TOP 5 COUNTRIES TO LIVE IN (if you ever think about moving)

If you’re planning to leave your hometown and find your luck somewhere else then you should check this list. 

What countries are best to live in if you want to live abroad? Based on a recent survey of 20.000 global people, these are the results.

1. Canada

This country has it all. Adventure, rough but stunning nature, pretty clean air, friendly people and the list goes on. The second largest country in the world particularly scored high on Quality of Life, Citizenship and the opportunities for entrepreneurship. Did you know that Canada is one of the best and safest places for solo travelCheck here for more tips and stories about Canada.

Lake, Canada

2. Sweden

Another Scandinavian country. This time it’s Sweden.  They just introduced a 6 hour working day so if that doesn’t already makes a person happy, you should read on. They give you 16 months of to spent that time with your newborn baby, so it is the best place for women where they get safety and they can see their child grown up. Besides this, you can breath fresh air and visit amazing beautiful places.

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More people living in other countries than ever, says UN study

3. Denmark

Crazy but it has zero crime rates, murder, no corruption, and stability in economic growth, quality life, etc. All these things made it as one of the best, happiest and safest countries to live in the world. Nearly 18 weeks of paid leave is given to mothers and 79 percent of women are working which is comparatively higher than other countries. People in this country are more concerned about their environment and they follow excellent health care system. Let’s move to Denmark!

Snow in Denmark

4. Norway

When I arrived in Norway for the first time, I actually cried because I thought the sight of it was so beautiful. Mountains, Fjörds, valleys, waterfalls and clean air to breath. Norway is one of those place you need to visit before you die, so why not live there for a while! 

Girl standing in Norway
Elke in Norway

5. Switzerland

In short, we loooove Switzerland. The nature is just incredible and if you think Canada is too far, just come over to the Swiss side because it resembles a lot with the scenery.  Secondly, wages are pretty good if you live there as it is one of the wealthiest countries on the planet. 

The Giant Swing Adelboden

Did you know that The Netherlands made it place eight? Lucky us!

Check the full list here.

Love,

Elke

12 x Tips for a Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht

Last midweek we traveled to Maastricht and its surroundings. Let see what the city that almost hosted the 2020 Eurovision is all about.

We Dutchies are globe-trotters with a capital ‘G’ and an exclamation mark. Our travel-around-the-world-craving seems to become bigger and bigger, year after year. But besides all the international magic, did you know our own country has just as much to offer as the most distant destinations? A nice side note: you save yourself a pricey ticket and killer jetlag (here’s how to avoid one). Hello Maastricht!

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht in a nutshell

Would you like to experience life like the Maastricht citizens do? Drop by on a Sunday afternoon till Thursday and you’ll get that slow living, enjoyable feeling! No hustle and bustle, just everything at ease. The authentic atmosphere of Maastricht made me feel like I was on a laid back mini vacation abroad – and that wasn’t just because of the lovely spring sunshine, cold beer with Italian nibbles and a hospitable community. There is so much to explore, let’s zoom in on a few highlights and to do’s I’ve tried & tested.

Where to Stay

In my opinion the best district to stay is without doubt the hip and lively district ‘Wyck’. Extra plus: it’s near the train station, which is super convenient. Let me give you three really cool hotel tips for your citytrip in Maastricht:

» The Student Hotel: The Student Hotel has become a household name in this city. Besides housing students with a home away from home, the building also provides guests with a playful decor and spacious rooms. The monumental building is the perfect match for that TSH vibe, which stands for playful, creative and community. Next door you can find The Commons, a nice restaurant that guest and outsiders can use for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Keep an eye out for more Student Hotel locations, they plan to have 41 properties in European cities by 2021! Book your stay here.

TSH Maastricht
The Student Hotel

» The Dutch: The colourful, trendy design with international allure would certainly not be missed in Amsterdam, London or Barcelona. I’m in love with their breakfast bag, which they hang on your door in the early morning, so cute. Food allergy, vegan or other wishes? No problem for the genuinely friendly staff! www.hotelthedutch.com

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht The Dutch

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht The Dutch
The Dutch, one of my stays during my midweekend citytrip in Maastricht

» Kaboom Hotel, are you smart, worldly-wise and a tad of a rebel? Did you hear yourself saying three times ‘yes’ than you definitely have to stay here. Rewarded as the best hotel concept in 2015 according to Entree Magazine, good job! Oh and they’re nice for your wallet: budget-friendly without feeling cheap. Book your stay here.
» Townhouse Hotel. They want to give you the feelin’ like home-away-from-home experience: rent a goldfish for one night – how funny is that! – and enjoy their homemade soup or a little alcoholic drink in one of the comfortable, retro sofas. If you prefer a pure and ‘down to earth’ hotel, this is your match! Book here!

Townhouse Hotel
The Townhouse Hotel

Where to Eat

Oh Yes, we have arrived (figuratively  speaking) at my favorite chapter: Food! During my citytrip in Maastricht I spotted many pretty new hotspots.
» Mr. Smith, Say hi to this new kid in town. A stylish cocktailbar of two hipsters. This cocktailicious hotspot is one you need to know, otherwise you will spontaneously go along. Press the bell and a small-scale, hidden cocktail heaven will open in front of you. Go for their fresh GT’s or ask the staff for a tasty advice. In advance #sorrynotsorry for your hangover. mrsmithmaastricht
» De Poshoorn, on Sunday evening I went to the well-known De Poshoorn. In the past a brown, tiny unobtrusive pub, nowadays a vibrant beer café with a fresh, contemporary atmosphere. Sixteen beers on tap and hundred on bottle. Go local and try the ‘Mestreechs Zoervleis’, a local food specialty. In spite of the fact the Maastrichtians see this dish as something unique, for this girl from above the rivers it’s a look-alike of the meaty hachee, so delicious! www.poshoorn.nl
» De Tapijn, is a very cool 4-year catering project in a former barrack. Relaxed location near the park, welcoming staff, a huge terrace and yummy food. I love the fact they know the origin of the fresh, local ingredients. This alone makes the food even better. Lunch, dinner or a Friday drink with friends, this hotspot in Maastricht has it all! www.tapijn.nl

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht
Jack White’s, one of the hotspots I’ve tried during my citytrip in Maastricht

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht
Never mind the beer! 😉

What To Do

Boy o boy where to start, there’s so much to do during a (mid)weekend Maastricht and other parts of South Limburg! Here are my favorite highlights:
Let’s start with the city walk through the urban part of Maastricht. Honestly, the excitement of the guide is essential for making or failing it, but luckily I had an amazing time with Lianne Schuuring, credits for her. She showed all the interesting ins and outs of Maastricht from the history till today. Bucketlist proof!

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht
Sightseeing Maastricht, a must do during your citytrip!

Midweekend citytrip to Maastricht

Get Active

If you’d rather ride a bike than walk, rent a mountainbike and work on your condition in this hilly area. There’re so many bike routes. I cycled to the newly opened ENCI-quarry, a wonderful spot for a swim in summertime. Just a guess, I think you’ve never thought about a kickbike tour in the caves of Zonnebergust. In the Maastricht underground nothing is too crazy. Although I do not have much with visiting caves, the whole new experience ánd power chick Niké Hermans made it really enjoyable. See the Southern part of South Limburg from a fascinating, different angle. Are you claustrophobic? Let shake hands…but I can tell you this wasn’t too claustrophobic for me, so don’t worry.

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Entering the cave

Herbal walk?

A herbal walk in Maastricht or other parts in South Limburg, have you ever done it? Come one, once has to be the very first time. Definitely book it via the enthusiastic master herborist Anne van der Linden. She’s is a running encyclopedia, she really knows everything about herbs and their special function: tea of nettle for blood purification, the juice from the dandelion for drying out annoying pimples and so on, and so on. If you’re very interested in the history of historical buildings go to Abdij Rolduc in Kerkrade and book a tour. To be honest, it wasn’t my favorite, but I can imagine you don’t want to miss it during your midweekend in Maastricht and surroundings. Afterwards you can have some food in the Brasserie or have a quick look in the microbrewery, a hidden gem!

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Maastricht

An information overload summarised in a city guide for you, you’re welcome 😉 I’ll definitely go back to the south if I need a mini-break!

Love,

Sharmaine

Read more of Sharmaine’s foodie tips here!

Citytrip Almere | What to see and do

When you first think of a citytrip Almere you might think of modern and innovative architectonic buildings, a shopping area without much ambiance, and always a breeze at hand. In all honesty, we didn’t know Almere as well as we thought. But the youngest city of the Netherlands has more to offer than meets the eye.

How Almere captures your heart

Recently, I received a secret invite for a ‘Destination Unknown Experience.’ Obviously, it triggered my interest. Little did I know that together with some other nosey parkers we got on a speedboat – a rapid Rib with 100 km/h on the meter – and after an adrenaline rush for 30 minutes, we arrived in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nature. ‘Welcome to Almere ladies!’ This wasn’t in line with the City I met years ago. I had to give this municipality a second chance.

Almere citytrip
What a way to enter the city!

One of the things I was mostly surprised by, was the immense natural character

A 24h citytrip in Almere

If you are planning a city trip to Almere you have many options, but I will give you a glimpse of my one-day citytrip. The city is surrounded by five natural areas: Oostvaardersplassen, Lepelaarplassen, Pampushout, the Vroege Vogelbos and Almeerderhout. Consequently, nature-lovers will dig this. And did you know that Almere has twice as many bridges as Venice? After floating through the canals, we arrived at Boathouse Almere. A beautiful place where you can dock your boat. I can tell you, you’ll stay here a little longer than initially planned. Expect a menu with something for everybody. From a club sandwich to fish & chips or bao with pulled jackfruit. After an appetizing lunch break we continued our journey by…Segway! Thanks to Segs in the City (see what they did there?), we drove around Almere’s many cycle paths, which is a great way to explore the city.

The boathouse Almere
Boathouse Almere

Segway Tour Almere

Did you know that Almere Centrum won the title Beste Binnenstad 2017 – 2020?

High Tea & Bubbles

Being a segway driver makes you hungry, so our next stop was at a culinary gem: The Black Cockatoo. It’s the first 100% vega(n) hotspot in town where you can indulge yourself with lots of treats. Mostly locally produced and – as far as possible – organic ingredients. The black Cockatoo will always be marked as the place where I had my very first ever vegan hot chocolate milk with whipped cream. And they also had me at ‘vegan brownie.’ Heavenly soft inside, literally and figuratively finger lickin’ good. 

Champagne Almere
Cheers to Almere!

The Black Cockatoo, Almere

High Tea Almere
Happy tummy, happy sweet tooth at The Black Cockatoo 

Lifestyle Salon and Spa knows how to pamper you!

Take a break and Relax

Almere has a lot of shopping opportunities (there are more than 400 stores!) and after all that walking around the city center, your body may need a little pampering. Go to Lifestyle Salon and Spa. Firstly, you can get your hair and make-up done or get a fresh haircut. Secondly, the ladies at the salon offer head and full body massages. Pedicures? You name it, they have it. And all with the idea that beauty is a combination of inner and outer well-being. The crew is very professional, honest and has a ‘what you see is what you get’ mentality. You will love the laidback vibe here, as it is the perfect spot to recharge yourself.

Beauty salon Almere
The ladies at Lifestyle Salon & Spa know how to treat a lady

CULTURAL: visit Vis à Vis open air theater

In the evening we went to Vis à Vis, a theatre company which plays open air shows at a permanent location at Almeerderstrand. Light-hearted comedy, astonishing spectacle and ingenious storylines lead the audience with a wink to the abyss of serious dilemmas. Even though I’m always in for some theatrical violence, I’ve never seen something like this before. Never. In 1,5 hours you’ll be amazed again and again. Step into a world full of extraordinary humor and surprises. Even the air is part of the decor and this is not comparable with a traditional indoor show. In case you’d love to have a complete night out, you can reserve a spot in De Rode Haring with simple (buffet) dishes and long Biergarten tables, a much-vaunted food formula.

Vis a Vis Almere
A must see in Almere!

Where to stay

After a very long, but overwhelming day, we were dropped off at Lodgerie Het Groene Geheim. This is exactly what you need after a full day Almere. A luxury lodge with all comforts including a huge bubble bath with a fantastic view over the countryside. When I woke up I didn’t had the idea I stayed in in a city. Nature everywhere, and this was suppose to be a city trip? Well, I’m sold.

Accommodation Almere

Lodgerie Het Groene Geheim Almere
Heart shaped bubble bath at Lodgerie Het Groene Geheim

Maybe it won’t be love at first sight if you stroll through city centre, but a citytrip to Almere is absolutely worth a try. Nature, city beaches, wellness, shopping, culinary spots makes me wanna say; see you soon?

Special thanks to Visit Almere for this wonderful trip!

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 Instagram!

Learn more about the Netherlands here!

 

 

 

The Leeuwarden Guide 2019

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

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

What to do in Leeuwarden

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

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Street art Leeuwarden style, love it!

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

Leeuwarden shops

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

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

 

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

leeuwarden-emmakade-winter

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

Where to Eat in Leeuwarden

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

Stek Leeuwarden

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

Lazy Lemons Leeuwarden

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

KB Food and Drinks Leeuwarden
Dinner at KB food & drinks

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

Roast Leeuwarden

 

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

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

Moon Leeuwarden

Also worth mentioning:

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

Where to stay in Leeuwarden

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

Post Plaza
In case you’re thinking about a citytrip to Leeuwarden, definitely book a room at the charming Post Plaza****. They invited me to stay and for sure I said ‘yes’. To be honest, I’ve nothing but praise. Especially the hospitality and extravaganza wakey wakey breakfast with everything a sweet tooth with a bit of a sleepyhead wants.. sugar bread. Do we need to say more?

Post Plaza, Leeuwarden
Hotel Post Plaza

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

Van der valk hotel Leeuwarden
Van Der Valk Hotel

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

Love,

Wander-Lust

Where to find the best Tulip Fields in the Netherlands

The tulip season is here and they are more popular than ever! We’ve selected a few regions in the that are just out of this world.. Here are the best tulip fields in the Netherlands.

Noordoostpolder
This tiny place is located in the Flevoland province and has an amazing backdrop with windmills and the sea. Car and bicycle routes have been voted one of the best in the world because of the tulip fields you are about to see here.

Noordoostpolder Tulips
Photo by Peter Abbes

Tulips are only blooming between April and May

Schagerbrug
If you’re looking for beautiful purple tulip fields and flowers, you need to visit the area of Schagerbrug. The fields here look like a Dutch painting because of the windmill that is situated here. If you come during the morning, you will have the best photo’s at sunrise.

Tulip field North Holland
Photo by GroovyPat

Goeree-Overflakkee
Another lesser known area to spot some of the largest and most beautiful tulip fields in the Netherlands. Goeree-Overflakkee is an island located in Zeeland, which is the south west of Holland. There are around 18 tulip fields on the island, in all different colours. Because these tulip fields are less known, you won’t find many tourists or locals walking around, winning! From Amsterdam, it’s about 2 hours drive.

Goeree-Overflakkee, Netherlands

Tulips were originally imported from Turkey in the 16th century, and later produced in The Netherlands

Bollenstreek: Lisse / Hillegom / Noorwijkerhout
One of the more popular tulip destinations. Lisse is near Amsterdam, so it explains why so many people go here. If you can, visit these tulip fields during the week, and early morning. If you go by car, you can drive through the whole area and make several stops.

Lisse tulip fileds

Polderbaan Schiphol
Next to the longest runway in Amsterdam Schiphol, you will find a few tulip fields. Combine this with a trip to the Polderbaan to see airplanes take off and land. This is also the tulip field you see in the header photo of this article.

Tulip Field next to Polderbaan
Relaxing in the Tulip field next to the Polderbaan

Keukenhof
We have the Van Gogh Museum, and we have the Keukenhof. It’s the one place all travelers know about. Mind you, if you visit the Keukenhof, you will share the tulip watching with thousands of tourists from all over the world. Buy tickets to the Keukenhof

There are over 150 species of tulips with over 3,000 different varieties.

Important note:
Please be aware that you cannot walk into every tulip field. If you see the farmer, please ask for permission. Otherwise respect their crop and do not walk in between the flowers (only the ground/sandy parts). There are wider area’s that you can take photo’s from. This year many tulip farmers have decided to close their fields with gates because there are so many tourists ruining their tulip field. 


Treat yourself to some flowers at the Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam!

Enjoy!

Wander-Lust

Cycling towards the other side of the world

In December of 2018 Mick van Zadelhoff and Bob Rekelhof, decided they wanted to do something that’s bigger than themselves. Inspired by movies like ‘Into the Wild’, they wanted to cycle from The Netherlands to India and go on a journey in which they would connect with their inner selves and other people from all around the world. This is their story.

It sounded as a great idea: cycling from the Netherlands to India. We would show everyone that it’s possible to do the impossible. So, without training and without a plan we bought some bicycles and started our journey. That’s why we came up with the idea of cycling to the spiritual land called India. We bought a bike, some warm clothes and a backpack. Within just two weeks we would be cycling towards the other side of the world.


Mick and Bob leaving on an adventure

Sleeping in a tent during the winter
We started off cycling around 60 to 80 kilometers per day. A lot, in our opinion, but Germany turned out so big that it took two weeks to pass through the country. Sleeping in hostels, hotels or Airbnbs would be too expensive. That’s why we tried to sleep in tents as much as we could. The first night in Germany we pitched the tent. We had good hopes with our tent and sleeping bag, but got disappointed very quickly. It was mid-winter and extremely cold. Our 25 euro sleeping bags just couldn’t handle that. We tried everything to stay warm at night: eating a late night snack, sleeping with clothes on and exercising before bed. Nothing helped. The weather only got worse and we still had to cycle over the Alps…

tent
The image how we imagined sleeping in a tent. The reality was a little different..

After the first week we had in mind that we would at least be used to sleeping in a tent with temperatures below zero. That was not the case. We slept terrible and our bodies became weaker. We wanted it to be this journey of connection, but it was hard to connect with people feeling this way. We needed a warm place and a good night rest. We decided to try Couchsurfing. This way we can connect with someone and have a warm couch/bed. This way we met a mother of two children, who took us out to have some drinks with friends. It was truly an amazing time we spent there. She just invited us to her night out and then into her house, where we eventually had breakfast with her and her two children. We used Couchsurfing some more times, which was always a great way to connect with people. There was only one downside: you constantly fall in some social event where you usually have some drinks and sleep late at night. We still use the platform, but not every day. Sometimes you need some goodnights rest.

cycling road

A reality check
After two weeks we finally approached the Alps. Our last stop before climbing the steep mountains would be an Airbnb not so far from Kempten. Our plan was to sleep well and approach the mountains with fresh energy. But then… my bike broke. One part of the gear had broken off. That was the last thing we’ve expected to happen.Thank god for those tie-wraps we brought! Problem solved? Nope, when we headed towards our Airbnb, another situation occurred. I got myself a flat tire. That, we couldn’t fix at night.

That was the part we were really scared off

Because of the whole situation, we could not get to our Airbnb. Unfortunately Kempten was too packed with snow to pitch a tent. We decided to sleep in a parking garage. With sunglasses on and earbuds in, we laid to rest on the top-floor of the parking garage staircase. Not that comfortable and, also, not that warm. After some breakfast we still had to get ready for our trip over the Alps. That was the part we were really scared off. Climbing 1.000 meter high mountains with a bike in cold weather didn’t sounded that great. But we had to. Because of all the problems we already encountered, we just wanted it to be over with. We began cycling..

cycling to India

Cycling over the Alps
It’s a miracle! The sun was shining, the roads were not so steep and the sight was beautiful. The first day in the Alps seemed really easy. We sat down at a coffee place and relaxed. We only had to bike another 30 kilometers and we would arrive in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where a fresh Airbnb was waiting for us. In a state of ecstasy we drove towards the little Tiroler town. We drove up the mountain, when Mick suddenly stopped. “We missed a turn at the last exit”, he said. We drove back another 5km to find the correct exit. Because of the snow, we had to walk through it. We walked for around 30/45 minutes and then things started to take a turn. The bicycle lane suddenly stopped. The rest of the road was hidden underneath a 1,5 meter thick layer of snow. We really felt miserable. We had to walk back all the way, bike up again the same route and take the motor way for another 40 kilometers.

There were so many moments where we just wanted to stop

Night had fallen. The temperature had dropped to 15 degrees below zeroo but we were still cycling through the Alps. The day that seemed so easy to start with, had become another day of hell. We were cycling uphill for another 10 to 20 km, which turned into a freezing cold experience when we had to cycle downhill. My beard had even frozen. It was filled with little chunks of ice. However, we had to continue cycling. There were so many moments where we just wanted to stop. It was not healthy going through so much misery. But you can’t stop. There is nothing there, except for mountains and trees. You are forced to continue. Then, at one point, this survival instinct kicks in. It starts to feel like a matter of life or death. We decided to just turn up the tempo and start cycling as fast as we could. Within forty minutes we finished the last 15 kilometers. We arrived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where we finally had a bed, a shower and a warm cup of coffee.

Cycling through the snow

It made you realize how strong you are as a person

It makes you a stronger person
Some of you might be reading this and think: “Why would you do this to yourself? I would never put myself through so much misery”. We understand. To be honest, if we knew what this journey would bring, I would’ve probably not even started. After all, I’m happy with every moment, every emotion and every thought this trip have brought me so far. It made me realize how strong I am as a person. Most of the situations we’ve been through sounded as something impossible, not humanly possible to do. Now I found out that I am able to do this. First I worried about school, about a career, about my friends, about my looks. Now, that has all vanished, because… if you can ride 115 km through the Alps during mid-winter, then what else can possibly break you?

Mick

Mick and Bob are currently cycling though Italy, follow their journey on YouTube!

11 Stunning Castles in Europe You Must Visit!

Castles. They are impressive, and have a historical story to tell. The castle popularity has risen over the years, since the start of social media, which is mainly because of their photogenic look. Time to check them out right? We’ve lined up 11 amazing castles in Europe that are worth your visit.

Neuschwanstein Castle
Probably the most famous castle in Europe, perhaps in the world. It looks like something out of a fairy-tail, and when you look at it, you might think that sleeping beauty is sleeping in one of it’s towers. It’s located near Füssen in southwest Bavaria in Germany, and it’s one of the most photographed castles around. It dates back from the 19th century, so it’s a wonderful historical building that looks amazing during all seasons.

Castle germany
Neuschwanstein Castle

They say living in a castle is objectively romantic, and we’re totally fine with that!

Pena Palace, Portugal
One of the most colourful castles in Europe! Therefore, it’s extremely popular with tourist, so difficult to snap a picture without people on it. @BARNADRIFT was one of the lucky ones who managed. Would love to know his secret! The palace is located on a hill and rises above a Portuguese town named Sintra. On a clear day, you might even spot it from Lisbon.

Pena Palace, Portugal

Craigievar Castle, Scotland
A pink castle, hello! We think this is the cutest castle we have seen so far. And who knew, it’s located in Scotland! It’s at least 400 years old, and the Forbes family generation lived here for 350 years until it was given to the National Trust for Scotland by William Forbes-Sempill. Fellow travel girl @ANANEWYORK made this incredible picture that was shared around the world.

Craigievar Castle, Scotland
Pretty pink Cragievar

Schloss Drachenburg, Germany
Yes, another castle located in Germany. Officially, this is not a real castle, but a private villa that has been build in a palace/castle kind of architecture. But who cares, it looks awesome!

Schloss
Reminds us of Disneyland!

A man’s home is his wife’s castle

Corvin Castle, Romania
This spooky looking castle is located in Hunedoara, Romania. It is one of the largest castles in Europe and figures in a list of the seven wonders of Romania, so they are very proud of it!

Corvin Castle, Romania
The princess and her castle.. by @varwarock

Peles Castle, Romania
Another castle in the land of Romania, but this one has a completely different look & feel. Situated in the green mountains of the Prahova County, this castle was built between 1873 and 1914. It’s now being used for events and tours. If you ever get the chance, have a look inside, because it looks incredible!

Peles Castle Romania

Gripsholm Castle, Sweden
Yes we love pink, so we had to add Gripsholm Castle on the list. Again, this castle looks very different that what you perhaps would expect. It’s surrounded by water, and located about 60km from Stockholm.

Castle
Gripsholm Castle by @mrbaging

Chateau de Chambord
France has many beautiful castles, but this one is by far the most impressive we think.

Chateau de Chambord
Photo courtesy of @rita1889

Mont Saint-Michel, France
It’s an Instagram favourite, the Mont Saint-Michel in France! It’s so popular, because you can photograph this castle in various conditions. When the water around Mont Saint-Michel rises, it looks completely different. Back in prehistoric days, the castle wasn’t covered by water, so overtime erosion reshaped the coastal landscape.

Mont Saint-Michel, France
Photo by @Jack_Anstey

Predjama Castle, Slovenia
This castle reminds us of a scene out of Lord of the Rings. The Predjama Castle is build in between a cave mouth, and has something mysterious about it. It’s in fact the largest cave castle in the world! It’s said to be more than 800 years old, and has a network of secret tunnels. You can also visit the cave itself, which is home to a lot of bats!

Predjama Castle in Slovenia
Lord of the rings?

De Haar Castle, Holland
And because we are Dutch, we felt we needed to highlight one of Holland’s prettiest castles, De Haar, in Maarsen. It’s pretty huge and a very popular wedding location! If you have a drone, you can see the total beauty, as it’s so widely spread over the premises.

Castle De Haar, Holland
Photo courtesy of @Arden_nl.

There you have it, 11 amazing castles you should definitely add on your bucketlist.

Love,

Elke

*Header Photo courtesy of @ANANEWYORK

These are the Top 10 Countries to Live in According to Expats

Expats are everywhere nowadays. Businesses expand abroad more than ever and like to bring in clever, hardworking foreigners who seek adventure and a change of scene. Expat Insider did some extensive research and looked at several topics such as; Quality of Life, easy to settle, personal finance, family life, cost of living etc. We also did some research ourselves by asking around in several Expat groups on Facebook, and these are the combined results!

10. Oman
This country may not come to mind immediately, but according to many expats around the world, it’s a good place to live. Oman is a safe country with a low crime rate, so it’s a particularly good environment to raise young children. Accommodation is usually included within an employment contract, which is also a big plus. Downside; it can be very very hot, so hard to move around.

oman

9. New Zealand
If you scoop around the internet, you see mixed results for New Zealand, and sometimes you don’t even find it in the top ten anymore, but we did a little of research on our own and discovered that many of you actually enjoy working in New Zealand. Yes, it’s expensive, but wages are good, the quality of life is (stunning nature for one!), and friendly people.

Expat Syndrome’ is a condition whereby many expatriates see mostly either the best of their own nationality and the worst of the locals, or see the opposite.

8. Netherlands (Amsterdam)
Everybody speaks English, there is a comfortable way of living and settling in is (fairly) easy. Those were some of the reasons why Amsterdam made it to the top ten. Downside; The Netherlands has one of the highest tax rates of Europe, but on the flipside, The country has also been ranked as one of the places where people are the happiest.


Amsterdam, still popular with expats

7. Costa Rica
It’s sunny, the people are friendly and life is easy according to expats around the world. Costa Rica is popular amongst expats, but they didn’t make it further up the list because they didn’t score very high when it comes to personal finance. If you live there it’s fine, but is it a place to make future plans? Many expats didn’t think so.

Costa Rica
We can see why people like Costa Rica

6. Denmark
No surprise that yet another Scandinavian country tops off a good-place-to-live list. Expats voted Denmark in the top three last year, and after talking to

5. Czech Republic (Prague)
Surprisingly, Prague scored poorly on settling in (such as making new friends, speaking the language), but scored really high on work-living and urban-living. Prague seems to be a great place to make a career, or at least use it as a stepping stone.

Bahrainis are very friendly and welcoming. Everyone speaks English.

Prague
Pretty Prague is doing pretty well

4. Mexico
It’s funny, because we keep hearing more and more people in our direct circle of friends, talking about moving to Mexico. Why? More than half of the people asked, give friendliness of locals highest rating. Cancún is the most popular city to live in, with Playa del Carmen and Tulum close behind. Mexico may not be the safest place, so people tend to be extra careful.

3. Ecuador
Surprise surprise, this country made a huuuuge comeback. We did hear that Equador was doing well a few years back, but dropped back in the list. Four out of five expats say that there is a good financial balance and that the way of living is good. (I’m sure the good weather also helps)


Pink walls in Ecuador

My favorite place to work and live would be on the Moon, coz humans are the worst living parasites. -Unknown Expat

2. Taiwan
Coming in at number 2 is Taiwan! Most expats asked, rated this country as having good healthcare, job security and quality of life.

Taiwan City
Taiwan from Elephant Mountain

1. Bahrain (Manama)
It’s a clear winner! In case you don’t have a clue; Bahrain is located just above Quatar and part of the Arabian Gulf. It’s capital, Manama, scores really good on urban work life. The city shows generally good results in both the Job & Career and the Work-Life Balance subcategories of Expat Insider. It’s also a popular place to live for expat families.

So there you have it, the Expat top 10! What’s your favorite place to work and live, and why?

Love,

Wander-Lust

 

 

Flevoland » Relax & Unwind in The Netherlands

Get lost in 56 km of untouched nature, stand face tot face with wild animals during a safari or survival on a deserted island. I’m not talking about Kenya, South-America or Sri Lanka. Adventure awaits and it may be closer to home than you think. Actually, for Dutchies not even a two-hour car ride. You can find it in the Oostvaardersplassen in Flevoland, the youngest province of the Netherlands. 

Flevoland nature

Nature
The polder was created in the center of the country, where the Zuiderzee used to be. Officially established in 1986 and already an attractive residential and recreational area with a growing number of inhabitants. Let me take you on a virtual tour through the largest artificial island in the world. Not only humans enjoy the wide marshlands and pristine grasslands of the Oostvaardersplassen. It’s also a paradise for birds, Konik horses and deer. You can spot these wild animals and many others during a safari or together with the local forest ranger. There are also special cycling and hiking routes set around the area. More of an water person then an animal lover? With over 90.000 hectares of water, Flevoland is heaven on earth for sailors, fishermen and watersport enthusiasts. After all, Flevoland used the be the Zuiderzee so it’s not a big surprise. The remaining water consists of the IJsselmeer, the Markermeer and the Randmeren. You will find modern marinas and various possibilities of all kinds of water sports to explore the wild (and not so wild) waters of Flevoland. For example, rent a Catamaran at Sail Today for physical action or take a trip on a Rib Boat to enjoy the water at the speed of light (of at least, it feels that way).

Nature in Flevoland

Flevoland Harbor

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Tip » Do you prefer a spot on the front row and are you not afraid of heights? Experience the Oostvaardersplassen, LandArt and BataviaHarbor from a small air plane. Book your flight here.

Flevoland from above
Flevoland from above

Culture
Do you like art and architecture? Flevoland has many exhibitions, festivals and special buildings. You don’t even have to go to a museum to check out the artworks. Seven of the eight Lands Arts Works that the Netherlands have to offer are hidden in Flevoland. In place you didn’t expect, in the middle of the landscape. They created a car and bike route along the different Land Arts Works, a great way to discover Flevoland.

Art in Flevoland

Tip » Getting hungry? Enjoy freshly caught fish at Restaurant de Kaap in Urk, a traditional and characteristic fishing village in the northwest of Flevoland. The village used to be an island and still has its own dialect and way of living. When you’re there, don’t forget to check out the small monumental houses, cozy squares and beautiful harbor.

Where to Sleep
Go back to basics in a tipi on the desert island De Kluut or spend your night underneath the starts on Camping Raft in the midst of the beautiful, rugged nature of the Stille Ken in Zeewolde.
My favorite place to sleep is at Netl, the wildest garden, in the north of Flevoland. Beaches, natural playgrounds, bamboo jungle, 18 hole pitch & putt golf course and cozy beach pavilion; the perfect place break and balance your daily routines. Sleep at the campsite or in one of the unique accommodations, for example the sea container or Pipowagen.

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One of the accommodations in Netl

Verdict
Flevoland is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the beauty of nature close to home. A 50-minute car ride from Amsterdam brings me to a whole other world, far away from the buzz from the city. Summer dress and flipflop weather is not guaranteed unfortunately, but the landscape and tranquility brings a valid holiday vibe (even when it rains). And beside that, just imagine how romantic it would be to sleep underneath the stars in the middle of a lake…

Love,

Eva

Stay in a traveling Hotel at special locations

Are you looking for an unique and unusual special place to stay?
Camping in the middle of the city without having to bring your own tent, able to use the building as your own living environment but also sharing spaces with other guest, that is what Emmy Polkamp created. She designed traveling hotel to house guests during festivals or other cultural events: To Many Places, a nomadic Pop-Up Hotel.

designer-tents-2

‘Why stay in one city with your while you can re-use empty buildings and give them a new purpose instead of having them empty’

The Concept:
The guests get the opportunity to stay in designer tents which are located on special locations. The traveling hotel already gave a special place to sleep in an old feed mill to the visitors of the festival Boulevard and was the hotel also being found in an old coffee-roasting factory. This year a select group of DDW-visitors can sleep in this traveling hotel. This time it’s not in an old factory, but in an authentic chapel, located in the Center of Eindhoven. YES PLEASE!

It’s a simple but well thought-through concept that brings the visitors of the DDW together into an intimate and social atmosphere. This unique experience definitely fits the concept of the Dutch Design Week. The tents offer single- or double rooms with its matching facilities. Back to basic, but with the needed additions to create a nice and relaxed setting. The luxury breakfast in the mornings makes sure you have enough energy to start your new day!

designer-tents-3

About Emmy:
She graduated in the year of 2015 from Design Academy Eindhoven with the concept for her nomadic hotel named To Many Places.

‘I am thinking of a world in which we all work together.
Each from his own strength,were we work with what is already there and invent new solutions around it.’

Timing:
Between the 22th and 30th of October you can sleep on this unique location with the stunning view over Eindhoven.

Find ‘To Many Places’ on Airbnb or email Emmy directly via emmypolkamp@gmail.com to secure a spot!

Love,

Sarah