New Hotel in Paris! Courtyard Paris Gare de Lyon

It’s time for a baby shower because the Marriot Hotel family is welcoming a new member. Her name is Courtyard Paris Gare de Lyon; a hotel created by business travelers, for business travelers. Consisting of 19 floors, 249 guestrooms and a 360° hypnotizing view. With her passionate personality, modern style and bubbly attitude she’s not only a valued addition to the Marriott chain but also to the city of l’amour & la moda; Paris

Courtyard meets Gare de Lyon
No more green, grey and white: courtyard is completely restyled. The design of the hotel is spacious and professional. No frills or overly decorated rooms. What I personally appreciate is that they manage to give the hotel a creative twist, but still very functional, by using a lots of yellow. By using Mondrian like lines as a symbol for train tracks throughout the building, the hotel integrates the surrounding, where the famous station Gare de Lyon is based. Not only the interior of the hotel is brand new. This old office building is completely renewed to match the restyling. Also on the outside you can find train track inspired details, like the lighted lines which form a rail design over the length of the building.

It’s not only the beautiful Courtyard Paris Gare de Lyon which will rejoice you looking out of the window. The hotel offers 46 rooms with Eiffel Tower view and 51 rooms where you can see the Sacré Coeur.

Courtyard Paris Gare de Lyon

Everything that you need and nothing more
By leaving out unnecessary luxury but only providing the standard necessities for a comfortable night sleep, Courtyard manage to offer quality for a lower price point. Simple and smart perfectly describes the room. The rooms have a modern design; clean and cozy at the same time which, for me, is the perfect combination. Because the strong focus on business travelers the rooms are also very suitable for catching up a few hours of work in between meetings (what I also should have done but the bed was too cozy so I took a power nap instead).

Lobby
The lobby of Courtyard Paris Gare de Lyon

In my opinion the room only had 2 downsides.
● They don’t offer room service, which is not possible for the current price point but still something you should take into account.
● The bathroom is really small. Very nicely designed, but small. This could also just be my room. And, alright, I’m 1,80m so it’s pretty easy to find something small but it took away some of the comfort 😉

Hotel view

International Food with a twist Francaise.
The menu is a combination of authentic, seasonal local specialties mixed with international dishes. The whole hotel staff is very passionate about the qualities of the kitchen which was a great thing to see. They don’t just focus on providing the guests with a meal, they aim to provide an experience. The chefs work with a lot of local produce, offer vegetarian options and even grow their own herbs on the roof. This is not only beneficial for the seasoning but also a far more sustainable way to cook which I strongly promote. Craving some good-old comfort food? No worries, you can still find the hamburg & fries on the menu.


Tip: had un croissant or plateau de fromages too many? The gym in the hotel is open 24-hours.

Re-discovering Paris
Courtyard Paris Gare de Lyon is not directly in the touristic centre of Paris but just wait with ordering your Uber right away. This area, the geographic centre of Paris, is an upcoming neighbourhood and currently attracting many millennials. Big-hitting must-see sights such a Bastille and Notre Dame de Paris are within walking distance. In addition, the area is also a transport hub so if you do want to visit the other side of the city there are many travel possibilities.

Paris
Colourful Rue Cremieux

Tip: Enjoy Paris from the water during a cruise or increase your instagram likes by taking a photo of the colorful photography hotspot Rue Cremieux.
Tip: Still got some energy left at the end of the day and want to jump into the nightlife? Wandering up towards Bastille you’ll find many bars but if you’re up for a new experiences, try LeCallbar. You’ll get your favorite drink served by a staff member only in underwear. Don’t ask me why.

Courtyard Paris Gare de Lyon

The most important question after visiting an hotel is: would I visit the Courtyard again? For me, it is a definite yes. The main reasons are the comfort of the rooms and functional but creative design of the hotel. It’s the perfect place for a business trip or even sightseeing weekend.
And let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to wake up standing eye to eye with the Eiffel Tower?

Courtyard Paris Gare de Lyon
209-211 Rue de Bercy, Paris
Website

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.

Must have for traveling parents » JetKids BedBox by Stokke

Traveling with kids can be challenging. The traveling parent knows that when you’re kid is happy, you are happy. Thank god for the JetKids BedBox that I tested on my latest flight.

Family Time
When I was 11 years old, my sister moved to Germany and she has been living there for over 25 years. I lived in London for over seven years, traveled the world since then, and my parents stay in Bali every winter. Because of our exploring nature, we are not always together during the holidays. And since I have become a mum, the need to see each other is getting bigger. This year is no different, I’m traveling to Asia during the holiday season, so it was time for a quick pre- Christmas visit to my sisters house in Germany, and I took my little boy and my mum along to surprise them.

Freiburg Germany
Flying to Freiburg, Germany

Flying home for Christmas

Christmas hug
Surprise! My son and niece are reunited just in time for Christmas

The JetKids by Stokke Collection is specially designed so that parents can travel smarter with their children.

Hassle Free Travel
My sis lives near The Black Forest in the south of Germany, so it’s only a short flight to Basel. However, if you are traveling with a young child, any minute in the plane has to be accounted for. I bring books, drawing materials, toys and food, but kids are kids, and you should make them as comfortable as you can, to survive a hassle free travel experience. If you are a parent, you must have heard of Stokke, famous for their innovating and award winning kids chair. Since of May 2018, they own 51% of JetKids. This new collaboration between the 2 Norwegian brands means that they can offer even better solutions in the ever growing market of family travel.

JetKids Stokke
Stokke famous for their kids chair, owns 51% of JetKids since May 2018

Traveling with JetKids

Business Class Treatment for your child
And aren’t they lucky, these kids nowadays! You can turn their economy seat into a business class experience by transforming their chair into a bed or seat extender in no time. I brought my JetKids BedBox for the first time, and even though it was a short flight, I can totally see the advantages. This is how it works;

  1. Pack your JetKids Bedbox with your child’s favourite items. Don’t forget to include the mattress that comes along with this version. (I was pleasantly surprised how much actually fit into the JetKids Bedbox!)
  2. When you arrive in the plane, store the JetKids Bedbox under the seat in front of you. Once the seatbelt signs are off, it’s easier to install!
  3. Click off the cover by pressing the sides, turn it around and attach again. You can adjust the height to your need.
  4. Use the long strap and attach it to your child’s seat (there is a bar under the seat where you can wrap the strap around. And attach it back to the JetKids.
  5. Slide out the extension towards the seat your child will be sitting on.
  6. Roll out the mattress onto the seat and attach the sides.
  7. Your little one is ready to chill!

JetKids Bedbox
Chillin’ to the max

JetKids by Stokke

The Jetkids BedBox comes in three new colours; Pink Lemonade, Green Aurora en Blue Sky. You can pimp your JetKids suitcase with the stickers that are included. Pretty cool!

JetKids BedBox

Jetkids Bedbox or Ridebox?
Is there no need for a bed during your trip, or is the BedBox not (yet) allowed by the airline company or is your child just too big for the bed? Then choose the JetKids by Stokke RideBox. This new case offers the same features as the BedBox, except for the parts to make a bed. It is therefore possible to ride on the suitcase and it can easily be pulled by both child and parents by the adjustable strap. The BedBox and RideBox both have wheels, and are suitable to ride from the age of 3 up until 7 years old.

There remains just one question.. when will Stokke create a BedBox for adults? Sincerely, a jealous mum 😉

JetKids by Stokke is available ONLINE.

Love,

Elke

New Restaurant in Amsterdam! The Veronicaschip

Pretty sure you’ve ever heard of the offshore radio station Radio Veronica, which was settled on the eponymous ship back in the 60’s and 70’s. After a huge makeover and many wanderings later, since five years the pirate ship is docked in the NDSM wharf of Amsterdam. What started with Club Noorderschip, is from now on extended with a promising café-restaurant, Veronicaschip.

Veronicaschip

Aye Aye Captain
Even though I mostly associate Amsterdam North side, considered as one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the world, with a lot of travel time, Veronicaschip is just an one-minute walk from the NDSM ferry. From Thursday till Saturday you can enjoy a local and organic ‘fish, veggies, wine and cocktails combi’ dinner with a so-called circular movement in mind. They want to do the best for the guests, farmers and environment. Every product is used from top to bottom, thumbs up. Fine portions to share are in the lead. 

Veronicaschip

Eat & Dance
Close your evening out with a drink and swing at the dancefloor which sits underwater at the boat’s hull. On weekends they’re even up and running for a (hangover-busting) brunch and lunch. What kind of food they’ve in store for you? For example daydream about sea bass as a ceviche with kiwi berry and a sweet touch of white chocolate or wild kingfish served on stew of Jerusalem artichokes, salsify and Chinese radish. And also the glimpse I’ve got of the dessert department doesn’t lie: vegan cake soaked in syrup and with a fresh pear compote. I’ve had a bit of a few things, and it tastes for more, chef Bryce Steba!

herfst menu Veronicaschip

Veronicaschip

food Veronicaschip

A spot for a lot of chitchat, food, drinks, beats and dance moves, but it doesn’t stop there. During the week you can drop by for inspiring, cultural (evening) programs. So keep an eye on Veronicaschip, a perfect place if you’d love to escape the urban chaos.

Don’t be afraid for sea-sickness, Veronicaschip won’t float away. Brunch, lunch and dinner with a beautiful view, it’s definitely worth the ferry trip!

Cheers,

Sharmaine

Veronicaschip
NDSM-pier 1, Amsterdam
Website / Facebook

Opening hours: Thursday: 16:00 – 02:00
Friday: 16:00 – 05:00
Saturday: 11:00 – 05:00
Sundays: 11:00 – 01:00

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

 

The Wanderlust of.. Instagram account @PrettyLittleLondon

After a press trip to Spain, we met London based Andrea, the co-founder of London @PrettyLittleLondon and owner of @dr_difilippo. Two amazing Instagram accounts that shows you the best of London, and the world has to offer. Want to know THE prettiest spots in London and are you curious about the story behind this amazing account, read on..

Nice to catch up with you again Andrea! Tell us a little bit about who you are and what @PrettyLittleLondon is all about.
@PrettyLittleLondon was created with the intention of showcasing the most beautiful hidden gems in London, which could be an undiscovered neighbourhood, a typical British pub, a colourful café or even a pretty door. Many Londoners tend to only explore their own neighbourhood and the main tourist attractions, but London is much much more, and we want them to get out of their comfort zone and start exploring!

Ice creams at Covent Garden Market, London, England.

We were amazed on how much London had to offer.

How did you and Sara come up with @PrettyLittleLondon, and did you guys ever expected it to be such a success?
I was working in an awful office job and was completely lacking creativity, so Sara thought it would be a good idea for us to buy a camera and start exploring the city we had lived in for over a year and knew nothing about. We started going on long walks and taking pictures, and we were amazed on how much London had to offer. We were looking for inspiration on Instagram but couldn’t really find anything a part from the obvious tourist attractions, which lead us to create an account where everyone could share anything they thought was ‘pretty’ in the city. We didn’t expect the account to grow so quickly, but we knew London needed an account like ours, it’s just such a pretty city!

Whale Natural History Museum
London’s natural history museum by Andrea

So you must know London pretty well by now. What’s your all time favourite spot and why?
There are so many, which makes it really hard to choose! But I really love Hampstead because it looks and feels like a small village within such a big city, so when I am looking to have a relaxing walk and take some nice pictures, that is my go-to spot.

Hamstead London
Hampstead, London

Elke lived in London for 7 years (near Hampstead actually!), but so much has changed over the years. What area in London do you think has stayed the most traditional?
I think the Southbank is pretty much the same as when I arrived in London and is – in my opinion – one of the best areas for a summer walk, with its stunning views and lovely atmosphere.

Our followers are loving the foodie hotspots; could you tip them 3 restaurants/café’s that are totally hot right now?
Again, there are so many! If I had to choose 3 though, it would have to be Elan Café, Mr Fogg’s and Coppa Club.


The amazing Elan Café

Coppa Club
The popular Coppa Club in London

Does this place even exist or was this just a dream?

Besides London, you guys travel a lot for Pretty Little Trips, what has been your favourite place so far?
Every place we have visited is unique in its own way, but if we had to choose our favourite so far it would have to be The Maldives. It’s one of those places that when you leave you ask yourself: ‘Does this place even exist or was this just a dream?’

What can we find in your carry-on luggage that you wouldn’t leave the house without?
The simple stuff, but necessary; my camera, power bank and laptop.

Maldives
The Maldives by Sara Helen Santini (@santinisarah)

Because you and Sara are a couple, we wonder; is it difficult to mix work with your relationship?
Not really, we are very good at separating work from our relationship, which means we can still switch off at the end of the day and enjoy our personal lives.

Andrea and Sara
Andrea and his Sara

Sounds very romantic! What can we expect of Pretty Little.. over the next few years?
We have a lot of projects and ideas we are working on, so expect a lot of surprises in the next 2-3 years!

Can’t wait! And finally; what kind of traveler would you consider yourself to be?
I am the traveller that will wake up at 6am to explore, and make the most of every second. (when I am in a new destination). Staying in the hotel to relax is not an option for me!

For London inspiration and the latest hotspots follow them on Instagram, or follow their other travel account @PrettyLittleTrips

Love,

Wander-Lust

*Header photo courtesy of @yaroslava_kirichok

 

 

 

The Wanderlust of.. Pro Surfer Julia van Rooij

She recently competed in the World Championships Surfing held in Japan, and fights for a plastic free world. Time to catch up with Dutchie Julia van Rooij, who is in love with the ocean.

Hi Julia! Could you tell our readers a little bit more about yourself?
Whehooo! My name is Julia van Rooij, but my friends call me Juul or Guli. I was born in Groningen; a farmer province located in the North of the Netherlands. I surfed my first wave after the car broke down when I was 12. As soon as possible I exchanged the cows for waves after graduating from High School when I was 17. Nowadays I am still happily living in Scheveningen, trying to finish my studies and surf when there are waves rolling in.

Julia

I don’t think my fascination is specifically for surfing, but for being in the water.

Where does your fascination for surfing come from?
I don’t think my fascination is specifically for surfing, but for being in the water. It’s so relaxing to be able to float around, enjoy being weightless and have nothing to think about but the fishies that are swimming next to you. And then, the moment you see a perfect wave is coming through, you grab your board, get in the right position, paddle as hard as you can and then it’s all about you and that wave: to enjoy it as much as possible with nothing around you but nature – hopefully, haha. Surfing is obviously getting more popular which makes it a rare situation having the line up all to yourself these days, but hey, more reason to explore.

Julia surfing

I exchanged the cows for waves after graduating from High School when I was 17

You have recently competed in the world championships surfing in Japan. How did you experience this?
WHIEEEEUW! That was so sick! No words for this experience. I still get goosebumps while answering this question. Japan is such an amazing country with the kindest people! They’re so humble and helpful! We’ve managed to end up in the top 20 of the World, which is a pretty good result for a small country like us with shitty waves. I definitely want to go back to Japan one day.

Julia van Rooij

How often do you travel the world in search for the best waves?
Whenever my bank account allows me to go, haha

Haha, we can imagine! So what is your favorite surfing spot so far and why?
That is, uncrowded, Uluwatu, Bali. I enjoy that spot because you have to paddle out through a cave, which can be really exciting sometimes. The water is super clear, you have marine life saying hi, and there are so many lefthander options! From Racetracks to Temples; from barrels to racers. I really enjoy these type of waves.


Uluwatu Bali

Noted! Any bucketlist surfing spots we should know about?
My dream is to surf between huge rocks of ice one day. When people think about surfing, it’s always about warm destinations like Hawaii and surfing in bikini. But in reality you’ll be struggling with the 1309812 people out there. For me it’s all about finding a spot, being out there with more fish than people, and enjoying the silence.

Julia surfboard

It hurts when I paddle out, and literally feel all the plastic floating in the water.

You are also an activist for plastic free oceans, tell us more about this. 
I won’t consider myself as an activist but I try to share my experiences with pollution and the beauty of nature on the internet as much as possible. It hurts when I paddle out at a spot in the middle of nowhere, and literally feel all the plastic floating in the water. I once even picked a piece from a fishing net out of my hair after a session in Scheveningen, which was really shocking.  When you’re continuously confronted by this problem you become more motivated to raise awareness and prevent further pollution of our oceans. In short, this is why I collaborate with organisations and hope to inspire more people to start pledging for cleaner oceans.

collecting plastic
Collecting plastic

We know plastic is a huge problem we face everyday. Any tips for our readers to reduce their use of plastic?
I’ve got some basic ones, but please also check out the internet, there are sooo many ways to help a little!

  • Use your own reusable bottle like a Dopper, Mizu, KleanKanteen or whatever style suits you.
  • Make it a habit to always bring your own reusable shopping bag while shopping or doing groceries.
  • Double check the label of your ‘scrub’ beauty products: those scrubs are often made out of microplastics that will end up in your sink and eventually in the ocean. You can also just buy your products at Lush or Rituals, they don’t work with microplastics.
  • Check the label of your clothing. It’s often made out of polyester. While washing, small pieces of this polyester will come loose and end up in the sewage. A better option is to put it in the freezer or just let them catch some air for a while.
  • Reuse or resell your clothing. Go find some hidden gems in vintage stores. The longer your clothing lasts, the less you have to buy and the better for your wallet!
  • Get out and buy your veggies at the market! It’s fresher, has a better taste and it’s not wrapped in plastic.

When you’re on the road, what’s the song we can find on your playlist?
Boulevard des Airs – Emenne-moi

Any cool new projects in 2019?
I have so many projects in mind but I have to focus on finishing my studies first. After I get my degree, I want to learn how to sail and go to Antarctica.

Pretty big plans Julia! And last but not least, what kind of traveler do you consider yourself to be?
A traveller who tries to avoid mass tourism, carrying as little stuff as possible but goes home with as many souvenirs as possible, haha

To find out more about Julia, check out her website or follow her on Instagram.

Love,

Wander-Lust

Check all our Interviews here!

Dreaming of a life down under? Here’s everything you need to know!

Strolling down the Coastal walk from my house in Bronte towards Bondi beach while enjoying the amazing views and every little bit of sunshine! I moved to Sydney in April last year, meaning that I’m down under for almost a year now and ooh how time flies when you’re having fun! Here’s why it’s just so hard for me to leave Oz and what you need to know about moving here if you’re ever planning to!

Mandy in Australia
Overlooking Bondi Beach, Sydney

Visa’s
Yes, it’s not the easiest thing in the world, but once you decide you want to stay in Australia a bit longer, it’s important you apply for the visa that your eligible for. The tourist visa is used for backpackers and is valid for 3 months.It is possible to leave the country and re-enter for a further 3 months within the life time of the visa (12 months).You can also apply for a working holiday visa. There are many rules, such as your age, and the country you have been born. For all the details and to see what visa would be best for you, check this handy website.

Where to live…
Australia has everything you wish for! Gorgeous beaches of which I can never get enough of, incredible scenery, sunshine all over, great people (hot lifeguards!) and a coffee + food culture that is better than ever! Moving here might seem a big thing to do but it’s actually so easy! Obtaining a Working Holiday Visa for a year is mostly sorted in a couple hours, whereas another option is a student visa. Maybe you are even lucky enough to get a sponsorship with a company! The next step will be to pick an area for you to live in. Are you more of a city person or a beach person? Western Australia, Sunshine coast, Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania…There’s not really one spot where you can go wrong!

Map Australia

Obviously my favo pick so far is Sydney. The city’s International diversity reflects lots of cultures in an extensive amount of suburbs. From artistic Newtown to the corporate CBD to the crazy party scene in Kings Cross to culinary Potts Point, buzzing Surry Hills or the hipsters in Bondi (to only mention a few)! Besides, the city is surrounded by water containing lots of beaches not only in the Eastern Suburbs but also in the North, like Manly, Freshwater, Dee why, Narrabeen, Newport, Avalon, Whale and Palm beach. I personally prefer to live beside the ocean to escape into the water for a surf and enjoy the laid-back and chilled-out vibes!

IMG_0016 (2)
Skyline of Sydney

Even though Sydney is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world, you will enjoy higher wages in return

Making money!
No other place in the world will bring you this great combination of a career and a lifestyle that you could only dream of! Companies invest highly in their employees and this is why you mostly make a pretty decent amount of money! (Think about an hourly wage of $25 to $30 to start with in the most casual jobs)! For the Working Holiday goers this is a perfect way to afford their next travels throughout amazing Oz, whereas others can truly try and build a career. Although Sydney is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world, you will enjoy higher wages in return that can make daily life very affordable! Besides, there are plenty of farmer markets to get your fruit and veggies cheaply, you can buy in season or shop at ALDI! Find out whose hiring and have a look on the next websites to catch that (dream) job! careerone.com.au, seek.com.au, mycareer.com.au, indeed.com.au or gumtree.com.au.

Australian money

Sustainable living is taken very seriously on this side of the world

Lifestyle
Aussie lifestyle is a whole different story… Thinking that Amsterdam was already up-to-date with its organic food stores and soy milk, there is still so much more to learn! Sustainable living is taken very seriously on this side of the world. Organic, cold pressed, paleo, raw, locally grown, free range and wholesome are words that describe a daily diet! Combining that with a swim, yoga, surf or an early morning run and your Aussie life is complete! A funny fact is that Australians are literally obsessed with “active wear”! Going for a run or a training with a personal coach in the park are daily activities but the purpose of the outfits changed more into a fashion statement than anything else! Shopping? “Active wear”! Going for a coffee with the girls? “Active wear”! Doing anything? “ACTIVE WEAR”! It’s kinda funny…

Bondi Swimmingpool
You live an active lifestyle when living in Australia

Aussie Slang
A thing that I had to get used to big time, Aussie slang. The way that real Aussies speak is no joke! (Or is it? I never get their jokes anyways. Thought I was sarcastic but these guys…!?) Making your words as short as possible is the way to go. Arvo (afternoon), Avo (avocado), Strong cap (strong cappuccino), the coppers (the police), Bronnie (Bronte beach), Tama (tamarama), the bra (Maroubra), undies (underwear), kindies (kindergarden)…
Watch and learn:

Food Down Under
Vegemite: not one Aussie grew up without butter and vegemite on toast and you’ll find it in every household for sure!

Pavlova: a sweet and delicious treat made out of meringue and forest fruits mostly served during Xmas
Roast: a standard Aussie dish, oven roasted veggies
Barbies: No, not the dolls you can play with but a barbeque is the main in the foodies section! On every corner, in every park and even out of the back of a truck! It’s a nice way to get together with friends and family and pop a beer.
Tim Tam slam: super addictive chocolate treat that you’re meant to eat in a certain way to get the most out of it! Bite a little piece off both ends, use the Tim Tam as a straw in your hot tea and wait till the inside melts in your mouth….I’m sure you’ll eat the whole pack now!
Flat white: little shot of coffee filled up with lots of milk and a tiny layer of foam. For good coffee look for places that use Campos or Single Origin Roasters!
Messina(!): best gelato you’ll ever taste! Can’t miss out on this one!

Aussie food
Breakfast, lunch and dinner down under is always a feast

The Rocks Sydney

Hope that I gave you a little bit of an inside in the Aussie way of life and trust me, you will never regret being here!

G’day mates!

Love,

Mandy

*Header photo is courtesy of Mandy. You can follow her on Instagram as @littletravelbookofficial

More Australia? Check here on how to plan your backpack adventure:
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The Better London – Why Manchester is the place to be

Whether you are looking for a city break in England or to settle permanently somewhere in the UK, Manchester is the place for you. How about London, I hear you ask. London is great, but there is more to England than just it’s capital. I am going to give you five reasons why you should go to Manchester on your next break, before you eventually decide to pack your bags and move there.

Experience the culture
Manchester is not only the home to two of the greatest football team (debatable but we’ll let this go for the purpose of this article), it is also the home of the longest running TV show in the UK, Coronation Street. Whilst the football fans can busy themselves at the Football Museum and enjoy tours to both Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford Stadium, the non-footballers can engage in some mind-scratchingly challenging games at the Crystal Maze LIVE Experience, just the TV show. If you’re someone who prefers a quieter and easier time, step into real life Hogwards. The John Rylands Library is a must, whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not.

Town Hall Manchester
Town Hall Manchester

From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market

As a growingly international city and with the help of both universities, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester has attracted many internationals to reside in the city. The diverse population has also built the second largest Chinatown in the UK and the third largest in Europe! Here you’d find many authentic Asian cuisines and enjoy a festive celebration of Chinese New Year every February. From November to December, the city will be transformed into a magical German Christmas Market, with stores dotted all over the city center. Unlike London, you will not have to fight your way into the only Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park with thousands of visitors just to get your hands on a cup of overpriced mulled wine.

Manchester

Shop till you drop
Believe it or not, you don’t have to go to London to get your shopping fix. Here in Manchester, you can find three major malls one next to the other, and many more department stores and shops scattered all over the city center. Whether you are into designer brands or high street names, your needs will be satisfied either in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols or the biggest shopping mall in the city, Arndale Shopping Centre. For your convenience, the trio hurdle together in one corner of the city, only a mere 10-minute walk from Manchester Victoria train station, unlike in London where you have to walk miles or spend £2.20 each time you board the overcrowded tube.

Along Market Street where the entrance to Arndale is, you can find at least five different sneakers stores, a three-story big Urban Outfitters, WHSmith, Aldi (the cheapest supermarket), TKMaxx (for the off-season designer goods) and a four-story high Primark. You are most guaranteed to find whatever you are looking for. What’s more, there is a House of Fraser and a Debenhams opposite Primark, if you haven’t already bought enough as you wiggle your way through the crowd and up the street.

Should you prefer a quieter and more ‘sophisticated’ shopping experience, I’d suggest you head to King Street, where you will find various local boutiques, branded stores and pop ups. Although usually quieter than the main street, you will not be disappointed by the range and the number of shops you find here.

Manchester

If you find yourself constantly revisiting Brick Lane or Camden Town in London, Northern Quarter is just the place for you. Small enough not to tire you out but big enough to cater for your needs, whether that is a desire to treasure hunt in vintage stores or to look for your next Halloween outfit, Pop Boutique has you covered. Cow Vintage and Blue Rinse are just a few of the many vintage shops you can find in this uber cool quarter.

Manchester Food heaven
Unlike London, where you cannot enjoy the dining experience fully because you often have to keep track on how much you are spending, restaurants in Manchester are kinder to your purse without making you compromise on the variety or quality of food. Fancy some Italian? There are the sleek, high end Italian restaurant chain, San Carlo, dotted all over the city center for those who like to enjoy the finest Italian dining experience. There’s also Don Marco, which does an amazing lunch deal for £7 a course or £12 for two. Salvi’s Cucina is also an authentic option to go for! Fancy something cheaper? We have also your classic Carluccio’s, Pizza Express and Va Piano!

food in manchester

After that intense shopping spree, you need to refuel before you head home or do it all over again!

Just opposite Selfridges, Corn Exchange houses some of the most popular restaurants in the city. There you can find Vietnamese food, Indian, burgers and again, Italian. Across the street to Printswork, there are Mexican, Japanese and several pubs for those who’d rather enjoy their meal with a side of football. For those who enjoy a more authentic Asian dining experience, head to Chinatown to satisfy your cravings. Wasabi (not the London chain) is a more affordable and authentic alternative to Yo! Sushi and Try Thai does an amazing lunch deal. Its ground floor interior is also very grammable, which is always a bonus. Near but not in Chinatown, you can find the best Chinese restaurant in the city at The Rice Bowl – the perfect place to visit with a group of friends in order to taste as much as the menu as possible.

Whether you are coming from Manchester Piccadilly or not, I highly recommend you head to the Northern Quarter, where you will find the quirkiest and hippiest restaurants and cafes. There you will find the vegan legend – V Rev, where they serve the tastiest mac and cheese and vegan burgers! You also must not leave without stuffing your face with the BEST BURGER IN TOWN at Almost Famous. Get a grill-cheese sandwich to go from the Northern Grill. (I love it so much I’ve been featured in their insta!)

vegan burger

Save your pennies
One of the best thing about Manchester is that, although it is one of the major cities in the UK, it is much more affordable than London. It has basically everything that London has to offer: theatre – checked, Michelin star restaurants – checked, endless shops – checked, international community – checked… even employment opportunity is on par with the City, as many offices have set up their headquarters in Manchester because of the cheaper rents and lower expenses. International and national enterprises are shifting their attention from the capital city to this Northern capital because they realise that this is the place to be! Did you know that Tescos are more expensive in London than it is in Manchester?

The world is your oyster and Manchester is the ideal starting point

coffee spot in Manchester
Quirky but affordable coffee spots in Manchester

Gateway to your getaway
Should you ever run out of things to do in Manchester (impossible!), there are four train stations in the city, all fairly close to one another, to take you away to a town nearby or a city for away. Venture out to the Greater Manchester on a weekend and take a tram to Chorlton for an edgy brunch, or Alderly Edge to potentially bump into the Manchester footballers who live in one of the many mansions up the hill. Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool or York are just an hour or so away by train and so much cheaper to get to than from London, which is only two hours away from Manchester! If you fancy escaping further and out of England, the Manchester Airport is easily accessed to by train, tram and taxi.

Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people.

Manchester is friendly
Because you have made it this far, I thought I’d give you something special. The final and most important reason of all, people in Manchester are much more friendly! You are more likely be greeted by a stranger with a smile on the tram than you would down south, where the image of miserable looking commuters on the London tube is no stranger to all. Even though the city is 90% rain, your mood will never be dampened by the weather because of the surrounding people. On top of that, the tragedy after an Ariana Grande’s concert a few years ago has brought Mancunians closer and the sense of community is so great it’s infectious.

Honestly, give it a go, get a train or book a flight there for your next trip, Manchester will leave you inspired and wanting more.

Love,

Chantelle

*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. Always passport ready, she is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.

Vasilitsa, the amazing skiing resort in Greece!

One of my best friends is Greek and I’ve known him for most of my life. I have been coming to Greece since I was 3 years old but he never told me about this amazing winter secret before until he sent me a text message last week with a few pictures that looked like the French Alps or Switzerland.
Little did I realize that these were pictures from a place called Vasilitsa Greece.

Winter wonderland in Greece
There’s fallen a lot of snow in Vasilitsa this winter

Vasilitsa is one of the best ski resorts in Greece. The ski center is located in the middle of Pindos, approximately 417km from Athens and 2,5 hours away from a place called Perdika, where I used to spent my summers. 

“Vasilitsa is one of Greece best skiing resorts, so why don’t we know about it?”

IMG_4024
Just a few hours away from a winter wonderland..

vasilitsa-map-1200

Off the beaten track
Currently, Vasilitsa has 5 lifts and 16 ski trails, making this a perfect getaway for the Greeks. A lot of foreigners don’t know about this place though so maybe it’s time to pay a visit. During this season, flights are low priced and from Preveza airport it’s a only 3,5 hours drive before you get up on the mountain. 
You can choose different ski-passes: a day card is €10,- while a 5 day pass will cost you only €30,-!
If you just want to enjoy the views, you will only need to pay 3 euro’s. The ski sets are available for rent from about €12,- and snowboard sets will cost you €15. More info here.

Where to stay
Rooms are also widely available and not expensive! You can stay in a fully equipped room for as little as 250 euro’s for 5 nights based on 2 persons.

For accommodations in the area check here

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Stunning views

Vasilitsa
Picture perfect

Want a ski holiday a bit out of the box? Then pick Vasilitsa!

Love,

Elke

*All pictures from Vasilitsa are courtesy of Alexie Efstathiou

The Best in Travel List 2019 according to the Lonely Planet

With so many people traveling nowadays, it’s almost impossible to choose between the many destinations on offer. How do you decide where to go next? The Lonely Planet has just published their Best in Travel List 2019, that may just help you decide.

Top 10 Countries:

  1. Sri Lanka
  2. Germany
  3. Zimbabwe
  4. Panama
  5. Kyrgyzstan
  6. Jordan
  7. Indonesia
  8. Russia
  9. Sāo Tomé & Principe
  10. Belize

Sri Lanka

The Best in Travel List 2019 can take you all over the world

Germany Castle

Sri Lanka is topping the list this year because the island’s infrastructure is better than ever before. Plus new activities give people the opportunity to discover the jungle, beaches and the local culture. It may come as a surprise, but Germany got the 2nd position. They are celebrating several jubilee’s this year, such as the fall of the Berlin wall 30 years ago. In at number 5 is Kyrgyzstan. This Asian country is known for it’s stunning landscape full of hills and lake Issyk Kul.

Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan

Top 10 Cities:

  1. Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. Shēnzèn, China
  3. Novi Sad, Serbia
  4. Miami, USA
  5. Kathmandu, Nepal
  6. Mexico-City, Mexico
  7. Dakar, Senegal
  8. Seattle, USA
  9. Zadar, Croatia
  10. Meknès, Morocco

Plenty of cities to choose from, but which one is your favorite?

Copenhagen
Copenhagen

Best Value Destinations:

  1. Southern Nile Region, Egypt
  2. Łódź, Polen
  3. Great Smoky Mountains, USA
  4. Maldives
  5. Houston, USA
  6. Argentina
  7. Bangladesh, India
  8. Albania
  9. Equador
  10. Slovenia

If you’re looking for a first class destination, without the first class ticket price, these 10 destinations are tipped to be the best in value. Even the Maldives that is normally only home to exclusive resorts, is going through a transition and has more accommodations to suit every budget. We are not talking Asian prices, but the change is there, and that’s a great thing!

Egypt
Egypt 

For the whole list check Lonely Planet. So where will you go in 2019?

Love,

Elke

 

All you need to know about the TAO Expedition in The Philippines.

Are you a Adventurous Traveller? Do you need a break from modern society? If so, this 5-day Boat tour in the Philippines is the escape for you! Sail into paradise and explore the most remote islands between Coron and El Nido in the North of Palawan! This is everything you need to know before booking the Tao Expedition.

You live like the local people during this expedition! Wi-Fi? Not on the TAO sailing boats! Sometimes there is a possibility to use power, but that’s it! This is a good way to take time for yourself and get away from all those Social Media Notifications popping-up all the time!
While you are on the boat with 15 to 20 other explorers, you are completely free in the things you want to do! Try to catch some tuna while fishing from the back of the boat, help the chef preparing a meal, get behind the wheel like a real sailor or share your travel stories with the crew while you enjoy your jungle-Juice! It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you have the time of your life!

Philippines

The days on the tour are packed with adventure! The great thing about this trip is that you are never sure where you end up! Because of the climate in the Philippines the weather isn’t always your best friend! That’s why they change routes all the time and you are never sure what you see/do and where you will be sleeping. However there are some highlights you are definitely NOT going to miss while exploring the islands and waters between Coron and El Nido!

Tao tour Philippines

Jump in the turquoise blue waters and Snorkel in the most amazing spots of this tropical archipelago! Enjoy the Beautiful sunsets and after a long day on the boat, chill on the beach and watch the milky way sparkle in the sky! The Tao expedition brings you back to basics, it disconnects you from the modern world and re-connects you with nature! The crew exists of local people who know everything about the area you are sailing in, they have respect for nature and everything you can find there! This is what they try to learn to the people who came and joined them on the tour!

Beach Philippines

The best time for the TAO Expedition
The best time to take this tour in the Philippines is between October and May, this is the dry season. There is also the possibility to ​book an expedition​ during the rainy season from June till September, but expect some rainy days! It is not possible book during the month September.

Prices
The 5-day Tao Expedition will cost you $545,- (Php26.900,-) in low season and $655,- (Php32.400,-) in peak season! Of course this is a lot of money, but if you look to it in a different way it is not that bad.
This price includes:
● 5 days of travel
● 4 nights of TAO style camping
● the wild open nature and island living
● Freshly prepared meals, snacks and drinks (drinking water, tea, coffee, sunset
cocktails)
● mask and snorkels (no fins)

TIP: Bring extra cash upon checking in for Alcoholic drinks and Merchandise. Recommended amount: $60,- (Php3.000,-) – $100,- (Php5.000,-) per person

Filipino fresh fish
Fresh food at the TAO Expedition

Everyday you have an activity, from snorkeling to fishing! You have the transport covered from A to B, Coron to El Nido or the other way around! All meals are included and you get the most amazing beaches to sleep on every night! If you see it this way, $109,- (Php5.380,-) / $131,- (Php6.480,-) for a day is a good price for a unforgettable trip in the Philippines!

Other Experiences
TAO offers way more then just this tour. The following tours are available at the moment:
● Boat Expeditions (5 day, 3 day, sailing or private)
● Island Stay
● Combo Experience
● Mountain Treks & Retreat
Have a look ​here​ for more information about the different tours.

Sleeping on the beach, Philippines
Not a 5-star hotel, but a priceless view (photo by @wanderlust.nl)

How to get there?
You can book this tour from either Coron to El Nido or the other way around. To get to Coron you can take a Domestic Flight with a 40 minute transfer to the town. When you are in Manilla there is also the possibility to take a Ferry to Coron which leaves once a week and will take you 12 to 14 hours. For price details and time schedules visit the 2GO​ website. When you start your Boat tour from El Nido there are two options. Fly direct to El Nido, or fly to Puerto Princesa and take a 6 hour bus ride to El Nido.

Good To Know
This is not everyone’s idea of a holiday! It might be bad weather, it might be rough waves, limited privacy, barking dogs, crowing roosters, mosquito bites, jellyfish stings, sunburns. But that is all part of the experience: the unexpected, the unknown, stepping outside of your comfort zone. Still interested? Book early to avoid disappointment. (and early is months in advance, especially during the high season)

Keep on exploring!

John

*John is one of our guest bloggers from Nijverdal. He’s a guy from the Country with a desire to travel, a passion for sports and a love for food. “Never try, Never know!” Follow him on Instagram!

For more Tips & Recommendations for the Philippines check out the ​previous posts: