Carob Cake (aka Algarvian Chocolate)

Living in Algarve, I grew up with some of the most amazing pastries I’ve ever tasted – even after trying some great desserts when traveling in Europe, nothing matched the flavour of a homemade traditional cake from my beloved portuguese region. Almonds, carobs, figs and oranges are the highlights of this southern portuguese cuisine when it comes to sweets. But walnuts, apples, honey, olive oil (instead of butter or sunflower oil) and cinnamon are used as well to bake some of the traditional recipes that characterize us.

Today it was my grandma’s birthday and I am usually the one responsible for baking. This year, and considering I am going to be away for approximately 10 months, I thought it would be good to make a typical carob cake, as I am pretty sure it will be extremely hard to find it in Australia. Luckily, pretty much everyone in my family tries to live a healthy lifestyle, and because I am the most picky out of them all, they know they’ll have a guilt-free dessert waiting for them after a good cod & chick peas stew (oh, so good!!).


Here goes the recipe

Ingredients:
6 egg yolks
250gr honey
1 cup olive oil
200gr unsweetened soya yogurt
2 cups carob flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4.5 cups of wholemeal wheat flour
1 cup hot water
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon baking powder (full)

Preparation:
Add the egg yolks with the honey, the olive oil and the soya yogurt in a bowl and mix until it becomes homogeneous. Add the carob flour, one cup at a time, mixing in between, followed by the cinnamon. After this step, add the wholemeal wheat flour, one cup at a time as well, until it becomes homogenized. Add the water slowly, mixing it all the way through. Then, beat the egg whites until they become soft and firm, pouring them carefully in the mixture already prepared, immediately followed by the baking powder  – do not over mix the eggwhites or the powder!
The oven must be preheated for 10 minutes at 220ºC. After inserting the cake on the inside, lower it to 180ºC and let it cook for approximately 40 minutes.

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I hope you enjoy it!

André.

Countdown: 9 days to go!

Hey there, everyone! First of all, I am truly sorry for not posting a single thing since April, but this blog was created a little bit sooner than what it was supposed to – and you will understand why in the next paragraphs.

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Mid-May and it felt like Winter, in London. Just 2 weeks before returning to Portugal for the Summer holidays.

As you probably know, I am a Portuguese guy who moved to England  (roughly) a year ago to start my bachelor degree in Sport Science. In the first semester I’ve heard of this study abroad programme, which caught my attention right away – argh, traveling is definitely my weakness. After doing a quick research, I found out I could go abroad for a whole year, but I only had 3 places to choose from: Australia, Canada and the USA. I don’t know if it’s obvious or not, but I applied for Australia. When I found out I had been accepted I was so excited I had to tell everyone about it. I mean… It’s Australia, after all! The other side of the world. One of the most livable, stable and happy places on Earth.

So, after applying for a visa, choosing my modules, signing endless documents and buying my flights, I am almost ready to go. Almost, because I don’t have a room yet and I have two modules missing. But hey, nothing that I can’t solve in a couple of hours in front of my laptop. I am definitely not going to stress out over these small details!

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In Stockholm, January/2016, at the Fabrique bakery.

With this being said, I created this blog with the intention of having a place where I could share my experience in Australia (and in all the countries nearby that I hope I have the chance to visit while in the Pacific) – not only travel wise, but also the emotional struggles I may go through, my sports and eating habits, my routine when it comes to University and (hopefully) a part-time job; endless things I would like to share with you all.

BUT I also want you to participate. To comment and share your own experiences when going on Erasmus, abroad or even the simple act of moving out from your parents house to somewhere else, even if it’s inside your own country – how did you adapt?, was it difficult to meet people?, did it match your expectations?, would you do it again?. I want to hear from you!

And for those of you considering studying in another country or moving somewhere on your own, please feel free to ask for any tips or help. I am not the most experienced guy but I already had the experience of moving from Portugal to England, which may be helpful for some of you, I hope!

Apart from this blog, I am thinking of starting a YouTube channel with weekly vlogs, to make it a little bit more dynamic – also because I am buying myself a GoPro once I arrive in Australia (believe it or not, it costs 100€ less than in Portugal), and record my hikes, travels, cooking and landscapes when doing sports. If I decide to move on with this YouTube Channel idea, I will share it here so you guys can take a look at it.

Ohhhhh, I almost forgot about telling you where I was going: Bond University in Robina, Gold Coast. I fly on the 31st of August, from Lisbon Airport, to Brisbane, via Dubai, a 24h journey – wish me luck!

Have a nice week and enjoy these last days of August, as September is just around the corner!

André.

The short story of how I got a free plane ticket to Copenhagen

Last year, on the day I was taking my flight from Tromso to Lisbon, via Oslo, the weather was terrible. It snowed a lot during the morning, and the wind was so damn strong! When I went to the airport, right after lunch, it started to rain and, as you can imagine, snow became ice and everything was a complete mess.

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It was a matter of 10 minutes, more or less, until every single thing was completely covered in white. It ended up slowing down a little bit, but it was still a lot of snow. Honestly? I loved it!

I don’t remember at what time my flight was, neither at what time I was supposed to have arrived in Lisbon, but I would say around 9:30pm. My flight from Tromso had more than 1h of delay. To be honest, I considered myself as a very lucky guy, because there were several flights being cancelled to and from Tromso, from all over Norway. I spent the whole flight to Oslo looking at my watch, crossing my fingers and hoping that I would make it on time. When I landed in Oslo, I started running like crazy (keep this is mind: I absolutely hate running in airports!), until I noticed the gate was already closed. I missed it for 5 minutes! I never felt so frustrated. I went to the Scandivian Airlines customer service and I explained them the situation; the plane was still at the boarding area, so they tried to contact the pilot, who refused to wait five minutes for me to get to the plane.

So, this is what happened during the next few hours: I spent the night in the Radisson Blu Hotel at Oslo airport (for free!), where I had an amazing dinner (also for free!) and a big breakfast (guess what… free as well!). I had a flight early in the morning, via Frankfurt, and I arrived in Lisbon 6 hours later. Oh… plus a 4h drive back home. Great!!

The day after, I sent an e-mail to Scandinavian Airlines, the company I flew with from Tromso to Oslo, explaining the situation and mentioning that they could have minimized the delay – we had an extra 30 minutes delay because they wanted to wait for the last two people that did not show up on time (ironic how it didn’t work for me, right?!). So, out of nowhere, they just gave me a voucher worth 150€ to travel with Scandinavian, valid until February of this year.

As my budget was down to nothing after coming from my Scandinavian trip, I had to wait for 2016 to be able to pay for accomodation when visiting Denmark’s capital city, if needed (couchsurfing is always on my mind). And so I did; I booked my trip to Copenhagen for May/2016, and I will be staying there for 6 days, with Malmo being also part of my to-do list while there!

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What I’ve learned: missing flights is good when it’s not your fault and complaining in a very nice way will bring you some rewards.

Have a nice Sunday!

The place where I come from.

Somewhere in the south-east corner of Portugal, there is a city called Vila Real de Santo António. Right on the border with Spain, there is only the Guadiana river separating us from our Spanish neighbours, who are 10 minutes away by car. A small town, where the sun shines 300+ days a year, where Winter is defined as a day when maximum temperatures don’t go above 15ºC and with tons of fresh fish.

I could write a whole post about it. I will, eventually. However, for now, I believe this video says it all.

Enjoy!

I do not own this video.

Busy days and a tired brain!

I almost forgot what life looks like during exams period! Free time?! No idea what that is… My first exam is on the 11th of April, followed by a deadline on the 22nd and two more exams during the first week of May.

I wish I had the time to come here more often and publish more frequently. So, get used to reading a student’s blog during this busy time of the year: you’ll see nothing but a tired brain trying to come up with something interesting for everyone else to read.

At least I still have time to workout, even though it’s only for 30 minutes per day. Otherwise, I would go nuts. I mean… slightly more than what I am now.

Here’s a picture from the Norwegian Fjords, from when I went snowshoeing, a year ago. This is my see you later, guys!

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Stay positive! Be happy. I will post soon.

 

The Northern Lights (Feb.2015)

As a kid, I grew up with the idea that travelling to northern Europe was pretty much impossible, due to the long distance and the pricey lifestyle that characterizes Scandinavia. This idea of impossibility got stuck in my head for many years, reason why the only thing I had left was to dream about going there. You got to admit: the farther north you go in Europe, the more mysterious it becomes, right?
When I first started to think about visiting some places out of Portugal – I was probably 15/16 years old -, the north was one of the first locations I thought about. I am passionate about winter wonderlands, filled with breathtaking landscapes. Snow makes everything extremely beautiful, doesn’t it?

After my first solo travel to Amsterdam, in 2014, all my savings were down to zero, reason why I had to focus on saving money… Again. In October of 2014, I started to search on the internet about things to do in Europe during Winter and the Northern Lights came up. I had forgotten about it, because of all the reasons I mentioned before. Surprisingly, and I have no idea how or why, plane tickets were not that expensive, and neither was the accommodation. After a lot of research, I finally booked the tickets for one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had!

I flew to Stockholm, the city where my adventure initiated, and I stayed there for approximately 4 days. I will write about this amazing city in another post; there is a lot to say about it. From Stockholm, I took a flight to Tromso, via Oslo, and the view from the airplane, when landing, was unbelievable. I literally felt I was on top of the world.

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I stayed in Tromso for 3 days, in the SmartHotel. I did dog sledding (so much fun!) and snowshoeing (the views…!) – I will write about both as well, but in different posts. My last activity was watching the Northern Lights.

Hunting the Northern Lights is something you can do on your own. All you have to do is to rent a car and go search for them; just try not to get lost. I would have done it alone, but as this was my first time, I wanted to be guided by someone who knows the best places to have a good Aurora show and how the lady works (that’s how they call it). I booked everything with Enjoy The Artic (the cheapest I could find).

My guide’s name was Andrei and we were a group of four: two dutch sisters, a german guy and me. Andrei drove us to a bay half an hour away from Tromso and there we stayed for almost 5 hours. The weather was against us: even though there were no clouds, it was full moon and the sky was too bright, making it difficult to spot any green lights. I knew that if we were not successful in that location, Andrei would drive us to another place (sometimes he goes all the way to the Finish border), so I was not worried at all.

It was a cold night. The temperature was bouncing between -12ºC and -14ºC. Even though I was not cold, my boots were definitely not made for those temperatures and they kind of froze. My feet were so, SO cold!! Luckily, we had a bonfire and I managed to keep them warm.

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The view was an eye-candy and I couldn’t stop admiring everything that was surrounding me. We were given reindeer sausages and hot dogs, as many as we wanted, as well as coffee and tea. Long, cold nights ask for some warm drinks.

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We were chatting and eating when, all of a sudden, I see a flash of green somewhere in the horizon. Everyone stood up and started looking up, trying to spot some more dancing lights. It didn’t take long. Right above us, a green wave started to show up – very shy at the beginning, but it then became thick and bright and started to move so gracefully above our heads.

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Everything was quiet. Everyone was paying attention to the Aurora. For one hour, the Lady owned the sky and the Earth. No one dared to interrupt the show with a single word. Nature delivered an outstanding show. There is something in the way the Lights dance; something words can’t describe. They move so gracefully, so organized. An abstract dance. A never ending painting. We stood there, absorbing every single move. And then, without warning, they just left.

It was not the strongest or the brightest show, but that is not even a problem when you get the chance to witness one of the most amazing spectacles nature has to offer! Being there for so long and with freezing temperatures was completely worth it.

I strongly advise you to try to go all the way to Northern Europe and watch this amazing show! I promise you won’t regret it.

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Have a nice day.

Cocoa & Spelt Brownies (lactose free)

In February, I started working for the University as a Health Connector, focused on Physical Health. The aim of this job is to raise awareness amongst the student population of how important it is to live an active and healthy lifestyle.

A few weeks ago, we had a stall at the University and I was responsible for baking something healthy but tasty. The first thing that came to my mind was chocolate, because everyone loves chocolate (the predictability of human beings…). My second thought was how can I turn chocolate into something healthy and guilt-free? And that is when I came up with this recipe.


Dry ingredients
          170gr of wholemeal spelt flour
70gr of cocoa powder
1/4 tablespoon of baking powder
1/4 tablespoon of salt

Wet ingredients
8 tablespoon of honey (+/- 160gr)
120mL of almond milk
120mL of extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
6 tablepoons of water

The procedure is easy! Before anything is done, the oven must be pre-heated at a temperature of 180ºC. Right after turning the oven on, both dry and wet ingredients must be mixed in different bowls. The wet ingredients, after being mixed, must be added to the dry ingredients, slowly, until a homogeneous result is obtained. The oven tray should be covered with foil and then pour the mixture into the tray. Put it in the oven for 20 minutes and there you have, healthy, guilt-free brownies!


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The final result is not overly sweet and it has a rich cocoa flavour. This recipe was successful amongst students and some were really interested in learning how to bake it. In case you want a sweeter version, feel free to add more honey, or just use 50gr of cocoa powder.

The reason behind the name

I always thought travelling with friends was the only possible way to have fun and to get to know the place we want to visit. However, two years ago, I changed my mind.

I have a dutch friend living in Amsterdam, who lived in Portugal for a short period of time (enough time for her to learn how to speak some very good portuguese!) and since she went back to the Netherlands, I was invited several times to go visit her. Unfortunately, when you live in Portugal, you are aware of how hard it can be to find cheap plane tickets (low-cost included…). I have always wanted to visit Amsterdam and that curiosity helped me to focus on saving money for over a year, so that I could go visit my friend. I was successful, I booked the flights and the hostel and in February of 2014 I landed in Schippol Airport, Amsterdam.

I was so nervous on the way to the airport! What if I lose the plane? What if I get lost when I get there? What if I get lost in the city? What if I get robbed? What if…?? I was 18, but with this being the first time I was leaving my country on my own, I believe it was quite normal to feel nervous and anxious.

My friend was waiting for me at the airport and when I left the luggage area, she took a picture of me, posted it on instagram with the hashtag #portugueseonandadventure. I didn’t really pay that much attention to it. After all, it’s just another hashtag, right? During the five days I spent in Amsterdam, all the pictures she took of me and us together, she uploaded it on instagram with that same hashtag, and then I realized it was a thing.

I found it so interesting that I started using it in all of my travels and in everything I do that I consider peculiar. It’s now something that characterizes me. For that reason, I decided to create this website, so I can share a bit of my daily life in the UK, the place where I moved to in September/2015.

Welcome!