Orange Cat Coffee Review, Lewiston, NY

Coffee shops… where to begin? I can’t think of one person who does not enjoy going to a coffee shop whether it be local or chain. Stuck right on the heart of main street in Lewiston lies a local favorite coffee shop: Orange Cat Coffee. Inside the shop or outside on the patio you can find a really cool mix of local retired regulars, students from the local universities, and friends of all sorts chatting over a cup of coffee, specialty latte, tea, pastry, or lunch item.

IMG_2625Orange Cat is the exact image that comes to mind when you think of your ideal small town coffee shop. The environment is cozy and small yet roomy with plenty of places to sit. The staff is super friendly and welcoming, knowing regulars my names yet also greeting first time customers with a smiling face, and the overall vibe of the shop is super charming with its cozy features making it an inviting place to enjoy with a group, a friend, or alone.

Orange Cat is one of those places on the main street of Lewiston that is always at least somewhat busy. I have gone in when it is easy to get a prime spot on the couch and I have gone in when I have to wait in a line out the door for coffee. Either way the shop is usually well traffic. I will make a note here that if you are going in alone and plan on sitting for a while and feel a bit awkward, the initial walk to the back area to find a spot on a busy day can be quite intimidating on a busy day being surrounded by groups of people laughing together.

So on to the food and drinks. I’m pretty sure I have mentioned Orange Cat in a post or two before but the shop features a large selection of freshly brewed flavored and regular coffees with rotating flavors, specialty lattes, tea, cookies, scones, muffins, and a lunch menu with a soup of the day and salads.

This is a place where I can honestly say I have tried almost everything and literally everything is good! My personal favorite when it comes to the pastries would definitely be the snicker doodle cookies. First off it should be noted that these cookies are about the size of your had and at least a half inch thick. I have personally found myself to be a very dedicated fan because they are soft cookies—so basically when you bite in it does not snap or crunch. It is simply just a velvety bite of sweet deliciousness and the best part is that because of the size you can enjoy longer than the average cookie. The muffins and scones are also super delicious and these usually become my go to if I am lucky enough to be here when there is a fresh batch out of the oven.

Coffee wise I usually go with one of the flavored coffees of the day simply because the prices are honestly really good. I think on the days I get a coffee and a cookie it comes to right around three dollars, which I think is extremely reasonable—especially cause I have spent at least this much on Tim Horton’s for something comparable. Recently my go to with the flavored coffee has been to mix the two flavors of regular coffee if they seem as though they may go together.

On a special day if I have a taste for something sweet or a flavor catches my eye on the latte menu I will opt for a flavored latte. Honestly I think the most interesting thing I have had here would be the latte that has I believe caramel coconut and kiwi, which I believe is called funky monkey. I initially had to get it because I was skeptical of Kiwi in coffee. This ended up all mixing really well together to make the perfect treat for my little extra need for sweet. Today I opted for a latte as my eye caught the sweet and nutty latte, which has cinnamon and almond flavoring.

Today is also the first day I am trying out the lunch menu. I decided to try the falafel salad and was honestly surprised with how inexpensive it was. The salad was 4.95 and because of this I just assumed it would be a small portion but instead the salad came out definitely a full portion that I would say would be filling for lunch.

So my meal today came to right around nine dollars for a salad and medium specialty latte and I would personally say I am quite satisfied with the price I paid. I can 100% say that this is far more reasonably priced than other local places and even than other chain such as Panera or Starbucks. As well, the taste is definitely comparable if not better than most places.

Another really cool note about Orange Cat is that everything on the menu is vegan. So all the pastries and salads are made vegan and dairy substitutes are available for coffee. This is something that doesn’t really seem to be advertised, partially because I think people freak out when they see vegan thinking its going to be ultra healthy. But here you can treat yourself to a super decadent pastry, salad, or coffee with a clear conscience knowing your goodies are cruelty free.

So If you find yourself in Niagara county and are looking for a place to go for a coffee or to sit back and catch up with friends or family, or a place to go to study or get some work down Orange Cat should definitely be on the list of places you need to try. I think the only way you could literally not like it here is if you don’t like coffee and you don’t enjoy sitting in a coffee shop. Even then—give it a try and be ready to leave with a happy heart and a satisfied stomach.

Power City Eatery Review, Niagara Falls, NY

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Good Morning!! This Sunday morning I got up the courage to get myself out of bed and head down to my favorite coffee shop in Niagara Falls: Power City Eatery. I have been going here for a little over a year now and have always enjoyed this little spot on third street down town Niagara Falls.

This morning I came in here with the intention of getting some writing and other work of that sorts done. One of the reasons I chose Power City over the many coffee shops closer to me in Lewiston is because I love the atmosphere. I find for writing Power City Eatery has for me, an ideal vibe. I can sit in the very open space and get my work down without feeling claustrophobic in a small town coffee shop—don’t get me wrong though, I have nothing against a small town coffee shop, today was just not one of those days.

Anyways, apart from an awesome cup of coffee, some great pastries, and tasty food, Power City Eatery is surprising very large inside. The whole interior has a really cool industrial looking vibe and features information about Niagara Falls as décor. The rest is just kept really simple which creates overall a great welcoming atmosphere.

On to the food now.

My go to when I come here has been to get a latte or a cappuccino and some sort of scone. Today’s choice was a large cappuccino and a blackberry chocolate scone. For someone that usually stays away from fruit and chocolate combos you can trust me when I say that this flavor is awesome! I know what you’re probably thinking—Hannah, why did you order a blackberry chocolate scone if you don’t like fruit and chocolate? Too be honest I’m still thinking about the same thing. I seem to have this habit of pointing to something in the pastry display and just going with it. In this case we had success! Fortunately the scones are always delicious here so it is kind of difficult to go wrong.

Some other things I have been able to sample here are the breakfast and lunch sandwiches. In both situations the sandwiches are well loaded up with all the goodies. My personal favorites were either the turkey or roast beef sandwich. Once again I am not normally a roast beef person but the reason I enjoyed it so much was because they kicked it up a notch by adding thinly sliced apples and topped it with this really tasty horseradish mayonnaise. Similarly, I enjoyed the turkey sandwich extra or the spicy mayo sauce that goes with it.

 

My only two complaints about the place are that it is a tad pricier than other places and the hours. For example, today I ordered a large cappuccino and the scone and it came to a little over 8 dollars. After tipping and everything I spent about 10 dollars. I don’t really have too much of a problem with paying this but basically what I am getting at is there are definitely places that would be less expensive. As far as hours go I believe it is only open until around 3pm every day. As well, the do stop serving breakfast at 11am. I could be a bit biased because I am a lover of all things all day breakfast but I wish they would keep their breakfast going a tad bit longer.

Anyways, Power City Eatery is an awesome place to go for breakfast or lunch, a quick bite, sweet treat, or coffee break. This is definitely a hidden gem in the Niagara Falls area and great option for someone looking for something local over the Starbucks 2 blocks away. I love coming here and I look forward to coming back!

** So I am making a slight amendment. Since the time of me writing this and me posting this I have returned to Power City Eatery for coffee around lunch time and I just wanted to add in here that the line was literally to the door to order for lunch. SO if you are looking for a quick bite in Niagara Falls for lunch, Power City Eatery may be the place to go… a line like that says they are surely doing something right!

Hope you have a marvelous day!

11.26.2016 Four hours in Graz, Austria

Where do I begin, while I was in the planning process of this trip I was messing around like crazy with how I could see as many places as possible for cheap and ultimately stumbled upon the website buscroatia, because I was initially looking to see a town or two on the coast.

Ultimately, I realized that this bus company would not only take you to places in Croatia, but also towns in countries near by. After more searching I found the Graz, Austria was basically a 3 ish hour bus ride AND, the round trip ticket was in my opinion cheap. So I went for it kind of having this idea of what to expect but also at the same time having no clue.

The morning of the 26th I walked myself to the bus station to catch my bus that left between 8:30 and 9:30. Like I said, it was around a 3 ish hour ride, which I thought was very reasonable.

The bus first cut the corner through Slovenia, and then crossed the border again into Austria. Almost immediately after crossing the border, our bus made a little pit stop where we could use the bathroom and get a snack if needed. I noticed that in order to use the bathroom you needed to pay 50 cents, which I wasn’t about, so I just figured I’d hold it.

Well I guess I jinxed myself because I went upstairs to buy a little snack. While I was eating my soft pretzel I ate a little bit of mayo (mind you I am still really not used to dairy) and within five minutes I found myself sick to my stomach. In that moment I knew I was going to throw up and needed to get to a toilet basically as fast as possible. So here I am trying to not to make a scene speed walking down the stairs, to the restroom and trying to get the pocket change out as soon as possible. I’m still not really sure why this happened now, because I had been eating dairy in bigger quantities previously on the trip but oh well. Here I was, somewhere in Austria throwing up in a rest stop bathroom… sorry if that is too much information.

The rest of the trip I was absolutely fine but for some reason that mayo just wanted to do me dirty.

Alright so once we finally arrived I had a really good idea of where I was going, but I had the same problem with the fact that the screenshots of maps I had on my phone didn’t exactly have the street names on them.

Basically as I walked out of the bus station, I proceeded straight to where I had saw there was supposed to be a river, as well as the old city. This was a good frame of reference because I knew if I was walking in this direction for more than 15-20 minutes and didn’t hit water I would have to turn around.

After walking for probably 15 minutes I noticed the steeples of a church peeking through the tops of building, so I headed in that direction. Another tip for you, if you ever feel like you may be lost in a city just look for tall churches or landmarks and they will probably help bring you to the right direction. This literally could have worked in every single city I visited this trip and in fact was how I went about my walking tour or Riga, I just followed buildings that looked interesting… but you can read about that later.

Okay. So once I got to these steeples I saw a little bridge to cross the river and Voila! I had reached the old city.

Immediately, I noticed this staircase going up a huge hill/mountain, which appeared to have some sort of castle on top of it. As I got closer and closer I knew I wanted to go up, I just didn’t know exactly how to go about it. For example, was it free, did I need to pay, if I needed to pay where did I pay, what ACTUALLY was at the top, etc. I ended up noticing the entrance to the staircase and just decided to go for it.

This climb was definitely far more stairs than it appeared because I didn’t really realize the sort of winded left and right up the mountain. The good thing about this is now I had absolutely no shame in eating two pastries for breakfast that morning. As well, as you can probably image the view was outstanding the entire time.

As I was walking up I became very oriented with where I would later walk around, as well as which direction I had come from. I noticed all the brightly colored building topped with rusty orange colored roofs and the many steeples of huge churches. I noticed the somewhat hilly landscape, which was well accompanied with just the perfect amount of fog kissing the tops of the hills. There was something oddly mesmerizing yet so dizzying at the same time in regards to the way all the rust colored roofs lined up and created shapes that could only be seen from the air.

When you reach the top the first thing you will see is a little bell tower and then signs pointing out where the couple of restaurants were, as well as a couple other landmarks atop the hill. I took a little walk around appreciating the variety of views and the architecture of the different buildings up here. After a bit I headed down because I wanted to see the main square area, and also make sure I would have plenty of time to get back to the bus.

I walked back down the stairs and proceeded left, if your back is facing the steps you just came from. This is another instance where following the metro tracks, or just the people at this point, will take you to where you want to go, also it kind of helped that I could see the square from here. I took a lap around looking for a place to maybe grab a coffee, but also admired not only the architecture, but also the way building were decorated.

Buildings were brightly colored, but some of them were also finished with intricate designs on them, which I found extremely beautiful, as well as interesting. It is interesting to see how place to place the architecture seems generally similar, yet each place has their own unique take in regards to color choice as well as subtle design differences.

I wound up at this cute little coffee shop called AUER where I treated myself to a cappuccino and small sandwich, which I had the luxury of eating outside facing the square, so I could people watch a bit.

After taking my time eating and enjoying watching the hustle and bustle of square, I started back for the bus station, because my biggest fear was missing my bus.

Well, typical Hannah fashion I was there was too early. The only really cool part was the bus station happened to have a little grocery store in it so I took a little walk around and ended up buying a juice. I am very proud to say that I successfully used a self-checkout that was not in English. I carried my juice and receipt out like one of those trophies you get after a soccer season as a child that you don’t realize until years later your parents paid for. Needless to say, imagine the five-year-old smiling ear to ear holding up this new trophy as their newest prized possession, that was me with a two euro juice.

I took a quick walk over to where the bus was supposed to pick me up from and got on shortly after. The one really nice thing about this bus station was that it was super easy to navigate, as well as be able to tell where you needed to go with only a little bit of the necessary self doubt.

I have to say it was a great day spent in Graz, Austria. I would 100% recommend coming here for a day or weekend trip!

Anyways, have a great day!

Xx Hannah

04.21.2017 Kiwi and coffee?

Kiwi, caramel, and coconut in a latte? Yes you read correctly!

Orange Cat in Lewiston does it again. Absolutely Delicious.

This morning I found myself with the need to have a little sweet indulgence, so naturally I thought of Orange Cat coffee in Lewiston, New York. Usually when I simply get one of there flavored coffees of the day, sometimes accompanied with one of their incredible cookies and muffins.

Today, however, I decided to treat myself to a specialty latte and one of there to die for cookies. This is where the title of this blog comes in to play. On there menu you will find a variety of I guess what you could say are ‘standard flavors’, however, tucked in the middle you will see one with kiwi, coconut, and caramel. Me being me, I was so curious I just had to try it! I have been loving the coconut cold brew at Starbucks and I love caramel but the fact that it also used kiwi intrigued me.

Lets just say I was not disappointed. This latte was the perfect little treat to start off a happy little Friday. As for the flavor it was a little too sweet for may day-to-day needs, however like I said today was one of those treat yourself days. The flavor is interesting because you can definitely pick up on the caramel and subtle coconut flavor, but then I think the kiwi almost brings a little extra element of acidity and sweetness—definitely not extremely noticeable but at the same time, if you didn’t have it in there I think you would definitely pick up a difference.

As far as the cookies go I really don’t think you can go wrong! I am simply so in love with their snicker doodle one that I have yet to try another. The other really cool thing about all their food is that it is all vegan. Truly, you would never know; in fact I actually didn’t order food there because I assumed it was all too good to be vegan—common misunderstanding.

All in all, Orange cat is definitely one of my favorite places to go to when I want to treat myself or just get something to brighten my day. I love going to a local owned place because you can get these little specialties such as kiwi in a latte or mouth-watering vegan goodies. If you are within reasonable distance to Lewiston, New York, you definitely need to make a stop!

Have a great day!

xxHannah

02.02.17 The Universal Language of the Cappuccino

So for those of you who don’t know, I went on a solo-backpacking trip through Europe over the course of 11 days over my Thanksgiving break. I had the absolute blessing of being able to travel to 8 countries, 7 of them new to me. Out of the man lessons I learned, one thing that stood out to me is 1. If there was a universal language the word ‘cappuccino’ would be in it. 2. Whenever I feel awkward and don’t know what to do with myself I find myself in the nearest coffee shop ordering a cappuccino.

Now, some of you might say, Hannah, aren’t you vegan? How did you drink cappuccinos? To that I would like to respond with when you are by yourself and menus are written in a Cyrillic or Greek alphabet you have to make the call to either try to figure out a way to explain no dairy or eggs, or you can just go for it. In this situation, I just went for it. I will say that throughout the whole time; however, I never found myself feeling like I really missed these dairy products I was consuming, which was reassuring to me.

 

Okay so now we begin my journey through Europe: one Cappuccino at a time.

 

Sofia, Bulgaria

Long story short, when I got to my hostel I was told that I needed to stay at the sister hostel just a short walk away. Fortunately this walk helped orient me in this new city and also showed me where the main shopping and eating street, ‘Vitosha’, is After getting to the hostel, and being shown my room, I had one of my first chances to take my backpack that I had been carrying around for literally past 24 hours off. I can’t lie, from here I fell asleep in my bed and didn’t wake up till about 4am the next day (thanks jetlag).

img_0111So the next morning I made it my mission to start my day off with a cappuccino from one of the cute cafes on Vitosha street, which I could enjoy sitting in one of the outside, covered patios. I never would have been able to predict how intimidating it is to walk into a café and order a coffee from places where the signs are completely foreign. Seriously. The first café I went into I got embarrassed when the lady told me I had to pay with cash, and left. So now, not only am I on a hunt for coffee, but also an atm. Long story short I found and atm and eventually built up to enter a café that wasn’t that crowded and also allowed me to sit outside.

So basically I walk into this café, take a deep breath, look the man behind the counter in the eyes and say cappuccino please. This is when I had my first inkling that ‘cappuccino’ was going to be a go to of mine. So I grab my drink and head outside to people watch in the covered patio situated outside on the main street.

As I am sipping my beverage watching the average person go about their day-to-day life I sort of remember that I haven’t had this much dairy in one sitting since august. There is a good chance that in oh lets say 15 minutes I will be up running from this café to find the closest bathroom. I guess that was my price to pay for going against my vegan ways for a couple of days. Long story short I was fine and was able to enjoy this delicious cappuccino before a long day of walking, site seeing, and getting a sample of Bulgarian culture.

Athens, Greece

My time in Athens was very short, quite literally 24 hours, but I believe I made it extremely worthwhile. In my taxi from the airport to my hostel, I was fortunate enough to have a driver that gave me a whole bunch of tips and things to try during my time here. He told me I had to the coffee shop chain ‘Coffee Island’ and try a local special called a Cappuccino Freddo. So that beverage became my coffee mission for Athens.img_7330

When you are walking on the street up to the Acropolis, there is a road called Makrigianni. Here you will find a whole bunch of restaurants and shops. The Coffee Island I went to was here, basically right across from the Acropolis metro stop.

So this cappuccino is an iced drink. Instead of milk that blends in easily, the espresso is topped with a very thick, sweet cream. The cream is almost the consistency of a custard and tastes absolutely incredible. Definitely the kind of drink you would save for a dessert or if you are really in need of a sweet kick but 100% worth it.

I walked with my drink down to a bench next to Hadrian’s Arch and the temple of Zeus and enjoyed this refreshing yet decadent beverage whilst once again, people watching and reflecting on all this things I was able to do thus far on my trip.

Paris, France

The tale of the voyage of the cappuccino continues. It was here that I began the ‘lets order a cappuccino because I don’t know what else to do trend. It was started out in the Paris airport. As I walked through the baggage claim exit, I was expecting my passport to be stamped and it just so happened that no one did. So I quickly texted my dear mother and asked if I should be worried. As I waited for a response my café raider seemed to have turned on because I instantly saw a Relay café where I had my first cappuccino in Paris. This cappuccino was honestly nothing too special, but like I said before, stay tuned for a trend to follow. I guess you could say this beverage was also necessary because I was meeting a friend who was studying abroad in France that night and needed any little extra boost of caffeine I could get.

On to the next morning.

img_0390Before my trip I had joked with my family that my Thanksgiving dinner was going to be a Pain-aux-chococolat and a cappuccino. Being that today was Thanksgiving, that was my mission. That morning I was meeting my friend at the Notre Dame so I left a little bit early so I could stop in at a patisserie on my way to the metro station from my hostel. I conveniently passed the café ‘AM Martinho’ so I popped in for my desired Thanksgiving meal and the opportunity to test my French.

I was able to successfully avoid embarrassment and ordered my breakfast in French. Feeling like a champion, I walked out of the café and proceeded to the metro, sipping what tasted like victory, or a cappuccino. Happy Thanksgiving to me.

The next morning was bye-bye to France and hello Croatia for me. In typical Hannah fashion, I arrived to the airport very early. But as you can probably guess, that means one more cappuccino and two more pastries for Hannah. I should probably apologize to the French people for being the reason why they need to restock their espresso bars and pastry shelf but hey, it had to be done.

Zagreb, Croatia

I got to Zagreb around 4 and made it to my hostel around 6. I spent 2 nights in Croatia However, my time was mainly spent in the evenings because I took morning bus trips to both Ljubljana and Graz (stay tuned).img_0658

The next morning I was taking the bus to Graz Austria just for the morning and afternoon. My first cappuccino experience occurred at the Bus station where I happily arrived early to enjoy a delicious pastry and cappuccino at the café called Dubravica. In my opinion, what better way to pass time than indulging? Luckily I was doing more than enough walking everyday to make up for it. Heck, even if I wasn’t I would still have no regrets. No pastry or Cappuccino left behind.

As you can imagine, the next morning followed the same way. I left my hostel a little extra early and sampled a different pastry and yet another cappuccino.

Graz, Austria

img_7944img_7932What a beautiful little city. My morning started out with me finding my way from the Bus station to where the town square area was. I immediately saw to a hill/ mountain you could go to the top and found drawn to it like a magnet. After my climb it was time for a reward, which was my lunch. I walked around the square and considered many tasty options I chose to sit outside at the café/ restaurant AUER, situated right in the square surrounded my many shops with gorgeous architecture and detailing, as well plenty of people for to fancy my people watching obsession. With it I enjoyed a delicious little sandwich, which it is possible may have even been vegan.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

This was my favorite stop; however also the shortest stop my entire trip. This city was quite literally something from my dreams and honestly, I wasn’t going to go because the bus left at 7 am and I would return around 3:30. But like I said 100% worth it.

The walk from the bus station to the old city area was quick and easy. I roamed around for a little bit getting a lay of the land while also making quick decisions as to what I wanted to do with my short time here. After finding myself in constant awe from the beauty of the town during my walk around I found a café situated on a street where there was what appeared to be a little flea marketimg_8077.

Prior to entering the café I walked into a convenience sized grocery store where for literally about 2 Euros I walked out with two different pastries. Then I proceeded into the shop, ordered my cappuccino, and enjoyed it outside with my pastries, watching the locals interact in this charming town.

While I was at the bus station, I got a little bit hungry again because I took another hike up a mountain to see a castle. At the bus station, my choice of food was McDonalds, however I wasn’t really upset because I quite enjoy trying seeing how it differs from in America. You can probably predict the next sentence, so yes, I did order a cappuccino with my meal. The funny part about this one is that I had planned to eat my meal on the bus back to Zagreb.

Unfortunately the spot where I was supposed to catch my bus from wasn’t necessarily clear so here I am carrying my backpack, purse, a salad, a bag with a pastry, and a coffee back and forth along the length of the bus terminal looking for a bus that said to Zagreb. After a couple laps up and back I eventually got on my bus but I could only imagine how silly I looked thinking what would happen if I missed my bus while holding on to this McDonald’s for dear life, while also making sure I don’t lose my bus ticket.

Once on the bus though, I was able to take a deep breath again and sip this McDonald’s coffee in a state of bliss.

Warsaw, Poland

I arrived at my hostel in Warsaw around 8pm and honestly I was exhausted so I basically went straight to bed. The next morning I wanted to find breakfast at a local coffee shop. I took a walk through the old town area and told myself I had to pick place before I arrived back at my hostel. I passed several Costa Coffees and Café Neros, however, I really wanted to go to a place that wasn’t a chain.

img_8188I found myself in a small café called café trackt ordering a tasty almond flavored pastry in addition to my cappuccino. It was much colder here so I enjoyed my breakfast in the warmth of the café. After this, I took another walk through the old town, venturing a little further this time and got myself lunch. After this I walked and checked in to the hostel I would be staying at for this night.

img_0990At this point, I was at this awkward time where it wasn’t really appropriate to eat dinner yet I had done enough walking so I decided gee, I better try one of the chains. Into the next café nero I went and honestly I may as well have just gone to dinner. I ordered a medium cappuccino and this huge slice of apple pie with a meringue on top. I can not begin to explain how good it was but I also laugh at myself because I was avoiding eating dinner early yet here I am ordering a slice of decadent pie probably bigger that my face. But like I said this was a voyage of the cappuccino/ no pastry left behind mission. It had to happen.

The next morning I successfully took the polish metro to the airport and rewarded myself with not just a cappuccino but a mocha cappuccino. Yes, a Mocha cappuccino. I would like to say I was stepping out of my comfort zone but really this was one of those machines where you simply press the button of what you want and your beverage is dispensed because I was in a convenience store. Poland you were so good to me.

Riga, Latvia

Alright so my final stop, you can only imagine what happens here. This was my last chance to leave no pasty and no cappuccino behind. How American of me. Indulge, Indulge, Indulge.

The first cappuccino I drank here is kind of a funny story but also not at all. I was following my screen-shot on my phone of the directions from the hostel website and ultimately ended up walking the completely wrong direction for about 5 minutes. My intuition started to kick in and I ended up turning around. However, about 2 blocs before I got back to where I started my phone had died. I’m not going to lie I began to worry a little bit. So what do I do?

Fortunately the bus stop I was supposed to get off at was a mall, which happened to have a costa coffee at. I had a feeling that they would most likely have an outlet and I would be able to recharge my phone. So in I went, found a seat near an outlet and let my phone begin charging as I specifically ordered a large cappuccino. Yes, I ordered a large. I figured my the time I finished it I would not only know where I was going, but also be more calm. Fortunately I figured it out and was able to not only enjoy the rest of my day in Riga, but also fall in love with the city.

img_1104The next morning would be last morning waking up in Europe. I new I needed to wake up an extra hour early so I could get one last coffee shop visit in. Into another Costa Coffee I went and got myself a caramel macchiato a slice of cake and a muffin. If you were wandering if the barista looked at me like I was crazy, you thought correctly. But, no shame in my game. This ended up being the best piece of cake I have consumed in my entire 20 years of existence plain and simple, no questions asked. I was also able to save the muffin I ordered for the airplane, which ended up being perfect!

Is it ironic to say that my over-caffeinated, over sugared self left that café feeling bittersweet? My cappuccino voyage had come to an end and let me tell you, absolutely no pastry was left behind. So if you’re ever feeling lost or like no one understands you, simply walk into a coffee shop and say cappuccino, you’ll be quite surprised.

If you want to read more, hopefully I will have the rest of the blogs about the places I visited up within the next week!

Have a glorious day!

Hannah xx

06.05.16 Tigers, Markets, and Zip lines, Oh my!

June 5th… what and eventful and memorable day! We started out the day being picked up at 9 to go over to the Chiang Mai Tiger Kingdom to get up close and personal with some tigers.

We had scheduled our transportation through the tour desk in our lobby and thought we were going to have a simple red truck van pick us up and take us. To our surprise, a private air-conditioned van was going to be our transportation, which was actually a really nice surprise. While we were driving, we were all a little shocked when at one point the van reached just about 140km/hr but the cars around were all going similar so I guess it wasn’t too crazy.IMG_3689.JPG

The tiger kingdom was different than I expected probably because it was nicer than I had expected. All three of us decided to book the package that included getting to go in the big and small tiger cages. Once we were called we got brought back to the space where all the tiger enclosures were, which basically was like a zoo but only for tigers.

IMG_3652.JPGWe started with the small tiger, which really wasn’t small at all even though they were about a year old. There were four tigers in the space and the trainers had you go to each tiger so you could pet them and take pictures with them. It was super cool after to be able to say I had leftover tiger fur strands on my hand, because how many people can say that? When you pet the tiger the fur is soft similar to any other cat. For some reason I was sort of expecting it to be a little more wiry. When you pet or tough the tigers you can only touch them from about half way down because otherwise you may irritate them, which was a little bit scary.

One thing I really liked was that they let you bring your own cameras in with you and there is no pressure to purchase a professional photographers pictures.., probably because you are already spending enough money.IMG_3672.JPG

After about 20- 30 minutes in there, it was time to go into the big cat enclosure. There were three big tigers in here, and it was exciting to be able to be next to such a large, yet beautiful animal. For one of the photos, the trainer told us to basically lay on the tiger, which caught us all off guard. As soon as I started to put my head on the tiger, it shifted its position a bit, which scared me a little. However, once it was situated I got right back close to it again to give it love.

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my face when the tiger moved

Once again, after about 20 minutes our time was up and we were allowed to spend time walking around the grounds to see the rest of the tigers, just from outside the cages. We got to see the Giant tiger, a white tiger, and a newborn tiger.

IMG_3752.JPGAll I can say is that if there was a cashier in front of the door to get into the new born tiger area it would have been game over and I would have whipped out whatever money it took for me to go in there to play with that little tiger because it was so cute. The little guy was so playful. It is probably a good thing I didn’t go in there because I would most likely be in Thai jail right now for trying to steal a baby tiger.

Once we had our fix, we got back in our car and drove about 30 minutes back to our hotel.

We had about 2 hours here until we got picked up for our zip lining adventure so we got a little bit of lunch near by and then relaxed for a bit.

I tried an iced Thai green tea, an orange smoothie, and then a bread stuffed with tofu and mushrooms. The green tea was awesome because it tasted very similar to matcha, which I love. The orange smoothie came out basically like a slushy made with fresh squeezed orange juice. The bread was basically a small baguette with a slice in it like a hot dog, which was then stuffed with a garlicy, tofu-mushroom mixture, which was super tasty. Better yet, all of it cost only 80 baht! It was crazy to think that my two friends and I all ate for less than 6 dollars!

When we got back to the hotel we got to rest for just a little bit more until the second van came to pic us up. This time there was a total of 5 of us for the zip lining adventure. This zip lining excursion included zip lining, sort of high-ropes things, and abseiling, which I was super excited to try!

We drove the same way we did to the Tiger kingdom, but instead continued about another 20 minutes up a very winding road into the jungle. Once we got there, all the workers were super friendly, hilarious, and spoke awesome English! We quickly got our gear on and headed over to where our course started. Because I had my go pro camera with me, it just so happened that on some of their helmets they have go-pro mounts on them, so they let me hook my go-pro to the helmet mount, which allowed me to get some super cool shots!

IMG_4041I loved how half the zip lines we went on were super long, versus just one long one at the end. It was also nice that in between there were various sky-bridges, and rope related things to mix it up. On one of them I had to stop since I was about to pee laughing because one of the workers was bouncing the rope bridge. Still, I am not really sure what about it was SO funny, but I just could not stop laughing. I guess I was simply filled with pure, genuine joy.

Once we had our first abseiling experience. Of course then the workers changed the order so I was first. As well, none of us really new what abseiling was; all I knew for sure was it involved dropping from one level to the next, I just thought you’d be almost rappelling or lowered at a medium paced.

Nope.

Once I was dangled I the air, I was dropped the first half of the 15 meters, then had to undo one of the hooks and was then dropped the rest of the distance… talk about an adrenaline rush. The free fall was kind of awesome and kind of addicting because I couldn’t wait for the second one. The funny kind of scary part was that after I had made the first half of the drop and unhooked myself the instructor at the top screamed wrong hook. At that point I basically accepted any injuries that were going to occur because there was nothing I could do about it anymore. Then I realized he was messing with me.

The scenery around the whole place was awesome because you really felt like you were in the jungle. At one point you could actually peak through a little bit of the mountains and see a little bit of the city, which was absolutely beautiful. The very last thing was the last abseiling experience. Of course, I had to be the first one to make the 40-meter drop. Similar to the last one, I dropped the first 20 meters and then the last 20 after unhooking myself. This one was awesome because you really felt the adrenaline rush of the free-fall. The cool part was that on the second fall, you sort of were going a bit more head first because you were hooked on from you back.

After during the walk back we passed a super beautiful waterfall and then enjoyed a free breakfast. To our surprise as well, we also received free shirts! On the way home we all couldn’t stop talking about how amazing this excursion was, as well as how happy we were we chose one where you did more than just zip line. If you ever find yourself in Chiang Mai and want to go zip lining, Eagle track zip lining is the way to go!! Tours can be booked through Viator.com, but we were able to book the tour through our hotel.

Once back at the hotel, we were surprising not tired yet, so started walking towards the Thae Pae gate to get ready to start exploring the Sunday market. Once we go there, it began to sprinkle, and the grey sky only meant one thing. It was about to storm… Thailand style.

At first it wasn’t so bad but after we walked 10 steps in the pouring rain and were practically soaked, it was time to run into the nearest shop. At one point while we were walking through the market in the monsoon, I found myself smiling, which resulted in me laughing because I had no idea why I could be so happy in the pouring rain, but after such a great day, how could you not be happy?IMG_4054

Luckily for us, we were right near the Wawee coffee shop, somewhere all of us wanted to try! So, we were able to seek shelter inside while also enjoying a delicious coffee! In traditional Chiang Mai fashion, the storm was over in about 30-45 minutes, which was basically the time it took for us to finish our drinks.

Once the rain was basically calmed, we went back outside in search of trying some new foods. By the time I had walked up and back through the extensive market, I was able to try a fried sandwich stuffed with crab, a big chunk of a large crab you had to eat off the shell this spoon, and mussel balls, which were my favorite. I didn’t have enough courage to try the freshly grilled squid on the stick yet because there were a lot of tentacle pieces, but I tasted a small piece that was less intimidating.

Once we were full, we walked back to our hotel and contemplated getting foot massages from the place next door. Instead we just went back to our rooms to get our rest before another long week of school. I know I’ve said this before, but one of the best feelings is going to bed with sore feet because you know you made the most out of your day. While I was falling asleep I found myself reflecting on how incredible to weekend was and how fortunate I was to be able to experience all of these incredible things. How can I not be anything but completely overjoyed?

Anyways, I hope you all have incredible days!!! My blogs will probably be a little less frequent this week, but once again, we shall see.

Peace!

Hannah