EUROPE NORTH TEATIME

Zest for Life and my first acai bowl

Recently I’ve seen many mouth-watering pictures of smoothie bowls, and I realized I had never had one. I don’t know how to make it and I come from the country of “brioche & cappuccino”, so it’s rare to order smoothie bowls for breakfast in Italy – let alone lunch. But I am living in Amsterdam for a while now, and even though this is one of the most expensive cities in Europe, I have decided to spoil myself a little. With a berry or acai bowl. It was cloudy and hot today, at lunchtime. I went out for a walk and I got lost. It’s taking me a while to get used to the strange geography of this city. If Manhattan is easy to explore without a map, Amsterdam looks more like a maze. I found myself walking along a canal without knowing where I was going, under the sun, hungry and focused on avoiding being run over by cyclists. 

Courtyard in Amsterdam

Little gardens and “mews”

Being a curious creature, I couldn’t help looking for the smallest and most charming alleys – and yes, this is probably the reason why I got lost. I love the little gardens and courtyards with wooden tables, coloured pots, flowers and twinkle lights. And there are many of them in West Amsterdam. After crossing Admiraal de Ruijterweg, a big street with shops and cafés, I walked into a pedestrian street called Slatuinenweg, I was attracted by the small houses, which reminded me of the coloured houses seen in Copenhagen or even the London mews. Okay, I confess: I like Amsterdam because it reminds me of London. To me, it’s a little London, with the same brick houses, bow windows and beautiful parks. I see a little bit of London everywhere, and it makes me nostalgic.

Back to Vondelpark

Anyway, my wandering took me to another big street I knew well, Overtoom, next to Vondelpark. I hadn’t planned to get so far, but there I was, so I couldn’t resist the temptation to walk into my favourite park in Amsterdam. I found it slightly different from the place I fell in love with during the spring. More crowded, with a less charming light. But the lavish houses of Van Eeghenlaan were still the same, and I wandered in the nearby streets with the red brick houses I adore. There’s something special in going back to the same places in different seasons. I was hungry though, so I reached Van Baerlestraat where I knew I could find some nice food shop. My attention was caught by a raw food café, Zest for Life

Acai Bowl at Zest for Life

My first Acai Bowl and having courage

I don’t particularly like raw food. I mean, I have eaten good raw dishes at Mantra Raw in Milan and a yummy avocado raw sandwich in Copenhagen. But that’s it. Also, I still have some difficulty in eating out on my own. I know it’s perfectly normal, but my insecurities seem to turn into terrifying monsters every time I’m about to enter a café without company. So I hovered on the pavement, trying to make up my mind. Did I really want to give up and go back? No. I hated my silly fear. Then I saw a girl, a backpacker apparently, walking into the place. And I followed. Without even thinking what I was doing, I trailed her, and the waiter thought we were together. Instead, we seated at two different tables and – how ironic – ended up having the same thing. acai bowl. That girl started writing on her laptop, listening to music, and I felt stupid. Why should I always feel uneasy? 

There were other people in the small room, and three were sitting alone. Perfectly at ease with their cell phones and tablets. I had no reason to be nervous. I wanted to be one of those girls, or women, who traveled the world even without their best friend or partner. So I fully enjoyed my Acai bowl, which I picked because I had never had one before. Now I know how those delicious looking bowls on Instagram taste like. And I promise I will overcome that stupid, useless fear.