TRAVELLING TO PAI, THAILAND | ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ok, where do I start.. This place is very special for the both of us. Pai is a small hippie town tucked away in the most northern part of Thailand. Once you get there, you don’t want to leave. 

But travelling to Pai is a small adventure on its own. Taking in account, Pai is not a Thai tropical island, but a mountain village so the scenery is completely different than anywhere else in Thailand. In this article I will talk about the means of transportation and the costs.

How to get to Pai

First of all, you need to travel to Chiang Mai, the largest city of Northern Thailand. I advise you to stay in Chiang Mai for a couple of days so you can get used to the climate difference depending on where you’ve started your trip. After all, you are in the mountains of Northern Thailand. Depending on where you’re staying, you can often book your trip to Pai via the hostel or hotel you’re staying in. If not, make sure you book an air-conditioned minibus because it’s a long drive. Another option would be by motorcycle or scooter. A lot of people do this because the scenery along the way is pretty amazing. The downside of this option is that there is only one gas station along the way and the road has quite a few bumps so it’s not the safest option. But traveling is all about risks right? 😉

getting to Pai

Scooter or Minivan?

I recommend you to hire your scooter here. This company is well known and you can leave rent your scooter in Chiang Mai and leave it in Pai if you like. When I traveled through Thailand, I was alone and without a licence so I didn’t want to take the risk. So I took the minibus. The trip takes about 3 hours and you have one stop to use the toilet and to buy a drink. (don’t expect a fancy toilet, and don’t look back is my advice) You will notice that the landscape will change the more you drive away from Chiang Mai and up the mountain.

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Tip » is to take a carsickness tablet because the road doesn’t have many straight paths!

Along the way I saw a lot of people selling warm colourful hats, which I love, but didn’t quite understand.. This became clear to me later (it get’s freezing at night!). When you finally arrive, it feels like you’ve entered a new world. The van will drop you off in the main street where you will see cute shops and bars on each side. The air is clean and the valley in the distance is amazing. Welcome hippy town!

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Sipping on herbal tea in Pai

Cost to get to Pai, Thailand?

» By minivan: from 150 bath (one way)
» By Scooter: From 100 bath per day inclusive of insurance (yes, it’s that cheap!)

Love,

Elke

Do you want to know where to stay in Pai? Check it here!
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The USA Roadtrip | This is all you need to know

It’s probably everyones dream; a USA Road trip West Coast! In 2015 I finally made the dream a reality. I rented an RV and hit the road in what would become a 1600-mile journey from LA to San Francisco via Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Death Valley & High Way 1.

A few years ago, my roomie exchanged Amsterdam for LA and last year two other dear friends moved to the US. Together with my close friends we decided to visit and it became one of the best trips ever. Here you will find the preparations for the ultimate USA roadtrip.

Transport

Many people travel from San Francisco via High Way One to Los Angeles, but we did it the other way around by RV. The reason why we’ve chosen an RV is that your home goes with you, you can cook, you have transportation, no need to rent a car, no packing and unpacking every day. And more importantly, it was so much fun to do it with my dear friends that I’ve known for over 10 years..

Road trips are one of the best ways to really get to know a country!

USA roadtrip VA

The USA roadtrip checklist:

1. Check which period is the best to travel around
2. Check which period in the cheapest/most convenient for you
3. Write down which states you don’t want to miss
4. Set your route » From San Fran to LA or the other way around
5. Check which stops you want to visit in between
6. Check how to get from A-B
7. See how you would like to travel
8. Determine Motel – Hotel – RV
9. See if you need extra transport
10.Download Hotel Tonight AppHand-selected hotels at great prices on your mobile device. Rent unique accommodations from local hosts for great prices

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Our Route

Together with my two friends we flew from Amsterdam to Los Angeles. My lovely friend from Pittsburgh – that we didn’t see for a few months – traveled with us. We rented a car and stayed for two days where we did some great things together with my Dutch friend that lives in LA. After two lovely days, we picked up our RV – that we’ve booked online – and drove to Las Vegas. After 2 nights of gambling and partying we went via route66 & Death Valley to Salines & San Jose – High Way 1. From there we went up to San Francisco. We dropped off the RV in San Francisco and rented an apartment via Air BNB. After 4 unforgettable days we flew to Pittsburgh where we dropped off my friend and stayed for a few days. Ended our trip for 5 days in the best of the best; New York – where we visited my last Dutch friend.

What do you need?

» Car Rental in LA & San Francisco
» Tom Tom for the RV
» Camper Rental – Tip! Take the one of 6 persons and listen carefully to the instructions.
» Campsite availability »  www.recreation.gov
» (I phone) string for your play list
» USB cable for mobile phone > also acts as charger
» Apartment in LA, San Francisco, Pittsburgh & New York – Tip! Air BNB

The costs:

Budgeting goes hand-in-hand with planning, as the budget is probably the most important part of any road trip. Do plan to spend more than you budgeted. Hereby what I’ve spent: (keep in mind that we shared RV, Hotels etc with 4 persons)

» 1100 euro tickets
» 360 euro RV
» 300 euro Apartments
» 900 euro Food
» 300 euro Drinks
» 200 euro Car Rental
» 200 euro Other (festivals, places of interest)
Total cost: 3369 euro’s for 3 weeks

Can you do it for less? sure! You can always spent less, depending on how much you want to spend on food, drinks & shopping.

Love,

Sarah

Read all our articles about the USA!

5 Oscar movies that will give you Wanderlust

The big night in Hollywood is coming up. The night that the best movies in the world are crowned with a little statue named Oscar.

Let’s look back a a few Oscar nominated blockbusters that make you want to travel.

1. Lord of the Rings

This movie has to be in this list. It has inspired so many people to pack their bags and travel to the land of hobbits, elf’s and orcs.
Lucky for us, you can book several “Lord of the Rings” tours that will take you through the most beautiful landscapes in New Zealand where the scenes were shot.

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Oscar winning locations, The Lord of the Rings

2. The English Patient

Shot within the beautiful Italian scenery with key parts of the story taking place against a stunning Tuscan backdrop. Director Anthony Minghella spent weeks in Tuscany searching for the perfect monastery to film in.

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Beautiful Italy, where The English Patient was filmed

3. Slumdog millionaire

This amazing Oscar winning movie makes you dislike India or make you extremely curious. It portraits the heavy slums of Mumbai in all its glory. You’ll be surprised that tourism picked up immensely after the success of this film.


Culture shock; India

4. Forrest Gump

This movie isn’t just about the locations but about the feeling this movie is giving you. It inspires and tells you that you can do anything and go anywhere you want in life. No limits. And that is a beautiful thing. This is the northern route through Utah to Monument Valley and was used as the location in the movie “Forrest Gump” were Forrest (played by Best Actor Oscar winner Tom Hanks) ended his cross-country run in the USA.

Forrest Gump Oscar winningscenes
Utah to Monument Valley

5. Vicky Christina Barcelona

The title gives it away but this film shows the romantic and vibrant city Barcelona. Filmed during spring/summer, this movie takes makes you fall in love with the characters and scenery. Drinking wine and eating all day and still look as good as Scarlet Johansen and Penelopé Cruz? Miss Cruz won a best supporting Oscar for her performance.

oscar nominated Vicky christina Barcelona
Sexy and beautiful in Barcelona

What’s your favorite Oscar winning movie?

Love,

Elke

TRAVEL FOR FREE | 6 WAYS TO DO IT

It’s something we all can relate to. Your bank account looks a lot less attractive when I return home from your travels. But, there are a few ways to spend little to none cash if you do it the right way.

Be warned; it’s not always easy, but if you try and follow these tips, you might just travel the world a lot more efficiently (money wise). It’s something every frequent traveler would love to do; travel for free. 

1. Hitchhike

Oh yes, this one is old skool but ey, it works! You’ll be surprised how many people stop and take you along for a few miles. The best spots for doing this are; Petrol stations, Bus Stops and Toll Roads. Always carry a good map (yes, that’s your first investment) and wear steady shoes. The nice thing about hitchhiking is that you meet new people that can tell you where to go next and so your adventure begins. For women; I wouldn’t recommend it for when you travel alone. And if you’re bad-ass, just use your common sense. A good website for all your hitchhike information is: www.hitchwiki.org

Travel for free. Photo by Atlas Green.
The hitchhikers guide to..?

2. House sit

I’ve mentioned this trick in a previous post about 7 ways to save money whilst traveling, but I want to highlight it again because it’s such a good idea! A friend of mine recently booked her ticket to Australia and will live there for free because she is house sitting a friends house in Sydney. Talk about living the local life! There are a lot of websites that offer this service and here are my favorites: Check out mindmyhouse.com to find the best houses in the country that you seek your adventure. For travellers that love animals trustedhousesitters.com  is your best bet and look on housecarers.com. You may need to clean the house a few times and look after some pets but that’s a small price to pay for completely free accommodation. If you’re lucky, you will get a small fee, depending on the number of chores you need to do around the house.

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You may just end up here..

3. Travel & Royalty Cards

I always thought this would be something that would take a lot of hassle and I couldn’t be bothered but this is a very efficient way to save your money.
How it works: Travel rewards credit cards work on a points-based system. You basically earn one point (mile) for each dollar/euro that you spend at the most basic level. However, you can usually earn extra points for certain purchases. How much you earn, and what you earn extra points for, depends on what type of loyalty program you are enrolled in and which credit card you are using. This way you can travel for free on your points.
The best cards for this are Capital One Venture, Chase Sapphire and the Barclay Arrival+ Card.

4. Free Camping

Although it’s totally cool to book an luxurious glamping trip, it is still possible to camp around the world for free. Yes, a little investment is required but a steady tent doesn’t have to cost much. Camping is widely available and in countries like Central America, The Caribbean or Mexico, camping on beaches can be completely free. Europe is also offering free options, especially in the UK, Ireland and Portugal. To make your life easier (and that’s what we’re here for!) there a site that listed all the free camping sites in the world. www.freecampsites.net If you have a Camper Van, you can always try to park it in the street and wish for the best. Some excitement never hurt anyone!

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Camping is a great way to see the world and travel for free

5. Work

Yeah, I know, this was not the plan but let’s be real for a second. Work pays off and get’s you a long way. It doesn’t mean you’ll need to work all the time but you can earn more money overseas sometimes than in your home country. (depending on where you live of course). Countries that pay well are Australia, (landscaping for instance!), The UK (work as a nanny), or try to wwoof. Fill your pockets in Australia and continue your travels in Asia for example. (very low living cost)

Work overseas. Picture by Danurwendho Adyakusuma
Work overseas and travel for free! 

6. Eat for free!

Honestly, it should not come to this, but if you are really out of cash and you don’t want to beg on the streets, this may be an option. You need food to function so it’s the one thing you can’t do without. There are ways to solve this problem and you can do it for free! Visit markets about 15 minutes before they close. A lot of times, perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables are thrown away so if you ask nicely, they might give it to you without hesitation. The same applies for bakeries. They can’t use their bread for the next day so they will give it to the poor, the garbage or to a hungry backpacker!  

travel for free, food by Luke Michael

I hope these tips will help and if you have an extra inside tip, don’t hesitate to comment below!

Love,

Elke

For more travel tips check here.

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Discover Vilnius, the underrated gem of Europe!

Vilnius is a place with lots of amazing architecture and delicious local cuisine. This guide will tell you about the best hotspots and foods that Vilnius has to offer!

Truth be told, I didn’t know anything about Vilnius or Lithuania in general. It is quite an unknown city in Europe, but it turned out to be a great place for a city trip with a variety of hotspots, historical buildings, culture, history and especially loads of foods. 

How to get there

Lithuania is situated in the north of Europe and is part of the Baltic states. There are several flights to Vilnius from Amsterdam, however only with Air Baltic you can fly directly from Amsterdam to Vilnius in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Other airlines like Lufthansa and LOT offer flights with one transfer. The airport of Vilnius is very close to the city centre and you can easily reach the centre by bus or train for less than €2.

Lithuania – a place just a 2-hours flight away from Amsterdam– is still fairly unknown as a tourist destination.

Where to stay

Vilnius is not that big so the city’s highlights are relatively close. There are many hostels for the budget traveller and hotels are available for as little as 30 euros per night for two persons. We stayed at the Amberton hotel which had the perfect location on Cathedral Square right in the middle of the city centre. If you want to have a really luxurious stay, I would recommend design hotel Pacai, which is modern and unique with authentic details like frescoes.

Pink Building Vilnius

What to see in the city centre

Not surprisingly, Vilnius Old Town is full of historical buildings with impressive architectural styles. I was amazed by all the architecture; around every corner you will find a building that takes your breath away. The streets of Vilnius are not very crowded and you can enjoy the beauty of the city without being disturbed by many tourists. Furthermore, everything is walkable! Here are some of the top spots of the city.

  • Cathedral Square
    This square is the heart of the city. You can spot the Cathedral Bell Tower, where you can climb to the top to have a perfect panoramic view of the city. You can also visit the Vilnius Cathedral and right next to it you’ll find the Grand Dukes Palace. In December there’s a Christmas market with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the middle.
  • The Uzupis area
    Uzupis is the oldest suburb of Vilnius and has been declared as the Republic of Uzupis by Lithuanian artists. Just walk around and take a look at the street art and beautiful buildings. Make sure you go to Paupio Street where you can find special plaques with 41 rules of the Republic in various languages. Close to Uzupis you can visit the Gothic St. Anne and St. Bernardine churches from the 15th century which are very impressive and statuesque. The beautiful St. Michael the Archangel Church is also nearby.
  • The Church of St. Casimir
    This building was one of my faves, mainly because of the beautiful pink exterior with baroque architecture. Since many of the houses surrounding the churches and historical buildings are quite small, you can spot the church from many different places in town. It’s easily recognizable with a golden crown on top of one of the towers.
  • Turgus Hales
    Many locals come to this market hall to do their shopping and you’ll occasionally spot a tourist. Roots is a particularly interesting little store, because it has the largest selection of Lithuanian handcrafted cheese in the country. The lovely ladies there are happy to let you try some of the cheeses.

Street Lithuania

Vilnius Church

Things do in and around Vilnius

  • Go by bike or step or make a trip with a hot air balloon
    You can easily get bikes in the city or rent an electric step to discover the Old Town. During spring and summer, you can even take a balloon ride over the historical city centre. Breath-taking views guaranteed!
  • Visit a museum
    Vilnius has various museums. The National Museum portrays the history and culture of Lithuania, but if you are particularly interested in the Soviet period of the country, you should visit the Museum of Genocide (KGB museum). The exhibition tells more about the terror of the Soviet Union in Lithuania and you can visit the prison complex.
  • Visit historical town Trakai
    Trakai is a small town with a rich and interesting history. It’s only a half-hour drive away from Vilnius. The Trakai castle is based on an island in the middle of the lake. You can visit the museum and find out more about the medieval history of Trakai and its inhabitants. If the weather is good you can also take a boat ride across the lake to see the castle from various viewpoints.

Trakai Castle
Trakai Castle

The city of great food

If you are a food lover, Vilnius will not disappoint. The locals really value their local produce and everywhere in the city you can find shops that sell unique local products. Cheese, fruit wine, rye bread, kvass (a soft-drink) and tree cake are popular amongst locals. Going on a food tour is a must-do if you’re a foodie! Vilnius has various restaurants with local cuisine, the ones below are definitely worth a visit!

  • Queensberry
    A special product of Lithuania is wine made of fruits like rhubarb, raspberry, and cherry. Queensberry is a good place to go if you want to try the different types of wines in combination with modern Lithuanian food. Do try the fried rye bread with cheese dip, it is so yummy!
  • Ertlio Namas
    Ertlio Namas is a very special restaurant where authentic Lithuanian cuisine is mixed with modern cuisine. You can choose a 4-course or 6-course tasting menu and the enthusiastic waiters will tell you a historical background story with each course.
  • Augustas ir Barbora
    If you want to visit a cafe which is Instagram worthy, then you should go here. The interior is filled with pink chairs and flowers on the ceiling. Grab a coffee here, have breakfast or enjoy various pies and tasty pastries.

Terrace Vilnius

Vilnius is the hidden gem of Northern Europe, so go there in 2020 (find out which destinations we recommend for this year) before everyone else knows about it!

Love,

Merel

*Merel is one of our guest editors in Rotterdam. She describes herself as a daydreaming student who loves to travel. Last year she made a 5-month backpacking trip through Asia and she can’t wait to see more of the world. Check her out on Instagram: @merel_d94.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 x Travel Trends for 2020

What’s happening in the world of travel this coming year? A lot, if we believe the experts. They are predicting 8 travel trends for 2020 and we’ve lined them up for you. 

Are these travel trends for 2020 are here to stay? You decide!

1. Sustainable Travel

Needless to say, that the biggest travel trend of 2020 is sustainable travel. This is a big subject that can be divided into separate subjects like; fighting the plastic problem, flight shame, compensating and awareness. Millennials and Gen Z search for sustainability in their destination; looking for opportunities to use less plastic and to travel more sustainable by taking the train or sleep in eco hotels for example. Travel bloggers like @chelseakauai and environmental activist Greta Thunberg, raise awareness which inspires young travellers to think different. 

Chealsea Instagram

Tip: Find out how to actually compensate your CO2 emissions!

2. Space Travel

When it comes to traveling, we continue to push our boundaries and that includes space tourism. As a result, the travel industry and other companies will invest in tests with space travel on earth to make space travel possible. They meet the growing demand of consumers who want to take the big leap. 40% of travellers confirm that they think the prospect of space travel is fantastic, and would also consider this experience themselves (38%). Until space travel becomes reality, 60% of travellers opt for adventure below sea level. 

3. Under Tourism

It’s the opposite of Mass or Over-Tourism. People are more into discovering less visited places, where, consequently, you’ll find less tourists. Mass tourism is also taking it’s toll on nature, that resulted in popular beaches like Maya Bay being closed to the public. By finding alternatives, you’ll gain a more local experience and you have more unique tales to tell. Firstly, two-thirds of travellers (60%) value experiences more than equipment. That is why ‘Doing’ when traveling becomes just as important as ‘going’, and perhaps even more important. There is no less pressure on life, and therefore experiences can help to strive for a less stressful existence. Find out more than 150 less known places in the world in our new book Off the Beaten Track which is available from May 12th!

Off the beaten track by wander-lust

4. Travel to learn

For travellers, making meaningful trips is becoming increasingly important. More than half (56%) of travellers say that traveling has taught them new skills and insights. 68% of respondents want to participate in a cultural exchange and learn new skills, 54% indicate that they want to volunteer and 53% opt for international work placements. For instance, we can totally relate and traveled to Bolivia 3 years ago to report about women rights. It was incredible, tough and we learned so much.

5. As easy as possible

In 2020, convenience will become the standard when it comes to technological innovations in the field of travel. The innovations that, according to travellers, will strike the most, are those who offer practical solutions for traveling with artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and speech recognition. Think of opening your hotel room with your smartphone or a robotic concierge who speaks the language of the guests. Crazy? Well, 57% of travellers are interested in solutions such as an app for real-time baggage tracking or one app that has everything for planning and booking their trip. In addition, 31% are interested in the idea of ​​a ‘virtual travel agency’ in their living room, with for example virtual assistants with speech recognition who answer travel questions. 

travel trends 2019

In 2020, a lot is going to happen in the travel world

6. The more personal, the better

The generic travel guides are history and make way for shorter but personally relevant content. One third of travellers (34%) want “something” or someone to take the difficult work off their hands and provide them with travel recommendations: 41% would like companies in the travel industry to use technologies such as AI to provide travel suggestions based on on previous travel experiences. By the same token, personal is becoming increasingly important; individual recommendations are increasingly giving direction to each journey.

travel trends 2019
Be the travel trend

7. Awareness Travel

In 2020, the social, political and environmental problems of a possible travel destination will be examined before travellers actually book: 48% of travellers think that social problems in a travel destination are taken into account when deciding on a visit. In addition, travellers are increasingly looking for new and authentic adventures, and want to be sure that they can travel safely – regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. Platforms such as Destination Pride provide destinations with a score that allows travellers to see how LGBT + are friendly. 19% of travellers plan to visit a Pride festival in 2020, of which almost a third (30%) is between 18 and 34 years old.

8. Small is good

More than half of the travellers worldwide (53%) say they plan to make more weekend trips in 2020. These small trips are characterised by the fact that more activities are planned in shorter times. ‘Less is more’ is the motto, and consumers swear by custom on these trips. Think of weekend trips, city trips or road trips. This also results in more train travel, which is better for the environment of course.


Take a city trip to Budapest!

Happy traveling in the year 2020!

Wander-Lust

Our best travel moments of 2019

As the year comes to an end, it’s time for one of those lists that reminds us, that we are blessed to do this thing we call our job.

We travelled far and wide, met new people along the way, and left with a suitcase full of new memories. Here are our best travel moments of 2019.

Georgia

Individual press trip, February 2019
This is by far Elke’s most memorable press trip of 2019. We wanted to travel to Georgia for a while now, but with the release of our upcoming book Off the Beaten Track, we wanted to visit the countries less visited places. Unfortunately, Elke only had 4 days in total to explore, while there was so much more to see. Nevertheless, it was unforgettable! Read our article about Georgia.

Gergeti Church, Georgia

Sri Lanka

Holiday Sarah, Januari 2019
Sarah travelled to Sri Lanka with her boyfriend and was pleasantly surprised by the people, culture and amazing food. She felt safe and can highly recommend a trip here. If you are looking for a safari, read this first. Plus you can find detailed info in our 2,5 weeks Sri Lanka itinerary

Train ride Sri Lanka


Northern Iceland

National press trip, June 2019
To be honest, Iceland was always on our bucketlist, but became less urgent to visit due to the immens popularity (we always prefer to visit less mass tourism destinations). But fortunately, we received an invite for Northern Iceland which was absolutely amazing. Best of all, we hardly saw other tourists on the road! Our favourite spot? Check it in our article about Northern Iceland that is totally Off the Beaten Track.

Aldeyjarfoss, North Iceland

Oman

National press trip, March 2019
In like manner, this was also a destination we wanted to visit dearly. You can imagine Elke’s joy when Wander-Lust was invited by Visit Oman to explore the unknown country Oman. It was a week filled with adventure, dune bashing, culture, and we even saw sea turtles! It may not be your usual holiday destination, it’s more than worth it to explore! Read all about Elke’s adventure and tips for Oman.

Oman Desert
Wahabi Sands, Oman

Madeira Island, Portugal

National press trip, June 2019
We won’t blame you if you need to look up where Madeira is located on the world map. It belongs to Portugal and is located in the middle of the sea. Some people call it Europe’s Hawaï and we totally get why. Don’t come here for the beaches, but for the amazing nature, natural pools, dolphins, walking trails and their infamous Poncha drink. Read more on Madeira.

Madeira Guide

Thailand & Malaysia 2018/2019

Holiday Elke, Januari 2019
Elke’s first far away destination with her son, who was 1,5 years old at the time. It was the perfect destination to travel around and she made tons of new memories. Starting in Kuala Lumpur, they then traveled to Thailand’s Koh Lipe (pictured), Koh Adang and celebrated new years eve in Penang.

Koh Lipe Island Guide

Doha

Press trip, November 2019
Equally, the city of Doha really surprised us. Elke was invited by Qatar Airways (where she flew in the best business class ever!) to explore the capital of Qatar. It was 4 days filled with luxury, great food, loads of free time and wonderful people. Additionally, the Museum of Qatar is truly the most amazing museum we’ve seen.

NMOQ Doha
The amazing Museum of Qatar in Doha

Essaouira & Taroudant Morocco

Individual press trip, November 2019
Recently, Sarah travelled to a part of Morocco we weren’t familiar with, yet. For our book, we wanted to travel to places that weren’t overrun by mass tourism, like for example, Marrakech. Especially Taroudant surprised us. It was a truly local experience that we would highly recommend to anyone that wants to steer away from the usual travel experiences. The photo below was taken in hotel Jardin des Douars near Essaouira, one of the best hotels we’ve stayed in.

Hotel Jardin des Douars in Essaouira, Morocco

How about that for some of our best travel moments of 2019! And we are not finished yet.. 

Happy 2020!

Wander-Lust

A WINTER CITY TRIP TO ZURICH

Do you know a heavenly feeling? I had that sensation when I got the sympathetic invitation from airline SWISS to discover Zurich.

OK to be honest, I’ve seen a lot of our beautiful world, but I ‘used’ Switzerland only as a handy transit country. Why did I never go there for a holiday? Maybe because of my prejudices: ‘Oh boy, it’s far too expensive, too quiet for me and perhaps more fun for the elderly.’ I grabbed the opportunity to uncover if those ideas were real and flew to Switzerland for a city trip to Zurich (and if the chocolate is that yummy!)

Zurich in a nutshell

Where Amsterdam is full of hipsters, clumsy tourists on bikes and busy city sounds, Zurich is a bit of the opposite. It’s as big as our intimate Utrecht. When I arrived in the afternoon I was surprised by the calmness in the picturesque downtown streets. But when it became dusky and when the festive Christmas lights went on, Zurich seemed to awaken. One moment I thought I stepped into a scene, loved it! Not even to mention the cute Christmas stalls with the mulled wine and raclette smells throughout the city. Add the majestic buildings to that and you’ll get a very nice winter holiday feeling.

The town of Zurich
The cutest streets

Where to sleep?

After an active day full of impressions there’s nothing as good as ‘coming home’ in a nice boutique hotel room. My amazing, stylish room in the Marktgasse hotel did it for a 100 procent. I don’t know what it is, but I’m in love with boutique hotels and this great, tad upscale place from the 15th century has captured my heart. Nice to know: try the handsome cocktail bar on the ground floor. Tell the cocktail shaker what you prefer and he’ll blow you away with a custom made mix, just do it! www.marktgassehotel.ch/en

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What to do

So just so you know, I had less then 24 hours discovery time, but I can tell you that Zurich is very suitable for short city trips. Recommended is to do the traditional culinary Gourmet Tour or learn more about the interesting stories of the old city with the Old Town Tour, like I did. For sure they also have a lot of cool shops, like grocery shop Schwarzenback or taste the best sausages of Zurich at Sternen Grill.

Where to eat

I know it’s not my best kept secret that I’m a food lover, sweet tooth and gourmet to the max. Not so surprisingly I was so excited to discover if the Swiss had a good flavor…no doubt they have! I had my lunch break at Baltho Restaurant & Bar – it’s part of the Marktgasse hotel. My gosh, it was a food walhalla to share that opened in front of me: falafel with homemade baba ganoush, juicy Boeuf Bourguinon, bang-bang chicken and so on. You name it, we had it. Mouth watering, right?

Food at the Marktgasse Hotel
Typical Swiss food at the Marktgasse Hotel

Another food tip:

HILTL. According to the Guinness Book of World Records they are the first registered vegetarian restaurant in the world and nowadays they’re even the supplier of the vegetarian meals on SWISS flights, how cool. HILTL started more than one century ago with this very trendy and successful concept. In addition to their à la carte, they also have a buffet. Although ‘buffets’ often haven’t the best associations for Dutchies, I gave it a try. Wow, I’ve never seen something like that before – fresh, veggie food all over. Funny fact: they let you weight your food on a large scale as you know it from the supermarket. You pay a certain amount per 100 grams, as they want to avoid food waste. Good thinking!

Breakfast tip

Delish is the other restaurant of Marktgasse Hotel. The crew is so enormously hospitable – Amsterdam can learn a lot of this welcoming, pure people – plus my poached eggs with avocado where very tasty. Give it definitely a spot on your food bucket list!

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Salads at Delish

My Verdict

So this was exploring a city trip to Zurich through the eyes of a 26-year-old ‘wanderlust’ enthusiast. It’s a city that I would visit once in about five years again. For this it’s perfect. Big pluses were the fresh food and the hospitality in every shop, restaurant and bar. But one side note for your wallet: please be aware of the enormously high prices. I paid almost 11 euros for a healthy, takeaway shake at Juicery21 << hotspot alert >> So my prejudice about it’s far too expensive became a harsh reality, but the yummy Swiss chocolate made me forget it for a sec.

Juicery 21 Zurich
Juicery 21

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The blogger crew in Zurich (Sharmaine 3rd from left)

Love,

Sharmaine

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

Sharmaine flew to Zurich in style! Check her review here:
Swiss in the sky

THE MAGIC OF THE ISLE OF SKYE

In the first week of November, a small remote island on the west coast of Scotland prepares for winter lockdown. Tourists flee and sea mist covers the land in shadows. All that’s left is deserted roads curling through rough landscapes dotted with thousands of sheep. Not the best season to visit Scotland, or so you might think.

But on an island where history has been dominated by myths and legends, you might be rewarded if you put your trust in the hands of the Gods. I was ready for the Magic on the Isle of Skye.

Isle of Skye

For two weeks, I drove around the Isle of Skye in a campervan with my good friend and journalist, Hans Roozekrans. We drove, hiked, and camped all day, every day, experiencing all the magic the small island had to offer.

Magic on the Isle of Skye

Magic on the Isle of Skye

I’d heard many things about Scottish weather, but shiny, calm, and sunny weren’t any of them, especially about the fall season. We got lucky. We opened the door of the campervan each morning and found ourselves deserted under a perfect, blue Scottish sky, looking out at spectacular cliffs of lush green valleys. Each morning was a gift. The landmarks on our map of Skye had names like “The Fairy Pools,” “The Fairy Bridge,” and “The Old Man of Storr.” It was easy to imagine that, on this little island, fairy tales could be real.

Deer

Walking through The Isle of

Off the beaten Track

I’m always on the hunt for the most rugged and remote landscapes to travel and photograph. One of the things I love about photography is that it allows me to get outside so often. My two weeks in Skye were filled with long hikes, sleeping under the stars, and walking for days without seeing another soul.

I love the independence that photography gives me. Truthfully, there’s no right or wrong way. Therefore I love being able to walk outside and photograph whatever I want. For me, travel photography is about wandering and observing. There are just as many unique ways to look at things as there are unique things to look at.

Magic on the Isle of Skye

 

Pie Aerts

*Pie Aerts is a professional Instagram photographer from The Netherlands and travels around the world trying to capture those special places. He recently got featured in the amazing photobook Depart where 12 photographers tell their story. Follow him on Instagram or contact him on info@pieaerts.com.