Why the Paris region is this year’s Winter Destination

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

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

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

joe-desousa-327235
Celebrate New Years Eve watching the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower

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

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

Paris Christmas Destination

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

Musée des Arts Forains
Musée des Arts Forains © Sébastien Siraudeau

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

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

wynwood-paris
Wynwood Source: Wynwood

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

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

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

Love,

Wander-Lust

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

UberTREES is back to deliver your Christmas Tree!

You gotta be quick but if you open your UBER app between 12pm and 8pm on the 13th and 14th of December, you get a quality Nordmann Christmas Tree delivered right at your doorstep!

It’s the perfect solution if you’re a busy parent or hate the drive to the store where all the needles fall into your car. Just sit back and relax, take a sip of  your hot chocolate and wait for your doorbel to ring! UBER and Dutch D.I.Y store Praxis collaborate for this special occasion. The tree costs €30,- and is 1,75 meter high and about 2 meters wide. The offer is valid for Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Den Haag.

Oh, and this year it’s an extra sweet deal because The Urban Bakery will include a small tasty gift that you can hang into your tree..

uber_christmas_trees_on_demand_graphics_700x300_r4-1
UberTREES is back!

HOW IT WORKS

  1. Open or download the Uber app for Iphone or Android
  2. Between 12pm – 8pm on the 13th & 14th of December, request the UberTREES banner at the bottom of your screen
  3. Enter the location where you want your tree to be delivered and you’ll have a tree, stand, delivered to your front door within minutes!
  4. Keep in mind, availability will be very limited, so be quick!

For more info and to see the video check: www.newsroom.uber.com

Love,

Elke


These are the Best Giftshops in Utrecht

The festive season is just around the corner. Sinterklaasavond (a Dutch celebration for kids) and Christmas eve are only a couple of weeks ahead and everybody’s getting ready to have family gatherings full of gifts.. Oh boy, the stress! Thankfully you can find many cosy giftshops in Utrecht where you can get everything you need. If you are in in Utrecht, be sure to check this perfect guide to find lovely presents.

Paperbird Conceptstore, Oudkerkhof 40
If you are looking for various accessories and clothing, this is the place you should go to. They have a lot of glittery fashion items, which will be perfect for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. There are also many beauty products and home decorations for sale. Run by two boss ladies, this concept store deserves a mention in the best giftshops in Utrecht.

Paperbird Concept store
Fashion and accessories at Paperbird

Pracht, Oudegracht 133
Pracht is a little jewellery shop at a corner at the busy Oudegracht. You can find various jewellery, bags and accessories there in different price ranges.

Pracht, Giftshops in Utrecht

Atelier Ohlala, Kintgenshaven 1A
This hidden shop is close to the cozy Neude. The shop is very mini, but they have a nice assortment varying from golden rings to cute coffee cups and baby goodies.

aterlier-oelala-giftshops-in-utrecht
Ready for the festive season, Atelier Oelala

It’s a Present, Lijnmarkt 16
If you go to It’s a Present, you will be sure to buy something. The store has so many things and you will probably buy something that you didn’t think you would ever need. Choose from a variety of cacti, (animal) coffee cups, postcards and many other knick knacks.

its-a-present-giftshops-in-utrecht

Just in time for the holidays!

Keck & Lisa, Zadelstraat 38
Keck & Lisa is the place if you need anything for the kitchen or just a fun gift for your friends. It’s full of wanna-haves and you can walk around here for hours. The whole store is fully stuffed with amazing gifts and tools. It will be hard to leave this store empty handed!

keck-en-lisa-giftshops-in-utrecht
Source

WAAR, Lijnmarkt 21
WAAR has a wide range of sustainable goodies. You can buy fairtrade food and drinks, but also special soap, candles, beauty products and home decorations.

gifsthops-utrecht-waar

All the Luck in the World, Zadelstraat 15
This store made it to our list of Coolest Concept Stores in Amsterdam so it’s a must visit if you are looking for giftstores in Utrecht. Another nice and cozy shop is All the Luck in the World. They sell many jewellery items, but also cute home accessories and postcards plus you can grab a nice coffee while you’re at it!

Coolest concept stores in Amsterdam

So what are you waiting for, get yourself some gifts right in time for the holidays!

Love,

Merel

More Utrecht? Check out this recently opened hotspot!

5 x winter drinks to keep you warm this Christmas

We’re ditching the cold drinks this month and can’t wait to snuggle up in front of the TV of fireplace with a hot drink. Inspired by the world and other platforms, we have selected 5 delicious winter drinks to keep you warm this Christmas!

1. Golden Milk 
This recipe originated from India where they use the spice Curcuma in almost everything. ‘Curcuma (or Turmeric Root Powder as they call it) might well be the healthiest spice on Earth. Made by grinding the dried root of the Curcuma longa plant, this ancient superfood and key ingredient in curry powder has been used by Indian Ayurvedic healers for centuries’. States the healwithfood.org website. So with this good news it’s one of the best winter drinks as it will help your immune system throughout the winter.

winter-drinks-golden-milk
Recipe and photo by The Green Happiness

Ingredients: (for 2 persons)

  • 400 ml almond milk
  • 1 tsp kurkuma
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 sp ahorn siroop (10 ml)
  • 1 sp cinnamon

Preparation:
Pour the almond milk in a saucepan and add the Curcuma, Ginger, Cinnamon and the Ahorn Syrup. Stir well and heat until it simmers. Now it’s ready to drink and you may top it with a little cinnamon!

2. The ultimate Hot Chocolate
Oelala, this recipe is finger licking good! We all know how to make a hot chocolate but this drink includes marsmellows so take a moment and take your time for this one. It only takes a few minutes to make!

hot-chocolade
Recipe and photo by Jamie Oliver

Ingredients: (for 2 persons)

  • 565 ml full cream or semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 ts of good quality drinking chocolade
  • 1 handful marsmellows
  • some sugar for extra tasting

Preparation:
First put the milk into a pan. Bring to a simmer – not a boil – and while it’s heating, put a tablespoon of choccie powder and sugar, if using, into each mug. Add a little warmish milk from the pan to each mug – you just need enough to dissolve the chocolate powder. At this point, plonk a few marshmallows into each mug. When the milk is at a simmer, carefully pour it into a plastic jug or flask. I normally do this over a sink as I always end up spilling a bit (the trick is to have a big enough jug or flask so the milk only half fills it – you need the extra space for shaking and frothing). Screw the lid on tightly, place a cloth over the lid for safety, and shake hard for a minute. Remove the lid, minding the steam, and pour the milk into your mugs. A little stir, and you can slurp your way to heaven!

3. Homemade Glühwine
It’s a traditional Christmas drink that you will find at most Christmas Markets around the world but the best recipes come from Germany or Austria. It will warm you up in an instance. (just be careful you drink responsibly as it contains alcohol)

wd-10-mulled-wine

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bottle of red wine (750ml)
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 3 whole gloves
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 orange
  • optional: star anise

Preparation:
Pour red wine into saucepan and add all the spices, use medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Reduce to low heat for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure that the wine won’t boil! Use some cinnamon sticks as garnish and enjoy!

4. The Christmas Coffee Cocktail
Wow, this coffee cocktail is serious business! Feeling a bit sleepy after all that food? This baby will wake you right up! 

coffee-2
Wake me up baby! Photo & recipe by Electric Everyday

Ingredients: 

  • 4 oz strong coffee
  • 1 1/2 oz amaretto liqueur
  • 1 1/2 oz coffee liqueur
  • 1 oz butterscotch schnapps
  • 1 oz creme de cocoa
  • fresh whipped cream
  • grated chocolate, for garnish

Preparation:
It’s a combination between strong coffee and liqueurs so pour all of them into a glass after heated up. Stir all together and top with fresh whipped cream. Garnish with grated chocolate. Serve warm or over ice. (but we prefer warm of course)

5. Turkish Salep
When I visited Istanbul 2 years ago, I discovered a drink that I couldn’t stop ordering. It’s called Salep and it’s one of the perfect winter drinks to serve your guest over Christmas. It’s the feeling when you come home from an ice-skating trip, when your hands and feet are cold and your mother gives you a warm drink. Salep brings you right back to that moment. It’s sweet and has a milky anise taste to it. 

Winter drinks : Salep
Photo by and recipe by Lauren Rothman

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour (Glutinous rice flour can be found at any well-stocked Asian supermarket)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon rosewater
  • ground cinnamon for garnish
  • chopped pistachios for garnish (omg yes!)

Preparation:
In a small saucepan, combine rice flour and milk, whisking well. Set saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. When mixture has thickened, about 2 minutes longer, add sugar and rosewater and stir. Divide salep between two mugs and garnish with cinnamon and chopped pistachios.

All the recipes are quite simple to make and will wow your family or guest you may have over Christmas. So run to the shops, what are you waiting for?

Love,

Elke

More Christmas? Check out these tasty Christmas Recipes!

Christmas Recipes

6 Cool Christmas Markets in Amsterdam this month

It’s Christmaaaaaaaaas! (ok, not quite, but almost!) It’s the first time in three years that I’m celebrating Christmas at home in Amsterdam. Last year I was in the Philippines and the years before that I was in Germany (in the black forest) where my sister lives. All very nice, but there is no place like home. I even have a Christmas Tree in my livingroom! One of the things that really makes me get the Christmas Spirit are the markets in the month December. You don’t have to look far to find some of the best Christmas Markets in my hometown. Here are 6 amazing Christmas Markets in Amsterdam you should visit this month!

Christmas Market at Floor 17
When? 17th & 18th of December
Get into the winter spirit and get your skates on! The rooftop of the Ramada Hotel in Amsterdam West is hosting this wonderful ice-skating ring where you can enjoy the view whilst sipping on hot chocolate and curry sausages. Check out the small Christmas Market on the 17th & 18th of December! www.floor17.nl/rooftop-terrace

Floor 17 ice skating

Pure Wintermarket at Frankendael Park
When?  18th of December
Go here for your organic and fairtrade Christmas products. Local produce and goods make this one of the nicest Christmas Markets in Amsterdam and one of a kind. It’s the last Pure Market before heading into 2017 so grab your winter coat and check this one out. Info

Christmas Ice Village, Museumsquare
When?  17th – 30th of December
From December 17th – 30th, Amsterdam organizes the magical and tasty Ice Village Amsterdam at the Museumplein. A true adventure of warm winter chalets who offer you a variety of lifestyle, fashion, Christmas gifts, live entertainment and delicious food. Info

christmas-markets-in-amsterdam

Neighbour Food Market
When?  17th – 18th of December
During the Christmas weekend of the NeighbourFood Market there is plenty of choice. This year the theme is Christmas and Kitsch. Get great ‘good food’ for the holidays or just wander through the stalls full of curios and trinkets. There is also a children’s program, which includes workshops and performances by singer-songwriters. BLEND market is also participating so it’s going to be a fun one! Saturday is until 8pm and Sunday until 6pm. Entrance is free as usual. Info

Museum Market Christmas Edition, MuseumSquare
When?  18th of December
Every third Sunday of the Month, the Museumplein will be filled with stylish stands full of design. In between the main museums around the pond you can meet the (Dutch) designers yourself, shop for their products and enjoy the great food and atmosphere. Info

Christmas Markets in Amsterdam

Roest Christmas Market, Roest
When? 18th of December
In Amsterdam East, you will find Roest. An industrial area which is great during summer but also very creative in the winter time! There are many brands selling goods, there is enough for the kids and there is food and music of course! Free entrance. Info

Also worth visiting:

Ice Sculpture Festival
When? 10th of December – 5th of February, Arena Park
From an icy Elvis to disco music inspired sculptures, you can see it at the Ice Sculpture Festival in Amsterdam this year. Tickets are €16,50,-  www.ijsbeelden.nl

Ice Sculpture Festival

 

Which ones are you visiting?

Love,

Elke

 

3 magical cities to visit during your Christmas holiday

Are you also looking forward to the upcoming holidays, like Christmas and New Year’s Eve? If you want something different this year, I can recommend the following cities as the perfect get-away.

1. Paris
The city of love; even more with all the Christmas decorations. Paris is the perfect city if you’re looking for a romantic weekend. Highlights are off course the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum (free admission for people under 25), the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre Dame, the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, Centre Pompidou, Panthéon and Sainte-Chapelle. The most romantic part of town is the Montmartre district, with its cozy, little, cobbled streets with lots of art studios and its beautiful Sacré-Coeur. If you have enough time to go outside the city center, the Palace of Versailles is definitely worth a visit. You can spend all day wandering around the palace of Louis XIV, the house of Marie-Antoinette and the amazing gardens (free admission for people under 26). And, if you want to get back to your childhood, you should go visit Disneyland to meet all your favorite Disney characters. A Paris Visite Travel Card for 1 day is € 12,85 for the city center or € 26,95 to include destinations like Versailles and Disneyland.

montmartre-in-christmas-ambiance
Montmartre in Christmas ambience

2. London
Looking for a good place to do all your Christmas shopping? London is the place to be! By plane you can get there in 1 hour, but there are also a lot of bus companies that offer a 1-day trip. Check this blog for the best Christmas shopping hotspots: http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/shopping/christmas-shopping-hotspots. For an easy tour around town, you can catch a hop-on hop-off bus and see all the highlights like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey. If you want to explore the city by yourself, you can best take the Tube (Metro). You can buy a Day Travelcard (£12,10 for travelling in the city center) or a so-called Oyster card; this card costs £3 and you can put as much credit on it as you want/need. Don’t forget to pass by Harrods which is amazing during the Christmas period.

harrods London
Harrods London (source)

3. Berlin
Berlin is a city with a lot of history and is therefore a city you should definitely see. Basically, you can go there all-year-round, but in the winter it has an even more special vibe because of all the Christmas markets. You can find most of them around Alexanderplatz. Definitely go for a Glühwein or Currywurst here. If you’re interested in the history of this city, there are some places to visit next to the well-known highlights like The Wall and CheckPoint Charlie. Quite interesting are for example the museum The Story of Berlin, the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial (a former detainment and transit camp and later on Stasi prison), and the ‘Berliner Unterwelten’, in which you can do multiple tours to discover the history of Berlin’s underground (and see for example escape tunnels built during the Cold War). Best way to travel around town is by S-bahn and U-bahn (a one-day ticket for the city center costs €7,-).

brandenburger-tor-in-christmas-ambiance
Brandenburger Tor during Christmas 

There you have it, 3 magical cities to visit during your Christmas holiday. Where will you go this year?

Love,

Dionne

*Dionne is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands, currently living in Den Bosch. In everyday life she works as a marketing-communications professional. She loves to travel to distant destinations, but she also enjoys a city trip closer to home.

Europe’s best Christmas Markets to visit in December

Whether you’re ready or not, December is here and with that the holiday season. One of the things that I love are Christmas Markets.
So where can you stroll for hours and drink the best gluhwein?

Here are our top 5 Christmas Markets within Europe.

1. Dresden Christmas Market, Germany
When?
 24th November – 24th December 2016

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 here.
www.germany-christmas-market.co.uk

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

2. Tivoli Gardens Christmas Market, Copenhagen
When? 19th of November – 31st of December 2016
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, children are free.
www.tivoli.dk

download
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. Old Town Christmas Market, Prague
When? 26th of November – 6th of January 10am-22pm 2016/2017

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)

5. Bruges Christmas Market, Belgium
When? 25th of November – 1st of January 11am-10pm 2016/2017
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.

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

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

Love,

Elke

P.S: If you’re looking for the Christmas Spirit in Amsterdam, you should visit the Sunday market, Pure Market and Neighborhoods Foods Market this December. Also worth mentioning is the Christmas Market in Haarlem which is held on the 10th and 11th of December.

*Featured image source: www.europelandtravel.com

Healthy and delicious Christmas recipes

Do you need to cook this Christmas, but you don’t have any inspiration?
I’ll help you through with some healthy and delicious Christmas recipes that I’ve found via Instagram for you!
It has everything you need to impress your family and friends and it’s not very hard to make.
So take a moment to read the below recipes, go to the store, get all the ingredients, put on some music, take a glass of wine and enjoy cooking!

Get into the Christmas spirit with the below recipes!

‘Healthy and delicious Christmas recipes’

1. @Annabelkarmel
Christmas pudding pies
Recipe
Christmas pudding pies

2. @Renskroes       
Gingerbread cookies
Recipe
Christmas Ginger bread

3. @Jernejkitchen
Confit duck leg with legumes stew
Recipe
Christmas Stew

4. @Livingthehealthychoice
Beetroot, Leek & Walnut Tarts

Recipe
Christmas tarts

5. @Cafedelites
Berry Limoncello Moscato
Recipe
Christmas Limoncello

6. @JamieOliver
Vegetarian Curry
Recipe
Christmas vega curry

7. @Deliciouslyella
Mince pies
Recipe
Christmas mince pies

Good luck in the kitchen. You can do it!

Merry Christmas

Love,

Sarah

The most beautiful Christmas Trees in the world!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…
My Christmas fever started, Christmas it’s just around the corner people!
Did you buy your Christmas tree already in November, or did you buy your tree on the 1st of December, or do you even wait for Christmas Eve?

If you are like me, you will start thinking about buying a Christmas tree in December. Last weekend I decided to buy one – small and lovely – and it makes my home so warm. Maybe not as impressive as the below Christmas trees, but I can say that my tree looks exquisite and classic!

One of the things I love to do is to check out the Christmas trees in different cities around the world. They are so impressive: huge amount of lights, big and so beautiful!

Next to me, a lot of people around the world come and visit their huge and impressive hometown Christmas trees every year, no matter the weather.

‘The most beautiful Christmas Trees in the world!’

 

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The best X-mas deals

It’s almost that time of the year again, X-mas.
Like many others I’m looking for the perfect gift and dress. Besides that I’m always checking which Flight and Hotel deals there are, why not celebrating Christmas with your lover or friends in London or New York?! Many cities transform into a magical wonderland and we would love to spend X-mas over there!

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