The Perfect Guide for Island Hopping in Hong Kong

At the mention of Hong Kong, most people will immediately think of the skyscrapers, densely filling up the tiny space of the city and the busybodies, hurrying from one building to another. The hectic lifestyle can be overwhelming but thankfully, this is only one aspect of the city.

Since Hong Kong is essentially made up of many little islands, 263 in fact! There are many places where you can slow down, relax, and even experience the culture, which sometimes may seem to have been diluted by the westernised city centre. So instead of spending all your time in shopping malls, why not take a ferry to one or some of the many beautiful islands around you?

Tai O

Hop on the ferry from Central Pier to get to the authentic fishing village of Tai O in just an hour. Or if like me, you get seasick easily, get the bus from Tung Chung bus station, although the drive is slightly long and windy up the hills. It is one of the very few islands where you’ll still find stilt houses built above the water. Looks pretty unsteady but there are villagers still living there. Make it a day trip: see the historical sites, stroll through the market, try some of the many local delicacies, like gigantic fish balls, glutinous balls, etc. Even take a boat down the river and maybe see some pink dolphins or two?

Tai O, Hong Kong Islands
Tai O Island

Cheung Chau

Whilst the island is free to visit throughout the year, I’d highly recommend you to go there around April or May, just when the annual Cheng Chau Bun Festival happens. This unique weeklong event is a traditional celebration of Buddha’s birthday. Generally speaking, you can expect lots of music, lion dances and an insane amount of buns. To explain, the buns are piled up into a mountain for competitors climb to the top and snatch as many buns as they can. This results in one of the most spectacular sights you’ll see!

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
Cheung Chau

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong Island

Mui Wo

Although Mui Wo is an island, it is home to some of the most well-known Chinese landmarks. Such as Man Mo Temple, which is the oldest temple in Hong Kong! Unless you don’t want to get sweaty, Mui Wo is great for hiking, as it is full of hiking trails. If you fancy a swim, you can take a dip in Silvermine Bay Beach. In essence, this is a much cleaner alternative to the overly populated Repulse Bay or Stanley Beach on Hong Kong Island. From Silvermine Bay Beach, you can walk up to Silvermine Cave and Waterfall, which only takes about 16 minutes and worth a visit.

Ma Wan

Given that it was once known as the Abandoned Village, but now, Ma Wan is a thriving residential island, called Park Island. So why go all the way to visit it? Well, you can see the contrasting lives of modern and old-fashion lives. For amongst the many skyscrapers, you will still find some stilt houses (another one!) Make it a day trip – go see Noah’s Ark – yes, they actually re-built Noah’s Ark from the Bible. Furthermore, you can spend a day at the beach and hike around the island. You can get a good view (especially at night) of the biggest bridge in the city, Tsing Ma Bridge. From the pier, however, I’d recommend walking around the island for even prettier views along the way.

Ma Wan, Hong Kong island
Ma Wan Island

Peng Chau

This secluded island is only a 35-minute ferry ride from Central Pier. As soon as you arrive, rent a bike and cycle around the city! Comparatively to Ma Wan, you’ll find a number of temples on Peng Chau, including the most famous Lung Mo Temple. Each temple has a different “speciality” shall we say. For example, if fertility is something that you wish to pray for, visit Seven Sisters Temple. Head to the Golden Flower Shrine and ask for a long line of descendants and your wish might come true. Also, spice up your Instagram feed with street arts of Peng Chau. For a scenic view of Kowloon, take an easy hike up the Finger Hill. Afterwards, take a stroll down the hill to Tung Wan Beach for a relaxing swim. Additionally, you might even see some Chinese white dolphins!

As can be seen, Hong Kong has a lot more to offer! Of the five little islands mentioned above, which would you visit first?

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. 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.

PECKHAM | South London’s hippest hangout

In the last 3 years, Peckham has made a serious name for itself as one of the hippest postcodes in London. From its many destination rooftop bars to vast array of go-to restaurants, Peckham is a vital weekend hangout.

It’s seen a huge level of gentrification which paves way to a rough-and-ready meets not-to-be-missed appeal, aided by narrowly missing out on the top ten coolest neighbourhoods on the planet as voted by Time Out. There’s been a lot of investment, in fact, Peckham library won British architecture’s highest accolade the Stirling Prize. Many of its old buildings and car parks have been turned into trendy spots, which brings the community together through creativity and urban realness.

Peckham London

For anyone not familiar, Peckham is for the strong-willed.

The majority of bars here are outdoors so layers are needed; there’s a lot (a lot, a lot) of food markets on the high street meaning that the smell of fresh fish can linger; and plenty of graffiti – this is South London, after all, mate. But don’t let this put you off – there’s plenty to see and do…

Libary Peckham, London

Peckham Levels

For the ultimate Peckham experience, visit Franks Cafe. Sadly it’s a seasonal destination only – open between May and September. Located on the top floor of Peckham Levels, it’s an open-air bar at the top of the converted car park. The pilgrimage up the six flights of stairs (all painted in shocking pink and glowing blues) gears up visitors for an enchanting experience. With views of all of London which means you’re best to wile your afternoons away there in anticipation of one of the best sunsets in town. On the contrary, in winter months the rest of the floors in Peckham Levels (the six stories underneath Franks Cafe) are well worth a visit.

   

From Near and Far, a tropical themed drinking den guarantees a great time on a Saturday night. If you’re hungry between cocktails you can grab a bit to eat at one of the indoor street food stalls. There’s live music, ping pong tables a yoga studio, hair salon, art installations and night club with Modern Love Stories.

Bussey Building & Copeland Park

Further down the road is the Bussey Building. Complete with a rooftop cinema, the Bussey Building is a multi-use former cricket bat factory converted into a venue. As well as the cinema, there is also a rooftop bar. This one is a fun and quirky place to enjoy a well-rounded menu of drinks. The rest of the building allows you to pass by for a ceramic class in Kiln rooms. There are co-working spaces, a basement club in a record store in. You can visit artists and their galleries to marvel at locally produced art.

Peckham London

Copeland Park is home to K-ink the tattoo studio, Forza Win – a delightful Italian restaurant and a cross fit gym. Quite the mix of activities to keep you occupied. Copeland Social is probably the most popular bar here. It has something of a cult following amongst the local hipsters. With this in mind, bag yourself a picnic bench outside if you’ve brought enough layers and soak up the vibes. You’re also likely to find a pop up vintage shop or travel fair in the area as well in the industrial warehouse adjacent to the Social.

Peckham Rye Train Station

The main way in and out of Peckham is through it’s Victorian-era train station (though there are plenty of bus routes as well). The surrounding area to the station building is home to many of the neighbourhoods most frequented spots. Cole Rooms is located within the former station ticket office, and so is part of the Grand II listed building and is an outstanding dining experience. Refined yet relaxed, their menu is imaginative with dishes cooked in a charcoal grill and oven. Around the corner is Levan – with a spot-on menu of seasonal and inventive food in a relaxed setting. Bag yourself a seat at the window to watch the world go by. with a natural wine (their wine list is also spot on).

Coal Rooms Peckham | London

The outstanding Forza Win has opened a second location atop of the new Workplace on Peckham High Street. Named Forza Wine – it’s a wine bar built for stunning views from its 5th floor location on top of Market. Likewise, a new cowering space with studios and hot-hot-dusking families as well as a ramen bar and basement music venue – it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from Peckham Rye Station.

Still in need of inspiration?

  • Bar Story 

Happy hour cocktails and beer as well as sought-after thin crust pizza. What’s not to love about this place located within a railway arch. The industrial vibe is only added to with the sound of overground trains above you every 5-7 minutes.

  • Peckham Springs Bar 

A covered outdoor bar just behind the railway lines. Notably, this multifaceted space is for the cool: a winter garden for anyone that loves an al-fresco drink over cool weekend nights with a well-priced cocktail bar. Additionally, performance spaces and an art gallery keeps regulars and visitors coming back for more.

  • Peckhamplex

The most successful independent cinema in London, every movie is £5 so is quite the hit with the local population.

  • Pedler

Haring places, gin cocktails, seats at the bar: quite a riot of fun.

  • John the Unicorn

Whimsical and inviting, this is a craft beer haven for those walking along the high street. With a late night licence on weekends, it’s a hip-hipster hangout.

Good to know: Peckham Rye station has great links to Clapham Junction, London Bridge and Shoreditch High Street on the Overground.

See you in Peckham soon?

Stephanie

*Stephanie is our guest editor from London. She works for a large fashion brand and loves to explore new eateries. Follow her on Instagram

Read more of London’s hotspots here!

THE BEST CITIES IN NEPAL

When you think of a new holiday destination, you probably don’t think of Nepal. Which is a shame, because Nepal is a beautiful country with a lot of culture, nature and lovely locals. We have made a guide for you about the most fascinating cities in this landlocked Asian country.

Kathmandu

The capital of Nepal might feel a bit intense at first. It might take some time to get adjusted to the fumes, dirty roads, many motorbikes and crowded streets. But it is one of the cities that has a lot to offer. My suggestion would be to hire a local guide who can show you the highlights of the city with a taxi driver. Local guides can have loads of stories to tell about the history of the stupas and the people and they have knowledge about the Buddhist and Hinduist faith, which makes visiting the temples really fascinating.

Nepal city

Make sure you visit the Swayambunath temple (also known as the monkey temple) and the Boudhanath temple, which are both very impressive. Surrounding the temples, you’ll find both Buddhists and Hindus in beautiful robes walking around saying prayers. Be aware of monkeys walking around!

Kathmandu Nepal

Boudhanath temple Nepal
Boudhanath temple Nepal

The Pashaputinath temple is a holy place for Hindus next to the Bagmati river. At this place, multiple dead people are being cremated and you can see friends and families praying. It can feel difficult to watch, but at the same time it’s fascinating to see the religious locals practicing their faith.
Also take a look at the Durbar square of Kathmandu, which is filled with religious buildings and lots people. You can also do a riksja ride around the city or go walking. The city is filled with shops, so make sure you buy some souvenirs or other bits and bops.

Pokhara

The city of Pokhara is a real backpackers paradise in Nepal and you can see some Western influences here. People from all over the world come to this city, mostly because it is the starting point for many treks, like the popular trek to Annapurna base camp and Poonhill. As a result, Pokhara is filled with clothing shops, bookstores and shops full of accessories, like shawls and bags. Tip: Everything needed for trekking is available here, be sure to try to bargain or ask if you can rent stuff like poles and sleeping bags. You can save a lot of money!

peace pagoda, Pokhara, Nepal
Peace pagoda, Pokhara, Nepal

What to see/do

The main part of the town is fairly busy and if you want to get away from all the tourists, you should go to the old town. You can visit some markets, walk around the crowded streets and take it all in.  There’s also a big lake, the Phewa lake, which is great for a relaxing boat ride. If you decide to take a boat to the other side to the lake so you can visit the World Peace Pagoda. You have to climb quite a few stairs but the temple and the view over the city are worth it. If the Nepal weather is on your side, you can also see the white Himalaya mountain tops in the distance.

Phewa Lake
Phewa Lake, Pokhara, Nepal

Food

Next to that, Pokhara is full of restaurants and you should make sure to try some of the local dishes (some food in Nepal is similar to Indian food). Dal Bhat is a typical Nepalese dish and contains rice with lentil soup and curry. Food tip: Do try some momo’s which are dumplings with meat or veggies. Or order Thukpa, a vegetarian or meat noodle soup. If you find the food spicy you can sooth your mouth with a local milkshake called lassi.

Bhaktapur

Close to Kathmandu there’s the historical city Bhaktapur, which is a lot less crowded than Nepal’s capital. You’ll have to pay a fee to enter the city, but it is definitely worth the money. The city has had a hard time during the 2015 earthquake and the locals are working hard to renovate the temples and buildings that suffered from the quake. You will find many small streets, cute little temples, monuments and squares. You can describe the architecture of the city as marvellous, and the Durbar square of this city might be prettier than the one in Kathmandu. Also, take a look at Potter’s square, where you can find people making all sorts of beautiful pots. There are various small shops everywhere in town that sell clothes, food, souvenirs and typical  stationary.

cities Nepal


Durbar Square, Nepal

Smaller cities: Patan, Bandipur and Lumbini

If you have time left, make sure you visit one or more of these smaller cities. South of Kathmandu lies Patan, which also has an impressive Durbar square and an interesting museum. Bandipur is a small town on the way to Pokhara and it’s the perfect place to just relax. There are few tourists there and you can do some small hikes in the area. Furthermore, if you want to see more temples and religious sites, you should go to Lumbini. Lumbini is the birth place of Buddha and many people from all over the world come to see the temples in this place.

If you want more information about adventure and activities in Nepal, make sure to keep an eye on the website for more future content!

Love,

Merel

* Merel is one of our guest editors in Rotterdam. She describes herself as a daydreaming student who loves to travel. She just came back from a 5-month backpacking trip trough Asia and can’t wait to see more of the world. Check her out on Instagram: @merel_d94.

5 reasons why you should visit Milan

Historic Rome and romantic Venice. Both beautiful Italian cities right? But they have a big contender to cope with; Milan. 

Milan is best known as the Italian fashion capital thanks to its historic fashion houses, and the four yearly fashion weeks. But, it has so much more to offer; quaint little streets, great shopping and more hidden gems.

Milan
Exploring Milan, yes, this was a parked Vespa.

1. Discover the artistic side of Milan

I visited the Fondazione Prada, an exhibition space dedicated to contemporary art and culture and designed by Rem Koolhaas – the famous Dutch architect. Located in Largo Isarco, in the south of Milan. Take a few hours to time to visit all 7 buildings.  Admission is 10 euro per person.

Prada
Largo Isarco, 2, 20135 Milano

Milan building

2. Visit the beautiful and more quit district Brera

A bohemian atmosphere where you will find many restaurants, bars, antique and art shops.
» Take a coffee and delicious cupcake at Di Viole Di Liquirizia – Via Madonnina 10
» Visit the impressive and beautiful Accademia di Brera; a fine Arts Academy, school with 3,000 local and international students – Via Brera, 28
» Visit the historic church with several impressive artworks Santa Maria del Carmine – Piazza del Carmine 2
» Explore the elegance streets of Brera, full of cultural and historical gems

Brera

3. Eat the best ice cream you’ve ever had

One of the main reasons to visit Italy is to enjoy their culinary culture. One of Milan specialties is gelato, ice cream! We tried a few ice creams in Milan, and Cioccolat Italiani was for sure our number one favorite. Why? High quality ingredients, fresh gelato prepared daily and a heart of melted chocolate inside an artisanal cone. Wanna know where to eat? Check my favorite food spots of Milan.

Milan is a must visit city in Europe.

Cioccolati Italiani
Via Edmondo de Amicis, 25, 20123 Milano

4. Explore Navigli
Discover the charming canals of Milano designed and engineered by Leonardo Da Vinci. Stroll along the canals where you will find every last Sunday of the month from 9 am until 6 pm, starting in September, an antique market.

Navigli
Along the Alzaia Naviglio Grande

5. Shop till you drop (don’t forget to check out the beautiful buildings and cute little side streets)
Milan is one of shopping capitals of Europe and therefore it’s perfect for shopping! From designer stores and boutiques to outlets and from expensive to affordable, you will find it in Milan! 
» Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the world’s oldest shopping mall, & Other stories is around the corner
» You will find the best boutiques in Brera
» Go to Corso Como where you will find the best outlets with affordable prices for design clothes
» Via Montenapoleone is the high fashion area of Milan where you will find shops like Sandro

milan explore

How to get around?

By bike: The BikeMi –  public bike system (make a reservation via internet)
By metro: Milan’s metro – from 6AM-12.30AM; a day ticket costs €4.50.
By taxi: Milan works with Uber, download the app
By Scooter: Moto Roads offers verpa’s from 60 euro per day

Enjoy!

Ciao,

Sarah

Coal Drops Yard | London’s newest place to be

Kings Cross has a few claims to fame – it’s known for platform 9 3/4 (Harry Potter) and for being the gateway to the continent as the home of the Eurostar Tunnel. Having recently had a £100 million investment, the area has been reimagined. Particularly the Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square area.

Set amongst Victorian-era buildings (two long former coal sheds and one granary building), the area is steeped in history. With humble beginnings set firmly during the industrial revolution the area originally served as a coal dispensary. Fast forward a century, the Coal Drops Yard has been used for film sets and hosted some of the biggest rave parties in London before it was repurposed into a multi-experience destination. 

Coal Drops Yard

Complete your culinary journey with a cocktail on the terrace bar at Parrillan

Coal Drops Yard

Your every day spot

Billed as a modern-day public gathering spot, dining options are a plenty! Whether you’re after a grab-and-go coffee, a mid-afternoon aperitif or a casual dinner with friends. Barrafina is worth a look in especially if you’re on the lookout for a perfect lunchtime tapas menu. Daily specials serve up fresh produce but it’s the pureed beetroot gazpacho with quail’s eggs that are one of the highlights. Another hot spot is Coal Office – a food and design playground offered up by chef Assaf Granit and British Designer Tom Dixon. You best book ahead at Parrillan as this is one of the most popular hotspots which won’t disappoint due to its stunning views of Regent’s Canal.

Parrillan London
Source: Parrillan

Coal Drops Yard | Wander-Lust

Combining shopping, culture and culinary options that now stands triumphantly in North London.

Artisanal, independent and luxury shops aim to appeal to all consumers who come by. Brands such as APC, Aesop and Bonds. But it’s concept store Wolf and Badger which takes the gold medal with carefully selected home-wear, need-it-now fashion and accessories. The store also boasts a florist, cafe and raw juice press. The top floor also offers up Michelin starred Hicce – a meat-lovers paradise with food cooked over holm oak charcoal. Sit inside for an atmospheric meal or outside if you’d like to watch the world pass by.

Florist Coal Drops Yard

Nearby Coal Drops Yard

In addition, stumble out of Coal Drops Yard and you’ll meet the impressive Granary Square which has also undergone somewhat of a makeover in recent years. Home to Central St Martins art college, the area is frequented by the well-dressed youth of London. During warm weather, the paved area becomes a play area with jets of water rising from the ground keeping everyone cool. Nearby, you can grab an ice-cream and sit on the steps for some people watching. And if the weather permits a morning yoga class is also sometimes on offer here too. Furthermore, if you’ve room to eat, Caravan serves up an impressive dining menu as does Granary Square Brewery. But it’s The Ligherman which offers up a perfect al fresco experiencing with panoramic views from all three floors.

Coal Drops Yard London

Coming soon..

But also, Kings Cross is set for even more change in the coming years, so it’s worth keeping an eye on. Modern, luxury housing programs are popping up offering state-of-the-art living solutions. Not to mention, the Standard Hotel is opening up its first European outpost in the area too later in July. Google HQ will open here next year, and Universal Music recently moved in too making it fast-fast-becoming one of the most creative areas in London. Find out more about Coal Drops Yard here!

Love from London,

Stephanie

*Stephanie is our guest editor from London. She works for a large fashion brand and loves to explore new eateries. Follow her on Instagram

12 x Tips for a Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht

Last midweek we traveled to Maastricht and its surroundings. Let see what the city that almost hosted the 2020 Eurovision is all about.

We Dutchies are globe-trotters with a capital ‘G’ and an exclamation mark. Our travel-around-the-world-craving seems to become bigger and bigger, year after year. But besides all the international magic, did you know our own country has just as much to offer as the most distant destinations? A nice side note: you save yourself a pricey ticket and killer jetlag (here’s how to avoid one). Hello Maastricht!

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht in a nutshell

Would you like to experience life like the Maastricht citizens do? Drop by on a Sunday afternoon till Thursday and you’ll get that slow living, enjoyable feeling! No hustle and bustle, just everything at ease. The authentic atmosphere of Maastricht made me feel like I was on a laid back mini vacation abroad – and that wasn’t just because of the lovely spring sunshine, cold beer with Italian nibbles and a hospitable community. There is so much to explore, let’s zoom in on a few highlights and to do’s I’ve tried & tested.

Where to Stay

In my opinion the best district to stay is without doubt the hip and lively district ‘Wyck’. Extra plus: it’s near the train station, which is super convenient. Let me give you three really cool hotel tips for your citytrip in Maastricht:

» The Student Hotel: The Student Hotel has become a household name in this city. Besides housing students with a home away from home, the building also provides guests with a playful decor and spacious rooms. The monumental building is the perfect match for that TSH vibe, which stands for playful, creative and community. Next door you can find The Commons, a nice restaurant that guest and outsiders can use for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Keep an eye out for more Student Hotel locations, they plan to have 41 properties in European cities by 2021! Book your stay here.

TSH Maastricht
The Student Hotel

» The Dutch: The colourful, trendy design with international allure would certainly not be missed in Amsterdam, London or Barcelona. I’m in love with their breakfast bag, which they hang on your door in the early morning, so cute. Food allergy, vegan or other wishes? No problem for the genuinely friendly staff! www.hotelthedutch.com

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht The Dutch

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht The Dutch
The Dutch, one of my stays during my midweekend citytrip in Maastricht

» Kaboom Hotel, are you smart, worldly-wise and a tad of a rebel? Did you hear yourself saying three times ‘yes’ than you definitely have to stay here. Rewarded as the best hotel concept in 2015 according to Entree Magazine, good job! Oh and they’re nice for your wallet: budget-friendly without feeling cheap. Book your stay here.
» Townhouse Hotel. They want to give you the feelin’ like home-away-from-home experience: rent a goldfish for one night – how funny is that! – and enjoy their homemade soup or a little alcoholic drink in one of the comfortable, retro sofas. If you prefer a pure and ‘down to earth’ hotel, this is your match! Book here!

Townhouse Hotel
The Townhouse Hotel

Where to Eat

Oh Yes, we have arrived (figuratively  speaking) at my favorite chapter: Food! During my citytrip in Maastricht I spotted many pretty new hotspots.
» Mr. Smith, Say hi to this new kid in town. A stylish cocktailbar of two hipsters. This cocktailicious hotspot is one you need to know, otherwise you will spontaneously go along. Press the bell and a small-scale, hidden cocktail heaven will open in front of you. Go for their fresh GT’s or ask the staff for a tasty advice. In advance #sorrynotsorry for your hangover. mrsmithmaastricht
» De Poshoorn, on Sunday evening I went to the well-known De Poshoorn. In the past a brown, tiny unobtrusive pub, nowadays a vibrant beer café with a fresh, contemporary atmosphere. Sixteen beers on tap and hundred on bottle. Go local and try the ‘Mestreechs Zoervleis’, a local food specialty. In spite of the fact the Maastrichtians see this dish as something unique, for this girl from above the rivers it’s a look-alike of the meaty hachee, so delicious! www.poshoorn.nl
» De Tapijn, is a very cool 4-year catering project in a former barrack. Relaxed location near the park, welcoming staff, a huge terrace and yummy food. I love the fact they know the origin of the fresh, local ingredients. This alone makes the food even better. Lunch, dinner or a Friday drink with friends, this hotspot in Maastricht has it all! www.tapijn.nl

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht
Jack White’s, one of the hotspots I’ve tried during my citytrip in Maastricht

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht
Never mind the beer! 😉

What To Do

Boy o boy where to start, there’s so much to do during a (mid)weekend Maastricht and other parts of South Limburg! Here are my favorite highlights:
Let’s start with the city walk through the urban part of Maastricht. Honestly, the excitement of the guide is essential for making or failing it, but luckily I had an amazing time with Lianne Schuuring, credits for her. She showed all the interesting ins and outs of Maastricht from the history till today. Bucketlist proof!

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht
Sightseeing Maastricht, a must do during your citytrip!

Midweekend citytrip to Maastricht

Get Active

If you’d rather ride a bike than walk, rent a mountainbike and work on your condition in this hilly area. There’re so many bike routes. I cycled to the newly opened ENCI-quarry, a wonderful spot for a swim in summertime. Just a guess, I think you’ve never thought about a kickbike tour in the caves of Zonnebergust. In the Maastricht underground nothing is too crazy. Although I do not have much with visiting caves, the whole new experience ánd power chick Niké Hermans made it really enjoyable. See the Southern part of South Limburg from a fascinating, different angle. Are you claustrophobic? Let shake hands…but I can tell you this wasn’t too claustrophobic for me, so don’t worry.

dsc_0918
Entering the cave

Herbal walk?

A herbal walk in Maastricht or other parts in South Limburg, have you ever done it? Come one, once has to be the very first time. Definitely book it via the enthusiastic master herborist Anne van der Linden. She’s is a running encyclopedia, she really knows everything about herbs and their special function: tea of nettle for blood purification, the juice from the dandelion for drying out annoying pimples and so on, and so on. If you’re very interested in the history of historical buildings go to Abdij Rolduc in Kerkrade and book a tour. To be honest, it wasn’t my favorite, but I can imagine you don’t want to miss it during your midweekend in Maastricht and surroundings. Afterwards you can have some food in the Brasserie or have a quick look in the microbrewery, a hidden gem!

dsc_0939

Maastricht

An information overload summarised in a city guide for you, you’re welcome 😉 I’ll definitely go back to the south if I need a mini-break!

Love,

Sharmaine

Read more of Sharmaine’s foodie tips here!

Konstanz City Guide

Berlin, Hamburg or München. All cities that you have heard of. But today we want to introduce you a lesser known German city that deserves a mention; Konstanz.

Located next to Lake Constance (Bodensee) and near the border of Switzerland, Konstanz is a great option if you want to combine more destinations in a short period. It has the charm of a German city, yet it feels more like a southern holiday destination, especially during summer. The easiest way to get here is by train or car because it doesn’t have an airport. That saying, it depends on the destination you’re traveling from of course.

City Guide Konstanz

Konstanz can be described as a peaceful city where people enjoy the outdoors and enjoy long summer evenings with friends.

Where to stay

Hotel prices can be quite expensive in Konstanz so it’s great to have an option that is reasonably affordable plus comfortable. We stayed at ibis Styles, which is playful, stylish and low key. You’ll find all sorts of travellers here. Families, couples, old & young and even business travellers. Every ibis Styles hotel is unique and has its own style and theme. Because Konstanz is located next to the water, it was no surprise that the hotel played into that.

ibis styles Konstanz
The bar at ibis Styles Konstanz

Our Room

We stayed in a family room on the top floor which was perfect because it had 2 separate parts but could also be transformed into one large area. This meant our little boy could sleep peacefully while we watched our favourite series. It includes a small kitchen with a fridge and a bar.

Ibis Styles Konstanz
ibis Styles Konstanz

Breakfast was actually surprisingly good! Croissants, crunchy bread rolls, fruit and healthy oats could be found at the morning buffet. Nice to know: they are currently refurbishing their garden that will feature a Jeu de Boules area and plenty of space for outdoor seating.

WIN WIN WIN

Because we are this years ibis Styles ambassadors, we can make ONE lucky person happy with a free night for 2 people at an ibis Styles Hotel of choice, located in the Benelux! Your free stay will include free wifi and a good breakfast of course. All you need to do is, comment below or below our Facebook post about Konstanz and tag the person you want to take with you! *Please note, that travel cost are not included.

Konstanz City Guide
Yes, that’s me swimming in the river of Konstanz

What to do

  • Schänzle
    Locals enjoy the sunset here and socialise with friends. Locals come here to relax, eat and drink.
  • Bodensee Therme Pool
    If you have kids, you should visit this fun and beautiful outdoor swimming pool. Next door is a therma bath which you need to pay extra for if you want to use it, but you can also swim in the lake. Plenty of slides and a kiddies pool fo the little ones.
  • Strandbad Horn
    Right next to the pool, there is a free sunbathing spot that is lovely. You can swim in Lake Constance and there is a sandy area, plus enough space.
  • Mainau flower island
    Just offshore from Lake Constance you’ll find this very special island with greenhouses, rose gardens, and acres of other beautiful flowers. Because of Konstanz semitropical climate, some of the most stunning flowers grow here.

Swimmingpool Konstanz

Konstanz, Germany
Shopping at Das Voglhaus

Where to Eat

The most important thing about a travel guide is the food right? Konstanz has plenty of choice, but there are some that stand out from the bunch.

  • Holly’s
    Such a nice place by the water with friendly staff and plenty of food choices! The interior is funky stylish, plus they have a huge outside terrace. Oh, and they also have an ice-cream bar that is just too good to skip. hollys.de
  • Wohnzimmer
    Translated to living room and that is exactly what the vibe is. Comfy chairs and sofa’s make it feel like you are stepping into your mothers living room. They mainly serve meat but also veggie burgers. Facebook
  • Das Voglhaus
    This all vegetarian and mostly vegan spot has been around for over 20 years! You can get healthy juices, good coffee, homemade cake and lunch here. Sustainability and animal wellbeing is key here, but they mannaged to combine that with a modern style which turned Das Voglhaus the hotspot of Konstanz. If you walk to the downstairs toilet, you end up in their next door gift shop which is also worth a visit! www.das-voglhaus.de
  • Hafenhalle
    Next to the harbour of Konstanz, you’ll find this traditional Biergarten, bar and restaurant. The food is local and mostly homemade. Come here and stay until the stars appear. www.hafenhalle.com

Hollys Konstanz
Holly’s Konstanz

food and drink at Kon
Veggie hotspot Das Voglhaus

Das Voglhaus Konstanz
Vitamins at Das Voglhaus

In short, Konstanz is a great alternative for a city trip if you are planning to travel through Germany or Switzerland!

Love,

Elke

*This article was written in collaboration with ibis Styles

 

The Manchester Weekend Guide

Manchester is one of the, if not the most, fastest-growing cities in England. Below, we have handpicked and tested some of the newest restaurants and stayed in the snazziest new boutique hotel to make sure your next city break is nothing but top-notch.

Whether you are travelling from within the United Kingdom or further out, Manchester is pretty easy to get to by both train and flights – no excuse not to visit it. If you are not yet convinced about visiting this North-Western city, see here for five reasons why it’s better than London

All the up and coming places in Manchester for your next city break

Where to stay in Manchester

The chic hotel chain Dakota has recently opened its fifth hotel in the country right in the centre of Manchester. It is a maximum five-minute walk from Piccadilly train station. Whilst there are plenty of hotels in Manchester, Dakota is probably the most elegant one you’ll find. I felt like an A-list staying there and that is no exaggeration. Before you even step foot into its front doors, you are greeted by the brightest of smiles and throughout your stay, the staffs are attentive without being intruding, which I find can sometimes be the case with other hotels. Book your stay here.

Dakota Manchester

Breakfast Manchester Guide
Breakfast at Dakota

Where to eat in Manchester

Generally speaking, the food scene here in Manchester is pretty impressive. I’d say its variety of restaurants is almost as competitive as London. Many chains had their first restaurants in London have now made their way up to the North, starting right here in Manchester, and Dishoom is no exception. The menu at this Bombay restaurant works just the same as the ones they have in London, with a few dishes that are exclusively available in Manchester. This includes the delicious and generously portioned Chef’s special and the spicy chilli chicken. Go there for a meal or even just for drinks at night before you hit the clubs next door!

Manchester

But first..

For a nice cup of coffee, head over to Over Under for your caffeine fix. This chic new place in town is a coffee shop by day and a cocktail bar by night. You know who’ll be staying there all day!

Enjoy the creative spin on the modest English dish, fish and chips.

If you’re feeling fancy, indulge in a meal like no others at Six by Nico, a fabulously new restaurant open by the Michelin chef Nico Simeone. While fine dining can be intimidating, Six by Nico makes the experience accessible to all, in its concept and price, and super enjoyable. The six-course meal is the chef’s creative spin on the modest English dish, fish and chips. There’s also an option to take it up a notch by adding an expertly paired wine to your six-course meal for only £26. For those who have to be more cautious with their diet, 3Squared is the first Free-From restaurant in town, serving deliciously good food with care and without 9 of the inflammatory ingredients that are known for causing some of the most common allergies.

Six by Nico Manchester

Worth a mention

While this isn’t exactly a new spot, I couldn’t not give Brewski a shout out – they do the best mac and cheese in town and also a selection of brunch food, coffees and alcoholic beverages! Go there and see (and try) it for yourself! Don’t want to limit yourself to just one cuisine? Make sure you check out the biggest and apparently, the best street food fair every Friday and Saturday at Grub. They also do Plant Powered Sundays with a selection of vegan food for grab with live music. Perfect place to spend your sunny weekend!

You can find beautiful handmade crafts and vintage clothes every first Sunday of the month

What to do in Manchester

To begin with, make your weekend a fun one by challenging your friends to a game of minigolf at Junkyard Golf or a few rounds of darts at Flight Club. This isn’t your usual pub game. This is the most innovative and thrilling game of darts you will ever play, trust me! Can’t decide between shuffleboard or beer pong? In this case, go to Roxy Ball Room on Deansgate and do both!

Markets

Since you’re there for the weekend, why not check out the weekend markets in town? The Makers Market happens twice a month in Manchester. You can find beautiful handmade crafts and vintage clothes every first Sunday of the month in the big open space at Great Northern. Secondly, on the second Sunday of the month on the other side of town in the Northern Quarter, you’ll find everything from freshly baked goods to arts and crafts. For all other Sundays, smell your way to the street food market up in the Piccadilly Gardens

Manchester Guide

What are you waiting for? Book your next weekend getaway to Manchester right now and let us know if you try any of the recommendations above!

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.

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Colours of Ostrava | Europe’s Hidden Festival

The very coolest festival location of the year has been found. An area surrounded by old, industrial buildings is the backdrop for a weekend full of music, workshops, films, theatre, discussions and games. And yet, it is still very unknown in The Netherlands and even Europe. Czech Republic’s best kept festival is Colours of Ostrava.

The Location

Is an international, multi-genre music festival in Ostrava. This city is located in the east of the Czech Republic and is the third biggest city in the country following Prague and Brno. The festival takes place on the breathtaking surroundings of Dolní Vítkovice – the site of former blast furnaces, mines and ironworks. It’s an absolutely stunning and unique industrial area (it looks like something out of a Mad Max movie set) which is being turned into a cultural centre. Colours of Ostrava won several prices such the ALMA Akropolis Live Music Awards for the best music event of the year in the concert / festival category.

Colours of Ostrava Festival

Colours of Ostrava won the Angel Award for the Music Event of the Year, Twice

The Music

During the 4 days in which the Colours of Ostrava festival took place, more than 150 bands played and there was a heaping dose of jazz, world music, rock, pop and alternative music. Although I was certainly not familiar with a large part of the line-up, I loved walking around and discovering new bands and artists. Perhaps the most interesting stage, and the one most prominent, was the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Experience. Surrounded by steel pipes and high industrial walls, tattoo artists were at work, a DJ booth was installed, movies were played, and two giant games of Jenga were placed against one of the walls. Overall, the festival had first-rate jazz performances, great (known and unknown) rock bands, and international artists as The Cure, ZAZ, Years & Years and Florence + The Machine. Also a nice fact: Every year the organization gives a handful of emerging artists from the Czech Republic the opportunity to put their names on the map.

Colours of Ostrava Festival

The line-up of previous years included: Imagine Dragons, Norah Jones, Kygo, Clean Bandit, Rudimental, Ziggy Marley, London Grammar, Aurora, Paul Kalkbrenner & many more.

Food & Drinks

The food at the festival was fantastic and enormously varied. Many stalls were scattered throughout the site where, in addition to the typical festival food (burgers, fries, pasta, pizza), there were also many Czech specialties and healthy dishes available. I have never seen so many vegan and vegetarian food stalls on a festival as this one. Moreover, the price of the food is cheaper than it is at festivals in Western Europe. For a (vegan) burger you pay around 5 euros, for fries 2 euros, for a hot dog 2 euros and for a mushroom quesadilla 3 euros. For the drinks you first must do a one time purchase of 1 euro for a plastic cup. You can clamp this cup on your pants or belt which is very handy. The drinks were also very affordable. A beer of 500 ml only costed 2 euros and a G&T was around 4 euros.

 Colours of Ostrava Festival

Colours of Ostrava really is a fairly undiscovered gem!

The People

On the first day of the festival, I wanted to explore the terrain and started wandering on my own. I wasn’t feeling solo for long as I came in contact with some lovely locals who showed me around. We had surprisingly little difficulty in understanding each other as they could speak English quite well. Most of the food stall staff were also able to speak English and could translate items on their menu if needed. Overall, about 90% of the festival visitors came from the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries like Poland and Slovakia. The remaining 10% consisted visitors from all over the world.

 Colours of Ostrava

How to get there?

A distance of 1.300 km needs to be covered if you travel from Amsterdam to Ostrava. But there are several alternate travel options. Colours of Ostrava offers a bus that is leaving from The Netherlands (and Belgium) every year, which will drop you off at the entrance of the festival. If you prefer to accelerate things, then the airplane will be the best option. From Amsterdam you can fly to Ostrava via Prague. After landing, shuttle services and taxis are available outside the doors of the airport to take you to the festival in no time. Another option is flying to Prague and then taking the train to Ostrava. If you prefer to travel on your own, a car is recommended for transportation. For this you invest half a day on a direct ride, but you can make your holiday a lot more interesting if you dive into the cities that you pass along the way. Berlin and Prague are perfect stopovers to hop through for example. Not in possession of a car and driver’s license? Take the train and go interrailing!

Train station Czech Republic

My Verdict

Overall, Colours of Ostrava has absolutely astonished me. Both the location and programme are filled with surprises that will make you return from this festival with a wealth of new experiences. What I personally found so fascinating about Colours of Ostrava was that it was so much more than just a music festival. Aside from the performances and dozens of food trucks selling wonderful food, there were tons of other activities to do. In addition, the festival is also a good option if you are on a budget. A ticket for the festival only costs €105 euros for all 4 days and for 9 euros per person and 10 euros per tent you spend the night at the campsite.

Colours of Ostrava, I will be back!

Love,

Iris

The best of Mykonos

Everybody has heard of Mykonos once in their lifetime. The island is part of the Cyclades islands and called the Ibiza of Greece. Known for its lavish parties and the jetset life, it has a lot more to offer than just that. Like many of you, I dislike mass tourism, so finding some less crowded spots on Mykonos seemed to be a quest. Lucky enough I did find some and I love to share these with you.

Mykonos Old Man

The Beaches:

Mykonos is surrounded by the Aegean sea so there are plenty beaches to choose from! But not all are suitable for what you might be looking for. If you have small children, you might want to visit the south east coast for example. For the best quiet beaches check these out:

The North:

» Fokos Beach (quiet, plus one small and tasty restaurant!)
» Merssini (private beach best for couples! No restaurant)

Mykonos has some quiet beaches
Staring in to the sea and feeling the warm sand at Fokos Beach

The South beaches:

» Kalaftis (beautiful, windsurfing, good for children)
» Kapari beach (great for couples, to get there you must go off road a little bit)
» Agios Ioannis Beach (some nice beach bars like Hippiefish but very chilled out and not crowded)


Kapari beach Mykonos
The hard to find Kapari beach. Ssst, it’s a secret!

The water on Mykonos is like.. wow.

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Eating well and enjoying the sound of children playing at Kalaftis beach

Accommodation:

Hotels can be expensive in the high season so if you’re looking for the best budget deal, check out the Paraga Beach Hostel at Paraga Beach. The view from the poolside is amazing and you won’t spend more than 120 euro’s for 3 nights depending on what accommodation type you will get. I slept in a 2 persons tent (TRB) with electricity but you can also hire a small tent for as little as 15 euro’s per night.  The only thing to be aware of is that on the left side of paraga beach you will find the infamous Paradise beach which is full of youngsters getting their groove on until 4 in the morning. Bring some earplugs and you should be fine though. The service at this hostel is great and they serve food all day long and even have a small supermarket.

Paraga Beach Hostel
The view from Paraga Beach Hostel was pretty amazing!

glamping at Paraga Beach Hostel Mykonos
Very basic but you can’t get a better deal in Mykonos than this one! 🙂



Paraga Beach Hostel Mykonos
Laying by the pool at Paraga Beach Hostel

Luxury Stay:

Next door to this hostel is an amazing boutique hotel called San Giorgio. This is a completely different experience and a big upgrade! I was lucky enough to get a tour and taste the amazing breakfast buffet. The hotel manager (who happened to be Dutch) explained to me that a lot of her guest come here to get that comfortable “home” feeling that large hotels don’t offer. San Giorgio’s architecture suits any type of traveller because it’s warm, stylish screams hippie chic.

San Giorgio Hotel, Mykonos
The bohemian entrance of San Giorgio Hotel

Their pool area is by far my favorite place of the hotel. Overlooking the aegan sea, you can chill here on large beds or relax at the bar next to the pool. I enjoyed my first healthy smoothly here and it cured my cold which I brought back from The Netherlands.
For rooms check their amazing website: sangiorgio-mykonos.com. 

San Giorgio Hotel, Mykonos
Endless views from the pool area

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A colorful vitamin boost!

San Giorgio also has a stylish little brother called the Scorpios beach club just on the other side of Paraga beach. Same architect, different management.
They just opened in May and it already attracts celebrities and the elite. I danced at sunset which is something you must do when coming to mykonos. Read about the best beach bars in Mykonos here. In the “club” they also have an amazing clothing shop where they sell one Mexican label called Caravana Montaecristo. They offer an exclusive capsule collection for luxury-minded globetrotting travelers.


Caravana Mykonos
The beautiful collection of  Caravana

Where to eat

The main town of Mykonos is called Chora. Be aware that it’s crowded at nights and you will walk through the small street at a slow pace. The best time to visit is in the morning. I have to be honest and I have to say I was a little disappointed by the food in this area and it was overpriced when you compare it to the more secluded areas. One restaurant I can highly recommend is Joanna’s Nikos Place Taverna. The food is amazing. Try the moussaka or the fresh fish from the grill! It’s situated at the left beach next to Chora and it can be busy. If you want a table with sea view, you must make a reservation.

Budget Tip:

Try and visit your nearest bakery and order a feta and spinach roll or if you like something sweet, try the pastry filled with cream. Both are typically Greek and this way you can have lunch on the beach and save some cash! A win win right?

Verdict:

Mykonos is a must visit if you like the jetset life, don’t mind to spend a little more cash than usual and dance until sunset. This island hasn’t lost his raw beauty yet so definitely check out the afore mentioned beaches and enjoy the white and blue houses! If you’re looking for a more quiet island, check out Naxos, or Folegandros which are nearby.

Love,

Elke