Quitting caffeine for a week

Anyone who knows me will remember that I cannot start my day without a cup of tea. It cannot be made by anyone other than me in order to achieve the perfect colour and taste (2C for sure). Ive been drinking tea for about religiously for about 10 years, having between two and three cups a day. I always assumed that tea is much healthier to drink than coffee, but only recently read that in fact that tea contains more caffeine than tea, which can lead to unwanted health risks. This lead me to wonder how I would cope without my morning caffeine burst for an entire week. Here’s how it went.

Day 1 – ‘Oh God’, I thought to myself as I lay awake on my bed. It was 7.30 in the morning and I was already yearning for my daily tea and porridge. Of course my dreams came crashing down at an instant, and my only beverage was a water. At 9:3o I felt a mild headache coming on. I had heavy eyelids and not having the feeling of being completely awake. I had a driving lesson at 10:30 which couldn’t have gone worse if I tried. After my awful attempt at reverse parking into a bay, even my instructor was questioning me. I then went grocery shopping, which is usually my favourite activity of the week. Bu things took a turn when my head started throbbing – it was a not so mild headache anymore, in fact it had taken over my entire head and down my face. I couldn’t take it anymore. I took an ibuprofen which made my day more desirable again. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Day 2 – I had quite a disturbed sleep, waking up multiple times during the night which is unusual for me. I woke up feeling luggish and munched on two croissants for breakfast and an orange. As I got through the day, I started feeling more tired than I normally would, but there were no signs of a major headache like yesterdays. That was until my maths student had arrived and I spent the majority of the lesson frowning. I had a minor headache for the remainder of the day but nothing I couldn’t manage.

Day 3 – I remember reading other articles about people quitting caffeine and it mentioning that day 3 is the hardest part of the challenge. I woke up at 9:30am, much later than normal – this was probably due to my overall tiredness for the past couple of days. I made sure to keep extra hydrated throughout the day, drinking more cups of water than usual. I then headed to my aunts housewarming party where we chilled in the beaming sun for the for the entire day. Despite what the other articles said, I didn’t have a tough day at all, no tiredness or headaches. In fact I felt much more awake!

Day 4 – By the fourth day, my headaches had disappeared and I was back to my normal energetic self. That’s not to say my need for tea and gone completely, I was still craving for one sip of it. I tried having warm milk but even still it did not fully satisfy my needs.

Day 5 – My mum came back from a long trip and asked me to make her a cup of tea. Now I was going back to my favourite cabinet in the kitchen, taking out the container with all the loose tea leaves. This was a mistake. As I opened the lid, the sweet aroma punched the air and lingered, enough for me to give in and make a cup for myself – something I don’t regret.

Even though I didn’t last the entire week, a 5 day gap after years of drinking routinely was a big challenge. Quitting had many negative effects on me such as headaches and just having an overall tiredness during the day. On the other hand, the withdrawal symptoms were not as bad as I thought they would be with only the first day being the hardest overall. In fact, without drinking tea in the mornings, I was not full after my meals and ended up snacking more often. I am certainly going back to drinking tea, unhealthy or not, but at least I know that if there was ever a shortage in tea bags, I would be fine.

Amsterdam: Top 10 highlights

Cobbled streets, narrow canals and an abundance of pancakes. We spent 4 days in Amsterdam and explored the entirety of the city by day and night. Here are my top ten highlights.

10. Van Gogh Museum. The dutch painter has his artwork displayed across the globe but in Amsterdam you can experience all the different versions of the ‘Sunflowers’, the works of Van Gogh’s friends and a deeper understanding of his life. Tickets are absolutely free for under 18s and €19 for adults, but make sure to reserve your places online beforehand as the museum is extremely popular.

9. Albert Cuyp Market. The largest market in Amsterdam that stretches across an entire alleyway. Just a 10 minute walk from the museum quarters, Albert Cuyp consists of hundreds of market stalls selling everything from electronics and jewellery to fresh fish and traditional dutch desserts. We tried everything from raw herring with pickles and onions to freshly made stroopwaffles run by a father and son. The market sells everything you could imagine from as little as 50 cents.

8. Bike rentals. The most obvious thing to in Amsterdam is rent a bicycle and join the locals on the roads, but we were torn between which rental company to use and whether to hire a tandem or not. As we were walking through a market, we saw a sign for bike rentals and discovered that the shop had an option for a four person bicycle. The bike consisted of 4 sets of pedals and one steering wheel. At just a cost of €20 for the hour (€5 per person), we rented it out and rode around the famous Vondelpark. It was the most spontaneous thing we did on the trip and by far the most fun we had. Just a word of warning though; don’t take a sizeable four person bicycle down the middle of a busy market on a Saturday afternoon. We did not please anyone..

7. Anne Frank house. This is a must-do when visiting Amsterdam. Anne Frank house remains as one of the most important buildings in the city, containing a mixture of historical and cultural values. The museum is €10 for adults but hurry, its incredibly popular with tourists so tickets must be bought at least 2 months in advance.

6. Electric ladyland Located just a 10 minute walk from the Anne Frank House, Electric ladyland is essentially a fluroescent museum in the basement of rock collectors. At €5 per person, you can spend an hour in a magnificent display of fluorescent lights as well as a tour of the couples jaw dropping collection of paintings including works from Leon Hendrix.

5. The pancake bakery. It may look small on the outside but the pancake bakery stretches far back into the shop, but not once failing to keep the smell of freshly cooked pancakes out of reach. The menu consists of everything from American pancakes to sweet and savoury Dutch crepes. It’s a little pricey but one of the best ways to discover the Dutch culture.

4. Hortus Botanicus. Spend a nice afternoon away from the busy tourist hot spots and visit the botanical gardens of Amsterdam. Tickets cost just under €10 and with that you can explore 3 different greenhouses, home to 1000s of species of tropical and temperate plants. You can also enjoy the butterfly garden as well as the pond which hosts giant water lilies. We also spent a significant amount of time in the gift shop, admiring the intricate hand crafted wooden sculptures.

3. Boat Tours. Make the most of the open canals with a boat tour around the city. Don’t be fooled to take a cramped, commercial boat tour where you essentially have no space to breathe. We were recommended the friendship boat tour which was about €16 for just over an hour. We were given blankets and there was even a bar, but most importantly it was an open roof.

2. NDSM. Just a 15 minute free ferry ride away from Amsterdam Centraal Station lies an undiscovered hipster territory. We spent an evening exploring the small town and its astonishing graffiti. There was also a large vintage market and a beach but we walked about 10 minutes further from the busy areas into the realms of container homes, where we enjoyed pizzas at a local cafe.

1.The windmills. Take a day trip outside of Amsterdam and visit the countries iconic windmills at Zaanse Schans. The train ticket cost just €7 and we spent an entire morning walking around a picturesque cocoa scented town. The town is home to more than 600 windmills and there are options to tour most of them. There are also many cafes which pride in making the best hot chocolates in the Netherlands.

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