7 x Hidden Gems in Valencia

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

Bluebell Coffee

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

Bluebell Valencia

Petticoat Vintage

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

Vintage store Valencia

Almalibre

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

Jardines de Monforte

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

Valencia

El Saler Beach

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

San Tomasso

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

La Fabrica de Hielo

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


Extra tips:

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

Love,

Iris

 

Discover North Western Sicily

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

Dine your way through Trapani

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

osteria-i-vitelloni-sicily
Osteria I Vitelloni

Palermo

Scooter your way around

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

fre-sonneveld-19374

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

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

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

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

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

Chill in Cefalu

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

Sicily Cefalu view point

Take a hike!

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

Club Med Cefalù

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

Love,

Jill

The Shoreditch Guide | London

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

Shoreditch Guide

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

Shoreditch London

Shopping

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

Shop Shoreditch, London

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

Street Art

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

Shoreditch, London

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

Pizza East, Shoreditch
Pizza East

Other recommendations

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

cafe in Shoreditch

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

Love from London,

Stephanie

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

The 3-day London Guide is here!

3 days London City Guide

The Marrakech Guide 2019

Stunning gardens, rooftop bars, cozy riads, narrow streets, famous souks and the rich smells of the Moroccan kitchen. Today, Marrakech is one of the most popular city destinations for travellers and we totally understand why. We fell in love immediately. Where do you need to go to and which rumours are true? Here is an up to date Marrakech Guide for 2019!

Good to know:

Is it safe to walk around in Marrakech?
Yes it is! People in Marrakech are super friendly. Usually, google maps is your best friend, but not everywhere in Marrakech unfortunately. So try to remember how to walk back to your riad. Tip: Drop a pin in google maps.

Is Marrakech full of tourist traps?
Unfortunately, scams in the city do happen. Kids offer to help you to find the way for free. Once you have arrived you need to pay. They try to mislead you into the wrong direction too. This can be super annoying at first, but after one day you know what to do. Just say no, merci. Make sure you keep your personal belongings close to you, but this applies to all cities in the world.

Walking around in Marrakech

Houses and buildings are made out of red sandstone, therefore Marrakech is known as ‘The Red City’

Tip! Taxis are not always able to drop you at the doorstep of your riad, you always need to walk the last part.

What should you wear?
There’s no dresscode, but I would stick with long skirts and dresses to avoid stares from locals. Remember that you are in a different country with another culture which we should respect. Bring something that will cover the shoulders.

Marrakech guide 2019

Sarah in Marrakech 2019

Is Marrakech expensive? 
Marrakech is not cheap compared to Greece for example, especially when you visit pools in Hotels and eat in famous hotspots like El Fenn, Nomads etc. However, if you visit the more local restaurants and markets, prices drop. A taxi from the airport will cost you around 15 euro and from Medina to the new city around 10 euro. Always negotiate a price upfront!

The streets of Marrakech 2019

Where to stay?

Don’t waste your money on the bigger hotels in Marrakech but stay at a traditional riad! Most of them are in the Medina, so you’re nearly always walking distance from the main square.

We stayed in Riad Dar Vima for only 40 euro per night! A beautiful and serene riad, run by couple Leonie (Dutch) and Soufian (Moroccan). This is the place where you should stay. You will stay in comfy beds, surrounded by beautiful furniture, a great rooftop with nice sunbeds and local Moroccan breakfast, which is prepared by the mother of the riad Aziza which is included. They helped us with everything! From Riad Dar Vima you walk to the souks in about 7 minutes. A big plus: you are not woken up by early prayers, it’s quiet and peaceful!

Riad Marrakech guide 2019

Riad
Riad Da Vima


Where to Eat

Nomad is a popular modern Moroccan eatery with an amazing view. Also, vegetarians and pescatarians will be happy to eat here because the restaurant serves simple and delicious “Modern Moroccan” dishes. From chickpea salads with tzatziki, avocado and barley with celery and sesame seeds to roasted cauliflower in ras-el-hanout, harissa and turmeric butter, served over a bed of herb infused couscous, for 9 euro. They open every day from noon till 23h.

Naraj restaurant is the place for you if you love Lebanese food. The restaurant is located in the middle of the Medina. A great restaurant with a beautiful rooftop, friendly service and delicious food!! The menu is not large, but everything on there is worth trying!


Naraj restaurant

Le jardin Tucked away in a small street in the medina you’ll find this green oasis in a beautifully renovated 16th Century building. When entering it looks small, but eventually you will walk into a lush garden dotted with tables and lights surrounded by the majestic building and the terraces! We passed it so many times and on our last day we decided to have lunch here. Glad we did! Our fave dish, the Kofta tagine with egg and tomato sauce is only 10 euro.

Le jardin Marrakech
Le Jardin

Le jardin food

Café Arabe has a lounge-bar-restaurant on the terrace with a great view. We ordered wine, cocktails and small bites only. Good to know: They sell alcohol during Ramadan if you really want it.

El Fenn is a lovely setting for lunch. Here they serve traditional Moroccan dishes but also offer a European menu. Try the fresh mint juice, divine! You can also book a hotel room here, but it will come at a price.

El Fenn
El Fenn

Limoni restaurant with Moroccan and Italian cuisine is a hidden gem close to our Riad. With a shaded patio and terrace.

+61 You will find a super modern restaurant in ‘new town’, owned and run by Australian Cassandra Karinsky. Marrakech is home to some top-notch eateries and this place is definitely one you should check out. I took the homemade ricotta red peppers capers piadina for 6.40 euro and salmon with pickles and bread for 11 euro.

+61 Marrakech

61+ Marrakech
Stylish +61

Comptoir Darna Someone tipped this legendary and traditional restaurant, located in the Rue Ahmed Chaqui in the heart of the buzzing Hivernage district. With dinner and a belly dancing show at the same time. An experience you won’t forget that easy. It’s a popular destination where people start with a drink on their terrace, have dinner during the event and end the night dancing with a tasteful cocktail.

Le foundouk Eat on the stunning rooftop terrace by candle light for a very romantic setting. I chose the Gyozas with chicken (Japanese ravioli) – ginger and coriander for 10 euro, the Moroccan pastilla with chicken and almonds (sweet and salty) and the Chicken tagine with preserved lemons.

Rooftop bar Marrakech
Rooftops with stunning views! (we forgot the name of this place unfortunately)

Where to Shop

Loose yourself in the souks! It’s a must see and a wonderful experience. You can get lost for hours. You immediately want to buy everything you see, but wait for your last day! Prices usually start quite high, so be prepared to negotiate. Tip! Try to buy carpet, lamps etc. just outside the souks. 

Shopping in Medina, Marrakech

Djemaa el Fna is the biggest Souk but also the most touristic one. For a more traditional experience we would recommend Marché el Mellah. But be warned if you’re an animal lover, you’re going to see a lot of animals (especially chickens)., and unfortunately, they’re not there for the cosiness.

Mirrors in Marrakech

Most people buy their treasures inside the souks, but we bought most items next to our Riad Dar Vima. You will find many small local shops here. If you are looking for a handmade carpet or rug, buy it with Mohamed, he has the best there is! He sells carpets with beautiful patterns, shapes and colours and pretty blankets. Each one has a unique style and every rug is handmade on a loom, which you can see with your own eyes. Next door there is also a shop that sells traditional Moroccan lamps.

Carpets in Marrakech
Beautiful carpets. Prices vary per size

Spices

Souk Marrakech
Visit the local markets

Where to Relax

Temperatures can rise up to 40 degrees in Marrakech so you need some options to cool off. Besides that, all that shopping and eating can make you tired so if you want to put your feet up, you have some wonderful options.

Selman. If you would like to escape the city for a moment then you should definitely check out Selman! It will blow your mind the minute you enter. It’s not very cheap though. A full day at the pool including a massage, hammam and lunch will cost you 1500 dirham (140 euro). However, the pool boys serve free water and juice throughout the day! 

Swimming pool Marrakech guide
The stunning pool at Selman

Spa Marrakech

The Beldi Country Club
Like many people I choose to go to the Beldi Country Club, where you can spend some time by the pool with a beautiful garden. You can book a package deal of 36 euro where lunch (2 course meal) and pool access are included. If you go for the pool only, it will cost you 19 euro. On top we booked the hammam and spa treatment of 73 euro. Unfortunately, the steam didn’t really work and the body scrub- and wash was not what we expected. Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable and relaxing! Your skin will feel like a newborn!

Beldin Country Club Marrakech
At the Beldi Country Club

There is more

Jumping back in history at the ruins of El Badi Palace
There is not much left of El Badi Palace but the peace and space it gives you is unique in the centre of Marrakech. The palace took twenty-five year to build and was an excessive display of the best craftsmanship of the Saadian period. You can still see some of the expensive materials they used. Next to the beauty of the ruins, it’s a good place to catch your breath in the middle of the overly crowded city.

Feeling like a princess at the Bahia Palace
Looking for that perfect Instagram spot? Think of mosaic floors, enchanting lighting and fairy-tale gardens. Bahia Palace is probably one of the most charming places in Marrakech. You’ll have to get up early if you don’t want hundred of tourists taking photos of your own selfie.

Tip » Don’t have enough time to travel to the Sahara? Dry your tears because I got a solution. Within a 20-minute car ride and with a spark of imagination it will feel like you’re in the Sahara while being just outside the city centre of Marrakech. Oke, you’re going to need a lot of imagination and a camel as well. But, when it’s all there you will feel like a true nomad. Note: a camel ride is a lot of fun and great holiday activity but please be aware that you book your trip at certified tour operations. We don’t want the camels to suffer for someone else’s enjoyment.

Fresh air in Essaouira
If you’re looking for some fresh (sea) air, Essaouira is one of the nearby beaches. It only takes 3 hours by bus, which will cost you about 8 euros. Don’t expect a luxurious, seaside resort. They call it the hippy city of Morocco and that reflects in the low-key way of living in this city. Surfing all day and listening to live reggae music all night is the normal routine.

Marrakech streets

Tip » You can make some great horse riding trips in Essaouria if you rather wouldn’t jump in the sea. Enjoy the sea, dunes and weather while getting your adrenaline pumped up by the speed of the horse.  Book your trip at Equi Evasion, they treat the horses very well. Howdy ho, cowboy!

Le Jardin Majorelle
Don’t think you will escape the chaos of the medina when you visit le Jardin Majorelle. Come in as early as possible to avoid the crowds. If you are a botanical lover you must visit this colourful and beautiful garden with plants from all over the world, like cactus, jasmines, bougainvillea, palm trees, coconut trees, banana trees, bamboo and more. The creator of the garden was Jacques Majorelle, a French painter, that opened the garden to the public in 1947 to help offset their costly maintenance. Entrance is just 6,5 euro.

Le Jardin Majorelle
Le Jardin Majorelle

Le jardin Marrakech

We heard many mix opinions about Marrakech but we would go back in a heartbeat! In conclusion, it was as stunning as you see on the photo’s and the people were very friendly. Just remember that you are stepping into a different culture and as a woman you may need to adjust a little. Nevertheless, we tip Marrakech as a must visit!

Love,

Sarah

Artist Residence | The perfect getaway in Brighton

Brighton is somewhere you can plan an idyllic weekend escape, especially during the warmer summer months. This coastal city is only 30 minutes on the train from London Gatwick Airport, or 1 hour from London city itself. Known for its pier, thriving creative industries and nightlife, it’s little wonder that stylish boutique hotel Artist Residence is seen as such a destination and as a celebration of this quaint and quirky city.

Artist Residence

Located on a quiet street at the top of historic Regency Square and spanning two 19th-century townhouses, this quintessentially English set up is within a 10-minute walk from all the buzz of the city. But with everything you’d need on site, due to its well-rounded atmosphere you may not want to venture far at all. Upon arrival, it’s quite clear that almost every guest has made the happy decision to tuck themselves away in this hotel and not move far. In essence, this is an ideal place for couples looking for a weekend getaway to switch off and unwind.

Brighton
Brighton beach

Interiors

Artist Residence was so named due to its characterful interiors. When the founder Justin Sailsbury inherited the hotel from his parents in his early twenties, he enlisted local artists to decorate each room in return for boarding at the hotel. Brighton’s art scene draws in the crowds, so this perfect plan resulted in sophisticatedly playful rooms which feel individual yet part of a collective red thread.

Pop-art and posters and retro furniture makes for an eclectic vibe in each room, this is comfortable luxury at its finest.

Artist Residence Brighton

Artist Residence Brighton lamp

Bedrooms

With 25 bedrooms to cater for, staff are attentive, friendly and effortlessly helpful. When you walk into each room, Jazz FM oozes an invitation to simply chill out and relax. For where else would you rather be but sinking into their divinely comfortable beds or lounging back in an armchair overlooking Brighton’s coast? (And thinking how to incorporate similar design elements into your own home!) Soft furnishings – from the pristine white bedding to the textured cushions – perfectly compliment the neutrally painted walls and bedside angle-poise lamps bring a retro-filled nostalgia to each room. Finishing touches are mirrors and the rather fabulous artwork. If you’re lucky enough to bag the grandest suite in the hotel, you’ll find it hard to check out: a four-poster bed competes with a copper slip bath as the focal point for the room.

bathtub at Artist Residence Brighton
Bathtub goals!

Facilities

Should you decide to leave your elegant bohemia bedroom, you can head to cocktail bar The Set for a pre-dinner toast, and then sit down in their cosy, quirky restaurant The Fix. Here you’ll find hotel residents and locals alike sampling a delightful menu featuring creative yet tasty ingredients. After your meal, guests can play ping-pong in the basement before enjoying a nightcap. Each room comes with an inviting wall-mounted bar with red wine, miniature local spirits and nibbles to make your stay even more pleasing. Three course tasting menus start at £31 per person.

In short, this stylish boutique hotel is one of five (the other locations include London, Oxford, Cornwall and Bristol) and quite the unique, on-trend, fun and friendly place to eat, drink and sleep. Small rooms are available from £95 per night. Book now.

Love,

Stephanie

The Leeuwarden Guide 2019

Leeuwarden was voted the culture capital of Europe last year, and since then the city has been buzzing. New restaurants and shops pop up like mushrooms which resulted in more visitors than ever before. Time to check out the city of Fryslân everyone is talking about!

Bye bye hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, hello hello fresh air, calmness and…sugar bread! 

What to do in Leeuwarden

Street art tour Leeuwarden
A noteworthy tip is the street art tour in Leeuwarden. Great way to start your day, especially after a heavy breakfast. In 1,5 hours, you learn more about the interesting city background. We love the fact the talk was a perfect combi of historical and temporary facts. Guide Henk Leutscher and his team make so much fun of it! Check it out: a Guide to Leeuwarden.

a-guide-to-leeuwarden-street-art-tour-saskia-van-uylenburg-by-klaas-lageweg
Street art Leeuwarden style, love it!

Shopping
This fashion, flower and interior stores will pleasantly surprise you. It wouldn’t be out of place in Amsterdam. Lots of trendy stuff to pamper yourself, be prepared shopaholics! The Kleine Kerkstraat was even voted the best shopping street of the Netherlands in 2010 and 2013! Check out Scandinavian style concept store Nørd pictured below.

Leeuwarden shops

Blokhuispoort
Back in the days this used to be a prison, but now houses different business and eateries. Worth checking out.

Rent a boat
You can rent a boat at Greenjoy to see Leeuwarden from the water. Boats are available from about €25 euro.

 

Leeuwarden: a natural beauty
And if you want to escape the city for a while, please, please, please explore the raw and wonderful natural surroundings of Leeuwarden! Next time, I definitely want to have a pitstop there.

leeuwarden-emmakade-winter

In 2018 Leeuwarden-Fryslân was crowned the cultural capital of Europe

Where to Eat in Leeuwarden

Stek
This cute restaurant used to function as a bridge house and people actually lived here. If it reminds you of the popular brunch spot Pluk, you got it right. Stek is run by the previous co-owner of Pluk, which she started with her sister and brother in law. After a move back to the city she was born, she decided to start Stek and with great success. The food is lovely, and the coffee is good. Stek has an outside terrace overlooking the water. A must visit if you visit Leeuwarden.

Stek Leeuwarden

Lazy Lemons
If you have kids, you are going to love Lazy Lemons! Then again, you are also going to love it if you do not have any. Why? The food is simple but the portions are big, the service is good and there is enough space for families, friends and lovers. Upstairs you can find a large play corner for kids, which means a undisturbed lunch or dinner for the parents. We wished we had more of these in Amsterdam!

Lazy Lemons Leeuwarden

KB Food and Drinks
If you want a menu full of choices and options, you are at the right address at KB. Their formula works like this; you order a main and you can pick 2 side orders plus a saus of choice. The service here will make you happy and its no problem if you want to bring your kids. KB has a garden area, so you can enjoy those summer evenings. Fun fact: the building used to be a video library! www.kbfood.nl

KB Food and Drinks Leeuwarden
Dinner at KB food & drinks

Roast Leeuwarden
Must-try hotspot Roast Leeuwarden. Located in the middle of the city centre, this recently opened cozy lunch, dinner and drink spot is one to remember. Really like the fact they’ve put together a very diverse and continually changing menu for every budget. Their signature dish: chicken. But no worries veggies and vegans, there’s also so much appetizing food for you. If you can fit it, try the chocolate overloaded dessert, which is so yummy. Oh, and they’ve got two really cool tables with table taps, a perfect way to trigger your inner bartender haha! roastleeuwarden.nl

Roast Leeuwarden

 

De Neushoorn
My guide Henk told me about this must-visit…and he was right. It’s kind of a magical and vibrant place where music meets dance meets film. Visit one of the performances or feel free to pop by for a laid-back beer.

Moon
An Instagram dream with pink/purple walls, marble tables and a menu that you just need to take pictures of. It’s no surprise that you can order a matcha, beetroot or turmeric latte here. Get your freak on with a freakshake or go healthy with avo on toast. Yes, this place was made with the intention of being a hotspot. www.moonleeuwarden.nl

Moon Leeuwarden

Also worth mentioning:

  • Dr. Plant: vegan take-away restaurant in the heart of Leeuwarden.
  • Fruitbar SIS: the green and healthy hotspot with vegan cakes.
  • Blikspuit: a concept store with a kiddies corner, so great for parents.
  • Speelcafé: this café is made for kids and you’ll love it if you are a parent. There is a slide inside and countless toys. They serve great tea and homemade cupcakes.

Where to stay in Leeuwarden

Catshuis Boutique Hotel
We love boutique hotels and this hotel is certainly one that you want to check out. Located in the heart of Leeuwarden, it is the perfect place for couples. Beautiful rooms, lovely and always included breakfast and a stylish interior. At the hotel you can also book a high tea, great for friends! www.catshuisleeuwarden.nl

Post Plaza
In case you’re thinking about a citytrip to Leeuwarden, definitely book a room at the charming Post Plaza****. They invited me to stay and for sure I said ‘yes’. To be honest, I’ve nothing but praise. Especially the hospitality and extravaganza wakey wakey breakfast with everything a sweet tooth with a bit of a sleepyhead wants.. sugar bread. Do we need to say more?

Post Plaza, Leeuwarden
Hotel Post Plaza

Van Der Valk Hotel
We like this hotel because they have the BREEAM-NL certificate. This means that they are putting a lot of focus on being sustainable. For example, the heat from their restaurants is collected and re-used for the meeting rooms and kitchen. They have also installed bee hotels and a harbour to maintain biodiversity. It’s also a great hotel for families with kids, due to the family rooms and possibilities. Book your room here!

Van der valk hotel Leeuwarden
Van Der Valk Hotel

Explore the Friesland region and Leeuwarden if you get the chance!

Love,

Wander-Lust

Oostende | The sunniest town in Belgium

When you think of Belgium, you may think of Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent or Bruges. But there is a town near the coast we want you to hear about. It’s the place where Marvin Gaye wrote his hit Sexual Healing and people don’t just call it the sunniest town in Belgium for nothing. We’re talking about Oostende.

Oostende is located on the west-coast of Belgium. It may be tiny, but it has more to it than meets the eye. Yearly more than 100.000 people visit the street art festival The Crystal Ship, where international street artists use Oostende as their canvas. And yes, the marvellous Marvin Gaye wrote one of the most iconic love songs of the world while he lived in Oostende many years ago. Oostende must have something special..

Oostende Belgium
Oostende beach

How to get there

The train station in Oostende is easy to reach from Antwerpen central, so no need to travel by car. There are many hotels, restaurants and shops, but the jewel of the city has to be the beach. During summer this results in a vibrant place to sunbathe and relax at one of the beach bars alongside the promenade. 

Where to Stay

There are many hotels to choose from but the most hip hotel in Oostende is by far the Upstairs Hotel. Funky rooms with brick walls, vintage punch bags and a slide in the lobby (yes, really). The location is perfect because it’s in walking distance from everywhere in Oostende. Rooms are available from 57 euro and includes a breakfast buffet.

Upstairs hotel Oostende
Upstairs Hotel

For a stunning view over the beach, check out fancy hotel C-Hotels Andromeda. Prices are a bit higher but it’s perfect for a romantic getaway. If you are on a budget, there is a fancy youth hostel called De Ploate Hostel which offers dorms but also private rooms with ensuite for a smaller price.

Street Art Festival

If you visit Oostende in April, you must check out this street art festival named The Crystal Ship. The festival was founded back in 2011 but kept changing locations until they made a deal with the city of Oostende. Since then Oostende has become a more colourful city because of the many murals. In total there are 59 large murals and 200+ smaller art pieces throughout the city. The cool thing is that most murals stay here permanently and every year new street art is added to the city.

Street art Oostende
Street Art in Oostende

Where to Eat & Drink

Oostende has a lot of little streets where you’ll find several eateries and bars that will fill up your tummy. Also try a bag of shrimps from one of the local seafoodmarket alongside the beach, or their famous prawn croquette.

  • For a fancy dinner head to Marina. Getting there is also fun because you can take the free ferry across the water and walk for about 7 minutes through an industrial area, where housing developments are well on their way. This part is going to become the new & hip Oostende, mark our words.
  • If you are looking for something a bit more relaxed but trendy, have drinks and bites at Mommy’s Bastards. This place used to be infamous for its mussels but they decided to turn things around which resulted in a funky bar/restaurant with delicious comfort food like burgers, salads and yes, they still serve those killer mussels. Also, try the pink mocktail or G&T’s.
  • Check out Lafayette for casual drinks. They play all sorts of music and young and old take the dancefloor. It’s nothing fancy, but very “gezellig”.
  • If you fancy a traditional Oostende lunch, you can choose between Histoires d’O, where they serve the famous shrimp croquette or Passe-Vite, a trendy hotspot where you can also come for breakfast. Is vegan food your thing? Try Sassy’s for instance. You’ll like the retro look here.


Mommy’s Bastards

Boat Oostende

Where to Shop

There is one main shopping street in Oostende where you will find the bigger brands and stores, but there are also quaint little streets where you can also find some cute concept stores. Our favourites are by far; LILY (for women only, but ooh so good), Lolotte (concept store for all ages!), Joyridestreet (for sneakers and skatewear), Ferm (for goodies, clothes, gifts and jewellery).

shopping Oostende
Lily Oostende

So next time you’re heading to Belgium and you think that Antwerp or Ghent are the only places to visit, think again. Oostende should be added to the list. Find out more about Belgiums sunniest city!

Love,

Elke

 

The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London

Outdoor drinking spots where you can actually catch some sunshine are rare in London. But when you know your way around you’ll find some hidden treasures all around the city. East London has a couple of the best outdoor vibes for the weekend, enjoy the sunshine, creative vibes and this list of the best terraces and rooftops in East London.

People’s park tavern
360 Victoria Park Rd, London E9 7BT
In Victoria park lies my absolute favourite beer garden: the people’s park tavern. It’s so much more than just a garden, situated in the beautiful park. The tavern hosts mini golf for the kids, has an amazing BBQ going on, and on the weekends it’s the best place to enjoy some live music and chat with some locals. Oh. And did I mention it’s HUGE?

peoples-park-tavern, The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London
Isn’t it huge?

Pub on the Park
19 Martello St, London E8 3PE
London Fields just off Broadway market is one of the few parks where you can actually have a BBQ in London. You’ll find loads of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings chilling with their mates on a sunny day here. The Pub on the Park with their big terrace overlooking the park is the perfect spot to enjoy the weekend and get a bit of colour.

pub-on-the-park, The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London

Boundary rooftop
2-4 Boundary St, London E2 7DD
In the centre of Shoreditch, east London, you’ll find my fave street; Redchurch street. This street has a great selection of shops, street art, cool cafe’s and the hidden rooftop bar at Boundary where you can enjoy the sun all the way until it goes down.

boundary-rooftop, The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London
Boundary Rooftop. Source

The Aviary
10th Floor Montcalm Royal London House, 22-25 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1DX
This cool new hotspot just off Liverpool street station just opened it’s doors a couple of months ago. The decor has the ultimate Instagram factor, the view is stunning and the roof terrace brings you back to a beach bar vibe with a sophisticated style. There’s an outside bar and the sofa’s and chairs are so comfy that you never want to go home…

aviary, The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London
Stunning views at The Aviary

Netil 360
1 Westgate St, London E8 3RL
Cool workspace, cafe, restaurant, outside movie theater… Netil360 has the whole package of the East London creative scene. They spent months revamping the rooftop bar and on the 1st of April doors opened again, check it out because it was definitely worth waiting for and belongs to the one of the best terraces and rooftops in East London.

The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London

Colombia road on Sunday
Ezra St, Bethnal Green, London E2 7RH
Not necessary a terrace, but Colombia road should be on this list. There’s a sunny little square on Ezra street, just off the flower market. Pop into the royal oak for a cold one and just chill on the street listening to some live bossa nova by street musicians to complete your perfect Sunday.

royal-oak|
The real East London vibe at Colombia Road

Love,

Jantine

*Jantine is a hip hop & cheese enthusiast and a city girl with a love for everything local. After having explored everything there is in Amsterdam while living there, London became her new playground. Her best days are spent exploring the city off the grid, into neighbourhoods where you can eat, drink, dance and chat with locals and become one yourself. She will write for Wander-Lust on a monthly basis where she will tip you about the places to be in London!

A Guide To Malta

If you are reading this, changes are big you’ve got a serious case of wanderlust. We all do. Wanting to travel as far, as much and as long as possible. But, we tend to forget that sometimes, far and long isn’t necessarily what we need. If a 10 day break is all you need, want and can pull off, there are still plenty of places to go where you will feel just as far away as if you traveled all the way to the other end of the globe. We shouldn’t forget those little gems closer to home. One of those gems is the medieval and exotic isle of Malta. Here’s the ultimate Guide to find your way.

Underrated

Hidden between Italy and Africa, Malta is easily overlooked. A shame, since those pristine beaches, ancient cities, spectacular cliffs, amazing architecture and so much more, is worth every bit of your attention. Whether you want to dance all night long in one of the many bars in St. Julian, work on your tan in Qawra, visit ancient ruins or sniff on some culture in Valetta, you’ll enjoy every bit of it, hassle free. And even though it’s always charming to discover places where you don’t speak the language, the fact that English is the second official language on Malta, makes your trip even more relaxing. Another important detail that will definitely make you want to book: the climate. Between May and October, the average temperature is 26 degrees celsius. Wintertime on the island means an average of 12 degrees. Not too bad eh? Malta is also home to one of the best dance festivals in the world, enough reason to visit!

Malta Sea

The fact that English is the second official language on Malta, makes your trip even more relaxing

Where to stay

There a enough villages on Malta where you can book your stay, from simple apartments to all-inclusive resorts. Where to stay all depends on your main goal of the trip. Want to head over to one of those resorts? Then Qawra, Bugibba and St. Pauls Bay are your towns. However, don’t expect much of the true Malta here, these towns are full of concrete and tourists. So make sure you have a damn nice resort if this is your home away from home. The true party animals among us should go to St. Julian. This is one of the most vibrant towns, filled with clubs, bars and cocktails. You’ll dance the night away and thanks to the many happy hours, won’t feel robbed inside your wallet. The best of both worlds, in my opinion, is the more relaxed but still bustling Sliema. This seaside town, across the water from Valetta, offers nice walks down the boulevard, some great restaurants, good places to stay as well as some more quietness.

Popeye Village, malta
Popeye Village

It’s not about the destination but about the journey’ couldn’t be more true here.

Hey, bus driver

Since Malta is home to so many different types of fun, there is one thing you definitely need to do: grab the bus. Until 2011 the island was populated by a large amount of bright yellow, orange, blue and red oldtimer buses, most of them enhanced with religious artifacts of the owner of the bus. It was a sight to be seen and even more an adventure to drive. Unfortunately those buses have disappeared since then, but that does not mean that it isn’t still the best way to make your way around the country.  Just staring lazily out of the window, admiring the landscape zoom by, is the most relaxing way to travel. Best part of it, it’s pretty affordable. Specially when you plan to discover a different part of the island every day. In that case you can buy an unlimited bus pass for 7 days. This ‘ Explore’ card is just 21 euros and will get you anywhere you want, day and night. You can buy these passes at a number of sales offices, including the airport. Just ask for the Tallinja Explore card.

Old bus on Malta

Right, so you have your transport all sorted out. Now, where to go?

Don’t be scared when they fire the canons that are stationed below the gardens, that just happens.

Fabulous Valetta

This is the countries’ capital, UNESCO recognized, and it’s fabulous. The city is surrounded by water and makes you feel like you have traveled back in time to the middle ages. It has some beautiful churches, St. Johns Cathedral to name one, harbours and tiny alleys to get lost in. If you want to chill out for a while, reading a book or just watch people (or boats), go the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Valetta offers lots of little and big cafe’s and terraces, restaurants and bars. And of course a ton of nice little shops, museums and everything you need for a hot day in the city.

Comino

Wherever you are in Malta, on almost every street corner they’ll try to sell you a cruise to Comino, a small Island where the water is bluer than blue in the Blue Lagoon. This cruise will sail you along the Maltese coastline, it’s super pretty. However, in the summer season, it’s also super crowded. If you happen to find yourself on Malta before June or after September, take the cruise. Just make sure you pay a little extra for the more luxe cruise on a Turkish wooden vessel, you’ll get everything you need including a little mattress on the deck for sunbathing. Don’t go for the cheaper, massive tourist boats. If you don’t fancy the cruise (in the high-season) or if you are on a budget, take the bus! Go to Cirkewwa in the north and embark on of the ferries to the Blue Lagoon. Once arrived, you can stay as long or short as you like. Go early if you want to avoid the crowds (there will be crowds, trust me, but the water is worth it).

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Ghajn Tuffieha Bay & Golden Sands

Hey beach bum, this is the place to go for a tranquil day in the sand. There is, as far as I know, only one resort near these beaches, so it’s much less crowded than the sandy options near the resort towns of Malta. Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Sands are next to each other and the bus stop is in the middle of nowhere. The beaches look like hidden bays and you’ll find a lot of locals here as well. There are not many restaurants, so make sure you stock up before you go. All you need to do once you have arrived: find a spot and enjoy. Oh, and to make sure you are back at the busstop in time for the final bus to avoid being stuck here for the night (unless you are up for and adventure, of course).

Hidden Ghar Lapsi

After a long busdrive, you’ll arrive at Ghar Lapsi. At first you will doubt whether you are at the right place and whether you should catch the bus right back. Then you will walk down the street, and see the stairway between the rocks. Climb down and smile, you are in the right place. A natural pool between the rocks is the perfect place to cool down and to chill in the water. Want to chase some fish? Just swim from the pool to the open water, put on your goggles and enjoy the underwater-world. This is a mostly known as a dive site and a far journey from almost all of the villages, so you’ll see more Maltese seniors bathing there than hungover tourists. It’s pure heaven.

Eat cake in Mdina

Exactly in the middle of the island, the medieval town of Mdina arises. Hardly any cars are allowed in this thickly walled city, so you can look around and simply be amazed by the wonder of the buildings, the doors (yes the doors), the views, the smells and the cake. Yes, the cake alone is a reason to catch those buses heading to Mdina. Search for Fontanella Tea Garden, find a spot on top of the city walls, take in the views and the most amazing cakes on Malta. If you don’t mind death by chocolate, take the chocolade one and thank me later.

Malta Mdina

Spinola bay stroll

If you’re staying in Sliema or St. Julian, don’t forget a stroll around Spinola bay. Full of nice places to dine or drink or just soak up the many lights and sounds. There is only one word that describes this bay: lovely.

The colours of Marsaxlokk

Google Malta images and you’ll find the colorful boats of Marsaxlokk. Not a sight to miss. This little fisher town is not spoiled by large apartment buildings and will give you the authentic Malta vibe. The boulevard is the perfect place to grab a bite, since the many little cafes offer great fish meals for very reasonable prices. If you are there on Sunday, the big market will tickle all of your senses.

Boats on Matla

I think I haven’t covered half of the adventures you can have on Malta, but you get the picture. This is one perfect island, combining sightseeing and other day trips with lazily hanging on the waterfront. There is no need to head over to the other side of the world to experience true adventures. Just make sure to catch the bus on time!

Love,

Jill

5 parks in Paris that will look amazing during springtime

Walking around Paris now, you’ll find lots of beautiful cherry blossoms, filling the once empty branches and giving them a lovely pink makeover. Despite the currently cold and rainy weather still, there had been a few weeks of sun and warmth, fully convincing us that Winter has come and gone. Nonetheless, this week, it will officially be Spring and here is a list of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Paris for you to welcome it with open arms!

Jardin du Luxembourg
Located in the 6th arrondissement, Jardin du Luxembourg no doubt is the most beautiful garden in Paris. Surrounded by trees and beautiful plants, you will find the famous Fontaine Médicis, a 17th century fountain, as well as a miniature Statute of Liberty in the park. You cannot miss the beautiful Luxembourg Palace, at the northern end of the jardin. Pay a visit and learn about the interesting history surrounding this wonderful open space.


Jardin du Luxembourg

Bois de Boulogne
This is probably the largest leisure spot in Paris, stretching itself across the 16th arrondissement. Within Bois de Boulogne, you’ll find different sections, including Parc de Bagatelle, Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil (which has the most beautiful greenhouses) and Jardin d’Acclimatation. It will literally take you more than a day to enjoy the entire space, which was also formally a hunting ground for the French Kings. Nowadays, you can find a Michelin star restaurant on a tiny island in the middle of the lake, a museum, children’s playgrounds, as well as a theatre and boat and bicycle hires, just to name a few!

Jardin des Plantes
This beautiful place has 11 gardens, a zoo and several galleries. Jardin des Plantes is not your ordinary botanical garden. Having just hosted its first ever light festival last Christmas period, you can expect more amazing events to come. Whilst some of its exhibitions charge a small amount of entrance fee, the garden and its libraries are free all year round. Under 26 EU citizens can also enjoy the rest of the paying areas for free!

Parc de Buttes-Chaumont
This picturesque park is again, one of the biggest green space in Paris, sat nicely in the 19th arrondissement. Grab yourself a picnic blanket and some good walking shoes. You can find a beautiful waterfall inside the cave. Walk over a long suspended bridge to reach the top of the mountain, where you will come to a nice viewpoint overlooking the city. Although artificial, the lake is a nice area to chill and rest after those hikes.

Parc de Buttes-Chaumont
Parc de Buttes-Chaumont

Parc Monceau
This park is elegantly situated in the 8th arrondissement, with beautiful gardens, a clear pond, many sculptures and a gorgeous Renaissance archway. The park is in the heart of the more upscale neighbourhood, where you will find the Asian Art Museum, Musée Cernuschi. Top tip: walk along Allée de la Comtesse de Ségur towards the direction of Place du Général Brocard, you will see the Arc de Triomphe from there, framed nicely by the black and golden gate.

If you visit one or more of these parks, let us know! We always love seeing you visiting places on our recommendation.

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.