have an outdoor terrace which works also during the winter (with heaters and blankets for customers). My personal favorites are Pritlicje, Tozd, and Daktari with Sunday open mike events.

Read more about Slovenia here.

Montenegro – Leo from Safari Nomad

Coffee Culture Around the World

Coffee culture is an essential part of Montenegrin life. It is much more than a simple and invigorating beverage but mainly a national pastime. Whether chatting with your friends, neighbor or business partner, there is always a cup of coffee. Any time of the day. The traditional choice is “turska kafa” or Turkish coffee.

Turkish coffee is unfiltered coffee, made with roasted and finely ground coffee beans, slowly boiled in a “đezva” (a small long-handled pot, like shown on the photo below). The key idea is to let a coffee build a thick layer of froth on top. The beverage has a strong, rich aroma and is very thick. It is usually sweetened with sugar.

From the remaining grounds left after drinking coffee are usually used for future-telling. It is also said that once you learn how to make good Turkish coffee, then you can get married.

However, in many cafe bars, Montenegrins now opt for various kind of espresso, macchiatos, cappuccinos and more. Coffees in bars are often accompanied with a glass of water.

If you want to know more about Montenegro, you can read this Travel Guide.

Portugal – Julie from Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal

Coffee Culture Around the World

Coffee plays a major part in Portuguese culture and is generally cheap and extremely good. Avoid Starbucks and head straight to a normal Portuguese café or bakery where you’ll get much better value for money. Here, you’ll find people standing at the counter, having popped in for a quick coffee hit. They’ll be drinking a simple café or bica, which is a strong shot of black coffee. If that’s a bit too strong, you can have it topped up with water by asking for a café cheio, or a pingado for a splash of milk. These ‘short’ coffees are what you’d typically finish off a meal with, rather than a larger cup of coffee.

For a longer coffee with milk (but still not mug sized), order a meia de leite, which is half coffee, half hot milk, or a galão, which is pretty much the same but served in a tall glass instead of a cup. A long black coffee is an Americano. You might order one of these if you intend to sit in a café with a cake or toast mid-morning or afternoon, although I enjoy a meia de leite at breakfast time, too.

United Kingdom – Julianna from The Discoveries Of

Coffee culture in the UK has totally blown up in recent years. A decade ago, it was pretty difficult to get a decent coffee (read: one not produced by the huge chains churning out mediocre sips on a mass scale). How things have changed.

These days, there are great coffee shops pioneered by passionate coffee lovers in pretty much every town and city in the country – and more are popping up every week.

Us Brits don’t tend to have hard and fast rules about what’s acceptable when it comes to ordering coffee. Few people will raise an eyebrow if you order a milky coffee after noon, or break some other sacred coffee rule. It’s all about finding what works for your personal taste.

That said, there is a growing emphasis on drinking coffee that’s been ethically sourced – and a focus on the best quality.

In London, coffee shops in Shoreditch, Covent Garden, and many other areas are paving the way and people’s tastebuds with quality brews. My personal favorite is Fix 126 – pop in if you’re in town.

Ukraine – Inna from The Executive Thrillseeker

Coffee Culture Around the World

Ukraine has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world in terms of coffee consumption and roasting. Coffee culture in Ukraine made a huge step forward during the last few years. Moreover, the quantity gradually turns into quality: the largest increase in sales can be seen in the category of “natural coffee.”

Restaurants are gradually moving away from commercial coffee to specialty category coffee. Almost all of them used dark Italian roast before, and now they are switching to fresh Ukrainian roast. Restaurants are forced to introduce this trend because otherwise people will just go and order a coffee from a coffee shop across the street.

And Ukrainians do drink a lot of coffee: for breakfast or on their way to work, during lunch breaks and some people even drink it for dinner.

My favorite coffee shops in Kiev, Ukraine are “One Love espresso bar,” “Yellow Placе,” “The Blue Cup.”

Czech Republic – Veronika from Travel Geekery

Coffee Culture Around the World

Czech Republic’s coffee culture has started developing in the last decade, mostly in large cities such as Prague, Brno, Olomouc, Liberec, etc. Nowadays, you can get the most perfect cup of coffee from a quality roaster nearly anywhere in Prague. Cold drip, Aeropress, Chemex … anything. With plant milk, if you desire. The so-called Third Wave Coffee has definitely found its place in the major Czech cities.

Taking things a little further – special coffee drinks like a charcoal or a turmeric latté are not served everywhere, but you can find them. For a charcoal coffee, you can try my favorite (Japanese) café Momoichi and for a good turmeric latté head to another of my faves: Monolok Café. Prague’s Vinohrady area has one of the highest concentrations of amazing cafés, and both Momoichi and Monolok are located there.

If you, however, long for the atmosphere of an old-school Prague Café, you can still find many places to go – Slavia Café, Café Louvre, all these will transport you to times long gone by. At the same time, you’ll still get a quality cup, just none of the newer methods. Not even a flat white. 🙂

Croatia – Tea from the Culture Tourist

Coffee in Croatia is not only a beverage. It’s one of the most important drinks and the central point of many social gatherings.

People are usually drinking coffee in cafes, and it’s something that lasts for at least an hour. But it could easily get closer to two hours. Everything is done over the coffee, business meetings, catch-ups with friends or finishing any kind of work you did.

The most popular is coffee with milk, similar to macchiato (‘kava s mlijekom’ in Croatian). While cappuccino and latte macchiato (but, a much smaller version than in some western European countries) are also quite common. You’re going to get your coffee in Croatia served with a glass of water on a side.

However, if you’re going to be invited in someone’s house, a completely different coffee is going to be served to you. People rarely prepare coffee in coffee machines in their homes. But, they are preparing, what they are calling, a Turkish coffee. It’s made of ground coffee beans cooked in water in a special pot called cezve.

Coffee is so integrated in Croatian culture and an everyday life that a pack of coffee is what people are usually getting as a present when visiting each other.

Sweden – Alex from Swedish Nomad

In Sweden, most people drink a cup of coffee 2-5 times a day. This is done at home, at work, in cafes, and after dinner in many restaurants as well. The most popular type of coffee is filter coffee, and we fill up big cups.

If you compare it with an Americano in Italy or Spain, our cups are at least three times larger.

Some popular chains in Sweden are Espresso House and Wayne’s Coffee. These are the equivalent to Starbucks, but often have better quality and more types of coffee beans to choose from. Then we also have many smaller cafes serving all kinds of coffee.

The cafes are open from early morning to late in the evening. Some cafes also have open until midnight on weekends. While drinking coffee in Sweden, it’s also customary to order some type of pastry or cinnamon buns.

The most popular brand for coffee is without a doubt Zoegas, and you can find it in all supermarkets. This is grounded coffee to make at home or work in a coffee maker.

Kosovo – Lavdi from Kosovo Girl Travel

Coffee Culture Around the World

If someone has never been to Kosovo, they wouldn’t associate it with the coffee culture but more with either the war that happened 20 years ago or with the friendly people Kosovo has. However, the coffee culture throughout Kosovo is great; either because people have excess free time (unemployment is very high, and Kosovo has a young population) or because the coffee and coffee places are wonderful. At any time of the day, you can see people, young and old, sipping their coffees in the various coffee shops throughout the country. At lunchtime, Pristina cafes are full, and if you don’t book in advance or go early-ish, you might have to wait for a table or go and look for some other place. Evening time, right after government officials are done with their work at 4 pm, the main square in Pristina is full of people. Youngsters, families, couples use their time to stroll around and enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the many places. Moreover, there is a Coffee and Tea Festival that is becoming traditional and takes place in one of the main squares in the capital city of Kosovo, Pristina. These are the best places in Pristina to eat and drink.

Serbia – Allison from Sofia Adventures

Coffee Culture Around the World

Coffee culture in Serbia is deeply ingrained in everyday life. The five centuries of Ottoman occupation deeply changed the Serbian social structure and brought about a thriving coffee culture. Coffee in Serbia is typically enjoyed in dedicated cafés called “kafanas” which means coffee house. These are places where coffee and other beverages are served, sometimes with light food as well, but they are essentially places where Serbian locals meet up and drink a coffee or two over the course of a few hours while talking and catching up with loved ones. The most typical coffee is called domaca kafa, which means “homemade coffee” and is similar to Turkish coffee (just don’t tell a Serbian that – they won’t be happy!). The coffee is prepared slightly differently than Turkish coffee, but it tastes similar: thick, strong coffee with grounds that settle on the bottom, so don’t be tempted to drink it to the last drop or you’ll end up with a mouthful of coffee grounds at the end! The hip capital city of Belgrade has hundreds of traditional kafanas, many on the popular pedestrian street of Skadarska. However, it also has a thriving third wave coffee scene serving up delicious specialty coffee as well to a younger crowd. I personally love Užitak and Kafeterija. Be aware though that Serbia still allows indoor smoking so sitting outside is best if the weather allows!

Italy – Jerome from Travel Boldly

BUONGIORNO!

Italian life is formed around many types of social rules, and coffee culture is but one among the many that organize daily life in Italy.

Coffee was introduced in Italy in the 1500 and 1600s but didn’t become part of Italian culture until the 19th century with the introduction of the steam-driven coffee machines and the myriad of variations on how coffee was served that followed. The term espresso is thought to be derived from the practice of making this type of coffee “on express order” where other types of coffee were prepared in advance.

Coffee is everywhere in Italy, and it seems everyone one is drinking all different kinds and styles of coffee drinks all the time, but in fact, there are a few rules to follow about coffee while in Italy.

Here are a few Italian Coffee tabus:

Ordering a cappuccino with your after dinner dessert is a breach of Italian coffee etiquette and will stamp you as a tourist. Only order milky coffee drinks such as Caffè Latte or Latte macchiato in the morning and never after dinner. Even ordering a cappuccino as late as 11 AM may illicit stares.

Don’t ask for a “to-go cup!”  Coffee in Italy is meant to be part of a social exchange and enjoyed in small doses in the company of others.

Coffee in Italy is more daily ritual than a caffeine delivery system. Better to visit your barista several times throughout the day than to order caffè doppio or double shots of espresso.

It is common to drink your espresso normale standing up talking with friends or the barista. It is also common to order and drink your coffee before paying for it.

Some basic Italian coffee styles:

Caffè Normale  a small but strong shot of black espresso coffee

Caffé Corretto: an espresso corrected with a shot of grappa or cognac.

Cappuccino: equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk

Caffè Latte: espresso served heavy on the steamed milk and light on the foam

Latte Macchiato: steamed milk “marked” with a dash of espresso

And here are a couple of less well-known variations:

Shakerato: a shot of espresso and ice put into a cocktail shaker and shaken until frothy and served in a goblet

Granita di Caffé: a mixture of frozen coffee, sugar, and water often served with whipped cream on top

Spain – Jamie from Crashed Culture

Coffee Culture Around the World

The Spanish take coffee breaks several times a day, starting with breakfast and ending after dinner. 7 AM? Cup of coffee. 10 PM? Cup of coffee. They believe in too much caffeine just as much as they believe that eating dinner at 10 PM is too late: they don’t.

Usually, a coffee break is a good cup of café con leche, though you can also opt for an Americano or cortado if that’s more your jam. Try pairing your café with a muffin or other small snack for a quick little Spanish pick me up.

And if you’re thinking of skipping the coffee breaks? Don’t. These breaks are an important part of Spanish culture – it’s when you get to know your friends, family, coworkers, or whoever you’re around, so even if you’re already out-caffeined, grab a glass of water, sit down, and socialize.

Austria – Jacky from Nomad Epicureans

Coffee is and has been an integral part of Austrian culture since the second Turkish siege in 1683 when Ottoman troops accidentally left behind some coffee beans. After a few experiments and adding plenty of milk and sugar, the Viennese coffee was born. The first coffee house in Vienna opened in 1685, but more emerged soon. The heyday of Austrian coffee culture, however, didn’t occur until the early 19th century. The coffeehouses in Vienna became the focal point of literary and political discourse in Austria. Famous writers such as Arthur Schnitzler and Peter Altenberg spent most of their days at Viennese cafes. Siegmund Freud, Egon Schiele, and Gustav Klimt were also frequent visitors. To this day, Viennese coffee houses have hardly changed. With their marble tabletops, bistro chairs, and free newspapers, Viennese coffee houses invite you to sit down and slow down. It is not uncommon to sit down and read or write for hours. The Viennese coffee house culture is so quintessentially Austrian; it is listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO. It is bad style to order anything but Austrian style coffee. Most go for a classic Melange coffee (similar to a cappuccino) or Einspänner (black coffee with whipped cream). If you’re looking for something to nibble on, cakes and pastries such as apple strudel are a perfect choice.

Greece – Steph from The Mediterranean Traveller

Coffee Culture Around the World

Coffee probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Greece, but Greeks love their coffee. It’s pretty much the national drink.

And the coffee culture in Greece is quite unique unlike that of Italy and other European coffees, with the main types available being either ice cold or the traditional ‘Greek coffee’ which is hot and served with the grounds, similar to Turkish and Arabic styles.

In the winter a traditional Greek coffee does the job. It’s good and cheap and not uncommon to sit at a cafe and nurse a Greek coffee for many hours (and many cigarettes).

But in summer you’ll soon notice that everyone is accessorizing with a cold coffee. The most famous is the frappe which is made with a type of instant coffee whizzed up with ice, optional stiff foamy milk, and usually lots of sugar too if you haven’t had one before they can be quite a caffeine and sugar hit.

The modern update to frappe is the freddo cappuccino or a freddo espresso. These are made with shots of espresso instead of instant coffee and with varying amounts of milk foam. All cold coffees are served over whole ice cubes rather than crushed ice – this isn’t Starbucks. Yamas!

Bosnia – Anna from My Travel Scrapbook

Coffee Culture Around the World

Sarajevo is truly a melting pot of cultures. On one street you feel as if you are in the Orient, standing outside a picturesque mosque and a busy market bazaar. The next street, however, is lined with classical Austrian architecture which reminds one of lazy evenings wondering around Vienna. However, one experience is undeniably part of Bosnian national heritage: Bosnian Coffee.

To the uncultured coffee enthusiasts, Bosnian coffee may appear to be the same as Turkish coffee — thick black liquid swirls in the beautiful tin džezva. The waiter glances judgingly in our direction to make sure we follow the exact art of pouring and drinking Bosnian Coffee in Sarajevo.

The process begins with the fluffy foam that nestles on top of the boiling coffee. Spoon some of the foam into the decorative cup placed next to the džezva. Then using the long, delicate handle gently pour some of the deep brown liquid into the foam.

If you like your coffee sweet, dip the sugar cube into the piping hot coffee and then place it on your tongue. You then sip your coffee and drink it through the sugar cube.

Enjoy traditional Bosnian slow life and leisurely sip your deliciously aromatic Bosnian coffee.

France – Nadine from Le Long Weekend

Coffee Culture Around the World

Drinking coffee is a bit of an institution in France. Mornings involve large bowls of the steaming brew, often with an accompanying pastry or tartine. Which, love it or hate it, is often dunked into the coffee pre-bite.

But I’d dare to say coffee drinking in France is often about the social aspect rather than just getting your caffeine hit for the day. Many hours are spent sitting on curbside cafés with an espresso in hand, watching the world go by. And if you’re ever invited into a French person’s home, or have a business meeting, you’ll no doubt be offered a coffee – served small and black – no matter what time of the day.

Although the quality of coffee in France is fabulous, if you’re used to your super-sized Starbucks, or milky concoctions, you’ll most likely be disappointed. It’s rare to find a good latte in France. Rarer still, if you want a cows-milk substitute. So, if you do find a good barrister who can knock you up your favorite drink – you’ve found yourself a winner!

Coffee Culture in Africa

Ethiopia – Lisa from TheHotFlashPacker

Coffee Culture Around the World

Ethiopia is the 5th largest coffee producing country the world and the largest coffee producing country in Africa.  While they export much of the coffee, they also have one of the coolest coffee cultures in the world.  Before I went to Ethiopia, I had read about the “Ethiopia Coffee Ceremony,” wondering what it entailed.  The ceremony is performed in an area of the home or a restaurant in an area covered in blades of grass.  First, the coffee beans are roasted over hot coals, then ground, then made into a thick, black coffee.  Coffee is poured from handmade clay pots and served in small cups without handles.  You are asked how many scoops of sugar you want.  Many people use at least three scoops of sugar, making it very sweet.  My favorite place to get coffee was at makeshift coffee shops by the road, where a cup cost about 15 cents (USD).   Coffee isn’t just for breakfast here – most restaurants served it all day long.

Coffee Culture in the Middle East

Jordan – Lindsay from Carpe Deim Our Way

Coffee in Jordan is a way to socialize as well as to do business. Arabic coffee traditions have been used for discussing family matters, from marriage proposals to civil matters between neighbors. But in Amman, coffee shops create a space to socialize and are a popular way for adults, men, and women, to get together. Often coffee and shisha go hand in hand, and the average coffee in a coffee shop would cost between USD 2.5-4. Usually, it is Turkish coffee that is served, and it can be ordered as it is, with a little sugar or sweet! Most Jordanians drink coffee every day, and there are plenty of vendors on the street as well as along the highways that will make and serve a Turkish coffee for a little under 1 USD. You will almost always see a taxi driver sipping on a hot coffee when you get in the back of a taxi! While it often takes a little while to get used to the strong and utter flavor of Turkish coffee, it is well worth trying while you are in Jordan. 

Iran – Pashmina from The Gone Goat

Coffee Culture Around the World

In a country where alcohol is banned, many coffee shops have sprung up in Iran, where coffee is now seen as the beverage of choice. For many Iranians, drinking coffee in a cafe is a sweet escape from the shackles of society and a choice of elevating their Western palette. The coffee in Iran is similar to Turkish and Greek coffee and is an important place for the young and the political to connect and share conversations and stories.

A notable cafe is Azadegan Teahouse where it is a wonderland with knick-knacks hanging everywhere. Every inch of the walls and ceiling is covered in pictures, paintings, lamps, and other intriguing finds. Although it is a venue for tea-drinkers, coffee and desserts along with shisha are frequently served to locals and tourists all whilst puffing away and regaling their stories of Persia. There are many reasons to visit Iran, but experiencing their coffee culture and their up and coming specialty coffee scene is likely to gain traction among off-beat and curious travelers.

Lebanon – Stefan from Nomadic Boys

Coffee is a massive part of Lebanese culture. It is so deeply ingrained in Lebanese society that it is a part of everyday life. It is a symbol of generosity and warm hospitality, qualities that Lebanon is famous for. For example, offering guests a cup of coffee at the end of their meal is an important part of the Lebanese restaurant experience. Drinking coffee in Lebanon is also so ubiquitous that it happens at work, in cafes, at funerals, weddings or just at home when chilling watching Netflix.

Lebanese coffee is similar to the rich dark, thick Arabic coffee. It’s strong and bitter, but can be prepared/served sweet. The Lebanese coffee differs from Arabic coffee in that it usually has spices added to it, in particular, cardamom.

Coffee in Arabic is called “kawja,” which is thought to be a shortened version of the phrase “qahwat al-bun,” meaning the “wine of the bean.” In Lebanon, the old men who serve the coffee are called “kahwajes” – a tradition that goes back to the 15/16th centuries. In some rural parts of Lebanon, the kahwajes play an important role in ceremonies like weddings and funerals.

Coffee Culture in Asia

Taiwan – Henry from This Life of Travel

Coffee Culture Around the World

If you’re into specialty or third wave coffee – Taiwan will be an under-the-radar gem for you! Normally people associate milk bubble tea with Taiwan – but really some of the best coffee is being served and roasted here!

Coffee was brought here by Japan in the early 1900’s, so they’ve had quite a head start in the coffee game compared to many other Asian countries.

Some of my favorite coffee shops in Taipei:

The Normal (https://www.facebook.com/thenormal.adrc/)

With coffee beans sourced from the famous Ninety Plus, this minimalist cafe offers Geisha and Ethiopian cups for affordable prices.

Rufous Next to a couple of universities, Rufous is a popular draw for students and professors nearby. They have high-quality beans with all sorts of roast levels, including Geisha beans. Hours are 1 pm to 11 pm – perfect for night owls.

Coffee Sweet This always popular, family run coffee shop has some of the best coffee in town. They also stock Ninety Plus beans with several Geisha and Yirgacheffe selections.

Nido Hidden away on the first floor of an apartment building near City Hall Station, this cozy gem serves up special blends from owner Bruce Yang. He also created his own drip station from LEGO! 🙂

Vietnam – Mikki from Mikki Thompson Travels

Coffee Culture Around the World

The Vietnamese like their coffee thick, strong and sweet. Drinking coffee iced is also very popular thanks to Vietnam’s hot and humid climate. The most traditional coffee is a cà phê đá (literally ‘ice coffee’) made using a drip filter. The coffee and hot water are added to a metal filter, served sat upon the cup, which you then have to wait while it drips down. This produces a small thick shot of coffee. If you like it sweet, the coffee will be served with a generous heap of condensed milk. Mix it all up to enjoy a syrupy sweet caffeine boost!

Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, has a grand café culture and you will find small quaint little coffee shops all over the city. The coffee is strong and cheap; a filter coffee will set you back around US$0.75-$1! Hanoi also has its own unique specialty coffee that any coffee lover must try if they find themselves in the city, egg coffee (Cà phê trứng)! Egg yolks, condensed milk, and coffee are whisked and heated together resulting in smooth, velvety foam sat atop the coffee. It’s almost like a dessert as a spoon is needed to eat/drink it!

South Korea – Marie from Be Marie Korea

Coffee Culture Around The world

When walking around any city in South Korea, you can spot another coffee shop every 10 meters. The coffee and coffee shop culture is a very lucrative business, but this only happened in the last ten years. Coffee only came to Korea just before the Japanese occupation at the end of the 19th century when the last king got in contact with western culture. Then it was a very expensive novelty, that was only available to the high society. 100 years later, by a company called Dongsuh, instant coffee was introduced to the Korean market and became an instant hit. By the end of the 20th century, South Korea became one of the biggest consumers of instant coffee. Even though nowadays, coffee shops serving real coffee are extremely popular, Korean instant coffee is still present in each household and every company, especially among the older generation.

India – Priya from Outside Suburbia

Most Indians are tea drinkers, the exception to this though is Southern India, mainly Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Traditional South Indian coffee also called filter coffee has been enjoyed here for generations. The South Indian filter coffee is brewed in a unique metal device and served in a tumbler and dabarah. The coffee is served piping hot with milk and sugar.  It is then poured back and forth between one receptacle to another (by the coffee drinker) giving it the name meter coffee. Also called kaapi, you can find streetside kaapi shops that serve up this delicious concoction.  Coffee is usually enjoyed with breakfast and in the evening with some snacks like vadas. (Pictured above) European style cafés are now popping up all over the cities in India, but the best place to enjoy this traditional coffee if you find yourself in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu is Saravana Bhavan, Sangeeta or Murugan Idli shop.  Once you get a taste of it with some Idli, vadas, and dosas and you will be addicted too.

Coffee Culture in New Zealand

Nicole from Travelgal Nicole

Coffee Culture Around the World

In New Zealand, if we’re not talking about politics or the weather we’re talking about coffee and food.

Coffee is how most people start their day in New Zealand, and it is a huge part of the culture.  The flat white was invented in New Zealand and is the preferred type of coffee that people order.  Don’t let the Australians tell you they invented the flat white – it is quite a contest between the two countries.

Loretta’s is one of the cafes that doesn’t try to be cool; it just is cool.  Located in the heart of Wellington down Cuba Street it is the perfect location to get a coffee and read the paper or just people watch while sitting at one of their comfy tables.  The place has a real openness about it and clean lines which makes it very relaxing which is the perfect setting to have a nice flat white.

What do you think about the coffee culture around the world? What is unique about coffee culture in your country?

Coffee Culture around the world

Greece, Travel

My Favorite Greek Cosmetic and Beauty Products

February 11, 2019

Greek Cosmetics

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

For the past three years, I have gone to Greece, and each time I go I discover another great Greek cosmetic or beauty product. As in many European countries, you can find upscale brands of beauty products in the pharmacies. Don’t worry; I am not becoming a beauty blogger. However, I think it is helpful to share this with you for two reasons. One is, so you don’t have to search for good brands for the basic needs of shampoo, lotion, etc. Two, I think these things make better souvenirs since you will actually use them.

Korres

Korres was the first Greek beauty brand I discovered. I love the smell of cotton, and I found their brand when I saw a lotion called Pure Cotton. I also noticed they had a perfume called Pure Cotton as well! When I left Greece, I had bought both of them on one of the Greek Islands. The smell is heavenly and not overpowering. The lotion was a body butter and while thick absorbed quickly. My skin appreciated the moisture after two weeks in the Greek sun.

At the Athens airport in duty-free, there is a whole Korres shop. Since I had some Euros left over, I bought some colored lip balm that went well with my tan. Then I also found an anti-aging body oil that smelled of Jasmine. That went in my basket as well! The oil was great for putting on after a shower.

The next year, I discovered the Melissa stick. I had a few bug bites after my last trip, and the Melissa stick is an anti-itch formula made of natural ingredients. It goes on all my trips now.

Korres also makes shampoos, conditioners, make-up, hair color and some natural health remedies. I have only tried the throat lozenges. You can really only find these items in the pharmacies and maybe the store in the Athens airport.

Some of the Korres products are available at Sephora but not the body lotions and shower gels. It is mostly their skincare line, which I haven’t tried yet. You can find some of their products on Amazon as well if you can’t wait till you get to Greece to try them.

Apivita

Apivita was my discovery of Greek cosmetics this year. I had not brought lots of shampoo and conditioner on this trip knowing I would be in Greece long enough to need to find a local brand to purchase.  I have oily roots and dry ends. One day, I was looking and found Apivita had a shampoo and conditioner specifically for oily roots and dry ends! It is the first product like this I have seen that actually works for me. I could go for several days without my hair looking greasy at the roots. It also smells of rosemary!

Apivita also makes body lotions and some anti-aging products. The other product I have loved from them has been the facial scrubs. I had been in Greece for so many months, my skin was suffering from all the sun exposure, my fault. I was looking for a scrub that would do more than just exfoliate. Apivita has a Bilberry brightening scrub and mask that is great. It is a bit expensive but a little goes a long way.

Unfortunately, I have not found Apivitia in any US beauty stores yet. However, some products are available on Amazon like the Korres products. You may be able to find it in some other European countries though as they have a search function for stores on their website.

Olive Era

Olive Era is a brand I found in the Sofitel Athens Airport Hotel. It was in the bathroom for the toiletries. If you love the smell of olive leaves then you will love this lotion! It smells like an olive grove with some citrus. I believe it is a spa product though as I haven’t seen it anywhere else. I can’t even find it online, which is a shame as I only took one lotion bottle from the hotel and there were two! This is definitely a hidden gem and something to look out for. There was also shampoo and conditioner of Olive Era in the hotel. They sold full-size bottles in the spa though. now I think I am on a mission. According to the label, it is made in Crete, so Crete may be on my next trip to Greece!

What about you, do you have any favorite Greek cosmetic or beauty brands?

Greek cosmetics

Greek cosmetics