A quick guide to Malaga

Year-round sun brings millions of visitors to Costa del Sol each year, and flights to Malaga are the easiest way to get there. As a result, this thriving port city is often seen as a place to pass by on the way to other coastal hotspots. Stop and give it a chance, however, and you’ll find a city rich with Andalucian culture and experiences you don’t want to miss. If you’re considering a trip to Malaga, use our quick guide to help you decide what to do:

Sights to see
In the historic heart of the city, you’ll find Malaga Cathedral, a stunning example of Spanish architecture dating from the 16th century. The first thing you’ll notice is that the cathedral is unfinished – it only has one tower instead of the intended two. This has led to locals calling it La Manquita, or ‘the one-armed lady.’

Another landmark in the city is La Alcabaza, the imposing fortress that overlooks the city. It is a well preserved meeting place of cultures and time periods – Roman, Arab, Renaissance – and boasts a rich history. Nearby, you can also visit Malaga’s Roman Theatre, which was built during the Emperor Augustus’s rule.

Malaga

What to do
There is plenty to do in this bustling city, but no trip to Malaga is complete without visiting its many museums. Malaga was Picasso’s birthplace, so art fanatics will want to visit the Picasso Museum to enjoy an extensive display of his work. Carmen Thyssen is another gallery exhibiting 19th century Spanish artwork. The newest museum in Malaga is the Pompidou Centre, sister to the Parisian museum of the same name. The striking glass cube entrance will grasp your attention, and inside, it houses a range of 20th and 21st century art exhibits.

Where to eat
Malaga is brimming with superb restaurants. For Michelin starred local cuisine, visit José Carlos Garcia, a modern restaurant with views over the port. If you’re looking for something more traditional, we’d recommend El Chinitas in the city centre.

Where to go out
There is a bar, club, or pub to suit every taste in Malaga. Wine drinkers should visit Antigua Casa Guardia, one of the city’s oldest bars, where locally produced wine is dispensed from barrels. For a chic clubbing experience, plan a night out at Sala Gold, one of the city’s more stylish nightclubs.

Beaches to visit
You can’t go to Malaga without spending a day at the beach. Playa de la Malagueta is a popular choice – a short walk from the city centre, you can lounge on the sand and sip drinks in seaside bars. If you fancy something a little less crowded, try the picturesque Peñon del Cuervo. Many of Malaga’s beaches offer activities and space for beach sports, but if you’re interested in surfing, Playa de la Misericordia has the best waves along this coastal stretch. Go there in the evening for the best surfing conditions.

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What will you do on your trip to Malaga? Tell us in the comments below!

Images by niall62 and audi_inseperation, used under the Creative Commons Licence.

Love,

Wander-Lust

Hacienda Na Xamena » Paradise in Ibiza

Instagram heaven is right here – Hacienda Na Xamena in Ibiza.

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I am not exaggerating right?

Planning to go to Ibiza next year?

I visited this magical place in the North of Ibiza » It’s a hotel, restaurant & spa that is perched on a cliff edge 180 meters above the sea, surrounded by an idyllic Mediterranean pine forest where I’ve spent the first day of my holiday.

Na Xamena Hotel Hacienda has the best view in Ibiza.

Hidden on the North side of the island in a nature reserve and a 10 minutes drive from Sant Miquel, you will find this five star hotel from the seventies that is built by the Belgian architect Daniel Lipszyc. I was invited by La Posidonia, the SPA- named after the protected seaweed that grows around Ibiza – of Hacienda where they offer a wide range of body and facial treatments and spa rituals. I received a private tour where they showed me the package deal for their guests. Needless to say I was very impressed by the sun terrace, restaurant, swimming pools and sunbeds. The perfect place to recharge your batteries, but it comes with a price – from 400 euro per night. *This is without any treatments of the SPA.

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The Spa

After my tour I took my first treatment –  Silky Skin (body scrub with sea salt and aromatic oils).
I recommend everyone to scrub your body before your holidays to prepare your skin for tanning. It’s as important as protecting it when exposing yourself to the sunAfter that I experienced the “Cascadas Suspendidas – a 45 min hydrotherapy treatment in 8 heated pools at different temperatures that give hydro-jet massages whilst enjoying the view. The Cascadas Suspendas – 45 min access to the 8 pools, including some snacks – will costs you 55 euro.

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Pool 7 and 8 are the best since you will have this breathtaking view when enjoying this warm bath.

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The drink & snack you will receive after the Cascadas Suspendas with Pica Pica treatment

TIP » Watch the sunset from the roof deck when enjoying a good glass of champagne or a cocktail.

It’s definitely worth visiting, but I prefer to dive into the pool, have a cocktail on the beautiful terrace with the perfect view rather then enjoy the spa for 45 minutes. Unfortunately this is only possible when you are a Hotel guest. That saying, it was an amazing experience!
So keep an eye on the rates to find the best prices for next season!

Hacienda

Hacienda Na Xamena
s/n, Carrer na Xamena
07815 San Miguel, Ibiza
Website

Enjoy!

Sarah

 For more inside tips about Ibiza, check my last post about Ibiza’s best beaches and my top 5 places to eat.

Top 5 reasons why you should live in Barcelona

Europe has a lot of amazing cities but Barcelona seems to attract a lot of foreigners that try to build a life over here. And we can’t argue with them. It’s one of the cities I could live. Why?
I give you 5 reasons why you should live in Barcelona.

1.  Helloooo, there’s a beach! 

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Beachlife. There’s a sweet word that everybody loves.
Barcelona has a long stretched version of 4km and it’s a good one. There are plenty of beachbars, people walking around to give you drinks or massages and it’s so near the city that you can easily tan for a few hours after work or during your lunch break. This way you kind of feel like you’re on a holiday even though you’re working. Love it!

2. Free bicycle rides


Viu Bicing bicycles lined up, waiting for a ride

When I stayed in Barcelona 2 weeks ago, I stayed in an Airbnb and the host gave me their bicycle card for the period of my stay. This card gave me access to all the Viu Bicing bicycles in town.
How does it work? In order to use this card, you are in need of a membership. For this you need a home address. (This is why you never see tourist on these bikes -except for me of course ;-))
Swipe the card at one of the many Bicing stations and it unlocks one of the bikes ready for use. You get up to 5 min to test the bike to see if it works alright for you. After that you can cycle up to 30 minutes for free with 0,70 cents per 30 minutes after that. With so many docking stations around the city, it’s not hard to find another station to lock it again. Swipe your card on the station and you’re done.
This way you help to eliminate climate pollution, traffic noise and traffic congestion. Awesome!

3. Catalans have awesome celebrations

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Incredible. The decorated streets of Gracia

They have carnival in February, 
Festival de Sant Medir de Gràcia in March and San Jordi in March but the month June is the cherry on the cake when it comes to festivals.

Apart from Sonar Music Festival (I’ve been there twice!) they celebrate Corpus Christi. will be held in June with parades of giant and carnival figures with big heads.
Then they also have the Festival Grec. The series begins in June, reaches its peak in July and goes on into August. The Grec offers a wide range of cultural events, from theatre of dance music and cinema events under the open sky. The one I would love to see is Holy Sant Joan, which is celebrated with campfires and fireworks and fire-crackers in all streets.
In August they also have Festa Major de Gràcia. I was lucky enough to be in Barcelona during this period and I enjoyed the beautiful decorated street in the area Gracia.
hundreds of people go on the street to enjoy concerts, food and open bars until 4 in the morning. This festival last 6 days.

4. The food


I can get used to this system!

If you know Barcelona, you know that there’s good food. Tapas heaven.

And the fact that you can eat different spanish bites for only €1,50 per item makes it even better!
They are called Pinchos. The main difference to tapas is that the bread and other ingredients are held together by small skewers, which is actually what pincho means in English. You grab a plate, pick what you want and save the sticks. After you’ve finished, the waiter counts your skewers and calculates your price. I never had such a wonderful dinner for only 10 euro’s (including a drink!) at Blai Tonight.
The best area to eat Pinchos is Poble Sec.

5. Culture & History

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Awesome Street Art in Barcelona

Barcelona has a unique historic culture and you can find it all over the city. Beautiful churches, landmarks and museums full of it.
Take a day to explore. The city offers a feast of sculptures, paintings, mosaics, impressive architecture and fashion. Museums dedicated to Picasso, Miro, Tapies and Dali.  And let’s also not forget about Gaudí.

Are you convinced yet? 

Love,

Elke

Naxos » Discovering the Greek Cyclades

From Mykonos it takes about 2 hours to get to Naxos with stops in Paros and Amos. Naxos is the larges island of the Greek Cyclades but much more authentic and laid back than party island Mykonos.


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How to get there

When you arrive by ferry you can see the “Portara” on the hill next to the harbour. They call it “the door of Naxos” and it’s one of the many archaeological landmarks you will find here. Naxos has everything I missed on Mykonos. The food is better and more affordable (a lot more!), the beach bars are more laid back and you’ll see a lot of couples and families here. I stayed at a simple hotel with a perfect location. My hotel was about a 10 min walk from the port and 1 min from the town beach Agios Georgios. Chora (centre) is vibrant at night with lot’s of restaurants, shops and bars. The streets smell of sweet waffels and crêpes that you find on almost every corner.

Elke in Naxos, Greece
Walking around in Chora, Greece

For dinner I can recommend almost everything. Just double check of they serve traditional Greek food and you’re good. A main course meal should cost you about 5 to 10 euro’s and is served with bread. (They charge you about 1 euro for the bread, this is normal)


So much food to choose from, but you can’t go wrong with a Greek Pita Giros!

Getting around on Naxos

First things first: rent a scooter or a car. Make sure you rent a scooter with enough power as you might need to drive uphill depending where you’re travelling to. I saw pretty much everything. The whole west coast, where you can find some really nice beaches, is done in one day (including some swimming) and I took a whole day to explore the old towns (middle of Naxos) and the North back to the west coast and where I started.
Both routes are completely different in scenery.

The Westcoast route »

Start by having breakfast at Agios Georgios Beach where you will find a chill surfer beach restaurant all the way at the end called “beach cafe”. They serve tasty fruit smoothies during the day and colorful cocktails at night. Each week they have a BBQ including fresh fish. Continue towards the south and visit Mikri beach where you can find the wind and kite surfers. It’s not cheap to get a lesson but it’s free to watch and that’s a sight on it’s own! End at Kastraki beach where you will find some beaches where you can enjoy the waters in your birthday suit (if you know what I mean!)

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Feeling the “surfers”vibe at Mikri Beach

The old town route »

‘You haven’t visited Naxos if you don’t visit the old towns.’ a local told us. From Hora (Chora) you drive towards Halki (on the roadsigns it’s written like “Chalki”.) This historic village is very cute and you will find a few tavernas (restaurants) where the food is extremely authentic and fresh. I stopped for an iced Frappé coffee and drove up to Filoti where you can find the Cave of Zeus where you need to continue on foot and climb up for about 20 min with incredible views along the way! Tip » Bring enough water and some lighting for in the large dark cave. 

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The old town of Halki is something special

After that I kept going towards Stavros, Koronos, mesi and Apollonas until you reach the most northern part. In between I drove down to Liona Bay where you will find a rocky beach with black sand and 1 or 2 restaurants. Great for cooling down before heading on.

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Rocky beach of Liona Bay

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Scenery in Naxos kept changing..

The views on this route are rocky, but in some area’s extremely green and fertile. From the North you drive back along the coast where you will end where you started. It’s a long drive (2-3 hours) but so worth it! Naxos is a great destination to stay for about 3-4 days if you’re travelling through the Cyclades. It’s authentic, great for all sorts of travelers and won’t hurt your wallet.  Folegandros and Santorini are not far, so you can make Naxos part of your Greek island hopping tour.

Love,

Elke

Top 5 » Best beach bars in Mykonos

 

If you’re going to visit Greece this summer, you will probably also visit Mykonos, the Ibiza of Greece. Situated east of Athens in the Aegean Sea, a great glamour island with lot’s of high end beach parties.
Besides exploring Mykonos town – known for it’s white little houses with colorful flowers and blue windows – you should also explore the impressive beach bars on this island.

We’ve listed the TOP5  beach bars for you!

Read more

Explore The Greek Ionian Islands

If you’re planning the perfect European vacation but you aren’t quite sure where to go this summer? Look no further and check out the stunning Greek Ionian Islands.

Greece has been my favourite European holiday destination since the age of 3. I used to spent all my summers in a little village called Perdika and had some of the most beautiful childhood memories there. But when I was old enough to explore the world on my own, I started traveling around the rest of the world. However, I always enjoy coming back to the Greek islands and this is why.


My first love, Perdika


Perdika, only 2 hours from Lefkas


Acheron River, Gliki

Driving from Perdika, you must have a stopover at the Acheron River in Gliki. The springs of River Acheron are surrounded by wild rocks, waterfalls and lots of greenery. Ancient myths say that this river led to the gates of Hades. (whatever that means!) You can hike or water raft all the way up and down but the most fun way is to walk, climb and swim through the river. I’ve done this wild water hike about 6 times but it never get’s boring. Beware, the water is cold at first but after a while you get use to it and your skin feels incredibly soft afterwards! At some parts are so deep that you need to swim so make sure you have a waterproof camera if you want to take some good shots! 

Tip » buy some water shoes to protect your feet, these will come in handy at some of the rocky beaches.

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Ice cold, but so worth it! (here, trying to keep my lunch dry!)


Lefkas

After this refreshing hike, you drive further up towards the first Ionian Island; Lefkas (Lefkada in Greek) This island has pretty much left unspoiled by massa tourism. Prices are low, and if you walk far enough, you can find some pretty long deserted beaches. I advise you to rent a car or otherwise a scooter. This way you can really explore Lefkas and get to the best beaches. I stayed at Sofia Apartsments in Nydri where the friendly owner welcomed us with a traditional Greek drink from the island. His grandmother even baked us a cake! This is why I love the locals! From Nydri you can easily acces all the main roads and enjoy the night market.

Local food

The food in Greece is a-ma-zing and in Lefkas you can enjoy the islands traditional disches like lentils and chickpeas. One of the best restaurants on the Island is without question Rachi. Beautiful ocean views and delicious food makes this restaurant extremely popular, so expect to wait for a table during high season.

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Stunning views whilst having dinner at Rachi

The best beaches

I have been to a few incredible beaches in my lifetime but the beaches you will find here are something else. The water is crystal blue so prepare for some jaw dropping moments. My 3 favourite beaches on the island are Egremni beach (400 steps down!) Porto Katsiki and Kathisma beach.


Just looking at the bluest sea..ever! (Egremni Beach)

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Walking down to Porto Katsiki beach in Lefkas

Off the Beaten Track Tip » If you walk a towards the right side of Kathisma Beach and all the way in the end you will find a perfect spot, just for you. A beautiful long beach with no one around. Crazy! If you are brave enough, you can even go skinny dipping!

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A private beach? Hell yeah! (Kathisma Beach)


Kefalonia

From the port in Vasiliki (in Lefkas) you can take the boat to Kefalonia which takes about 3 hours and departs daily. Check http://westferry.gr/ for ferry times. This island is larger than Lefkas and with that a little bit busier. One of the main attractions is the Melissani cave, where can pay a small fee for a quick tour in this world wonder. The roof collapsed 20.000 years ago and when the sunlight kisses the water at noon, this results in an amazing blue/green colour of which many tourist want to see. It’s worth it if you want to take some good shots of this geological phenomenon.


Melissani Cave. A must see

Explore by scooter

Kefalonia is also home to some beautiful beaches of which Myrthos beach is the most popular. Make sure you bring a sun umbrella as there is no shade except for underneath the rocks and that almost cost me my head! (mountain goats created a small lawine on top of the cliff and rocks started falling down which just missed my head!) I rented a scooter and this is the perfect way to explore. Be aware that renting a scooter in high season is only possible when you hire one for more then 3 days. Because I don’t like the mass tourism, I picked a cute village to spend my first 2 nights.

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Myrthos Beach, Kefalonia

Cute Villages

My favourite town on Kefalonia is definitely FiskardoThis fishers town is full of boats and cute shops where you can buy art, homemade nougat and olive oil. At night when the sun goes down and the lights are glowing, the town changes into a magical place with Mediterranean vibes and delicious seafood. Tip » Plan a full day trip as it’s all the way up north depending where you will depart from.


One of the many cute stores in Fiskardo

From Kefalonia you can take a boat to Zakinthos (the beautiful beach you see on every travel instagram feed) I decided not to go. I was happy here without too many tourist and it was perfect. This part of Greece is relatively cheap if you compare it to the eastern islands like Mykonos and Santorini. (where I will be going this year!) So if you plan your trip way ahead, you can have a a brilliant holiday for little money.

Ionian Islands

So what will it cost you?

  • Flights » 350 euro return flights from Amsterdam to Corfu
  • Propellor flight » 55 euro’s one way from Kefalonia back to Corfu
  • Ferry » about 50 euro’s all together
  • Accommodation » about 25 to max 65 euro’s per night
  • Car hire » 30 euro’s per day
  • Scooter hire » 15-20 euro’s per day
  • Food » Main courses are about 8 euro’s per dish
  • Shopping » You can really make it as expensive as you want!
  • Tip » Avoid the tourist markets and go for something local.

Love,

Elke

More Greece?

Risoul, France » Skiing on a budget

Wintersport is no ordinary holiday where you relax all day. Nope. You get up at 7am, have breakfast, take the bus to the slopes and you basically work your muscles the entire day. During lunch you stop for a schnitzel (or two), drink hot chocolate and you repeat this until about 5pm when you meet at a nice après ski bar where the hot chocolate makes place for a hot wine or Jägermeister. Awesome! But, I didn’t go for about 10 years. Until 2 years ago. Yes, it was time to rejoin the snow fun and see if I still had what it takes. But now, how could I make this winter wonderful holiday affordable? This was something I wanted to discover.
Austria and Switzerland and well known for their breathtaking views and slopes but it comes with a price.
But after searching around a bit I came across a town called Risoul in France. The town is sometimes called Risoul 1850 because it is 1850m above sea level.

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Source: en.ski-france.com

How did I get there?
It takes about 12 hours to drive there (from Amsterdam) and I was with 5 other friends and we had a nice van so splitting the gas was good option.
You can take a plane to Lyon but you will need to continue your journey by train or bus and you will spend double the money.
My friends and I decided to start driving around 9pm so we would arrive in the early morning.
Why? This way you don’t lose a day of skiing/snowboarding!

Where did I sleep?
There are many hotels to choose from but we decided to rent a fully equipped apartment where we could cook and prepare our own food.

This is also a good money saving option. We stayed at Résidence MMV Antares. Our apartment had en-suite bedrooms, a small living room and a simple but good enough kitchen where we had breakfast and dinner every day.

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Résidence MMV Antares in Risoul

Where and what did I eat?
When we almost entered Risoul, we stopped at the nearest Lidl supermarket, which we found on Google maps.

We bought everything from bread, eggs, and vegetables to sweets, soft drinks and alcohol. We split the bill and it had cost me 50 euro’s for at least 3 days worth of food and drinks including alcohol.
We prepared a nice breakfast every morning and we got fresh baguettes from the bakery across our apartment.

A good breakfast will save you money because we didn’t eat lunch until about 1pm.
Food on the mountain is expensive so when you’re on a budget, the best option is to prepare your lunch in the morning so you can take this on the slopes.
I’m not a big fan of bread so I prepared some nice salads and I always brought a banana for energy.
Of course there is always the temptation of ordering some delicious French fries so I must admit doing exactly that for at least 3 times. Yummie!

Risoul, France
Beautiful pistes to ski!

So, what did it cost me?
» Travel cost by car/van: 120 euro’s pp
» Food/drinks including alcohol for 5 days: 100 euro’s pp
» Lodging including a ski pass for the entire area: 315 euro’s
» Ski hire: It’s cheaper to bring your own but I decided to rent them on the spot so it cost me 70 euro’s for ski’s, boots and sticks.
» Extra’s: Après ski and happy hour (Jägermeister) nights cost me about 50 euro’s.. (yes, this is all part of the fun)

Verdict: Skiing on a budget, it can be done! It normally cost about a 1000 euro’s and I did it for 655 euro’s!

Love,

Elke

 

Top 5 » Why you should visit Greece

I have been coming to Greece since the age of 3. This country is very close to my heart. Unfortunately Greece has a lot of financial struggles at the moment but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit! Greek people live of tourism most of the time, so I can only recommend you go. So why visit Greece?

1. The Beaches
I have been all over the world but the best beaches I have seen so far were all in Greece. The water is so blue that you think it’s a swimming pool!

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Egremni beach, Lefkas

2. The Food
OMG. The food. Whats not to love? I don’t even eat meat but even then they have one of the best cuisines. From stuffed tomatoes to the amazing calamari.. Yummie! Be sure that there will be a recipe on our blog soon!

3. The People.
Greek people are welcoming, warmhearted people. Even in Athens the people have always been so good to me. Last summer I stayed in an apartment and the owner welcomed us with a home baked cake from his grandmother. Just because their like that.

Why you should visit Greece

4. The Music
Ok, not everybody is a fan but once you’ve learned to dance to it, it’s amazing!
I was taught at a young age so I know 1 or 2 traditional dances. If you do it well, someone will give you a free shot (they call it a svinaki) or they smash some plates! 

5. The Weather
Yes, this wouldn’t be a good top 5 if I had not mentioned the weather. During the high season it’s between 25 and 30 degrees which is the perfect weather for me but Greece is still wonderful in October with 18 to 25 degrees. Happy days!

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Kathsima beach, Lefkas

Enjoy the beauty of Greece!

Love,

Elke