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

 

The Shoreditch Guide | London

Quite possibly home to one of the coolest streets in London, Shoreditch is that rare gem of a neighbourhood that fuses ye-old London Town with a ‘right here, right now’ sensibility. Shoreditch High Street is where the main hustle and bustle is taking place. Spending a day here guarantees top quality breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktail options. The adjoining side streets will delight and distract you with temptations coming from an eclectic range of boutique shops, hotels and other look-in spots.

Shoreditch Guide

If you’re an early riser then look no further than Albion – a trendy all-day British cafe, bar and grocery shop which sits as part of the Boundary Project Hotel. Famed for its simple yet delicious food the menu delivers seasonal produce and artisan ingredients. The grilled sweet potato plate with English feta, avocado and spinach will keep you well stocked for the day ahead and is quite the pairing with a Mimosa. Take a seat outside and watch the world go by – the locals here have a distinctive dress sense which will surely inspire.

Shoreditch London

Shopping

Looking to lighten your wallet and hit the shops? You have plenty to choose from here. Firstly, the quirky interiors emporium House of Hackney hits the spot for anyone looking for bold prints and exotic patterns. Secondly, Pam Pam is a womenswear clothing and lifestyle store and is a must visit for any millennial looking for a new sneaker. Finally, A.P.C. and Aesop also have outposts here that invite you in to wish up your Christmas list.

Shop Shoreditch, London

For something a bit different Barber & Parlour is a space to shop and relax in while also specialising in grooming for men and women. Owned by the famed Soho House Group (Shoreditch House occupies the building opposite). This casual-cool establishment offers everything from hairdressing to beard grooming, massages and mani/pedis all available on a walk-in basis. Their onsite cafe serves up an all-day breakfast and brunch menu and stellar cocktails. While the Electric Cinema in the basement gives audiences a unique cinema-going experience. Mainstream, independent and world cinema, you can find it here.

Street Art

Shoreditch also delights visitors and locals alike with its vibrant graffiti and street art scene. If you’re looking to discover more behind this once taboo art form, The Alternative Walking Tour of East London will help you discover the past and present of this cultural and creative hub through an illustrated and fascinating adventure.

Shoreditch, London

Kick start your night at Pizza East with rustic hand-made pizzas served in an atmospheric hall-like environment. This popular joint is situated in a former tea warehouse. With daily-changing specials and wood-wood-oven pizzas, this is a must visit. The veal meetball pizza on their a la carte menu ticks many a box.

Pizza East, Shoreditch
Pizza East

Other recommendations

To cram into a day out in Shoreditch include: Box Park – a pop-up mall for independent and global lifestyle store and street-food options with a difference. Each vendor is housed in a shipping container. Dishoom – is always worth a visit – is a beautifully decorated Indian brasserie with a bohemian feel and incredible menu. If you’re there for breakfast try the Bacon Naan Roll, you won’t be disappointed. The Ace Hotel has an outpost further up on Shoreditch High Street and delivers a premier hipster hotspot with working spaces, stylish rooms and the ever-popular Hot Polloi restaurant. East London also offers some very nice rooftops, so when the weather is nice, go up!

cafe in Shoreditch

In conclusion, Shoreditch embraces an ever-changing culture. Step in and experience life as if there wasn’t a care in the world. If you’ve got anywhere from an hour to a full day to spare in this city, head along as soon as possible.

Love from London,

Stephanie

*Stephanie is our guest editor from London. She works for a large fashion brand and loves to explore new eateries and pretty corners whenever she has the chance. Follow her on Instagram

The 3-day London Guide is here!

3 days London City Guide

The Marrakech Guide 2019

Stunning gardens, rooftop bars, cozy riads, narrow streets, famous souks and the rich smells of the Moroccan kitchen. Today, Marrakech is one of the most popular city destinations for travellers and we totally understand why. We fell in love immediately. Where do you need to go to and which rumours are true? Here is an up to date Marrakech Guide for 2019!

Good to know:

Is it safe to walk around in Marrakech?
Yes it is! People in Marrakech are super friendly. Usually, google maps is your best friend, but not everywhere in Marrakech unfortunately. So try to remember how to walk back to your riad. Tip: Drop a pin in google maps.

Is Marrakech full of tourist traps?
Unfortunately, scams in the city do happen. Kids offer to help you to find the way for free. Once you have arrived you need to pay. They try to mislead you into the wrong direction too. This can be super annoying at first, but after one day you know what to do. Just say no, merci. Make sure you keep your personal belongings close to you, but this applies to all cities in the world.

Walking around in Marrakech

Houses and buildings are made out of red sandstone, therefore Marrakech is known as ‘The Red City’

Tip! Taxis are not always able to drop you at the doorstep of your riad, you always need to walk the last part.

What should you wear?
There’s no dresscode, but I would stick with long skirts and dresses to avoid stares from locals. Remember that you are in a different country with another culture which we should respect. Bring something that will cover the shoulders.

Marrakech guide 2019

Sarah in Marrakech 2019

Is Marrakech expensive? 
Marrakech is not cheap compared to Greece for example, especially when you visit pools in Hotels and eat in famous hotspots like El Fenn, Nomads etc. However, if you visit the more local restaurants and markets, prices drop. A taxi from the airport will cost you around 15 euro and from Medina to the new city around 10 euro. Always negotiate a price upfront!

The streets of Marrakech 2019

Where to stay?

Don’t waste your money on the bigger hotels in Marrakech but stay at a traditional riad! Most of them are in the Medina, so you’re nearly always walking distance from the main square.

We stayed in Riad Dar Vima for only 40 euro per night! A beautiful and serene riad, run by couple Leonie (Dutch) and Soufian (Moroccan). This is the place where you should stay. You will stay in comfy beds, surrounded by beautiful furniture, a great rooftop with nice sunbeds and local Moroccan breakfast, which is prepared by the mother of the riad Aziza which is included. They helped us with everything! From Riad Dar Vima you walk to the souks in about 7 minutes. A big plus: you are not woken up by early prayers, it’s quiet and peaceful!

Riad Marrakech guide 2019

Riad
Riad Da Vima


Where to Eat

Nomad is a popular modern Moroccan eatery with an amazing view. Also, vegetarians and pescatarians will be happy to eat here because the restaurant serves simple and delicious “Modern Moroccan” dishes. From chickpea salads with tzatziki, avocado and barley with celery and sesame seeds to roasted cauliflower in ras-el-hanout, harissa and turmeric butter, served over a bed of herb infused couscous, for 9 euro. They open every day from noon till 23h.

Naraj restaurant is the place for you if you love Lebanese food. The restaurant is located in the middle of the Medina. A great restaurant with a beautiful rooftop, friendly service and delicious food!! The menu is not large, but everything on there is worth trying!


Naraj restaurant

Le jardin Tucked away in a small street in the medina you’ll find this green oasis in a beautifully renovated 16th Century building. When entering it looks small, but eventually you will walk into a lush garden dotted with tables and lights surrounded by the majestic building and the terraces! We passed it so many times and on our last day we decided to have lunch here. Glad we did! Our fave dish, the Kofta tagine with egg and tomato sauce is only 10 euro.

Le jardin Marrakech
Le Jardin

Le jardin food

Café Arabe has a lounge-bar-restaurant on the terrace with a great view. We ordered wine, cocktails and small bites only. Good to know: They sell alcohol during Ramadan if you really want it.

El Fenn is a lovely setting for lunch. Here they serve traditional Moroccan dishes but also offer a European menu. Try the fresh mint juice, divine! You can also book a hotel room here, but it will come at a price.

El Fenn
El Fenn

Limoni restaurant with Moroccan and Italian cuisine is a hidden gem close to our Riad. With a shaded patio and terrace.

+61 You will find a super modern restaurant in ‘new town’, owned and run by Australian Cassandra Karinsky. Marrakech is home to some top-notch eateries and this place is definitely one you should check out. I took the homemade ricotta red peppers capers piadina for 6.40 euro and salmon with pickles and bread for 11 euro.

+61 Marrakech

61+ Marrakech
Stylish +61

Comptoir Darna Someone tipped this legendary and traditional restaurant, located in the Rue Ahmed Chaqui in the heart of the buzzing Hivernage district. With dinner and a belly dancing show at the same time. An experience you won’t forget that easy. It’s a popular destination where people start with a drink on their terrace, have dinner during the event and end the night dancing with a tasteful cocktail.

Le foundouk Eat on the stunning rooftop terrace by candle light for a very romantic setting. I chose the Gyozas with chicken (Japanese ravioli) – ginger and coriander for 10 euro, the Moroccan pastilla with chicken and almonds (sweet and salty) and the Chicken tagine with preserved lemons.

Rooftop bar Marrakech
Rooftops with stunning views! (we forgot the name of this place unfortunately)

Where to Shop

Loose yourself in the souks! It’s a must see and a wonderful experience. You can get lost for hours. You immediately want to buy everything you see, but wait for your last day! Prices usually start quite high, so be prepared to negotiate. Tip! Try to buy carpet, lamps etc. just outside the souks. 

Shopping in Medina, Marrakech

Djemaa el Fna is the biggest Souk but also the most touristic one. For a more traditional experience we would recommend Marché el Mellah. But be warned if you’re an animal lover, you’re going to see a lot of animals (especially chickens)., and unfortunately, they’re not there for the cosiness.

Mirrors in Marrakech

Most people buy their treasures inside the souks, but we bought most items next to our Riad Dar Vima. You will find many small local shops here. If you are looking for a handmade carpet or rug, buy it with Mohamed, he has the best there is! He sells carpets with beautiful patterns, shapes and colours and pretty blankets. Each one has a unique style and every rug is handmade on a loom, which you can see with your own eyes. Next door there is also a shop that sells traditional Moroccan lamps.

Carpets in Marrakech
Beautiful carpets. Prices vary per size

Spices

Souk Marrakech
Visit the local markets

Where to Relax

Temperatures can rise up to 40 degrees in Marrakech so you need some options to cool off. Besides that, all that shopping and eating can make you tired so if you want to put your feet up, you have some wonderful options.

Selman. If you would like to escape the city for a moment then you should definitely check out Selman! It will blow your mind the minute you enter. It’s not very cheap though. A full day at the pool including a massage, hammam and lunch will cost you 1500 dirham (140 euro). However, the pool boys serve free water and juice throughout the day! 

Swimming pool Marrakech guide
The stunning pool at Selman

Spa Marrakech

The Beldi Country Club
Like many people I choose to go to the Beldi Country Club, where you can spend some time by the pool with a beautiful garden. You can book a package deal of 36 euro where lunch (2 course meal) and pool access are included. If you go for the pool only, it will cost you 19 euro. On top we booked the hammam and spa treatment of 73 euro. Unfortunately, the steam didn’t really work and the body scrub- and wash was not what we expected. Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable and relaxing! Your skin will feel like a newborn!

Beldin Country Club Marrakech
At the Beldi Country Club

There is more

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

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

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

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

Marrakech streets

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

Le Jardin Majorelle
Don’t think you will escape the chaos of the medina when you visit le Jardin Majorelle. Come in as early as possible to avoid the crowds. If you are a botanical lover you must visit this colourful and beautiful garden with plants from all over the world, like cactus, jasmines, bougainvillea, palm trees, coconut trees, banana trees, bamboo and more. The creator of the garden was Jacques Majorelle, a French painter, that opened the garden to the public in 1947 to help offset their costly maintenance. Entrance is just 6,5 euro.

Le Jardin Majorelle
Le Jardin Majorelle

Le jardin Marrakech

We heard many mix opinions about Marrakech but we would go back in a heartbeat! In conclusion, it was as stunning as you see on the photo’s and the people were very friendly. Just remember that you are stepping into a different culture and as a woman you may need to adjust a little. Nevertheless, we tip Marrakech as a must visit!

Love,

Sarah

Artist Residence | The perfect getaway in Brighton

Brighton is somewhere you can plan an idyllic weekend escape, especially during the warmer summer months. This coastal city is only 30 minutes on the train from London Gatwick Airport, or 1 hour from London city itself. Known for its pier, thriving creative industries and nightlife, it’s little wonder that stylish boutique hotel Artist Residence is seen as such a destination and as a celebration of this quaint and quirky city.

Artist Residence

Located on a quiet street at the top of historic Regency Square and spanning two 19th-century townhouses, this quintessentially English set up is within a 10-minute walk from all the buzz of the city. But with everything you’d need on site, due to its well-rounded atmosphere you may not want to venture far at all. Upon arrival, it’s quite clear that almost every guest has made the happy decision to tuck themselves away in this hotel and not move far. In essence, this is an ideal place for couples looking for a weekend getaway to switch off and unwind.

Brighton
Brighton beach

Interiors

Artist Residence was so named due to its characterful interiors. When the founder Justin Sailsbury inherited the hotel from his parents in his early twenties, he enlisted local artists to decorate each room in return for boarding at the hotel. Brighton’s art scene draws in the crowds, so this perfect plan resulted in sophisticatedly playful rooms which feel individual yet part of a collective red thread.

Pop-art and posters and retro furniture makes for an eclectic vibe in each room, this is comfortable luxury at its finest.

Artist Residence Brighton

Artist Residence Brighton lamp

Bedrooms

With 25 bedrooms to cater for, staff are attentive, friendly and effortlessly helpful. When you walk into each room, Jazz FM oozes an invitation to simply chill out and relax. For where else would you rather be but sinking into their divinely comfortable beds or lounging back in an armchair overlooking Brighton’s coast? (And thinking how to incorporate similar design elements into your own home!) Soft furnishings – from the pristine white bedding to the textured cushions – perfectly compliment the neutrally painted walls and bedside angle-poise lamps bring a retro-filled nostalgia to each room. Finishing touches are mirrors and the rather fabulous artwork. If you’re lucky enough to bag the grandest suite in the hotel, you’ll find it hard to check out: a four-poster bed competes with a copper slip bath as the focal point for the room.

bathtub at Artist Residence Brighton
Bathtub goals!

Facilities

Should you decide to leave your elegant bohemia bedroom, you can head to cocktail bar The Set for a pre-dinner toast, and then sit down in their cosy, quirky restaurant The Fix. Here you’ll find hotel residents and locals alike sampling a delightful menu featuring creative yet tasty ingredients. After your meal, guests can play ping-pong in the basement before enjoying a nightcap. Each room comes with an inviting wall-mounted bar with red wine, miniature local spirits and nibbles to make your stay even more pleasing. Three course tasting menus start at £31 per person.

In short, this stylish boutique hotel is one of five (the other locations include London, Oxford, Cornwall and Bristol) and quite the unique, on-trend, fun and friendly place to eat, drink and sleep. Small rooms are available from £95 per night. Book now.

Love,

Stephanie

The Leeuwarden Guide 2019

Leeuwarden was voted the culture capital of Europe last year, and since then the city has been buzzing. New restaurants and shops pop up like mushrooms which resulted in more visitors than ever before. Time to check out the city of Fryslân everyone is talking about!

Bye bye hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, hello hello fresh air, calmness and…sugar bread! 

What to do in Leeuwarden

Street art tour Leeuwarden
A noteworthy tip is the street art tour in Leeuwarden. Great way to start your day, especially after a heavy breakfast. In 1,5 hours, you learn more about the interesting city background. We love 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!

Shopping
This fashion, flower and interior stores will pleasantly surprise you. It wouldn’t be out of place in Amsterdam. Lots of trendy stuff to pamper yourself, be prepared shopaholics! The Kleine Kerkstraat was even voted the best shopping street of the Netherlands in 2010 and 2013! Check out Scandinavian style concept store Nørd pictured below.

Leeuwarden shops

Blokhuispoort
Back in the days this used to be a prison, but now houses different business and eateries. Worth checking out.

Rent a boat
You can rent a boat at Greenjoy to see Leeuwarden from the water. Boats are available from about €25 euro.

 

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

In 2018 Leeuwarden-Fryslân was crowned the cultural capital of Europe

Where to Eat in Leeuwarden

Stek
This cute restaurant used to function as a bridge house and people actually lived here. If it reminds you of the popular brunch spot Pluk, you got it right. Stek is run by the previous co-owner of Pluk, which she started with her sister and brother in law. After a move back to the city she was born, she decided to start Stek and with great success. The food is lovely, and the coffee is good. Stek has an outside terrace overlooking the water. A must visit if you visit Leeuwarden.

Stek Leeuwarden

Lazy Lemons
If you have kids, you are going to love Lazy Lemons! Then again, you are also going to love it if you do not have any. Why? The food is simple but the portions are big, the service is good and there is enough space for families, friends and lovers. Upstairs you can find a large play corner for kids, which means a undisturbed lunch or dinner for the parents. We wished we had more of these in Amsterdam!

Lazy Lemons Leeuwarden

KB Food and Drinks
If you want a menu full of choices and options, you are at the right address at KB. Their formula works like this; you order a main and you can pick 2 side orders plus a saus of choice. The service here will make you happy and its no problem if you want to bring your kids. KB has a garden area, so you can enjoy those summer evenings. Fun fact: the building used to be a video library! www.kbfood.nl

KB Food and Drinks Leeuwarden
Dinner at KB food & drinks

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. If you can fit it, try the chocolate overloaded dessert, which is 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

Roast Leeuwarden

 

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.

Moon
An Instagram dream with pink/purple walls, marble tables and a menu that you just need to take pictures of. It’s no surprise that you can order a matcha, beetroot or turmeric latte here. Get your freak on with a freakshake or go healthy with avo on toast. Yes, this place was made with the intention of being a hotspot. www.moonleeuwarden.nl

Moon Leeuwarden

Also worth mentioning:

  • Dr. Plant: vegan take-away restaurant in the heart of Leeuwarden.
  • Fruitbar SIS: the green and healthy hotspot with vegan cakes.
  • Blikspuit: a concept store with a kiddies corner, so great for parents.
  • Speelcafé: this café is made for kids and you’ll love it if you are a parent. There is a slide inside and countless toys. They serve great tea and homemade cupcakes.

Where to stay in Leeuwarden

Catshuis Boutique Hotel
We love boutique hotels and this hotel is certainly one that you want to check out. Located in the heart of Leeuwarden, it is the perfect place for couples. Beautiful rooms, lovely and always included breakfast and a stylish interior. At the hotel you can also book a high tea, great for friends! www.catshuisleeuwarden.nl

Post Plaza
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.. sugar bread. Do we 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 have 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,

Wander-Lust

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.

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The diversity of Basque Country, Spain

Perhaps Basque Country has never come to mind when thinking of a Spanish holiday but this green part of Spain will pleasantly surprise you.

Basque Country is situated near the border of France and has a landscape that includes mountains, green valleys and coastlines. You can find different scenery all into one region and that’s what makes this place so amazing. It’s a region that is often overlooked in favor of more conventional destinations in Spain. If you decide to visit Basque Country after reading this article (chances are, you will), we have a few tips lined up so you can enjoy everything in just a couple of days.

There are 5 Guggenheim Museums located in Europe. Guess where you can find one of them?

The 3 Cities and their Culture
Basque Country is full of culture. Every year, especially during summer, you can enjoy several exhibitions, activities and events. This year, the capital of Bilbao celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum, where you can find high quality exhibitions that are well worth the visit. The famous landmark is covering a wide variety of artists and themes in both contemporary and modern art. The Guggenheim Museum is housed in Bilbao, Surrounded by mountains and sea, from its origins as
an industrial hub, it has evolved into an international reference point for urban design and has set the standard as a model of urban regeneration. Internationally renowned architects showcase the model regeneration of Bilbao. A city that has managed to find a different way to express itself with design firmly at its heart.. Tip » buy the Bilbao Card to get free access to several museums and attractions. With this card you can travel with Bilbao’s public transport.

bilbao-museo-guggenehim
The Guggenheim Museum

bilbao-puppy_torre-iberdrola_bilbao
Puppy & Torre Iberdrola in Bilbao

San Sebastián, also locally named Donostia, is a beautiful coastal city close to France. It has even won the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture back in 2016. Surrounded by mountains and located next to the sea, it’s a popular place for tourists. Did you know San Sebastián has one of the most beautiful bays in the world with 3 city beaches? Close to San Sebastian, you will find the Cristobal Balenciaga Museoa. This museum is a homage to one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century and you can see selected pieces of his collection. This year, the fashion brand exist a staggering 100 years! 

san-sebastian-bahia-la-concha_san-sebastian
A perfect viewing point over San Sebastians bay

Once voted the “European Green Capital”, Vitoria-Casteiz is surrounded by stunning nature

The third city we need to mention is Vitoria-Gasteiz, once voted the “Green Capital” of Europe. This city is surrounded by nature and is also the most important centre for logistics in Northern Spain. To do’s here are; taking a stroll through the “Green Belt” which is full of flora and fauna and includes wetlands and lakes. There are also some great Jazz festivals and events happening in Victoria, with the best ones in April and August. Another popular attraction is the old quarter they call the “Medieval Almond” where you can find the Cathedral of Santa Maria and a unique project called “open for work” inspired Ken Follet in his novel “World Without End”. To find out more about these 3 amazing cities, check here.

vitoria-murales-casco-viejo-vitoria-gasteiz
The streets of Vitoria

849.00 KM. 7 stages. 109 landscapes.
Another popular thing to do, is to take a roadtrip through the beautiful landscape of Basque Country. On this route you will find beaches, quaint little villages, vineyards and forests. We can imagine that it’s hard to choose between the many options, but you can easily find the route that suits your needs. There are also 3 pilgrim trails that will take you to the more offbeat corners of the Basque Country; The St. James’ Way Coastal Route, which takes you around the countryside and ever changing landscapes. The St. James’ Way Inland Route where you will pass coastal landscapes, greenery, farms and even industrialized localities. You can also opt for the Ignatian Way, a trail that covers 675 km. To find more info about all these routes, check this link. Another highlight is San Juan Gaztelugatxe, a small island connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge. 

gaztelugatxe
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Wine & Dine
If you’re a real foodie like us, you’re at the right place. The food and drinks are very affordable and locally produced, so you can really taste the different regions. Because the gastronomy, from the most traditional to the most innovative, is one of the hallmarks of the Basque Country and is deeply rooted in the daily lives of the people, linked to its history, customs and leisure activities. The secret? The excellence and diversity of the raw materials that the sea and land of the Basque Country provide and the expertise of the great Basque cooks.

bilbao-terrazas-bilbao
There is an unmistakable joie de vivre in Basque Country

Whether you are looking for a lazy beach holiday, a culture trip or an adventurous trail through nature, Basque Country has it all. Maybe it’s time to opt for a different kind of Spain when you book your holiday next time?

Wander-Lust
www.wander-lust.nl

baskenland

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

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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.

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