Ostrava | Czech charm meets industrial chique

The Czech Republic is certainly no stranger to foreign tourism. However, most tourists who take a visit to this country limit themselves to Prague. The vibrant city Ostrava often gets overlooked by travellers but has a lot to offer.

From skating down the Pustevny mountain to exploring underground coal mines and even partying at one of the best music festivals in Europe.. Bringing a visit to Ostrava will be a pleasant surprise for anyone looking to get off the beaten track..

Where is Ostrava?

The city isn’t too famous so there’s a big chance that most people don’t know about this place. That given, Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic and it’s located in the very Northeast of the country. The city was for a long time known (among Czechs) for being unattractively industrial because it was historically associated with the production of pig-iron and coal. Its reputation as an industrial workaday city has prevented it from seeing the tourism it deserves. Although it is not as classically beautiful as some other Czech cities, its history as the epicentre of the country’s mining industry makes it a very fascinating place to visit. Let’s delve into some of the awesome things to do in Ostrava and unique features of the city.

What to do

Masaryk Square:

It is safe to say that Masaryk Square is the central point of the city. It is surrounded by pretty pastel coloured houses with decorated facades. There are quite a few cafés on Masaryk Square, where you can relax after strolling around. The central square is a gorgeous setting and therefore a must-see in Ostrava.

City Hall Tower:

is the Czech Republic’s highest city hall tower! It offers a wonderful panorama view of the surprisingly green city of Ostrava and its surroundings from a height of 73 metres above ground level. On a clear day you can see many of the coal mines and blast furnaces in the area and you can even get a glimpse of the Poland borders.

Ostrava Center

Landek Mining Museum

If you want to learn about the history of Ostrava, the Landek Mining Museum is your calling. This mining museum is the biggest one in the Czech Republic and you get a unique peek behind the curtains of the harsh circumstances the miners worked in. The guides are former mine workers themselves and have a lot of knowledge about the mine. The absolute highlight is going down with an elevator shaft into a restored section of the underground mine. Hungry after the tour? Next to the Museum is a good traditional restaurant with national dishes.

Landek mine Ostrava

The Ostravice river

Is a beautiful river that flows through the city. Great for walking, running, cycling or hanging out in the adjacent park. Looking for more adventurous activities? Rent a raft or canoe and head down the river. It’s a really beautiful trip on the water where you can spot many wild animals. We spotted a baby deer, drinking water at the shore!

Dolní Vítkovice

is a former industrial site used for mining and iron processing. It’s an atmospheric and almost otherworldly industrial area (it looks like something out of a Mad Max movie set) which is being turned into a cultural centre. You can go up in the Bolt tower with a lift and have a view over the whole city. It’s really cool (and a bit scary) when you get to the top, and a great place for photography because of all the surrounding old buildings. The international multi-genre music festival Colours of Ostrava is organized on this venue every year.

Dolci Ostrava

Pustevny mountains

Equally worth visiting are the Pustevny mountains, about half an hour’s drive from Ostrava. A ski lift will take you 1 km above sea level. Once there, you can hike another 100 meter up a wonderful Himalayan inspired walking trail. On the top of the trail you can find a short skywalk with a glass floor where you will enjoy a beautiful view. To get back down the mountain, you can take the ski lift again or rent scooters on which you can drive down (adrenaline-kick assured!).

Bridge Ostrava

Where to stay

Harmony hotel Ostrava:

This hotel is a treat. The beds are very comfortable, the room gets cleaned every day, and the view of the city is amazing. The biggest surprise however is its breakfast. They offer a large selection of fruit, eggs, bacon, vegetables, bread and various types of cheese and salami as well as pancakes and brownies.

Airbnb:

In and around Ostrava there are quite a lot people who offer their room, apartment or house for rent. The advantage of renting an Airbnb is that you can cook for yourself (which saves costs), and you normally have more space than in a hotel room. It is also nice to be among locals if you rent a room in someone’s house! Renting an Airbnb in Ostrava is very affordable. For a small apartment you pay around 25 euros per night.

How to get there

A distance of 1.300 km needs to be covered if you travel from Amsterdam to Ostrava. Taking the airplane is the fastest option. From Amsterdam you can fly to Ostrava via Prague. Another option is flying to Prague and then take the train (3,5 hour) to Ostrava. If you prefer to travel on your own, a car is recommended for transportation. For this you invest half a day on a direct ride, but you can make your holiday a lot more interesting if you dive into the cities that you pass along the way. Berlin and Prague are perfect stopovers to hop through for example. Not in possession of a car and driver’s license? Take the train and go interrailing!

Train to Ostrava

Conclusion

In conclusion, I must say that the entire city has a certain atmosphere, there is something very interesting about Ostrava. The old buildings, abandoned factories, green parks and the nice architecture of the old town all add up to this. In short: there is plenty to do and see in Ostrava! Combining the festival and sightseeing in the city makes up for a perfect Czech trip, and is wholeheartedly recommended!

Are you planning to visit Ostrava one day? Let us know in the comments!

Love,

Iris

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

Konstanz City Guide

Berlin, Hamburg or München. All cities that you have heard of. But today we want to introduce you a lesser known German city that deserves a mention; Konstanz.

Located next to Lake Constance (Bodensee) and near the border of Switzerland, Konstanz is a great option if you want to combine more destinations in a short period. It has the charm of a German city, yet it feels more like a southern holiday destination, especially during summer. The easiest way to get here is by train or car because it doesn’t have an airport. That saying, it depends on the destination you’re traveling from of course.

City Guide Konstanz

Konstanz can be described as a peaceful city where people enjoy the outdoors and enjoy long summer evenings with friends.

Where to stay

Hotel prices can be quite expensive in Konstanz so it’s great to have an option that is reasonably affordable plus comfortable. We stayed at ibis Styles, which is playful, stylish and low key. You’ll find all sorts of travellers here. Families, couples, old & young and even business travellers. Every ibis Styles hotel is unique and has its own style and theme. Because Konstanz is located next to the water, it was no surprise that the hotel played into that.

ibis styles Konstanz
The bar at ibis Styles Konstanz

Our Room

We stayed in a family room on the top floor which was perfect because it had 2 separate parts but could also be transformed into one large area. This meant our little boy could sleep peacefully while we watched our favourite series. It includes a small kitchen with a fridge and a bar.

Ibis Styles Konstanz
ibis Styles Konstanz

Breakfast was actually surprisingly good! Croissants, crunchy bread rolls, fruit and healthy oats could be found at the morning buffet. Nice to know: they are currently refurbishing their garden that will feature a Jeu de Boules area and plenty of space for outdoor seating.

WIN WIN WIN

Because we are this years ibis Styles ambassadors, we can make ONE lucky person happy with a free night for 2 people at an ibis Styles Hotel of choice, located in the Benelux! Your free stay will include free wifi and a good breakfast of course. All you need to do is, comment below or below our Facebook post about Konstanz and tag the person you want to take with you! *Please note, that travel cost are not included.

Konstanz City Guide
Yes, that’s me swimming in the river of Konstanz

What to do

  • Schänzle
    Locals enjoy the sunset here and socialise with friends. Locals come here to relax, eat and drink.
  • Bodensee Therme Pool
    If you have kids, you should visit this fun and beautiful outdoor swimming pool. Next door is a therma bath which you need to pay extra for if you want to use it, but you can also swim in the lake. Plenty of slides and a kiddies pool fo the little ones.
  • Strandbad Horn
    Right next to the pool, there is a free sunbathing spot that is lovely. You can swim in Lake Constance and there is a sandy area, plus enough space.
  • Mainau flower island
    Just offshore from Lake Constance you’ll find this very special island with greenhouses, rose gardens, and acres of other beautiful flowers. Because of Konstanz semitropical climate, some of the most stunning flowers grow here.

Swimmingpool Konstanz

Konstanz, Germany
Shopping at Das Voglhaus

Where to Eat

The most important thing about a travel guide is the food right? Konstanz has plenty of choice, but there are some that stand out from the bunch.

  • Holly’s
    Such a nice place by the water with friendly staff and plenty of food choices! The interior is funky stylish, plus they have a huge outside terrace. Oh, and they also have an ice-cream bar that is just too good to skip. hollys.de
  • Wohnzimmer
    Translated to living room and that is exactly what the vibe is. Comfy chairs and sofa’s make it feel like you are stepping into your mothers living room. They mainly serve meat but also veggie burgers. Facebook
  • Das Voglhaus
    This all vegetarian and mostly vegan spot has been around for over 20 years! You can get healthy juices, good coffee, homemade cake and lunch here. Sustainability and animal wellbeing is key here, but they mannaged to combine that with a modern style which turned Das Voglhaus the hotspot of Konstanz. If you walk to the downstairs toilet, you end up in their next door gift shop which is also worth a visit! www.das-voglhaus.de
  • Hafenhalle
    Next to the harbour of Konstanz, you’ll find this traditional Biergarten, bar and restaurant. The food is local and mostly homemade. Come here and stay until the stars appear. www.hafenhalle.com

Hollys Konstanz
Holly’s Konstanz

food and drink at Kon
Veggie hotspot Das Voglhaus

Das Voglhaus Konstanz
Vitamins at Das Voglhaus

In short, Konstanz is a great alternative for a city trip if you are planning to travel through Germany or Switzerland!

Love,

Elke

*This article was written in collaboration with ibis Styles

 

The Manchester Weekend Guide

Manchester is one of the, if not the most, fastest-growing cities in England. Below, we have handpicked and tested some of the newest restaurants and stayed in the snazziest new boutique hotel to make sure your next city break is nothing but top-notch.

Whether you are travelling from within the United Kingdom or further out, Manchester is pretty easy to get to by both train and flights – no excuse not to visit it. If you are not yet convinced about visiting this North-Western city, see here for five reasons why it’s better than London

All the up and coming places in Manchester for your next city break

Where to stay in Manchester

The chic hotel chain Dakota has recently opened its fifth hotel in the country right in the centre of Manchester. It is a maximum five-minute walk from Piccadilly train station. Whilst there are plenty of hotels in Manchester, Dakota is probably the most elegant one you’ll find. I felt like an A-list staying there and that is no exaggeration. Before you even step foot into its front doors, you are greeted by the brightest of smiles and throughout your stay, the staffs are attentive without being intruding, which I find can sometimes be the case with other hotels. Book your stay here.

Dakota Manchester

Breakfast Manchester Guide
Breakfast at Dakota

Where to eat in Manchester

Generally speaking, the food scene here in Manchester is pretty impressive. I’d say its variety of restaurants is almost as competitive as London. Many chains had their first restaurants in London have now made their way up to the North, starting right here in Manchester, and Dishoom is no exception. The menu at this Bombay restaurant works just the same as the ones they have in London, with a few dishes that are exclusively available in Manchester. This includes the delicious and generously portioned Chef’s special and the spicy chilli chicken. Go there for a meal or even just for drinks at night before you hit the clubs next door!

Manchester

But first..

For a nice cup of coffee, head over to Over Under for your caffeine fix. This chic new place in town is a coffee shop by day and a cocktail bar by night. You know who’ll be staying there all day!

Enjoy the creative spin on the modest English dish, fish and chips.

If you’re feeling fancy, indulge in a meal like no others at Six by Nico, a fabulously new restaurant open by the Michelin chef Nico Simeone. While fine dining can be intimidating, Six by Nico makes the experience accessible to all, in its concept and price, and super enjoyable. The six-course meal is the chef’s creative spin on the modest English dish, fish and chips. There’s also an option to take it up a notch by adding an expertly paired wine to your six-course meal for only £26. For those who have to be more cautious with their diet, 3Squared is the first Free-From restaurant in town, serving deliciously good food with care and without 9 of the inflammatory ingredients that are known for causing some of the most common allergies.

Six by Nico Manchester

Worth a mention

While this isn’t exactly a new spot, I couldn’t not give Brewski a shout out – they do the best mac and cheese in town and also a selection of brunch food, coffees and alcoholic beverages! Go there and see (and try) it for yourself! Don’t want to limit yourself to just one cuisine? Make sure you check out the biggest and apparently, the best street food fair every Friday and Saturday at Grub. They also do Plant Powered Sundays with a selection of vegan food for grab with live music. Perfect place to spend your sunny weekend!

You can find beautiful handmade crafts and vintage clothes every first Sunday of the month

What to do in Manchester

To begin with, make your weekend a fun one by challenging your friends to a game of minigolf at Junkyard Golf or a few rounds of darts at Flight Club. This isn’t your usual pub game. This is the most innovative and thrilling game of darts you will ever play, trust me! Can’t decide between shuffleboard or beer pong? In this case, go to Roxy Ball Room on Deansgate and do both!

Markets

Since you’re there for the weekend, why not check out the weekend markets in town? The Makers Market happens twice a month in Manchester. You can find beautiful handmade crafts and vintage clothes every first Sunday of the month in the big open space at Great Northern. Secondly, on the second Sunday of the month on the other side of town in the Northern Quarter, you’ll find everything from freshly baked goods to arts and crafts. For all other Sundays, smell your way to the street food market up in the Piccadilly Gardens

Manchester Guide

What are you waiting for? Book your next weekend getaway to Manchester right now and let us know if you try any of the recommendations above!

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.

More city Guides?

 

 

 

 

7 x Hidden Gems in Valencia

The Spanish city Valencia is the perfect weekend (or holiday) get-away and is only a 2.5-hour flight from the Netherlands. City, beach, park, and sailing, it is all there! However, if you feel like getting off the beaten path and see something different, here are some hidden gems and places that are often overlooked.

Bluebell Coffee

In the neighbourhood of Ruzafa you will find many trendy restaurants and bars. When you are there, take a visit to Bluebell Coffee for a delicious and healthy lunch. On the menu you will find homemade treats such as vegan tarts and banana bread, salads, avocado toast and fresh smoothies. The lovely inner garden is reminiscent of a tropical mini jungle. Carrer de Buenos Aires, 3

Bluebell Valencia

Petticoat Vintage

In trendy Ruzafa, you will also find many designer studios, art galleries and vintage shops. If you are a real vintage fanatic, you will become a real fan of the vintage store Petticoat. As a result, you will find unique pieces of good quality for a very nice price. Carrer de Sueca, 36

Vintage store Valencia

Almalibre

In the historic centre of Valencia, you will find the Açai bar Almalibre. Super fresh, super tasty and with a small terrace, making it the perfect place for lunch in the city centre. On the menu they have many goodies based on the Açai berry, all ecological and responsible. Carrer de Roteros, 16

Jardines de Monforte

The famous Turia park is one of the main attractions in Valencia. Another (smaller) park that is definitely worth a look is the Jardines de Monforte. These gardens are a stone’s throw away from the Turia park, but are skipped by many people. Because the gardens are somewhat hidden, you have to know of its existence to be able to enter it. Therefore, the park is perfect for when you want to enjoy some tranquillity. Carrer de Montfort, S/N

Valencia

El Saler Beach

El Saler beach is a good option if you want to escape the busier city beach. El Saler beach is located about 12 kilometres to the south of the city. The beach is surrounded by nature and has a relaxing dune landscape, with here and there paella restaurants. El Saler

San Tomasso

Stumbling upon this Italian restaurant in the city centre, was like finding a hidden treasure on a pretty lane, with great food and a delightful atmosphere. Secondly, waiters are quite fluent in English and the food was really more than excellent here. Carrer de la Corretgeria, 37

La Fabrica de Hielo

Although there is not much to see on the outside, inside this factory building is a gem that is host to live music, concerts, art workshops and locally sourced food. A wonderful place that is good for the eyes, ears and soul! Almost every day a live band performs in this venue, you can check their daily program hereCalle José Ballester Gozalvo, 37


Extra tips:

  • Ubify is the Uber in Valencia. Download the app and get home easily after a night out!
  • There is a ferry from Valencia to Ibiza, which takes approximately 5 hours. A fun and affordable way to explore Ibiza as well!
  • You can find even more Valencia tips and hotspots in this Guide if you are planning to visit sunny Valencia!

Love,

Iris

 

Why visiting Istanbul during wintertime is a good idea

I have visited a lot of cities in my life but there was always one on top of my city-bucket-list; Istanbul. Why? It’s the perfect mix between Asia and Europe and has so much to offer, even in winter!

Yes, Istanbul is in fact separated by the Bosporus into European and Asian portions. One of my best friends even told me it’s his favorite city in Europe. Time to check it out. Instead of visiting Istanbul during spring or summer, I booked my ticket for the end of February, hoping the weather would be good so far out on the east side of Europe. But one day before I was about to fly, the news reported that Istanbul was coping with the worst snowstorms in 15 years! Bad luck, but ey, that’s traveling and I got to see snow in Istanbul! (That’s me trying to stay positive) Lucky enough it stopped snowing on the day of my departure so I could fly.

Istanbul birds

Getting Around & Good To Know
Arriving in Istanbul it was a little confusing because I wasn’t aware that you need a tourist visa so… that’s my first tip! A tourist visa will cost you 25 euro’s and you can buy this online
here. Always check with your local whether is safe enough to travel due to political issues in the country. Traveling to Istanbul is declared save again since of July 2018. You can also buy the visa on arrival like I did, but then you need to wait in line and it can take a long time getting through customs so my advice is to buy it beforehand. 

During the winter period, it’s less crowded, cheaper but still beautiful

Getting to my hotel was pretty easy. There are big comfy busses going into town and cost 14 Lira, which is about 5 euro’s. They leave every half hour and take you into the city centre in about 1 hour. For more info, check hereThe nearest busstop from my hotel was Taksim Square. This is a famous square which collides with the endless Istiklal street where you can go shopping or visit a nice Starbucks. You can take the Tünel, this is a cute small tram which runs straight through the shopping street.

Tram Istanbul
The Tünel in Istiklal Street

Where to Stay
I booked my hotel via Booking.com and because of the low season, I got a very good rate: 120 euro’s for 3 nights! 
The rate included breakfast and the manager was very friendly and even gave his own Travel Card for me to use. (this is a card you can use for public transport) My only warning, if you are staying near a Mosque (and chances are you will), you will hear the people sing though the loudspeakers, also known as ezan, around 5 times a day. If you are not a morning person, double check your location.

Luxury: Raffles Istanbul (nice view, spa, swimming pool, great service)
Mid Range: Bankerhan Hotel or Sub Karakoy (trendy area!)
Budget: Empress Zoe Hotel (Lush garden, great breakfast. Rooms go from €40,-)

I stayed near the Galata tower and picked this area because it’s authentic and you can really taste the Turkish culture here. The tower itself is worth a visit if you want to check out the nice view and take some good pictures. It will cost you 20 lire to get in and there is a restaurant on the top.

Tip: Go in the morning if you want to skip the queues. From the hotel I could walk right across the street to catch the tram which takes you over the bridge and into the westside of Istanbul. Taking the tram over the Bosporus is only a short ride which takes no longer than 10 min from the Galata area.

istanbul

paint Istanbul
Istanbul is full of spices and colors

On this side there are a few big tourist attractions that are just too good to skip:

» The blue Mosque (make sure you bring a scarf to cover your hair. Same thing applies for the Hagia Sofia)
» Hagia Sofia
» The Grand Bazaar (Great for Turkish shopping like handbags, Scarf, Lamps
» The Spice Market (Get ready for some crazy scents and flavors!)

Istanbul
Inside the blue Mosque

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I loved the Spice Market the most because of all the colours and different tea’s.

Walking through the grand Bazaar Istanbul

Where to Eat & Drink
After a day of walking around, you should definitely take a coffee break or try traditional Salep. My new Turkish addiction. This is a hot milky drink topped off with cinnamon. You can pretty much get it in every Turkish Café. For the best Meze you should try Ciya and At night Istanbul really comes to live. Restaurants stay open late, and it’s rooftop galore with many restaurants and bars that you wouldn’t expect to be hidden away all the way up there.

Here a few of my rooftop favorites:

» 5Kat is a traditional restaurant/bar that has been there forever. You can eat in or outside on the roof terrace. The entrance looks a bit shabby but once you go up, you are rewarded with a wonderful view of the Bosporus. www.5kat.com

» 360 is a great place. For food, drinks and even dancing. Killing view. Reservations are required and leave your sneakers at home. http://www.360istanbul.com/

» Vogue is upscale and also serves sushi for those that are in for a lavish night out. The music isn’t for dancing but for catching up and drinking cocktails. www.voguerestaurant.com

Vogue Istanbul
Vogue Istanbul

» LTERA is a rooftoop restaurant which opens up in the summer. Looking over the river, it has a beautiful view and the food is tasty! http://www.literarestaurant.com/

» Mikla is posh but well worth it if you love to get dressed up one evening and go for that amazing wine & dine experience. It was once voted in the top 50 best restaurants in the world. This a-claimed restaurant also has a rooftop but during the winter it may be closed. www.miklarestaurant.com

Also check out Limonlu Bahçe Beyoglu, this hipster garden is great for amazing coffee, drinks and western style dishes.

drinks Istanbul
Source  Drinks at Limonlu

A little further along side the Bosporus river you have amazing chique clubs like the Supperclub and Reina. I didn’t manage to go there because of the chilly nights but I will be back to try those out!

107635_IMG-20150220-WA0024
Fishermen trying to get their catch of the day

The Asian District
Most tourists only visit the European part of the city but you should definitely take the time for the Asian part! 
There is the lively Kadikoy where you have markets on different days of the week. Small shops and nice lunch spots make this a super fun day trip. To get there, you take the boat across the bosporus which takes about 30 min. When you are departing Istanbul from Sabiha Cökçen airport, you can also take the bus from there which makes it a shorter ride and you can combine this with a visit to this vibrant part of the city.

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Fresh fish at Kadiköy, the Asian part of Istanbul

Be sure to visit Istanbul when it’s a little warmer but even so, it was magical and my friend was right. It’s great!

Love,

Elke

The 3 Day London Guide

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

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

Easyjet naar London
Flying to London is Easy Peasy with Easyjet


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

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

London City Guide
My room view at Motel One

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


The New Road Hotel

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


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

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

London Guide
GBR

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

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

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

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

Camden lock, London City Guide
Vegan food at Camden Lock

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

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

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

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


Duddell’s London


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


Shopping in London’s high street

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Primrose Hill London

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

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

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

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

Neill's Yard London
Neill’s Yard

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

Love,

Elke

 

 

 

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? ↓

The Wanderlust Barcelona Guide!

Barcelona is one of those cities that you keep coming back to. As much as we both love exploring new places, this Spanish delight keeps pulling us back every 2 years or so.

It might has something to do with the fact that Barcelona has a wonderful beach combined with a vibrant nightlife that includes one of the best cuisines in Europe. We booked a weekend away and checked out the newest and best spots so you can relax and enjoy your citytrip. Here’s our Wanderlust Barcelona Guide!

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retrome-hotel
Hotel Retrome

Where to stay

Our hotel was a retro style boutique hotel named Retrome in the lovely area Eixample, close to pretty much everything including the beach. Even though we arrived during high season, the area we stayed in was peaceful yet full of local cafe’s and restaurants. The reception knew our names which made it feel very personal. Something you don’t see everyday. But let’s be real, they already had us when they offered us a free glass of cava ;-). The whole trip was just so well organized. All we did was book and go. And that’s pretty much all you want to do when you’re enjoying a weekend away right?

wanderlust Barcelona Guide

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

It’s one of the first things that comes to mind when you arrive. Food. Food. And more food. Barcelona is a city with many “hotspots” and these are our favorite ones!

» Lulu’s,  It’s a tiny cafe in El Born where you can eat healthy. There are a few tables outside and they serve Iced Matcha Latte’s!
» Nomads coffee, we passed this hipster coffee house by chance and grabbed a coffee to go. They take it serious, so expect a real tasty cup! nomadcoffee.es
» Brunch & Cake, Hotspot number one at the moment. They serve well known dishes in a very special way. Go for the Blue Acai Bowl, Green Bagel and try one of their juices! if you need to wait for a seat (chances are, you will) grab a lovely coffee at De La Crem right across the street. cupcakesbarcelona.com
» The Green Spot, brand new in Barcelona and already one of the best veggie spots in town. It doesn’t matter whether you are a vegetarian or not, the pretty dishes will make your mouth water. Prices are a bit higher than usual. encompaniadelobos.com
» Flax & Kale, not new but still hot, you need to check it out if you are around. Get your phones out, because this is Instagram worthy food! 80{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} of the food they serve is plant based and their slogan is Eat Better, Be Happier, Live Longer. Well, that never hurt anyone, right? teresacarles.com
» Tropico, for the best juices in Barcelona! Inspired by tropical destinations, this hotspot is something you cannot miss out on. tropicobcn.com
» The Surf House, next to the beach you can find this popular joint. The food is healthy, tasty and pretty. The vibe is just like you can imagine from a place like this. Book activities such as paddle surf , beach workouts and surfing of course. Also keep an eye out for their mobile food truck that you will find around Barcelona. surfhousebarcelona.com
» Blai Tonight It’s not big, it might be a bit too popular but we still think you should try it. Blai tonight is located in the Poble Sec area and has been voted as one of the top 10 places to go when it comes to your value for money. Their famous Pinchos only cost €1,50 and if you do it well, you can eat for only 10 euro per person including your drink! Facebook

food-in-barcelona-wander-lust
From left to right: Lulu’s, The Surf House, Brunch & Cake and Nomad Coffee

COCKTAILS & DANCE

Barcelona offers a great nightlife. As a first time visitor you may run to the Las Ramblas but we would advise you to avoid this tourist trap and visit some other places where the cocktails are also flowing and the atmosphere is great.

» Champagneria, the name might ring a bell, Cava galore! Facebook
» The Mint, They say some of the best Mojito’s are made here..That’s enough right?! Facebook
» Yurbban, this hotel has a cool rooftop with one of the best views in Barcelona. You can only use the pool if you are a guest but you are welcome to enjoy a few drinks during the day or night. yurbban.com
» Jamboree, if you like jazz, this is your club! masimas.com
» Zero KM, combine dinner with drinks and stay until they close. They serve tapas with a twist and the food can be described at high end.
» La Terazza, this club and bar is tucked away in the Olympic village, so you must know that it’s there. This outdoor club hosts parties and plays good music until the early hours. laterrrazza.com
» Elrow, If you feel like a real crazy party with confetti, attributes and costumes, you must visit an El Row party. Originated from Barcelona, this infamous techno club is now making waves all over the world with parties in Amsterdam, Dubai and New York. Some of the best DJ’s play at the club and during the summer months there are several events so keep an eye out on the website. elrow.es

Yurbban Hotel Rooftop, Wanderlust Barcelona Guide
The rooftop of the Yurbban hotel

EXTRA TIPS

» Rent a bicycle we can’t say this enough. Really, it’s the best way to see the city. We got ours for 15 euro per 24 hours bit there are many options throughout the city where you can rent one.
» Visit Bunkers del Carmel aka “Bunkers” for the best viewing point. A friend tipped us about this old bunker build on a hill back in the 30’s. Not everybody knows about this special place and it’s worth seeing the sunrise or sunset if you have the time.
» Talk to the locals, we always do this and this trip was no exception. It brought us to a cool graffiti skate park!

Cycling in Barcelona, Wanderlust Barcelona Guide
Cycling had to be a part of our wanderlust Barcelona guide

Wanderlust Barcelona Guide
Cycling through the Parc de les Tres Xemeneies

I don’t think we need to convince you to go to Barcelona but maybe we have convinced you to go back, yet again. 

Love,

Wander-Lust

More tips about other Spanish destinations? Check our Spain section!

11 tips for a City Trip to Barcelona

Oh how we love Barcelona! The city that has a beach and some of the best food cultures in Europe! We’ve written a few articles about this vibrant city but we’ve never actually given you a small city guide which will make your stay even better. (we hope!). Enjoy our 11 tips for a city trip to Barcelona!

FOOD
Let’s start with some amazing food spots because one of the things you want to do when you find yourself in Barcelona, is eating. A lot. Besides the traditional Tapas and Paella, there are more restaurants and cafes to make you wild.

  1. Surfhouse Barcelona The perfect spot for the kids of Barcelona. The food is healthy, tasty and pretty. The vibe is just like you can imagine from a place like this. It may feel like you’re in California for a minute because of the surfers vibe. Book activities such as paddle surf , beach workouts and surfing of course. Also keep an eye out for their mobile food truck that you will find around Barcelona. www.surfhousebarcelona.com
  2. Blai Tonight It’s not big, it might be a bit too popular but we still think you should try it. Blai tonight is located in the Poble Sec area and has been voted as one of the top 10 places to go when it comes to your value for money. Their famous Pinchos only cost €1,50 and if you do it well, you can eat for only 10 euro per person including your drink! Facebook
  3. Trópico Just check out their Instagram account and your mouth will begin to water. Inspired by tropical destinations, this hotspot is something you cannot miss out on. www.tropicobcn.com
  4. Candendê Breakfast and Brunch for champions! They prepare your eggs in the best way possible and they serve some killer pancakes and bagels. www.candende.com
  5. Flax & Kale We know this isn’t new but we needed to add it on the list. Get your phones out because every dish is Instagramable! (is that even a word?) 80{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} of the food they serve is plant based and their slogan is Eat Better, Be Happier, Live Longer. Well, that never hurt anyone, right? www.teresacarles.com

Surfshop Barcelona
Pretty food at the Surfhouse Barcelona Source

Flax & Kale Barcelona
Still popular and not without reason. Flax & Kale Source

DRINKS & DANCE
After some good food Barcelona offers a great nightlife. As a first time visitor you may run to the Las Ramblas but we would advise you to avoid this tourist area and visit some other places where the cocktails and atmosphere are great.

  1. El Row If you feel like a real crazy party with confetti, attributes and costumes, you must visit an El Row party. Originated from Barcelona, this infamous techno club is now making waves all over the world with parties in Amsterdam, Dubai and New York. Some of the best DJ’s play at the club and during the summer months there are several events so keep an eye out on the website. www.elrow.es
  2. La Terrrazza This club and bar is tucked away in the Olympic village, so you must know that it’s there. This outdoor club hosts parties and plays good music until the early hours. www.laterrrazza.com
  3. Dry Martini Cocktail Bar This is one of the most famous cocktail bars in Barcelona if not in the world. It first opened back in 1971 and was famous for their dry martini’s. They now serve exiting and innovating drinks you should try out! You can find bars in Europe, USA and Asia. www.drymartiniorg.com
  4. Pulitzer Hotel Rooftop or Grand Hotel Skybar It’s hard to make a choice between these two because one is cozy and tropical (Pulitzer) and the other (The Grand Hotel) has an infinity pool. Both are great for evening drinks! www.hotelpulitzer.es / www.grandhotelcentral.com
  5. Makamaka Also great for food but maybe even better for cocktails! Ironically a couple of Dutch guys were involved in this project back in 2012. It’s where the locals and travelers meet. Start sipping on the cocktails early before heading into town! www.makamaka.es

La Terrazza Barcelona
Summer parties at La Terrrazza Source

infinity-pool-grand-hotel-barcelona
The Skybar at The Grand Hotel Source

STAY
There are many good options in Barcelona but we love El Born. This little Barcelona maze is a barrio perfectly located near the beach, the center of the city and Parc de la Ciutadella. Its filled with bars, little shops and locals.

  1. AB Apartment Barcelona If you’re looking for a place to stay, this is the website you want to look at. Full with apartments in all different shapes and sizes throughout the city, it’s perfect for a city break or holiday period. It’s the home from home and all apartments include a kitchen, allowing you to prepare your very own home-cooked meals, or even try some Mediterranean inspired dishes! Bonus: when you book here you’ll also get great discounts on many top attractions and activities throughout the city. www.apartmentbarcelona.com

barcelona-apartments-731-0
One of the AB Apartments in Barcelona

We hope these tips for a city trip to Barcelona will make your stay even more enjoyable!

Love,

Wander-Lust

*We’ve collaborated with AB Apartment Barcelona for this article.

Falafel galore at hotspot Bar Kaufmann

If you’re a vegetarian you’re going to be very happy with this hotspot but wait, who am I kidding? Even if you’re not, you’re going to love love love this place! A little hidden in a side street in Amsterdam West, Bar Kaufmann is great for food lovers all over Amsterdam.

The name might confuse you a little bit at first because it doesn’t really sounds like a restaurant that serves falafel but it’s actually the last name of owner Saskia Kaufmann. She decided to collaborate with Iranian chef Azar that she met during her time at food concept Van Ver. She was tipped by a friend to start a falafel bar and Miss Kaufmann listened. 

On the Menu
Falafel! Of course, but many many options! Sarah and I tried the original falafel in a pita because we were really hungry. Sarah chose the Pita Falafel with Feta cheese while I picked the Pita Falafel with spicy green peppers and pickles. Both pita’s have a lovely tasting Tzatziki inside and the pita itself was so crunchy! You can order a side order of tasty fries or go for the healthy option and order the sweet potato fries.

Pita Falafel at Bar Kaufmann
Our Pita’s Falafel at Bar Kaufmann

If a full on pita falafel is a bit too much, Bar Kaufmann also has 2 great falafel salads on the menu. We also really love the interior, it’s cozy, trendy and has some interesting art on the walls. (check it for yourself) Besides the food, they have a wide selection of beers to choose from and during the weekend they open until 3am so this calls for an invite! 

Love,

Elke

 

Bar Kaufmann
Reinier Claeszenstraat 4B H, Amsterdam

Tel 020-8461606 / Website
*Header photo source: Facebook Bar Kaufmann

More hotspots in Amsterdam? Check out our Amsterdam Guide!