This is how you score the cheapest flights!

We all want it; score the cheapest flights. Did you know that there are several tricks you can use in order to do so? Here are 6 tips on how you do it.

1. Identify the cheapest day to fly
Yes, flying on Saturday can be way more expensive than flying on a Monday for example. This also varies per destination, so do your research and you’ll save money on flights

32% of individuals prefers to spend their money on travel

2. Frequent Flyer Miles
You may not even realize that you have saved aviator points on your flights. I fly with KLM a lot, so I tend to look for flights with them for far distance flights. Every time you fly, you save up points and you can use them to reduce cost or to upgrade yourself into business class. Also check which airlines your credit card company is connected to before you make your decision. If you live in The States, your airline preference will be a lot different than if you live in Europe. One rule always applies; the higher your ticket price, the more miles you save. 

hand infront of window seat plane

3. Do the Math
Sometimes is cheaper to buy 2 one-way tickets instead of one return. This is rarely the case, but it does happen sometimes. I did this for my trip to Australia once. I arrived in November and departed early February so I left just after the high season, which made it a better deal.

4. Consider a different airport
Amsterdam Schiphol isn’t the only airport in The Netherlands right? You have Rotterdam and Eindhoven, plus you can take a peek at the neighbours in Düsseldorf. A different airport can save you a lot of money. However, you need to travel there first, so check how much extra time and cash it will cost you, so that it’s worth the fuss.


You in a couple of months?

5. Set a fare alert
We understand you can’t be on your laptop forever trying to look for the cheapest flight. Therefore you can set a fare alert which will notify you when there is a good deal for your favourite destination. You get the alert right into your mailbox, super easy!

But now the biggest tip of them all:

6. Use a travel metasearch website
There are websites that researches all the above mentioned points so you don’t have to do the work. Our favourite website to do so is called momondo. Based on billions of data from searches at momondo, it tells you how to find the best flight tickets from Amsterdam to Europe and the rest of the world. It compares all the different airlines, so that you don’t have to. What is more:

1. Their flight forecast in flight search results tells you how many days in advance to book for specific destination, which day of the week is the cheapest to fly and what time of a day is your best bet.

2. In the end this will save you some cash to spend more on cocktails! 😉

3. They also offer hotels and car hire, always handy!

 

And best of all, using this website is completely free of charge. Their prices won’t go up because of the saved cookies on your desktop (that you see with different airline websites) so it’s always a Win-Win! Check here to find the cheapest flights on momondo.

Did you know that January, February, March are the best months to book your European summer holiday? What are you waiting for, get booking for the cheapest flights!

Love,

Elke

More travel tips?

8 x tips for an Amazing Citytrip to Leeuwarden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

leeuwarden-emmakade-winter

Where to eat in Leeuwarden

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

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

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

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

Where to stay in Leeuwarden

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

Post Plaza, Leeuwarden
Hotel Post Plaza

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

Van der valk hotel Leeuwarden
Van Der Valk Hotel

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

Love,

Sharmaine

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

A little town called Durham

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

What to see

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

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

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

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


What to do

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

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

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

Durham

Durham street


Where to stay

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

Hotel indigo Durham
Hotel Indigo (source)


What to eat

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

coffee in Durham

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

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.

5 x Slightly Less Touristy Places in London

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

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

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

London books

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

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

Less touristy spots in London

4. LittleVenice
6 Park Place Villas, London

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

Little Venice London

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

Love,

Iris

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

More City Trips & Guides?

6 reasons why Madrid should be on your City Trip list

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

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

Madrid

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

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

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

Madrid

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

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

Perfect starting point for day-trips

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

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

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

Hola Madrid

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

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

Love,

Eva

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

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

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 Wanderlust Bangkok City Guide

Bangkok, the urban jungle that you must experience once in your lifetime. If you are planning a holiday to Thailand, you’re likely to settle in Bangkok for the first few days. Here are 15 things to see and do in just a small amount of time.


Chaotic Bangkok

Where to Eat
There are plenty of places to feed your belly, but if you have just a few days, we can imagine, you do not want to take the risk of  picking a bad restaurant. We’ve selected 6 tasty, Instagramable places to eat!

Bangkok is full of Instagrammable hotspots

» Unicorn Cafe

It’s as crazy as it sounds, and still extremely popular. It’s located a little bit outside the city center so you need to be a devoted unicorn lover to get there. Because of it’s popularity, they have 2 locations in the same street. You can’t make a reservation so try to visit after lunchtime or in the morning. Feast your eyes on rainbow wallpaper and eat the multi layered unicorn cake (which tasted pretty good actually!) If you want, you can pay extra for a unicorn onesie and have your picture taken. I passed, but still managed to find my inner child! Facebook.com/Unicornbrand

Unicorn Cafe Bangkok
Unicorn Everything at the Unicorn Café

» Matchbox Pinkplanter

Matchbox is a franchise that mainly sells clothes and accessories, but they’ve recently opened up a café on the top floor of one of their shops in Siam. Everything is pink and tropical. Phrases like “You had me at Aloha” or “Love you very matcha”, are written on the walls, next to the large flamenco that you see when you walk in. So what can you order? Cotton candy ice-cream, cloudy bread buns, milkshakes and more. instagram.com/pinkplanter.cafe

» Nara

Like many restaurants in Bangkok, this place is located inside a shopping mall. It looks different from all the others though. Because of the fountain and wooden interior, Nara has a luxury feel to it but the prices are very affordable. I ordered a traditional Pad Thai with shrimps, that is suppose to be in the top 5 best Pad Thai’s in Bangkok. www.naracuisine.com

Matchbox Pinkplanter Bangkok
Instagrammable Matchbox Pinkplanter

Matchbox Pinkplanter, bangkok

» Eat Side Story

This Thai restaurant is situated next to the river Wat Arun. Here you can enjoy traditional Thai dishes whilst overlooking the river of Bangkok. From here you can also take a express boat tour and see why Bangkok was once called the “Venice of the East”. From there you can also visit the famous reclining Buddha. www.eatsightstorydeck.com

» Namsaah Bottling Trust

Perfect for couples or if you’re looking for a fancy night out! The pink building resembles a French boudoir, especially on the inside! It’s located in between the streets of Bangkok and serves high end Thai food with a twist. Tip: Try one of their colourful cocktails! www.namsaah.com

Namsaah Bottling Trust
Like a French boudoir in the middle of Bangkok!

Tip » There are a few dates a year that you can’t drink alcohol in Thailand. The Thai people celebrate Buddha day for example. On this public holiday the whole city doesn’t serve alcohol. Not in hotels or restaurants. Really in need of a beer? The mini bar in your hotel is your best friend. Do not drink in public or you can face a fine of 10.000 bath!

Where to Shop

There are several reasons why you should shop in Bangkok. For one, there are more shopping malls in this Asian city than you will ever see, and two, if you shop the right way, you will find yourself with the best bargains.

» MKB
 Center
This mall is the best for cheap gifts, clothes and electronics. The food court on the top floor has some of the best sushi rolls! If you are staying near the river, you can take a water taxi for just 10 bath and get the local experience. 

» Siam Discovery
Relatively new, this mall is not cheap but it’s very trendy. No surprise that you find the 20 -30 age group shopping here. From cool brands and fashion designers to funky coffee bars and gadgets, you will find it here.

Night Market Bangkok
Nightmarket in Bangkok

» Rot Fai Night Market, Srinakarin
You must check out this night market in Bangkok. Like every night market, it’s chaotic, colourful and vibrant. The Rot Fai market is huge and split into 3 different sections. It’s open from 5pm until midnight from Thurs – Sun. Grab a taxi to get here but always request the cabdriver to turn on his meter!

» Chang Chui Bangkok Plane Market
This market is hip & happening and totally different than all the others. With a plane as the centrepiece of the market, it’s already impressive. You can find art objects, food, crafts beers and one of a kind shirts and accessories. Enjoy Thai and mainstream music performances, while eating burgers or sipping on fruit smoothies. Be one of the cool kids and check out this amazing market! It’s fairy easy to get to by taxi if you stay in the old part of the city.

Chang Chui Bangkok Plane Market
The cool Chang Chui Plane Market (source: Hotels.com)

Where to Stay

If you just had a 12 hour flight, there is nothing better than a luxury hotel, to get you though the first days. Thankfully, Bangkok has quite a few and they don’t always have to cost much.

The breakfast buffet probably has the healthiest options I’ve seen in Bangkok to date

» SO Sofitel Bangkok (luxurious)
One of the best hotels in Bangkok in my opinion. Why? Well, the rooftop swimming pool for one! Oh, and the rooms are super big with the most amazing view over the skyline and green park. The restaurant has 2 restaurants, Red Oven & Park Society, and the breakfast buffet probably has the healthiest options I’ve seen in Bangkok to date. I also had a little peek in the spa and although I didn’t have the time to book a massage here, I can only imagine how good it would be. Rooms start at around 150 euro per night. Book it here!

SO Sofitel, Bangkok
SO Sofitel was like a dream

» Prince Du Port Hotel
 (medium)
The first ever time I stayed in Bangkok, I was given the tip to stay here. What a great place to start from! It’s not as luxurious as the SO Sofitel but this hotel also has a rooftop pool and is located near Koh San Road with only a 20 minute walk. The hotel is located next to the river, so you can take the traditional water transportation which takes you right into the city for just 10 bath! Rooms are available for as little as 25 euro per night. Book it here!

» Dream Hotel (Budget)
It has been rated as one of the best budget hotels in Bangkok by the UK Telegraph. The rooms are described as funky and futuristic, yet comfortable. It it located on Sukhumvit Road and you’ll find all sorts of travelers here. Business, couples and even backpackers. It is clean and has a rooftop pool, which is something you need in Bangkok! Rooms are available for as little at 40 euro per night.


One of the best rooftop pools in Bangkok, SO Sofitel

Where to get the Best Massages

With so many massage places, it’s hard to choose the best one but I’ve tried and tested a few and did some research. These ones stand out and cure that jetlag in no time!

» Water Gate Spa

It took a while for me to find it but it was worth it. It’s a tiny door hidden between the street market and right across from the Platinum Mall. For only 300 bath, you can get a Thai or foot massage and if you pay 500 bath, you get 2 hours! facebook.com/watergatespa

» Grand Massage & Spa in MBK
Right in the busy shopping center MBK, you will find this wonderful massage and spa. A room to shower yourself after the massage (yes, it can get quite oily) grandmassageandspa.com

» SoSpa at SO Sofitel Bangkok
If you’re going to stay here anyways, you should definitely try one of the massages. There are several options and although it’s about the same price you pay overseas, you will feel like a million dollars afterwards. Check it out here.

SO Sofitel Spa Bangkok
A spa with a view.. SO Sofitel

There you have it, plenty of things to do when you’re in Bangkok. Let us know which of our tips you’ve have used by tagging us on Instagram! @wanderlust.nl

Love,

Elke

More Thailand?

Ghent Light Festival

Although I normally write about traveling with kids, this time I’m posting in the category: trip without kids. Time to escape the life of a working mom so me and my hubby went off exploring Ghent. Luckily for me: The Ghent Light Festival just arrived!

The Ghent Light Festival
For 5 days, people can discover 37 light projects through the city centre. It’s a 6.6 km long route and you’ll be  amazed by ‘the museum of the moon’, where visual artist Luke Jerram brings us closer to the moon than ever before. Also the forgotten dragon from multi media specialist Create is quite impressive. 


The incredible blue moon at the Ghent Light Festival

Besides the great Light festival Gent has so much more to offer. In 2011 Ghent was named Europe’s best kept secret and I totally understand why. This city has lots of historical buildings, fun bars & little shops where you can buy typical stuff like: Ghents noses (sweets) en their famous mustard (you can find them at the “groentenmarkt” square). 

Street Art
Did you know that Ghent also has amazing street art and graffiti? Everywhere in Ghent you’ll find walls covered in colors and art. Although graffiti is supposedly banned here, there are still a few places where authorities do allow it. The Werregarenstraat is a fine example of this. Fun fact: There is a graffiti artist who created ‘Kortpaard’. It’s basically a wide spread yellow horse which can be found throughout the whole city. It was first meant to be a symbol towards rules but now it’s known for the feeling of solidarity between people who are a bit disobedient (aren’t we all sometimes?).

Ghent

Hotspots
» Holy food market; inspired by the food halls in Barcelona, Rotterdam and Copenhagen.

» Aroy Aroy (pop-up); A fixt menu inspired by the Thai cuisine
» The Cobler (bar in Hotel 1898 The Post) – In this new hotel you can find lots of special cocktails). Don’t forget to visit the toilet; it’s perfectly decorated.
» De meacht van Ghent – definitely should try the new Gin tonic!
» The Belfort tower; the middle of the famous Ghent tower row and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999
» Gravensteen; a castle that for centuries has determined the view of the city center of Ghent

If you have kids, bring home a cupcake from Julie’s house. They will love it (mine did)!

For more info about the Ghent Light Festival visit Lichtfestival.stad.gent

Love,

Cheryl

*Cheryl is a mother of 2, with a love for travel. Having 2 kids didn’t stop her from traveling the world and she has become somewhat of an expert when it comes to traveling with children. She will write for Wander-Lust once a month where she will provide you with the best traveling tips for and with children! Find out more on her blog: travellingwithkids.nl

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

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!

City trip Istandbul