Most colourful places in the world

We’ve selected our top 7 most colorful places in the world so you can travel and bring some color to your life!

1. Chefchaouen, Morocco’s bluest village  
Blue Monday has never looked so good. We are totally mesmerized by this beautiful Moroccan village called Chefhaouen. Chefchaouen (or Chaouen) is situated in the Rif Mountains, just inland from Tangier and TetouanFounded in 1471, the town now has about 200 hotels & apartments because of the increasing number of tourists. Did you know? That the countryside Chefchaouen region is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco. Hashish is subsequently sold all over town, but is mostly the domain of native Chaouenis.

chefchaouen
We can’t get over these beautiful colors

2.  The Favelas, Rio De Janeiro
Notorious for their crime wars and poverty, this part of Rio is looking rather colourful since a couple of years thanks to 2 Dutch artists.
They employ local youth to paint the buildings and houses for a few reasons; Give them something they can be proud of and take them of the streets.
We love this and that’s why it’s our number 2. Check their website for more info and other projects.

colorful favela
The Favela have never looked so colorful (Source: Favelapainting.com)

3. Isla Mujeres, Mexico
This small Caribbean island is one of the most colorful places on earth because of  all the shops and houses there. It’s only 7km in length and it’s perfect for lazy beach days. Did you know? That Isla Mejeres literally means “women island”

colorful houses
Wouldn’t you just want to live in a house like this one?! (Source: Fotolia/AP)

4. Havana, Cuba
Yes, you knew this one was going to be in the list right? Havana is becoming more popular now that the USA renewed their bond with Cuba. If you want to experience Havana in all it’s original beauty, you must hurry up. We’ve heard that the first MC Donald’s have been spotted..

Havana, Cuba
Still authentic..

5. Vernazza, Italy
It used to be only accessible by sea or steep walking routes, but now the milk train provides easy accessVernazza is one of 5 villages along the Cinque Terre coast of Italy and the train runs into each of the five towns. The blue sea and the green trees certainly help but this village owns its own colourful reputation. Did you know? That there is a trail that connects all 5 towns together? So bring your walking shoes!

Vernazza, Italy
All the colors match in Vernazza.

6. Rainbow Mountain
Only visit when it’s sunny they say, because you might be disappointed with the pallet of colours as you arrive. But rainbow mountain still remains something special and should not be excluded from this list. Have you been?

Rainbow mountain

7. The Netherlands (during Tulip season)
During April, May, something beautiful is happening in the Netherlands: Tulip Season! People from all over the world come to look at a variety of tulips in all sorts of sizes and colors. We can’t wait for this year, and we hope to take some drone shots!

Tulip field Netherlands

Love,

Elke

The Cuba Experience

It has been said a million times: “go to Cuba now, while it is still authentic”. And people will probably say it a million times more. Before the Americans flood this paradise, with their all-inclusive resorts and McDonald’s and the Cuban culture is lost. But after spending three weeks on this island, I am convinced it will take a lot more than some Americans and hamburgers for the Cuban culture to get lost. These people are proud of their country, of their food and of their way of living. Even if they don’t own a fortune and have some struggles. So. I would like to rephrase that sentence “Go to Cuba”. Into; it will be authentic for a pretty long time if you ask me, it’s a hell of a country. And while you are there, here’s what you definitely should do to enhance that Cuba experience:

1. Turn of your phone and enjoy the ride
If you are as addicted to your smartphone as I am, this might sound a bit scary. But after a few days of digital detox, you’ll ask yourself why you have never done this before. You see, in Cuba internet and WIFI are not that common. A lot of people don’t even have an internet connection in their homes, let alone on their mobile phones. And they don’t miss or need it. Some Cubans even believe that the internet should be banned from their country since it is making people less and less social. Do as the Cubans do, let go of the feeling of always wanting to be connected to the whole world. Yes, this also means no Google maps and no Instagram. Just look around you, talk to people and feel completely lost and happy.

cuba_havana_oldtimers

2. Drink a Mojito every day, wherever you are
Relax, you’re on a holiday, a little boozing and snoozing won’t hurt. Specially not when you are in Cuba, home of the Mojito. This delicious rum cocktail is what it is all about in this country and you should try as many as possible. No Mojito is the same, whether it’s because of some secret ingredient, the vibe or the view. Not to mention that fact that this elixer of life usually is cheaper than a cola. So it’s best to take another one.

cuba_cienfuegos_mojito_punta-gorda_cocktail_travel
The Cuba experience is not complete without a Mojito!

You can get one on every street corner, but these are my favourite places:
Hotel Nacional – Havana Vedado: this famous hotel bursts with history and the drinks come with an amazing complementary view.
The little beach hut on Playa Los Cocos – Playa Giron: where the lifeguard is your bartender and the prices will have you order round after round. Centro Recreativo La Punta – Cienfuegos: in a little park, at the southern tip of Cienfuegos, a perfectly well dressed bartender will create a masterpiece for you with precision and craftsmanship. Of how I wish I was there right now. Hostal Colina – Trinidad: on the road to disco Ayala, this casa particulara offers ‘special Mojito’s’, and they sure are special. Just like the garden you will be in while drinking them.

3. Travel with a Taxi collectivo, even if it is just once
Getting around Cuba is easy if you book the Via Azul tourist busses. But it’s fun when you book a taxi collectivo! You’ll share this oldtimer ride with as many people that fit in the vehicle (and sometimes even more) and your luggage on top. This is traveling in style, Cuban style. it’s easy to arrange your taxi collectivo on the streets, many drivers offer their services. Usually it’s easy to bargain and to come to an agreement of the price. Just never pay in advance, you can settle that with the actual driver on the day of your trip.

cuba_taxi-collectivo_travel

4. Only stay at Casa Particulara’s
Thinking about booking a hotel in Cuba? Don’t even bother (unless you have unlimited funds and are aiming for an ultimate high-end holiday). Try a casa particulara, you won’t be disappointed. these casa’s are rooms that are rented out by the Cubans. Usually they come with your own bathroom, your own rocking chair on the porch and sometimes your own entrance. And if you are lucky, with breakfast. It’s the best way to travel for a reasonable price and feeling the local vibe. Also, Casa owners have lots of friends and family in other cities, so if your traveling onwards they always know a new casa and will even arrange it for you. Easy does it!

cuba_trinidad_view_old-city

Check out:
Casa Eliza – Rafael Trejo, Vinales: spotless rooms, your own entrance and breakfast under the gazebo. Oh and it’s just on street behind the mainstreet, hello centre location!
Casa Hostal El Castillito Yaya y Monolito – Playa Giron: great food, big rooms and Yaya is like a mother to the guests.
Casa Castro & Anita – between C43 and C44, Varadero: big rooms, great location and sweet people. What more can you ask for?

5. Taking a dive
Cuba is home to some real sweet diving spots. However, the best ones are hard to reach and will eat half of your budget. But there is this one place, between two very tiny villages, where the water calls your name and you won’t loose oxygen over the price. Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) is where you need to be. There are several dive spots, suited for beginners to the more advanced Dive Masters. First timer? At Playa el Tanque you can go into the water without a boat. Just put on your tank and goggles and go! Best village to stay for this dive trip: Playa Giron. It offers not more than about 4 dusty roads, some houses and a war museum. But it has a beach, some restaurants and the divers bus to take you to the fishes. Dive and chill, my friends.

cuba_varadero_beach_ocean_travel

6. From Cienfuegos to Trinidad through the mountains

Cienfuegos, it’s a pretty town a lot of travellers skip. Which is a shame since it is the perfect city to do absolutely nothing for a day or two (and sip on those amazing Mojito’s I mentioned earlier). But beside that cocktail, there is one reason why I would urge you to go to this city, and that is the way out to Trinidad. In Cienfuegos you can book a tour at Cubanacan to travel to Trinidad through the beautiful Parque Natural Topes de Collantes, including the amazing El Nicho waterfalls. At the end you will be dropped off in Trinidad. This private tour will take you through the mountains in a jeep, with a real Cuban tourguide. He can tell you all about the surroundings as well as the (communist) culture and lots of other stories. Plus, he knows exactly when El Nicho is not flooded with tourists and you have the natural swimming pools to yourself (oh and he can take stunning pictures from you). You’ll drive past small, simple villages (which have a school and a discotheque) and taste the most amazing coffee you will ever taste at this small cafe in the middle of the mountains. If you are lucky, you’ll also have the chance to sing along to The Backstreetboys playing on an old CD in the car. Here’s your authentic experience!

cuba_cienfuegos_topes-collantes_el-nicho_trinidad_waterfall_nature
Cuba’s nature is stunning too

Enough said. Go to Cuba. Enjoy it to the fullest.

Love,

Jill

Read Jill’s tips about New Zealand here:

south-island of new zealand__adventurous

How To Stick To Your Running Schedule During Your Holiday

Vacation is a time to relax. Right? Except for some walking during sightseeing or hiking, I usually don’t really exercise when I’m on holiday. Actually, some years back when I met a lady in Greece who went running in the evenings, I thought she was craaazy. I kept this point of view over the years; until this summer when I was in Cuba. Earlier this year, I started running and after doing an enjoyable 10K run, I decided to sign up for a half marathon as a sort of ‘try before you die’ project. And because I did not want to miss 3 weeks of training during my vacation, I packed my running outfit.

header-photo-third-run

Ambitions vs. reality when running during a holiday
While packing my running shoes, I set myself the ambition to run at least 2 times a week during my holiday. In reality, I barely managed to go once a week. It was quite hard to squeeze the running into the vacation program as on one day we were sightseeing, and the other day we were travelling. Also, it was so hot that I could only go running very early morning, which in this case meant 7 o’clock, or in the afternoon right after a big shower or thunderstorm. Getting up so early wasn’t exactly my idea of being on holiday, but it actually felt like a fresh and very good start of the day. Also the views along the route definitely made it worth it.

first-run
Running in the Valle de Viñales

Route: where to go when you don’t know your way around
Another challenge while running is the route. Where do you go when you don’t know your way around? Especially interesting when you lack a sense of direction, like me. Luckily, in Cuba the towns and cities are organized in a grid plan, so it was fairly easy to map out my way. Just to be on the safe size I brought my phone with an offline GPS navigation app on it so I could always find my way back in case I got lost. Additional advantage of bringing my phone was that I had some nice music while running (and I could take some pictures along the way) 🙂

second-run
The view while running in Santa Lucia

Some final tips while scheduling your run on holiday
  • Keep in mind that the temperature in a lot of countries will be much higher than back home. When it’s really hot it’s a good idea to schedule your run early morning or late evening. And off course, bring some water along the way to keep hydrated. Last but not least, in order to protect yourself from the sun you can wear a cap (and put some sunscreen on).
  • If you want to stick to a running schedule during your holiday, you can best download a running app on your phone. This app can give you a week schedule and push you to keep running. I for example have the 21K running app, and although I did not have a very strict schedule, I did use this app for every run during my holiday. Also, it can be difficult to stick to a schedule if you are travelling a lot during your vacation. Try to think a few days ahead in order to see how your running schedule can best fit your travel schedule.
  • On holiday, the food is also quite different. I would recommend to try and eat as ‘normal’ as possible. Want to go running in the morning before breakfast? Probably a good idea if you do this at home as well, otherwise it would probably be better to at least eat a small snack before heading off.
  • The roads in other countries might also be of different quality. Before you actually head off, it’s a good idea to explore the area a little bit to know the conditions (and to make sure you don’t end up on a blind alley)

Do you recognize this? How do you maintain a running schedule during your holiday? And how do you find a nice route? Let us know!

P.S. Curious about Cuba? Read my earlier blog about 7 places you should definitely visit.

Love,

Dionne

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

Dancing around Cuba » Don’t miss these 7 highlights

Cuba, a destination where you, so to say ‘travel back in time’. Its most distinguishing mark are probably its old-timers. You just can’t ignore all the Plymouths, Chevrolets and Pontiacs driving around. But, Cuba is much more than that. It’s a diverse country with an interesting history, beautiful beaches, great nature, lovely people, charming cities and not to forget tasty rum, good cigars and spectacular salsa. Literally in every restaurant and on each plaza there’s a salsa band playing the famous Guantanamera, Chan Chan, or another salsa song. With this music, I felt like dancing around Cuba. My favorite places:

1. Havana: a great way to start your holiday
The capital of Cuba is quite touristic, but it definitely has its charm as well. Especially Havana Vieja has a great ambiance with its cosy streets, beautiful colonial buildings and amiable plazas where you can enjoy a local beer or mojito while listening to (or dancing on) the first salsa tones. Outside Havana Vieja, the fortress El Morro, Plaza de la Revolución and the Malécon are also worth a visit. Altogether, my boyfriend and I got a nice first glimpse of the Cuban culture here.

Havana, Cuba
A local bar on one of the main squares in Havana

2. Valle de Viñales: a good dose of nature
We explored the Valle de Viñales by doing a five-hour tour on horses. Once entering the national park, the so-called mogotes, lime-stone cliffs, start rising from the bottom of the valley which makes it a spectacular view. During the tour we also visited a cave, a coffee plantation, a lake and a cigar plantation. The cigar is another signature of Cuba, so the farmer that showed us how they’re made, insisted I also tried one, because I otherwise did not really visit Cuba. To be honest, it didn’t taste as bad as I thought it would, mainly because the farmer had dipped the cigar in a bit of honey to make it sweeter (as the Cubans basically do with everything).

3. El Nicho: imposing waterfall
The trip to this waterfall, just outside the national park Topes de Calientes, was sensational on itself. All of a sudden, you’re driving around in this green, mountainous region. At some point, our taxi could not cope very well with these hills and the driver had to give the motor some water every 500 meters. When we finally arrived, we still had some hiking to do in order to reach the waterfall. It was quite hot, but the view of the waterfall, and the ability to jump into its cold water, was definitely worth it.

El Nicho
The EL Nicho waterfall

4. Trinidad: city of the salsa
Trinidad is a city with an amazing vibe, one that can hardly be described. You just have to go there to experience it. The city centre is quite small and picturesque with its Spanish colonial architecture. At night, the main square, Plaza Major, is filled with lots of people. Not only tourists, but also the Cubans gather here to listen to live music and dance the salsa. Since the salsa also is a characteristic of Cuba, we wanted to learn dancing it ourselves. So, we took a salsa class at a dancing school in Trinidad. We actually felt like doing a pretty good job; until later that night we watched some Cubans dancing in the square… that was something different!

5. Playa Santa Lucia: beautiful beaches and fantastic diving
Santa Lucia is a small town at the north coast of Cuba. It was the most peaceful town of our trip. There were nearly no tourists, so we really felt like we were amongst Cubans. Next to the beautiful beaches (best one is Playa Los Cocos, just 8kms outside Santa Lucia) it’s also a great place for diving. During our dive we saw a 66m long ancient shipwreck with beautiful coral on top and nice fishes swimming around. I can tell you, that’s really impressive.

Playa Los Cocos Cuba
Playa Los Cocos

6. The city of the revolution: Santa Clara
Santa Clara is mainly interesting because of its history. This is the city where Che Guevara successfully derailed an armoured train, which was a key tipping point in the Cuban revolution. This train, called Tren Blindado, can still be seen on the exact spot where it derailed. On the other side of town, at Plaza de la Revolución, you’ll find a massive monument of Guevara together with the mausoleum that houses the remains of this famous revolutionist and a museum that tells you all about him.

7. Las Cuevas de Bellamar in Matanzas: some impressive caves
At first, we were not sure whether to visit the Caves just outside Matanzas, since we’ve seen stalactites and stalagmites before. In the end we did decide to go, and boy was I happy with this decision. All previous caves were dwarfed by this supposedly 24kms long cave. Only 2kms are open for visitation, in which you can see spectacular halls and galleries, that all have their own names. Feels like walking around in a completely different, almost fairy-tale like world.

Bellamar caves in Cuba
One of the galleries in the Bellamar caves

Are you ready for some dancing around Cuba?

Love,

Dionne

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

These are the best non-touristy spots in Havana, Cuba

Havana is guaranteed to instantly charm you with its untamed way of life; the way you can walk down the street and not see another European face; or how the local merchants will barter with you over the price of an onion just for fun. However, because this beautiful city hasn’t yet become a touristic destination, it’s hard to find information on things to do and see there. There are so many unique places to visit in Havana, but here is a round up of the best places to see as a ‘local tourist’.

Obispo Street
This is the main street in Havana Vieja, and as soon as you step out onto the cobbles you can see why! There are countless shops running one after the other, with designer brands rubbing shoulders with family run souvenir stalls. Here you can also find kitch little bars and restaurants, where the locals hang out at to listen to live salsa and afro-cuban bands. The main banks and exchange houses are also along this street, just incase your money accidentally disappeared on one too many mojitos.

Obisbo 2

O’Reilly Cafe
We all know that this country is renowned for their deep, rich coffee blends and their aromatic brews, but Cafe O’Reilly takes it to a whole new level. As soon as you walk in you are greeted with the aroma of freshly ground coffee, and the feeling of going back in time before social meetings included cell phones, a time when people could sit down and really appreciate a great coffee. In O’Reilly’s you can chose from a huge selection of coffee cocktails, containing every alcohol you can think of, fine espressos, traditional cappuccinos, shakes and even drinkable deserts! They use blends of only the best crops from the various coffee regions of Cuba, producing both the arabica and robusta beans, giving their coffee an exquisitely deep, fruity taste and hypnotizing aroma. 

Cafe O'Reilly 2 Havana

Antiguos Almacenes
I guarantee that you’ll have never seen a warehouse so full of colour and life! As soon as you walk in you can smell the freshly cooked churros, hear the live bands and feel the buzz of trading everywhere. The artwork in Antiguos Almacenes is so unique, and the artists are usually the ones sat selling, so you can ask them all about their works. For anyone into art, music or street food this is a place not to be missed!

Antiguos Almacenes 1 Havana

Chocolate Museum
Don’t be fooled by it’s name, this museum is more like a ‘stuff yourself with every form of chocolate available to man’ sort of deal. The ‘museum’ is actually just a collection of ingredients and tools, in small cases, scattered around a lovely little cafe. The reason this little place has made it to the list isn’t its educational value, but for its unbelievable selection of delicious chocolates available. Each chocolate is made and cooled right before your eyes, and you can choose from a list of different models that come in all shapes and sizes, from a dolphin leaping out of the sea to a small cigar. The thing that will really steal your heart though, is the hot chocolate. It is the thickest, most decedent hot chocolate you will ever try, and with local prices it’s no wonder this place is such a big hit. For info check here.

Chocolate museum 1 Havana, Cuba

New Port Ave. Brewery
I actually stumbled across this place because I was drawn to it by the music (you’re probably seeing a trend here, yes everywhere you go in Havana you are accompanied by music!). The brewery is hidden in an abandoned-looking warehouse, a few minutes from the old train station, however once you enter it’s a whole different story. The interior is decorated with brightly coloured murals, and in the centre is a large platform for the flamenco band that plays daily. New Port Ave brew their own beer using equipment they shipped from Austria, which they display proudly on a large stage behind ceiling to floor glass windows. As non-imported beer is very hard to come across in Cuba this is well worth checking out.

Brewery 2

Plaza de Armas
Local Market Old books, antique jewellery, vintage vinyls and original poster prints… what more could a person ask for? The hustle and bustle of this outdoor market is so alluring you just cant say no. This is the place to find that rare record, missing from your collection, or the first edition of your favourite book. Once you step into the beautiful Plaza de Armas square you instantly feel like a local. People are bustling around you going about their local trade, while couples sit on the bright white benches, whispering sweet nothings to each other. This is definitely the place to visit to soak up the culture, and grab yourself a bargain.

Malecón
If you want a nice relaxing stroll in the afternoon then I couldn’t suggest anywhere better than along the Malecón. With beautiful views of the ocean, and local fisherman going about their daily work, the only thing more relaxing is stopping at one of the ocean front bars, and sipping on an ice cold beer. At night, the Malecón comes alive with parades of the old imported cars, glittering lights, and an outstanding view of the night sky.

MAelcon 1

The Town Square
The architecture in this part of the city is simply breathtaking. Compared to the older part of Havana, El Vedado, the buildings here were mostly commissioned in the 20th century, when the capital was surprisingly rich, so they were designed with many international influences such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Eclectic Design, leaving them breathtakingly exquisite and detailed. You will also find countless fountains and statues in this area, all engraved with snapshots of the rich Cuban history. The town square is definitely one of the best places in Havana for a that special photo op.

Town square Havana
Chilling in Towns Square, Havana

Love,

Fern

*Fern is one of our guest bloggers, currently living in Mexico. You can find more of her travel stories on her blog or Facebook page.