eco travels: amsterdam, the city of freedom

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the city of freedom + fantasy

while walking along the tree-lined canals of amstserdam on a clear day, a svelte gentleman in a finely-tailored, navy blue suit whizzed by on a scooter. not an unusual sight in the world of blithe bicyclists and zippy commuters on vespas in europe; however this particular gentleman had in tow about 100 pink helium balloons cascading behind like an inflated liberace cape or a one-man pink parade; so many balloons, in fact, i felt i'd been transported inside the animated pixar film up, a fantasy world come to life. 

in that moment i made the decision to simply soak in the smile-inducing spectacle; i left my camera in its case as i watched him ride into a bubble-gum pink sunset. i did however snap shots of some of my fave museums, green spots + plant-strong restaurants to share with you here, including some fabulous cafes with savory vegan dishes to keep you healthy, happy + extra alert when an unexpected personal one-hued rainbow floats by. without further ado, let's draw the curtain on this beautiful, green city!

amsterdam, known as the city of freedom, is one of the world's most multicultural cities and has a fascinating history of tolerance in the netherlands. originally a small fishing village in the 12th century, amsterdam would eventually become one of the most important ports during the 1600s and a haven for religious dissidents. referred to as the world's most liberal city by author russell shorto, he shares, "it was also the publishing centre for the racy philosophical tracts that were too hot to be printed in france or england." * so no burning of the books here, oh la!

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the world's most liberal city

i didn't understand why people continued to ask me if i smoked before, during + after my trip to amsterdam. i realize now that they weren't referring to cigarettes. but i do know about delicious, nourishing food + museums filled with vibrant works of art. here are my faves: 1. van gogh museum so much has been written about the prolific artist, but you'll never know the depths of this passionate painter until you've spent a day in this museum. give yourself ample time to listen to the heartfelt letters exchanged between edgar and his brother theo, as well as artists paul gauguin and emile bernard; 2. fashion for good museum if you wear clothes + you love to learn, come hither. this museum creates a light, colorful + edifying environment where visitors can learn about the pioneers and innovators in the slow fashion world. become involved in a movement to accelerate positive change within the fashion industry and to protect workers + the earth; 3. rijksmuseum just a stone's throw away from the van gogh museum is the dutch national museum, housing objects of history from 1200-2000 which include glorious  art pieces from the "golden age" by masterly painters rembrandt + vermeer.

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green spaces + smiling faces

4. wondel park i read about the most visited park in the netherlands, welcoming over 10 million visitors each year, but it wasn't until i was sitting in my very own little corner of this vast, green space that i realized why travelers are drawn to this lush park + broad landscape. there is so much energy from travelers near + far. free concerts are offered at the open-air theater during the summer months + the historical pavilion houses terrace cafe vertigo. dogs, bicyclists, children, runners, relaxers are all welcome; 5. nature's fast food if you're a snack-powered voyager like me, then try stach for fruit, granola, nut mixes + homemade chips with salsa and juice brothers for the most energizing smoothies, vegan pudding + vegan cheesecake too! multiple locations throughout the city for eco boys + girls who need to refuel.

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waste not, want not: rescued food + recovered energy

a city with a lofty energy + environmental agenda, amsterdam is increasing its solar and wind powered energy capacity in hopes of being energy neutral by 2025.* amsterdam's solid waste is burned to produce heat + power for the city, and a number of earth-friendly enterprises are also providing green alternatives: 6. meatless districtlocated in the old west, this restaurant + bar offers a changing seasonal menu of organic + vegan dishes. one of the best burgers i've had during my travels was here. phenomenal service and a warm, inviting atmosphere. cool kids of all ages dress up + gather here seven days a week. call ahead for reservations; 7. alchemist garden is a relaxed cafe serving up raw + vegan fare. they have a fun selection of natural + organic gifts including chocolate + teas. free live music later in the evenings draws in the crowds for a lively, buena vista atmosphere; 8. instock learning that 1/3 of food production is wasted was eye-opening, but finding eco entrepreneurs who are using unsold food picked up at local supermarkets to create great plates of healthy cuisine is heartening. instock uses the bounty of this city's produce to turn food surplus into savory meals in a sophisticated environment {see below}. creative chefs at this singular cafe craft dishes made from thoughtfully chosen ingredients. a quaint, expansive space with vegan + gluten-free options. for more veg options pop on over here

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politically progressive, socially integrated and beautifully atmospheric, amsterdam is a city with many draws, and i encourage visitors to pop in to the growing number of inventive + unprecedented green enterprises in the city of freedom!

eco travels: marrakech, the red city

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known for its rose-colored walls made of red sandstone, its maze-like streets and its labyrinth alleyways dating back to its founding in 1062, marrakech has a rich history that can be traced to neolithic times. with its myriad outdoor suqs {the araab word for bazaars} brimming with handcrafted silver baubles, pink pottery, woven tapestries and fragrant spices as well as the vibrant central square + marketplace, jamaa el fnaa, known as the busiest square in africa, marrakech is a locale vibrating with high energy + travelers from all around the world converging in a region filled with talented artisans + genial locals.

here are my six fave must see + must do experiences in this colorful, sometimes cacophonous + always dynamic city of marrakech: 1. dar cherifa cafe a sunny riad and eatery offering an entirely vegan menu. the vegetable tagine, served up in a traditional earthenware pot, was flavorful, fantastically filling + perfectly seasoned. insouciant kitty cats lounge around + happily dispense of patrons' leftovers. a beautifully tiled courtyard with blooming orange trees provide a tranquil + multi-hued venue; 2. maison de la photographie is an open-air photography museum featuring some of the most intriguing images + a visual history of quotidian life of the people of marrakech. a beautiful panorama view of the city is offered from their rooftop cafe; 3. majorelle garden french painter + passionate botanist jacques majorelle poured his heart + soul into the creation of this dazzling green oasis, a calming garden filled with exotic plants + trees from all five continents. you'll find a quaint cafe within to rest + enjoy traditional mint tea: the perfect place to recharge amidst songbirds; 4. musee yves saint laurent is a museum dedicated to showcasing the work of the legendary fashion designer who emancipated women from their restrictive clothing and gave us flattering utilitarian wardrobe essentials; 5. koutoubia mosque is a red brick + stone, 12th century mosque with an expansive garden + fountains. a central landmark located in the medina quarter, it is an architectural wonder with decorative arches, spires + orbs. from the mosque comes a call to prayer five times a day; 6. the market: jemaa el-fnaa this prominent marketplace was a place an introvert like me shied away from, but late one evening with the urging of our convivial host, my partner + i ventured out into the night air under a blanket of bright stars and we were swallowed by the whale. in the most beautiful sense, we were enveloped by the clamor of wide-eyed merchants, the smell of handcrafted incense, the colors of handmade berber rugs, and endless stalls of steaming food. it is a highly stimulating experience, but it is also the most magnificent reminder that we are alive + we were experiencing all of life's exquisite sights, sounds + smells. 

full of plant-strong options, i was overjoyed with the veggie + vegan cafe options available throughout the city: try the 100% vegan earth cafe + the veg-friendly nomad restaurant for more plant-strong options.

{eco mode: top photo, wearing an handcrafted, organic cotton sun dress from by the sea; bottom photo, wearing a #30wears cropped sweatshirt with an entirely thrifted including a faux leather moto jacket, oversized chinos + a vintage military messenger bag from mad vintage paris with a handmade, organic cotton scarf purchased in turkey}

{eco travels} sustainable belgium: brussels eco fashion landscape

when an airline recently lost all my luggage {somewhere in the beautiful country of iceland they surmised}, i knew i wasn't going to purchase any new items. first of all, the optimist in me hoped they would find my belongings {after all, i don't own a lot, and the suitcases contained, well, nearly all the clothes i own}; secondly, as an ethical consumer + minimalist, i understand our constant demand for new goods has implications.

80 billion pieces of clothing are produced annually for the international fashion market, with u.s. consumers purchasing an average of 62 garments and seven pairs of shoes a year.

my action plan involved making a list of the things i really needed: my list added up to two items: a jacket and sneakers. and so i headed straight to my fave secondhand shops in paris where i purchased a vintage jean jacket. i stumbled upon a flea market and bought a pair of baskets for one euro to keep my feet warm and cozy on rainy days. i did have some summer items at home that i decided to pack for an upcoming trip to belgium. layering is an important part of being an eco fashionista. need warm clothes? layer up and voila! 

80 billion pieces of clothing are produced annually for the international fashion market, with u.s. consumers purchasing an average of 62 garments and seven pairs of shoes a year. that's each and every year. with this comes a tremendous environmental impact + human rights violations that garment workers are exposed to daily in the name of cheap fashion as fast fashion companies pressure apparel factories to keep up with this demand.

i know i don't need a lot, and what i do need, i can find in secondhand/thrift shops + vintage boutiques. as i traveled through brussels, i had the opportunity to explore the eco fashion landscape of pre-loved apparel. eco brussels has a lot to offer!

the solution to fast fashion? it actually costs nothing, my friends. slow down: only shop when you really need an item. and if you do need to add a piece to your wardrobe, consider buying vintage + gently used apparel instead. here's how to do it in brussels:

1/ melting pot kilo: vintage clothing by the kilo. great selection with a clean milieu, chill music + cool vibes, oh and super prices. pick an item, pop it in the basket to be weighed at check-out + voila, weight will determine the price of your piece! fab textiles for home sewing also sold here. / 54 rue haute, brussels 1000 / +32 2 511 88 94

2/ les petits riens: celebrating 80 years of working with the homeless. proceeds from sales benefit those working to overcome social + economic obstacles. tidy space with vintage treasures interspersed. do not miss that box in the front + center of the shop with vintage finds, including beautiful 60's dresses, offbeat designs + colorful graphic textiles, for only one euro. 188 rue haute, brussels 1000 / +32 2 537 30 26

3/ spullenhulp: if you've decided to move to belgium, this is the place to shop for everything you might need in your new abode. a division of les petits riens, proceeds from sales benefit those working to overcome social + economic obstacles. clothes, furniture, decor + home goods sold. 101 rue americaine, ixelles 1050 / +32 2 537 30 26

4/ oxfam tweedehand: oxfam opened its first charity shop in 1948, and ever since then, they've been selling both new + used goods in an effort to fight poverty + transform lives. books, toys, clothes, they've got it. vintage + gently used items sold here. proceeds fund oxfam's programs + action projects including empowering survivors of violence + creating access to clean water in rural communities. did you know that oxfam has on online vintage shop? if you're in town, visit their brick + mortar shop at 243 rue haute, brussels 1000 / +32 2 502 39 5

5/ foxhole: while you can find a variety of shops big + small on rue haute, this one is off the beaten path. rare vintage pieces + rue des riches-claires 4, brussels / +32 476 95 88 72

oh, and this post does have a happy ending; my luggage was eventually found + i was reunited with my vegan + vintage attire! which means my zero apparel purchases in belgium were well worth it. that means i can use all that money i saved for more travels in the future!

until next time, stay green dear hearts!

{simple pleasures} world of wonders: monde des merveilles

A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.
— Robertson Davies

far from the simple geometry of downtown chicago's highrises wearing their mies van der rohe influence proudly like a royal cloak; and a mere two-hour train ride from the elegant cityscape offered up by haussmannian paris, lies the fine art nouveau architecture of victor horta + henry van de velde and the grandiose castles of yore in belgium. architecture from all genres, both secular + religous, is indeed just as enchanting by day as by night, at dawn or at dusk. 

{eco travels} sustainable belgium: brussels vegan café guide

before embarking on my journey through belgium, i read about its rich history, its florid architecture, its diversified culture and its golden waffles, of course. i also read about the adventures in veggie restaurants that await intrepid travelers. what does the vegan restaurant scene look like and does a crispy vegan version of the legendary belgium waffle really exist? today we explore the eateries that offer healthy fare to keep voyagers' energy levels naturally elevated + spirits sky high:

just as the sight of fantastical castles saturates the landscape {i learned that belgium has more castles than any other country}, the light scent of cake batter, warm waffles in the making, permeates the air in brussels, a truly palatable + pleasing combination indeed. prior to my arrival, i searched high + low for a vegan cafe/resto guide to brussels, asking fellow bloggers + reaching out to instagram friends. there were several tips, but no definitive guides; i did stumble across this vegan eats guide unexpectedly, a gift from the great google gods, but the truth is, the vegan waffle seemed only a myth until i ventured out of brussels. this is a selection of veggie cafes, offering plant-strong vegan options and yes, the fluffy, fabled belgium waffle does exist:

{ C H Y L }

chyl cafe: {vegetarian + vegan}: chyl is a one-stop shop, offering a charming cafe {reservations highly recommended} and a grocery store chock-full of bath + beauty products, dry goods sold by the bulk, fresh + organic produce, and fun snacks + mealtime ingredients from a plethora of sustainable food companies. i discovered that chyl also offers housing; move over airbnb. if you like sleek minimalism, check out their bright + stylish rooms. chyl cafe promises "a bright spot in the middle of the city where time stands still, if only for a little while." 62 rue de belle-vue, 1000 brussels / +32 2 648 34 76

{ D O L M A }

dolma restaurant {vegetarian + vegan}:  serving vegetarian + vegan cuisine since 1973, dolma restaurant's motto is "infinietely veggie" and they have a beautiful buffet, with a seemingly limitless reserve of local + organic ingredients. menu offerings include in-season vegetable tarts, soups and + salads and of course tasty desserts. dolma also has a grocery store nearby offering bath + beauty products, household products, and fresh fruits, vegetables + healthy ingredients for those who want to cook up nutritious meals in the comfort of their own home. 329 chaussée d’ixelles, 1050 brussels / quartier flagey / +32 2  649 89 81

 

{ M O O N  F O O D }

moon food {fully vegan}: touts itself as the first vegan cafe in brussels. this is the place for raw, vegan + gluten-free options including veggie wraps + lasagna as well as freshly-baked breads. detox juices + snacks for take away available. desserts include sweet treats like orange + apple pie, cheesecake + pistache matcha crumble. 58 rue des colonies, 1000 bruxelles / +32 2 303 43 32

 

 

 

{ A M I }

ami cafe {vegetarian + vegan}: serving gourmet, modern vegetarian + vegan cuisine, ami offers sandwiches, croquemonsieurs, mixed salads, soups, veggie burgers and more. their motto is "a contribution of freshness and originality." this is a charming cafe with a warm atmosphere + quaint outdoor terrace. 13 rue lesbroussart, 1050 brussels / +32 2 646 88 41

 

{ L A  G R A N E R I E }

la granerie {fully vegan}: la grainerie is a grocery store specializing in superfoods and dried products by weight, all sans packaging; a small coffee shop onsite offers snacks + refreshments. also a 100% vegan caterer offering a range of plant-strong options for special events + occasions. 112 rue de tenbosch , 1050 brussels / +32 2 217 98 27

**the belgium waffle in vegan form does truly exist. it is like the white giraffe, rarely seen but surely non-fictional. a short trip to antwerp revealed a little vegan + gluten-free bakery crafting cloudlike waffles with deep pockets that i recommend to every traveler who wishes to partake in this delectable delicacy {gluten-free version available}. more travel adventures + healthy eats tips to come fellow voyagers.

{don't forget the tip} it's important to remember that the restaurant landscape changes often, so call ahead to make sure each eatery is open. holiday closings might coincide with your lofty eating plans}.

next week we'll be bouncing around brussels' sustainable fashion landscape. stay tuned!

until next time, stay green dear hearts!

{images by ev // interiors via happy, veggie cafes}