12 x lesser known spots in Australia you should visit

Most backpackers and travelers will pay a visit to beautiful Australia once or twice in their lifetime. With 8.7 million visitors in 2017, it’s one of the most visited continents in the world. Rainforests, desserts, mountains, beaches, cliffs, reefs, dunes and more, Australia has it all. Down Under is by far one of my favorite places in the world and the perfect destination for traveling by yourself.

But we all know about Bondi Beach, Fraser island, The Twelve Apostels and the stunning Great Barrier Reef. We think there are a few roads less traveled you should know about..

Western Australia
Most backpackers fly directly into Melbourne or Sydney and travel along the Eastcoast but the Westcoast is something you shouldn’t miss out on. It’s the side of Australia where the sun sets into the sea, where you can swim with whale sharks and it has less tourists.

  • Coral Bay
    Coral Bay is a tiny town on the coast, 1,200 kilometres north of Perth. It’s a special spot because it’s full of marine life. Whale sharks come to the area between March and June and from June to October you can watch the migration of the Humpback Whales. It’s not a town full of restaurants and café’s so you should go here to unwind and enjoy the stunning nature.
  • Rockingham
    Another great lesser known spot in Australia is Rockingham. I swam here with wild dolphins. You simply head out to sea, jump in the water and watch them play. No pool, no touching, no trained animals. You just enjoy these beautiful creatures, A must do!
  • Rottnest Island
    Just offshore from Perth, you will find this small lesser known island. Go here for snorkling, swimming or sunbathing. You can rent a bungalow for the night and there is even a small centre. It’s also home to the quokka, a small wallaby-like marsupial.
  • Dunsborough
    I arrived in Dunsborough about 9 years ago but I still remember it as it was yesterday. I had never seen such a long stretched beach without people on it! The water is crystal clear and the people here are super friendly. You can also find the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park here, where you can spot some of the tallest trees in Australia. Enjoy coastal walks, whale watching and at night you can visit plenty of the pubs and wine bars. It’s a few hours drive from Perth and close to Margaret River. 


The stunning colors of Dunsborough, western Australia. Photo credit: @arigoestowonderland

Northern Territory
If you want to experience the real Australia, you should definitely visit the Northern Territory. Endless roads without seeing one person except for a couple of kangaroos. The spiritual and sacred land of the Aboriginals has more to offer than Uluru.

  • Devils Marbles
    The name is already cool enough to check these babies out! If you go to the Northern Territory you probably visit Uluru and Alice Springs but most people forget about the Devils Marbles. The round stone balls are a special sight and of spiritual significance to the traditional Aboriginals. The rocks are million of years old and due to erosion they have turned into giant boulders. It’s possible to camp on site and enjoy the unusual shapes at sunrise.

lesser known spots in Australia. Northern Territory
The spectacular Northern Territory

This spectacular natural sinkhole is something that reminds us of a scene from Avatar

South Australia
This part of Australia is famous for it’s wine regions, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island, but there are a few hidden treasures that are lesser known but certainly deserve your attention.

  • Lake Bumbunga
    This lake is used to extract salt from and turns pink during some seasons. It’s located in an area that is lesser known in Australia so you could say that this Instagramable pink lake deserve a spot on our list!
  • Umpherston Sinkhole
    This spectacular natural sinkhole is something that reminds us of a scene from Avatar. The Umpherston sinkhole as once a normal limestone cave located at Mount Gambier, that was formed by the corrosion by seawater waves. The sinkhole was naturally created when the chamber’s roof collapsed. It’s now home to a beautiful garden that you can visit.

pink-lake-australia
Lake Bumbunga Source


The amazing Umpherston Sinkhole Photo credit: @dubstamatic

Australia’s Eastcoast
Visited by most, but some area’s are still overlooked. Here are 5 amazing lesser known spots in Australia’s East Coast that you will love!

  • Moreton Island
    If you plan to visit Brisbane, you might as well take a day trip to Moreton Island. This protected sand island is the smaller and lesser known sister to the popular Frasier Island. Known for it’s steep dunes, it’s perfect for sand-boarding and spotting shipwrecks.
  • Noosa Everglades
    When I arrived in Noosa, it immediately felt like I was in another climate. You will arrive in the tropics and you can enjoy some fantastic beaches and forest walk. One thing that not every traveler knows about, is the Noosa Everglades. One of Queensland best kept secrets. Take an adventurous canoe trip or camp into the wilderness. The everglades are gaining popularity fast, so be quick before it’s becoming a tourist attraction.
  • Brooms Head
    It’s one of those places you go to for total relaxation. It’s perfect for surfers and only an hours drive from Byron Bay! It’s often overlooked because of the popular destinations surrounding Brooms Head but this untouched paradise is worth the extra stopover and perfect for a few days camping near the beach.
  • Tin Can Bay
    This seaside village is tiny but has one thing that people come back for. The humpback Dolphin. Travelers and locals get an unique opportunity to hand feed and interact with these rare dolphins. It’s done with great care as they are a protected species. You can also enjoy the wonderful beaches, campsites and terrific seafood. You can also rent houseboats, take a beach drive or visit one of the lively markets. You’ll be surprised about the amount of backpackers that haven’t heard of this place. Don’t be one of those people 😉
  • Somersby Falls
    I’ve gotten this  inside tip from a local Aussi, so you know it has to be a hidden treasure! Somersby Falls is a picnic area with a stunning waterfall as your main view. Like all great parks in Australia, the location has several bbq’s lined up with picnic tables surrounded by rainforest and beautiful walking tracks. It’s located on the central coast just 1,5 hours from Sydney.

noosa-everglades. Lesser known spots in Australia
The Noosa Everglades

It’s more than you can ever expect it to be, one reason being, that there are so many new places to discover..

Enjoy it Mate!

Elke

For trips to Australia check www.travelessence.nl/australie and plan your trip!

More Australia & New Zealand here!

According to Google, these Destinations will be hot in 2018

Good old Google. They know everything about us, well almost. They monitor our behaviour, and know exactly what we clicked on, for how long and where they loose us. Whatever you may think of it, our behaviour can also predict the way we are traveling and will travel in the near future. Every year Google releases a Year In Search data report and when it comes to travel related searches, you can see which destinations are growing popularity.

While this year, destinations like Morocco, Iceland, and Bali took the lead, we have some new contenders for 2018!

1. Taiwan
Why the hell not actually! Taiwan hasn’t really come to mind immediately but thinking about it, this destination is totally stunning. The small island on the South East coast of China has national parks, cute teahouses and skyscrapers. Perfect for a couple of days exploring. Will this be the new Hong Kong for 2018?

2. Barcelona
Still one of the best cities in the world (we always go back there once a year!). There is a beach, the food is seriously addictive and it’s always warm. Even though there was a terrorist attack, it doesn’t stop people from going here. Next year, it will be populair once again.


One of Europe’s most popular city

3. Hawaï
More and more people are looking for paradise and Europeans are looking into Hawaï like crazy. We don’t blame them. Tropical forests, wonderful people and stunning beaches and reason enough to book your ticket.

4. Las Vegas
Vegas Baby! Maybe it’s hard to believe but people are actually looking to explore a little outside Las Vegas too. Did you know that there are some of the most amazing canyon’s out there? You can combine a few days of craziness with a couple of days roadtrippin’ and hiking.


Dreaming of Hawaii? Photo by @travelinhershoes

5. Hong Kong
People go here for the nightlife, food and impressive culture. Sarah is visiting Hong Kong this January and I have been there a few years back. 

6. Oman
We’ve seen Morocco, we’ve seen Dubai. People are ready for another beauty and next year it might be Oman.

7. Maldives
For all the couples out there, this is heaven. The economy is growing again (at least in some countries), and people want to treat themselves. The Maldives is the perfect place to do that.

8. South Korea
In early 2018, the Winter Olympics will be held here. Tourism will pick up and it’s no wonder that Google has tracked these numbers. But besides that, South Korea is diverse and the airport is close to town. The food is super innovative and goes from high end to briljant street food.


The food in South Korea is something special

9. Myrtle Beach
Sat whaat? This is a coastal town in South Carolina and popular with families. Why? Along its beachfront boardwalk are arcades, souvenir stands and restaurants and an amusement park by the sea that includes the larges ferris wheel of the country. This search was extremely popular for the States.

10. Hamburg
We’ve heard it many times last year; Hamburg is the new Berlin. With the new Elbphilharmonie building, this harbour city made a comeback and is here to stay in 2018.


Industrial and cool, hamburg will gain popularity in 2018

Destinations we think are going to be hot in 2018?
Well, a little bit different than what Google says but here’s what we think:

1. Mexico
This is because we’ve seen soooo many influencers going there the past year. They have planted the seed and have inspired many around the world to go here.

2. Malta
This tiny little island is located at the end of Italy’s boot and is perfect for a quick getaway. Mind you, Malta doesn’t have a lot of beaches but it certainly has a lot of culture to make up for it. To read more about Malta, check out this quick guide.

3. The Nusa’s
Our guest editor said it; she cheated on Bali with the Nusa’s and we think you are going to do the same. Get away from the tourist overload on Bali and check out these pretty islands. For pictures and tips check her article.


Cheating on Bali with the Nusa’s?

4. Georgia
We haven’t been but heard so many great stories about this hidden gem. It’s the kind of destination where you say; “wow, I didn’t realize it was this beautiful!” Mark our words.

5. Hawaï
Yes, we agree with this one! Like Google, we think this destination will be explored more than previous years.

So where are you heading in 2018?

Love,

Elke

Bye Bye Unwanted Hormones, We Tested The Ladycomp

When you are a young woman growing up, one of the first things you learn about is anti-contraceptives. When you start to be sexually active, you are told to protect yourself agains unwanted pregnancy. Very good, of course. But what the hell are we actually putting into our bodies? Elke tested the Ladycomp, a tiny computer that’s going to save you from unwanted hormones and discomfort.

Let’s start by saying that there are many options out there to protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy; The Pill, The Spiral(s), The Nuva Ring, The Condom. Most of these offer something that is uncomfortable and gives your body unwanted extra hormones. I was fed up with it and taking these extra hormones wasn’t an option for me anymore. I felt tired, bloated and stopped using birth control pills. I heard about The Ladycomp a few years ago but didn’t dig into it until now.

ladycomp
Side affects from birth control pills Source

What is the Ladycomp?
It’s a small round shaped computer that fit’s into your pocket, that you can take everywhere. It does several things but the most important thing it does, it measuring your body’s temperature. Not like thermometer that you use to check if you have a fever, no this little computer does it so precise that it knows exactly when you are ovulating or not. It basically calculates your fertility status in less than a minute per day with 99,3{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} reliability. Pretty damn save if you ask me! I needed to test this, obviously.

Ladycomp

My first 3 months using the Ladycomp
I received the Ladycomp basic but there are 5 different computers available so check on the website which suits your needs the most. You start using the Ladycomp by charging the batteries and entering the right date and time. Ok, that was simple. Now you need to enter the dates of  the start of your menstruating cycle (if you remember the exact date) and you can do this as far back as 3 months. Now, this is where I got totally confused. I had the instructions booklet where it tells you what to do but somehow I didn’t manage to do it right. And because it only works if you do it right, I needed to call the helpdesk to guide me through it, just to be sure. With all the little options in the menu, it can look quite overwhelming at first so I advise you to read the instructions a few times. The Ladycomp needs a couple of months to get to know your body. The more period dates you have entered, the quicker it learns. I remembered my last 2, so I hoped this would speed up the process.

Red means: hold up, no unsafe sex! Unless you want a baby of course..

How to Use It
Measuring your temperature is the simplest thing. When you wake up in the morning, you grab the Ladycomp (leave it next to your bed), you grab the little thermometer attached to the Ladycomp and put it underneath your tongue for about 30 – 60 seconds until you hear a beep. You will now see a red, orange or green button which tells you if you are fertile or not. Red means: hold up, no unsafe sex! (unless you want a baby), Green means: Put on something sexy and go for it girl! Orange means: hmm, not sure, better safe than sorrow so use protection.

Wait For The Green Light
I was surprised to see a green light after only 2-3 weeks but I was too scared to take the leap of faith so early on. It’s still a computer you need to put your trust in, so I guess I needed some more time. After a few days green, it popped back to red n it has stayed red or orange for the rest of the month. When you are about to menstruate, you will see a blinking M. If you are not yet bleeding, just ignore the blinking M. If you started to menstruate, confirm M for at least 3 days in a row. Around the 10th of each new month, I got a green light, also in my third month so the Ladycomp must know my body a little bit right? I listened and so far so good! No unwanted pregnancy and I’m feeling good about this new way of protecting myself.

Compact & Easy to Bring
The Ladycomp is very small in size and fit’s into your toiletry-bag, no problem! If you travel a lot, this is a must because you don’t want to carry to much weight with you. When you buy it, it comes with a colourful cover to keep it save.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
When you order, you receive this cover so it’s easy to bring

Christmas Discount!
Ladycomp is celebrating Christmas and offers a 12{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} discount until the 21st of December! Besides this, they are also hosting a advent calendar where they will announce a new winner every day! For this you need to keep an eye out on their Facebook Page.

Are you ready for a change in anti-contraceptive? For more detailed info and prices visit the Ladycomp Website.

Love,

Wander-Lust

The Antwerp City Guide by Wander-Lust

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

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

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

Antwerp City Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

texas-coffee-antwerp
Pink latte at Texas Coffee

Antwerp City Guide. The Buchbar
The Buchbar

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

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

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

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

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

hotel-franq
Hotel Franq

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

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

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

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

Love,

Wander-Lust

More City Guides? ↓

Wanderlust Barcelona Guide

8 x tips for an Amazing Citytrip to Leeuwarden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

leeuwarden-emmakade-winter

Where to eat in Leeuwarden

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

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

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

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

Where to stay in Leeuwarden
Last but not least, in case you’re thinking about a citytrip to Leeuwarden, definitely book a room at the charming Post Plaza****. They invited me to stay and for sure I said ‘yes’. To be honest, I’ve nothing but praise. Especially the hospitality and extravaganza wakey wakey breakfast with everything a sweet tooth with a bit of a sleepyhead wants …suikerbrood. Do I need to say more?

Post Plaza, Leeuwarden
Hotel Post Plaza

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

Love,

Sharmaine

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

This couple’s moody selfie is the funniest you will see today

When Dutch couple Ivo and Karen starting posting “moody” selfies on Facebook, they probably didn’t realise their new selfie photos and video’s would be picked up by the media. But it did and we’re happy about it because we think it’s hilarious! 

moody-selfies
Having “fun” in Bankok

moody-couple-seflie-korea
Moody selfies in Korea

We discovered that we enjoyed making fun of the standard selfies we see on social media nowadays. – Ivo Aarts

The couple travels around the world posing with people from all nationalities and many will actually join in! Cooking classes in Thailand, making friends in Korea or spending time at airports.  All is posted on their Instagram called the Neutral Channel. (hence the name?) Oh, and they also bought a house recently.. you’ve guessed it. They absolutely loved it. 

Couple's moody selfies
Utterly exited about the new house.

You can follow their moody adventures on Instagram!

Love,

Elke

Christmas in London » Off the tourist track

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winterville, Christmas in London
Source

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

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

Happy Holidays!

Jantine

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

Check all our City Trips here!

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Amsterdam Event Calendar December 2017

Finally! It’s cold enough to wear those comfy jackets and order yourself a big cup of hot chocolate (with whipped cream of course!) You may have seen our article where we highlight 16 Christmas events, markets and ice-rings so for the full list, check that out! For all the other events and the ones we love most, read on! Here’s the Amsterdam Event Calendar for December 2017:

Amsterdam Light Festival
When? 20th of November until 

What? The canals of Amsterdam light up
Stunning objects float, hang or stand in and around the canals of Amsterdam. Things really start to get interesting when it get’s dark and the art objects light up. Visitors from all over the world come to this special festival. You can walk the route or experience a boat tour. amsterdamlightfestival.com

amsterdam-light-festival
Amsterdam Light Festival

Sample Sale Crispy Sheets
When? 1st & 2nd of December, nieuwe herengracht 91a

What? One of the nicest bedsheets is having a huge sale!
Stunning and extremely comfy bedsheet brand is finally having a sample that goes up to 80{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} discounts! www.crispsheets.nl

Scandinavian Christmas Market
When? 1st & 2nd of December, Muiderkerk
Get into the Scandinavian spirit with this special market where you can knit and make decorations for “jul”: the wheel of time that spins the year into lighter days. The market is not complete without some real Scandinavian flavours (like cookies) of course! Facebook

Sunday Market Sinterklaas Edition
When? 3rd of December, Westergas
What? Every 1st Sunday of the month
Lot’s of stands and this edition will be full of sweets, sinterklaas and local goods. Bring your kids!

Sunday Market

Het Ware Noorden Licht Festival – Opening
When? 2nd of December, De Ceuvel from 4pm
What? Storytelling, campfire and cozyness
Creatives come together and enjoy each others company while telling stories, playing music and the opening of pretty light installations. Facebook

Festival Jan Eef
When? 9th of December, Jan Evertsestraat
What? Street festival in Amsterdam West
It’s the 6th edition already where the Jan Evertsestraat is a transformed into a theatre, cabaret and music street. You can see 3 different theater pieces of 30 minutes each at various locations in the street. Tickets cost between 15 and 17,50 and you can get them here

Let it Glow Christmas Brunch
When? 10th of December, Zwart Amsterdam
What? Beautiful vegan sisters are hosting the last vegan brunch of the year!
For €32,50 you will enjoy a 3-course vegan menu, a short seminar and a Glow With The Glow magazine with recipes and tips. There are still a few spots available so hurry up if you want to taste some amazing vegan food! Get your ticket here.

Go with the glow Christmas brunch

Sissy Boy Christmas Market
When? 10th of December, Amstelveld
What? One of the best and hip Christmas markets of the year
We need to mention this market again in our calendar. This is one of the winter markets we are looking forward to the most! Besides the usual Sissy-Boy fashion, interior and accessories, you can also enjoy glühwein, live music, nice food and of course many different stands with all your winter wannahaves!  To find out which brands you can find at this years market, check the Facebook event.

sissy Boy Kerstmarkt, Amsterdam Christmas Events 2017

Professional Networking Dinner hosted by Expat Republic
When? 14th of December, Market 33 at 6pm
What? Expand your professional as well as personal network whilst enjoying good food.
This event is about connecting you with folks who can be of assistance and vice versa. International urban food court located at the Zuidas. Entrance is free but everyone pays for their own consumption at the bar. Register here!

Neighbourhood Food Market 13
When? 16th & 17th of December, Westergasfabriek
What? The friendliest market of this month!
Food, stands, and walking into to your neighbour perhaps? We always like this market and it’s easy going, for young and old and affordable!

Vahalla Festival
When? 23rd of December, Rai
What? Electronic Music Festival (indoor)
The line-up is pretty impressive so perhaps this is a nice Christmas party to spend your money on. DJ’s like Fritz Kalkbrenner, Speedy J, Kölsch and Hot Since ’82 are there to make you dance throughout the night. www.valhallafestival.nl

Enjoy December!

Love,

Wander-Lust

More Amsterdam? Check our Amsterdam Guide!

The World’s Best Road Trips

The wind in your hair, the adventures with your friends and the stunning views. Road Trips are all about that. Whether it’s with a few friends or alone, it’s an experience you’ll never going to forget. Some are more adventurous than others, but ey, that doesn’t stop a real traveler right? These are by far the world’s best road trips. Ever.

1. Icefields Parkway, Canada
This has to be one of the most impressive road trips in the world. This amazing route runs through 2 national parks. Also known as highway 93, it’s a 230 km long road which takes you from North to South (or the other way around) Highlights include waterfalls, glacier skywalk, peyto lake and bow lake and more stunning views. You will need a Canadian national park permit to travel on the Icefields Parkway. For more info check: www.icefieldsparkway.com

Best roadtrips
The Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park

2. Route 66, USA
Also known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, route 66 was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System and used in a lot of movies. Lucky Sarah. She actually experienced this roadtrip! She traveled all the way from Las Vegas down to San Francisco and part of her route was the famous route 66. She rented a large RV and crossed over the famous road with 3 of her best friends. Read her full story here.

IMG_3673-1024x682

Best road trips route 66
Pictures by Stick to the Brand for Wander-Lust

3. Great ocean road, Australia
It’s one of the highlights for all the backpackers that travel from Adelaide to Melbourne.

The absolute picture perfect part has to be the 12 apostles (pictured). Because of severe weather over the years, there are only 8 left.
There are many tours that can take you along the Great Ocean Road but if you get the chance, it’s much cooler to rent or buy a van with your friends and explore yourself. You will pass beautiful beaches, rainforest, rivers and cute coastal towns.
For more info check www.visitgreatoceanroad.org.au

15-Great-Ocean-Road-135559246--660x420
Source: Roughguides.com

4. Pacific Coast Highway, USA
Yes, the USA is a beautiful country so it made it to our list twice! I was lucky enough to experience a piece of this highway as I stayed in Los Angeles quite often. I never driven all the way to San Francisco but if you get the chance, you definitely should! The coastal line is breathtaking and the sun always shines! The only downside is the LA traffic you will need to get though (it starts around 3-4pm and last until about 10-11pm).
It’s easy to rent a car and drop it in SanFran. From LA it takes about 6-7 hours.


Best road trips LA
On the way you can stop for amazing stops like these (ignore the somewhat awkward pose..)

“On these road trips you never know what you’re going to see next”

5. Cabot Trail, Canada
It almost looks like the pacific coast highway, but then a lot greener! This beautiful route, runs passed the coast of Canada at Nova Scotia.

The northern section of the Cabot Trail passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The western and eastern sections follow the rugged coastline, providing spectacular views of the ocean. The road trip will run for 300km. More info about this route: www.cabottrail.com

Canada's best roadtrips
Source: Hikebikecanada.com

6. Causeway Coastal Route, Ireland
You might recognize the picture below, as it was used in the popular series Games of Thrones. The road is 120 miles / 190km long and takes you through the Northern parts of Ireland. You can drive all the way from Derry to Belfast. On the way you will pass all sorts of scenery. From castles to coastlines, forest and waterfalls. You will find the most beautiful parts of Ireland right here on this amazing route. More info: www.causewaycoastalroute.com

world's best road trips, Ireland
Like a fairytale..

7. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Being the largest salt flat in the world, this place seems a bit creepy, yet beautiful. The whole area is 11,000-sq.-km long and accessible by car. Photographers love to shoot at this place because you get the most amazing mirror-like images. It used to be a lake but over millions of years it went dry and left a few meters of salt crust on top. If you decide to take this road, be aware that you are well prepared by taking enough water, cloths and camping equipment. For more about this about this trip, check our blogpost.

The Salt Flats of Bolivia

Salt Flats

8. Road Trip though Ethiopia
One of the most dangerous road trips and recently featured on Dutch television, this is a trip that will leave you with an experience richer.
Beautiful views of a landscape that not many people have seen or heard of. You will pass vilages, dirt and unpaved roads and narrow parts, so this is one for the brave ones! Expect animals on the road and light? No no one has heard of lights at night. Just drive through the day. The BBC made a documentary about this road once, calling it bone-shaking but amazingly beautiful.

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Source: Facebook Victoria Koblenko

9. Hana Highway, Hawaï
For a feel of the tropics, you should drive though this Hawaiian route. The road is 109 km long and connects Kahului with Hana on the island of Maui.
Take a sickness tablet with you because the road has a lot of hairpins that go deep into the tropical jungle, though valleys and rocky formations along the coast. This certainly deserves a spot in the world’s best road trips!

World's best road trips, Hawai
Photo by @hawaiisblue

What is one of the best road trips you’ve ever made?

Love,

Elke

A Quick Guide To Marrakech

The heat embraces me. I feel the sun burning on my skin and a small sweat drop sneaks away between my shoulder blades. The smell of fresh herbs, oils and food are seducing me to keep on walking towards the centre of the square. I stop, look around, and try to take it all in. Millions of colours, voices and people are surrounding me and stealing my attention. I’m standing in the heart of Marrakech, the structured chaos of Djemaa el Fna.

Marrakech

Marrakech can be overwhelming, breathtaking and confusing. It’s a city with many different faces and possibilities. I’m going to take you on a small (camel) ride to help you choose and plan your travels. These are my must-see tips for a short trip to Marrakech:

Shopping in the souks
I know, not the most original advice, but there’s no way you can miss out on this. The most famous souk of Marrakech is Djemaa el Fna and for a good reason, it’s huge! I got lost a million times even though I was only there for a few days. Not that it’s a bad thing. I found a really nice bag made of an old carpet and got some delicious Moroccan food while finding my way out.Djemaa el Fna is the biggest Souk but also the most touristic. For a more traditional experience I would recommend Marché el Mellah. But be warned if you’re an animal lover, you’re going to see a lot of animals (especially chickens)., and unfortunately, they’re not there for the cosiness.

The blues of Marrakech

Tip » Whilst Marrakech isn’t as conservative as many Arab countries, it is still a Muslim country and you should respect the culture. Leave your mini skirt and tank tops at home or just wear it in the Riad/hotel. Keep it cool on the streets in floaty clothing, it saves you a lot of sunscreen as well.

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

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

kameel

Looking for that perfect Instagram spot? Bahia Palace is it.

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

bahia-palace_1

Tip » Getting hungry? Le Jardin in the centre of Marrakech is your solution. They serve amazing food, it’s stunningly decorated and, the best part, there are tiny tortoises just walking around. Too cute to be true.

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

small-street Marrakech

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

riding horses at Essaouira

Marrakech was everything I imagined and nothing like it at the same time. Start your trip open minded. Savour the smell of spices, follow the colours and dive into little alleys and see where it takes you. A lot of Marrakech’s true beauty is hidden behind walls and crowded streets.

And before you go… don’t forget to practice your bargain skills! Prices are more then doubled and shop owners are ready for a tough negotiation.

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals 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.