5 x Slightly Less Touristy Places in London

Everyone knows the Big Ben, the Tower Bridge and the London Eye, but London has so much more to offer! The city is so varied and there is always something new to discover which makes wandering around London a fun adventure every time you visit. In this article we’ve selected 5 spots which are slightly less touristic.

1. CamdenTown
Camden Lock Pl, Camden Town, London
Camden town is known as one of the alternative areas of London and is especially popular among young people. The district used to be a typical industrial place with many workers’ houses and factories. Many of these buildings are now used for commercial and artistic purposes, making the neighbourhood completely “hot” again. In Camden you can find everything from street food to vintage clothing, and from second-hand books to unique collector’s items.

2. SouthbankCentreBookMarket
Southbank Centre Book Market
Underneath Waterloo Bridge, Lambeth, The Southbank Centre Book Market is one of the oldest second-hand book markets in the south of England. You will find old books, postcards, magazines, posters and comic books here. It is located by the thames below the waterloo bridge and next to a skate park that is completely covered in colourful graffiti. It’s definitely worth a look!

London books

3. RonnieScott’s
47 Frith St, Soho, London

Ronnie Scott’s is the most famous jazz club in London and was founded in 1959 by the English jazz musician Ronnie Scott. You can spend a nice evening drinking cocktails while enjoying great jazz music. There is a different artist almost every night, and sometimes even the world’s top jazz stars perform here. You can check out the programme here.

Less touristy spots in London

4. LittleVenice
6 Park Place Villas, London

The name already says it: Little Venice brings you into the ambience of the famous Italian town. If you want to get away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the city, you have to go here. This part of London has a unique, charming atmosphere and is surrounded by large stately villas. The small canals are full of boats and in the surrounding streets you will find cozy pubs. From Little Venice you can walk all the way to Camden Town. This route is really beautiful; it will take you trough Regent’s Park and you can catch a glimpse of the animals from London Zoo. If you’re hungry or thirsty along the way, The Summer House is a restaurant I recommend.

Little Venice London

5. Rooftop Film Club
Roof A, Bussey Building, 133 Rye Ln, London
Level up your cinema night! In London there is the Rooftop Film Club where they play the latest films on a beautiful roof terrace. With panoramic views and stunning sunsets, movies have never looked so great. Book your tickets on time, because when the weather is good the tickets go very fast! You can see which movies are currently playing here www.rooftopfilmclub.com/london

Love,

Iris

*Iris is one of our guest editors from The Netherlands. She’s got a big interest for fashion, poetry and traveling. She was only 3 months old when she was on the plane for the first time, and she has been to every continent in the meantime. She’s a dreamer and would prefer to be on the beach every day. You can follow Iris on Instagram.

More City Trips & Guides?

6 reasons why Madrid should be on your City Trip list

So you are looking for a weekend getaway, or maybe a sangria kinda holiday? You want to taste the tapas, enjoy culture, sunshine and wander around picturesque streets. Barcelona comes? Think again; Madrid has it all! I’m going to give you 6 reasons to choose Madrid (and if you don’t believe me, just visit both)

Food is everywhere
If you’re in the mood for Spanish food, Madrid, also known as tapas heaven, is the right destination to go to. Food is literally everywhere. Go on a stroll in the traditional Spanish neighbourhood ‘Santa Ana’ or the multicultural hipster hotspot Lavapiés.  On every corner you will find something to eat. If you really can’t choose I’ll help you out; Lateral in Santa Ana is one of my all-time favourites. Which has  created the perfect match between traditional recipes and modern creations.

Madrid

If you want to try a diversity of Spanish dishes, try Mercado San Miguel. Order a drink and choose on of the many appetizers they offer at the market, ranging from Spanish ham to ice-cream. 

Tip: Craving something sweet after a night of salsa dancing? You can find the best chorros at Chocolatería San Ginés,  open 24 hours a day!

You can rent a private yacht for €6,-
Alright, it’s not a yacht and you’ll have to do the rowing all by yourself, but sailing in the middle of Parque del Buen Retiro is something you can’t miss out on. It offers you an amazing view on the parc, provides peace in the middle of the vibrant city and a free rowing workout.

Madrid

You can shop 13 hours a day
Do I need to say more? And in case you’re not convinced: all stores have air-conditioning. That’s something you sure going to need in the summer of Madrid. So, where to go? You’ll find most of the big chain stores around the main square, Puerta del Sol and on Gran Via. Make sure you’re not in a hurry ‘cause most of the stores, especially on Gran Via, are huge. You can easily spend a whole day shopping just visiting 2 or 3 of those stores. A small walk further will lead you to the shopping street Calle Fuencarral, where small businesses and large retail stores alternate. Madrid is also a great city for vintage shopping. Go get lost in the pitoresque streets of the  neighbourhood Malasaña while searching for unique, second hand treasure. 

Tip: Tired of shopping and the buzz of the city? Take a ride on the Teleférico (cable car) in Casa de Campo and  view Madrid from high above. Enjoy the peace, the view and the greenery that Casa de Campo has to offer. Unless you’re afraid of heights of course…

Perfect starting point for day-trips

If you’re staying in Madrid for a little bit longer I strongly recommend to go on a day trip to one of the many beautiful surrounding Spanish villages. For example Toledo, a city with a rich history and culture. And therefore even won a spot on the World Heritage list of UNESCO. But also the cities Segovia and Salamanca are truly something you shouldn’t miss out on.

Dance every day (from salsa to techno)
Madrid is the best place when it comes to going out. From Monday to Sunday, the city never sleeps. The party starts at midnight and continues until sunrise. One of the largest disco’s of Madrid is Teatro Kapital. This dance paradise contains 7 floors, each floor has a different music genre; from salsa to house. If you’re not in the mood for a club, Madrid offers a wide variety of bars as well. Each neighbourhood brings you a different vibe. For example the bohemian Malasaña, where you will find the most bars per square meter in Madrid.

Tip: Did you know Madrid has a lively gay community? The district of Chueca is known as the gay district of Madrid, filled with modern cafes and gay bars.

Hola Madrid

Explore by foot
Madrid is huge and full of history. Therefor it can be quite challenging to choose where to go and what to visit. It’s easy getting around by metro, busses or Uber but Madrid is actually also a great city to explore by foot. Put on some comfy shoes and wander around or search for one of the many walking routes offered online. You probably not going to walk around the whole city but will manage to visit all the well known attractions if your hotel is in the main area.

I could go on for centuries with convincing you to visit Madrid. Cause whether you seeking for a party weekend, a romantic get-a-way or cultural adventure, Madrid has it all. Let yourself be carried away by the Spanish culture, getting los was never before a better idea.

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heels 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.

Need accommodation in Madrid? Use our booking.com code and get €25,- back on your booking!

How to see Rome in 2 days

This city has been on my European bucketlist forever. Somehow I never got the chance to visit Rome but when I planned my Greek Island hopping tour a few months back, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to fly via Rome. With only 2 days to discover this Italian capital, I needed to plan a little ahead to make the most of it. After all, 2 days may seem too short for a city with so many things to see but it can be done! How?

Here’s my guide on how to make the most of  your visit to Rome in 2 days:

1. Book yourself an Airbnb and stay in an area just outside the centre.
You’ll proberly stay in an authentic italian house with a local host. This way you get real inside tips and information.
I stayed at Mario’s Place which was located at Trastevere. Great walking distance to most must see attractions and next to the tram 8 which takes you to the centre in just a few minutes. Breakfast contains of fresh cakes and pastry’s and is including within the price. (Just make sure you get the directions right as Mario will send you a full and clear description at the time of your booking. I booked a few months ahead so I already forgot about them and ended up calling him a few times as I couldn’t find his front door.)

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My flowery Airbnb accommodation in Rome

2. Bring comfy shoes.
Rome is very accessible on foot and every area is near to eachother.  
But Rome wasn’t build in a day so expect to walk a few extra miles! I didn’t use the tram a lot so I walked an average of 7km(!) a day and in this case you might end up with blisters if you bring those: they-only-look-good-shoes.

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Caught in an exhausted “moment”

3. Pre-Buy your tickets 
Especially for the main attractions like the Colosseum.This way you can skip the que. During summertime it can be craaaazy busy!

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Both impressive: The Colosseum and the 2000 year old Pantheon.

4. Eat where the locals eat.
This is my biggest tip for all destinations. Don’t eat near the tourist attractions as the food will be overpriced and you won’t taste real authentic food. I had my first pizza at Mirrors pizzaria. Pizza’s cost 6 euro’s and were crunchy and delicious! I had a lovely dinner at Baylon Café where they serve homemade pasta with a twist. I was the only “tourist” in the restaurant (i see myself more as a traveller) and I enjoyed watching the beautiful people of Rome eating and drinking wine. Perfect night.


Enjoying the Italian cuisine at Baylon Cafe in Trastevere.

5. Save cash by using the free tab water.
Rome is hot, and in summer it’s boiling. Thank god for the free and very drinkable tap water that you will find throughout the city in little fountains. I filled about 4 bottles a day and I saved money at the same time!
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One of the many life savers in Rome!

6. Keep it real Italian
Go to a little bakery/delicatesse shop like Giselda Forno and taste the fine italian cuisine and even better, take it with you while you wander round. Sit in the shade and enjoy!
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Help, too many to choose from at Giselda Forno!

7. Check the Rome events calendar for special celebrations or nights.
When I was there, I enjoyed a special art cinema night by the river with music and films.
I found this great website here you can easily see what’s on and when.

8. Walk alongside the Tiber river at night
Have a cocktail at one of many cute bars alongside the water. Make deals with the temperamental market sales men and listen to the occasional karaoke.

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One of the many outdoor bars you will find on one side of the riverbanks

9. Visit one of Rome’s many markets.
From vegetables, herbs and fresh fruit to wine, kitchenware and art.
The most famous markets are Piazza Testaccio and Il Traittore. The less crowded but also great are San Teodoro – Circo Massimo and Ponte Milvio.

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Colorful vegetables and pasta’s at the Piazza Testaccio market.

10. Last but not least; if you can, do not visit Rome during summer.
Why not? Well, because it’s just so bloody hot! 
30 degrees is a high temperature if you have to walk around in Rome. It was a sticky experience sometimes and it’s not the dry heat you will find in Greece for example. Lucky for me, I like the heat (perhaps it’s because I have Indonesian blood?). If you must go during this period, then you should be aware of this and dress accordingly.

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They still exist! 
 
I hope you can use these tips for your next visit to Rome!

Ciao Ciao wanderlusties!

Love,

Elke

The 3 Day London Guide

When I turned seventeen, I had a dream and wanted to live in London. As I always followed my heart, I arranged a job as an Au-pair and left The Netherlands for a life in the heart of the British Capital. I ended up staying for 7,5 years. Although I know London pretty well, it’s a city that changes every other month when it comes to restaurants, clubs and other hotspots. Time to go back and find out!

How to get there
As it’s only a short flight from Amsterdam (around 1 hour), you might as well fly with the most affordable option which is Easyjet. Fly to London for as little as just €27,44,-, based on a single fare for 1 person for a booking for 2 people. You have several options; you can fly to four different airports from Amsterdam. Gatwick, Luton, Stanstead or Southend Airport. All airports are around the same distance from the city center. I flew to Gatwick, but because that airport is divided into 2 separate terminals, it could take a bit longer to get to the train station. For this matter, I prefer Luton. Tip: Buy yourself an Oyster Card at the train station. You can use this also to travel to Gatwick Airport and you’ll get a good discount if you use the Oyster card for this trip.

Easyjet naar London
Flying to London is Easy Peasy with Easyjet


Where To Stay
There are ton’s of options, and it really depends what budget you have, but I tried and tested a couple for you and these are some affordable, yet comfortable hotels you will love.

Motel One
During my recent stay in London I stayed at Motel One. There is only 1 Motel One in London, and it’s located in the London business district, around the corner of Tower Bridge. The hotel offers small, yet comfortable rooms, that have magnificent views over the city, with the “London Gherkin” as the center piece. Rooms are available to book for as little as £99,-. Yes, it’s London people, you’re not going to get anything for a better price at a top location like this one. From the hotel, you can easily walk to the Thames River and all see the Tower Bridge or visit the Tower of London. Book your stay here.

London City Guide
My room view at Motel One

New Road Hotel
This newby has just opened in hipster East London. The hotel is inspired by the increased popularity for social living and accessible luxury, the new concept hotel offers guests everything the need, and nothing they don’t. The boutique hotel fits 80 guests and fits perfectly into the East London scene, ideally placed for both leisure and business travellers alike with easy links to all the sights of London. Book your stay here.


The New Road Hotel

Ace Hotel
If you have a little more cash to spend, you should check out ACE Hotel. It’s been popular for years and that is not without reason. Ace Hotel is located many cities around the world like Los Angeles, Kyoto, New York and in London Shoreditch. The hotel is housed next to the popular Brick lane market, many restaurants and art galleries. Rooms go from about £200,- and you can book it here.


Where to Eat
Oeff, where do we start! London is full of hotspots, but there are only a few I will mention. We all know Sketch by now, so you won’t find that one on this list. These are our favorites!

» GBR London
If you wanna go posh, plus British, you need to visit GBR. Situated in The Dukes hotel, it’s British food at it’s best. Being a vegetarian, I was worried that there would not be much to choose from, but the risotto was devine! The interior is classical British with a James Bond vibe. The coacktail menu has recently changed, so I was lucky to taste the new menu. The staff is lovely and are happy to accommodate you with special requirements. They also offer all day dining and a killer high tea, so if you’re up for some great British flavours, you should check it out. www.gbrrestaurantslondon.com

London Guide
GBR

» Ping Pong
It was there 10 years ago, and it’s still good. Ping Pong is an Asian Fusion restaurant with incredible dimsum dishes. It’s great for lunch and even better for dinner. Don’t forget to order the Jasmine flower tea, because it’s an actual flower opening up in the clear tea glass. www.pingpongdimsum.com

» Saint Aymes
This place is good for pink latté’s and your instagram account. The outside is such a treat with the pretty (fake) flowers. www.saintaymes.com

» Elancafe
Again, a wonderful place for your instafeed. The walls are covered in roses and the interior features marble tables where you can perfectly pose against the rose wall. Oh, this place is also famous for it’s cakes and great looking coffees. (almost forgot about that part!) www.elancafe.co.uk

» Camden Lock
I used to work in Camden Town and this area is a food walhallah. There are many international food stands with delicious, homemade foods and vegans can go crazy here. Rumer has it, that you can find the best vegan burgers here.. www.camdenmarket.com

Camden lock, London City Guide
Vegan food at Camden Lock

» Pachamama Bar & Kitchen
They serve a killer Peruvian lunch, brunch, dinner and create wonderful cocktails. Check the menu here.

» Farm Girl Café
They are a holistic Australian farm café with delicious (and healthy!) foods. They are based in Chelsea, Soho and Nothing Hill. Make a reservation to avoid a fully booked café. www.thefarmgirl.co.uk

» Boxpark Shoreditch
It’s been around for a few years now, but if you like to try quality streetfood, you should eat at Boxpark. There are options enough to fill your tummy and you can go shopping after that (then again, maybe before is better, otherwise you might not fit those new pants) Check here for the latest food stands.

» Duddell’s London
Located in the historic St. Thomas Church in the heart of London Bridge, minutes from Borough Market, Duddell’s London is offering an authentic and delicious Cantonese cuisine. Just look at the interior, wow! The dim-sum here is hand-crafted and the cocktails are Asian-inspired. www.duddells.co


Duddell’s London


Where to Shop
Shopping in London is something that you can’t get around. Depending what your taste is or how much you want to spend, there are options for everything. I’ve highlighted my personal favorite shopping districts and added a few that you just have to see for yourself.


Shopping in London’s high street

» Oxford Street
It’s the largest and longest shopping street in London. You will find all the commercial brands here like ZARA, Mango, Nike, H&M etc. Also check out the shopping mall Selfridges. It’s amazing!

» Knightsbridge
This is for the Chanel lovers among us. Big brands show off their impressive shopping windows and you can find Harrods here, the topnotch shopping warehouse that is worth checking out, especially the food hall and the toy kingdom.

» Camden Town
One of my favorite shopping area’s in London! It used to be a horse stable market so you will find many alleys and secret corners here. It’s great for bargain shopping and you can find local goods, weird stuff, plus there is even a crazy techno/house store which you need to check out, it’s like walking into a club!

» Carnaby Street
This street is full of amazing shops! Some are boutique, others are more mainstream like Adidas or Superga. Sneaker lovers should check Carnaby Street!

» Boxpark Shoreditch
There we have the boxpark again! Yep, this place is well worth checking out for speciality clothes and unique items. I bought some glitter socks there, I mean, what a catch!


What To See & Do
Like New York, London is a city where you can’t get bored. There is lot’s to see and do, but to narrow it down, these are my personal tips.

» Visit Some of London’s Parks
London is greener than you might think. There are several parks to choose from besides the famous Hyde Park. Primrose Hill, Regents Park and lesser known Hampstead Heath are my favourites. They are more local and offer stunning views and nature. If you are in Primrose Hill, make sure you walk into the neighbourhood and check out the coloured houses.

Primrose Hill London

» Sky Garden
I didn’t manage to go because I forgot to make a reservation but if you do have the time, visit the Sky Garden. Stunning views over the city with an indoor tropical garden. Entrance is free but you need to book a time slot. They do accept walk-ins after 6pm during the week. skygarden.london

Bonus » If you like gardens, check out Kew Gardens. It’s about 30 minutes travel from Central London and their Victorian glasshouse just opened. See over 10,000 plants in the world’s biggest glasshouse. www.kew.org

» Neill’s Yard
This tiny colourful alley in central London is super cute and has a few nice shops and restaurants. From here you can easily walk to Covent Garden.

» Covent Garden
What’s not to love about this area. Street theater, live opera singers, musicians, local goods, shops, restaurants and a market. Covent Garden is the place I never skip when I’m in London.

Neill's Yard London
Neill’s Yard

I hope you enjoy London as much as I do. After all, it was my “home town” for many years. Let me know if you’ve used our tips, we’d love to hear it!

Love,

Elke

 

 

 

KLM first flight to Växjö » The greenest city of Europe!

Last week KLM flew it’s first ever flight to Växjö, Sweden. I was one of the lucky media reporters who flew with them to explore Växjö, and the region of Småland.

Växjö is one of the greenest cities in Europe. I’m talking about sustainability here. They’ve cut down CO2 emissions big time since 1993 and are an example for other cities in the world. And if you know me, you also know I’m a girl who loves anything green, so I was exited to experience this for myself. Växjö is surrounded by lakes and beautiful forests, and the perfect destination for a digital detox. (but i didn’t have one, cause I needed to take photo’s, bummer. ;-))

Växjö, Sweden

How To Get There
Until last week, it wasn’t possible to fly directly from Amsterdam, so with Växjö added to their destination list, it’s now easily done in just 1,5 hours. From the small airport, you can drive pretty much anywhere. Get yourself a rental car, unless you know someone in the region. This way you can do anything you want. Try to enjoy the scenery, because as soon as you leave the airport, you are surrounded by trees and flowers, plus you might spot a Swedish Moose!

Where to Stay
There are several hotels, bed & breakfast and lodges in the area, but there are two accommodations that I would like to highlight. First up is the PM & Vänner Hotel. This modern and stylish hotel, used to be a national bank. The rooms are spacious and bright. Making use of the building, the hotel turned the bank safe into an incredible wine celar, that has even won them some prestigious prizes. When it’s nice weather, you should walk up to the rooftop, where there is a long stretched swimming pool and jacuzzi. Deck chairs are waiting for you to rest your head, and obviously the wine list is excellent. Try the PM & Vänner Bröd & Sovel bakery that is located next to the hotel, it’s a-ma-zing! The restaurant is not bad either.. it’s so good in fact, that they’ve earned a Michelin Star! And boy oh boy was it good. From locally produced nettle soup, to seasonal veggies, accompanied by the best wines. There are 22 rooms in this boutique hotel, but they are anything but standard. The bathrooms are large and all rooms give you access to free wifi, a Nespresso machine, safe ad mini bar.

PM & Vänner Hotel Växjö
My spacious bedroom at PM & Vänner

Carl von Linneus, the Swedish scientist that has named all plants and flowers in the world and is a living legend in the area.

The next sleepover I enjoyed at Växjö was at Möckelsnäs Herrgård, a massive landhouse, situated by the Möckel lake. It was build in the 1300’s and owned by several interesting people. The current owners are Dutch and have renovated the place back in 2012. The classical style remains, but the bathrooms have been modernised, which gives every room a lot of space. It’s the perfect place for couples, but there are also separate family houses build on the property. In total, the landhouse has 48 rooms. Marina, the owner, showed me around the beautiful garden area, where they grow  the vegetables and herbs. Even the flowers are eatable! She tells me the story of Carl von Linneus, the Swedish scientist that has named all plants and flowers in the world and is a living legend from the area. You can find several statues that represents Mr. Linneus, and one of them is located in the garden of Möckelsnäs Herrgård. 


Dinner at Möckelsnäs Herrgård

Oh, and the food here is exquisite! I enjoyed a dinner with fresh pea soup, and a seafood broth accompanied by their homemade bread. To top it off, I tasted the rather unusual basil ice-cream, which was super nice and refreshing! I slept as a baby, and woke up with a stunning view over the lake, so yes, you could say this place is a winner.


Ice cream baby!

Explore
People that visit the Småland region, come here for the nature. Because of the lakes, it’s the perfect spot for camping out with friends and family, take boat rides, or cycle one of the many routes. There is even something for the thrill seekers. Here are my favourite activities in and around Växjö:

  • Ziplining. It’s the first thing I did, when I arrived at Växjö. About 40 minutes drive from the airport, you will find the longest zipline in Northern Europe. It has 14 stations, all thrilling and exiting. Some are fast, others go though the forest, and have magnificent views. The highest station is 52 meters, so don’t look down! It’s the perfect thing to do with a group of friends, and there are also opportunities to camp or sleep in a special dorm hut. For more info visit www.swedenzipline.com

Zipline in Vaxjo
Getting ready to zip

  • Cycling. If you have the time, I always recommend you to hire a bicycle. It’s one of the best ways to explore, especially when you are surrounded by nature.
  • Visit Åsnen National Park & Lake Åsnen. The park will officially open on the 25th of May. Åsnen National Park brings the list to 30 national parks in total. Right located in the heart of Växjö, it’s great for hiking. The lake is huge and roughly 150 km² in size, perfect for hiring a boat with a few friends. You can also opt for a canoe and drift in between the many small islands. For more info visit. www.nationalparkasnen.se

Växjö
Cycling around the lake

Āsnen Sweden
Bird spotting at Åsnen Lake

Asnen Lake

  • Swedish Glass Museum. It may sounds a bit dull to you, but glass is HOT in Växjö. They even call Småland The Kingdom of Crystal. Needless to say that most restaurants and bars get their glass locally. Very sustainable, yet again. All sorts and sizes, to drink from or just to look at. 40.000 pieces are on display at the museum and you also get a chance to see the craftsmen at work. More info here.
  • IKEA Museum. Did the word Smäland sounded familiar to you? Yes, IKEA started right here. The first store opened in Smäland back in 1958. Mr. Ingvar Kamprad, who sadly passed away earlier this year, made sure he left his legacy. The store turned into a museum, where you can learn about the birth of the IKEA empire and get the chance to get involved. There are a few exhibitions running, some permanent, others temporary. If you dreamed of being on the cover of a magazine, now is your chance! www.ikeamuseum.com

IKEA Museum Sweden

In Sweden they enjoy a Fika, which is a coffee break, that goes hand in hand with a tasty (and sweet) pastry.

  • Eat & typical regional foods. Always try the food of the place you’re at, is my motto. Lucky for me, a typical Swedish delight is a cinnamon roll! In Sweden they enjoy a Fika, which is a coffee break, that goes hand in hand with a tasty (and sweet) pastry.

Swedish Kanelbullar
A Swedish Kanelbullar

Växjö has proved to me that it’s indeed green, full of nature, has lovely people and it has a great gastronomy. I could enjoy a few Fika’s here in my lifetime. Flights are now available with KLM from around €99,-.

Love,

Elke

The Wanderlust Bangkok City Guide

Bangkok, the urban jungle that you must experience once in your lifetime. If you are planning a holiday to Thailand, you’re likely to settle in Bangkok for the first few days. Here are 15 things to see and do in just a small amount of time.


Chaotic Bangkok

Where to Eat
There are plenty of places to feed your belly, but if you have just a few days, we can imagine, you do not want to take the risk of  picking a bad restaurant. We’ve selected 6 tasty, Instagramable places to eat!

Bangkok is full of Instagrammable hotspots

» Unicorn Cafe

It’s as crazy as it sounds, and still extremely popular. It’s located a little bit outside the city center so you need to be a devoted unicorn lover to get there. Because of it’s popularity, they have 2 locations in the same street. You can’t make a reservation so try to visit after lunchtime or in the morning. Feast your eyes on rainbow wallpaper and eat the multi layered unicorn cake (which tasted pretty good actually!) If you want, you can pay extra for a unicorn onesie and have your picture taken. I passed, but still managed to find my inner child! Facebook.com/Unicornbrand

Unicorn Cafe Bangkok
Unicorn Everything at the Unicorn Café

» Matchbox Pinkplanter

Matchbox is a franchise that mainly sells clothes and accessories, but they’ve recently opened up a café on the top floor of one of their shops in Siam. Everything is pink and tropical. Phrases like “You had me at Aloha” or “Love you very matcha”, are written on the walls, next to the large flamenco that you see when you walk in. So what can you order? Cotton candy ice-cream, cloudy bread buns, milkshakes and more. instagram.com/pinkplanter.cafe

» Nara

Like many restaurants in Bangkok, this place is located inside a shopping mall. It looks different from all the others though. Because of the fountain and wooden interior, Nara has a luxury feel to it but the prices are very affordable. I ordered a traditional Pad Thai with shrimps, that is suppose to be in the top 5 best Pad Thai’s in Bangkok. www.naracuisine.com

Matchbox Pinkplanter Bangkok
Instagrammable Matchbox Pinkplanter

Matchbox Pinkplanter, bangkok

» Eat Side Story

This Thai restaurant is situated next to the river Wat Arun. Here you can enjoy traditional Thai dishes whilst overlooking the river of Bangkok. From here you can also take a express boat tour and see why Bangkok was once called the “Venice of the East”. From there you can also visit the famous reclining Buddha. www.eatsightstorydeck.com

» Namsaah Bottling Trust

Perfect for couples or if you’re looking for a fancy night out! The pink building resembles a French boudoir, especially on the inside! It’s located in between the streets of Bangkok and serves high end Thai food with a twist. Tip: Try one of their colourful cocktails! www.namsaah.com

Namsaah Bottling Trust
Like a French boudoir in the middle of Bangkok!

Tip » There are a few dates a year that you can’t drink alcohol in Thailand. The Thai people celebrate Buddha day for example. On this public holiday the whole city doesn’t serve alcohol. Not in hotels or restaurants. Really in need of a beer? The mini bar in your hotel is your best friend. Do not drink in public or you can face a fine of 10.000 bath!

Where to Shop

There are several reasons why you should shop in Bangkok. For one, there are more shopping malls in this Asian city than you will ever see, and two, if you shop the right way, you will find yourself with the best bargains.

» MKB
 Center
This mall is the best for cheap gifts, clothes and electronics. The food court on the top floor has some of the best sushi rolls! If you are staying near the river, you can take a water taxi for just 10 bath and get the local experience. 

» Siam Discovery
Relatively new, this mall is not cheap but it’s very trendy. No surprise that you find the 20 -30 age group shopping here. From cool brands and fashion designers to funky coffee bars and gadgets, you will find it here.

Night Market Bangkok
Nightmarket in Bangkok

» Rot Fai Night Market, Srinakarin
You must check out this night market in Bangkok. Like every night market, it’s chaotic, colourful and vibrant. The Rot Fai market is huge and split into 3 different sections. It’s open from 5pm until midnight from Thurs – Sun. Grab a taxi to get here but always request the cabdriver to turn on his meter!

» Chang Chui Bangkok Plane Market
This market is hip & happening and totally different than all the others. With a plane as the centrepiece of the market, it’s already impressive. You can find art objects, food, crafts beers and one of a kind shirts and accessories. Enjoy Thai and mainstream music performances, while eating burgers or sipping on fruit smoothies. Be one of the cool kids and check out this amazing market! It’s fairy easy to get to by taxi if you stay in the old part of the city.

Chang Chui Bangkok Plane Market
The cool Chang Chui Plane Market (source: Hotels.com)

Where to Stay

If you just had a 12 hour flight, there is nothing better than a luxury hotel, to get you though the first days. Thankfully, Bangkok has quite a few and they don’t always have to cost much.

The breakfast buffet probably has the healthiest options I’ve seen in Bangkok to date

» SO Sofitel Bangkok (luxurious)
One of the best hotels in Bangkok in my opinion. Why? Well, the rooftop swimming pool for one! Oh, and the rooms are super big with the most amazing view over the skyline and green park. The restaurant has 2 restaurants, Red Oven & Park Society, and the breakfast buffet probably has the healthiest options I’ve seen in Bangkok to date. I also had a little peek in the spa and although I didn’t have the time to book a massage here, I can only imagine how good it would be. Rooms start at around 150 euro per night. Book it here!

SO Sofitel, Bangkok
SO Sofitel was like a dream

» Prince Du Port Hotel
 (medium)
The first ever time I stayed in Bangkok, I was given the tip to stay here. What a great place to start from! It’s not as luxurious as the SO Sofitel but this hotel also has a rooftop pool and is located near Koh San Road with only a 20 minute walk. The hotel is located next to the river, so you can take the traditional water transportation which takes you right into the city for just 10 bath! Rooms are available for as little as 25 euro per night. Book it here!

» Dream Hotel (Budget)
It has been rated as one of the best budget hotels in Bangkok by the UK Telegraph. The rooms are described as funky and futuristic, yet comfortable. It it located on Sukhumvit Road and you’ll find all sorts of travelers here. Business, couples and even backpackers. It is clean and has a rooftop pool, which is something you need in Bangkok! Rooms are available for as little at 40 euro per night.


One of the best rooftop pools in Bangkok, SO Sofitel

Where to get the Best Massages

With so many massage places, it’s hard to choose the best one but I’ve tried and tested a few and did some research. These ones stand out and cure that jetlag in no time!

» Water Gate Spa

It took a while for me to find it but it was worth it. It’s a tiny door hidden between the street market and right across from the Platinum Mall. For only 300 bath, you can get a Thai or foot massage and if you pay 500 bath, you get 2 hours! facebook.com/watergatespa

» Grand Massage & Spa in MBK
Right in the busy shopping center MBK, you will find this wonderful massage and spa. A room to shower yourself after the massage (yes, it can get quite oily) grandmassageandspa.com

» SoSpa at SO Sofitel Bangkok
If you’re going to stay here anyways, you should definitely try one of the massages. There are several options and although it’s about the same price you pay overseas, you will feel like a million dollars afterwards. Check it out here.

SO Sofitel Spa Bangkok
A spa with a view.. SO Sofitel

There you have it, plenty of things to do when you’re in Bangkok. Let us know which of our tips you’ve have used by tagging us on Instagram! @wanderlust.nl

Love,

Elke

More Thailand?

La Suite West » A new female friendly hotel in London

Travelling for work is something I have to do quite often, it’s a love and hate relationship between me and these business trips. On the one hand I love to be in Barcelona, Paris or London, grab a glass of wine after work and breath in a different culture to keep life interesting. On the other hand it’s a lot of shitty European airlines with delays, long days and missing the comfort of your own home. So when you travel around, it’s nice to stay in a hotel that actually feels like home. 

Female Friendly
This is the main reason why a hotel is so important to me when I’m working in different cities. Last week I found myself in London (again) and stayed in the La Suite West hotel that position themselves as a female friendly hotel. Normally I would say that a term like ‘female friendly’ feels a bit off to me, but when boarding the airplane in Amsterdam and looked around at the gate, I realised that this term isn’t silly at all. I suddenly noticed that I was the ONLY solo female waiting to board the airplane. It was just men in suits and a few couples on a romantic break together who were waiting to board this early Wednesday morning flight.


New kid on the (London) block

Impressions
Normally I always go straight to the office from the airport so I checked in later that evening. The location of La suite West was absolutely perfect for me as it was situated near the tube station to hop on the central line, and most important, next to the park. I love going for a walk in the morning to clear my head before the start of a busy day at work.

The hotel is decorated by British designer Anouska Hempel and the bedrooms and suites are swathed in black and white with Asian infusions teamed with sleek marble bathrooms. Outside are beautiful long tables in a quiet street, perfect hotel also in spring or summer and to enjoy your morning breakfast outside before strolling Hyde Park and exploring Notting Hill. With Bayswater and Queensway tubes around the corner, it’s the perfect spot to explore the city!

I stayed in the junior suite and loved it, there was enough space to move around and create my own little home while in London and the bathroom was every girls dream. All marble, heated floor, big bath, a shower that makes you feel you’re under a waterfall, and to top it off some lovely toiletries from the British White Company. So thank you for a lovely stay La Suite West! And keep up the good work, acknowledging solo female travellers like me and make sure we feel welcome and safe on our travels.


The all marble bathroom was a dream!

Love,

Jantine

LA Suite West Hotel
41-51 Inverness Terrace, London
Website

Ghent Light Festival

Although I normally write about traveling with kids, this time I’m posting in the category: trip without kids. Time to escape the life of a working mom so me and my hubby went off exploring Ghent. Luckily for me: The Ghent Light Festival just arrived!

The Ghent Light Festival
For 5 days, people can discover 37 light projects through the city centre. It’s a 6.6 km long route and you’ll be  amazed by ‘the museum of the moon’, where visual artist Luke Jerram brings us closer to the moon than ever before. Also the forgotten dragon from multi media specialist Create is quite impressive. 


The incredible blue moon at the Ghent Light Festival

Besides the great Light festival Gent has so much more to offer. In 2011 Ghent was named Europe’s best kept secret and I totally understand why. This city has lots of historical buildings, fun bars & little shops where you can buy typical stuff like: Ghents noses (sweets) en their famous mustard (you can find them at the “groentenmarkt” square). 

Street Art
Did you know that Ghent also has amazing street art and graffiti? Everywhere in Ghent you’ll find walls covered in colors and art. Although graffiti is supposedly banned here, there are still a few places where authorities do allow it. The Werregarenstraat is a fine example of this. Fun fact: There is a graffiti artist who created ‘Kortpaard’. It’s basically a wide spread yellow horse which can be found throughout the whole city. It was first meant to be a symbol towards rules but now it’s known for the feeling of solidarity between people who are a bit disobedient (aren’t we all sometimes?).

Ghent

Hotspots
» Holy food market; inspired by the food halls in Barcelona, Rotterdam and Copenhagen.

» Aroy Aroy (pop-up); A fixt menu inspired by the Thai cuisine
» The Cobler (bar in Hotel 1898 The Post) – In this new hotel you can find lots of special cocktails). Don’t forget to visit the toilet; it’s perfectly decorated.
» De meacht van Ghent – definitely should try the new Gin tonic!
» The Belfort tower; the middle of the famous Ghent tower row and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999
» Gravensteen; a castle that for centuries has determined the view of the city center of Ghent

If you have kids, bring home a cupcake from Julie’s house. They will love it (mine did)!

For more info about the Ghent Light Festival visit Lichtfestival.stad.gent

Love,

Cheryl

*Cheryl is a mother of 2, with a love for travel. Having 2 kids didn’t stop her from traveling the world and she has become somewhat of an expert when it comes to traveling with children. She will write for Wander-Lust once a month where she will provide you with the best traveling tips for and with children! Find out more on her blog: travellingwithkids.nl

The top 8 Third-Wave Coffee places in Berlin

Last month I visited a friend in Berlin who told me a lot about her growing affinity for high-quality coffees in the city. They call it the ‘third-wave coffee’, which is a movement to produce high quality coffee and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff rather than a commodity. This movement involves the improvement of all the stages of the production of a coffee bean. As I do like coffee myself, I was curious about the specialty of this kind of coffee. So here are 8 of the best third-wave coffee places in Berlin.

1. The Barn, Kurfürstendamm
First up, is The Barn. While they are settled in four locations in Berlin, I like the one at Kurfürstendamm the most. This location is on top of a building and already exists for over 200 years. Not as the Barn as we know it now, but it has always been a lunch-room/coffee bar. Every Barn has its own retail concept, because they want to showcase the fact that they are specialists in coffee in different contexts. They have an extensive coffee menu and each brew is made with the best beans possible. Besides coffee you will find tasty pies and pastries and during summer you can enjoy your coffee on the terras, which is set up in a circle around the coffee bar. Find it here!


Source

2. Five Elephant, Neukölln
The Five Elephant is a micro roastery, bakery and cafe in Neukölln, Berlin. This is the perfect place for a special coffee because they are passionate about quality. They search for green coffee beans and bring these to their roastery where they prepare them. It has the nicest employees and I would definitely recommend the pies, pastries and cookies. In summer you can sit outside on the terras but also inside you feel a great environment. The Scandinavian-style is simple but gives you a good feeling. With every cup of coffee you order you will receive a Wifi code, which makes the roastery a perfect place to work. Besides from business, you can also pay a visit for a relaxing afternoon with your friends. Find it here!

They call it the ‘third-wave coffee’

3. The visit coffee roastery, Kreuzberg
If you want to reinvent the bean you should go to The Visit. Creating a whole new coffee beverage is what they do best. They serve the highest quality beans, perfectly roasted. The people working over there are experts and are really passionate about coffee. They have four locations in Berlin but the one at Adalbertstraße is special because of their new way of seating their guests. In this particular bar you may find yourself sitting on the stairs next to a small table, where you can sit and relax and feel like home! This roastery may be a little hard to find but when you are inside, you will never want to leave again. Find it here!

4. Bonanza roastery, Kreuzberg 
If you are a coffee and plants lover you should definitely go to Bonanza. They are settled in two different locations in Berlin and Adalbertstraße is close to The Visit. The location is very unique, the interior is industrial chic and I would really recommend their filter coffee. What makes Bonanza special is their way of roasting the beans. Different than others, is their strategy to roast the beans as little as possible. This special coffee is a little more expensive but the experience is worth a try. There is also an outdoor seating here. Find it here!

5. Nothaft Seidel cafe, prenzlauer Berg
If you want to drink third wave coffee in a place that is in true Berlin style, you should go to Nothaf. The walls are not finished and the interior is made of old chairs, couches and used school tables. The decor is also pink and youthful. The baristas are there to impress you with some excellent grinds and brew that is locally roasted and served with flair. You will see people working at their laptops but you can also just grab your coffee and find yourself a nice place to chill. The baked goods are delicious and they even have vegan croissants. You can also enjoy their freshly blended juices outside in the sunshine. Anyone who is looking for Nothaft will recognize it immediately for its pink umbrellas outside which give you a little Hawaiian feeling. Check it out! 


Nothaft + Seigel Cafe

6. Populus Cafe, Kreuzberg
Populus Cafe coffee is formed by the people who are growing, processing, sourcing, roasting, brewing and enjoying it. It is a Finnish owned place which you might recognize in its interior. This scandinavian style with lovely plants and delicious coffee is a good place to dream away. Seeing the water outside makes it even more special in a city like Berlin. Their motto is sharing the same passion for coffee with people all over the world. Their coffee is fair trade and high-quality. Populus would love to let you discover all flavours of coffee they serve. The beans they serve are chock-full of sweetness and flavours of ripe berries, tropical fruits, chocolate, floral notes, nuttiness and pleasant acidity depending on variety, origin and processing. Find it!

7. Happy Baristas, Friedrichshain
As you can see in the name, ‘happy baristas’ are the only people serving you at this bar. The world of coffee doesn’t have to be black and bitter. It’s exciting; full of colour and bursting with flavour. Happy Baristas has one table where you can sit with your laptop, at the others you are not allowed. The best time to go here is during breakfast. They serve the most delicious pancakes. All the drinks are made in house. You won’t find any bottled drinks in the shop. The Happy Baristas will be at your service in every mood. They’ll have the classic drinks and some more adventurous varieties like milkshakes or espresso mixed with cola syrup, cherry juice or horchata, they go to considerable length to make the customer happy. Find it here!


The Happy Baristas serve honey processed Costa Rica coffee, omg yeah! Source

8. Orange Coffee, prenzlauer berg
Last but not least, Orange Coffee. A small not touristy coffee bar with only true berliners visiting here, makes this coffee bar a ‘must see’ at your to do list. Great coffee, delicious pastries and really good breakfast. Orange coffee has only one barista and six tables so you’d better not enter with a large group. Very intimate and cozy will describe this place the best. Check it out!

Enjoy discovering these third-wave coffees!

Love,

Michelle

*Michelle is one of our guest editors who lives in Amsterdam. She is a senior student on her way of becoming a media specialist. She’s got a big interest for design, writing and traveling. After exploring Amsterdam she wanted to discover more of the world. She’s not your typical typical tourist though, which is why she is always searching for the best local bars and restaurants! You can follow her on @michelle.debruin

You like City Trips? Check them all out!

 

 

Why the Paris region is this year’s Winter Destination

Ah Paris, beautiful, romantic Paris. We all know the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées and the Notre Dame. But Paris is more than the usual highlights and this winter, you can enjoy festivals, many exhibitions, shopping sprees and unique hotspots to celebrate the winter in style.

Winter Wonderland
There are a few places in the world where the Christmas season is that little bit extra special. Paris and it’s region is one of those. The light, the ambiance and the special events during the winter period. Let’s start with the three main Christmas Markets this year.

  • Grande Arche in business district la Défense with 250 wooden chalets! It’s there until the 28th of December.
  • Notre-Dame, for local crafts, fashion and accessoires designs. It’s on from the 15th until the 24th of December.
  • Champs de Mars From the 21st of December until January 8th you can stroll over this Christmas market at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. It has gourmet food, gift ideas and crafts.

joe-desousa-327235
Celebrate New Years Eve watching the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower

Ice-skating on top of the Observatoire Panoramique, how cool!

The Sky is the Limit
If you like to see Paris from a different point of view this winter, you have a few options. Take a ride on the largest ferris wheel in Paris on Place de la Concorde, at 70 meter high you have an amazing view over the city and Champs-Élysées. Another must do, is ice-skating on top of the Observatoire Panoramique on the Tour Montparnasse. How cool! The ice-skating ring is 210 meters high above the city and open from the 14th of Feb until the 6th of March. The nearest metro station is Gare Montparnasse and Ice-skates are available to rent on the spot.

Paris Christmas Destination

Shop till you drop
Sorry but not sorry. If you are in Paris, you need to go shopping! Even if it’s just for walking passed the shopping windows. For the best Christmas themed windows, you need to go to Boulevard Haussmann where you can find the best warehouses. Shopping centre Galeries Lafayette always has something special going on and transforms in a fair with a huge Christmas tree in the middle. This years theme is Carnival so we can only imagine what that’s going to be like! Are you more for the boutique shops? Then you should go to the Montmartre & South of Pigalle district. Marais is great for small shops and may even look a bit medieval at times. 

Musée des Arts Forains
Musée des Arts Forains © Sébastien Siraudeau

Parisian Tasty Hotspots
Chocolate, breakfast, macarons and other Parisian indulgences are all to be found in Paris. During the winter time you want to eat comfort food and drink the best hot chocolates. These are the hotspots where all of this is possible!

  • Brasserie Lipp is one of the oldest Parisian brasseries and offers a typical French menu from Escargots to céleri rémoulade. 
  • Paperboy Paris for the best bread rolls and sandwiches! They are located in the Le Marais area and is a favorite breakfast spot, also for the locals!
  • Jaja is the perfect place for a meal away from the crowd. Go here for comfort food Parisian style and enjoy the pretty courtyard. 
  • Wynwood is the perfect brunch spot with everything organic and a cute interior. Tip: Try the taco’s from the special menu!
  • Miss Kale Paris, if you love healthy food, this spot is for you! Vegan bowls, Poke bowls, Asian style bowls and of course bowls with kale!
  • Braun Notes Coffee is for coffee lovers who like to drink them pretty. They create the best coffee designs and also offer a great brunch menu that includes fruit in a coconut! 

wynwood-paris
Wynwood Source: Wynwood

Exhibitions
It might not be on top of mind when visiting Paris region but there are many exhibitions and places worth visiting this winter. Never been to the amazing Château Versailles? Now is your chance and see Voyage en Hiver, a unique contemporary art exhibition through the groves of the castle. Or check Museum Marmottan-Monet where you can see the famous paintings of French artist Monet with your own eyes (remember the painting from Titanic?) and find out what he held in his private collection.

Voyage en hiver, Paris
Château Versailles during winter. Source: Versailles © EPV/Thomas Garnier/Skydrone

Reasons enough to head over to Paris and it’s surroundings this winter, to enjoy the lights and festive season when you still can!

Love,

Wander-Lust

This article was written in collaboration with the France Tourism Development Agency and Paris Region
*Header photo by @MaureenPowel