THE BEST OF DOHA, QATAR

Doha is considered the pearl of the middle east that set itself on the map after being elected for the 2022 World Cup. Time to find out why it’s good to travel to Doha now, before it’s becoming the next Dubai.

The city of Doha has many amazing sky scrapers, entertainment, shopping, glitch and glamour, yet it still offers an authentic culture and history. We were invited by Qatar Airways to see the best of Doha.

HOW TO GET THERE

Given that Qatar Airways is officially the best airline in the world, I was happy to fly with them for the first time. Luckily, I was upgraded into their QSuite (O Em Gee), which has been voted as the best business class by the Yearly World Airlines Awards, the oscars of aviation. For someone with a fear of flying, this was the most relaxing flight I had ever experienced. A direct flight to Doha takes about 6 hours, so that’s pretty reasonable. Qatar Airways for that matter, is offering Doha as a stopover, which you can add to your booking. As a matter of fact, if you fly with QR, you can get a discount on hotel prices. 4-star hotels are available for as little as 23USD! Nice to know: Qatar Airways offers all passengers 1 hour free wifi!


Business Class Qatar Airways
Enjoying the QSuite

THE STORY ABOUT QATAR & DOHA

First thing to remember is that Qatar is a reasonably small country which makes it fairly easy to travel around if you want to. You can actually drive from North to South Qatar in approximately 3 hours. As you may have heard, Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world due to their gas & oil, but it wasn’t always like this. For centuries, pearl harvesting used to be the main source of income for Qatari people. But due to the great depression and competition, pearls lost their value and the country needed to find other ways to earn a living. The pearl however, remains an important symbol of Qatar until this day.

Baskets at Souq Waqif

Doha on the other hand, is only 40 years old, which explains the modern vibe and ongoing construction. People often compare it to Dubai, but the people who live here, find Doha to be very different. For one, Dubai is all about entertainment, luxury and shopping. While Doha is certainly up there when it comes to luxury hotels, restaurants and bars, but also offers culture, sports and traditions.

GOOD TO KNOW

The best time to visit Doha is from October until the end of April. It must be remembered that the weather is undoubtedly less hot during those months with temperatures between 25 and 35 degrees. While this still seems quite warm, during summer period it can get up to 50ºC! It also has to be considered that Qatar is a muslim country, so dress accordingly. This means long dresses or trousers and try to cover your upper arms. On the contrary, you can wear pretty much whatever you want in most hotels. Alcohol is not served in public spaces, but only inside some restaurants and bars. That being said, I never heard a police siren while I was there, something I haven’t experienced in a city before.

Skyline

WHERE TO STAY

In general, there is enough choice when it comes to accommodation in Doha. For the most part, there are many big hotels, but the city also offers boutique style hotels and homestays. The best place to stay in Doha is in the West Bay area. Here you are near the airport, museums, and Souq Waqif. During my three-day trip I stayed in the following hotels.

  • Mandarin Oriental

    Brand new in Doha so modern and stylish. The rooms are truly exquisite and spacious. The hotel has an outdoor pool, 3 restaurants and a spa. Their latest gastronomic addition is Mosaic, an international kitchen with an Arabic twist. The location of the hotel is recently build, so taxi drivers may not find it that easily. On the positive side, Mandarin Oriental is located at walking distance of Souq Waqif!

Hotel pool

  • Marsa Malaz Kempinski

    In contrast to the Mandarin Oriental, Kempinski is more classical and larger. The entrance is quite impressive and the hotel offers a large pool area and a beach. They have a very cool must visit rooftop bar named Secret Garden and club that is only accessible via the parking lot. Bare in mind that the dresscode is smart/casual and visitors must bring their passports. Ask the reception for all the details.

Hotel bed

Kempinski Hotel Doha

The above mentioned hotels are both amazing but understandably not for every budget, so you are best to compare the best rated hotels online.

WHERE TO EAT

Luckily, Doha offers a wide range of cuisines and flavours. Even vegetarians have plenty of options! Here is a list of some must try restaurants.

  • Al Mourjan Restaurant offers some of the best Lebanese food in Doha. From the outside terrace you have an amazing view. Try the lemon/mint juice, amazing!
  • Nobu Doha is famous for sushi, but the same goes for their good service. The Japanese chefs welcome every new customer with a traditional greeting while working their magic behind the counter. Upstairs you can enjoy a drink at the bar, which overlooks part of Doha’s skyline. Nobu is part of the Four Seasons Hotel, due to open in early 2020.

Mezza in Doha

  • Apparently, Spicemarket is the best rated Asian restaurant in Doha. The restaurant which is located in the W-hotel, takes you on a journey across South East Asia and brings the authentic flavours to the table.
  • If you are a brunch person, go to Arc Brunch Eatery! Apparently they serve a killer coconut latte.
  • As previously mentioned, Mosaic is the newest restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel. They offer a variety of Arabic food with a twist!
  • Spots like Soul Bowl and Evergreen Organics are made for those that crave something healthy and vegan. Plus both locations look cute!

Mosiac

Nice to know: Little did I know, but coffee is a thing in Doha! You’ll find many trendy coffee bars around the city and our favourites café’s are Flat White, Cue Café, Fleurs at Café, 20 Grams Coffee Bar, MIA Café and Tea Garden.

Coffee bar Doha
Cue café, in the Pearl (source)

CULTURE & TRADITIONS

You may not expect it, but Doha is full of culture and traditions. For example, the falcon, Qatars symbol and bird, is still as important as centuries ago. Some falcons even travel first class with their owners! At Souq Waqif you can find a falcon market where the birds are sold and traded. There is even a falcon hospital to keep them in good shape. The traditional Souq itself is also worth a visit. During the evening it gets more crowded but if you come between 7:30 – 12:00, you can take photo’s without hardly any people. They sell everything from handmade baskets, colourful carpets, spices, sweets and tools. The souq is also the best place for traditionally Arabic food, but you can also find Indian, Lebanese and Iranian food here.

Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif during the day

Doha Falcon

Museums

I never expected to find the best museum I have ever visited in Doha, but I did. The National Museum of Qatar is truly impressive. The design – inspired by a desert rose, is incredible. But once inside, NMOQ is curated beautifully. It takes you through the ancient times, including the amazing displays of  different species that live in Qatar. How pearls came and went, war and traditions. Not to mention that kids will love the interactive and playful set ups, while adults enjoy the beautiful indoor architecture and information.

NMOQ in Doha
The stunning National Museum of Qatar

But this is not the only museum Doha has on offer. MIA (Museum of Islamic Art) is also one of the city’s pride and joy. The building portraits a Qatari woman wearing a bourqa. From here you have a stunning view of Doha’s skyline. If you like modern art, check out Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art. With new exhibitions each month, Doha also has many galleries. Find out more here.

MIA Museum in Doha
MIA Museum

THINGS TO DO IN DOHA

Equally important are the activities Doha has on offer. A unique selling point has to be the desert with one of the world’s natural wonders; the inland sea. Next to Namibia, Qatar is the only place on earth where the sea reaches the desert. You can book several tours that will take you dune bashing. If you come in the beginning or end of the month, the sea will reach the sand dunes completely, otherwise the sight of it may be a bit disappointing.

Desert Qatar
Me, in the desert. Photo by Roel van der Krabben

Desert and sea
Camels standing at the inland sea

Visit Banana Island

Besides the thrilling desert of Qatar, you can also spend an afternoon at the luxurious Banana Island Resort. From Doha City you can take a ferry in just 35 minutes that will take you to the man-build island. There are a few restaurants, pools and beach area for visitors to enjoy the day. If you want to stay the night, you need to bring your credit card, because it ain’t cheap! Even so, it’s perfect for honeymooners or to escape the city.

Banana Island entrace
The entrance of Banana Island Resort

Katara Cultural Village

What’s more, a whole village was build to bring different cultures together through art and creativity. There are shops, restaurants, theatre, exhibition area’s and festive events. Doha is full of expats and they love to come here to listen to familiar sounds and meet friends. There is also a stunning mosque which was designed by a woman, which is quite special.

Mosque
The Mosque at Cultural Village

MY VERDICT

Having experienced Doha for a few days, and can say that it’s the perfect city for a stopover before heading home or continuing your trip. With this intention you can truly enjoy the best of Doha. In short, the capital of Qatar can be quite expensive indeed, but if you if you want, you can go all out here and treat yourself to great food, sunshine, glitch and glamour. Hop from hotel bar to beautiful restaurants or experience rich culture the sand dunes and meet some of the nicest people as a bonus, both expats and locals.

And remember that Dubai once started out as Doha. Quietly and full ambition. I think it’s time to visit this relatively unknown destination and enjoy it before it becomes a place where you’ll become just another tourist.

Love,

Elke

 

 

 

 

11 x Christmas Markets in Amsterdam 2019

One of the things that really gets us in the Christmas Spirit are the markets in the month December. You don’t have to look far to find some of the best Christmas Markets in Amsterdam.

Here are 11 amazing Christmas Markets located in Amsterdam that you should definitely visit this winter! (plus a few bonuses!)

Kerst op de Westergas

When? from the 6th of December, Westergas terrein
Gluhwein, food, gifts and all the things you are looking for on a Christmas Market in Amsterdam. However, this event adds a little rock & roll with karaoke, naughty Christmas songs and creatives. Not to mention the ice-skating ring! In any case, the whole month December will be filled with Christmas and winter fun on the Westergas at various locations. You can see all the events here.

Vogue Christmas Market

When? 8th of December, Westergas (TBC)
It’s the first ever Vogue Christmas market in Amsterdam, so you can’t miss this one! There will be beautifully decorated Christmas stalls with amazing brands and gifting. Drink glühwein at the Vogue café, go crazy in the photo booth and score Vogue goodies! Kids are welcome! 

 

Winterpark Christmas Market

When? 8th of December, Noordermarkt
Come to the Noorderpark on Sunday 8 December for the most fun Christmas market! You can enjoy up to 60 neighborhood stalls and delicacies, games, music, an ice rink, photo album, baking cookies and a real Christmas clothing exchange boutique. Winterpark Christmas Market has a social approach, all stalls are filled with homemade or collected items.

Sissy-Boy’s Maison de Noël
 
When? 7th & 8th of December, West Indisch Huis
This is one of the winter markets we are looking forward to the most! Besides the usual Sissy-Boy fashion, interior and accessories, you can also enjoy glühwein, live music, nice food and of course many different stands with all your winter wannahaves! This year they are back and at a brand new location! To find out which brands you can find at this years market, check the Facebook event.

Museum Market Christmas Edition

When? 9th of December, 12pm – 6pm at Museumsquare
Every third Sunday of the Month, the Museumplein will be filled with stylish stands full of design. In between the main museums around the pond you can meet the (Dutch) designers yourself, shop for their products and enjoy the great food and atmosphere. Info

Christmas Maker Market

When? 14th & 15th of December, De Hallen
The Christmas specials of the market where it all began for Sisters James and us. If you’re stuck for Christmas gifts for friends and family, look no further. This market is jam-packed full of beautifully crafted local Amsterdam products. 

Funky X-Mas Market (Sunday Market)

When? 15th of December 12- 6pm, Westergasterrein
THE place for your funky Xmas presents! For the 10th year running you will find lots of beautiful stands full of original creations. Of course there is great food & drink (mulled wine), live music and more!

Pure Wintermarket at Frankendael Park

When?  22nd of December
Go here for your organic and fairtrade Christmas products. Local produce and goods make this one of the nicest Christmas Markets in Amsterdam and one of a kind. It’s the last Pure Market before heading into 2020 so grab your winter coat and check this one out.

Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt

When? 20th – 23rd of December, Westergas
You may have heard of this one before. They are back in 2019 but at a new location, the Westergas. This indoor and outdoor event will be filled with music, a market, food stalls and things for the kids! Find out more.

Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt 2019

Christmas Market at DOK

When? 21st – 22nd December until 10pm, DOK
This market is characterised by the special products that are offered. Not just typical stalls with traditional Christmas balls or lights. No, this is more funky. The atmosphere is very cozy, there is live music and of course you can also get a hot chocolate or mulled wine. The Christmas market offers a wide range of sustainable, handmade, original and inspiring (regional) products, usually offered by the maker himself. Children are free, adults pay €5.

Het Amsterdamse Winterparadijs

When? 21st – 5th of January, RAI Amsterdam
Like last year, this massive winter wonderland will be open during December at the RAI in Amsterdam. This year it will be even bigger! There will be an ice-skating ring in and outside, music performances from Lil Kleine, Maan, Xander & friends, food, tube sliding, kids activities and everything to get you into the Christmas spirit. Tickets cost €5 euro, or €17,50 when you include activities. www.hetamsterdamsewinterparadijs.nl


Also worth visiting:

Sky High Winter Terrace at Floor 17

When? 11 of November – 31st of Jan 
Get into the winter spirit and get to Floor 17 this winter. Since the success of curling, ice-skating with a view of the whole city, they are bringing traditional sjoelen to the rooftop. Games can be played in combination with hot drinks.

Floor 17 ice skating

Ice Village, Museumsquare

When?  13th of December until the 26nd of December
From December 17th – 30th, Amsterdam hosts the magical and tasty Ice Village Amsterdam at the Museumplein. A true adventure of warm winter chalets who offer you a variety of lifestyle, fashion, Christmas gifts, live entertainment and delicious food. As usual, there will also be an ice-skating ring from the 11th of November!

Haarlem Christmas Market

When? 7th & 8th of December in Haarlem
Not in Amsterdam, but only 15 minutes away and so worth visiting! The main square and streets are filled with more than 300 Christmas stalls, food, wine, lights and music. Bring the whole family and go shopping. 

Which Christmas Markets in Amsterdam are you visiting?

Love,

Elke

 

 

 

The Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt is back at a new location!

With the weather turning colder and the Nexflix evenings started, it’s also time to start preparing for the festive season and Amsterdam has a new Christmas Market coming up!

Previously held at the Kromhouthal in Amsterdam North, the Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt lands on the iconic Westergas near Westerpark for the first time. A new and free Christmas fair transformed into a winter wonderland, with (live) music, food and drink, market, children’s activities, a cool cultural program and a big party every night!

Christmas comes early this year

Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt 2019

What’s New?

The Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt is going to be a place where you can pre-celebrate the holidays with friends, family and colleagues. But it’s also the place for traditional Christmas shopping for those gifts under the Christmas tree. In addition, you can check out various music performances, DJs, food trucks, children’s activities and ice-skate. Furthermore, there is an extensive cultural offer,  with Cineville and the Ketelhuis that offer a movie program, and Jägermeister organizes a Christmas karaoke. Love it!

Fireplace at Amsterdam Christmas market
The Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt at the Kromhouthal last year

All together

In total, the Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt will last for four-days and has been created for and by Amsterdam; co-creation is key. Together with creative entrepreneurs, non-profit, art and culture makers. But also high-profile brands, local parties and food pioneers, the organisation is building a Christmas party where everyone feels at home.

Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt Kromhouthal

Founder Brent Roozendaal says: “With the Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt we are organising a new type of Christmas market; one with a full program. A free event including a beautiful city festival. Both for visitors and a cultural message for entrepreneurs, creatives and the city. 

We can’t wait for this Christmas Festival!

Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt
20th – 23rd December, Westergas
Website

Love,

Wander-Lust

TOP 5 COUNTRIES TO LIVE IN (if you ever think about moving)

If you’re planning to leave your hometown and find your luck somewhere else then you should check this list. 

What countries are best to live in if you want to live abroad? Based on a recent survey of 20.000 global people, these are the results.

1. Canada

This country has it all. Adventure, rough but stunning nature, pretty clean air, friendly people and the list goes on. The second largest country in the world particularly scored high on Quality of Life, Citizenship and the opportunities for entrepreneurship. Did you know that Canada is one of the best and safest places for solo travelCheck here for more tips and stories about Canada.

Lake, Canada

2. Sweden

Another Scandinavian country. This time it’s Sweden.  They just introduced a 6 hour working day so if that doesn’t already makes a person happy, you should read on. They give you 16 months of to spent that time with your newborn baby, so it is the best place for women where they get safety and they can see their child grown up. Besides this, you can breath fresh air and visit amazing beautiful places.

photo-1444656107164-8363d0d6f070

More people living in other countries than ever, says UN study

3. Denmark

Crazy but it has zero crime rates, murder, no corruption, and stability in economic growth, quality life, etc. All these things made it as one of the best, happiest and safest countries to live in the world. Nearly 18 weeks of paid leave is given to mothers and 79 percent of women are working which is comparatively higher than other countries. People in this country are more concerned about their environment and they follow excellent health care system. Let’s move to Denmark!

Snow in Denmark

4. Norway

When I arrived in Norway for the first time, I actually cried because I thought the sight of it was so beautiful. Mountains, Fjörds, valleys, waterfalls and clean air to breath. Norway is one of those place you need to visit before you die, so why not live there for a while! 

Girl standing in Norway
Elke in Norway

5. Switzerland

In short, we loooove Switzerland. The nature is just incredible and if you think Canada is too far, just come over to the Swiss side because it resembles a lot with the scenery.  Secondly, wages are pretty good if you live there as it is one of the wealthiest countries on the planet. 

The Giant Swing Adelboden

Did you know that The Netherlands made it place eight? Lucky us!

Check the full list here.

Love,

Elke

Europe’s Best Christmas Markets 2019

Whether you’re ready or not, December is in sight and with that the holiday season has arrived. One of the things that we love are the traditional Christmas Markets. 

So where can you stroll for hours and drink the best glühwein in Europe? We’ve selected the best Christmas Markets in Europe where you can do it all in 2019 and 2020.

1. Dresden Christmas Market, Germany

When? 27th November – 24th December 2019
Leading the pack is this German Christmas market that has been around since 1434(!) Named after a sweet Christmas cake, this market has it all. The highlight is without doubt the largest wooden pyramid with carved wooden figures that stands tall at 40 meters. It has a a romantic feel about it and this is how a Christmas market should be. Additionally, you can watch craftsmen at work or buy pottery, gingerbread, and other Christmas decorations. 

2. Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, Copenhagen

When? 16th of November – 5th of January 2020
With 60 stalls, this is a market full of lights. For children and adults, you shouldn’t miss this one if you’re visiting Copenhagen in Nov-Dec.
There are concerts, decorations, lights and sweets to feast your eyes on. Adults need to pay about 13 euro’s admission but kids are free. www.tivoli.dk

Christmas market Europe

Christmas Markets originated in Germany, Austria, South Tyrol in Northern Italy and the eastern French regions.

3.  Berlin Christmas Markets

When? Check here for the different opening dates and times
Not one but 60 markets in one city! Berlin is the capital of the German Christmas markets. Big and smaller, you won’t be bored in and around Berlin if you visit the German capital during the winter months. The most famous ones are; the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market for ice-skating, smell the sweet scent of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Christmas Market and spent hours at the large Spandau Christmas Market.

4. Christmas Market at Rathausplatz, Austria

When? 15h of November – 26th of December 2019
This fairytale Christmas Market is located right in front of the city hall and makes the backdrop a one of a kind. The market is also very suitable for kids as they have a dedicated kids area, where they can create Christmas cookies and candles. Check all the info here.

Vienna Christmas MArket

5. Old Town Christmas Market, Prague

When? 1st of December – 6th of January 10am-10pm 2019/2020
At this Christmas Market you can find a variety of foods at this market like barbecued meat, Czech muffins, conkers, beer, mull, mead and other typical gastronomical specialties from Old Czech cuisine. If you don’t feel the Christmas spirit, then you will get it when you go here. Christmas carols are sung throughout the day by different performers. Another market worth checking is Wenceslas Square, which is about a 5 min walking distance from old town square.

6. Bruges Christmas Market, Belgium

When? 23rd of November – 1st of January 11am-10pm 2019
Bruges already looks amazing because of the historic buildings, cobbled streets and medieval sights. 
But when it’s Christmas, this town really blooms. The magical shopping streets are lit up with colourful lights and there’s an ice skating ring on the “Grote Markt”. For a fairy-tail Christmas feeling you’re at the right address. Shop unique findings, eat waffles and drink delicious hot chocolate to top the day. More info here.

7. Christmas in Paris, France

When? up until the 6th of January 2020
La Défence is a ginormous Christmas village at the end of Metro Line 1. As soon as you walk out of the station, you’ll see hundreds of Christmas stalls lining up side by side, offering delicious mulled wine and hot chocolate for only €3! Grab yourself a raclette sandwich or a tartiflette, you’ll need the energy to power through all that Christmas shopping! In the city centre, you’ll find a smaller version of the English Winder Wonderland at Jardin des Tuileries, outside of the Louvre. You will also find Christmas markets along the street of Place Saint-Germain des Près from now until the New Year. Fancy some more iconic Parisian locations? From 14th December to 23rd December, you can surround yourself in a festive atmosphere outside the Christmas markets at Notre Dame Cathedral or the one outside Hotêl de Ville until 6th January 2020. More info here.

Christmas market in Paris

So which of the above Christmas Markets will you be visiting this year?

Love,

Wander-Lust

P.S: If you’re looking for the Christmas Spirit in Amsterdam, you should check out these 10 Christmas markets in Amsterdam this month!

Tapperij de Eeuwige Jeugd | For Beer, Cocktails & Games

If you like beer, cocktails, good food and snacks, you’re going to love this new place that has just opened its doors in Amsterdam.

Tapperij de Eeuwige Jeugd is much more than a place to drink beer. In essence, it’s the perfect place for those that want to keep playing, no matter what your age.

A Dream | Tapperij de Eeuwige Jeugd

A little less than a year ago, the men behind the famous Dutch Eeuwige Jeugd brewery decided to start a new adventure. They accepted the challenge of turning a monumental building on Linnaeusstraat in Amsterdam-East into a place with four different rooms. The 477m² area is subdivided into different spaces that are arranged according to the characters of beers flavours served in the restaurant. Café de Lellebel for example, is feminine and sweet, with its own entrance and tap perfect for birthdays, graduation drinks and company outings. A few steps further, you can go for board games or a game of dart and you can go all the way down at the Gluiperd.

Livingroom

De Eeuwige Jeugd Amsterdam

We don’t stop playing because we get older, we get old because we stop playing

Beer & Food

Of course you will find the usual beers from brewery De Eeuwige Jeugd on tap, but also other special beers from other breweries throughout the Netherlands. Have you ever heard about beer cocktails? At Tapperij de Eeuwige Jeugd they will serve these and more. To satisfy your hunger, a menu has been chosen with something very special on it. In addition to your favourite bar snacks, they also serve poutines here. You can order these organic fries with different types of toppings. Furthermore, they serve delicious pancakes on Sunday!

Pancakes on Sunday

The Tapperij de Eeuwige Jeugd will be open from Monday to Sunday. During the week from 3:00 to 12:00 and on Fridays and Saturdays the tables are set aside and dancing is possible until 3am!

Tapperij de Eeuwige Jeugd
Linnaeusstraat 37A, Amsterdam
Website / Instagram

The Paris City Guide

With Paris so easy to reach via train and car, it is no surprise that the French metropole is one of the most visited cities in Europe. 

We created a brand new guide that you can use for your next trip to Paris, France.

WHERE TO EAT

First thing to remember is that you may come back from Paris with a few pounds extra. But who cares! When you are in the city of love, you will have many amazing places to choose from. These are by far our favourites!

  • Terrasse de l’Alcazar

    This is by far one of the best locations in Paris. Tucked away in a side street of the 6th arrondissement, is this trendy restaurant has an indoor garden and international cuisine. They do Sunday brunch and cocktails.

Terrasse de l'Alcazar Paris
The amazing Terrasse de l’Alcazar

  • CoCo Paris

    Undoubtedly, CoCo is one of the most impressive spots located in Paris. Relatively new, they opened in the summer of 2019, next to the Opera. Inside you’ll find palmtrees and a luxurious setting. 

  • Daroco

    Located in Jean Paul Gaultier’s former flagship store, right next to Galerie Vivienne, a beautiful arcade built in 1923. The decor is aaa-mazing, and they serve traditional Italian food.

Restaurant Daroco Paris
Daroco

restaurant CoCo Paris
CoCo

  • Dalmata

    On the other hand, if you like to keep it low key and casual, check out this pink pizza heaven. These Italians are doing it right.Their concept? 202 pizzas maximum are served daily (101 at lunchtime and 101 at dinnertime) to enjoy on the spot or to take away. To get an idea of how many pizzas are left, a counter has been put at the entrance of the restaurant. Brilljant and we are loving the no waste policy!

Dalmata Paris
Dalmata

  • Maison Sauvage

    Regardless if you like hotspots or not, this place looks damn cute. With two floors and an outside terrace, this restaurant makes it work in busy Saint-Germain-des-Prés. They serve healthy comfort food, juices and coffee.

  • Peonies

    Unquestionably, Peonies is our happy place and belongs in this Paris City Guide. They are a café and florist combined and serve a killer Matcha Pink latte including beautifully made pastry, whilst surrounded by fresh flowers. 

Maison Sauvage Paris
Maison Sauvage

  • Café Berry

    Besides being a café, this self-entitled wellness café, has an in-store beauty and nail bar. Needless to say that they are located in the trendy neighbourhood of Le Marais.

Colourful lattes Cafe Berry
Source: Café Berry

  • LouLou

    This Australian lunch spot is always buzzing and serves delish bowls, salads and sandwiches. Furthermore, the service was good and friendly while I was there.

  • Le Pavillon au Canaux

    When you enter the spacious terrace, it is hard not to fall in love with this place. Calmly situated next to the canal, the restaurant has a unique design. If you like, you can dine in a bathtub not to mention the bedroom next door where you can drink your coffee. 

Cafe Paris
Le Pavillon au Canaux

  • Kozy Paris

    If you like pretty food to pimp up your Instagram account, the 3 locations of Kozy Berry will do it for you. 

  • Le Potager de Charlotte

    Vegan or not vegan, you will appreciate this amazing dishes at Le Pontager de Charlotte. Our guest editor Chantelle reviewed them and other vegan restaurants in Paris when they recently opened their second location. Therefore we highly recommend this place to anyone that loves belly friendly foods.

Vegan food in Paris


WHERE TO DRINK

Paris is full of amazing cocktail bars and places where you can drink wine alongside a delicious French cheese platter. These are the best places to do it!

  • Candelaria, 52 rue de Saintonge
    On first sight, you think this is just a tiny taco bar with nothing more than a few tables and a bar. But behind the white door is a secret cocktail bar that takes you down into a Mexican allure with candle lights and an amazing vibe.
  • Comptoir Général, 80, quai de Jemmapes
    This bar has been features in almost all best-bars lists, that being said, it totally deserves to be in those lists. It can be busy during the weekends!

Secret cocktail bar
Just a taco bar?


WHERE TO STAY

Because Paris isn’t the most affordable city, we decided to stay just outside the centre to see what it was like. Surprisingly, the centre of Paris was only a 20 minute metro ride, plus I got to see a more local side of Paris.

  • ibis Styles
    Located at Mairie de Montreuil, the place where the art of cinema started in the early twenties. At first, you may feel that  you are miles away from the heart of Paris, but as shown above, the metro that is located almost next to the hotel, takes you to the city pretty fast. Hotel ibis Styles is the more playful & creative sister of the Ibis you may know. In particular, this hotel has recently been renovated and like all other ibis styles hotels, it took on the theme of the neighbourhood, in this case cinema.

ibis Styles Marie de Montreuil

Given that ibis styles is for every budget, don’t expect anything too fancy. However, the beds are really comfortable and the shutters in the rooms make you sleep like a baby. All rooms are equipped with a flatscreen and designed to match the film theme of the hotel. The breakfast buffet is filled with French pastries, fresh orange juice, cheeses and baguettes. If you want, there is also a fresh authentic bakery across from the metro station that is wonderful. 

Bedroom ibis styles Montreuil

Around the area

The area has a few shops, florists, bakeries and an amazing organic supermarket with options to go plastic-free. You can refill almost anything from oils, coffee, tea, nuts, seeds and even washing detergents! There is also a nice sushi restaurant on the corner from the hotel. Rooms at ibis Styles Paris Marie de Montreuil are available from 120 euro per night.


WHERE TO HANG OUT

As you may know, Paris is huge! That being said, there are a few places we have lined up where you can relax and chill after walking around the city of love all day.

  • The parks in Paris
    There are many parks in Paris but check this overview that we made for you last spring to find the most pretty ones!
  • Anywhere along the Seine! 
    There are many benches around the seine for you to enjoy passing boats, or seeing oil painters creating art in front of you. Crab a baguette and enjoy Paris.
  • Le Marais
    In our opinion, one of the best area’s in Paris. In either case, you will find many café’s, shops and restaurants where you can hang.

Parks in Paris

Paris in a nutshell

In summary, Paris can never be summed up into one city guide as it constantly evolves. However, these places in the French Metropole makes us happy, and we hope they do the same for you.

Bisou,

Elke

The El Nido Guide 2019

From all the places on Palawan, travellers seek the amazing beaches and stunning backdrops El Nido has to offer.

We’ve created a complete island guide so that you know what to expect.

How to get to El Nido

Generally, El Nido isn’t the easiest of places to get to. However, many people think it’s worth taking the 6 hours bus ride. Make sure to book it at least one day in advance and ask to sit in the front if you get car sick. You can describe El Nido as a vibrant little town with a lot of underdevelopment. Like most of the Philippines, the houses and shops are self build and nothing seems to be finished. But thats the charm of El Nido. 

Big Lagoon El Nido

Once at sea, your mouth will fall open when you see the beautiful rock formations and lagoons.

El Nido tours, which one to choose?

The most popular thing to do in El Nido is to take a boat tour. You can choose from tours A, B, C and it includes lunch and snorkeling gear. Here are the ones we’d recommend.

  • Kraken Tour not the cheapest but highly recommended. Music, appetizers, lunch, drinks, WiFi, toilet, kayaks, paddle board, snorkel materials are included. Check here for more info
  • The Artcafe tours. with Kayak 1900 peso’s. (recommended if you take tour A) no snorkling gear included. Accepts credit card.
  • Northern Hope Tours. Professional and recommended by various sites.

Tip: All tours are best booked in El Nido. (via the website you may need to pay an extra fee) If you want to book an island hopping tour from El Nido to Coron, check all the info about TAO Expedition.

El Nido boat

Diving

Above all, diving is a popular activity in El Nido. There are also plenty dive shops to choose from but I chose Adventurous Scuba. Smaller than some of the flashy expensive dive shops but more personal and professional. 3400 peso’s for 3 dives after a bit of deal making. We had a lovely scuba instructor called Bernie who was really nice to talk with. I can definitely recommend him! They are situated in the same street as the Art Cafe, right at the end on the left side.

Massaaaage

Like the rest of Asia, massages are also widely available in El Nido. Expect nothing more than a few curtains to divide guest, but hey, this is Asia and you only pay 400 peso’s for one hour, which is only 8 Euro. Most massage houses are based in El Nido town. Just follow the “massaaaaaaage” voices and you’re good.

Food & Drink

Someone has to say it so I guess it will be me; the food in the Philippines isn’t that great, unless you stay in a luxury hotel. That being said, it’s OK if you eat meat, but as a vegetarian you’ve got a bit of a problem. There are a few places  in El Nido however, that serve good food and these were exactly the places I would eat day after day.

  • Art Cafe – great curries, fish and breakfast
  • BAZAAR asian kitchen – just opened! Amazing Japanese dishes
  • Deli Nido Café – the best Frappuchino in town hands down
  • Bagel V & V – the girls who work there are a bit moody but the homemade bagels are nice enough to go there

El Nido food

Bazaar feels like a little European community in the middle of El Nido

Where to shop

To be fair, El Nido is not a place to get the best fashion items but there are some nice shops if you walk around. The best shop in town (and maybe even in Palawan)is without doubt Little Corner of Paradise. They sell tops, shirts, bikini’s, summer dresses, jewellery and everything has a beach vibe to it. Run by a French girl, it’s right across from a cute muffin/coffee store that shares the same owner. Another good place for shopping is BAZAAR. Just 2 minutes out of the center, you will find this nice place where you will find 3 stores with fashion food and drinks. Additionally, you can also have a massage upstairs which is definitely worth the 100 peso’s extra from what you pay in town. On Sunday’s they throw a small electro party with DJ’s and cocktails. .

El Nido shop

Where to sleep

There are many accommodations to choose from but don’t expect anything top of the range. Even if you pay a bit more, you will get a basic room. Surely, you can always opt for the expensive resorts, but if you are traveling around, you might be on a budget.

  • Sei Nazioni Cottages – Cute cottages in the middle of town with en-suite options and air-con. book here.
  • The Resort Bayview Hotel – Nice view.
  • Anywhere along Marimegmeg Beach – I’ve seen some nice cottages there you should check out.

Nightlife in El Nido

Thankfully, the nightlife is not to be compared to Ko Phi Phi in Thailand were the beach turns into a place full of drunk teenagers. After dinner people go to the beachbars and the Pukka Bar is everyones favourite. They play cool reggae music with a pretty sick live band that gets the crowd dancing until about 3am. Other beachbars are more chilled and close a bit earlier (around midnight) Bazaar throws a party on Sundays and it nice for drinks, ping pong and the occasional darts. La Place is a lively beachbar situated alongside Corong Corong beach and they host a few parties a week. With a small pool in the middle and the DJ booth high up, they come closest to a real club in El Nido. Expect deep/techhouse music.

Bar in El Nido

Around El Nido

To be honest, I loved getting out of the busy town now and then. My advise, rent a scooter for a day or 2 and explore! (500 peso’s) A few places you can visit are:

  • Duli beach – If you get there before 1pm, you might be the only person on the beach. There is one resort called Duli Beach resort (named after the Sea Turtles that lay their eggs here) and it’s run by a Dutch couple. Rooms are around 1000 peso’s a night and you’ll wake up on an amazing long stretched beach. You might be asked for a fee before entering the bumpy road up to the beach.
  • Nacpan Beach – This is the most touristic beach around El Nido, Palawan. It’s part of Twin beach and you can eat tasty mussels here.
  • Marimegmeg Beach – Just a 10 to 15 min tricycle ride from El Nido town you will find this beach with one of the best views you’ll ever see. There are a few beach restaurants and resorts where you can eat.

Duli Beach
Swing at the Duli Beach Resort (the beach is empty!)

El Nido beach
Walk on Marimegmeg Beach and watch the sunset

For the most part, Palawan’s beauty is truly breathtaking, but be prepared to go back in time a little bit. In essence, El Nido is less touristy compared to Thailand, but more touristy than other parts in the Philippines. Nevertheless, it has beautiful nature and stunning beaches.

Happy Travels!

Elke

More Philippines?

 

6 X INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS IN AMSTERDAM

Keeping your kids entertained when the weather fails you, can be a day job to say the least! Luckily, there are a lot of indoor playgrounds around to make the day less gloomy nowadays.

As a parent, you know you need to be a little inventive when it pours outside. We’ve lined up 7 indoor playgrounds in and around Amsterdam, so your kids won’t be bored on a rainy day.

Monkey Town, Zuidermolenweg 32

If you live in Amsterdam New West, this is the perfect location for you. What we love about Monkey Town is the big lounge chairs where parents can sit in, and the staff is really helpful. Because Monkey Town isn’t located in the centre of Amsterdam, it’s never too busy. If you come before 11am on a weekday, you only pay €4,95! 

Indoor playground Amsterdam
We love the lounge chairs at Monkey Town!

Candy Castle, Erik de Roodestraat

Because of the huge size of this indoor playground, your kids can run free and will never get bored here. On the other hand this also means that you need to climb, slide and help your little one if they are below the age of 4 years old. Located in an old Church, there are trampolines, countless slides, ball pits and a separate play area for the little ones. Of course you can book a birthday party here in one of the themed rooms downstairs. There is even a kart track downstairs! www.candycastle.nl

Indoor Playgrounds Amsterdam
The Massive Candy Castle

TunFun

In general, this is probably the largest indoor playground in Amsterdam. The location is perfect, right next to Waterloopplein and tucked underneath the street. Once in there, you may need some earplugs because it can be extremely busy, especially in weekends. That said, your kids will love it because there is so much to play with!

Amsterdam indoor playground
The largest indoor playground of them all, TunFun.

Ballorig, ArenA Boulevard 240 & Valburgdreef 1001

This indoor playground can be compared to the others above, and it was one of the first places to offer such indoor fun for kids up to 12 years old. There are 2 locations in Amsterdam, so plenty of choice!

Indoor Playground Amsterdam

Speelparadijs Raceplanet, Herwijk 10

This indoor kart-track has a special area that has been designed for kids. Children from all ages get the opportunity to race and ride cars, but also run, climb and play. Additionally, you can also book laser games, bowling and kart racing for older kids. Currently, there are construction works going on to upgrade the playground, follow their Instagram account to stay updated.

The Little Gym, Henkenshage 4

Equally popular are the many upcoming gyms for kids in Amsterdam. In fact, we’ve seen a lot of new businesses that have opened in the last couple of years. Children and babies get the opportunity to practise their movement skills and balance, which is great for development. The Little Gym is probably the most well known gym of all, but if you google, you’ll find the nearest kiddies gym near you. www.amsterdam.thelittlegym.eu

As shown above, there are plenty of indoor options for a rainy day!

Wander-Lust

Check out our Travelling With Kids section!

3 X TOP PLACES IN LAOS

Located cozily in between Thailand, Cambodia, China, Myanmar and Vietnam, Laos is often one of the South East Asian countries that’s left un-visited when traveling this to part of the world. And that’s a shame, because Laos is a true gem and one of the cheapest countries to travel in.

 If you are a first time visitor to Laos, these are definitely my top three places for visiting!

Been there, Don Det

Don Det is a small island located in the south of Laos, close to the Cambodian border. The island is well-known for its beautiful scenery and relaxed hippy vibe. Staying in one of the bungalows on the island means going back 2 basic with cold showers and toilets that can only be flushed with a bucket. Straightaway, you will feel the relaxed vibe on this island which is very contagious. Soon you’ll be unwinding in a hammock with a fruit shake in your hand. For those who find it hard to sit still cheap bikes can be rented all over the island to go for a ride and explore the breathtaking waterfalls.

Don Det Waterfalls

Don Det, Laos
Don Det

Soaring through the jungle in Laos with the Gibbon Experience

If you’re up for a little more action after being completely rejuvenated at Don Det travel all the way north to go on The Gibbon Experience. Sleeping in the worlds highest tree houses, flying through the jungle of Laos on a zipper-line. Furthermore, you can hike through beautiful woods while contributing to preserving everything that surrounds you. That’s the Gibbon Experience. Of all my travels this is by far one of the most amazing things I’ve done. Make sure you make a booking in advance as the Gibbon Experience is often fully booked.

Gibbon, Laos

Oui oui, Luang Prabang

From Luang Prabang you can get on the night bus to the Gibbon Experience. It goes without saying that Luang Prabang is a town where French influences decorate this charming town everywhere. You can walk through Luang Prabangs enchanting streets or visit one of the many temples. About 40 minutes from Luang Prabang you will stumble upon the Kuang Si Waterfalls which are so greenish blue that you have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming. Take a swim in these (cold!!) waterfalls or simply walk around and enjoy the surroundings. When you get back to Luang Prabang pay a visit to the market where delicious baguettes and fresh fruit shakes are sold for just under €1,50.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Laos

Next to these three highlights Laos has so much more to offer like visiting the Blue Lagoon in Vang Vieng or strolling around its capital Vientiane.

Vang Vieng, Laos
Vang Vieng, Laos

Vientiane, Laos
Vientiane, Laos

Ultimately, I hope you’ll have a wonderful time in this partly undiscovered little piece of Southeast Asian heaven 🙂

Love,

Evelien