Where to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Utrecht this year

“New Year’s Eve is every man’s birthday”, said Charles Lamb, and who wouldn’t want to find the perfect place to celebrate? But universal and hyped up celebration also means many, many options when it comes to venue, theme, music, price and even dress code. Here’s a little rundown of things happening in Utrecht this year.

New Years Eve Festival @ TivoliVredenburg
Where? Tivoli Vredenburg, Vredenburgkade 11, Time: 10PM to 6AM

Price: €35
It is New Year’s Eve, so of course Tivoli would have something in store for Utrechters. Now, how is this event different from a standard tivoli party? This festival-style venue-wide event gives attendees access to all the different venues within Tivoli Vredenburg, with different themes, artists, music genres and venue sizes. In short? This has the means to cater for virtually any tastes: perfect for your eclectic group of friends. Ronda: All-style with De Likt, Vunzige Deuntjes, Pop-O-Matic (with DJ St. Paul) and Aiscream. Pandora: House and electro with Carista, Detroit Swindle, Acid P303wer and Dutch Dance-legend, Cloud Nine: Mama Africa all night long. Park 6: Arcade games, champagne bar and silent disco. More info

Terug naar Toen x Happy Feelings NYE Special @ Het Muntgebouw
Where? Het Muntgebouw, Leidseweg 90, Time: 10PM to 5AM

Price: €60
For this one, the main attraction really is the venue. Het Muntgebouw, as its name indicates, is an old coin factory, and it’s worth a visit, not mentioning partying in. Second strong selling point of this event: it is all inclusive. So get your bling on – because if not in a coin factory then when? – and enjoy a continuous flow of bubbles, shots and confettis. Music: 90’s & 00’s, classics, RnB, Guilty pleasures, disco & house classics hits. More info

fireworks

TIKTAK Utrecht @ Central Studios
Where? Central Studios, Gietijzerstraat 3 Time: 10PM to 6AM
Price: €40

One of the Netherlands biggest electronic music event is coming to Utrecht, and those looking for a night-long succession of live acts and DJs are given exactly what they’re asking for. Get your tickets early, this giant of a New Years party is selling out fast.
Live Acts: Lil Kleine / Jonna Fraser / Sevn Alias / SFB / Bokoesam / Josylvio / Valsbezig / Equalz
DJs: April Grey / BIGGI / CHILDSPLAY / DYNA / Freddy Moreira / Girls Love DJs / DJ Irwan / Johnny 500 / Exclu / Don Cartel / George Felix. More info

Casino Royale @ Kartoffel
Venue: Kartoffel, Oudegracht aan de Werf 145 Music: live band, Time: 10PM to 5AM
Price: €50 all-inclusive

Who wouldn’t want to start 2019 looking like a million bucks? For those in the mood for a snazzy James Bond dress-code, some cocktails, open buffet and a little roulette to match the theme, Kartoffel is where it’s at! Did I mention it’s all-inclusive? 50 euros and the champagne will just keep flowing. More info

champagne

Oud & Nieuw Party @ Olivier
Where? Olivier, Achter Clarenburg 6A, Time: from 10:30PM on

Price: €17.50, includes champagne at midnight
Olivier is bringing in a DJ party, and that, as can attest the connaisseurs, is rather unusual for this beer café located in an old church ​(link to other post if already up)​. Get ready to shake it in this most unique venue, but also look forward to champagne on the house and fireworks to celebrate the start of 2019. Music: Sugar & Spice and DJ Finch. More info


AFTER MIDNIGHT

NYE 2018 @ WAS.
Where? WAS, Tractieweg 41, Time: 00:30 to 08:30AM.
Price: €22

WAS., although one of the newest comers on the scene, is already a well established venue for all the techno-loving ravers among us. Located in a large warehouse in Zuilen (North West of the city center), WAS. attracts a diverse range of young party-goers until the break of dawn. If you are planning on keeping to party going after the clock strikes 2019, any party at WAS. is a safe bet. Line up: Kobosil, Anthony Parasole & Abstract Division  Requirements: must be over 21 years old. More info

NYE w/ Olivier Weiter @ Basis
Where? Venue: Basis, Oudegracht aan de Werf 97, Time: 00:30 to 6:00AM (minimum) 

Price: €15
If electronic music is your scene, Basis may just be ticking all your boxes this year. Olivier Weiter, who will be assisting you in this all-nighter, is the DJ scoring the highest number of night-long parties at Basis. So let’s run down the checklist. Energetic and quality-proven DJ? Check. Centrally located venue on the Oudegracht? Check. Affordable? Check. I’d say this is a solid offering right there. Music: Olivier Weiter all night long. More info

Of course, the best New Years Eve parties are at home. With friends, family and lot’s of oliebollen & champagne, but if you’re looking to dance until the sun rises, these are probably the best options in Utrecht! Let us know what you’re up to!

Cheers,

Mathilde

*Mathilde is one of our guest editors who lives in Utrecht. She was born in Geneva, Switzerland, and currently works in Amsterdam as a Field Marketing Executive. She’s going to keep us updated on what’s happening in Utrecht and it’s surroundings!

El Gouna » The tropical and safe harbour of Egypt

A few weeks ago our guest editor Larissa flew to Egypt for the first time. Egypt, a place where many would think not to be safe. Beyond all expectations, she found a place where you can stay with confidence. This city is named with a good reason, El Gouna means protection in old-Egypt.

30 years of history
El Gouna started in 1989 with the wish of Samih Sawiris and his friends to find a place where they could moor their boats. Samih started with a haven in the middle of the dessert and this led to more construction plans which led to a new hotspot: El Gouna. Due to the recent development of the city, it meets all the highest international norms. They use solar energy, the city has a zero-waste policy and there’s a local farm which only produces organic products. It’s no surprise this city is the most eco-friendly city of Egypt and also won a Global Green Award. Together with D-reizen, I was going to explore El Gouna, and what this man-build piece of land had on offer.

camel
Friendly locals

El Gouna

Good to Know

  • You’ll need a visa and your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months.
  • It’s not advised to drink water from the tap and if you order a salad (which could be washed in tap water) you can drink cola afterwards to kill the bacteria in your stomach.
  • Don’t forget a vest or sweater, in the evening it’s a lot cooler, you’ll need it.

Feeling Safe
Even in December you’ll find enough sunshine here to put on your swimsuit. Even though it’s tempting to stay at an amazing all-inclusive resort like Sheraton Miramar Resort to laze in the sunshine, there’s so much to experience, it would be a pity. You don’t have to be scared, we even took a Tuk Tuk on our own and the excursions don’t need supervision of any kind of military. A local told me he loved living in El Gouna: “Since I live here, I haven’t locked my car or doors of the house. The media creates a distorted picture of Egypt.”

El Gouna Sherraton

Spa in El Gouna
Enjoying the Spa in the Sheraton Miramar Resort El Gouna

Where to Stay
During this trip we visited various resorts, all beautiful and offering delicious food, drinks, relaxing pools, sunbeds, entertainment and of course a nice room to freshen up and get a good night sleep. I stayed at the Hotel Sheraton Miramar Resort, but also checked out  Hotel LABRANDA Club Paradisio and Hotel Steigenberger Golf Resort. All are good options to stay during your trip in El Gouna. They’re all located close to the most facilities.

Sharaton El Gouna

El Gouna offers two beautiful sides: the water and the desert. Get in the desert for a bumpy quad safari and a delicious Bedouin dinner. To end the night in peace, a Bedouin dinner brings you a real Egyptian 1001 night. Camels, Egyptian food, belly dancers, traditional coffee and of course: shisha.

Sand everywhere
Get in the desert for an exciting quad safari with Alex Safari. The quad safari provides you the Egyptian adrenaline kick you’re looking for. Ladies, don’t forget your sports bra, this is going to be a bumpy ride! My recommendation is the Sunset Safari. Not only can you enjoy the tour through the desert with a stop at a small village with cute kids and camels, you’ll also behold a beautiful sundown. On the way back in the dark it’ll be difficult to concentrate on the road as the starry sky above you seeks your attention. We even saw some falling stars!

quad safari El Gouna

The quad safari provides you the Egyptian adrenaline kick you’re looking for

(Water)sports heaven
The water will offer you so much it’s hard to sum up. You can choose to see the underwater world by snorkeling and diving. Or learn to wakeboard in just a couple minutes in the Sliders Cable Park, this was fun! After one big fail of falling directly in the water, I managed to cross the water while keeping my balance on the board. It’s so easy, a fun way to surf without hours of practice.

For the fanatics, El Gouna is also a great place to learn how to kitesurf. Watersports are easier to learn here due to the shallow waters. You’ll be able to practice longer because you won’t get too tired of trying to get up on the board again (as you would in deeper water). Also the waters are calm, which is great for kitesurfing. You can take a beginners class at KBC from the weight of 50 kg.

Camel El Gouna
A little kid with his camel

desert
Arabian Nights

During your stay you’re able to pay in euros if you like. The people in El Gouna are very kind, the motto there is to never say “no”. So even if they don’t know how to help you, they’ll try.

You can book this trip via D-Reizen. 

Love,

Larissa

*Larissa is one of our guest editors from The Netherlands. She is only 22 years old, and just graduated, but already runs the two lifestyle magazines BLVD and MisterDaily for two years. Her dream is to write a book one day, but now she’s focussing on her writing and content creation for brands and magazines among which Wander-Lust. Follow her on Instagram!

This presstrip was a collaboration between Wander-Lust and D-reizen & fti reizen. We pick our collaborations carefully, so we can give you the best tips.

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.

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

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!

11 Stunning Castles in Europe You Must Visit!

Castles. They are impressive, and have a historical story to tell. The castle popularity has risen over the years, since the start of social media, which is mainly because of their photogenic look. Time to check them out right? We’ve lined up 11 amazing castles in Europe that are worth your visit.

Neuschwanstein Castle
Probably the most famous castle in Europe, perhaps in the world. It looks like something out of a fairy-tail, and when you look at it, you might think that sleeping beauty is sleeping in one of it’s towers. It’s located near Füssen in southwest Bavaria in Germany, and it’s one of the most photographed castles around. It dates back from the 19th century, so it’s a wonderful historical building that looks amazing during all seasons.

Castle germany
Neuschwanstein Castle

They say living in a castle is objectively romantic, and we’re totally fine with that!

Pena Palace, Portugal
One of the most colourful castles in Europe! Therefore, it’s extremely popular with tourist, so difficult to snap a picture without people on it. @BARNADRIFT was one of the lucky ones who managed. Would love to know his secret! The palace is located on a hill and rises above a Portuguese town named Sintra. On a clear day, you might even spot it from Lisbon.

Pena Palace, Portugal

Craigievar Castle, Scotland
A pink castle, hello! We think this is the cutest castle we have seen so far. And who knew, it’s located in Scotland! It’s at least 400 years old, and the Forbes family generation lived here for 350 years until it was given to the National Trust for Scotland by William Forbes-Sempill. Fellow travel girl @ANANEWYORK made this incredible picture that was shared around the world.

Craigievar Castle, Scotland
Pretty pink Cragievar

Schloss Drachenburg, Germany
Yes, another castle located in Germany. Officially, this is not a real castle, but a private villa that has been build in a palace/castle kind of architecture. But who cares, it looks awesome!

Schloss
Reminds us of Disneyland!

A man’s home is his wife’s castle

Corvin Castle, Romania
This spooky looking castle is located in Hunedoara, Romania. It is one of the largest castles in Europe and figures in a list of the seven wonders of Romania, so they are very proud of it!

Corvin Castle, Romania
The princess and her castle.. by @varwarock

Peles Castle, Romania
Another castle in the land of Romania, but this one has a completely different look & feel. Situated in the green mountains of the Prahova County, this castle was built between 1873 and 1914. It’s now being used for events and tours. If you ever get the chance, have a look inside, because it looks incredible!

Peles Castle Romania

Gripsholm Castle, Sweden
Yes we love pink, so we had to add Gripsholm Castle on the list. Again, this castle looks very different that what you perhaps would expect. It’s surrounded by water, and located about 60km from Stockholm.

Castle
Gripsholm Castle by @mrbaging

Chateau de Chambord
France has many beautiful castles, but this one is by far the most impressive we think.

Chateau de Chambord
Photo courtesy of @rita1889

Mont Saint-Michel, France
It’s an Instagram favourite, the Mont Saint-Michel in France! It’s so popular, because you can photograph this castle in various conditions. When the water around Mont Saint-Michel rises, it looks completely different. Back in prehistoric days, the castle wasn’t covered by water, so overtime erosion reshaped the coastal landscape.

Mont Saint-Michel, France
Photo by @Jack_Anstey

Predjama Castle, Slovenia
This castle reminds us of a scene out of Lord of the Rings. The Predjama Castle is build in between a cave mouth, and has something mysterious about it. It’s in fact the largest cave castle in the world! It’s said to be more than 800 years old, and has a network of secret tunnels. You can also visit the cave itself, which is home to a lot of bats!

Predjama Castle in Slovenia
Lord of the rings?

De Haar Castle, Holland
And because we are Dutch, we felt we needed to highlight one of Holland’s prettiest castles, De Haar, in Maarsen. It’s pretty huge and a very popular wedding location! If you have a drone, you can see the total beauty, as it’s so widely spread over the premises.

Castle De Haar, Holland
Photo courtesy of @Arden_nl.

There you have it, 11 amazing castles you should definitely add on your bucketlist.

Love,

Elke

*Header Photo courtesy of @ANANEWYORK

Dreaming of a life down under? Here’s everything you need to know!

Strolling down the Coastal walk from my house in Bronte towards Bondi beach while enjoying the amazing views and every little bit of sunshine! I moved to Sydney in April last year, meaning that I’m down under for almost a year now and ooh how time flies when you’re having fun! Here’s why it’s just so hard for me to leave Oz and what you need to know about moving here if you’re ever planning to!

Mandy in Australia
Overlooking Bondi Beach, Sydney

Visa’s
Yes, it’s not the easiest thing in the world, but once you decide you want to stay in Australia a bit longer, it’s important you apply for the visa that your eligible for. The tourist visa is used for backpackers and is valid for 3 months.It is possible to leave the country and re-enter for a further 3 months within the life time of the visa (12 months).You can also apply for a working holiday visa. There are many rules, such as your age, and the country you have been born. For all the details and to see what visa would be best for you, check this handy website.

Where to live…
Australia has everything you wish for! Gorgeous beaches of which I can never get enough of, incredible scenery, sunshine all over, great people (hot lifeguards!) and a coffee + food culture that is better than ever! Moving here might seem a big thing to do but it’s actually so easy! Obtaining a Working Holiday Visa for a year is mostly sorted in a couple hours, whereas another option is a student visa. Maybe you are even lucky enough to get a sponsorship with a company! The next step will be to pick an area for you to live in. Are you more of a city person or a beach person? Western Australia, Sunshine coast, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania…There’s not really one spot where you can go wrong!

Map Australia

Obviously my favo pick so far is Sydney. The city’s International diversity reflects lots of cultures in an extensive amount of suburbs. From artistic Newtown to the corporate CBD to the crazy party scene in Kings Cross to culinary Potts Point, buzzing Surry Hills or the hipsters in Bondi (to only mention a few)! Besides, the city is surrounded by water containing lots of beaches not only in the Eastern Suburbs but also in the North, like Manly, Freshwater, Dee why, Narrabeen, Newport, Avalon, Whale and Palm beach. I personally prefer to live beside the ocean to escape into the water for a surf and enjoy the laid-back and chilled-out vibes!

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Skyline of Sydney

Even though Sydney is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world, you will enjoy higher wages in return

Making money!
No other place in the world will bring you this great combination of a career and a lifestyle that you could only dream of! Companies invest highly in their employees and this is why you mostly make a pretty decent amount of money! (Think about an hourly wage of $25 to $30 to start with in the most casual jobs)! For the Working Holiday goers this is a perfect way to afford their next travels throughout amazing Oz, whereas others can truly try and build a career. Although Sydney is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world, you will enjoy higher wages in return that can make daily life very affordable! Besides, there are plenty of farmer markets to get your fruit and veggies cheaply, you can buy in season or shop at ALDI! Find out whose hiring and have a look on the next websites to catch that (dream) job! careerone.com.au, seek.com.au, mycareer.com.au, indeed.com.au or gumtree.com.au.

Australian money

Sustainable living is taken very seriously on this side of the world

Lifestyle
Aussie lifestyle is a whole different story… Thinking that Amsterdam was already up-to-date with its organic food stores and soy milk, there is still so much more to learn! Sustainable living is taken very seriously on this side of the world. Organic, cold pressed, paleo, raw, locally grown, free range and wholesome are words that describe a daily diet! Combining that with a swim, yoga, surf or an early morning run and your Aussie life is complete! A funny fact is that Australians are literally obsessed with “active wear”! Going for a run or a training with a personal coach in the park are daily activities but the purpose of the outfits changed more into a fashion statement than anything else! Shopping? “Active wear”! Going for a coffee with the girls? “Active wear”! Doing anything? “ACTIVE WEAR”! It’s kinda funny…

Bondi Swimmingpool
You live an active lifestyle when living in Australia

Aussie Slang
A thing that I had to get used to big time, Aussie slang. The way that real Aussies speak is no joke! (Or is it? I never get their jokes anyways. Thought I was sarcastic but these guys…!?) Making your words as short as possible is the way to go. Arvo (afternoon), Avo (avocado), Strong cap (strong cappuccino), the coppers (the police), Bronnie (Bronte beach), Tama (tamarama), the bra (Maroubra), undies (underwear), kindies (kindergarden)…
Watch and learn:

Food Down Under
Vegemite: not one Aussie grew up without butter and vegemite on toast and you’ll find it in every household for sure!

Pavlova: a sweet and delicious treat made out of meringue and forest fruits mostly served during Xmas
Roast: a standard Aussie dish, oven roasted veggies
Barbies: No, not the dolls you can play with but a barbeque is the main in the foodies section! On every corner, in every park and even out of the back of a truck! It’s a nice way to get together with friends and family and pop a beer.
Tim Tam slam: super addictive chocolate treat that you’re meant to eat in a certain way to get the most out of it! Bite a little piece off both ends, use the Tim Tam as a straw in your hot tea and wait till the inside melts in your mouth….I’m sure you’ll eat the whole pack now!
Flat white: little shot of coffee filled up with lots of milk and a tiny layer of foam. For good coffee look for places that use Campos or Single Origin Roasters!
Messina(!): best gelato you’ll ever taste! Can’t miss out on this one!

Aussie food
Breakfast, lunch and dinner down under is always a feast

The Rocks Sydney

Hope that I gave you a little bit of an inside in the Aussie way of life and trust me, you will never regret being here!

G’day mates!

Love,

Mandy

*Header photo is courtesy of Mandy. You can follow her on Instagram as @littletravelbookofficial

More Australia? Check here on how to plan your backpack adventure:
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Vasilitsa, the amazing skiing resort in Greece!

One of my best friends is Greek and I’ve known him for most of my life. I have been coming to Greece since I was 3 years old but he never told me about this amazing winter secret before until he sent me a text message last week with a few pictures that looked like the French Alps or Switzerland.
Little did I realize that these were pictures from a place called Vasilitsa Greece.

Winter wonderland in Greece
There’s fallen a lot of snow in Vasilitsa this winter

Vasilitsa is one of the best ski resorts in Greece. The ski center is located in the middle of Pindos, approximately 417km from Athens and 2,5 hours away from a place called Perdika, where I used to spent my summers. 

“Vasilitsa is one of Greece best skiing resorts, so why don’t we know about it?”

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Just a few hours away from a winter wonderland..

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Off the beaten track
Currently, Vasilitsa has 5 lifts and 16 ski trails, making this a perfect getaway for the Greeks. A lot of foreigners don’t know about this place though so maybe it’s time to pay a visit. During this season, flights are low priced and from Preveza airport it’s a only 3,5 hours drive before you get up on the mountain. 
You can choose different ski-passes: a day card is €10,- while a 5 day pass will cost you only €30,-!
If you just want to enjoy the views, you will only need to pay 3 euro’s. The ski sets are available for rent from about €12,- and snowboard sets will cost you €15. More info here.

Where to stay
Rooms are also widely available and not expensive! You can stay in a fully equipped room for as little as 250 euro’s for 5 nights based on 2 persons.

For accommodations in the area check here

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Stunning views

Vasilitsa
Picture perfect

Want a ski holiday a bit out of the box? Then pick Vasilitsa!

Love,

Elke

*All pictures from Vasilitsa are courtesy of Alexie Efstathiou

Thailand » why you should visit Ko Lanta

It’s been almost 4 years but I’m still dreaming of this place. Ko Lanta
Ko Lanta is an island Southwest of Krabi, Thailand. 
Young backpacker tribes mainly choose islands like Phuket, Ko Phi Phi or the busy east-side islands like Ko Phangan or Ko Tao.

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Koh Lanta is the kind of island you will deliberately choose instead of just ending up there by mistake. From Ko Phi Phi it’s about a 2 hour boat trip and will cost about 400 bath. You can book your ferry tickets hereWhen you arrive, there will be enough taxi’s and jeeps waiting in line to take you to your nearest accommodation.

Ko Lanta, Thailand

If you choose Koh Lanta, you know you chose a getaway 

When I arrived, I didn’t come prepared at all. No need to panic on Ko Lanta though. I met a man in Pai and he told me to get in touch with his Thai friend who apparently looked like a Thai version of Jack Sparrow. He didn’t lie. I arrived at long beach and a short Thai Jack Sparrow type man with dreads, walked over and offered to carry my backpack. He arranged some cheap, yet comfortable accommodation for me and I ordered the most delicious prawns at his bar/restaurant called The Pirate Bar. (no, I didn’t make this up)

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THE Thai Jack Sparrow look-alike

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Fresh out of the sea, yummie!

The vibe on Ko Lanta is super chill, layed back and it’s the island in Thailand I felt my happiest. I only had 3 days which was a shame. I could have stayed here for much longer. Lucky enough I made some new friends on the day that I arrived. A Dutch couple, an American guy (who traveled around Asia on a dirt bike) and 2 German backpackers. We ended up drinking beers and cocktails until the sun set and watched a fire show (by this time I had seen too many though) after that we made our way to a beach party which I loved!

Now, bare in mind, Ko Lanta is no party island. But if you’re there during the weekend, you will find a few organized parties on the beach and nearby bars. If you don’t rent a scooter like I did, you need to share your tuk-tuk with fellow travelers.

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Chillin’ at Long Beach

The island is only 30km long and about 18km wide but without a scooter or quad-bike, you will make it difficult for yourself to travel around.
Ko Lanta consists of several islands, the two largest of which are Ko Lanta Noi (“Small Lanta Island”) and Ko Lanta Yai  (“Big Lanta Island”). Ko Lanta Yai is where it all happens so you will find most tourist here. Saying that, it never feels overcrowded and even though it was almost Christmas, I felt like it was an island I could completely relax on.

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Panoramic view whilst road trippin in Ko Lanta. On the left are gumtrees.

When you start to explore Ko Lanta you have a few highlights you shouldn’t miss:
» Long Beach
I loved this beach. You have so many nice small restaurants and bars where you can chill and drink coconuts all day. Best for sunsets! 
This is also great for accommodation if you’re looking for peace and quiet.
» Ko Lanta Old town
Go back in time and visit old town where the old harbor use to be. Situated right next to the sea, this spooky town has charming features, shops and restaurants.

» Four Islands
If you have the time, visit the small four islands on a day tour. Go snorkeling, have a picnick and check out emerald cave.

» The south beaches
Drive all the way down to the southern part of the island and explore some of the hidden and beautiful beaches. 

» Visit the National Park
Look out for monkeys trying to steal your food. Entrance fee is about 200 THB or free if you arrive late (closes at 6pm)

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Finding a secret beach was no problem (Cape Tanod)

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My own private island! (just ignore the man in the background)

Where should you stay?
Depending on what your needs are, you could stay anywhere really. For the more lively area’s you should stay along side Klong Dao Beach. Here you will find plenty of bars/restaurants and facilities nearby. Long Beach is where I stayed and I highly recommend it although spending more than a week there might be a bit boring at night. Another chilled area is alongside Klong Nin Beach where you will find reggae bars, coffee houses, simple accommodation and luxury resorts.

If you go to Thailand and you haven’t made up your mind yet where you want to go..? Make sure you don’t skip Ko Lanta!

More on Thailand? Check below!

Love,

Elke

Melbourne or Sydney » Planning your backpacking adventure through Australia

Last week you could read about the West coast and the Australian outback. But this was only the beginning! In this article I will talk about the best and adventurous way of getting from the outback to the south and Australia’s most famous cities. Melbourne or Sydney, and the reasons why you don’t have to make a choice.

Traveling with the famous Ghan train
Departing all the way from Darwin and ending in Adelaide, this is by far the coolest way to travel from the North to the South. The Ghan train is named after the infamous and originally dubbed the Afghan Express, pioneering camel riders who blazed a permanent trail into the Red Centre of Australia more than 150 years ago. These men were believed to come from the mysterious outpost of Afghanistan and were considered Afghans – ‘Ghans.
I traveled from Alice Springs to Adelaide which takes around 22 hours. If you book early you can get a good fare. If you book through the website, it will cost you about 279 Australian Dollars. http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/

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The impressive Chan train departing from Alice Springs

South Australia
If you like wine you’re going to love the southern region. I didn’t drink wine when I was traveling through Australia but lot’s of backpackers and wine lovers told me about the wine tours they took near Adelaide. Some of the best wines are produced here. Tours include transportation, lunch and lot’s of wine! Check here for more info. Besides the wineries, I thought Adelaide was a bit dull for my taste. You have museums, parks and a few bars where you can play pool. I left after 2 days and continued my way up to Sydney.

Melbourne or Sydney?
There’s a competitive vibe going on when you talk about the 2 most famous cities in Australia. 
Which one is better? It’s the question that always arises when you travel through Australia. Both cities have been voted as one of the most liveable places in Aussi and even though their population is large, there’s a lot of room left and doesn’t feel overcrowded. It really comes down to what kind of traveler you are. Do you feast on Culture, arts and a buzzing nightlive? Then you will love Melbourne. Do you seek delicious (and healthy) food options, nature and shopping? Then you might prefer Sydney.


It’s worth walking up the hills of Melbourne to experience views like these

Melbourne or Sydney? It’s the question that always arises when you travel through Australia.

I visited both and I must say I fell in love with Sydney. Over and over again. For me it has everything. City life, amazing beaches, beautiful landmarks and hot surfer dudes! (must not forget to mention this! haha) The incredible blue mountains are just over an hour away and it’s the city where I learned to surf. I stayed in Melbourne for 2,5 weeks and in Sydney for 5. Whichever city you prefer, one thing is for sure; you must visit them both!
I took the bus full of backpackers from Adelaide to Melbourne and did the same from Melbourne to Sydney. It’s low cost and only a 13 (!) hour drive..
Tip » take half a sleeping pil and you will wake up with only a few hours to go 🙂
The Greyhound bus service is the common service to use but if you’re planning to stay in Australia for a year or so, you might as well drive up there yourself! 
My boyfriend lived in Australia for 1 year and bought himself a small campervan and traveled around. Probably one of the best ways to see Australia!

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My nr. 1  city in the world..Sydney

I advise you to stay in Melbourne or Sydney a bit longer than the other regions. Simply because there is so much to do. 

  • For New Years Eve » Sydney (the best fireworks everrr)
  • For easy access to Tasmania » Melbourne
  • For jungle fever » Sydney (Blue Mountains)
  • For the biggest clubs » Melbourne
  • For the best beaches » Sydney
  • For theater and street performances » Melbourne

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Just about 1 hour away from Sydney..the stunning blue mountains.

Tip » Enjoy the beautiful coastal drive from Melbourne to Sydney or the other way around. In between the 2 cities you can find deserted beaches, cloves and national parks. The drive takes about 13 to 18 hours, depending where you will stop. There are several travel companies that arrange tours like these, but if you can arrange your own vehicle, the experience is going to be twice as good.

Love,

Elke