The 3 Day London Guide

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

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

Easyjet naar London
Flying to London is Easy Peasy with Easyjet


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

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

London City Guide
My room view at Motel One

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


The New Road Hotel

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


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

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

London Guide
GBR

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

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

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

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

Camden lock, London City Guide
Vegan food at Camden Lock

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

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

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

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


Duddell’s London


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


Shopping in London’s high street

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Primrose Hill London

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

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

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

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

Neill's Yard London
Neill’s Yard

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

Love,

Elke

 

 

 

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

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

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

Växjö, Sweden

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

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

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

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

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


Dinner at Möckelsnäs Herrgård

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


Ice cream baby!

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

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

Zipline in Vaxjo
Getting ready to zip

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

Växjö
Cycling around the lake

Āsnen Sweden
Bird spotting at Åsnen Lake

Asnen Lake

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

IKEA Museum Sweden

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

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

Swedish Kanelbullar
A Swedish Kanelbullar

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

Love,

Elke

The Wanderlust Bangkok City Guide

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


Chaotic Bangkok

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

Bangkok is full of Instagrammable hotspots

» Unicorn Cafe

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

Unicorn Cafe Bangkok
Unicorn Everything at the Unicorn Café

» Matchbox Pinkplanter

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

» Nara

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

Matchbox Pinkplanter Bangkok
Instagrammable Matchbox Pinkplanter

Matchbox Pinkplanter, bangkok

» Eat Side Story

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

» Namsaah Bottling Trust

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

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

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

Where to Shop

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

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

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

Night Market Bangkok
Nightmarket in Bangkok

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

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

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

Where to Stay

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

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

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

SO Sofitel, Bangkok
SO Sofitel was like a dream

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

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


One of the best rooftop pools in Bangkok, SO Sofitel

Where to get the Best Massages

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

» Water Gate Spa

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Elke

More Thailand?

La Suite West » A new female friendly hotel in London

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

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


New kid on the (London) block

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

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

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


The all marble bathroom was a dream!

Love,

Jantine

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

Ghent Light Festival

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

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


The incredible blue moon at the Ghent Light Festival

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

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

Ghent

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

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

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

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

Love,

Cheryl

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

The top 8 Third-Wave Coffee places in Berlin

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

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


Source

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

They call it the ‘third-wave coffee’

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

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

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


Nothaft + Seigel Cafe

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

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


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

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

Enjoy discovering these third-wave coffees!

Love,

Michelle

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

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Why the Paris region is this year’s Winter Destination

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

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

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

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Celebrate New Years Eve watching the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower

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

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

Paris Christmas Destination

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

Musée des Arts Forains
Musée des Arts Forains © Sébastien Siraudeau

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

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

wynwood-paris
Wynwood Source: Wynwood

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

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

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

Love,

Wander-Lust

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

The Antwerp City Guide by Wander-Lust

If you live in the Netherlands, Antwerp is the perfect place to escape to for a city break, especially during the wintertime! We’ve been there many times and checked out some of the best spots for you to enjoy food, drinks and more. Here’s our Antwerp City Guide!

How to get there
Well, you have 2 options and they are both as easy. You can take the train or you can go by car. Both options take around the same time (2 hours) but we prefer the train because you can chill, look out of the window and you will arrive at one of the most beautiful and impressive trains stations in Europe. A  return train ticket from Amsterdam to Antwerp will cost around 30 -40 euro. If you go by car, you might arrive earlier but if you are unlucky, you will get caught in slow traffic and your trip might take up to 3 hours plus you will have to pay for parking.

“This Antwerp City Guide is for wanderers who love food, shops and exploring”

Antwerp City Guide

Where To Eat?
The most important question of course! Well, in Antwerp you won’t be short of food choices. Especially lunch! There are so many hotspots around that we can’t mention them all, but these are our favorites!
» Tinsel, some say that you can get the best breakfast in town here. Tinsel is located near the water where you will find tons of other restaurants. www.tinsel.be
» Native Bio Bistro, This hidden pearl is by far our favorite lunch spot in Antwerp. This bistro serves fresh, original, and good quality food. It’s organic, locally produced with sustainable ingredients, this is Native! Vegan and organic food lovers will love this place! During the summer they open a very nice terrace. www.native.bio
» Bubble Waffle, located in the Mercado foodcourt, this tasty waffle stand awesome! Go here if you feel like something sweet. www.bubblewaffle.be
» Divers, a smoothie-bowl bar for your healthy cravings. Great for some Instagram worthy pics, if that’s what your after. They are located in the Volkstraat 9.
»De Broers van Julienne, when we need to grab a quick and healthy bite, we go here. In a side street of the Kammenstraat – with lots of boutiques – you will find this small cute little restaurant. You can take away the best quiches, soups,  salads and other warm healthy dishes. Besides that, they sell oil, wine, coffee, juices and other delicatessen. They  also offer catering and cook workshops.
» Raw Salad Company, unfortunately they’ve closed their doors in Antwerp but they promised to be back soon with a new location. The name gives it away. Raw salads galore. The salads are extremely tasty and fill you up enough to get on with your day. They also sell juices, wraps, cakes and other healthy snacks. We will keep you updated if they open a shop.
» Umami
, fine dining Japanese style. They restyled not long ago and you can eat amazing Dim Sum here. www.umami-antwerp.be

» Il Famosi, this is by far the best Italian restaurant in Antwerp. Go here for a romantic dinner and if you want more than just pizza.

food-antwerp
From left till right: Raw, Umamian and Il Famosi

Antwerp City Guide where-to-eat-in-antwerp
Bubble Waffle from Mecado (source) and Divers (photo’s by David Plas)

Where To Drink Coffee?
» Mirlo’s, the coffee is great and the location is cute. They also serve breakfast and lunch and it’s all homemade. www.mirlos.be
» Buchbar, surrounded by literature and stories, this coffee bar is different than others. Owned by actress Kim Hertogs, you can feel the passion for books, women empowerment and people. Find more info about this special spot on their website.
» Butchers Coffee, located in a former butcher, this trendy coffee bar takes the coffee business serious and are planning to create their own coffee blend. If the sun is out, you can sit outside on the benches. You can find it on the Kasteelstraat 57.
» Caffenation, self blended coffee and probably the oldest one in Belgium as they started more than 13 years ago. Besides the coffee it’s also a shop and a great place to hang out. www.caffenation.be
» Texas Coffee, for pink latte’s and coffee served in an ice-cream cone! 

Antwerp City Guide -mirlos
Coffee and brunch at Mirlo’s

texas-coffee-antwerp
Pink latte at Texas Coffee

Antwerp City Guide. The Buchbar
The Buchbar

Where to Shop & Stroll?
You have many options in Antwerp when it comes to shopping. No matter what type of person you are, there will be a shopping district that will suit your needs. We have selected 3 area’s that we love.
» Kammenstraat & Kloosterstraat, these 2 streets in South Antwerp offer vintage, exclusive boutiques, living and alternative shops. While most shops are closed on Sunday, the kloosterstraat is one of the only streets open from around 12pm.
» Het Eilandje, this is especially great during summer because you can find a lot of outside patio’s here. Worth mentioning is the MAS Museum where they have many exhibitions on display. The museum is set next to the little harbor and owns a large rooftop which has free entrance.
» De Volkstraat, go here for boutiques, concept stores, perfume and coffee.

» The Meir, this is Antwerp’s highstreet. Although it’s not our favorite place to shop, we need to mention it because here you will find all the shops you need. From Zara, Mango, Levi’s, it’s all here. The street is beautiful but always busy. Watch your purse and don’t stay too long!

MAS Antwerp
The MAS Museum at “Het Eilandje”. Source

Where To Sleep?
Somehow we always end up in the same hotels. Never change a winning team! These are our 3 favorite places to stay.

» Hotel Franq, is a new kid on the block and super cool! Just recently opened in October, the building used to be a bank and you can still find the big safe intact which is now being converted into a gym. When you enter the impressive foyer, you almost forget you set foot in a hotel. The rooms are stylish and have a large bathroom with rain showers. When it’s nice weather, you can sit outside in the garden overlooking an old victorian house. www.hotelfranq.com

hotel-franq
Hotel Franq

» Hotel Les Nuits, we love boutique hotels and this hotel is one of the cutest ones out there! All 21 rooms are designed a bit different but have the same style and feature impressive en-suites. They have recently changed their reception area and removed their suites rooms which is a shame because I really loved those but this way the hotel is more compact and fits better together. Breakfast is great and the location is great! Book a room here!

Antwerp City Guide. Elke in Hotel Les Nuits
Breakfast in bed at Hotel Les Nuits

» Banks, another great hotel at a very central location. It’s modern and a great place to meet people downstairs. Oh, and they also have a rooftop terrace so this is a great option during the summer. Then again, you will be out exploring Antwerp..;-) Book your stay here.

So are you planning your next tip to Antwerp yet? 😉 

Love,

Wander-Lust

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8 x tips for an Amazing Citytrip to Leeuwarden

Especially in autumn and winter time it’s a big YES for me to plan some extra citytrips. Sometimes to refuel my energy level, sometimes to discover new places. For sure I love to book a ticket to a sunny far far away gem, but what about our own lovely homeland? Together with a friend I jumped into the car and drove to Leeuwarden! Bye bye hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, hello hello fresh air, calmness and…Fries suikerbrood #dontcountcalories. 

In 2018 Leeuwarden-Fryslân has been chosen as the cultural capital of Europe

What to do in Leeuwarden
Okay, Leeuwarden isn’t that big, but it has such a variety of activities for you. A short selection of my highlights:

Explore the North
Let’s kick-off with the cultural festival Explore the North. In 2018 Leeuwarden-Fryslân will be the cultural capital of Europe, so cool! And that, that means this city has a lot in store – click here to take a look what to expect in 2018. As a sneak peek for this happening, they recently organised Explore the North, whereby the historic city centre is used as a stage for music, literature, visual art and other creative excesses. Liked the concept to plunge into a super creative world. I got my eye on the masterclass of Chassol (The inspiring French all-rounder who makes albums with sounds of self-produced film material), the Noord Nederlands Orkest and the fabulous Friday night show of comic Meindert Talma. Although I have an art academy background, sometimes the artistic experiences were a little too whiny for me. It’s purely a matter of taste. Despite this I’m really looking forward to the cultural capital year 2018, go for it Leeuwarden! www.explore-the-north.nl

Explore the North
Explore the North in November. Photo by xannevera

Street art tour Leeuwarden
Another noteworthy tip is the street art tour. Great way to start your day, especially after a heavy breakfast. In 1,5 hours, you learn more about the interesting city background. I loved 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!

Hemrica House of Flowers Leeuwarden
This flower, fashion and interior shop in one surprised me completely. It wouldn’t be out of place in Amsterdam. Lots of trendy stuff to pamper yourself, be prepared shopaholics!

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

Where to eat in Leeuwarden

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. I ordered the tender bavette with lots of colours on the side and – for sure – the chocolate overloaded dessert, which were both 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

Laura en de chef
Another spot which was highlighted to me was Laura en de chef. This breakfast and lunch hotspot just works with fresh ingredients and is figuratively allergic for E-numbers and other chemical stuff. I ordered a well-filled French toast and a fresh juice, you got me! www.lauraendechef.nl

laura-en-de-chef-leeuwarden
Sit back and enjoy @ Laura en de chef

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.

Where to stay in Leeuwarden
Last but not least, 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 …suikerbrood. Do I need to say more?

Post Plaza, Leeuwarden
Hotel Post Plaza

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

Love,

Sharmaine

*Sharmaine is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands with a sweet tooth. The sweeter, the better! She no kitchen princess so she’s always in search for the best hotspots in Amsterdam! You can expect an article from her once a month! Check her out on @sharriefromsandmountains!

Christmas in London » Off the tourist track

Christmas in London without (a lot of) tourists? It is possible! Here are the top 5 tips to avoid the crowd and enjoy the most beautiful city of Europe during Christmas season.

Oxford Street Lights
When to go? After dinner 9-10 pm in soho, pop into Oxford street for a stroll
Oxford is not to missed during Christmas time. Switching on the lights is always a big event to kick off the festive season. From The Spice Girls back in the day to Rita Ora this year, turning on the lights is a big thing! Even if you’re not into shopping, it’s worth walking around for a bit. Take the Tube to Oxford Circus or Baker Street.

Carnaby street
When to go? After the shops close around 9-10 pm.
If you are at Oxford street, don’t miss the Carnaby street lights! There are some great pubs around to have a beer, grab a bite at Kingly Kourt and enjoy these colourful neon disco lights.

carnaby-st, Christmas in London
Christmas in London is not complete without seeing the lights! Source

Winter wonderland
When to go? Before 5pm on a weekday
Every year a part of Hyde Park is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Perfect to drink mulled wine and have fun in one of the rides. My favourite is the Bavarian village, make sure you’re early to grab a spot or book a table. Every night there is a German singer for all your guilty pleasures, so grab a pint and sing along! www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com

Winterville
When to go? Any time!
Is Winter Wonderland still too much for you? Go to Winterville! It’s basically the hipster version of Winter Wonderland, this year hosted in hip and happening Clapham. Grab the London Underground with a couple of friends and enjoy! www.winterville.co.uk

Winterville, Christmas in London
Source

Colombia road
When to go? Wednesday night in December
It doesn’t get more British than this. Make sure you’re at Colombia road on 6, 13 or 20 December where you can enjoy late night shopping and best of all, a piano moves down the street and stops to sing Christmas carols with the locals, hosted by the local vicar. A magical Christmas in London! www.columbiaroad.info

Extra Tip: Not feeling it to go into the cold? Check out the Backyard Cinema or Pop-Up Screens around the city to see where they play a Christmas movie and snuggle up.

Happy Holidays!

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 neighborhoods 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! Follow her on Instagram @jantinevanbloois.

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