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

8 x tips for an Amazing Citytrip to Leeuwarden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

leeuwarden-emmakade-winter

Where to eat in Leeuwarden

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

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

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

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

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

Post Plaza, Leeuwarden
Hotel Post Plaza

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

Love,

Sharmaine

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

Christmas in London » Off the tourist track

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winterville, Christmas in London
Source

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

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

Happy Holidays!

Jantine

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

Check all our City Trips here!

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A Quick Guide To Marrakech

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

Marrakech

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

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

The blues of Marrakech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

small-street Marrakech

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

riding horses at Essaouira

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

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

Love,

Eva

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

 

Airbnb Experiences, now also available in Amsterdam!

Most travelers I know, have slept in or rented out an apartment via Airbnb once or twice. Airbnb has basically become part of our travel experience and they’ve recently added another feature to make your travel experience that extra bit special. Airbnb Experiences. Amsterdam follows cities like San Francisco, Paris, Rome, New York and launched Airbnb Experiences and is now one of the 12 cities that offers this latest feature.

Airbnb Experiences, how does it work?
Do you want to experience or host? That choice makes a big difference. On the Airbnb website you can select both. And while joining an experience is really easy, (just select and book) hosting one is another piece of the pie. You need to have an experience on offer that meets the Airbnb guidelines. So think about what you have to offer because not everyone is making the cut. For example; do you work at an aquarium? Maybe you can talk about the marine life and what people can do to save it. Do you have a talent like drawing or do you know everthing about cheese? Sign up! You might host an Airbnb Experience in your hometown. Besides the normal experiences, you can also offer an experience that help local non-profit organisations. This is called the Social Impact Experience. You can help fish plastic out of the canals in Amsterdam or offer cooking lessons for refugees, the options are endless.

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Together with a small group of journalists, I was able to test some of these cool experiences at a special Airbnb event in Amsterdam last week. We could choose between 3 different experiences that are currently offered on Airbnb. I decided to join the perfume workshop where I could create my own personal fragrance from scratch. The workshop was given by Frank Bloem from The Snifferoo who teaches you everything you need to know about making a perfume. I’m not sure if I created the best smelling fragrance in the world, but it was certainly fun doing it!

Airbnb Experiences Amsterdam
The Snifferoo giving a perfume experience

One of the the most booked Experience in Amsterdam at the moment, is the Motorcycle Tour with a sidecar which takes you along unseen country roads outside the city in the side-car of a vintage motorcycle. Airbnb Experiences gives people a chance to really get to know a city in a unique and local way, meet new people and give something back.

Have you booked your first Airbnb Experience yet?

Love,

Elke

The Wanderlust Barcelona Guide!

Barcelona is one of those cities that you keep coming back to. As much as we both love exploring new places, this Spanish delight keeps pulling us back every 2 years or so. It might has something to do with the fact that Barcelona has a wonderful beach combined with a vibrant nightlife that includes one of the best cuisines in Europe. We booked a weekend away with TravelBird and checked out the newest and best spots so you can relax and enjoy your citytrip. Here’s our Wanderlust Barcelona Guide!

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Why Choose TravelBird?
There are tons of travel agencies out there so we can imagine that it’s hard to pick an agency that really suit your needs. So why book with TravelBird? And why go with an travel agency at all? First of all, we noticed that the website of TraveBird is super easy to navigate on and looks fresh and modern. Secondly, once you’ve booked your trip, you will receive an inlog so you can quickly check all of your documents onto one page. You can find your boarding pass, hotel info, possible transfers and contact details. TIP: download the TraveBird App so you have everything on hand PLUS you can keep an eye on the latest travel deals! 

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Hotel Retrome

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

wanderlust Barcelona Guide

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

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

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From left to right: Lulu’s, The Surf House, Brunch & Cake and Nomad Coffee

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

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

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

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

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

Wanderlust Barcelona Guide
Cycling through the Parc de les Tres Xemeneies

I don’t think we need to convince you to go to Barcelona but maybe we have convinced you to go back, yet again. To book our trip and stay in the same retro hotel, check  www.travelbird.nl! For more inspiration and to get a chance to get featured, follow @TravelBird on Instagram!

Love,

Wander-Lust

*We collaborated with TravelBird for this article

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

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.

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The Guggenheim Museum

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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! 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

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