Back Home from Europe and Ready for Summer with Refreshing Agua Fresca de Chia (Chia Limeade)

agua de chia limeade

Oh, it was a wonderful trip and it’s also wonderful to be back home again.

Travelling around five countries in four weeks has left my brain playing a constant reel of overlapping images – castles, sun, strawberry tortes, lattés, walking, canals, rain, walking, french fries, mussels, white cliffs, walking, macarons, Eiffel Tower, markets, walking, town squares, lavendar fields, garlic, walking, hilltowns, vineyards, wine, walking, mountains, cows, villages, braised frog legs, cathedrals, boat rides, walking, walking, and more walking . . . . plus a whole lot of great eating. I love that kind of mind-movie. It will keep me entertained for a long time to come.

Dresden, Germany

the beautiful town of Dresden, Germany

dome in the Frauenkirche, Dresden, Germany

the painted ceiling of the Frauenkirche cathedral in Dresden

hackepeter and rye bread in Dresden, Germany

hackepeter, or gehacktes, a delicious kind of pork tartare enjoyed in Germany

Seeing the former Berlin wall was an emotional experience. The mirrored column in the Reichstag parliament building is like modern art.

Berlin wallar the Reichstag Dome in Berlin

sausages at the KaDeWe in Berlin

a selection of sausages in the huge KaDeWe shopping center in Berlin. You know you’re in Germany

We spent a few wonderful days in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, picking up Andreas and meeting his exchange family.

roses at the ruined abbey in Bad Hersfeldfachwerk house in Bad Hersfeld


view from Checkpoint Alpha, outside Bad Hersfeld, Germanyjaeger cutlets in hilltop at Bad Hersfeld

Then we headed for Holland.

Where it rained the whole time.


parking along the canals in Amsterdam, Holland

How would you like to park like this, along the canals in Amsterdam?

In Belgium the weather cleared up again.

Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium

the stunning Grand Place in Brussels when it’s lit up at night

beer in Brussels, Belgium

every kind of beer must always be served in its proper glass

The little Mannekin Pis statue in Brussels attracts hordes of visitors, (though nobody is really sure why)

stained glass in Brusselsthe famous, but underwhelming, Mannekin Pis in Brussels


canal tour in Bruges

Bruges is a quaint city, unchanged for centuries

A lovely way to see Bruges is by horse and carriage. The sound of hooves clip-clopping on the cobblestones can be heard everywhere, taking you back in time.

carriage ride in Bruges

this friendly little dog was our carriage driver’s faithful companion

rooftop view of Bruges from the brewery

the rooftops of Bruges

The Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur on Montmartre are two familiar sights in Paris.

Eiffel TowerSacre Coeur, Paris

As are boats along the Seine.

Seine River bridge with lovelocks

another bridge adorned with love locks in Paris

I spent a great morning exploring the market and taking a cooking class. Mmmmm.

market in Parischerries at the marche Marchand in Paris

macarons at Laduree in Paris

and of course we needed to stop at Laduree on the Champs Elysees and sample some macarons

My dream come true – a wonderful afternoon exploring Claude Monet’s beautiful gardens and waterlily ponds at his home in Giverny, France.

Monet's house and gardens at GivernyMonet's water gardens at Giverny


cathedral at Rouen. France

the cathedral in Rouen, France

stunning beaches at Etratat, Normandy, France

and the stunning cliffs and beaches along the northern coast of Normandy

Then we drove from the top of France, right down to the bottom, to spend some time in Provence. What a country!

Gordes, hilltown in Provence, France

what a view of the hilltown of Gordes, in Provence

lavender is almost blooming in Provence

the lavender fields in Provence weren’t quite in full bloom yet, but the heavenly aroma was there

stayed in a real castle in Davingy, in the Savoie area of France

we spent a night in an lovingly restored castle in Devingy, in the Savoie area of France. It had a drawbridge, and towers, and stunning views all around

beautiful boat ride in the lake at Lucerne. Switzerland

a boat ride on the lake at Lucerne was a memorable way to see the beautiful mountains of Switzerland

angled bridge over the lake in Lucerne

the city of Lucerne is so beautiful, with its lovely buildings and flower-adorned angled foot bridge

Then it was back to Germany for the last leg of our trip.

small toll castle on an island in the Rhine River

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is a small 14th century toll-collecting castle on a little island in the middle of the Rhein River

castles and vineyards all along the Rhine River

the banks of the Rhein River are filled with vineyards and dotted with castles

It was an amazing trip. We travelled 6,500 kilometres by car, and walked several hundred on foot (that’s what it felt like, anyway!). We slept in everything from hotels, apartments, friends’ homes, bed and breakfasts, youth hostels, to a night in a castle. The food was memorable, from the sausages to the mussels, fresh strawberry cakes, waffles, macarons, frog legs, schnitzel, cheeses and wonderful wines, and beers, to the french fries.

But it is also just lovely to be home again, puttering in my kitchen, back in the classroom, and back in the garden. Those weeds have been calling and there’s a wonderful satisfaction in digging until I’m sweaty and have a heaped wheelbarrow of dandelions and chickweed to toss onto the compost pile. We planted our garden the day before we left, and it’s up and thriving. If I look at the yard and all our flowerbeds as a whole, I feel overwhelmed, but if I just tackle one small section at a time, I’m rewarded with a feeling of accomplishment. The fragrance of the lilacs as I work is my reward.

my lilacs, June, 2014my lilacs, June, 2014


my lilacs, June, 2014

To keep me hydrated while slogging away at the garden, I’ve been enjoying frosty glasses of Chia Limeade – the Mexican inspired agua fresca (fresh water). Super healthy chia seeds are also my secret weapon when travelling. I always pack a small ziplock bag of the seeds in my suitcase, and add them daily to my bottle of drinking water. I fill a one-litre bottle half full with water, add about 1½ to 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, shake vigorously for a minute or so, then fill the bottle with more water, or some juice for flavour, if I have it.

The chia seeds have no taste, but add a lovely texture to the water, and since the seeds absorb so much water, they help keep me hydrated and add fiber and extra nutrition to my diet, which is often missing with all the restaurant food and lack of fresh vegetables when travelling. I mean, french fries (especially wonderful in Belgium, where they were invented) and lattés, and gelato and wine are absolutely essential to enhance the travel experience, but don’t exactly provide a balanced eating plan. A daily hit of chia seeds helps fill the nutritional gap a bit.

Plus, chia seeds make drinking water, or lemonade, or limeade, much more fun.

 * * * * *

 agua de chia limeade

 Agua Fresca de Chia or Chia Limeade

slightly adapted from a recipe by Christine Sanchez-Enkerlin (as promised, from my Mexican cooking class)

  • 3 juicy limes or lemons, plus more for garnish if desired
  • 2 litres (2 quarts) water
  • ¾ cup (165gms) sugar, or other sweetener, like honey or stevia, to taste
  • ¼ cup (40gms) chia seeds

limes and chia seedsSqueeze the juice from the limes (either using two forks, or a citrus reamer) into a large 2 litre pitcher.

squeezed out limes for the agua de chia limeade

Add half of the water, the sugar, and the chia seeds. Stir for one minute, until the sugar has dissolved and the chia seeds are starting to swell. If you don’t stir during this initial contact with water, the seeds can stick together and form clumps. Add the remaining water, taste, and adjust the sweetness if needed.

Stir or shake the agua fresca before pouring, to distribute the seeds. Some of the lighter seeds will float on top and some will sink. After the agua has been stored in the refrigerator for a day or more, most of the seeds will sink to the bottom.

Serve well chilled, or over ice cubes.

*Note: If you serve the drinks with drinking straws, you can use the straw to stir up the seeds as they settle – kind of like a mini-micro bubble tea. I forgot to use straws in the photos I took.

Guten Appetit!

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Orange and Grapefruit Syrup with a Little Hit of Cardamom


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16 Responses to Back Home from Europe and Ready for Summer with Refreshing Agua Fresca de Chia (Chia Limeade)

  1. meredith adams says:

    Love the photos and interesting commentary Margaret. We have enjoyed our time in Lisbon, with lots of walking up and down hills .The famous custard tarts are out of this world! Thanks to you and Raymond for looking after the acreage! Meredith and Garry

    • Margaret says:

      How wonderful – Portugal is on my wish list for the next trip! All that walking makes those delectable tarts a real reward, I’m sure. Hope you have lots of sunshine – can’t wait to hear the stories when you get back. Lots of sunshine here right now, too. We’re happy to return the favour for your yard. Enjoy your fantastic trip!

  2. Dale Abendroth says:

    What an amazing and whirlwind trip for sure. Enjoyed your photos and seeing the food you ate during your great adventure. Had not heard of putting the chia seeds in a beverage…look forward to trying it while I tend to my garden….digging in the dirt with a frosty limeade sounds like the makings of a grand day.

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks, Dale. It was a wonderful trip – so much to see – it just left me wanting to see more! Hope the rest of yours was great, too. It was so much fun doing the cooking course (I’ll post some pictures and recipes soon) and meeting you and all the other wonderful ‘cookers’ too. I love knowing a new friend and picturing you working in your garden in the sunny south while I work in mine up in the north. I’ll raise my glass of chia limeade to a fellow gardener and cook!

  3. Nancy Jay (sis) says:

    Hi Sister,
    Welcome back to North America. Glad you had a great and safe holiday throughout Europe. The pictures are breath taking and your stories always a delight to read. Thank you for sharing. Will catch up with you during the summer.
    Love Nancy

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks Nancy. It was such a fun trip, but very busy as well. Thanks for visiting the blog – can’t wait to catch up in person. Hope you enjoy your summer, too!

  4. Elsa says:

    Margaret your photos and the travel comment was a real treat,what an amazing trip you had.Can’t wait for the next set of photos and recipes.
    Hackepeter is one of Heiners favorite,s.
    Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures.

    • Margaret says:

      Switzerland was a special jewel – what a beautiful country! I never thought I could eat the Hackepeter, but it was absolutely delicious – so creamy and flavourful – a total surprise. I’ve heard my kids rave about it so often, I am glad I tried it! I’m so happy to share just a few of the hundreds of pictures we took!

  5. Chrustine says:

    Margaret, what a wonderful and richly experienced trip. We are happy you are back and ready to tackle many delightful recepies! Your fotos and all the comments felt like I was traveling with you (wishful thinking) 6000 well traveled kilometers! Ready for the next?

    • Margaret says:

      Totally ready! I just needed about a week to recuperate, and now I’m thinking of where I’d love to go next (though it’ll be a while, I’m sure – gotta save a few pennies first!) Travelling is such a wonderful experience, and the memories are the best souvenir. I’ll gladly go without lots of extras in my life, so I can travel a bit more. (Checking out all the great food in other countries is the best!)

  6. Vivian says:

    PORK tartare? What?! Please explain…

    • Margaret says:

      Yes – I had the same reaction! But each of our kids that have returned from their German student exchanges have always raved about it, so I finally had to try it – it’s very tasty, and so creamy, hard to explain. In Germany, ground pork for Mett, or Gehacktes, or Hackepeter (depending on the region) must be sold the day it is prepared, and can only come from fresh (not frozen) pork. The risk of trichinosis has been basically eradicated globally in commercially raised hogs since they are fed safe and approved feed. The rare instances that have been documented in the last few decades are usually from wild meat, or hogs that are raised privately and fed raw meat. German meat for Hackepeter is only purchased from reputable butchers that follow all the safety guidelines, so it is as safe to eat as beef tartare. We had it in a private home and in restaurants, and it was absolutely delicious, well seasoned with pepper and salt, and served on fresh bread or buns. Something new for me!

  7. Lori Bamsey says:

    Looks like you had a wonderful trip, brings back memories of Mom, Erin , Me and Stephanie a few yrs ago, definitely got to go and soon. Megan Sean and Max just got back from Turkey . Grandma Williams was just a touch nervous. LOL Have a great summer.

    • Margaret says:

      It was such a great trip, Lori. I’ve seen Erin’s pictures of the trip you guys took and it looks like you had a wonderful time together, too. I though of Erin a lot on this trip, especially in Avignon and Arles, in France, where she stayed on her own. Can’t wait to hear about the Turkey trip – that’s next on my wish list! Wishing you a fantastic summer, too, with lots of sunshine and free time!

  8. Tammy says:

    Love your photos and summary of your trip! Looks like you guys had a fantastic time :0) Too bad we missed you in Paris – we visited many of the same spots and I think I walked Mom’s feet off one day hopping on and off the Metro, :0)

    • Margaret says:

      That sounds so familiar – the part about walking our feet off! But it was so worth it, wasn’t it? Paris is a city I could visit again and again and never get tired of. There’s still so much I haven’t seen yet. Next time . . .

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