All we want for Christmas.. is to be in Paris

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – it’s already December and Christmas is just around the corner! As the festivity approaches, we’ve sourced out all the activities and the most wondrous lights in Paris to make your Christmas extra special!

Festive displays
Living up to its name ‘the City of Lights’, Paris is the most beautiful this time of the year with all its Christmas lights lit up along the big boulevards and shopping malls. Take a walk down Champs-Elysées or the streets of Montremart at night to experience the magic! Feeling fancy or lazy? Hop on a sightseeing coach or boat tour to breath it all in without tiring out those legs.

If you’re more of an indoor person, go and admire the extravagant window displays and indoor festive decorations in Galaries LaFayette, Le Bon Marché (I heard they are also doing in store events almost daily leading up to Christmas!) and Le Printemps Haussmann. In the middle of Forums des Halles, around 50 little wooden stalls are set up, selling everything from crafts to snacks. The market stretches all the way to Centre Pompidou, a modern and contemporary art museum.

Christmas in Paris

Christmas Markets
Want to get into the Christmas spirit quickly? Explore Christmas markets! La Défence is a ginormous Christmas village at the end of Metro Line 1. As soon as you walk out of the station, you’ll see hundreds of Christmas stalls lining up side by side, offering delicious mulled wine and hot chocolate for only €3! 

Grab yourself a raclette sandwich or a tartiflette, you’ll need the energy to power through all that Christmas shopping!

In the city centre, you’ll find a smaller version of the English Winder Wonderland at Jardin des Tuileries, outside of the Louvre. Unlike the one in La Defence, this has games, rides and a ferris wheel – a more family friendly option than the one in La Défence

You’ll also find Christmas markets along the street of Place Saint-Germain des Près from now until the New Year. Fancy some more iconic Parisian locations? From 14th December to 23rd December, you can surround yourself in a festive atmosphere outside the Christmas markets at Notre Dame Cathedral or the one outside Hotêl de Ville until 6th January 2019.

Get in the spirit
Christmas is a great time to visit the theatre. Enjoy a spectacle with the family! There’s everything from Disney on Ice and Rudolph: a Christmas musical at Théâtre Essaïon for the kids to La La Land Cine-Concert for adults (not exactly a Christmas special but who doesn’t love a good musical with live orchestra?) For the more sophisticated, check out La Cenerentola at Palais Garnier from 13th to 26th December, a Cinderella story retold in the form of Ballet. From the 21st to 23rd December, take a seat at Eglise de la Madeleine, Eglise Saint-Sulpice and Eglise Saint-Louis-en-L’Ile for a Christmas Choir Music Concert and Orchestra. Fancy some active participation? Grab yourself some skates at Grand Palais for the most spectacular ice-skating experience of your life. Disneyland is even more magical this time of the year, with illuminations throughout the park and a festive spin on the traditional parade with Queen Elsa and Santa as special guests!

I hope this list inspires you to get in the Christmas spirit and spend this year’s holiday in Paris!

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.

Europe’s best Christmas Markets 2018

Whether you’re ready or not, December is here and with that the holiday season has arrived. One of the things that we love are Christmas Markets. So where can you stroll for hours and drink the best glühwein in Europe? We’ve selected the best Christmas Markets in Europe where you can do it all.

1. Dresden Christmas Market, Germany
When?
 28th November – 24th December 2018

Leading the pack is this German Christmas market that has been around since 1434(!) Named after a sweet Christmas cake, this market has it all. The highlight is without doubt the largest wooden pyramid with carved wooden figures that stands tall at 40 meters. It has a a romantic feel about it and this is how a Christmas market should be. Watch craftsmen at work or buy pottery, gingerbread, candle holders or other Christmas decorations. Check a video impression herewww.germany-christmas-market.co.uk

German Christmas Markets are the best
Source: Tim A. Bruening via flickr

2. Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, Copenhagen
When? 17th of November – 31st of December 2018
With 60 stalls, this is a market full of lights. For children and adults, you shouldn’t miss this one if you’re visiting Copenhagen in Nov-Dec.
There are concerts, decorations, lights and sweets to feast your eyes on. Adults need to pay about 13 euro’s admission, kids are free. www.tivoli.dk

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The entrance of the Tivoli Christmas (source: Tivoli DK)

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

3.  Berlin Christmas Markets
When? Check here for the different opening dates and times
Not 1 but 60 markets in one city! Berlin is the capital of the German Christmas markets. Big and smaller, you won’t be bored in and around Berlin if you visit the German capital during the winter months. The most famous ones are; the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market for ice-skating, smell the sweet scent of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Christmas Market and spent hours at the large Spandau Christmas Market.

KaiserWilhelmMemorialChurchChristmasmarket
Gingerbread sweets at the Kaiser WM Church Christmas Market Berlin (source: Mtrip)

4. Viennese Dream Christmas Market, Austria
When? 17th of November – 26th of December 2018
This fairytale Christmas Market is located right in front of the city hall and makes the backdrop a one of a kind. This market is also very suitable for kids as they have a dedicated kids area, where they can create Christmas cookies and candles. Find all the info here.

Vienna Christmas MArket

5. Old Town Christmas Market, Prague
When? 1st of December – 6th of January 10am-10pm 2018/2019

Find a variety of foods at this market like barbecued pork, Czech muffins, conkers, beer, mull, mead and other typical gastronomical specialties from Old Czech cuisine. If you don’t feel the Christmas spirit, then you will get it when you go here. Christmas carols are sung throughout the day by different performers. Another market worth checking is Wenceslas Square, which is about a 5 min walking distance from old town square.

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(Source: Flickr)

6. Bruges Christmas Market, Belgium
When? 23rd of November – 1st of January 11am-10pm 2018/2019
Bruges already looks amazing because of the historic buildings, cobbled streets and medieval sights. 
But when it’s Christmas, this town really blooms. The magical shopping streets are lit up with colorful lights and there’s a ice skating ring on the “Grote Markt”. For a fairy-tail Christmas feeling you’re at the right address. Shop unique findings, eat waffles and drink delicious hot chocolate to top the day. More info here.

Ice Skating at one of Bruges Christmas Markets
Ice skating in Bruges, Belgium (source: short-breaks.com)

7. Christmas in Paris, France
When? up until the 6th of January 2019
La Défence is a ginormous Christmas village at the end of Metro Line 1. As soon as you walk out of the station, you’ll see hundreds of Christmas stalls lining up side by side, offering delicious mulled wine and hot chocolate for only €3! Grab yourself a raclette sandwich or a tartiflette, you’ll need the energy to power through all that Christmas shopping! In the city centre, you’ll find a smaller version of the English Winder Wonderland at Jardin des Tuileries, outside of the Louvre. Unlike the one in La Defence, this has games, rides and a ferris wheel – a more family friendly option than the one in La Défence. You’ll also find Christmas markets along the street of Place Saint-Germain des Près from now until the New Year. Fancy some more iconic Parisian locations? From 14th December to 23rd December, you can surround yourself in a festive atmosphere outside the Christmas markets at Notre Dame Cathedral or the one outside Hotêl de Ville until 6th January 2019. More info here.

Christmas market in Paris

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

Love,

Wander-Lust

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

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.

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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.

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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

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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

Post Plaza
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 …sugarbread. Do I need to say more?

Post Plaza, Leeuwarden
Hotel Post Plaza

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

Van der valk hotel Leeuwarden
Van Der Valk Hotel

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

Love,

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!

A little town called Durham

Whether you’re a fan of Harry Potter or not, everyone loves a bit of magic. Durham is truly a magical city, an ancient county, and one of the most beautiful places in England. You may have passed it on your way to Newcastle or Edinburg, but unless you study or live in the area, it is unlikely that you would make the effort to stop by this little town. However, I am about to change that, and hopefully inspire you to pay a visit to this very much underrated yet extraordinary place in the North East of England.

What to see

Durham Castle – This UNESCO World Heritage site used to be a fortress and a palace. However, since the 19th century, it has become the University College, also the home to over 100 students. Think the Gryffindor dormitory in Hogwarts. Book yourself onto a guided tour to marvel at the spectacular exhibitions, as this is the only way for general public to visit the University College, unless you are a student. If you get a chance, be sure to also visit the college bar – the Undercroft, for some cheap pints.

Drone view from above of the local landmark the Bowes Museum, a historic building in French chateau architectural style among gardens, built in the 19th century housing the art and ceramics collection of its founder and his wife, John and Josephine Bowes.

The coastline at Blackhall Rocks on the North sea coast. A shingle beach and cliffs. Sunset.
The coastline of Durham

Durham Cathedral – Located right opposite the Castle is the first of the two UNESCO World Heritage sites in town. It is also one of the first to make it to this honourable list, alongside the Palace of Versailles and Taj Mahal. The Cathedral is undoubtedly the most magical place in town, which I’m sure you will agree with me as soon as you enter its front doors. *Queue Harry Potter theme song* As you make your way down the hallways, it will be hard not to imagine the Quidditch scenes playing right there in the courtyard.


What to do

Walk around the Market Place – Not only will you find the usual high street stores on Silver Street, there are also many independent boutiques along Saddler Street. Every Friday, vendors set up their stalls in the Market Square for the weekend, outside the indoor market hall which houses over 50 independent traders. From fruit and veg, to arts and crafts; you will find everything in this enclosed but lively space.

Take a stroll – Durham is small but hilly. Several colleges are situated on the top of the hills. Except for the few infrequent buses, there are hardly any traffic. You are free to walk on the main roads, up the hill, down the allies, along the riverbanks or into the woods, whatever takes your fancy. If you want an extra challenge and adventure, take the route through King’s Lodge archway to a public footpath along Flass Vale Local Nature Reserve.

Gin Festival – this joyous event is held at the Durham County Cricket Club annually in May. There, you can taste over 100 types of gin, as well as attend exclusive masterclasses. Once you feel giddy enough, you can dance to the live music and devour some mouth-watering street food to satisfy those munchies. We know what it’s like.

Durham

Durham street


Where to stay

  • Hotel Indigo – a boutique hotel in the centre of the city, with a medieval feel to it! Despite its Victorian ambiance, the rooms are elegantly furnished for your modern day needs.
  • The Kingslodge Inn – a sophisticated stay in a tranquil part of Durham, still within walking distance to the city centre. Top up your stay with a full English breakfast or a cheeky pint at the onsite bar and restaurant.
  • The Town House – voted as Britain’s Top 50 best affordable hotel, this 18th century town house  only has 11 bedrooms to guarantee each of their visitors the most luxurious and indulging stay.     
  • Durham Castle – perfect for those who fancy a one-of-a-kind experience. The Castle transform into a B&B during University vacations. Caution: long waiting list

Hotel indigo Durham
Hotel Indigo (source)


What to eat

Proper Italian – Owned and operated by passionate Italians, La Spaghettata offers big portions of Italian delicacies at an affordable price. For more sophisticated options, pay Capriccio or Bistro Italiano a visit.
Burger heaven – If you like to get your hands greasy, Tango and Fat Hippo are your friends. They offer vegan options too for those conscious eaters.
Tia’s – opens only at 5pm, just in time for happy hour. Aside from their spicy enchiladas, they do jars of frozen margaritas. You’re guaranteed a good time!
Lebaneat – super affordable and authentic Lebanese cuisine, which an outdoor shisha shed.
The Cellar Door – Enjoy a posh, modern British cuisine and its relaxed ambience underground. Mind your head as you enter.

coffee in Durham

No matter where you stay or what you eat, you are guaranteed a magical time in this magnificent little town. I can’t wait to hear about your experience! 

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.

The Better London – Why Manchester is the place to be

Whether you are looking for a city break in England or to settle permanently somewhere in the UK, Manchester is the place for you. How about London, I hear you ask. London is great, but there is more to England than just it’s capital. I am going to give you five reasons why you should go to Manchester on your next break, before you eventually decide to pack your bags and move there.

Experience the culture
Manchester is not only the home to two of the greatest football team (debatable but we’ll let this go for the purpose of this article), it is also the home of the longest running TV show in the UK, Coronation Street. Whilst the football fans can busy themselves at the Football Museum and enjoy tours to both Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford Stadium, the non-footballers can engage in some mind-scratchingly challenging games at the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience, just the TV show. If you’re someone who prefers a quieter and easier time, step into real life Hogwards. The John Rylands Library is a must, whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not.

Town Hall Manchester
Town Hall Manchester

From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market

As a growingly international city and with the help of both universities, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester has attracted many internationals to reside in the city. The diverse population has also built the second largest Chinatown in the UK and the third largest in Europe! Here you’d find many authentic Asian cuisines and enjoy a festive celebration of Chinese New Year every February. From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market, with stores dotted all over the city center. Unlike London, you will not have to fight your way into the only Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with thousands of visitors just to get your hands on a cup of overpriced mulled wine.

Manchester

Shop till you drop
Believe it or not, you don’t have to go to London to get your shopping fix. Here in Manchester, you can find three major malls one next to the other, and many more department stores and shops scattered all over the city center. Whether you are into designer brands or high street names, your needs will be satisfied either in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols or the biggest shopping mall in the city, Arndale Shopping Centre. For your convenience, the trio hurdle together in one corner of the city, only a mere 10-minute walk from Manchester Victoria train station, unlike in London where you have to walk miles or spend £2.20 each time you board the overcrowded tube.

Along Market Street where the entrance to Arndale is, you can find at least five different sneakers stores, a three-story big Urban Outfitters, WHSmith, Aldi (the cheapest supermarket), TKMaxx (for the off-season designer goods) and a four-story high Primark. You are most guaranteed to find whatever you are looking for. What’s more, there is a House of Fraser and a Debenhams opposite Primark, if you haven’t already bought enough as you wiggle your way through the crowd and up the street.

Should you prefer a quieter and more ‘sophisticated’ shopping experience, I’d suggest you head to King Street, where you will find various local boutiques, branded stores and pop ups. Although usually quieter than the main street, you will not be disappointed by the range and the number of shops you find here.

Manchester

If you find yourself constantly revisiting Brick Lane or Camden Town in London, Northern Quarter is just the place for you. Small enough not to tire you out but big enough to cater for your needs, whether that is a desire to treasure hunt in vintage stores or to look for your next Halloween outfit, Pop Boutique has you covered. Cow Vintage and Blue Rinse are just a few of the many vintage shops you can find in this uber cool quarter.

Manchester Food heaven
Unlike London, where you cannot enjoy the dining experience fully because you often have to keep track on how much you are spending, restaurants in Manchester are kinder to your purse without making you compromise on the variety or quality of food. Fancy some Italian? There are the sleek, high end Italian restaurant chain, San Carlo, dotted all over the city center for those who like to enjoy the finest Italian dining experience. There’s also Don Marco, which does an amazing lunch deal for £7 a course or £12 for two. Salvi’s Cucina is also an authentic option to go for! Fancy something cheaper? We have also your classic Carluccio’s, Pizza Express and Va Piano!

food in manchester

After that intense shopping spree, you need to refuel before you head home or do it all over again!

Just opposite Selfridges, Corn Exchange houses some of the most popular restaurants in the city. There you can find Vietnamese food, Indian, burgers and again, Italian. Across the street to Printswork, there are Mexican, Japanese and several pubs for those who’d rather enjoy their meal with a side of football. For those who enjoy a more authentic Asian dining experience, head to Chinatown to satisfy your cravings. Wasabi (not the London chain) is a more affordable and authentic alternative to Yo! Sushi and Try Thai does an amazing lunch deal. Its ground floor interior is also very grammable, which is always a bonus. Near but not in Chinatown, you can find the best Chinese restaurant in the city at The Rice Bowl – the perfect place to visit with a group of friends in order to taste as much as the menu as possible.

Whether you are coming from Manchester Piccadilly or not, I highly recommend you head to the Northern Quarter, where you will find the quirkiest and hippiest restaurants and cafes. There you will find the vegan legend – V Rev, where they serve the tastiest mac and cheese and vegan burgers! You also must not leave without stuffing your face with the BEST BURGER IN TOWN at Almost Famous. Get a grill-cheese sandwich to go from the Northern Grill. (I love it so much I’ve been featured in their insta!)

vegan burger

Save your pennies
One of the best thing about Manchester is that, although it is one of the major cities in the UK, it is much more affordable than London. It has basically everything that London has to offer: theatre – checked, Michelin star restaurants – checked, endless shops – checked, international community – checked… even employment opportunity is on par with the City, as many offices have set up their headquarters in Manchester because of the cheaper rents and lower expenses. International and national enterprises are shifting their attention from the capital city to this Northern capital because they realise that this is the place to be! Did you know that Tescos are more expensive in London than it is in Manchester?

The world is your oyster and Manchester is the ideal starting point

coffee spot in Manchester
Quirky but affordable coffee spots in Manchester

Gateway to your getaway
Should you ever run out of things to do in Manchester (impossible!), there are four train stations in the city, all fairly close to one another, to take you away to a town nearby or a city for away. Venture out to the Greater Manchester on a weekend and take a tram to Chorlton for an edgy brunch, or Alderly Edge to potentially bump into the Manchester footballers who live in one of the many mansions up the hill. Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool or York are just an hour or so away by train and so much cheaper to get to than from London, which is only two hours away from Manchester! If you fancy escaping further and out of England, the Manchester Airport is easily accessed to by train, tram and taxi.

Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people.

Manchester is friendly
Because you have made it this far, I thought I’d give you something special. The final and most important reason of all, people in Manchester are much more friendly! You are more likely be greeted by a stranger with a smile on the tram than you would down south, where the image of miserable looking commuters on the London tube is no stranger to all. Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people. On top of that, the tragedy after an Ariana Grande’s concert a few years ago has brought Mancunians closer and the sense of community is so great it’s infectious.

Honestly, give it a go, get a train or book a flight there for your next trip, Manchester will leave you inspired and wanting more.

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.

Where to stay during Amsterdam Dance Event

Amsterdam is famous for a lot of things but when it comes to dance music, it’s ADE. Amsterdam Dance Event. More than 300.000 people visited Amsterdam last October to dance their butts of to the biggest names in the dance and techno scene. A large amount of  people need a place to stay so the hotel and Airbnb business is booming during this time. So where to stay? Well, these are some contenders that might come in handy during the best nights of your life;

The Student Hotel (East & West)
Young professionals, globetrotters and students love staying at this hotel. Prices are very reasonable and they now have 2 locations in Amsterdam. Enjoy events, meet ups, and work dates. If you want to stay a bit longer, there is a community kitchen available and you can get a bicycle to explore the city. Double rooms are around €100 per night. www.thestudenthotel.com

City Hub Amsterdam (West)
This is a great self service accommodation if you’re out all night and busy exploring Amsterdam all day. Instead of dorms or hotel rooms, you sleep in a private cabin. These fit up to 2 people. Each Hub has a giant, double bed, wifi, app-controlled lighting and a personal audio streaming system. Pretty cool. There are a total of 50 cabins and you share the toilets and showers. expect to pay a little more around Amsterdam Dance Event but rooms normally go for about 60 euro per night. www.cityhub.com

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The cubicles of City Hub

Conscious Hotels (Vondelpark)
Right behind the Vondelpark and access to the lunch/dinner district of Amsterdam’s De Overtoom, you have a perfect location with trams stopping near the hotel. This hotel is extra special because they are one of the most sustainable hotels in Amsterdam. Enjoy a organic breakfast to get you back on your feet after a wild night. Rooms go for €130 per night at the moment. www.conscioushotels.com

Generator Hostel (East)
I’ve actually stayed in this brand new poshtel when it first opened. I really loved it because although it’s a hostel, you feel really at easy and it doesn’t get any cleaner and hip than at Generator. Each room features air conditioning, bed linen and a private bathroom with shower. You can share rooms or choose a premium room for 2. The hostel is situated right next to the Oosterpark and you will be in vibrant area “De Pijp” in no time. Prices do go up during Amsterdam Dance Event so get your friends together and start sharing! Gernerator/Amsterdam

Generator poshtel Amsterdam
Generator Hostel

Teleport Hotel (New West)
This hotel used to be an office and has been open since this summer. It’s used by party seekers all over the world as the Sloterdijk train Station is just around the corner and even though you’re not in the city center, it’s pretty easy to get to. They organize free tours through Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport is only 2 train stops away. They are planning an event in November where they invite several graffiti artist to pimp the rooms as they still look a bit boring due to the office look. www.teleporthotel.nl

Volkshotel (East)
Love, love, love this hotel. It’s a place where people come together and clever visual references to the building’s history as a newspaper office occur throughout (newsprint wallpaper, archive photographs of Amsterdam’s rebellious counterculture). Double rooms could go for as little at €69,- and you’re in the city center before you know it. Book it here

Hotel Not Hotel (Old West)
If you’re looking for something special, you will find it here. The name already gives a slight hint because it’s a hotel, but not really.. The concept is pretty cool. No room is the same and they are designed by different artist. Some rooms are hidden behind bookshelves, others look like a Mexican house or you can sleep in an old tram. Some rooms literally only have a bed in them but the beds and mattresses are luxurious and will have you sleep like a baby. The hotel is in west Amsterdam and parallel to the up and coming Kinkerstraat. Local Club “Het Sieraad” will host a few good parties during the Amsterdam Dance Event. There are only a few rooms so be quick if you want to be lucky. Hotel Not Hotel

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Not just a book shelve..

YAYS Apartments
If you wanna feel right at home, you should try YAYS. These are apartments with style and class in local area’s throughout Amsterdam. The people who work behind the front desk are always locals so they know exactly where you should go. You have many options of which you can choose from and all apartments have a kitchen and private bathrooms. There are 3 locations of which one is near the Central Station. Check it out! www.yays.com

Yays
Yays is great for getting the local experience

Take your pick and whichever hotel you choose, dance your butts off at Amsterdam Dance Event! ADE is held from the 19th – 23rd of October.
Use our discount code from Booking.com and get €25,- cash back after your stay! (Disclaimer: this is in collaboration with Booking.com)

Love,

Elke

Curious about the most sustainable hotels in Amsterdam? Click to read!

Sustainable hotels in Amsterdam

5 x Slightly Less Touristy Places in London

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

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

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

London books

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

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

Less touristy spots in London

4. LittleVenice
6 Park Place Villas, London

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

Little Venice London

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

Love,

Iris

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

More City Trips & Guides?

6 reasons why Madrid should be on your City Trip list

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

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

Madrid

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

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

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

Madrid

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

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

Perfect starting point for day-trips

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

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

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

Hola Madrid

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

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

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heels at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

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

How to see Rome in 2 days

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

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

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

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My flowery Airbnb accommodation in Rome

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

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Caught in an exhausted “moment”

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

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

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


Enjoying the Italian cuisine at Baylon Cafe in Trastevere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ciao Ciao wanderlusties!

Love,

Elke

The 3 Day London Guide

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

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

Easyjet naar London
Flying to London is Easy Peasy with Easyjet


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

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

London City Guide
My room view at Motel One

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


The New Road Hotel

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


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

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

London Guide
GBR

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

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

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

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

Camden lock, London City Guide
Vegan food at Camden Lock

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

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

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

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


Duddell’s London


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


Shopping in London’s high street

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Primrose Hill London

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

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

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

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

Neill's Yard London
Neill’s Yard

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

Love,

Elke