Madeira Island Guide | Europe’s Hawaï

We won’t blame you if you have never been to Madeira. The Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean isn’t that easy to find on the world map. However, once discovered, you won’t leave her out of your sight. Here’s your travel guide the island they call the Hawaï of Europe. Madeira.

Good to know

  • Transavia and TUI offer direct flights to Madeira which both take around 4 hours.
  • If you visit Madeira, it can be a good idea to hire a car. This way you are able to see most of the island. This also means that you can pick your accommodation outside of the busy and touristic town of Funchal.
  • There is always a breeze on Madeira! Because of this, the weather can change on each individual side of the island. Bring enough clothes to adapt. Bring your hiking boots!
  • Football player Christiano Ronaldo is from Madeira a therefore a national hero. You will see his face everywhere and the airport has even been named after him.

Madeira

Recently, Madeira has won the best island of Europe Award. It is the 4th time they have won this prestigious award.

More than a hiking destination

Most people that have heard of Madeira know that it’s a great hiking destination. But did you know that you can also sail, spot dolphins & whales, participate in abseiling and kayak activities and do so much more. Discover the infamous levada walks and surround yourself with lush green scenery, natural pools and waterfalls.

Hiking in Madeira
Hiking around the Levadas Madeira

Dolphin Watching Madeira
Jump! Dolphin watching on Madeira was one of the highlights!

Tip: Visit Ponta do Sol, the sunniest town on the island! There is a road nearby with tunnels and a little bit further you will find a waterfall that comes out on the road. Get a free car wash or take a refreshing shower!

Waterfall Madeira
Natural road showers

Funchal Town

There is enough nature on Madeira, but if you are looking for a short city escape with lot’s of restaurants, a few bars and shops, you should visit Madeira’s capital. Some highlights in Funchal that we recommend are:

  • Merdaco dos Lavradores, the market that is popular with travelers and locals alike. A place where the colours of fruit the smell of fresh herbs come together.
  • Walk around the old town to spot the ‘Street Art’ on almost every door. Houses and abandoned shops are now colourful displays since this art project launched a few years ago.
  • Visit a traditional Poncha bar! Poncha is the nr. 1 national drink mixed with rum, honey and fresh juice. Try Clementine, it’s my favourite!

Funchal Madeira
Walking around in Old Town, Funchal

Market Madeira

Fruit market Madeira
Merdaco dos Lavradores

Tip: From Funchal you can take the cable car to the historical village Monte that offers beautiful houses, churches and gardens.

Where to stay

There are many hotels and guesthouses to choose from, but at Wander-Lust we like to tip you with the most unique and special accommodations on the island of course! During our stay we stayed at 2 different hotels/villa’s. However, we have a few extra tips for the best place to stay for each budget.

  • Fajã dos Padres is only accessible by cable car or boat which makes this place a hidden gem. On the premises they grow bananas, mango’s and figs. Warning: If you have a dislike for spiders, beware that you are staying in the middle of nature. I was confronted by one in the bathroom and it wasn’t pleasant haha. Bungalows are available from around €70,- Book your stay here.
  • Estalagem da Ponta do Sol is a luxurious hotel that used to be a historic land house that has been refurbished and extended. The hotel is located in the sunniest town of Madeira. Jump in the wonderful pool or dine with sea view. During high season rooms go between €139,- and €300,-.
  • If you are looking for a private apartment with sea view, book Castelo Áustria Studio for just €100,- per night. You can easily share.

Fajã dos Padres, Madeira
The organic banana plantage at Fajã dos Padres


The spacious rooms at Estalagem da Ponta do Sol

What to eat

On Madeira you can enjoy a good meal for a reasonable price. Fish and shell fish are often caught locally and the black fish with banana (Espada com Banana) is a local favourite that you will find on every menu. Another dish that we love is the grilled octopus with potatoes and garlic olive oil. Funchal has many restaurant options, but if you want our recommendations, we advise you to check out these restaurants:

  • Quinta do Furão for the best lunch view! It’s located on top of the mountain so perfect to combine this with a road trip over the island.
  • Vivaldi is located in the busy Funchal so perfect for drinks afterwards. The food is OK but not out of this world.
  • Fajã dos Padres, this is also where we stayed. It was the best lunch we had on the island! Their herbs come straight out of their own garden.
  • Nini Design Centre for a lavish dinner overlooking the port. This design centre used to be a nightclub but now offers exhibitions and events.

Food on Madeira
Grilled Octopus with potatoes

Lunch view Madeira
Quinta do Furão overlooking the North East Coast of Madeira

See the sun set & see the sun rise

Drive up to Ponta do Pargo, the most western part of Madeira. You can easily park your car here and have dinner at a restaurant with sea view. If you want, you can also hike past the beautiful cliffs. Here you can see the sun set in the sea. If you are a morning person, we highly recommend you to book the sunrise tour with Hit The Road Madeira. You will have to get up around 5am, but the views are absolutely worth it! Tip: dress warmly, it can get windy and cold up the Pico do Arieiro mountain. This sunrise tour also takes you on an off road jeep adventure around Cova da Roda (hold yourself because it can get bumpy).

Pico do Arieiro, Madeira
Sunrise tour at Pico do Arieiro

Beaches & Natural Pools

Madeira is not known for her beautiful sandy beaches because it’s a volcanic island. However, there are some beautiful rocky bays and nice man-made beaches around. Next to that, Madeira offers some nice natural pools! Here are the best ones:

  • Prainha is one of madeira’s best natural beaches and located near popular Ponta de São Lourenço. It offers sun beds, parasols and toilets.
  • Calheta, this man-made beach has a beach restaurant and bar and is also popular with the locals.
  • Porto do Seixal Beach, is a natural black sand beach located right next to Seixal harbour. It has no services though.

beach Madeira
Calheta beach

  • Porto Moniz are probably the most popular natural pools on the island. It can be busy during high season.
  • Seixal Natural Pools are surrounded by stunning nature and a black beach. You can rent a lounger here.
  • Pocas Do Gomes/Doca Do Cavacas are not big but quite worth a visit! There is a natural pool next to the normal one and you can see the fish swim around your feet!
  • Cachalote Natural Pools are located at the entrance of Porto Moniz Village, right next to Cachalote restaurant and to the Aquarium at São João Baptista Fort.

Natural pools Madeira
Pocas Do Gomes/Doca Do Cavacas

Tip: If you really want the golden sandy beaches you can take a day trip to sister island Porto Santo, also named the “Golden Island”.

Must visit places on Madeira

  • Camara de Lobos is a cute fishers-man village with a few bars and restaurants. Take a seat where the locals sit and enjoy the easy life.
  • Miradouro do Guindaste in Faial is the spot that you see on the header photo of this article. Do we need to say more?
  • Ponta de São Lourenzo is one of Madeira’s most stunning cliff sides and therefore also very popular with tourists. However, we thought it was worth it and if you come late afternoon, it won’t be too crowded.
  • Achada do Marques is a tiny village that is only accesible by foot and surrounded by green mountains. We got this tip from a local, so this is off the beaten track!


Ponta de São Lourenzo reminds us of Nusa Penida

In conclusion, Madeira really surprised us! This is an island for those that love a bit of adventure and don’t always need a sandy beach to complete their holiday. The locals are very proud of their lush volcanic island and people that have been, always seem to return. 

Love,

Elke

Have you read our Marrakech Guide for 2019 yet? Click on the picture to read!

Marrakech streets

7 x Hidden Gems in Valencia

The Spanish city Valencia is the perfect weekend (or holiday) get-away and is only a 2.5-hour flight from the Netherlands. City, beach, park, and sailing, it is all there! However, if you feel like getting off the beaten path and see something different, here are some hidden gems and places that are often overlooked.

Bluebell Coffee

In the neighbourhood of Ruzafa you will find many trendy restaurants and bars. When you are there, take a visit to Bluebell Coffee for a delicious and healthy lunch. On the menu you will find homemade treats such as vegan tarts and banana bread, salads, avocado toast and fresh smoothies. The lovely inner garden is reminiscent of a tropical mini jungle. Carrer de Buenos Aires, 3

Bluebell Valencia

Petticoat Vintage

In trendy Ruzafa, you will also find many designer studios, art galleries and vintage shops. If you are a real vintage fanatic, you will become a real fan of the vintage store Petticoat. As a result, you will find unique pieces of good quality for a very nice price. Carrer de Sueca, 36

Vintage store Valencia

Almalibre

In the historic centre of Valencia, you will find the Açai bar Almalibre. Super fresh, super tasty and with a small terrace, making it the perfect place for lunch in the city centre. On the menu they have many goodies based on the Açai berry, all ecological and responsible. Carrer de Roteros, 16

Jardines de Monforte

The famous Turia park is one of the main attractions in Valencia. Another (smaller) park that is definitely worth a look is the Jardines de Monforte. These gardens are a stone’s throw away from the Turia park, but are skipped by many people. Because the gardens are somewhat hidden, you have to know of its existence to be able to enter it. Therefore, the park is perfect for when you want to enjoy some tranquillity. Carrer de Montfort, S/N

Valencia

El Saler Beach

El Saler beach is a good option if you want to escape the busier city beach. El Saler beach is located about 12 kilometres to the south of the city. The beach is surrounded by nature and has a relaxing dune landscape, with here and there paella restaurants. El Saler

San Tomasso

Stumbling upon this Italian restaurant in the city centre, was like finding a hidden treasure on a pretty lane, with great food and a delightful atmosphere. Secondly, waiters are quite fluent in English and the food was really more than excellent here. Carrer de la Corretgeria, 37

La Fabrica de Hielo

Although there is not much to see on the outside, inside this factory building is a gem that is host to live music, concerts, art workshops and locally sourced food. A wonderful place that is good for the eyes, ears and soul! Almost every day a live band performs in this venue, you can check their daily program hereCalle José Ballester Gozalvo, 37


Extra tips:

  • Ubify is the Uber in Valencia. Download the app and get home easily after a night out!
  • There is a ferry from Valencia to Ibiza, which takes approximately 5 hours. A fun and affordable way to explore Ibiza as well!
  • You can find even more Valencia tips and hotspots in this Guide if you are planning to visit sunny Valencia!

Love,

Iris

 

Discover North Western Sicily

We all know that Italy is for lovers. And so is Sicily. Lovers of people, lovers of food, lovers of ocean views and mountain roads. It doesn’t really matter what kind of love, Sicily is the perfect place to enjoy it. And here’s exactly where to do that in the North-Western side of this stunning island.

Dine your way through Trapani

The small city of Trapani isn’t the first spot people think of when they want to book a trip to Sicily. Which leaves Trapani a little bit undiscovered, always a good thing! It’s the type of town where you will get lost the first few times you walk around the city-center and every time you’ll discover something else to marvel about. Maybe an ancient church, the magnificent views from the boardwalk or a cute little cafe in a corner somewhere. Here you will find the most delicious food and drinks in narrow Italian alleys or on grand marble boulevards. Everything for very reasonable prices. And by reasonable I mean you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner every night without a worry in your wallet. Feeling romantic? A must-go is Osteria I Vitelloni, situated in one of the main streets in the centre of Trapani. Order the tuna in a pistachio crust and let them pick the wine. Go for amazing ice-cream at Panna & Co. If that isn’t love in a cone.. You can thank me later.

osteria-i-vitelloni-sicily
Osteria I Vitelloni

Palermo

Scooter your way around

Trapani is also a perfect gateway to a ton of other places you must see while you are on this side of the island. A scooter will take you and your loved one(s) everywhere! Go to Marsala for instance, a famous wine town a little drive to the south. Along the way you’ll see the salt pans this area is known for and feel the wind in your hair. A little more inland (after a fun drive) you can find the majestic temple complex of Segesta. Another piece of the past can be found in Erice, a medieval town which you can find hovering on a mountain above Trapani. Get there by scooter or by cable car! Although I didn’t try it, I have been told you can buy the best canolli on the whole island here (why I didn’t try it myself will always be a mystery).

fre-sonneveld-19374

Whatever you do in Trapani, don’t forget to visits the Egadi Islands. They are only a boat ride away but you’ll feel as if you travelled back years in time. The little villages cannot be any more picturesque and the surrounding waters couldn’t be more azure. If you have the chance to stay a few days on one of these islands, go for it. Opting for a day trip? Don’t fall for the tourist trap, the packed boats. If you are on a ‘everything is possible’ trip, book the catamaran. 

Little more of a budget? Just take the ferry to one of the islands and rent a bike once you are there.

San Vito Lo Capo, just the sound of it makes you want to go

Trapani is the perfect place to stay and to explore this side of Sicily. However, if you are a beach lover, this town’s city beach won’t fulfil your sandy and salty dreams. Luckily, there are some options for you to get your toes touching some lovely blue water. When traveling a lot to find that perfect spot isn’t your cup of tea, then head over to San Vito Lo Capo. It’s possible to scooter there for a day trip from Trapani, or if you want to lounge around the beach for a few days you can book a place to stay even though it’s is a bit more touristy. This little coastal village offers a beach that makes you feel as if you are on a tropical island. There are plenty of cute shops and spots to grab a bite, put on your holiday hat and enjoy. Every year in September they host the Cous Cous Fest in San Vito. 

Not far from San Vito Lo Capo lies the Riserva Naturale Orientata Dello Zingaro, a nature reserve which holds some beautiful bays with rocky beaches and ridiculously azure water. Bring your goggles for some underwater fun with the fish! 

Chill in Cefalu

Want to head over to a different side of Sicily to chill? Cefalu is your town! From Trapani you can book a ticket with public transport and it will take little over half a day of travel by bus and train. Cefalu looks like the Italian coastal towns that you see in paintings. It’s got the maximum idyllic factor. There’s lots to do here if you want to, from sailing to an active volcano-island to day trips to other well-know Sicilian places like Taormina. Or you can just stroll through the paved alleys, have an iced-cappuccino every once in a while and stretch your legs on the beach. I have to admit, that latter was how I filled my days in Cefalu.

Sicily Cefalu view point

Take a hike!

Even if you are feeling the lazy vibe, you should get of your beach bed once to climb Rocca di Cefalu. This massive rock towers above Cefalu and will give you some breathtaking views and historical facts. It is quite the climb, leave your flip flops at home and put on some more solid footwear. Once you’re on the top, there are loads of spots for that perfect lovey-dovey selfie. Just like in Trapani, San Vito Lo Capo and probably all the Sicilian towns, the food in Cefalu is amazing and the amount of restaurants to try is enormous. You cannot leave without trying at least five different types of pasta (more is better in this case). Many restaurants have hidden terraces overlooking the sea, be there in time for sunset!

Club Med Cefalù

Give each other a kiss, and book that ticket to the North Western side of Sicily!

Love,

Jill

Why you should Travel Solo at least once

It’s midnight and I’m walking through the rainy streets of Koh San Road, Thailand. I’m surrounded by fried scorpions and Thai neon signs which I can’t read. With a backpack full of courage I try to connect with the already drunken tourists, but unfortunately without any success. It’s my first time out of Europe, the first time backpacking. It was the best decision I could have ever made and I’ll give you 5 reasons why I think you should Travel Solo at least once in your lifetime.

I walk alone, but I feel more powerful than ever. A sense of freedom, I can do what I want, whenever I want.

Why you should travel alone

Nobody can discover the world for you

We can get lost in the most beautiful travel documentaries, dream away with breath taking photos and listen with unbelief to the stories of others. But nothing can compare to the experience in real life. If you want to discover the world we live in, go. Cause nobody can discover it for you. Being on your own means you can decide where you want to go, which places inspire you and choose the adventures that most appeal to you. You are in charge of broadening your horizons.

There is nobody here to stop me. It was time to discover the world on my own.

Finding your own rhythm

I’m definitely not a morning person and it has always been a challenge to agree with the overenthusiastic waking-up time of my friends. It’s a great feeling waking up and start doing whatever you want. There is no boss waiting for you at the office or a friend that desperately wants to go to that trendy, hipster breakfast place four blocks away while you’re starving. You have the time and space to create your own rhythm and discover your own needs. This is a valuable lesson to learn, also regarding your daily routines back home.

toa-heftiba-205018
You are more in the moment when you travel alone

While traveling, I realised that the differences between all of us are insignificant compared to what connects us.

Experiences will be more intense

The autopilot of the mind will be switched off when you’re confronted with new situations, which results in a higher level of focus. You’ll have to stay alert, take care of yourself and create your own path. Because of this you’ll feel more aware of your surroundings instead of looking at it passively or getting lost in a conversation with your partner. You will experience the world around you instead of only seeing it.

Ásbyrgi North iceland

New perspectives

Not being with friends or a partner means you have to go out of your comfort zone to meet new people or talk to locals. You’ll meet travelers from different cultures, backgrounds, social environments and also different characters. While traveling I realised that the differences between all of us are insignificant compared to what connects us. Traveling alone will teach you to be flexible, open minded and less judgmental.

Trust your intuition

Being on your own in an unknown country will give you a major confidence boost. Not only will your self-esteem grow because it’s really awesome to travel solo, the trust in your own intuition will increase as well. I can be quite the control freak so I tried to avoid making too many plans for my backpacking trip. It made me really nervous in the beginning as I was constantly questioning myself if it would workout. And to be honest, not everything did work out like it was suppose to. There was one day I didn’t have any money, food or a place to sleep cause my credit card got blocked. But in the end, everything will be fine, one-way or another. There is no need to stress or worry cause if you trust on your intuition it will always work out. Are you worried about traveling alone as a female? Check these 5 safe destinations that are perfect to start from.

why-you-should-travel-alone-eva
Eva in Chiang May, 2015

So what are you waiting for?

In my opinion, Solo Travel is not just a “cool” thing to do but it also really helps you to extend your boarders and develop yourself. You will gain new insights of the places you’ll go, the people you will meet and the cultures you will learn about. Secondly, it will also deepen the perspective on your own social environment and needs.

Traveling solo is the greatest gift you can give yourself. 

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

More travel tips? Check them here!

Yuan’s Hot Pot | Traditional Chinese Fondue

Preparing food in a hotpot is a traditional Chinese cooking method where a simmering pot of Chinese soup base fills the middle of the dining table. During dinner, guests drop their favourite fish, meat, frogs (oh yes) or veggies in the bubbling hot pot (Chuan Chuan Xiang). You can compare it to a traditional fondue, but better and also a bit healthier because you are not frying your ingredients. Yuan’s Hot Pot is the first of its kind based in Amsterdam. 

Yuan's Hot Pot

How it works

You start off by picking the base of your soup.Tip: be careful with your choice in the level of spice. These levels are curated on the tongues of the Asians, therefore, the half-half spicy is already very spicy! You can try it out anyway if you’re a bit stubborn, they can also make it less spicy by adding some more cooked water. Whatever you’ll choose, there are enough ingredients to choose from. At Yuan’s Hot Pot, you order your favourite dishes and drinks on a tablet and add them into your digital basket. Very 2019. What you order arrives at the table on bamboo skewers. The hot pot keeps simmering while you place the skewers into the soup and wait a couple minutes until it’s cooked and ready to eat.

Yuan's Hot Pot Amsterdam

Bring your friends!

In my opinion Yuan’s Hot Pot is not the kind of restaurant you’ll bring your date to, but I’ll leave that up to you. The interior doesn’t scream “Instagram hotspot” but this is what makes it authentic and traditional. As a result, you will see a lot of Asian customers and this is always a good sign! You’ll have more fun with family or friends around the table and time flies by while the soup boils. It’s also nice to reserve a table with more people than two, because you will be able to try and share more. This way you might be brave enough to order the frog legs, which are a real recommendation! Another option and less scary than the frog legs: shrimp dumplings (we ordered this up to five times). If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you have plenty of choice too!

Yuan's Hot Pot Vegetables

Yuan’s Hot Pot is the first restaurant in Amsterdam with this Hot Pot concept.

Why visit?

In conclusion, at Yuan’s Hot Pot, you’ll experience the real authentic taste of the Chengdu Hot Pot. This is the first restaurant in Amsterdam with this Hot Pot concept. They pamper their customers with much kindness and their secret family recipe and dishes. Sounds good right? A recipe that has been passed down from generations must be good!

Yuan's Hot Pot

YUAN’S HOT POT
Rijnstraat 51, Amsterdam
Website / Instagram
Monday – Sunday: 12:00 – 22:30

Love,

Larissa

More Tasty Spots in Amsterdam?

11 x City Beaches in and near Amsterdam

With the sun out, the urban jungle of Amsterdam can be hot during the summer months. If you don’t have time to get to the nearest coastline, you will be happy to know that you can find some awesome City Beaches in and around Amsterdam where you can put your toes in the sand.

Strandzuid

This sandy spot is really unique because it’s located next to the waterfront and the middle of Amsterdam’s business district. The city beach location has recently opened for their spring/summer season and has a brand new menu to go with it! We tried the vegetarian vegan carpaccio made from watermelon (must try!) and the Moroccan style Tahine. If meat is your thing, you will be pleased to hear that they use the amazing Josper grill, which gives meat and fish that ultimate bbq flavour. Strandzuid is also a popular place for after work drinks with colleagues, and on Fridays it’s full house around the beach bar. You’ll almost forget that you are in the middle of Amsterdam when you chill on the beach chairs. Strandzuid opens daily for lunch, brunch and dinner.

Strand Zuid Amsterdam
Swinging at Strand Zuid

Strand Zuid diner
Watermelon carpaccio!

DOK Amsterdam

DOK is the place where you can do more than just chill in the sand. From an intimate party in the quirky shed to a mini festival on the recently moved city beach. The most important ingredients? DJs, drinks and casual enjoyment! Good news for people with kids because on July 7th they will host a kids festival, how cool! DOK opens their new location this weekend and entrance is free of charge. See you there?

Dok City Beach Amsterdam
DOK

Paaseiland

They call themselves a beach resort so they needed a location near the water. They found it at Het Stenen Hoofd, which is located near Central Station and overlooks the IJ. This location is often used for food festivals, open air cinema’s, and was originally build for the Holland-America cruise liner back in the day. On the menu? They served Laska curry soup, fish burgers and a vegan crispy tempeh burger. For dessert they finished the evening with a delicious coconut-guava cake. Paaseiland isn’t a large beach area, but it has one of the best locations!

Paaseiland beach Amsterdam

Amsterdam Roest

They closed and then they re-opened, just for this summer. Goof news for us because Roest is such a nice getaway in the city. Located next to the water and enough playroom for the kids, this is a favourite for parents. Roest will close down after summer because of extensive site building, but after that they will return with a bang. Enjoy the summer at Roest while you can!

Roest

Sloterpark Beach

I live here so I know this area very well. The water is around 35 meters deep and the East and West side of the Sloterplas are available for swimming from the grass, where you will find actual swimming-pool-like-stairs going in the water. The newly refurbished man-made beach is better than ever with newcomer Hotel Buiten, that serves a tasty lunch, but also sells ice-cream and drink to take to the beach area.

Sloterpark beach

Pllek

An all time favourite city beach in Amsterdam North! Located on the industrial NDSM Werf is the charming Pllek. It doesn’t really matter what kind of weather it is, Pllek is always filled with people. During the weekends you can enjoy live music andDJ’s. Most of the menu is organic and local. Check the agenda for events.

Pllek city beach Amsterdam

Overlanden

This beach spot next to the Nieuwe Meer has stayed untouched so plants had a good change to grow in their natural habitat. Don’t be surprised if you see a herd of Scottish Highlanders grazing around, they maintain the natural balance in an ecologically responsible way. They won’t bother you unless you don’t bother them. The best other thing about this park is that you have plenty of secret swim and sunbathing spots. So you can get a tan without getting disturbed. Bring you own food and drinks because there is only one small café. 

Oeverlanden

Jaap Eden strand

The ice-skating ring makes place for a man-made sandy area where you can relax and sunbath. There is no pool to cool off in, but there is food & drink and lazy sun chairs, so  that’s fine by us. The beach area is open from Thursday to Sunday and there are activities for kids during the weekend. www.jaapeden.nl

Jaap Eden City Beach

Thuishaven

This party location isn’t free of charge, but it’s still one of the best weekend spots for those that want to party with their toes in the sand. Underground DJ’s and bigger names in the Techno and House scene play tunes in – and outside. If you haven’t been yet, you should check it out. Tickets are reasonably priced and there are a few food trucks to fill your tummy. www.thuishaven.nl


Just Outside Amsterdam

De Oerkap, Haarlem

Okok, we know this is outside Amsterdam, but it is just too nice not to mention. We recently had a look at De Oerkap, a city beach at the beginning of Haarlem city. It’s very child friendly and they serve speciality beers. Enjoy simple but filling lunch and organic ice-cream popsicles. See the trains pass while you enjoy the sunshine. De Oerkap is open everyday! Check their website for opening times. www.oerkap.nl

De Oerkap city beach

‘T Twiske

Here you will find several man-made beaches with many natural swim spots, also on the gras. You can participate in relaxing activities such as playing golf, fishing, hiking, cycling or  you can enjoy a BBQ. There is even a nudist beach area so eh..if you want to swim in your birthday suit, you can do it here! Parking cost €3,50 for the first 3 hours. www.twiske-waterland.nl

'T Twiske Amsterdam

Coming soon..

Noordkust. This spot certainly belongs to the list of City Beaches but is being build on as we speak. It will be finished this summer we hope and is located on the NDSM Werf! You will hear it here first!

Enjoy these City Beaches this summer!

Love,

Wander-Lust

The Shoreditch Guide | London

Quite possibly home to one of the coolest streets in London, Shoreditch is that rare gem of a neighbourhood that fuses ye-old London Town with a ‘right here, right now’ sensibility. Shoreditch High Street is where the main hustle and bustle is taking place. Spending a day here guarantees top quality breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktail options. The adjoining side streets will delight and distract you with temptations coming from an eclectic range of boutique shops, hotels and other look-in spots.

Shoreditch Guide

If you’re an early riser then look no further than Albion – a trendy all-day British cafe, bar and grocery shop which sits as part of the Boundary Project Hotel. Famed for its simple yet delicious food the menu delivers seasonal produce and artisan ingredients. The grilled sweet potato plate with English feta, avocado and spinach will keep you well stocked for the day ahead and is quite the pairing with a Mimosa. Take a seat outside and watch the world go by – the locals here have a distinctive dress sense which will surely inspire.

Shoreditch London

Shopping

Looking to lighten your wallet and hit the shops? You have plenty to choose from here. Firstly, the quirky interiors emporium House of Hackney hits the spot for anyone looking for bold prints and exotic patterns. Secondly, Pam Pam is a womenswear clothing and lifestyle store and is a must visit for any millennial looking for a new sneaker. Finally, A.P.C. and Aesop also have outposts here that invite you in to wish up your Christmas list.

Shop Shoreditch, London

For something a bit different Barber & Parlour is a space to shop and relax in while also specialising in grooming for men and women. Owned by the famed Soho House Group (Shoreditch House occupies the building opposite). This casual-cool establishment offers everything from hairdressing to beard grooming, massages and mani/pedis all available on a walk-in basis. Their onsite cafe serves up an all-day breakfast and brunch menu and stellar cocktails. While the Electric Cinema in the basement gives audiences a unique cinema-going experience. Mainstream, independent and world cinema, you can find it here.

Street Art

Shoreditch also delights visitors and locals alike with its vibrant graffiti and street art scene. If you’re looking to discover more behind this once taboo art form, The Alternative Walking Tour of East London will help you discover the past and present of this cultural and creative hub through an illustrated and fascinating adventure.

Shoreditch, London

Kick start your night at Pizza East with rustic hand-made pizzas served in an atmospheric hall-like environment. This popular joint is situated in a former tea warehouse. With daily-changing specials and wood-wood-oven pizzas, this is a must visit. The veal meetball pizza on their a la carte menu ticks many a box.

Pizza East, Shoreditch
Pizza East

Other recommendations

To cram into a day out in Shoreditch include: Box Park – a pop-up mall for independent and global lifestyle store and street-food options with a difference. Each vendor is housed in a shipping container. Dishoom – is always worth a visit – is a beautifully decorated Indian brasserie with a bohemian feel and incredible menu. If you’re there for breakfast try the Bacon Naan Roll, you won’t be disappointed. The Ace Hotel has an outpost further up on Shoreditch High Street and delivers a premier hipster hotspot with working spaces, stylish rooms and the ever-popular Hot Polloi restaurant. East London also offers some very nice rooftops, so when the weather is nice, go up!

cafe in Shoreditch

In conclusion, Shoreditch embraces an ever-changing culture. Step in and experience life as if there wasn’t a care in the world. If you’ve got anywhere from an hour to a full day to spare in this city, head along as soon as possible.

Love from London,

Stephanie

*Stephanie is our guest editor from London. She works for a large fashion brand and loves to explore new eateries and pretty corners whenever she has the chance. Follow her on Instagram

The 3-day London Guide is here!

3 days London City Guide

Maison Suisen in Paris | The Spa that brings you to Japan

Whether you’re based in Paris or just visiting, you’ll eventually find yourself caught up in the fast-paced lifestyle on the chic Parisian streets. After living in Paris for almost a year, I have just discovered the perfect way to escape all of this and it does not even require you to board a plane! Spa Maison Suisen will bring you to Japan.

Maison Suisen

Located in the buzzing quarter of La Marais, spa Suisen is the perfect escape from the hectic Parisian lifestyle. Sounds ironic doesn’t it, that the calmest and most relaxing spot in town is situated in the middle of the busiest part of Paris. But trust me, once you step through the door of Spa Suisen, you’re immediately transported to the faraway land of Japan. As the door closes behind you, blocking your daily stress and worries out.

Maison Suisen

Maison Suisen

All-around wellness from the moment you enter

Yes, Suisen is a place where you enjoy the most luxurious Japanese massages, but that’s not all of it. Here at Maison Suisen, both your physical and mental wellness will be taken care of by perfectly trained experts from the moment you step into the centre. To start your me-time right, the house offers you a perfectly brewed cup of Houjicha, a gentle and light toasted green tea imported directly from Japan to unwind you. As I took my first sip of the tea, my body immediately felt relaxed. Take your time and enjoy the tea as you prepare your mind and body for the treatment that follows.

Massage room Maison Suisen, Paris

Total passion for the Japanese art of shiatsu

Before being led to the second floor where the three massage rooms are, Sandra, the owner of Suisen, explained to me in detail, the concept of the centre, the different functions of each tea they offer in house, which are also available for purchase, and the differences between the four treatments they perform and have mastered the art of. As she spoke, I sense a total passion and adoration she holds for the Japanese culture which she has effectively introduced and brought over to Paris.

Each treatment places an equal focus on both the mental and physical aspects of the client.

Maison Suisen, Paris

Complete relaxation for the mind and the body

Time to change into my Japanese outfit and lay down on the tatami, a traditional Japanese mat that is placed on the floor for sleeping or massages. These, too, are flown in directly from Japan, as well as being bio and organically made. Sandra recommended the traditional Shiatsu, which does wonders for my circulation and immune system. There are other options, such as body toning, facial treatment and full body shiatsu with aromatic old to target muscle tension.The masseuse applied pressure to all the right spots, loosening all the tensions in my body. As enjoyable as the physical massage was, I particularly loved the smell of the scented serviette that covered the top half of my face, leaving everything below my nose exposed.

Each inhale smelt better than the last. It was their secret recipe of aromatic fragrances, as I was told.

Massage Maison Suisen

Further indulgence for a perfect end

The hour flew by too quickly. I woke up completely relaxed and despite all the pressured applied to my body, I felt lighter. After the masseuse said her goodbye and left the room, I lazily changed back into my outfit and headed downstairs for another cup of freshly brewed tea. This time, I had Sencha, an energy-boosting green tea with vitamin C. This has a completely different taste to the Houjicha, yet both were equally delicious. My tea came with a citron macaron. You have the option of a Matcha one too! I left Suisen feeling the most relaxed I have ever been and I cannot wait to revisit it.

My Verdict

Aside from the massage, my daily routine had remained the same. Yet, last night, I slept so much better and woke up more rejuvenated than I have been throughout the past week. If it wasn’t the massage, I do not know what it could possibly be!

Spa Suisen
7 rue de Thorigny 75003 Paris
France

Website / Instagram

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editors from Hong Kong. Graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. Follow her on Instagram.

 

North Iceland | Off the beaten track

Iceland has become one of the most popular adventure destinations over the last couple of years. The Southern part however, has been getting the most attention. As a result, the infamous Blue Lagoon has become crowded and large tour busses are driving around the golden circle like there is no tomorrow. Dutch tour operator Voigt Travel thought it was time to shed some light on the often forgotten Northern part of Iceland and now offers direct flights to Akureyri with Transavia. Wander-Lust was invited to travel around North Iceland for 6 days and we’re here to tell you why this part shouldn’t be overlooked.

Good to know

  • During spring/summer, it won’t get dark. Even though the most hotels offer good curtains, we advise you to bring an sleeping mask
  • The weather can change drastically. Therefore, pack your sweater, raincoat, sunscreen and bikini (for the natural pools).
  • The people of Iceland still believe in the existence of the Huldufolk translated to, hidden people. Apparently these are like elves and wander around the island. Don’t underestimate their believe, you may find yourself in a heated discussion if you tell them otherwise.
  • Respect the vulnerable moss! Although Iceland is rocky and full of lava remains, moss grows on the rocks and takes decades to grow. Be careful when walking around, because you can easily damage it.
  • The tap water in Iceland is one of the best and widely available. Bring a flask or bottle so you avoid using plastic.

Northern Iceland
Always bring your raincoat (raincoat by Rain Couture)


The Route

Because of the new flight to Akureyri, you can start your trip from there and move around the Northern part, but we did it a little different. Starting in Reykjavik, we drove past the West coast up to North Iceland. This way, you can really see the landscape changing. Check the highlights on the map below.

North Iceland mapSource: Visit North Iceland

Tip: Drive over the Artic Coast Way, which officially opened on the 8th of June 2019 and has been voted in in the top 3 “Best in Europe” by the Lonely Planet. It highlights a less traveled route in Iceland and runs 900km long. In this guide we will show you the route we took plus we will highlight the extra options available in the area.

Artic Coast way
The Artic Coast Way

Day 1 | Drive up North:

From Reykavik drive for about 2 hours to get to North East Iceland where we started our adventure. Stop over at Gauksmýri and meet the animal that you will see loads of, Icelandic Horses. Family owned horse farm Gauksmýri lodge offers traditional horse shows and a nice lunch or dinner. If you are not into horses you can drive to Hvammstangi where you can visit the oldest wool factory in Iceland where you can also buy hats, gloves, scarfs and warm jumpers.

Icelandic Horses North Iceland

Where to stay?
We advise you to take it easy on the first day because you may need to get used to the fact that it won’t turn dark during spring/summer. We stayed in Hotel Laugarbakki, basic but fine, especially because it’s a great starting point for the next day.


Day 2 |Hvammstangi:

If you like to you can go seal watching today. Gear up warmly because it can get cold on the boat. We saw many seals playing in the water or chilling on shore. The Seal Watching Company provides you with binoculars and hot chocolate on board. We enjoyed a nutritious lunch right next door at Sjavarborg Restaurant, with a sea view. They offer burgers, vegan curry and daily fish specials.

Seal Watching North Iceland
Seals used to be hunted in Iceland, but now people let them be and enjoy them differently.

Along the way you are going to see various types of landscapes. The Fjörds, rocky mountains and fields of grass with Icelandic sheep jumping around. Tip: stop at Ánastađastapi, a rock formation less known, but just as impressive as the infamous Hvitserkur. Legend says, that Hvitserkur is in fact a troll that was turned into stone by the sunlight. Whatever the truth is, take a close look when it’s low-tide so you can walk on the black volcanic beach.

Ánastađastapi North Iceland
Ánastađastapi

Hvitserkur North Iceland
Troll or rock? Hvitserkur, North Iceland

Soon enough you’ll find yourself in Sauðárkrókur, which was once the battleground for vikings. The area has many historical sites, museums and exhibits. Tip: In town you should have dinner at KK Restaurant. Lobster pizza is one of their specialities! Be aware though, they also serve Greenland shark and foal meat (yes, this is a baby horse). If you are vegetarian, just mention it and you will be taken care of.

Dinner at KK restaurant
Dinner at KK Restaurant

Where to stay?
You have several options, but we stayed at www.siglohotel.is. This hotel is really amazing but not the most affordable! Big plus; they have great curtains that make your room really dark, so no eye mask is needed!


Day 3 | Húsavík:

You are now driving into the territory famous for Whale Watching, Húsavík! Book your tour in advance, especially during the high season and bring your camera! We booked our Whale watching tour with Whale Watching in Hauganes. Nice to know:  This company is carbon neutral and compensates their CO2 emissions by planting trees. Tip: Take a lunch break at the traditional Icelandic Baccalá Bar where you can eat the catch of the day!

Whale Watching North Iceland
We saw a Humpback Whale but even Blue Whales have been spotted here!

There are quite a few spa’s in Iceland but the one you must try is this rather unusual one: The Beer Spa – The first Beer Bath in the Nordics, linked to the first microbrewery in Iceland. The bath water contains 10 litres beer, hob and herbs. You will be surprised how extremely soft your skin and hair will feel afterwards! The best thing? You can tap your own beer while relaxing in the bath! 

Beer Spa Northern Iceland
Beer anyone?

If you are more into a natural bath, check out Geo Sea, a relatively new natural pool with a stunning view over the Fjörd of Húsavík. Thanks to the underground heat, the seawater in the baths is warm and comfortable and the mineral-rich water will caress your skin. 

Geo Sea Baths
Relaxing at the Geo Sea Baths

Not far from Goðafoss (20 min drive) you’ll find the cutest Icelandic turf houses, Grenjaðarstaður. It used to be home to several families since the 1800’s. Since 1958 they were made into a museum, so people can take a look inside and keep the traditional Icelandic housing alive.

Icelandic Turf Houses Northern Iceland
Traditional Icelandic Turf Houses

Other highlights in/near Húsavík:

  • When you continue your way, there is an option to stop over at the Kolugljúfur Waterfall, the first one we saw along this trip. (many will follow!)
  • Goðafoss waterfall is a stunning waterfall that turns into river Skjálfandafljót. It is 30 meters wide and falls 12 meters down.
  • If you like museums you have plenty of choice; the Whale Museum, the Exploration Museum, and the Culture House are all located in Húsavík.

Goðafoss waterfall North Iceland
Goðafoss waterfall

If you have time to drive up to Raufarhöfn, one of the most remote and northernmost villages in Iceland, you will find Heimskautsgerðið (The Arctic-Henge). Similar to ancient wonder Stonehenge, the Arctic Henge is like a huge sundial. For instance, the structure seems to play with shadow and light which gives it a stunning appearance. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see it because of lack in time, but if you extent your visit to 7 days you should be able to make it.

Arctic Henge, North Iceland
Arctic Henge, located in one of the most the remote areas of North Iceland. Source: Visit North Iceland


Day 4 |Vatnajökull National Park:

Drive from Húsavík towards the green valley and canyon region. On your way you can stop over at Skúlagarður for lunch with a breathtaking view. Mind you, the place is pretty basic, but if the weather is nice, you must enjoy the outside seating area with a piece of pie.

After a while you will arrive at the foot of Ásbyrgi, a natural wonder and part of the Vatnajökull National Park. The park reaches from highway 85, by Asbyrgi south to Dettifoss, covering an area of 120 km2. However, a little warning for drone fanatics; keep your drone packed because you are not allowed to fly here (they are very strict on this!). There are many beautiful  hiking trails available and you can get all the information at the information kiosk where you can also park the car. We decided to walk on top of the Canyon so we had a nice view looking down. This took us about 1,5 hours.

Ásbyrgi North iceland

Ásbyrgi, North Iceland
Ásbyrgi Canyon

Other highlights near Ásbyrgi:

  • Visit Dettifoss – the most powerful waterfall in Europe and This results in a natural shower if you stand close enough! The sun was shining at the time of our visit, which created a beautiful rainbow. Tip: Make sure you wear your raincoat if you walk down to see it!
  • Hljóðaklettar rock formations  a cluster of columnar rock formations standing at the entrance to Vesturdalur, down by the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River. The columns lie at all angles, and it could be an entertaining exercise for one’s imagination, to interpret their patterns in as many different ways as possible.
  • Dimmuborgir rock formations – also named Dark Fortress has several hiking trails. After a volcanic eruption, this area became as it now stands, lava that has turned to stone and many deep cracks into the ground.

Detifoss waterfall
The most powerful waterfall in Europe; Detifoss

Hljóðaklettar, North Iceland
The landscape in North Iceland keeps you guessing 

Hljóðaklettar
Dimmuborgir. Photo by Henk Boltof.

After a full day of hiking, it’s time to make your way up to Myvatn, a volcanic area with craters, boiling mud holes and natural pools. From Ásbyrgi, it will take you about 1,5 hours to drive there. Myvatn, famous for its large lake and volcanic activity, actually translates to Mosquito lake and is one of the few places where mosquito’s live in Iceland.

End the evening at the Mývatn Nature Baths. These natural water pools are like the Blue Lagoon, but like most of North Iceland, less crowded and it has a better view. There is a steam room and you can order beers while relaxing in the warm water which can rise up to 41°C. Visit their website for more info on pricing and opening times.

Myvatn Nature Baths, North Iceland

Where to stay?
If you can afford it, stay at the stunning and relatively new Foss hotel. It was build from wood features low-environmental impact materials. And boy, the view is priceless as you can see the craters from the dining room! We also enjoyed dinner at the Foss Hotel as there are not many restaurants around.

Foss Hotel Myvatn
Foss Hotel, Myvatn


Day 5 | Mývatn:

Use this day to explore Lake Mývatn and the surroundings. Everything is close by in North Iceland so you can pick and choose.

  • Namaskard Geothermal Area You probably haven’t seen a landscape like this one before. It feels like you have anded on Mars. Prepare for the smell of sulphur which you can compare to rotten eggs.
  • Hverfell Crater Mountain although we didn’t get a chance to see it up close, its said to be well worth going up here for a full circle hike.
  • Skutustadagigar Pseudocraters cool places attract tourists, and this is exactly what you will see here. Nevertheless, if you drive past, get out and try to take a picture of the row of bizarre and beautiful pseudo craters.
  • Grjotagja Hot Spring Cave  this hidden natural cave pool has become somewhat famous after a love scene in Game of Thrones. I was used as a natural pool by locals up until an earthquake made the water too hot and dangerous. Entering the cave is at your own risk.
  • Enjoy a healthy and organic lunch at the Cowshed Restaurant – which is set next to the stables of the cows. They produce their own milk, cheese and meat, and they serve an amazing vegetarian plate too!

Námaskarð Pass, North iceland
Namaskard Geothermal Area

And last but not least, take a little detour and go visit Aldeyjarfoss. This stunning waterfall is not easy to get to because you need to drive over dusty and unpaved roads. However, this is why touring busses and many other tourists skip this sight. We were there all by ourselves and it was truly amazing.

Aldeyjarfoss North Iceland
Off the beaten track: Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall


Day 6 |Akureyri:

After Reykjavik, Akureyri is the largest city of Iceland. If you decide to start your trip here and you can make a circle through North Iceland and fly back to the Netherlands. Here you will find coffee bars, lunchrooms and even sushi restaurants. A nice details; the traffic lights contain heart shaped lights, spreading love throughout the city. The airport is only 5 to 10 minutes away from the city centre which makes it easy to get in and out of town compared to other cities in Europe. For more info about Akureyri, check www.visitakureyri.is

Akureyri North Iceland
Akureyri street art

In short, if you are ready to go off the beaten track and see a different Iceland, visit the North. You won’t be disappointed. 

Voigt Travel offers flights, excursions and routes in 8 different countries and has recently included Iceland in their portfolio. Like us, they believe that every trip should be a new experience, enriching your life. Therefore, they try avoid the usual touristic routes and focus on those hidden gems in the world. 

Happy Travels,

Elke

8 Facts & Tips about Travel Vaccinations

Vaccinations, it’s something any frequent traveler has to deal with at least once in their lifetime. But do you know all the facts? We have combined the most important facts and tips for you.

Did you know?

  • That there is no vaccine (yet) against malaria, you need to take pills to prevent the infection?
    Malaria is one of the most widespread diseases in tropical and subtropical countries. Symptoms look a lot like a heavy flu but don’t be fooled, The disease is very dangerous and can be fatal if not treated quickly. Make sure you use strong mosquito repellent in Malaria area’s. Check the complete malaria map to find out where you need to get your pills for.
  • That most people don’t know that it’s preferable to get a vaccine more than 3 weeks in advance?
    It totally depends on the vaccination you’re getting. Some vaccinations even need to be taken twice within a space of a few months. It is preferably to get your vaccines at least 3 weeks in advance. However, it always helps to get vaccinated, even if you think you are too late. Better safe than sorrow!
  • That prices may vary between different providers that offer travel vaccinations?
    Nowadays you can get home vaccine kits send to your home, but they often come with a price that is not always standard. Also, different district can offer different prices. You can always get a Cholera stamp for free.
  • One out of ten travellers will have diarrhoea when traveling?
    Good personal hygiene and adequate sanitary conditions will lower your chances of suffering from diarrhoea. It is also important to be careful what you eat and drink! Certain foods are unsafe to eat, especially raw food and food that has been standing at room temperature in warm environments for a while. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables, unless you have washed and peeled them yourself. Not all water is fi t for drinking. In countries with poor sanitation, tap water can be unsafe to drink, even in luxury hotels. 

Bali surfbabe
Sarah had a few rabies injections because of a dog bite on Bali

Tips & Tricks

  • Try to avoid close contact with dogs, cats, bats and other pets if you are in a foreign country. They can contain the rabies virus, something you really don’t want to get. 2 years ago, Sarah got bitten by a dog in Bali and she needed to get rabies injections immediately. This also meant; no swimming for a few days and heavy antibiotics.
  • If you are planning a longer trip, say for 6 months or longer, it’s always a good idea to visit your dentist before you go. This way you do not have to deal with dentist cost and hassle abroad. Did you know that hepatitis B can be contracted from non-sterile medical instruments, for example at a dentist’s office. Infection can also occur through non-sterile instruments used for body piercing, tattooing or shaving. 
  • If you are on medication, always pack these into your hand luggage.For some medications, such as strong pain killers, ADHD-medication and medicinal cannabis, a declaration signed by your doctor is necessary.
  • When we travel we always bring the following remedies:
    Paracetamol
    Diaree stopper (you do not want this mess while you are on a 6 hour bus ride)
    Antihistamine for allergic reactions

coconut at Koh Adang resort

Vaccinations may be the last thing you want to think about when planning a trip but it is always necessary.

Hopefully, these tips will help you prepare for your next trip.

Safe travels!

Wander-Lust