The Coolest Coffee Shops in Europe

Europe has become synonymous with great little quaint cafes, coffee bars, and tea rooms. We’ve compiled a list of some of the coolest coffee shops and cafes in Europe to help inspire you as you plan your next European holiday.

There is something about coffee that brings people together. The warm inviting aromas entice you in, encourage you to sit, and welcome you to experience your surroundings rather than just see them through your camera lens. One of the best parts about traveling is trying local cafes and restaurants and immersing yourself in the culture. A coffee house provides the unique atmosphere for patrons to sit in solitude and people watch one minute, but then mix and mingle and connect with other patrons the next minute.

If you’re looking for that quintessential coffee house café experience, then Europe has got to be on the top of your list to visit. Europe has become synonymous with great little quaint cafes, coffee bars, and tea rooms. We’ve compiled a list of some of the coolest coffee shops and cafes in Europe to help inspire you as you plan your next European holiday, because at the end of the day you can never have too much coffee.

The Antico Caffe Greco | Rome, Italy

As the oldest café and coffee house in Rome, this place has quite the history. Since opening its doors in 1760 the café has served coffee and food to some historical and famous figures over the years. This is your chance to sit in the same spot as some of the most famous artists, thinkers, philosophers, politicians, and composers of history and today.

Or Espresso | Brussels, Belgium

This industrial-looking coffee shop roasts their own coffee and are even distributors. They even have their own school teaching up-and-coming baristas the art of all things coffee, pretty cool.

Tim Wendelboe | Oslo, Norway

Tim Wendelboe brings fresh, creative and energetic ideas to coffee and his café. He continues to offer unique and interesting combinations and has spurred on the coffee craze in Oslo specifically.

Café Central | Vienna, Austria

It’s not often you can have a cup of delicious coffee in a rare 19th century historical building but you can at Café Central. This famous and beautiful coffee house opened in 1876 and has been enticing people in ever since.

New York Café | Budapest, Hungary

Nicknamed ‘The Most Beautiful Café in the World’, the New York Café is one of the most elaborate and exquisite coffee house and tea rooms around. Very popular with long lines, this café serves Austro-Hungarian cuisine and sweet treats all day. You’ll feel like you stepped back into the 1800s when you step through these doors.

The next time you’re on a European holiday make sure to take the time to sit and experience the café lifestyle that Europe has perfected. Try to learn how to order your favorite coffee drink in the native language (trust us, they’ll appreciate the effort of you trying even if it’s not perfect), people watch, don’t be afraid to make conversation with others around you, ask for recommendations for a great coffee or dinner spot, and open your heart and mind to your surroundings. You may be surprised, you could go in for a coffee but leave with an experience to remember.

7 Amazing Facts About Indian Culture

India has always been a strong advocate of the fact that unity is diversity. Housing a total population of 1.3 billion people, the country is engraved with unique cultural nuances. Here are a few facts about Indian culture that account for its multifaceted identity.

India has always been a strong advocate of the fact that unity is diversity. Housing a total population of 1.3 billion people, the country is engraved with unique cultural nuances. Here are a few facts about Indian culture that account for its multifaceted identity.

All Major Religions of The World

Although the majority of the population is Hindu, the country houses well-established communities of major as well as smaller world religions. Churches are visible across Goa and Kerala. Magnificent Jain temples are common in cities like Rajasthan, Delhi and Gujarat. Uttar Pradesh & Bihar is home to numerous Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Punjab is the official home of Sikhism. Muslims constitute 14% of the Indian population. Mosques, mausoleums and shrines are visible throughout the country.

The Namaste Greeting

You may already know about this famous Indian tradition. It is one of the five ancient forms of greeting mentioned in the Hindu scriptures. The word Namaste translates to “I bow to you”. Greeting one another with Namaste is also a way of saying “May our minds meet”.

The System Of Arranged Marriages

The Indian society strongly advocates for arranged marriage. The system of arranged marriage is still followed, where parents are responsible for finding the perfect matches for their children. In some cultures, love marriage is a huge taboo.

Atithi Devo Bhavah

The phrase translates to “Guest is equivalent to God”. It has become a traditional code of conduct for the Hindu community. Whenever a guest arrives, he/she is treated with utmost respect and provided unparalleled hospitality.

The Traditional Indian Wear

Women in India are often observed wearing saris. A sari is a garment that has an unstitched drape. It is typically wrapped around the waist with one end of the garment placed on the shoulder, leaving a bare portion of the midriff. For casual occasions, Indian men wear simple “Kurta Pyjamas”. For formal occasions, they are observed donning “Sherwanis”.

The English Language

The English speaking population in India is the second largest in the world, USA being on top. It is also one of the twenty-two official languages enshrined in the Constitution of India. You will be able to communicate almost everywhere in the country.

The Largest Population of Vegetarians

India houses the largest population of vegetarians, which made KFC introduce its first-ever vegetarian menu in the entire world, exclusively made for India.Cooking in India differs from region to region, which results in the diverse cuisine. Species herbs are extensively put to use when it comes to Indian food. However, rice and wheat are staple grains.

Unique Traditional Dances From Around the World

Traditional dances are a sight to behold. They’re not done just for the aesthetics, but to preserve cultures and remind people of their humble origins as well.

Contrary to Abba’s words, not only seventeen-year olds can be dancing queens. Everyone can be, and these traditional dances from around the world prove that. Traditional dances are a sight to behold. They’re not done just for the aesthetics, but to preserve cultures and remind people of their humble origins as well.       

Indonesia – Kecak Dance

The Kecak is the famous fire dance originating from Bali, Indonesia. It is a popular cultural attraction for local and international tourists alike due to the amazing display of colorful costumes and elaborate fire structures.

This traditional dance is a portrayal of a war between Prince Rama with his monkey army, and the evil Rahwana. The dancers move to the tune sung by themselves.

It’s usually performed at dusk to emphasize the fire attractions. To do the Kecak, 150 men wearing Balinese sarongs sit around a fire structure. In the middle are the priest, Rama, Shinta (Rama’s wife), the Monkey King, Rahwana, and Sugriwa, a Buddhist god.

Italy – Tarantella

The Tarantella is a couple folk dance that involves light, quick steps, and flirtatious & teasing behavior. The female dancers usually carry tambourines as they groove to the sound. The dance is traditionally performed during celebrations, especially weddings.

This traditional dance was believed to cure a specific sickness caused by tarantula bites, hence the name Tarantella. As time passed by, it also became a dance of courtship. In this version, the woman uses liveliness to spark the love of her partner. In return, the man tries to charm her with elegance and tenderness.

The Philippines – Tinikling

Tinikling is the oldest dance in the Philippines. It involves bamboo poles that are moved simultaneously. The original version includes two poles only, but a variation involves four poles in a criss-cross position.

Each pair, consisting of a male and a female, has to dance to the rhythm while the bamboo poles are moving at their feet. The dancers have to maintain composure as they have to avoid getting their ankles caught between the bamboo poles.

Ukraine – Hopak

Hopak is a traditional dance with a Ukranian origin. Its first version only involved males. As it became more popular, Hopak was danced by soloists, couples, and groups.

What makes this traditional dance interesting is that it doesn’t have a fixed set of steps. Men usually improvise steps in the form of high leaps, turns, and squat kicks. On the other hand, women do simple steps by swaying, clapping, and going in circles. Additionally, complex acrobatic movements are common in stage versions of Hopak.

Japan – Kabuki

Kabuki is a traditional dance accompanied with drama. The amazing mix of dance, music, mime, and costumes made it popular in Japan for more than four centuries. The dance drama is also a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, which makes locals and foreigners flock to see Kabuki live.

Kabuki is a visual spectacle that emphasizes looks more than the plot. The set design, music, and dance steps were all carefully crafted to produce a breathtaking show.

Russia – Barynya

The Barynya of Russia is a traditional dance characterized by extremely energetic moves. It is accompanied by chastushka, which is a folk song with a high beat frequency. Chastushkas are full of humor, irony, or satire.

The female dancers wear embroidered Russian dresses and headgears. On the other hand, the male dancers don shirts, loose trousers, and boots with high heels. The dance has a non-complex choreography, with simple steps such as foot stomping and knee bending.

Mongolia – Tsam Dance

The Tsam Dance of Mongolia is a Tibetan Buddhist dance that includes characters of Buddhist legends and animals that symbolizes both good and bad. Seeing dancers wear lion, crow, or deer costumes are a common sight during a Tsam performance. 

Historically, a Tsam dance was done at the beginning of the year to exorcise evil. Nowadays, the dance is mainly believed to bring good fortune. All dancers are required to wear masks (most of which cover the whole head) and elaborate costumes that take many days to perfect.

England – Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance is an English folk dance that’s believed to be the oldest one, with an age of more than 1,000 years. This traditional dance is performed each year on the first Monday after September 4 in the Staffordshire village.

During the dance, six people carry the horns. They are accompanied by a musician with a violin or accordion. The Maid Marian (a man in a dress), the Hobby horse, the Jester (a young person with a bow & arrow), and another young person with a triangle complete the ensemble.

Traditionally, all of the dancers have to be males, but modern versions of the dance allow girls to carry triangles, bows, and arrows.

    

7 Tea Rituals From Around The World

Tea is one of the most consumed beverages around the world and tee rituals & ceremonies vary from country to country. This article showcases 7 tea rituals from across the globe.

While sitting staring endlessly at my desktop, drinking tea and indulging in chocolate, thinking of what the next topic should be, should I write about my latest travels to Russia, or about my recent trip to the surreal land of Iceland, or considering its Ramadan, should I write about this beautiful Islamic tradition. As I continue drinking and enjoying my cup of tea and trying to decide what to write about, it came to me, the thing that am drinking, let’s talk about tea. Tea is something that actually showcases how different cultures have adapted a single beverage in various ways, in a way; it showcases how different cultures use the same beverage for remedies, health, socializing etc.  but in complete different ways and methods.

So here it is, 7 tea rituals from across the world.

Note: to enjoy this article to the max, don’t forget your cup of tea.

China

Let’s begin with China, and why not? Considering it’s the biggest producer of tea worldwide. Producing approximately 2.5 million ton of tea per year, that accounts to about 30% of the whole world tea production. It is also said that the Chinese were the first to discover the tea leaf.

One the of most popular traditional Chinese tea ceremonies is known as Gong fu tea, which literally means, “making tea with skill”. The tea ceremony is ideally served to a guest of two to four, and usually the first step of the process is for the guests to smell the tea leaves before the brewing starts. The tea cups are then arranged in circles, and the pouring process is done from a high level in a continuous motion, around the circle until each cup is full. The guests then hold the cup with two hands, and sip slowly through to savor the taste, and once the tea is finished, they continue to hold the cup to relish in the aroma. The type of tea that is normally used in such ceremonies is oolong or pu erh this is because they taste best in such brewing techniques.

India

Similarly, to China, India is also both a huge producer and consumer of tea. India is especially famous for its Chai Masala blend of teas which traditionally includes black tea leaves mixed with certain spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and pepper. Tea Vendors can be found in every street corner, they are called “Chai Wallahs”, they sell their unique tea blends in small sustainable clay cups.

Mongolia

You most probably heard of sweet tea, but have you heard of salt teas?  Mongolian tea also known locally as Suutei Tsai, is a type of tea that is served with every meal.  The tea is made with green tea, milk, water and salt.  Yes, you heard that correctly, salt! This unique type of tea is typically served in small bowls as opposed to cups or glasses. So next time you want to try something exotic, why not add salt to your tea? At your own risk, of course!

Morocco

From Asia, all the way to North Africa, and specifically to Morocco, where tea is more than just a beverage. Moroccan tea, also known as Touareg tea, is a blend of green tea and mint leaves mixed with a generous serving of sugar. Moroccan tea acts as the core of Moroccan hospitality, as it is always the beverage of choice that is served to house guests. It is usually served three times in one sitting, with each serving the taste varies slightly. The reason for the three servings is explained by this famous Moroccan proverb “The first cup is as gentle as life, the second is as strong as love, the third is as bitter as death”. It’s not advisable to refuse any of the three servings, as it may seem disrespectful towards the hosts.

Argentina

Yerba mate on a white wooden table. studio shot

Next stop: South America, to the land of silver, Argentina. In Argentina, Uruguay and South of Brazil, tea is a completely different story, it is usually made from a special kind of herb known as Yerba Mate. Argentineans consider yerba mate more than just a beverage, it is usually sipped in social events, to connect people together; yerba mate to Argentineans is “a way of life”. It is usually prepared in a small pot from which it’s consumed through a special metal straw called a bombilla. The same pot and the same bombilla is usually passed around the group, and everyone takes a few sips from the same container, to symbolize a social bond between the guests, friends or family members. The drink is known to be very bitter and is usually served without a sweetener. Oh and if you’re wondering if it tastes anything like tea, it doesn’t.

Russia

What better than to drink a lovely hot tea beverage in the cold winters of Russia? Russians have a traditional process of preparing tea, which starts with heating water in a metal container called a samovar. The water is mixed with a large quantity of tea and brewed for a prolonged period in a specific container. This creates what is referred to as the zavarka tea concentrate. Wealthier families in Russia tend to have decorated samovars made of fine metals and is traditionally served in glass cups held in metal encasings called podstakannik. These metal holders are decorated with a similar amount of complexity as the samovar. The type of tea that is used for the tea concentrate varies, from fruit-based tisanes to herbal teas, typically made with local plants.

England

Afternoon tea for two

And of course, we can’t have an article about tea without mentioning England.  In England, “afternoon tea” has been a way of life since the early 19th century. During this time, two meals a day was the norm, and due to the long gap between the two meals, an afternoon tea was introduced by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, which then inspired the upper class of society, and soon became the norm across all of England.  A typical afternoon tea includes a chosen type of tea served with light sandwiches and savories, which is then followed by scones filled with cream and jam and ending with sweet pastries. Which tea though? Good question! Today, there is over 1,500 different teas that are consumed in England. They all vary in style, taste, and color. And that’s why England is the land of tea.

Spain’s Mysterious Underwater Temple

Spain’s Mysterious Underwater Temple: In 2019, Spain was hit with record droughts, which it has never seen in recent years. It was these conditions that caused the waters of the Tagus coastline to recede, and reveal a shocking sight – an ancient temple monument, the Spanish Stonehenge.

Spain has a long and storied history of interesting culture, conflicts, and ancient mysteries. That is why it should come as no surprise that when weather patterns change, even more exciting things can be found in the waters.

If you weren’t in Europe during the summer of 2019, you likely didn’t realize how exceptionally hot the entire region was for those months. The whole of central and southern Europe was experiencing record high temperatures, and the country of Spain, was no exception. In that year, Spain was hit with record breaking droughts, that it has never seen in recent years. It was these conditions that caused the waters of the Tagus coastline to recede, and reveal a shocking sight – an ancient temple monument, the Spanish Stonehenge.

This temple that was revealed, dating to be between 4,000-7,000 years old, emerged for the first time in decades among the Valdecañas reservoir. The sight itself was previously excavated by a German researcher by the name of Hugo Obermaier in 1920; however, nothing was made of the discovery and the site was submerged completely underwater in 1963 during a construction project. The site was lost to the minds of the global community, until it’s recent re-emergence.

The site has come to be known as the ‘Spanish Stonehenge’, due to its construction of large granite megalithic structures organized in a 26m round circle. The resemblance to the famous English megalithic structure is rather uncanny. The tips of the structure were known to peak above the waters over the years when water levels in the reservoir were low, but it wasn’t until this historic summer of 2019 that they fully emerged.

Experts believe that the structure was previously used as a temple, or even a ritual burial ground. It is unclear, why people in the region would have needed the structure for at that time; but the fact remains that the massive 2m tall stones are something to behold.

Unfortunately, there have been concerns about how to preserve this unique monument. Granite is a very porous stone, and being submerged for the better part of 60 years has not been kind to the monument. Currently there are movements being launched to preserve and protect the monument from tourists and others who might damage it and all it’s natural wonders.

Many cultures have tales of ancient underwater temples and cities, the Spanish Stonehenge brings something mythic to the area in this regard. It gives an amazing look into older civilizations , and all who laid eyes on it have noted the sense of wonder and amazement it evokes. It truly is a wonder of the ancient world, brought forth for us to see again from the depths of the reservoir it sleeps in.