Fika – Lets brew it!

Shhhh… my coffee and I are having a moment. I will deal with you later.

FIKA. BECAUSE. COFFEE. FRIENDS. CONVERSATIONS. RELAX.

 

Halla friends!

As promised, out of my sheer love for cultural learning and oh, COFFEE, this blog’s dedicated to a momentary romance with coffee, or as the Swedes call it – FIKA!

Somewhere on the Island of södermalm, I found a little café on the corner with a board outside that said – FIKA! The word in itself was so sweet to read I was intrigued to google it up. “OK google! What does Fika mean?” “Fika is a coffee break”. My heart the next hyper second – “Wait, coffee? Did I hear Coffee?”

It took me a conversation with three Swedes to understand that Fika after all isn’t ‘JUST’ a coffee break. It’s so much more than that. And boy, do the Swedes hate it being called a coffee break!

My ever so curious mind didn’t stop till I learnt all about Fika (Because, well… coffee). So in my own words I’d define Fika as – a moment of meditation with coffee! More like a concept, a state of mind or a feeling. And feelings have no definite terms of description, aye? (Yup I just got a little philosophical here!)

Fika is a Swedish obsession. The swedes are one of the highest coffee consuming nations in the world (Ranking in the top 10 list). Which is why, Coffee is more than having a break or a pastime for them. Coffee for them is weaving moments of bliss and light hearted conversations with friends and family leaving all your problems behind (nop, they do not discuss problems on the coffee table). And this, my friends, is an integral part of their culture (Fika – every single day! yup.)

So how do you… Fika? You wonder?

I will help break it down for you.

  1. You get yourself coffee.
  2. You add a pastry or a muffin (anything baked basically!)
  3. .. you just FIKA!

The art of Fika is all about leaving all your problems behind and having a moment of bliss and relax. The Swedes believe (and you and I would second them on this), the world is getting busier by the passing minute. Problems are never ending and our hair is graying faster and sooner than ever. It would do no harm to set aside everything and enjoy a happy conversation with a friend… and just FIKA! This, as I said before, being more of a Swedish tradition and obsession, the employers even give their staff a Fika break (maybe even two sometimes). That’s how entrenched it is in the Swedish culture.

Now, as I sit back and sip on my cup of coffee while I write this piece of article here, I think how coffee really is just a ‘to-go’ option for everyone around the world (yes even me!). We all have so much on our plates every single day that a coffee break really means discussing work issues or holding up client meetings. At work a coffee break means heading to a vending machine or the cafeteria and buying yourself that use and throw cup, sipping on it while you are driving or taking the subway. When I was studying in the UK, most of my mornings were filled with coffee on the side while getting dressed or finishing an assignment. Even at the university, I would get myself coffee from the 1 pound coffee maker and run with it to the lecture theater (multitasking, please!). But ever since I got back from Sweden, mum and I try to inculcate this Fika culture in our daily routine. We are both crazy coffee lovers and we sit with our coffees in the balcony and watch the sun rise up every morning. It really is the best moment of my all-so-busy day! A rather relaxed kick start.

What are the rules of FIKA?

One of the many beautiful things about this art is there aren’t really stated rules to fika. Not a coffee fan? Drink tea instead. Don’t like a muffin, pick a croissant or a sandwich. Whatever suits you? You don’t even have to head to a café, you can Fika literally anywhere, even in the comfort of your home.

Sweden and Coffee?

If we go down the road of civilization and walk down the streets with Swedish history, Sweden and coffee have been in a rather complicated relationship from the start.

Coffee entered Sweden like a breath of fresh air in mid-16th century under King Fredrick I. However, he was never a fan of these brown beans and tried to tax the shit out of it to kick it out of their culture. With eventual failures, he then banned coffee. Over years and subsequent successors, King Adolf Fredrick levied heavier taxes on coffee, which lead to coffee smuggling and these bean babies went underground. With secret coffee shops in hidden corners of cities, the Swedish became hitched to coffee. It became an ingrained part of them. They wanted someone to build this as a culture. And hence, enter King Gustav III, from where things got creative and interesting. After several attempts of brainwashing his people against the contents of coffee, failures of PR campaigns downgrading the effects of coffee, the swedes just did not let go. He even ran an experiment where he picked twin brothers (criminals) and tried to prove the harmful effects of coffee. He fed one brother with tea and the other with coffee, each thrice a day to prove that the coffee drinking criminal would die a caffeinated death rather faster than the tea drinking criminal. Not only did both of them survive the test, they also outlived the king (in fact, the coffee drinking criminal even outlived the tea drinker).

The ban on Fika was lifted in the mid-19th century when the youth was high on rage and caffeine. Ever since, coffee and Fika has taken over Sweden like a storm and is now a cool tag.

Let’s all raise a toast to the warrior that lies in the Swedish coffee (wink!).

If you head to Sweden, DO NOT call Fika a coffee break. Just call it… Fika!

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Every day, I try to have a Fika. It helps to sit back on my chair and breath fresh air in the balcony and read a book or listen to music with my strong, dark coffee. That is my Fika!

What is yours?

 

I enjoyed writing this post. If there is something in specific you would want to know about Stockholm or want me to write about, mention in the comments below and I will get back ASAP. Tell me about your Fika experience in the comments below. I would love to read them <3

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Dreamy Traveler| Seeing the world through my lens| Social media junkie| Bibliophile| Food-a-holic| Music lover

How to make friends on the road?

This is one question I have been asked way too many times.

How do you manage to make friends on the move?

Well it’s easier than you may think and this isn’t subject to being an extrovert alone. No I am not a social butterfly or an extremely outgoing person in general and no it is not awkward to talk to random strangers. In fact I have built some of the most long lasting friendships on the road and soon you shall realize that the fun in traveling or backpacking is in the people you meet on the way and the relations you build along your travel journeys.

I have been traveling a long while, which is why I am going to give you super easy and quick pointers as to how you can make friends while you travel.

If you have any more ideas please feel open to sharing them in the comments section below the article!

1. HOSTEL!

Hostels are the way to go peepal!

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Skip that hotel and pick a travel hostel. Travel hostels are designed into existence so you meet like-minded people and fellow travelers. This is by far one of the easiest hacks to meet new people when you travel. Share stories, learn new stuff, sing along bonfires and eat together over beer. Hostel cafes and bars are the go-to place to catch up with a crowd belonging to different edges of the world.

2. Share a meal!

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YES, that’s right. FOOD. As weird as it may sound initially, this is one thing I have learnt from my personal experiences. Share a meal at a local bar or a café, at the hostel kitchen or a chai shop, and you will find words running out of your mouth with no extra effort added. But seriously, sharing a meal with a hungry traveler (I was starving when I found a girl who shared her fries with me. Seriously guys, I am talking yummy golden fried – French fries and cheese dip. Slurpp 😉) might just do wonders. Delicious feed = Loads of friends = You are welcome 😉

3. Join Meet-up sites.

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This isn’t something I have personally experienced, but learning from an old friend’s experiences I am willing to try this on myself. There are plenty of Facebook pages and websites where you can meet like-minded people and build conversations. Share a sport or a hobby and see your comment section flood. Post your location and learn how people around gather to help you. This is one of the easiest introvert-travel-hacks. This is the digital age, and we have plenty of apps flooded on our play stores. Pick one, join it and find fellow travelers willing to join you, weather it is a day trip or a week’s trek, a sit down supper or a social gathering, you are sure to find some help here.

4. INSTAGRAM!

screenshot-2017-09-15-15-01-37-e1505468097871.pngYup. You read that right. This is one of my most favorite social networks to meet and plan adventures with fellow travel bloggers and travel enthusiasts. Alright, this isn’t really a way to make friends while you are literally on-the-road, but Instagram is an easy place to find safe and legitimate travelers. I have built friendships over Instagram and have a bunch of people willing to travel with me in the future. I have even found kind hearted individuals willing to help me with local travels, from across borders.

5. Ask people questions.insurance-640x320

That’s right buddy. Asking people questions about the place, where to find a certain kind of food or anything about the place you are in. A secret to this is portraying an attitude of a tourist. Ask very touristy questions to locals and you will see an entire conversation building up. An addition to this is the fact that people enjoy talking about themselves, so take interest in the people you talk to. Ask them questions about themselves and not just the place.

Many people I know personally have told me how difficult they find even exchanging looks with strangers, let alone words.

Well, I am here to say – You are not alone. I was also one among you until a few years ago. I had no other option but to seek help form the people around me with my luggage as I was travelling from Leeds to London with my entire student luggage in hand (30kg+20kg+10kg+10kg). That is a lot of luggage when your mode of transport in the city of London is the underground and you are all alone, added to that the pressure of less than 2 minute halts at the boarding station. That was moment I realized it’s not the end of the world, asking for help from strangers or even talking to them randomly. 

You just need to get your fear out.

6. Stay open to new experiences2986486d7725736e74ac1d87784dc839--adventure-awaits-adventure-travel

A random bicycle race, a quick day trek, trying a random food dish, dressing up like the locals, sharing embarrassing stories from past, playing the guitar, learning a new dance form. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. If you want to make friends en-route travels you have to, HAVE TO be open to crazy, wild, new experiences. Indulging in local activities, volunteering for a local campaign, learning a new language, all these are ways you will make new friends. And believe me when I say this, the friends you make sharing experiences will remain with you forever.

 

 

 

Got yet another tip or any information that would help the readers? Feel free to leave in the comments section below.

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#HappyTravels peepal <3

Dreamy Traveler| Seeing the world through my lens| Social media junkie| Bibliophile| Food-a-holic| Music lover

Why are we the best versions of ourselves when we travel?

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To explore the world is a gift in oneself. To be able to meet new people, share new experiences and grow with the world is something I never lose sight of. The feeling of being on a plane; walking that narrow street toward the cathedral; sky diving in the air of Switzerland; climbing one of the many ranges of the Himalayas; sitting in a cafe with a bunch of unrecognizable faces and still being able to share stories of a lifetime; doing the many things you otherwise would have never done. Have you ever wondered what is it that makes us want to travel more? I mean who doesn’t love the idea of a comfortable bed in a big space in the suburbs of the city which junk food and Netflix to the rescue?

But yet, there is an urge to see new things. Why do we feel so great when we travel? Is it about finally having to click snaps in those picture perfect locations? Or to post check-in status’s on social media for the world to know how amazing our life is? Is it the freedom to meet new people and socialize? Or is it something more than that? Something with a deeper intent or something as simple as freshly brewed coffee?

All of us will have different answers to all the questions stated above. Although my reasons might seem more personal, they are more universal and I am sure most of you would strike a chord with me on this.

Reasons why I am the best most authentic version of myself when I travel:

  1. Experiences will always have an upper hand

From a trainee to a senior level executive, from $100 to $2000 a month, from Benetton to Louis Vuitton, from Honda to a Mercedes, all our lives we aim to be better, bigger and run for all the materialistic achievements. What we fail to understand is how perishable our wants are, in this unbelievably materialistic world. What we ignore believing is indeed a very simple fact; experiences will always have an upper hand. While having a big house or a high end car looks satisfying to the world, what matters the most are the experiences we gain out of life.

From my last travel journey, some of my most memorable moments have nothing to do with which car we hired to drive across the hills, or which hotel we stayed in, but instead about the way our team pushed our car out of a waterfall for over an hour; or how I walked up to a total stranger in a café who I am best friends with now or how I found soul worthy connection midst the crowd.

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Travel, for me, has been about finding the new world. Every single time the plane lands onto new grounds, I cannot wait to walk the trail, or taste local food, or even make a new friend over a hot cup of coffee or chilled beer. Every time I travel, I know I am embarking upon a new story of my life, all beautifully gift wrapped around exciting experiences that will stay with me forever even after the leather from my MK bag wears out.

  1. Getting lost is a good feeling!

Only a handful of you are probably going to agree with me on this one. But I truly believe that being lost is not always upsetting.

I was walking the streets of a small village called Zermatt in Switzerland to find myself some good coffee. Almost half way through I realized I forgot the way back to my hotel. There are two types of reactions to a situation like this: panic and try to run back to your hotel and just order room service; be bold and embrace the feeling of being lost and trusting yourself in the hour of need. That’s what I did. I smiled and walked anyway, looked for a pretty wooden café with dim lights, walked in and asked in broken English, for some cuppachino ;). Although it took me over an hour and a half to find my way back to my hotel, on the way I discovered a beautiful little chapel with a catholic wedding on, a quintessential café with mouth-watering coffee and french-bread, streets I would have never walked otherwise and photographs I now keep as self-created souvenirs for myself.

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Getting lost is a good feeling. It’s about how to react to the feeling that decides your course of action. Ever since that (and many other) incident, I have found myself embracing and cuddling my lost soul. I have learnt the ability to adapt to challenging situations. It’s a power, to be so beautifully decorated even when the world around you seems hard to deal with.

  1. Trust – the world and yourself

Enjoying being a lost soul has taught me how to trust myself in the need of the hour. Travel on the other hand, also makes you have faith in the unknown faces of a new place. It makes you build trust in the unknown.

The world is a bitter place, true. And we sure should be careful of the people we engage ourselves with. But the world is more empathetic than we could imagine.

One evening in Granada, Spain, I met a girl and ended up having one of the most amazing conversations of my life. I still remember her words and how fearlessly, she offered me dinner at a local diner. She learnt I was a vegetarian and had difficulty finding vegetarian food in the city, so helped me choose vegan tapas and even offered to walk me back to my hotel.

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It’s hard to be completely fearless on unknown land, in fact we shouldn’t even try to be so, but limiting ourselves because of our fear, and not willing to engage in subtle adventure defies what travel truly means to me. Travel pushes us to out our faith in kind strangers. That is the trust we need in this world. Breaking cultural and social barriers is what travel should be all about.

On the other hand, the ability to face fear, or move ahead of cultural or language barriers makes us trust ourselves. Travel helps us realize what truly matters and pushes us to run after our passions and dreams and fight for the our beliefs, helping us create meaningful lives.

Just imagine how it would feel to live a life without the chains of societal responsibilities, not being answerable to anyone but yourself or not being around people who tie you with expectations and rules and careful establishments?

Travel lets your do all of this by restoring your faith in your own self. You will meet a whole new person, trust me on this.

  1. Comfort is boring

You have a comfortable home in the urban, a fair enough job at an MNC, probably even come back home to a family, watch some TV and fall asleep. Wake up again and it’s the same cycle.

Anyone who has lived in a tent midst vast mountains on a night with feels of -10 degrees, with food not so great and milk getting cold in seconds would know the importance of patience and the fact that there is beauty even in the uncomfortable, that being flexible is a skill we should all master.

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Ever lost luggage at the airport? Ever felt your legs ache so much that you want to just take all your frustration out on the people around you? Ever gone hungry, and being offered nuts by a total stranger? The after feels are precious, aren’t they?

Travel teaches us to get off our comfortable couches switch the digital life off and for once face challenges stepping out of our daily comfort zones. And when things don’t work the way they were planned, we have to go with the flow, build a new plan in the heat of the moment and learn to flex ourselves with the situation.

  1. Everyone is human

We are all humans striving to be better in this world. Keeping aside all cultural differences, boundary and language barriers, religion and caste and all the superficial things in life, everyone and I mean EVERYONE is running behind the same things in life : Love, security, happiness and respect.

Travel has bought me face front with people both younger and older to me, people speaking a different language, richer and poorer; and I have learnt one of the most important lessons of my life: people are out there for love, respect, happiness and security. I have learnt to look past the superficial aspects of life and I have some lifelong friendships with people across the world. This is the beauty of travel, no judgement’s made.

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Last but not the least, I’d just like to say what I have truly believed in: Travel while you are able to, make time for it, because the person you are before a trip and the person you will after a trip, will differ. And you will fall in love with the world and yourself.

#Travelforlife

Dreamy Traveler| Seeing the world through my lens| Social media junkie| Bibliophile| Food-a-holic| Music lover