5 Misconceptions About Being A Flight Attendant

Being a flight attendant is a job that provides the possibility to travel frequently and meet new people from all over the world. Amber took the plunge and made a 180 degree life change. After a long and exciting selection process, a ‘new way of life’ was born. Different than you may think, the life of a flight attendant is not only about adventure, glamour, luxury or a romance with the captain. There are plenty of misconceptions and a lot of things you might not know. It’s time to find out what’s it really like!

life-of-a-flight-attendant-1

1. You need to be fit and ready
Passenger safety is the most important role for a flight attendant. Rule number one is to be fit to work, so no alcohol is allowed 10 hours prior to our duty. We have to go trough 4 weeks of training and a re-qualification every year. The exams are extremely stressful and concerns flight safety, self-defense and first aid. Floating trough the aisle serving coffee and tea is much further down the list of the responsibilities of a flight attendant.

Let’s get one thing out in the open, I have never dated a pilot.

2. We are not all dating a pilot
A typical day starts with packing my suitcase, applying basic make-up, putting my hair up and wearing my clean and shiny blue uniform with pride. There’s only one thing to add: a brilliant smile! When scheduled on early flights I meet my colleagues at the airport around 6am. On standard European flights the crew consist of a captain, first officer and two flight attendants. Once I’ve met my colleagues for the day it’s time to head to the briefing room to prepare and discuss the flights for the next few days. It’s always magical to experience how four strangers become such a strong and reliable team within a few minutes after getting to know each other. I really appreciate the colleagues I have to work with but let’s get one thing out in the open, I have never dated a pilot. To be honest.. Since the day I started working as a flight attendant, I’ve never witnessed any love bloom between any of the crew. Of course this is an illusion and I’m pretty sure there will be colleagues who secretly hook up during a layover. It’s really not all that different from other jobs.

life-of-a-flight-attendant-3

3. Being a flight attendant can be far from glamorous
A lot of passengers think flight attendants are responsible for everything om board. They do have a point. Unfortunately lifting hand luggage in the overhead bin is not part of our job. We are not all cross fit athletes. When passengers assume that their trolley is way to heavy to lift, they call the flight attendant to stow it. I’ll give them a friendly smile and i’m begging them to stop traveling with carry-on bags they can’t handle. I quietly whisper: “If you can’t sling it, don’t bring it.” The average duration of a flight is less then one hour. Within this time we have to offer a full service to a maximum of one-hundred passengers. There is not much time left for chatting in the galley or hanging out in the cockpit. The job is far from glamorous and the workload can be very high some days. As a flight attendant you’re working your ‘but off’ whilst being patient, putting effort in your work and providing a smile from ear to ear.

4. Layovers are often short
After three or four flights we arrive on our final destination for that day, somewhere in Europe. We quickly grab our suitcases and catch the taxi to bring us to our temporary ‘home’ for the night. The hotels are brilliant and often located close to the city and equipped with a gym and sauna. We receive a daily allowance to spend on food and other sundries. The company is doing their best to create the optimum conditions. Most layovers are short, and you barely have time to spend the money. After a 10-hour shift most of the crew will decide to go for a nap or chill out at the hotel. If there’s some energy and time left, we’ll go on a local excursion, have a few drinks in town or visiting some other places of interest. Luckily I am an high-energy person! I like wandering on my own and visit places I haven’t seen before. Hiking trough the beautiful nature of Norway was one of my best experiences. The moments I’m making unforgettable memories it is hard to believe this is actually part of the job. The wake-up call at 4am quickly brings me back to reality as a new day of work is ahead with an early flight back to Amsterdam!

life-of-a-flight-attendant-4

5. The life of a flight attendant can be very lonely
The life of a flight attendant is not only about glitter and glamour. It’s way more then that. The long shifts, delays and difficulties on board with demanding passengers can be a real challenge. Beside this it is not easy to organize your social life when you’re abroad 4 nights in a row. The life of a flight attendant can be very lonely. You basically live out of a suitcase, miss your best friends birthday, skip your favorite festival and spend less quality time with your family.

Let me end this story by saying that I do love my job and I am very proud to live the ‘dream’ of a flight attendant! Especially when you realize only a few of those who applied actually got hired. The lovely colleagues, friendly passengers and the wonderful destinations are the reason this job is given me so much energy. Since I started as a flight attendant I experienced the amazing continent we live in. Instead of watching television or doing the laundry at home, I spend my spare time having diner outdoors and enjoying the facilities and luxury of a 5 star hotel.

If you focus on the load of experiences you get trough this way of life, it’s a real privilege to be a flight attendant!

Love,

Amber

*Amber was one of our guest editors from the Netherlands who loves her job as a flight attendant! She’s always on the run searching for the best hotspots in Europe. In her spare time she likes to discover the best hotspots of Utrecht. You can expect an article from her once a month! You can follow her adventures on Instagram or visit her dutch blog on www.amberontdekt.nl!

Always wondered how turbulence works? Check out this video!

The Oman Travel Guide 2019

 Oman was voted as one of the top destinations for 2018 and since then we knew we had to visit. Oman is extremely divers and has many route possibilities. We’ve created the ultimate Oman Travel Guide for 2019 so you can get off the beaten track.

There are a few things that you need know about the Sultanate of Oman.

  • Oman is a safe country
    Yes, there are still some misconceptions about this. Oman is in fact one of the safest countries is the middle east and the crime rate is low. We advise you to check your local travel advise agency, but there wasn’t a moment that I felt unsafe. The people of Oman are extremely generous and welcoming.
  • You need to apply for a visa
    A 10 day visa will cost you about 12 Euro, and is available online. Print it and bring it with you. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months. Other visa’s are also available.
  • Warm weather is guaranteed
    Oman is warm throughout the year with the hottest season between June and August. October up to April are the most pleasant.
  • Respect the Omani culture
    Oman is an islamic country, therefore it’s wise to bring a kaftan and head scarf when visiting the Grand Mosque and some public area’s. In most hotels and Wadi’s, you can wear summer clothes, but bikini’s are not always accepted everywhere. Bring a shirt and long trousers just in case.
  • Oman is a rich country
    For this reason is also not the most affordable one, and you can compare prices with western Europe.
  • Rent a car, or get someone to drive you around
    Because Oman is so widely spread open, that the distances between the highlights are far. Sometimes you need to drive for 2 hours to get somewhere. Public transport and taxi’s are used in the capital.

Where to start and stay
The capital of Oman is Muscat and the perfect place to start your trip from. You can choose between different hotels, both luxury and the more standard ones. We stayed in the Chedi Muscat, which is top range, but well worth it if you want to go all out for your first night. Hotel rooms vary between 300 and 1000 euro per night.

The Chedi Muscat in Oman
The longest pool in the middle east

Chedi Muscat Oman
My condo in the Chedi Muscat

From Muscat you’ll start your trip though Oman. Along the way we tip you the best accommodations with links and details. 


The Route
Oman is widely spread out so the best way to get around is by car. If you are with a group of friends you can hire a 4×4 car, but you can also book a tour guide that will show the the best of Oman. We were driven around by Desert Flower Tours which we highly recommend. It’s run by locals who know Oman like the back of their hand. They have previously worked with magazines, photographers and travel TV crews, so they know what they’re doing :-). Different routes and tours are available and they can be tailor-made. The route we took took 5 days and looks like this:

Get ready to go off the beaten track

Day 1: Muscat
Muscat is full of beautiful architecture and culture. Don’t miss the Grand Mosque which is very impressive. TIP: dress accordingly; Pants or an abaya that cover all body parts. They do have traditional clothing for rent before you enter, and we advise you to bring your own head scarf. The Grand Mosque is home to the second largest carpet in the world (until Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque stole that title). It took 600 women, 4 years to wave!

Grand Mosque Oman
The impressive Grand Mosque of Muscat

The Mosque can hold up to 20.000 people praying, and there are tours available. We prefer just to walk around and discover the many photogenic corners of the all white Mosque. Prayers are held 5 times a day, which makes the experience even more special. 

Grand Mosque Muscat

Visit the Royal Opera House for a quick look around and take a look at their impressive instrument collection. If you can, visit the Al Alam Palace of the Sultan. It’s a modern and colourful building, overlooking the waters of Oman. If you like to buy a souvenir you can make a stop at the Souq van Mutrah here you can buy spices, jewellery and clothes. This market is a bit touristic, but nevertheless nice to walk around.

Royal Opera House Muscat
In front of the Royal Opera House


Day 2: Hajar Mountains
From Muscat you can drive towards the mountains of Hajar. Stop for lunch at  the Muscat Hills Resort, which is a wonderful beach club/boutique hotel with an Ibiza kinda vibe. They offer a Mediterranean menu, overlooking the private bay of Al Jissah . If you can, stay the night in one of their beach houses with outdoor showers!

Muscat Hills resort
Relaxing at Muscat Hills Resort

You can decide to relax at the beach club a little bit longer (bikini’s allowed), or head into the mountains before evening falls. Anyhow, there is so much more waiting for you along the way..

Oman Mountains

Nature in Oman is not to be compared to anything else. 

Oman Mountains

Driving through the mountains is something special. You see the landscape changing as you go up. Stop at several viewing points and local eateries like Bimah Guesthouse where you can enjoy a local Omani style buffet. TIP: bring some travel sickness tablets, the hairpins in the mountains can make you feel a bit nauseous.

Driving though the mountains on Oman

One of the highlights is Jebel Shams, the grand canyon of Oman. The view is stunning! To get here, you drive past local villages like Balad Sayt and Al Hamra. If you like to hike, this is the place for you. There are short or longer hikes available (W4 and W6 pathways) that will take you past waterfalls and local villages such as the ancient village of Al Khateem.

Lunch break in Oman
Having a break at Bimah Guesthouse

Jebel Shams Oman
The amazing view over Jebel Shams

We slept at mountain eco camp Sama Heights, located in Jebel Shams.This fully-fledged eco resort is the first of its kind in the Sultanate. They offer mountain view private villas made from Omani stone and recycled materials and you can also sleep in Bedouin style tents. When you wake up, the sunrise behind the mountains make it worth your while. We also enjoyed the dinner buffet, with lot’s of vegetarian options!

Sama Heights Resort, Oman
Sama Heights


Day 3: Nizwa & Wahabi Sands
Nizwa one of Oman’s ancient cities and used to be Oman’s capital city. It remains a popular stop for shopping. You can visit the traditional goat market where they auction livestock. It may be a bit daunting at first, but to be fair, I prefer the traditional way compared to the livestock factories back home. Nizwa is also known for the ancient fort, that overlooks the old city.

Nizwa Fort
Nizwa Fort

Nizwa Oman
Nizwa Market

If you have time, grab lunch at Al Aqr Traditional Restaurant and order a mint/lime juice to cool off on their rooftop. They serve delicious homemade humus and baba ganoush, plus other traditional Omani dishes.

Mint juice Nizwa, Oman

Wahabi Sands
After a stroll around Nizwa, you drive towards the Omani desert named Wahabi Sands. As you drive towards the red sand, turn up the Arabian radio to get the real desert vibe! If your tour guide drives a good 4×4 car, he will drift across the sand, and slide sidewards off the sand dunes. Pretty awesome!

Sand driting 4x4 in Oman
Dune bashing

Oryx Arabian Camp Oman from above
Overlooking the camp

Wahabi Sands Oman
Photo by @inhetvliegtuig

In the desert are several camps where you can spend the night. We stayed at the Arabian Oryx Camp, with cute stone houses, and a perfect location. From here you can book several activities such as sand boarding, quad or camel riding, and safari’s though the desert. We advise you to stay for one night.

Oryx Arabian camp

Oryx desert camp Oman
How cute is my room!


Day 4: Wadi Bani Khalid
Take your time and enjoy the morning sun in the desert before heading towards the next adventure. Wadi Bani Khalid is not from the desert and the perfect spot to cool off when it’s hot. Mind you, during the weekend a lot of locals will also come here, so it can get quite busy. If you want to swim in this valley, you need to dress accordingly, No bikini’s allowed!

Wadi Bani Khalid Oman

Wadi bani Khalid

You can also have lunch here, but reserve a table as soon as you arrive during lunchtime. This way you’ll get the best view and saves you waiting for a table. From the restaurant you can walk all the way past the water stream and you can also find the ropes in the water if you feel like playing around.

Oman’s lush northern coast lies between the sea and inland mountains.


Day 4/5: Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
From Wadi Bani Khalid, you need to drive for about 2 to 3 hours until you reach this special place. If you have never seen sea turtles before, it’s a must do! This turtle reserve is located next to the … coast where many sea turtles lay their eggs during a certain period. Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve protects the turtles by organising controlled tourists visits that are done with professional guides.

It’s so magical to see these animals walk into the water, knowing they will return to the same beach in a few years

If you book the night here you have 2 options to see the turtles. One in the evening around 9pm, and one at 5am, when the sun comes up. I opted for the evening watch and it didn’t disappoint! We saw at least 8 turtles coming out of the water, returning, and we saw one female laying her eggs! Turtles are deaf, so they don’t hear you, but they can be sensitive to light. Therefore, the guide provides a special torch so you can watch the turtle without interfering them. It was stunning!

Luxury Tent Oman

Luxury view from tent Oman
Not a bad way to wake up!

We advise you to book one of the luxury tents to make your experience even better. Tents are equipped with a bathroom, airconditioning, TV and a comfortable bed. Book your visit here.


Day 5: Wadi Tiwi & Wadi Shab & Bimmah Sinkhole
On this last day you’ll slowly make your way back to Muscat. There is no time for sleeping in the car, because the landscape you are about to see is out of this world, really.

Lighthouse Sur, Oman
The Sur lighthouse

You can stop at various locations such as coastal town Sur, where they still make the traditional wooden ships that Oman used up until the early 70’s. Here you can also find the lighthouse overlooking Sur and the water which is also full of sea turtles!

The Bimmah Sinkhole will be the highlight of this day. I expected it to be extremely busy, but funny enough, I didn’t see that many tourists. I even got a great photo opportunity 😉

Sinkhole Oman

Oman Sinkhole
Bimmah Sinkhole

Oman
The roadtrip of a lifetime

Verdict: Oman is safe, welcoming and for those who like adventure. Oman even has beaches, but it’s not the Mediterranean of course. If you decide to visit Oman, it’s more likely to be an active holiday, with long (stunning) car rides, great food, interesting culture and nature you cannot compare to anything else. If you want to bring your kids I say, do it, but from the age of 5 years or older.

In one sentence; Oman should be on your bucketlist!

Love,

Elke

How To Decrease Your Ecological Footprint While You Travel

Nowadays, there is so much written about the negative environmental impact of traveling that it almost seems impossible to buy a plane ticket without experiencing any form of guilt. Yet -being a traveler by heart- I’ll be the last person on this (still) beautiful planet to discourage you to jump on that plane towards your next new adventure. In fact, I’m telling you exactly what you do want to hear. Go explore the planet, travel the globe and visit the places of your dreams, but we’ll have to make some changes. Cause while we’re all focusing on that perfect world on our Instagram feed, the real world is slowly drowning in our love for her beauty.

sustainable travel

Sustainable travel
One of those changes is putting sustainability on your holiday checklist. It’s the new IT-word that everybody talks about, but what exactly does it mean? I’ll teach you: Sustainability / Noun / [suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee] – the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance. Well, that’s what the dictionary says. To me, sustainable travel is being mindful to the economic, environmental, and cultural impact of travel. So it doesn’t necessarily mean we all have to stop traveling around the globe. By not traveling we will actually create far more severe complications. Many countries depend on tourism as a main source of income. Closing the borders will delay the spread of knowledge, economic opportunities and of course… shutting down the money flow.

It’s about making some smarter decisions that will allow earth to slowly recover to their original ecosystem. So let’s put the money where the mouth is: hereby I provide you with an easy to use guidebook to decrease your own ecological footprint.

Traveling
Choose your way of travel consciously. There are thousands of articles on how to travel cheap and comfortable, but (please) put sustainability on your check-list as well.
Paradise might be closer than you think. We go on 15 hours flights to discover the world while we haven’t even discovered our own country. Find a balance between traveling far and staying closer to home. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in your own country. In fact, I promise you it will be more fun than you think.
Calculate the Carbon Footprint of your Flight. Living in the Netherlands, I can understand that it’s sometimes unavoidable to travel further away. Although I love our small, flat, cow-country, it would be pretty difficult to climb mountains here… not to mention getting a tan. But if you can’t stop the urge to fly, you ca compensate by paying for your CO2. Calculate how much you use via this website or book a flight that immediately compensates your CO2 emissions. Also make sure you book your flights with an airline that recycles waste from food, beverages and paper.

At your destination
Support the community you’re visiting by purchasing products from local suppliers. It’s better for the environment, supports the economy and it’s a great way to meet locals.
Combine sightseeing with a workout: rent a bike or walk instead of hiring a car. The advantages are that you can stop whenever you want to take photo’s of the beautiful surroundings (or just a selfie cause the light is great). But moreover, you’ll work on your own health and the health of the globe.
Go for an Eco accommodation. You can choose your hotel that gives you the chance to offset your carbon footprint when you make a booking. By choosing an Eco Resort, you also contribute to the local community. Organisations like Better Places make this possible. By the way, did you know trees can be planted with your donated money for example? 
Mi casa es tu casa. Treat your hotel room like it’s your own house: turn the lights and air conditioning off while leave your room.
Eat vegetarian or vegan foods. Yes this is extremely sustainable. The production of meat and dairy causes more pollution than factories, flights and all traffic combined together. Eating vegetarian is also cheaper most of the time so it’s a win win situation!

how to decrease your ecological footprint

Just as you explore the world, explore which of these guidelines work for you. They are all small steps, but small steps in de good direction. Combine them with your own ideas on how to decrease your ecological footprint and be mindful of your journey. Cause in the end we all want the same thing: make a contribution to a better world.

Love,

Eva

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

Visiting Bali for the first time? Here is all you need to know

Oh hello sunshine, nature, palmtrees and fresh coconuts! Are you planning (like most people we know) to visit the island of the gods, Bali? Here are some tips if you’re heading there for the first time. 

Before you leave home

Visa and passport: in addition to a valid passport (which must be valid for at least 6 months) you also need a visa. You will receive this visa free of charge on arrival at the following international airports; Jakarta, Bali, Medan and Surabaya. You can stay in Bali for up to 30 days. Please note: arrival and departure days are counted and this free visa can not be extended. So if you want to stay longer than 30 days (and believe us, this happens), then you must arrange the visa before departure and make sure you have a return ticket, because that is mandatory.

Money: the currency on Bali is the Rupiah. Since banks are not everywhere and the exchange rate can fluctuate heavily, it is useful to exchange your money at the airport. Make sure you have enough money with you when traveling to a remote area.

Vaccinations: against Hepatitis A and DTP are recommended when you go to Indonesia on vacation. Fortunately, you do not have to take malaria pills in many areas; Bali and East and West Java are mostly malaria free. Check the map of malaria areas. And then you still have those annoying mosquitos. You do not hear them, but you do feel them! So it is handy to bring an anti-mosquito that contains DEET.

Kids
Bali is a great place for those traveling with kids. Find out what you can do and what kids activities there are with young children.

Bali with Kids

Suitcase or Backpack?
Do you travel around for a long time and do you travel from place to place? Then we advise you to bring a backpack. There is often heavy-handed handling of your stuff and we have already experienced a few cases that go wrong. The disadvantage is of course that you can take less, but on the other hand you often take too much clothing, which is not necessary on Bali. Will it be a beach holiday and will you stay in a resort? Then a backpack is not necessary and a suitcase is very nice.

Packing tips
In Bali you enjoy a tropical climate and the humidity can be high in some places. Some handy packing tips:
1. Pack as many light and cotton clothing as possible.
2. Bring along a long skirt and Sarong for when you visit one of the many temples.
3. Bring that hat! The sun is lovely, but nobody wants a sunstroke.
4. A one-suit is useful if you want to surf, it keeps your belly from getting scraped on the board.
5. If you are planning to go to Bali from December, then a thin rain jacket is useful.

Bali surfbabe
Ready to surf? 

Go check out
» Dreamland Beach – the name says it all
» Ubud – Rice Terraces, Healthy hotspots like Sari Organic and the Ubud Hanging Gardens resort (must see)
» Canggu – Crate Café, Canggu-Desa Seni Yoga, The Chillhouse
» Uluwatu – Rock Bar & Single Fin
» Tanah Lot (just to take that one beautiful picture)
» Nusa Lembongan, 30 min by boat – top for surfing

Dreamland beach bali
Dreamland Beach Source

Bali best hangouts 2019

Better to avoid
» Water from the tap. Buy your water in bottles and check if the cap is unopened. Drinking water safely? Then this thing is a godsend. Be careful with salads and peel the fruit well. Otherwise you might be more in the toilet than on the beach.
» Petting dogs, especially when Although they look cute, their have been reports of rabies and Sarah got bitten last year and needed several injections.
» Kuta. If you do not like mass tourism, avoid busy Kuta. Prices are higher, the food is not very tasty and the beach is a bit disappointing, mostly covered in plastic. However, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but we know that there are better places on Bali than Kuta.

shopping in Bali
Make a good deal whilst shopping for goodies

In Bali it’s normal to..
» Have your own ‘driver‘. This is a tip that you can certainly save money if you want to see the whole island. Learn a few words Balinese and make a clear arrangement with your taxi driver. If you do it right, he will drive you around for a fixed price. Use your good old intuition, but pay attention that he does not take you to all kinds of shops or tourist places where they might receive commission from.
» Make some deals. It is a game between tourist and salesman, especially in the market you can play with the price.
» Give tips. The friendly people in Bali are not very broad. Do they wear your suitcase or are you well helped? Give a nice tip.
» Rent a scooter and explore the island. Make sure you always wear a helmet!

Bali on a scooter

Ready? So pack your bags and fly to paradise!

Wander-Lust

6 reasons why Madrid should be on your City Trip list

So you are looking for a weekend getaway, or maybe a sangria kinda holiday? You want to taste the tapas, enjoy culture, sunshine and wander around picturesque streets. Barcelona comes? Think again; Madrid has it all! I’m going to give you 6 reasons to choose Madrid (and if you don’t believe me, just visit both)

Food is everywhere
If you’re in the mood for Spanish food, Madrid, also known as tapas heaven, is the right destination to go to. Food is literally everywhere. Go on a stroll in the traditional Spanish neighbourhood ‘Santa Ana’ or the multicultural hipster hotspot Lavapiés.  On every corner you will find something to eat. If you really can’t choose I’ll help you out; Lateral in Santa Ana is one of my all-time favourites. Which has  created the perfect match between traditional recipes and modern creations.

Madrid

If you want to try a diversity of Spanish dishes, try Mercado San Miguel. Order a drink and choose on of the many appetizers they offer at the market, ranging from Spanish ham to ice-cream. 

Tip: Craving something sweet after a night of salsa dancing? You can find the best chorros at Chocolatería San Ginés,  open 24 hours a day!

You can rent a private yacht for €6,-
Alright, it’s not a yacht and you’ll have to do the rowing all by yourself, but sailing in the middle of Parque del Buen Retiro is something you can’t miss out on. It offers you an amazing view on the parc, provides peace in the middle of the vibrant city and a free rowing workout.

Madrid

You can shop 13 hours a day
Do I need to say more? And in case you’re not convinced: all stores have air-conditioning. That’s something you sure going to need in the summer of Madrid. So, where to go? You’ll find most of the big chain stores around the main square, Puerta del Sol and on Gran Via. Make sure you’re not in a hurry ‘cause most of the stores, especially on Gran Via, are huge. You can easily spend a whole day shopping just visiting 2 or 3 of those stores. A small walk further will lead you to the shopping street Calle Fuencarral, where small businesses and large retail stores alternate. Madrid is also a great city for vintage shopping. Go get lost in the pitoresque streets of the  neighbourhood Malasaña while searching for unique, second hand treasure. 

Tip: Tired of shopping and the buzz of the city? Take a ride on the Teleférico (cable car) in Casa de Campo and  view Madrid from high above. Enjoy the peace, the view and the greenery that Casa de Campo has to offer. Unless you’re afraid of heights of course…

Perfect starting point for day-trips

If you’re staying in Madrid for a little bit longer I strongly recommend to go on a day trip to one of the many beautiful surrounding Spanish villages. For example Toledo, a city with a rich history and culture. And therefore even won a spot on the World Heritage list of UNESCO. But also the cities Segovia and Salamanca are truly something you shouldn’t miss out on.

Dance every day (from salsa to techno)
Madrid is the best place when it comes to going out. From Monday to Sunday, the city never sleeps. The party starts at midnight and continues until sunrise. One of the largest disco’s of Madrid is Teatro Kapital. This dance paradise contains 7 floors, each floor has a different music genre; from salsa to house. If you’re not in the mood for a club, Madrid offers a wide variety of bars as well. Each neighbourhood brings you a different vibe. For example the bohemian Malasaña, where you will find the most bars per square meter in Madrid.

Tip: Did you know Madrid has a lively gay community? The district of Chueca is known as the gay district of Madrid, filled with modern cafes and gay bars.

Hola Madrid

Explore by foot
Madrid is huge and full of history. Therefor it can be quite challenging to choose where to go and what to visit. It’s easy getting around by metro, busses or Uber but Madrid is actually also a great city to explore by foot. Put on some comfy shoes and wander around or search for one of the many walking routes offered online. You probably not going to walk around the whole city but will manage to visit all the well known attractions if your hotel is in the main area.

I could go on for centuries with convincing you to visit Madrid. Cause whether you seeking for a party weekend, a romantic get-a-way or cultural adventure, Madrid has it all. Let yourself be carried away by the Spanish culture, getting los was never before a better idea.

Love,

Eva

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

Need accommodation in Madrid? Check out these options.

The diversity of Basque Country, Spain

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

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

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

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

bilbao-museo-guggenehim
The Guggenheim Museum

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Puppy & Torre Iberdrola in Bilbao

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

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A perfect viewing point over San Sebastians bay

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

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

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The streets of Vitoria

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

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San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

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

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There is an unmistakable joie de vivre in Basque Country

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

Wander-Lust
www.wander-lust.nl

baskenland

Discovering Southwest Crete

Crete is the last island I visited during my Greek island tour. It’s by far the largest but also one of the Greek islands that never really appealed to me, mainly because of it’s party reputation. I needed to prove myself wrong and discover the best that Crete has to offer.

Getting there:
I was planning to take the boat from Santorini which takes about 2,5 hours but my boyfriend thought it would be a better plan to fly over there with a small propeller plane. 
History was repeating itself because last year a swore i would never step into a propellor plane again…Yes, I cried. Again.
The good thing is that it only takes about 20 minutes to fly and it cost about the same, if not cheaper, than the boat would. The boat from Santorini only leaves in the evening which means you lose a whole day in Crete. I had no time to lose as I only had 4,5 days left.

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Pointing at my destination with Heraklion all the way in the top right.

Once arrived, we rented a car. This is a must in crete if you want to visit the best parts. From the airport (Heraklion) we drove past the coast towards Rethimno and continued our way towards the southwest. One of the main reasons that I wanted to see this part of Crete, is because of it’s amazing scenery, a lack of tourist and lot’s to tell you guys about! When you drive towards the southwest, you will be surprised about how green Crete can be!

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Crete is very green indeed!

I always get hungry when I travel so after about 2 hours, we stopped along the coast and found a taverna next to a very nice and quiet beach.
When I looked at the menu, I immediately notiched that the food on there was very authentic. Everything was home cooked like; Briam, Moussaka or fresh Calamaris. As a veggie lover, I chose the Briam and it only cost me 5,50! It was one of the best Greek meals i’ve had so far and the lady that served us was so friendly.

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The perfect stop when you’re roadtripping.

» Chora Sfakion
After this nice stop, we kept on driving until we decended all the way across crete towards the south coast.

Passing a lot of small villages and even a huge clove, we arrived in Chora SfakionThis town was perfect for what I was looking for. I had no accommodation booked, so we looked around and after only 10 minutes I made a deal for a suite (including a shared swimming pool) for 40 euro’s per night for 2 people. Wow, this was a huge difference compared to Mykonos, Santorini and even FolegandrosWith this thought, I walked down to the village where you will find 2 small beaches, a harbour and a street full of lovely restaurants. Greece has a thing for bakery’s and Chora Sfakion had the cutest I had seen so far. Definitely buy your bread here. A Must try in Chora Sfakion » Sfakion Cheese & Honey Pie. It’s a speciality that every restaurant in town serves. I had mine for breakfast and the nice thing is, that they use local honey that taste so goooood.

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Traditional Sfakion Cheese & Honey Pie at restaurant Lefka Ori. Yummie!

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My favourite restaurant in Hora Sfakion: Lefka Ori

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The cutest bakery with so many things to choose from! Markos & Niki

Around Chora Sfakion:

» Fragokastello
15 km east of Chora Sfakion lays a 14th-century Venetian fortress, but there’s also a wide, white-sand beach beneath the fortress that gradually into shallow warm water, making it ideal for kids. Development has been kept to a minimum with most accommodation set back from the shore, leaving the natural beauty largely untouched. In summer, occasional concerts and folk dance performances are held. I was lucky to get an invitation from a local (we keep encouraging this kind of contact!) and enjoyed a traditional Cretan dance performance inside the castle.

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A traditional Cretan dance at the castle of Fragokastello

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The shallow waters with the fortress in the back

» Loutro
On the western side of Sfakion lays the cute bay village Loutro. The only way to get here, is by boat or by foot. You have a few options; taxi boat, a small ferry, rent a small boat or hike the 7km trail. I chose the small ferry which departs daily from Sfakion’s small harbour. A return ticket cost about 10 euro’s per person and takes 15 min. The absence of cars and bikes on Loutro makes it quiet and peaceful. You will find taverna’s and a few shops. You can rent boats, waterbikes or opt for a canoe like I did. This way you can explore nearby beaches like sweetwater beach and enjoy the turquoise sea.
Tip » Bring some sunscreen and a plastic bag to put your belongings in.

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Rent a canoe in Loutro and jump of the cliffs!

» Samaria Gorge
Europe’s longest clove (16km) is very near to Chora Sfakion and if you’re a enthusiastic hiker, you must have heard of it. More than 170,000 hikers, walk the Gorge each year and it’s one of the most populair things to do in Crete. At wander-lust we always try to discover the area’s that are a little less crowded so I hiked her little brother, the Imbros GorgeThis one is only 11km long and after about 5km you will reach it’s most narrow part at only 1.60 meters wide. Most people leave their car at the top and walk down, but I did it the other way round. Once you reach the top, you can walk down again or you can take a taxi or bus. It’s an easy walk but it’s always best to wear trainers and bring plenty of water. 

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Standing in between the narrowest part of the Imbros Gorge, Crete

 » Chania (old town)
Driving up north west, you will find Chania. Ok, it’s not next door to Sfakion (about 1 hour), but it’s a great place to visit when you make your way back up the mountain and that’s exactly what we did.

The old town lays next to the old harbour and looks amazing. Don’t be tricked by the seaside restaurants as they overcharge you but walk inside the walls and you will be able to find cute coffeehouses, restaurants and shops.

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Chania is a great place to spent a few hours!

Crete is so big, that it’s impossible to see everything. I wish I could have visited a lot more places such as a very special island called: Gavdos.
This island is about a 1,5 hours boat trip from Chora Sfakion and it has been said that it’s a true hippie experience. If you liked the book or the movie The Beach, you will love Gavdos. People walk around naked, have campfires, sing songs and stay there for weeks. But I guess I have to wait a little longer before I can cross that one of my bucketlist. Until then I hope you find these tips useful and experience the best of Crete. Just like I did.

My Island hopping tour has finished and in total, I visited 5 islands and I did it in 14 days and I spent 1200 euro’s.
To find out which islands I visited and what I did, read all the articles below.

Love,

Elke

The Philippines » The Palawan Guide

After traveling to Cebu, Bantayan Island and Bohol we flew to Palawan. I was anxious to see it because I had been daydreaming about Palawan for ages.

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Getting there
I flew from Cebu City to Puerto Princessa, the capital of Palawan. This is a town with a cute name but be warned; it’s not a place to chill in my opinion. The center is full of cars and tricycles and you need to get out of the center to find a place to chill. I stayed in a wonderful boutique hotel called Balay Tuko Garden. They have a swimming pool and a nice garden for about 40 euro’s per night during high season. 
Most people travel straight up to El Nido but I wanted to see some places in between. You have a few options: Sebang (the underground river), Port Barton and TayTay.

At the time, it was raining and I was told that most tours around the area got canceled as well as the underground river tour I wanted to do.
If you do want to go, you should book this in advance at Puerto Princessa instead of booking it at the spot. No idea why, but that’s the way it works.
It’s 1500 peso’s and it includes transportation, lunch and entrance fees.  The Underground River is one of the longest navigable underground rivers in the world, with a total length of 8.2 Kilometers and you’ll go in a boat with about 5-6 people which will take you into a cave. Yes, it’s a tourist attraction but if you pass it on your way to El Nido, you might as well right?

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Busy Puerto Princessa


Port Barton
I decided to take a van up to Port Barton. 3 hours from Puerto Princessa. After a very bumpy ride with our friendly driver, we arrived in the cute Port Barton. (yes, this town is cute!) At arrival, you are guided to the tourist office where you pay a small environmental fee of 50 peso’s (1 euro) and you are given a few options on where to stay. A young man (called David) offered us a room and although we were a bit skeptical, he took us to a nice place where we met more travelers (lot’s of hippies!) and we only paid 600 peso’s a night. The place is called Pisces and although the rooms are simple, it’s clean and the owners are extremely helpful and friendly.

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Eating coconuts at White Beach, Port Barton

Port Barton is a place for the traveler that wants to chill, save money and enjoys the simple things in life.
You can go snorkeling, visit the Pamuayan waterfall (1,5 walk and make sure you ask the way) or check out the amazing white beach. (1 hour walk, no restaurant, bring water) We booked a snorkeling tour for 700 peso’s with David and his crew and I can highly recommend this! You depart at 9am and return around 5pm. You eat a freshly prepared lunch on a beautiful beach and visit some snorkeling spots. Check here for more info.

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Chasing waterfalls

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Fresh fish and veggies at the snorkel tour, Port Barton

Tip » Bring enough cash to El Nido! Do this in Puerto Princessa or even Cebu if you’re there beforehand. There are no ATM’s in Port Barton and El Nido only has one. If it’s empty, you have a problem. If you do get into money troubles, check the western union which is now situated inside the First Consolidated Bank.

Where to eat
Port Barton isn’t that large but has quite a nice variety of nice places to eat.

» Ausan Beachhouse Restaurant  along the beach Eat in a treehouse!
»  
Evergreen  in the village great breakfast and dinner. (my evening meal took a loooong time, but it was delicious)

»  Barton Bistro  I haven’t tried it but I’ve heard great stories!
»  Greenview  beach view and live music on several days in this popular hotel
Warning: Jambalaya Cajun Cafe, (recognizable of a big smiley face on the front) the Lonely Planet describes this as one of the best places to drink coffee but I had a glass of warm milk that they called a latte. It’s also extremely expensive and they are too overconfident.

Where to sleep
» Ausan beachhouse cottages – sleep in a treehouse for about 1200 peso’s
» Pisces – this is where I slept. Good vibes and only 600 peso’s a night. Mind you, it’s very basic, but perfect for the backpacker that wants to save some money. The locals are very nice here.

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Eat in a treehouse at Ausan Beachhouse cottages. Source

Nearby Port Barton
It’s a long drive from Port Barton to El Nido, so if you have time break up the long trip with a stop at the gorgeous white sand Lumambong Beach halfway between the two. 

» Lumambong Beach – This undiscovered gem is closer down by San Vicente, has a sparkling white sand beach and is completely undeveloped so you’ll have the whole beach to yourself. We’re excited to check out the Binga Beach Resort opening there soon with big glamping cabins right by the beach. It’s currently under construction and they are planning to open in April/May 2019.

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El Nido
After 3 days it was time to move on and travel to El Nido. Another 4 hours in a van. Make sure to book it at least one day in advance and ask to sit in the front if you get car sick. You can describe El Nido as a vibrant little town with a lot of underdevelopment. Like most of the Philippines, the houses and shops are self build and nothing seems to be finished. But thats the charm of El Nido. It’s a fishers town overrun by tourist that come for one thing only; El Nido’s many islands. Once at sea, your mouth will fall open when you see the beautiful rock formations and lagoons.

Which tour to pick?
The most popular thing to do in El Nido is to take a boat tour. You can choose from tours A, B, C and some have tour D (whatever that may be) A & C being the most popular ones and it includes lunch and (most of the time) snorkeling gear. 
There are so many tour operators to choose from that it will make you dizzy. To make your life easier I’ve made a shortlist of the ones I can recommend:
» Kraken Tour not the cheapest but highly recommended. Music, appetizers, lunch, drinks, WiFi, toilet, kayaks, paddle board, snorkel materials are included. Check here for more info
» The Artcafe tours. with Kayak 1900 peso’s. (recommended if you take tour A) no snorkling gear included. Accepts credit card.
» Northern Hope Tours. Professional and recommended by various sites. Book here
All tours are best booked in El Nido. (via the website you may need to pay an extra fee)

El Nido is Palawan’s main attraction

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Tour A takes you to the picture perfect Big Lagoon

Another popular activity is diving. There are also plenty dive shops to choose from but I chose Adventurous Scuba. Smaller than some of the flashy expensive diveshops but more personal and professional. 3400 peso’s for 3 dives after a bit of deal making. We had a lovely scuba instructor called Bernie who was really nice to talk with. I can definitely recommend him! They are situated in the same street as the Art Cafe, right at the end on the left side.

Massages are also widely available in El Nido. Expect nothing more than a few curtains to divide the guest but hey, this is Asia and you’ll only pay 400 peso’s for one hour. (8 euro’s) like all other places, you can try your luck and try to get a discount. ( I got mine for 300 peso’s!) They are based in El Nido town. Just follow the “massaaaaaaage” voices and you’re good.

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Beautiful diving spots

Where to shop
El Nido is not a place to get the best fashion items but there are some nice shops if you walk around. The best shop in town (and maybe even in Palawan)is without doubt Little Corner of Paradise. They sell tops, shirts, bikini’s, summer dresses, jewelry and everything has a beach vibe to it. Run by a French girl, it’s right across from a cute muffin/coffee store that shares the same owner. (Try the banana muffin!) Another good place for shopping is BAZAAR. Just 2 minutes out of the center, you will find this nice place where you will find 3 stores (bags, flip-flops, clothes) food and drinks. You can also have a massage upstairs which I tried and it’s definitely worth the 100 peso’s extra from what you pay in town.
On Sunday’s they throw a small electro party with DJ’s and cocktails. Bazaar feels like a little European community in the middle of El Nido.

A little corner of paradise, El Nido, Palawan
Beachvibes at Little Corner of Paradise, El Nido

FOOD / DRINK
Someone has to say it so I guess it will be me; the food in El Nido isn’t great. It’s OK if you eat meat but as a vegetarian you’ve got a bit of a problem.
There are a few places that serve good food and these were exactly the places I would eat day after day.
» Art Cafe – great curries, fish and breakfast
» BAZAAR asian kitchen – just opened! Amazing Japanese dishes
» Deli Nido Café – the best Frappuchino in town hands down
» Bagel V & V – the girls who work there are a bit moody but the homemade bagels are nice enough to go there

El Nido Coffee, Palawan
Small but great coffee

SLEEP
There are many accommodations to choose from but don’t expect anything top of the range. Even if you pay a bit more, you will get a basic room. You can always opt for the expensive El Nido Resorts but you just don’t want to to that (unless you want to eat nothing else but plain rice for the rest of your holiday)

» Sei Nazioni Cottages – Cute cottages in the middle of town with en-suite options and air-con. book here.
» The Resort Bayview Hotel – Nice view. Book here
» Anywhere along Marimegmeg Beach – I’ve seen some nice cottages there you should check out.

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Sei Nazioni Cottages, El Nido town

NIGHTLIFE
Thank god it’s not like Koh PhiPhi in Thailand were the beach turns into a place full of drunk horny teenagers. Well, El Nido does it a bit different. After dinner people go to the beachbars and the Pukka Bar is everyones favorite. They play cool reggae music with a pretty sick live band that gets the crowd dancing until about 3am. Other beachbars are more chilled and close a bit earlier (around midnight)
Bazaar throws a party on Sundays and it nice for drinks, ping pong and the occasional darts.
La Place is a lively beachbar situated alongside Corong Corong beach and they host a few parties a week. With a small pool in the middle and the DJ booth high up, they come closest to a real club in El Nido. Expect deep/techhouse music.

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The Kala Bar is part of the Bazaar

Around El Nido
Rent a scooter for a day or 2 and explore! (500 peso’s) A few places you can visit:
» Duli beach – If you get there before 1pm, you might be the only person on the beach. There is one resort called Duli Beach resort (named after the Sea Turtles that lay their eggs here) and it’s run by a Dutch couple. Rooms are around 1000 peso’s a night and you’ll wake up on an amazing long stretched beach.
Tip »You might be asked for a fee before entering the bumpy road up to the beach. Just say you have paid already as they totally make this fee up.

» Nacpan Beach – You will hear tricycle drivers shouting: “Nacpan Beach?” around town as this is the most touristic beach around El Nido, Palawan. It’s part of Twin beach and you can eat tasty mussels here. Same applies for the fee they will ask you to pay.
» Marimegmeg Beach – Just a 10 to 15 min trycile ride from El Nido town you will find this beach with one of the best views you’ll ever see. There are a few beach restaurants and resorts where you can eat. Expect slow service though.

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Swing at the Duli Beach Resort (the beach is empty!)

Nacpan Beach, Palawan
Nice food at Nacpan Beach, Palawan

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Walk on Marimegmeg Beach and watch the sunset

Palawan’s beauty is truly breathtaking but be prepared to go back in time a little bit. Less tourist (positive), less tasty food than you’re might used to in Asia, beautiful nature, but not a lot of beautiful architecture. Beaches enough though! Drop me a line in the comments if you need any other tips!

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Love,

Elke

Why visiting Istanbul during wintertime is a good idea

I have visited a lot of cities in my life but there was always one on top of my city-bucket-list; Istanbul. Why? It’s the perfect mix between Asia and Europe and has so much to offer, even in winter!

Yes, Istanbul is in fact separated by the Bosporus into European and Asian portions. One of my best friends even told me it’s his favorite city in Europe. Time to check it out. Instead of visiting Istanbul during spring or summer, I booked my ticket for the end of February, hoping the weather would be good so far out on the east side of Europe. But one day before I was about to fly, the news reported that Istanbul was coping with the worst snowstorms in 15 years! Bad luck, but ey, that’s traveling and I got to see snow in Istanbul! (That’s me trying to stay positive) Lucky enough it stopped snowing on the day of my departure so I could fly.

Istanbul birds

Getting Around & Good To Know
Arriving in Istanbul it was a little confusing because I wasn’t aware that you need a tourist visa so… that’s my first tip! A tourist visa will cost you 25 euro’s and you can buy this online
here. Always check with your local whether is safe enough to travel due to political issues in the country. Traveling to Istanbul is declared save again since of July 2018. You can also buy the visa on arrival like I did, but then you need to wait in line and it can take a long time getting through customs so my advice is to buy it beforehand. 

During the winter period, it’s less crowded, cheaper but still beautiful

Getting to my hotel was pretty easy. There are big comfy busses going into town and cost 14 Lira, which is about 5 euro’s. They leave every half hour and take you into the city centre in about 1 hour. For more info, check hereThe nearest busstop from my hotel was Taksim Square. This is a famous square which collides with the endless Istiklal street where you can go shopping or visit a nice Starbucks. You can take the Tünel, this is a cute small tram which runs straight through the shopping street.

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The Tünel in Istiklal Street

Where to Stay
I booked my hotel via Booking.com and because of the low season, I got a very good rate: 120 euro’s for 3 nights! 
The rate included breakfast and the manager was very friendly and even gave his own Travel Card for me to use. (this is a card you can use for public transport) My only warning, if you are staying near a Mosque (and chances are you will), you will hear the people sing though the loudspeakers, also known as ezan, around 5 times a day. If you are not a morning person, double check your location.

Luxury: Raffles Istanbul (nice view, spa, swimming pool, great service)
Mid Range: Bankerhan Hotel or Sub Karakoy (trendy area!)
Budget: Empress Zoe Hotel (Lush garden, great breakfast. Rooms go from €40,-)

I stayed near the Galata tower and picked this area because it’s authentic and you can really taste the Turkish culture here. The tower itself is worth a visit if you want to check out the nice view and take some good pictures. It will cost you 20 lire to get in and there is a restaurant on the top.

Tip: Go in the morning if you want to skip the queues. From the hotel I could walk right across the street to catch the tram which takes you over the bridge and into the westside of Istanbul. Taking the tram over the Bosporus is only a short ride which takes no longer than 10 min from the Galata area.

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Istanbul is full of spices and colors

On this side there are a few big tourist attractions that are just too good to skip:

» The blue Mosque (make sure you bring a scarf to cover your hair. Same thing applies for the Hagia Sofia)
» Hagia Sofia
» The Grand Bazaar (Great for Turkish shopping like handbags, Scarf, Lamps
» The Spice Market (Get ready for some crazy scents and flavors!)

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Inside the blue Mosque

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I loved the Spice Market the most because of all the colours and different tea’s.

Walking through the grand Bazaar Istanbul

Where to Eat & Drink
After a day of walking around, you should definitely take a coffee break or try traditional Salep. My new Turkish addiction. This is a hot milky drink topped off with cinnamon. You can pretty much get it in every Turkish Café. For the best Meze you should try Ciya and At night Istanbul really comes to live. Restaurants stay open late, and it’s rooftop galore with many restaurants and bars that you wouldn’t expect to be hidden away all the way up there.

Here a few of my rooftop favorites:

» 5Kat is a traditional restaurant/bar that has been there forever. You can eat in or outside on the roof terrace. The entrance looks a bit shabby but once you go up, you are rewarded with a wonderful view of the Bosporus. www.5kat.com

» 360 is a great place. For food, drinks and even dancing. Killing view. Reservations are required and leave your sneakers at home. http://www.360istanbul.com/

» Vogue is upscale and also serves sushi for those that are in for a lavish night out. The music isn’t for dancing but for catching up and drinking cocktails. www.voguerestaurant.com

Vogue Istanbul
Vogue Istanbul

» LTERA is a rooftoop restaurant which opens up in the summer. Looking over the river, it has a beautiful view and the food is tasty! http://www.literarestaurant.com/

» Mikla is posh but well worth it if you love to get dressed up one evening and go for that amazing wine & dine experience. It was once voted in the top 50 best restaurants in the world. This a-claimed restaurant also has a rooftop but during the winter it may be closed. www.miklarestaurant.com

Also check out Limonlu Bahçe Beyoglu, this hipster garden is great for amazing coffee, drinks and western style dishes.

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Source  Drinks at Limonlu

A little further along side the Bosporus river you have amazing chique clubs like the Supperclub and Reina. I didn’t manage to go there because of the chilly nights but I will be back to try those out!

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Fishermen trying to get their catch of the day

The Asian District
Most tourists only visit the European part of the city but you should definitely take the time for the Asian part! 
There is the lively Kadikoy where you have markets on different days of the week. Small shops and nice lunch spots make this a super fun day trip. To get there, you take the boat across the bosporus which takes about 30 min. When you are departing Istanbul from Sabiha Cökçen airport, you can also take the bus from there which makes it a shorter ride and you can combine this with a visit to this vibrant part of the city.

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Fresh fish at Kadiköy, the Asian part of Istanbul

Be sure to visit Istanbul when it’s a little warmer but even so, it was magical and my friend was right. It’s great!

Love,

Elke

7 ways to save money whilst traveling

Traveling is great, but it’s even better when you can save money whilst doing it! So what are the best ways to save some cash? We’ve got 7 tips and tricks lined up for you!

1. Find a job overseas 
The possibilities are endless! Find yourself a job abroad and work for a few weeks or months. For example; if you work in Australia as a landscaper for 3 months, 6 days a week, you can earn about 25.000 dollars! That’s more then enough to last you a full year of travel in south east Asia!
These are some jobs that you could look into:

  • Au pair (I worked as an Au-Pair in London)
  • Bartender
  • Hostel worker
  • Landscaper/farmworker
  • Waitress/Waiter
  • Farm worker (Very popular in Australia and New Zealand)
  • Dive instructor (Some certification required)
  • Tour guide
  • Cruise ship worker
  • Casino worker
  • Seasonal worker at ski resorts (if you got a talent, use it!)
  • Yacht Worker

Extra tip » You can also start wwoofing. Meaning, you will work on a farm and get a bed and food. This is great if your passing through.

Saving money while sleeping
Saving money while you sleep.. (pic by David Stegenga)

2. Couchsurfing
It’s free and you meet new people! If you’re a little hesitant about sleeping on someones couch, here’s a success story; I know this couple that did this in Perth, Australia and they ended up in a huge house, had a private room and the owner took them to the most amazing places! The best thing was, that they didn’t need a pay a thing for their stay. (just their food) Check www.couchsurfing.com

Always keep an eye out for those travel deals. This will save you a lot of Money

3. Always look out for those travel deals (because they are there)
Flight deals, Boat deals, Hotel deals. It doesn’t really matter what kind of deal it is, just keep an eye out. Check airline websites and sign yourself up for their loyalty program. Flying to Australia once can give you up to 70.000 miles which you can use to buy other flights!

4. Prepare your own meals
This is something I learned whilst backpacking through Australia. Food can be expensive and if you’re going to sleep in hostels, the’re always kitchens you can use. When I stayed in Sydney, I met a group of backpackers and we always use to cook together. I was lucky to have a chef in the group that prepared the most amazing dishes which cost us about 4 Australian dollars per person. You can also buy a bag of rice which last you for at least 2 weeks and skip the meat and fish for a few days. Veggies aren’t so expensive and you can buy them cheaper on the markets. In Australia you will see BBQ’s alongside the beaches and parks where you can prepare your meals. Just make sure you clean up after yourself. Extra tip » Cut down on the alcohol. Yes, alcohol can cost you more money than food will and let’s be honest, a headache isn’t so nice either.

lunch box
Preparing your own meals is healthy and saves you money!

5. Hitchhike
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not something I advise you to do in all countries or as a solo female traveler. BUT, I’ve done it in European countries and it has taken me the extra mile to the village or town I needed to go. Besides that, I’ve listened to the most amazing life stories in the car of strangers and always got to my destination safely. Just use your common sense and get in a car with a couple, families or older people.

Hitchhiking
Always trust your intuition when you go hitchhiking

6. Get a discount card
If you’re a student a teacher or under 26 years old? Use it! It’s the best status you can have when you travel. It gives you a lot of discounts on food, activities and more. The same applies for a tourist card. Like you, I don’t really like the “tourist” term but if it opens doors, it’s always a good thing right?
Tourist cards especially help if you are visiting a city. It gives you discounts on museums and big attractions and for public transport. Check the nearest tourist office for more information on how to get one.

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Cities like New York offer great discounts!

7. Housesit
This is probably the best tip if you know you’re going to stay in one place for a while. If you can’t afford a hotel, this is a very good option to look into. It’s simple; just watch someones house while they’re on vacation. You’ll be surprised about how many people do this as it makes their house unattractive for burglars. Check these sites for more info about house sitting:

» House Carers
» Mind My House
» 
The Caretaker Gazette

They say that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer… I guess it can be true..literally! Have fun saving money!

Love,

Elke

More travel tips here: