Friday, 12 October 2018

EATING VEGAN IN MOSCOW | RUSSIA


Hotel Vega
I stayed in a hotel called Izmailovo Vega for three days in Russia. When i arrived I was knack knack, so I really just wanted room service. Needless to say, the room service options were very limited as the only option was french fries. So, I got the french fries - haha! The Breakfast options were much more varied and an actual dream for vegans, from hot foods to dried. They had all the fruits and vegetables with a huge salad bar. There was lots to choose from and I certainly didn't go hungry the days in which I had breakfast there. It made me think as well, had I had not been vegan, I would have been eaten all of their sugary cakes and biscuits for breakfasts instead. Sometimes you forget how healthy you're being simply by cutting out all of the crap veganism just doesn't have. Anyway, I digress, on the first night, we were all rather tired, so we ate in the hotel restaurant downstairs on the first floor. My, my - the mushroom dumplings were divine as was their potato stir fry dish. I washed it all down with a virgin apple mojito and loved life a bit.




The following day, whole exploring the city centre, we went to a little cafe at the bottom of the ''Oknothy Riad' shopping centre - it's the one that is underground right underneath the Kremlin Museum and opposite the red square. They didn't have many vegan options and were rather confused as I 'moo-d' and did impressions of eggs alongside google translate in order to tell them I didn't eat any animal products... but this was their vegan option entitled 'the green roll'. Now, my expectations were low, I can't lie to you, but I was wrong to doubt them, very wrong. The green roll is in fact one of the best lunches I had eaten in a very long time. It was a chickpea and vegetable mild and sweet curry in a beautiful spinach wrap. I adored it and could have eaten ten, but I managed to refrain.


Forgive me, as I cannot remember the name or location of the place in which I ate this, but I am sure you can find it in more than one place as it's the Russian traditional soup 'Borscht' - veganised of course. It's usually cooked with an animal's body, however for me they made it with boiled pear, which was strange to say the least. I didn't know how I felt about boiled pear, and for a while, I thought it must have been a translation error and just agreed after finding out it was definitely vegan (my students always struggle with the word pear lol), but I was so pleasantly surprised. Boiled pear loses it's sweetness and becomes a little more chewy. Now that I am writing this, I wonder if they used boiled pear to take the piss, but they did me a favour haha... so the jokes on them for giving me free advice if so! =) It was lush and I might actually use them in my own cooking now! 


The Supermarkets:
I went to a few supermarkets and they all had a selection of vegan milk alternatives, which I was happy about. They had oat, soya, almond, coconut and rice mylk in the places I visited. There were lots of pickled goods, which of course are great for your gut. One of the days I made a tomato, gherkin and olive sandwich and it was delicious. They sold houmous, which I was so happy about. There were of course lots of fruits and veggies. They sold your standard abroad *definitely-vegan* staples such as oreas and pringles. None of the noodles were vegan friendly, but I bought a sauce and didn't put the packets into the noodle mix. Also, at the hotel, there wasn't any cooking facilities, however, if there would have been, then there would have been plenty of options for dinners. 

Before you go to Russia: Moloko (молоко) is milk, yaytso (яйцо) is egg, Myasa (мясо) is meat, syr (мясо) is cheese, krem (крем) is cream, med (мед) is honey, ryba (рыба) is fish, ne (He) is not and finally 'I am vegan' is ya vegan (я веган).

Peace Out Potatoes! xo
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MOSCOW | RUSSIA


I arrived to Russia very tired as I had slept in Riga airport the night before. When I first arrived, I got a taxi from the airport to the hotel with a taxi driver who couldn't speak any English, it was awkward to say the least but he taught me hello and thank you in Russian and played lots of good songs I had to Shazam up. The hotel offered me champagne on arrival and was the biggest hotel I have ever been to in my life. It was called hotel Vega, styled on a Las Vegas Casino. It was super opulent and by far the biggest hotel I have ever stayed in, especially in a city! Once I arrived at my hotel, I checked in, showered and bought some fries as they were the only vegan option on the room service menu. After I had spruced up, I went for a stroll around the flee market close to the hotel. Wow, just wow, the architecture in Russia is like nothing I have ever seen before. The colours and mix of designs mesmerised me. I spent hours marvelling at the pretty cartoon-esk buildings all around the city.

The second day in Russia was spent walking around the Kremlin and city centre. Unfortunately, the red square was closed that day, but we did get to go back and see the square at night from behind. There was a firework display for the soldiers celebrating there and it was a truly lovely evening. After exploring the centre, we also took a tour of the circle line to see the stations - and wow - they were all so opulent and breathtaking. My favourite was the famous yellow one and the church-style one (apologies for not knowing their names but if you go on the circle line, you'll know!). I like the sound of the Russian language, I also kind of love that I cannot read anything it says in Russian, it makes me feel like a proper tourist. The language fascinated me, to me it, phonologically and orthographically it is a complete mismatch, but of course I cannot read Russian, so I do not know. As a nation, Russian people appear a little stand offish, but I was assured by a local that it is just their way and in fact they are a very friendly bunch once you get to know them. 

On the third day, I spent my time preparing for the main event - the Trans-Siberian railway. I stocked up on the vegan food I could find (I will write a separate blog post on eating vegan in Russia as I feel it could be helpful). I would recommend learning some Russian for food shopping by the way. Also, for general life. Before I visited Russia, I ignorantly presumed that the people there would have a good level of English, partly because I almost thought it would be like Scandinavia. However, I was wrong, the English levels I encountered from the airport to the hotel to the tourist offices were not of a high standard. It isn't a bad thing, why should they speak English I guess? but I did surprise me somewhat and made me wish I had swotted up a little on some Russian. 

Sorry if this post is a bit flat, I am writing it a month or so later from when I got back from the trip. In all honestly although I wish to highlight the best parts of all the places i have visited, I can't help but to feel flat about the whole experience to be frank. I booked with G adventures, well, I put a deposit down and then they took all my money without asking me from my account. I found out from trading standards that this was in fact wrong, however they were refusing a refund and I had a limited time to sort my visas or I would have lost all my money. It's hard to feel enthusiastic about something you were practically trapped into. Anyway, once I had decided to get into the spirit of things and sort my visas out - G Adventures did not help me one bit with my visas - STA travels do by the way. Then they asked me all about my dietary requirements in order for me to get the most of my two thousand pounds plus, and the guide hadn't heard of veganism before I arrived. 

Anyway, lots of good did come from this trip, and I met some nice people and saw some beautiful things, However, if you're a vegan who doesn't drink alcohol, you may want to do this trip by yourself, with someone close or with a group of like-minded individuals... I'll talk about this more in my next post! Despite the bitter taste of G adventures in my mouth, I did really enjoy Moscow and wish I got to spend more time there. I will definitely go back to explore more of it's beautiful streets and architecture. I would love to do a walking tour and visit more traditional places next time too! 

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An Autumn's Day Gratitude Diary...


My New Gaff
In July I found a nice little home for Riley and I, and in August we moved into it. It's in an area close enough to my hometown to be able to see those I care about, but far away enough to avoid people if I want to - ha! It's in a peaceful area and I feel safe and happy here, which really is all that matters. I love the flat itself, it has bay windows and lots of old fashioned character - it even has some of the original features from the olden days! I specifically love my bedroom now I have made it my own with my photo wall, throws and curtains. I put the curtain rail up on my own with a hammer drill and painted the whole place by myself too. I'm feeling like an independent happy woman in my new home!

Riley
Of course Riley was going to be on here - he makes me happy and fills my heart with so much love, while making me laugh on a daily basis. The place genuinely feels so empty when he isn't here and I really miss him. He's been a true blessing in my life and I love spending time with him. Sometimes I feel like calling in sick, just to spend the day with him! I can't wait to spend the Christmas period here in England with him and my family! 


My University
I love my University so much, this is my second degree and third University and it really was third time lucky. This year  is amazing already. I love the people, both staff and students. I love what I am learning about. I love the area and I love how I am feeling about this year. One of my lecturers wrote one of the books I read last year which inspires me and fills me with confidence in her teaching. I am being taught by people in positions in which I aspire to be in which is both inspiring and motivating. Last year, I think I felt very unsure about everything. I wondered if SLT was for me, if I was good enough and why the University were teaching us half the things they were. Then I completed my exams and placement and realised that actually I am more than capable, and more than worthy to be here. I also realise that there was method in the madness of the University itself and I now have full trust that they will pull us through. 

Good Food
Lately I've been making a lot of my own food and meal prepping to save money as my rent has gone up almost double in this new place. I have to say I do prefer my own food though. I always season things better than the shops do as us obviously to my taste. I make better vegan lunch options than what are on the shelves and I save my monies while doing so. I also find cooking very therapeutic and a nice way to spend some time. I do love going out for meals too occasionally of course. My recent favourites have been wagamama's dumpling and mushroom starter, a vegan doner from a place called 'What the Pitta' in Croydon, raspberry muffins from a place called Organico in Epsom, Vegan Korma from a place called 'Khan's' in Epsom, the vegan donuts in 'Donut Time' on Old Street, London and Coughlan's bakeries all over south London have been releasing treat after treat for the vegan community. I'm also loving how easy it is to be vegan now! 

Feeling Homely and Staying Home
For the first time in my life, I really don't feel like travelling (well, this side of Christmas anyway). I'm not saying this is a permanent fixture because it isn't but I am saying that I have a lot more gratitude for my life right here where it is. I love what I am doing, I love where I live, I love the people and animals I have in my life, and I just love where I am at right now. The way I feel about travel now is that it is a lot of effort and money to explore a place you might not like. I have plans to travel to Africa and South America because they're calling my soul and I already know I love them both. However, all these tours and returning to Asia - they're both a no from me. It's personally not my cup of tea anymore. I would still love to travel to Finland, Oman, New York and San Francisco, but I'm really not in any type of rush right now. When I do go though, I will go alone, or with someone I love and I will go to see one place at a time so I can fully absorb the culture and enjoy it. 

A Few Random Loves:
Coughlan's bakeries, fresh bed covers, freshly cleaned clothes, my tumble dryer, charity shop shopping, PHB's brightening moisturiser, a hot bath, the pound shop, my houseplant,  catching an empty train and missing rush hour, listening to music; specifically south America and French music at the moment,  Make up free days, time alone, the beautiful colourful leaves of autumn, having fresh hair, deep meaningful compliments, candles burning, time with my favourites, playing cards, being picked up and cuddled like a baby, sleepovers with my friends, being alcohol free, new outfit ideas, mushroom vitamin D tablets, co-op's soya mylk, co-op's free-from millionaires, cherry bake-wells, cosy jumpers, black tights, and laughter, laughter is the key!

Peace Out Potatoes xo
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