Kaffetur 12 / Coffee Tour #12: Vespa, Warsaw

Another stop in Warsaw, this time at a shop called Vespa.

Vespa’s decor definitely gives off a 1960’s vibe. The palette has a heavy emphasis on orange, with fun lighting hanging from very high ceilings.


The service area was well organized and quite typical of the going cafe trends. Chalkboard menu, a selection of baked good, and the other usual paraphernalia.


The service itself was not spectacular. But the barista’s English was limited and I only know a handful of words in Polish, so that is probably the reason why. I was disappointed when I tried to order an advertised drink, and was told they didn’t serve it anymore. But the coffee we did order was a pour-over, and it was a good cup of coffee. Definitely better than a typical coffee chain cup of coffee.

The location was a bit odd – not really close to any other places we were visiting, but also not terribly far from an underground station.


For more info on Vespa, visit https://m.facebook.com/vespacaffe?refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fpl-pl.facebook.com%2Fvespacaffe

The Graduate: a European Tour

Two weeks came and went, and before I knew it, I was driving my niece back to the airport.


Anna made her way back to the states on Wednesday. Based on my own experience and the occasional iMessages we exchanged, it was one of those days that seemed it would never end.

But now that she is back home, I want to take a little time to show a bit of what we were up to.


Her grandparents were gracious enough to help out with plane tickets and passport to get her here, and we really appreciate it.


And once here, we found some low-cost airfare so we could show her a few of our favorite places.


For the first week, we spent time in our city, as well as Tønsberg and Oslo. After that, she and I had another day in Oslo, before flying to Stockholm for a couple of days, and then to London for the weekend.

It was a great trip, and I look forward to sharing a bit more about it in the coming days.


One Day in Oslo

As I took the bus from the city center of Oslo out to Bygdøy, the island that is home to several well-known museums, I struck up a conversation with a lady from Florida. She was spending the day in the city, along with her husband, 13 year old son, younger daughter, and mother, as a brief stop on their European cruise. She asked what I considered the must-see spots if you only have a day in the city.


Ironic she would ask this, as I was doing just that: showing my niece my favorite spots in about 10 hours.
We purchased 24-hour transit passes, to help us make the most of our time. If you plan to use public more than twice in a 24-hour period, it makes sense to buy this pass.


From Oslo S, we took the 30 bus towards Bygdøy and got off at Vikingskiphuset. The bus stop is a 2 minute walk to the Viking Ship Museum entrance.
This is my favorite museum. Not overly large, but really cool. One of the ships was originally discovered in our city, Sandefjord, and another discovered in our neighboring town on Tønsberg.
We took the bus back towards the city. We exited at Aker Brygge and walked over to Karl Johans Gate.
Lunch was at Deli de Luca. With locations all over the city, I really love this place. I have yet to order anything I didn’t enjoy. Sandwiches, calzone, wraps, salad, dessert, ice cream, drinks, coffee. And I especially like the Karl Johans location. Indoor and outdoor seating, just across from parliament, and great people watching!
After lunch, we took the trolley to Frogner Park and the Vigeland sculptures. Also known by many as ‘the naked statue park’. The statue exhibition is extensive and impressive. There are almost always bus loads of tourists milling about. In the summer, the massive green space plays host to hundreds of carefree locals and tourists, enjoying the sun, a picnic, biking and exercise. Anna and I took time to explore more of the park than I ever have before. And even so, I still have much left to discover on future visits
We took the trolley back to Aker Brygge, where we walked around a bit, took some photos of the fortress, and then stopped at Espresso House for a cold coffee (it was really warm in Oslo today!!).


We checked into our hotel (CityBox Oslo is a great budget-friendly, no frills hotel in the city center), and then set out for another stop. A critical stop, in fact, in my quick must-see Oslo tour. Fuglen is our favorite cafe in Oslo. I will be writing about it on the coffee tour soon, but suffice it to say that it is on the top of our cafe list!


After coffee, and some really bad walking navigation on my part, we grabbed a pizza at Dolly Dimple’s. From there, we walked to the palace for a few photos, and then strolled the full stretch back down Karl Johan’s.


We finished up the evening walking up to the top of the Opera House.


If you have more time, I can recommend quite a few other top spots. But this tour seemed just right for us: we managed to squeeze in some shopping here and there, and never felt really rushed. We had a great day!

Memorable Eats: Dutch Herring

Anytime we travel, we want to try at least one or two local foods. When we were in Amsterdam this year, we had a taste of several new things.The most memorable was probably the herring.

And not only was the fish memorable, but the photos we took are some I will likely never forget!

Here is the herring stand. They are very easy to find all over the city.

Here is the fish.

And while three of us really enjoyed it, I think you can see from this photo that it was not something Daniel cares to try again.

But he was a champ. Even though I thought he was possibly going to throw up, he managed to chew it up and swallow it!


Kaffetur 11 / Coffee Tour #11: Coffee Company, Amsterdam

First a little education for those who have not visited Amsterdam before.

When looking for a good cup of coffee, you should locate a cafe, and not a coffee shop. Coffee shops are in fact the place where one goes to partake in one of the two activities with which the city has become synonymous. The one where one would likely find themselves with a serious case of the munchies.


We did not find an abundance of exceptional cafes in Amsterdam. We did, however, discover a nice coffee chain that was definitely worth a visit. Or two. Or three.


Coffee Company seems to have a location on almost every street corner. Sure, that’s an exaggeration, but they are definitely the Starbucks of Amsterdam. (And yes, you can also find Starbucks, if you must.)

We enjoyed several good cups of coffee, as well as excellent espresso. And the boys loved the mint tea!


Coffee Company began in 1996, and now includes 37+ locations, mostly in Amsterdam but also in other cities.You can check out Coffee Company at http://www.coffeecompany.nl

Kaffetur 10 / Coffee Tour #10: Karma, Krakow

When we were visiting Poland earlier this year, we took a day trip to Krakow. A long but very good day, and one that of course included a stop in at a coffee shop we had researched.

When we arrived at Karma in Krakow,  it was rainy out. We were 4 adults and 4 kids, who had been walking quite a bit all day. All ready for a little break.

I really liked their packaging. Clean and simple.

Zack began chatting up the barista. He mentioned how we had done our homework to find the best of the best in their city, and that was how we had ended up at Karma. The barista seemed quite pleased with that information, and began to share with us about their coffee.

Their food looked delicious, but we had just eaten. So we went for a Chemex. Karma roasts their own beans, and we chose their selection from Ethiopia.

It was not as strong as what we make at home, but that would be my only complaint. It had a pleasant flavor, and I could tell it was quality coffee.

The boys each ordered a hot chocolate. Definitely visually appealing, but it was not the sweet treat they are used to. But a little sugar added did the trick!

The cafe itself is simple, cozy and inviting. There is even a corner filled with toys to occupy the kids! Karma is definitely a nice spot to check out if you ever visit Krakow.


Christmas Eve in June

I am seriously like a kid waiting for Christmas.

The first little one to ever steal my heart will be here in less than 24 hours. My oldest niece Anna just finished high school – seriously, where have 18 years gone?!?! – and will be starting university in the fall. To celebrate this big life event, she is coming to spend a couple of weeks with us.
And I am so.stinking.excited.
Stay tuned for Anna & Jenn’s Euro Adventure! (And if you don’t mind, please pray for safe travels!!)

Kaffetur 9 / Coffee Tour # 9: Relaks, Warsaw

Relax. A word, at least in my humble opinion, synonymous with a good cup of coffee.


And maybe a pastry.
Or an incredible sandwich.
Or all of the above.

When we visited colleagues in Poland a few months ago, I did my usual coffee research and read up on several locations. But the one that I found the most info on was Relaks. So of course we had to scope it out.

So as I walked in, I was initially puzzled. Was this the place for which I had read so many enthusiastic reviews? I really wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. The decor was eclectic. At first glance it seemed everything was mismatched. And while that isn’t a new concept for coffee bars, something just felt odd to me.* At first.

That was my initial reaction. But once we had placed our order and settled at a table, my opinion began to change.

It was quickly obvious that this is a place with many regulars. Some were settled in with a friend, and others with a MacBook or some reading material. There were frequent greetings from one patron to the next. And everyone appeared quite comfortable in this hodge-podge of vinyl and upholstered chairs and worn tables. The hodge-podge that was actually beginning to grow on me.

The baristas at Relaks know their stuff. Our experience in Poland was that it was a bit harder to communicate in English than in many European countries we’ve visited. However, we had no communications issues here. Great English, and great service with good equipment and very good coffee – and plenty of help if you aren’t sure what you might want to order!

It seems like coffee selections can vary depending on when you visit (Relaks does not roast their own beans). But what they serve up is top notch. Selection is apparently always different, but they’ve been known to offer roasts from well-respected beaneries like Solde Kaffebar (Sweden), The Barn (Berlin), Koppi (Sweden), Coffee Zone (Poland), and Coffee Company (Amsterdam).

We ordered a Finca Tamana from The Barn, as well as El Porvenir (also from The Barn, and both Columbian). They were prepared using a V60. Each was quite good, but we both preferred the Finca.

And the tapenade baguette on its own was worth the walk from the underground!

Our table reminded me a bit of the backgrounds out of a
Batman comic. Pow! Sploosh! Bang!

The boys were extremely pleased with their hot chocolate. And their table: a nice little platform table at the window – a perfect perch for two antsy pants fellas to do a bit of chatting and people watching.

They were not as enthusiastic about the almond danish they ordered – but Zack and I thought it was incredible!

Good equipment. Quality coffee. Lots of interesting people. A 1960’s vibe. All in all, a pretty cool spot. A bit off the beaten path, but definitely worth checking out if you find yourself in Warsaw!

*I did find out later that most of the furniture at Relaks is purchased used, restored, and available for re-sale. And apparently their poster collection is a rotating exhibition that is also available for purchase. Pretty cool. 

And FYI – even if you aren’t all that into coffee, Relaks offers a wide variety of baked goods and sandwiches, and a number of unusual/novelty sodas as well.

Relaks Kawiarnia
Puławska 48,
00-999 Warszawa

Purple Lips

Zack was at a meeting in a neighboring town. William was being treated to a belated birthday celebration of burgers and movies with a friend.

And I had this little cutie all to myself.

We ate popcorn and candy, cuddled, laughed, and watched a movie of his choosing.

He talked about how much he loves his family. And jaw breakers.

And I thanked God for little moments like this.

Lørdagsjazz – Saturday Jazz

You never know the connections you might make on Facebook! We are in a few groups that have allowed us to meet some really cool people. And we met yet another one this past Saturday.I connected with Kelly in an expats group. And then I found out that she is quite the accomplished vocalist. So when I found out that she and her partner were performing at a local place this past Saturday, I thought it might be fun to check it out.

We had never been to Draaben before. We invited a couple of friends to meet us, and it turned it to be a really fun evening. I had been sick all week and started to back out last minute, but I am so glad I didn’t. We had a great time. Draaben is a cool place: not overly large, a bit more intimate, perfect for a concert like this one.

Here is a quick peek at a special number that Kelly and Werner performed especially for us. You can check out more from Kelly at http://kellydickson.com.