5 x Amazing Autumn Destinations

As the leaves start to fall from the trees, it reminds us that Autumn is really here and it’s time to trade those skirts and short trousers for warm coats. During this time, a lot of travelers seek some sunshine. Here are 5 Autumn Destinations that you want to book now.

Lake Placid, New York
As voted by Booking.com and it’s travelers, this region is stunning during the Autumn season. Apart from the beautiful lake, there is a forest with colorful leaves and wild animals. Enjoy the view whilst sipping on a cup of hot chocolate from one of the cabins that you can rent during this time. Check out the Mirror Lake Inn Resort to get the luxurious break from it all.

Autumn Destinations
Stunning views over the lake at the mirror lake inn resort

Montreal, Canada
A friend of mine recently sent me some photo’s of  his trip to Montreal and I couldn’t believe the amount of colors in just one picture. Just wow. Besides the colors, this city gives you the feeling that you’re in Europe. The architecture, street art and food choices make it feel like New York, Berlin and Buenos Aires are added into a blender and poured in your glass. Drink up and enjoy! Flights from Amsterdam are available from around €600.

montreal-as-autumn-destination
Sourcewww.mtlblog.com

Budapest, Hungary
This city is beautiful during the Fall but there’s also lot’s to do! There are several Autumn festivals going on like the Cafe Budapest Contemporary Art Festival which runs between 7th and 23rd of October. The summer crowds have disappeared so Budapest is a lot comfortable to explore during this time as it can be very busy during high season.  Outdoor temperatures remain mild but if you want to heat up, you should try one of the many bathhouses the city has to offer. When it comes to food, you can totally find your taste as they offer something for the carnivores but also have lot’s of veggie and vegan options available. Flights to Budapest go from as little as 200 euro if you book for this month.

Budapest in Autumn

Black Forest, Germany
Now, I have been here many times because my sister lives here and I can’t get enough of it. During summer, all you see is green and during Autumn is like a field of colors with snowy mountains in the background. My favorite city near the black forest has to be Freiburg. This is a cute student city near the border of Switzerland and France is packed with lot’s of cute German restaurants, shops and market squares. It was actually voted one of the best cities to live in Germany because of the fresh air, lack of danger and good schools. My boyfriend took his motorbike this summer and crossed through part of the forest so you can only imagine how it looks when the colors are there. You can fly to Baden-Baden or Basel with Easyjet for around €100 euro from Europe.

Black forest Germany
The black forest during summer

Prague, Czech Republic
This destination is great if you only have a little to spend but still want to get away. Sarah and I were there during spring time and we also noticed the nature that surrounded this city. Many visitors never set a foot out of old town and although that completely understandable, it’s a shame because just outside the city walls you will find something quiet beautiful. You can do a lot of hiking and enjoy stunning views. 60km outside Prague you will find the Kokořínsko Nature Reserve for example. If you still want to opt for the city itself, you won’t be disappointing. Food is super tasty and so cheap to other European standards! To read our Prague city guide, check here

Old town square Prague
Prague from above

Are you going to book any of these last minute Autumn destinations?

Love,

Elke

Top 5 » Parks in Amsterdam

Summer is pretty much over…that’s a damn shame, but no reason to stay inside! I want to talk about the parks of Amsterdam for a minute. We have so many, and we almost forget how rare this is. I was talking to a friend from New York recently and she told me, if you live in Brooklyn, you need to travel at least one hour for the nearest park. Did you know Amsterdam has a total of 50 (!) parks? We can’t mention them all but these are some of our favorite parks in Amsterdam.

1. Amstelpark
For tourists coming to Amsterdam, this might be a park they have never heard of. It’s not located in the center and it’s also not near any interesting attractions, so we understand it’s easily overlooked. Time to check it out! Amstelpark is located next to the highway and a business district called The Rai Amsterdam. It has a lot of green but what I love about this park, is that it has so many different features all in one. It has a maze, a mini golf course, a restaurant, a cafe, a small train for kids, a cool playground and many beautiful flowers and statues. No wonder that many events are held here. Festival Trek, Taste of Amsterdam and the Sunday market are some of events you will find here. 

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Festival TREK at Amstelpark

2. Sloterpark
If you don’t live in Amsterdam West, there is little chance that you have been here. It’s the park next to my house and I only realized it was so amazing a few years ago when I moved to the area. The park is around 6km long if you walk all around the lake. Sloterpark features a man-made beach and several water sports can be practiced here.  There is a lot of development going on right now which means the council is really doing their best in make this area as attractive as possible. Hotel Buiten, a community restaurant with activities, will be finished in a few months and Paviljoen Van Eesterenmuseum is opening this fall, as well as a small coffee house across the Meer & Vaart theater. Sloterplas also has many natural swimming spots that are surrounded by trees, many bunnies sand many runners use this park for a “rondje Sloterplas”. 

Amsterdam, Sloterplas top 5 parks in Amsterdam
Natural swimming area’s at Sloterplas

3. Vondelpark
It’s the most popular park in Amsterdam and everybody knows about it. Yes, it’s busy and full of tourists that try to cycle around on a rented bicycle, but that doesn’t make it any less charming. The park dates back from 1865 and is lovely if you go to the right spots. Vondelpark has many great restaurants such as De Vondeltuin, Het Blauwe Theehuis and Park 3 where you can enjoy in and outside seating. During summer you can listen to free concerts and performances at the Open Air Theater. Since a couple of months ago, the council decided to prohibited BBQ’s from the park and with good reason. The grass was being destroyed plus a lot of people didn’t clean up after themselves. With the ban, it’s a lot more relaxed. Something you probably didn’t know: After the war in 1947, the council decided to build a bunker underneath the Vondelpark bridge what was then rebuild into a club named Line 3 in 1968 where even Pink Floyd performed! It is now called The Vondelbunker and is mainly used for expositions and cultural purposes.

Vondelpark, top 5 parks in Amsterdam

4. Westerpark
This park gained immens popularity over the years and that’s thanks to the many great food and drinks spots around the park. Westerpark is not a park with lot’s of trees but has a large open field, a shallow water spot for children to play in and enough space for markets and events. The Westergas area that is located next to the park is home to many creative businesses and agencies. From the park, you can also hire boats such as Boat4Rent at a good price. Every 1st Sunday of the month you will find the Sunday Market here, where you can buy food, drinks and local goods. If you are around, check out Mossel & Gin and the secret city farm and hideout Buurtboerderij Ons Genoegen

Westerunie best terraces in Amsterdam West
Westergas terras, next to Westerpark

5. Frankendaelpark
Located in Amterdam East, this park is a habitat for many types of plants, animals and insects. You could say that’s it’s the most ecological park of Amsterdam. It’s not large but Frankendaelpark has lot’s of small trails with quiet area’s where you can sit down. There are 2 amazing restaurants located in this park. De Kas and Merkelbach, which are known for their organic produce. Back in the 1600’s, the park used to be part of a wealthy estate and you can still see the old land house Frankendael (built in 1659), that is now used as a cultural complex.

For the full list of all the parks in Amsterdam visit this website.

Nature in Amsterdam? Check it here!

tuinen-van-west

The many faces of Central and Southern Vietnam

Vietnam is just one country, but it sure feels as many different ones. If you are heading out to this Asian pearl, the north part should be (in my opinion) your main priority. I still long for those emerald karst mountains. However, if you have a bit more travel time, central and southern Vietnam are parts of Vietnam that cannot not be overlooked. Well, most parts of them anyway.

Ancient emperors in Hue
Hue, the capital of the Nguyen emperors, really is the middle of Vietnam. It is a city most people only pass for a day while on their way to Danang or Hoi An. But it is worth it to linger for a few days in this small, cozy city. The main reason is the Citadel. A walled city within the city, showcasing how the emperors of old days lived. It’s impressive and pretty big, you can easily get lost there for half a day. If you can stand the burning sun, going during mid-day will give you the most alone time with the temples. The ancient city is not the only thing that has been abandoned. A half an hour motorbike ride takes you to an empty amusement park. Water slides and swimming pools that havent heard a child’s laughter for ages, now overgrown with trees and bushes. A bit creepy i might add. Its also possible to do a tour to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), an area that played a big part in the Vietnam war (or American war, as the Viets call it). Next to sightseeing, Hue offers lots of nice little cafe’s, eateries and rooftop bars for some lounging around. A great little budget hotel is Glenda guesthouse, friendly people, great location and a nice breakfast included!

Vietnam

Feeling at home in Hoi An
An absolute must in Vietnam is taking a tour on the back of a motorcycle with an easy rider. These drivers take you from one place to another, while you enjoy the road and the scenery (perfect if navigating yourself through the Vietnam traffic chaos really isn’t your thing). There are lots of options to do these tours, but the route from Hue to Hoi An is a famous one. The reason? The Hai Van Pass (a.k.a top gear mountain since Jeremy Clarkson cruised this road for his tv show). Winding roads up and down the mountain, combined with stunning vista’s of the sea and the mountains. There is no camera that has the ability to capture these pretty pictures. Go see for yourself!

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On the way to Hoi An you’ll pass Danang. If you are looking for anonymous 5 star resorts, lots of Russian tourists and a beach, this is the place to be. Otherwise, skip this boring city and spend your time in Hoi An. And time is what you need in this cute little town. Yes, there are tons of tourists here, but that doesn’t dull the little lights coming from the lampions that hover above the narrow streets. There is lot’s to look at in Hoi An and even more to buy. Get your tailor made clothes for a dime (i recommend Maya) and pretty leather bags for even less. Have dinner at the waterfront and sip on a brightly colored smoothie while you watch all the people passing by. Most hotels won’t be in the ancient city centre so opt for one that includes (free) bicycles. It’s the perfect way to explore ánd to head to An Bang beach for some time in the sand and water. Lots of beach bars offer free loungers if you take lunch with them, a fair deal! The Hoi An Rose Garden Hotel is in between the city and the beach and offers a nice swimming pool to cool down after a day of strolling/biking around. A word of advise: don’t go with one of those snorkling trips to the Cham Islands. The underwater scenery is meh and much worse: you’ll be surrounded by tourists in life jackets who are stepping on (and thus damaging) the corals. The trip you should take is to My Son. These ruins will take your breath away.

Adventurous Dalat
Further down the coast lies Nha Trang. The beaches are nice, but that is about it. This town has been attacked by many tourists. If beach is what you want, just stick around Hoi An a little longer. If adventure is what you seek, head to Dalat. This is one unique city, as it lies up in the mountains and carries a much cooler climate. There are waterfalls, there is wine and a lot of adventure sports. The true adrenaline junkies have to sign up for canyoning. Abseiling from waterfalls, sliding through rock pools and jumping of a 11 meter cliff (if you dare). After a day like this, you’ll be pumped for the rest of your travels. You can book a tour at Vietchallenge.com

Lie down in Mui Ne
In need of some chill time now? On the southern coast between Dalat and Ho Chi Minh City, quiet Mui Ne will give you just that. It has a beach which is okay and some nice restaurants. Hire a beach lounger at coco beach resort and you’ll find relaxing here is pretty easy (they have some very nice massages there too). If you are an avid wind or kite surfer, Mui Ne offers it all. But be aware, the prices for lessons and gear hire are extremely high. There are many places to spend the night in Mui Ne, but the Xin chao hotel offers the best bang for your buck. Spacious rooms, a pool table ánd a refreshing swimming pool. Near Mui Ne are the white sand dunes. All little piece of desert in Vietnam. Pretty cool to run up and down those sand mountains. Lots of excursions to these dunes are organised in Mui Ne. However, most of them are package deals, also tacking you to other (tourist trap) sights. Oh and they mostly forget to mention that you have to pay an extra fee when you want to go up the dunes. So be extra aware on what you book and if it is what you are looking for.

Central and Soutern Vietnam
Mui Ne

Smoggy Ho Chi Minh City
You either love it or hate it, the second big city of Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a smoggy and crowded metropole, with lots of bars, shoppingmalls and street food. Try to find a local or a tour that takes you out of the centre to experience true Vietnam city life. A city full of skyscrapers asks for a drink in a rooftop bar. The best one: the View rooftop bar. It is not the highest one, but you’ll find a great informal vibe and an amazing cocktail list.

theviewrooftopbar Cnetral and Southern Vietnam
The View Rooftop Bar Source

Ho Chi Minh City also is the gateway to the Mekong Delta. Multiple or one-day tours are on offer throughout the city (or just take a bus and organize everything by yourself). If you take a one-day tour its worth it to spend a bit more money. That will get you smaller groups and more time to experience life in the river delta. Little boats will guide you on small canals through fields. Learn how to make coconut candy and down a fermented-snake-shot. It all is a bit touristy, but still a lot of fun.

The ‘once was’ paradise: Phu Quoc
Surely, before the tourist boom hit Vietnam, the Southern island of Phu Quoc was a real beauty. But the white sandy beaches now are full of rubbish and troubled by fumes from all the boats. But there are still a few nice places left to end your Vietnam trip in pure relaxation. Ong Lang Beach is quite far from the nearest town and therefore very peaceful. The beach here is a bit rough, but clean. Phu Quoc Dragon Resort & Spa will give you all you need for ultimate relaxation (at very reasonable rates). While you’re in the area, grab a chicken sandwich at Sakura restaurant. Not a very Vietnamese lunch, but you’ll be craving this sandwich for weeks afterwards! And if you are on the island in the dry season, hop on a boat for some underwater life. Be aware that the diving schools offer snorkel tours for a slightly higher price than regular tour operators, but that is probably worth it. The regular tours are, again, full of Tourists (you know who) who have no respect for the aquatic life.

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Still lovely; Phu Quoc Dragon Resort & Spa Source

Central and Southern Vietnam has some flaws, but most definitely it’s beauty. There is only one way to find out if you love it or not: go see for yourself.

Love,

Jill

Jill is currently traveling through Vietnam and Thailand and will monthly update us about her Asian adventures

The Northern (high)lights of Vietnam

Vietnam is hot. And i’m not only talking about the weather. This long stretched south-east Asian country is on the rise for backpackers and travelers alike. Not so strange when you come to think of the perfectly spiced and easy-to-digest food goodies, bright rice paddies, staggering karst mountains and sandy beaches. Vietnam is the place to be if you want to take in as much different scenery as possible. If you start of in the North of the country, there are a number of hotspots you simply cannot miss.

Happy in Hanoi
Sweat is dripping of your face, not to mention the rest of your body. Around you it’s a hot mess of honking motorbikes, waving salesladies and strange smells. This is Hanoi. One of the two big cities of Vietnam and for many travelers the kick-off of their journey. It’s also the gateway to many of the highlights in the North of the country. Many people use this city in exactly that way, a travel-through kind of city to get to more beautiful places. But Hanoi should not be overlooked. It’s a bustling city with lots to see, feel and do. For all you foodies out there, your mouth will water with the endless options of amazing dishes. From sitting on little plastic chairs on the street to high-class dining it’s all there. My advise: opt for the plastic chairs for intense flavors and a true local experience. Think rice pancakes, filled with shrimp, beansprouts and pork. Fresh springrolls, rice noodles with beef and amazing broth, it’s all heaven. Order a glass of fresh draft beer (starting at 20ct’s a glass!) look around you and enjoy! Besides eating, Hanoi offers enough sightseeing. Go to the Hanoi Hilton Prison to experience what it was like being captured by the French, to the Ho Chi Minh Masoleum to see the body of Vietnam’s great leader (check opening hours carefully to avoid closed doors) and stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake where Vietnamese kids will try to learn some English by starting a conversation (and taking some selfies). Budget wise, Hanoi won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Hotels and hostels are cheap and fine. My advise: the Bluebell Hotel. In the middle of the backpacker district, offering large and clean double rooms with a funny and friendly manager and price tag.


The streets (and rails) of Hanoi

Halong Bay Beauty
Probably the most famous landmark of Vietnam, Halong Bay lies a 3,5 hours drive east of Hanoi. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is full of amazing vista’s, high-rising karst mountains and deep green waters. It’s not an option to go to Vietnam and not see this epic landscape. There are several ways to see the bay. Cheap and less touristy is arranging a bus to Cat Ba and board a tour from there. However, this does take up a lot of travel time that you could have spend on the water. Feeling lazy? Book a tour in Hanoi and everything will be arranged. Some pointers: never book a one day trip, as you will spend most of your day in the bus traveling towards Halong Bay. 2 or 3 days is perfect (also on days 2 and 3 you will enter the less touristy part of the bay). If you want to have a relaxed and clean stay, always go for those that are a bit more expensive. Sailing 3 days for 80 dollars will most likely mean you share your cabin with cockroaches and a fishy smell. The tours that come with a price between 130 to 160 dollar (for 3 days) are worth the splurge. Always ask what you get for the price and what kind of luxury (or not) you can expect. Now all you need to do is chill on one of the loungers on deck and take in the view!

Halong Bay, Northern Vietnam
H
along Bay

Scenic Sapa
Rice fields as far as your eyes reach, in stunning shades of green. A local ‘mama’ guiding you around on steep paths and into their homes. Sapa, close to the Chinese border, is not to be missed. Unfortunately I did miss it and still regret it deeply. Everyone who has been there, mentions it is one of their Vietnam favorites. You can take a bus or a train there, and local guides will be waiting to take you at the station. This is a cheap way to see Sapa (most of the times this includes two days of hiking and one night in a traditional homestay). If you feel more comfortable knowing who you are going with upfront, book a tour. Do expect lots of begging little children and people trying to sell you stuff, the tourist industry is booming here (not in a good way). You can avoid this a bit by booking a tour that takes you to another part of Sapa and usually only costs a few dollars extra.

Imagine lush green mountains and valleys full of rices fields

Biking Mai Chau
A lot less touristy and still very beautiful is Mai Chau. Those who have limited time, will often skip this area since it is not on the standard route. But that is a mistake. Mai Chau feels more authentic than most of the other places in the north. Imagine lush green mountains and valleys full of rices fields. Add the occasional herd of cows crossing the road and local markets (not advisable for those with sensitive noses and stomachs) and you have a pretty good picture of what to expect. Cycling through the valleys is the way to move forward and to learn about the traditional Thai and Hmong people living here. During your bike ride, you might encounter the 1000 steps stairway, leading to a cave and a great viewpoint. Be aware that these stairs are not for those who are in a bad shape. The steps can be slippery and are quite uneven. Oh right, and there are a thousand of them! The perfect place to spend the night is Mai Chau Sunrise resort.

Tam Coc Adventures
They call it Halong Bay on land and the latest King Kong movie (Skull Island) was shot here. For a reason I might add. The Tam Coc mountains are stunning. To gaze at the mountains you can book a boat ride, but this is expensive and a lot of travelers mention it’s unpleasant due to the demands for a big tip by the ladies rowing the boat. So, why not grab a (motor)bike and see the area on your own terms? It’s the perfect way to explore and enjoy. Climb the stairs at Hang Mua (only 500 this time, and way easier) for an Instagram worthy shot of the karst mountains and the river. If you have the time, make your way to the temple complex of Bai Dinh (about 20 KM from Tam Coc). Even if you are not a temple lover, this place will impress you.

Northern Vietnam, Tam coc - viewpoint
The stunning viewpoint at Tam coc 

Booking A Tour
‘Book a tour’ is mentioned a number of times above. But in Hanoi, there are almost more tour agencies than there are motorbikes (okay, not sure if that is possible, but still) and not all of them are honest with what they sell. But there is one local angel that will make your trip (and life) a little easier and fun. Lily’s Travel Agency truly is number one. They offer fair prices, but above all: honest advise (they actually listen to what you want and what you don’t want) and the best service I’ve have ever had from a tour operator (including free water and fruit while waiting and a free beer when we stepped back into her office to give some feedback).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think there are some rice pancakes calling out my name.

Love from Vietnam,

Jill

5 beach clubs in The Netherlands you should visit this summer

The Netherlands is famous for it’s long stretch beaches and endless amounts of beach clubs. So many that sometimes is a bit hard to make the right choice. Where will the food be the best? Where do they have the best ice-coffee or ambiance? We’ve listed our 5 favorite beach clubs of the season.

Bries, Noordwijk
This beach club is situated in Noordwijk. You can enjoy a Mediterranean menu with Asian influences where you can taste several fresh fish dishes. If you like meat you can go here for the steak market on Sundays. On other selected days you can even enjoy yoga classes or massages! Not sure if the weather is good enough? Check their live webcam to see if the sun is shining! 
Koningin Astrid Boulevard 102, Noordwijk 
www.briesnoordwijk.nl

Bries
Source

Timboektoe, Wijk aan Zee
When we visited this beach bar a couple of years ago, it felt like a surfers paradise. Walking around are plenty cool surfer dudes and you really feel like you’re abroad. It’s still Dutch though, so you can order the famous Dutch Croquette on bread to keep you grounded. A big plus is that parking is free at Wijk aan Zee, so if you get there early, you can get a great spot near the beach!
Reyndersweg 1, Wijk aan Zee
www.timboektoe.org

timboektoe-beachclub

Unbuntu Beach, Zandvoort
It’s Sarah’s favorite beach club, and even though this one has been around for ages, it never get’s old. So why do we love it? The food is good, the service is great and they have swings (I mean, hellooo). Time to visit this all time favorite.
Boulevard Paulus Loot 1, Zandvoort
www.ubuntubeach.nl

unbuntu-beach
Source

Blooming Beach, Bergen aan Zee
6km from the lovely Blooming hotel you will find Bergen aan Zee, the towns beach. It’s about a 30 min bicycle ride and you can use the bikes from the hotel. Blooming never sits still and they are always looking to add a little extra something to their impressive portfolio. So last year they opened beach club Blooming Beach! Now, don’t mistake this beach club with the loud beach bars in Bloemendaal. No, this place is perfect for that sunny afternoon with a glass of wine in your hand. Put your toes in the sand or jump in the hot tub (yes, they have one!) while you smell the sea and the delicious food from the restaurant. 
Parkweg 37, Bergen aan Zee
www.blooming-hotels.com

blooming-beach

Elements Beach, `s Gravenzande
If you think Woodstock ’69 isn’t hippie enough for you, then you should definitely pay a visit to Elements Beach.

This Beach bar is supporting fairtrade, sustainability and create entrepreneurship with their hearts. The food is always organic and they organize yoga classes. It’s near Den Hague but not in the busy part. Come here if you want to escape the crowded beach bars in the summer and watch the kite surfers or close your eyes and pretend you in Bali..
Slag Vlugtenburg 5, ‘s-Gravenzande
www.elementsbeach.nl

 

elements-beach
Source

Love,

Elke

Amsterdam in top 10 most popular cities

We knew Amsterdam is a great city, and I guess many of you must agree because Amsterdam just kicked off Hong Kong out of the top 10 most popular cities in the world.

Market research company Ipsos ask more than 18500 people of 26 different countries what their favorite city was to live, work or do business in and they could choose between 60 different cities. Amsterdam made it to number 9 in the overall standings and that’s a great improvement because our capital city was on the 14th place back in 2013. 

amsterdam-event-calendar-for-july-2017

New York holds the overall number 1 spot, followed by Abu Dhabi and surprisingly London made it to third place. Then again, the research was done before the many terrorist attacks happened. 

To see the full list check the Ipsos Report

Love,

Wander-Lust

Wanna know why we think Amsterdam is so awesome?

Why we love Amsterdam

Must do » Learn how to Kitesurf in Tarifa

Learning how to Kitesurf has never been so hot as now and both men and women are buying the gear and get ready for a kitesurfing trip abroad. It’s a pretty cool hobby to have but can be quite challenging and difficult to learn. Guest blogger Jill is going to tell you exactly where to have the most awesome kite experience and learned how to Kitesurf in Tarifa.

Tarifa
Of course there are two essential elements that you can’t kite without: wind and water. What better place to go then where the Mediterranean touches the Atlantic ocean and the wind streams are beautifully called ‘ Levante’ and ‘ Poniente’? Tarifa in the most southern tip of Spain, also known as kite capital of Europe, is the perfect place to start riding those waves. The easiest (and usually cheapest) way to get there is to fly to Malaga and grab a bus to Tarifa. It’s a 4 hour drive, some spectacular views included (as well as a number of senior citizens making their way for retirement heaves like Torremelinos and Marbella ;-).

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Kitesurfing in tarifa
Tarifa Beach

The old city of Tarifa is a walled kingdom of little winding streets, cute shops and some of the most amazing tapas restaurants I have ever had the chance to eat. This is the town where ‘ being in a rush’ does not exist, where you start your day in one of the many cozy coffeeshops (+ cakes), stroll around the narrow streets, indulge in delicious paella and end the day sipping a cocktail (seriously, the Ginebrina at bar Taco Way is to die for!). Tarifa is also just 14 km from Morocco, a regular ferry is ready to take you to Tanger if you are up for a bit of Africa.

Learning to kite
But hey let’s get back to business, because the main reason you have to go to Tarifa is of course for the boards and the kites. To really get the hang of this ridiculously difficult sport, I advise to book a full course (just one lesson won’t even get you in the water). Be careful, this not for the lazy ones among us. I did a 5-day stint, 4 hours of lessons each day. Heavy duty!

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There are many schools but I recommend Tarifa Max Kitesurfing School. With small groups, great gear and super experienced teachers you can’t go wrong. You kick off with learning to control the kite on land and letting it drag you through the water before adding the board. Sounds intensive? It was! In the burning sun, huge salt water waves, heavy winds and a heavier kite, you need practice practice practice and perhaps a bit of talent (which I lacked). but if you are a doer, not afraid of some hard work and crave for adrenaline, this is your sport! Oh and did I mention it’s also very good for your muscles, shape and overall fitness? Winning!

Kitesurfing in Tarifa

Malaga
If your plane did land in Malaga, I totally advise to give the city a few of your days as well. After 5 days of hardcore kiting and working out, this sunny ciudad is a great place to unwind with lots of wine, perfect shopping and some architectural highlights. From the old castle to the hyper modern beach promenade, you won’t be bored!

Whats on your bucket list for the coming year? If you have any tips, let me know as I’m writing my list as we speak. And if you decide to add kitesurfing in Tarifa, trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Love,

Jill

Read Jill’s previous article about some super handy packing tips!

Backpacking tips

The Arts District: Downtown LA’s Neighborhood-on-the-Rise

Upon first glance, it may not look like much, but take a closer look and you’ll see Downtown LA’s Arts District is more than just early 20th century warehouses and abandoned factories. Must-see galleries, socially-conscious eateries, stylish coffee shops, and trendy blocks are popping up more and more, and Angelinos seeking novel streets to meander and new backdrops for their photos are starting to flock as they catch wind of this hip neighborhood.

Having lived in LA for more than half a decade, I revel in any opportunity to explore places I don’t usually frequent. So, with a fairly open weekend on my hands, I made the drive downtown. With the sun deciding to greet me after a week of Southern California’s infamous “June Gloom”, it was hard to leave my beach town. But, I’m so glad I did.

Zinc Café
Fourth-generation vegetarian, John Secretan attended school in Berkeley, California and dreamed of bringing the vibe of the area down to LA. Opening his first Zinc Café in Laguna Beach almost 30 years ago, Secretan lived behind his first ever food industry venture in a small wooden shack to ensure he’d always have a close hand in the business. 

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Choose to eat indoors or out; either way, the dining areas are a welcome respite from the busy city

After years of renovating and expanding, a new branch of Zinc opened in Downtown Los Angeles, boasting the franchise’s first full service restaurant and bar. With three years under its belt now, my brunch experience was a success and filled with creamy lattes, fresh dishes, and creative cocktails. www.zinccafe.com

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Zinc’s Asparagus Sandwich with a poached egg on top

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Zinc offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, and desserts

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Bar Mateo is the newest addition to Zinc, with a craft cocktail bar set in a 1914-built barn

Street Art at Every Corner
Cities around the world are seeing a sprouting cultural wave involving Street Art, and the artists behind the paint are turning into household names. The Downtown Arts District is no stranger to this popular movement. In wandering the streets, you can find hand-painted murals, airbrushed stencils, or thought-provoking proverbs to fit your day’s mood.

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I was so excited to see work by Wrdsmth, currently my favorite street artist!

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Art everywhere!

Pit Stop at Resident
Perhaps one of the coolest places I’ve discovered in a while is Resident, tucked away only blocks from the popular Arts District Co-op and other chic shops. What began as a studio for the artist-owners, this is “not-your-grandmother’s” backyard, as it has been transformed into a hybrid of a bar, beer garden, and music venue. With beer, wine, and cocktails on tap, drinks are served out of an Airstream, and semi-permanent food trucks are carted in to help you beat those mid-day cravings. At night, the inside opens up as a hip bar, as well. Bonus: The owners, Tim and Bridget Vagedes, still live there, as they’ve secured an RV on the roof of the three-story former metal shop and warehouse, decked out with string lights, yard decorations, and plenty of greenery. www.residentdtla.com

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Resident’s Airstream: an innovative bar

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A peek at Resident’s eclectic outdoor seating

The Arts District Co-op is a landmark not to be missed. Picture a 15,000-square foot indoor flea market, but with nothing but the most up-to-date fashions and desirable trinkets. Over two dozen vendors offer jewelry, apparel, home goods, and, if you’re in the market, art of all mediums. Plus, there’s a permanent stage set up in the back for live music featured on the third Saturday of every month!

As the sun set, I didn’t want to admit that the day was coming to a close. I had only scratched the surface of this neighborhood-on-the-rise and hungered for more. For example, the Arts District Brewing Company has finishing tanks stationed behind each bar to serve tap beer straight from the source; and, while sipping your suds, you can play Skee-Ball or try your hand at table hockey. Westbound, unobtrusively set along the perimeter of a mixed-use walk street (both residences and storefronts share this stretch), features craft cocktails, seasonal small bites, and even boozy milkshakes.

It’s not hard to see why this area is becoming so popular, as the Arts District has a little bit of something for everyone. With so many more to streets explore, shops to peruse, and bites to nibble, I’ll certainly be making my way downtown more often.

Love,

Shae

*Shae is our guest blogger from Los Angeles. An educator whose lust for experience influences her teaching, she travels with the desire to immerse herself in diverse cultures, seeking new adventure and inspiring others to engage with compassion and expand their world view. Follow Shae on Instagram! @seekvantage

Explore the magnificent landscape of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon

You’ve probably seen the photos of dozens of colorful balloons floating through the sky above a magical moon landscape and wondered where it was? This historical region is called Cappadocia and is located in south central Turkey. We sent over our photographer Ilsoo van Dijk to shoot this spectaculair sight and enjoy some of Turkey’s best treasures.

The Beautiful landscapes of Cappadocia
Cappadocia is home to one of the world’s most unique landscapes in the world and therefore placed on the World Heritage List in 1985. The region has a surface of 2000 km2 and lies in between the rivers: the Kizilirmak and Euphrates. It’s best known for its unique moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks. The remains of a traditional human habitat dating back to the 4th century!

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This unforgettable experience and will definitely set the bar for you next adventure.

Hot Air Balloon
If you want to get the best impression of Cappadocia, you have to fly in a hot air balloon. It’s total magic to say the least. Imagine spectacular surrealistic landscapes while the balloons to gently drift over and between the unique rock formations, orchards and vineyards. You will fly over and through impressive valleys, each with distinctive rock formations and beautiful colors. You will continue to float up over rippled ravines for breathtaking views over the region. Even if you have a fear of heights, the view will keep your mind of it. To experience all the beautiful colors, you need to get up early and be ready at around 5am, so you can see the sunrise.

Hot Air Balloons over Cappadocia
What a sight!

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Like something out of a fairytale

Wander-Lust in Cappadocia
Up in the sky

Where to Book
You can say that no trip to Turkey is complete without treasuring this unforgettable experience and will definitely set the bar for you next adventure. (plus you will have the best Instagram feed for weeks!) An 8 day trip to Cappadocia is available for as little as 199,- euro per person with Corendon (inclusive flight, transfer and accommodation) Do you want a little more luxury? You can also opt for 8 days to Antalya and stay in the luxurious All Inclusive Delphin BE Hotel (inclusive of flight and transfers) for 620,- euro! Check all the trips to Turkey on www.corendon.nl

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Hotel Delphin BE in Antalya

Love,

Wander-Lust

All the images were shot by Ilsoo van Dijk

A little Romance on Sicily

We all know, Italy is for lovers. And so is Sicily. Lovers of people. Lovers of food. Lovers of ocean views and mountain roads. It doesn’t really matter what kind of love, Sicily is the perfect place to enjoy it. And here’s exactly where to do that in the North-Western side of this stunning island.

Dine your way through Trapani
The small city of Trapani isn’t the first spot people think of when they want to book a trip to Sicily. Which leaves Trapani a little bit undiscovered, always a good thing! It’s the type of town where you will get lost the first few times you walk around the city-center and every time you’ll discover something else to marvel about. Maybe an ancient church, the magnificent views from the boardwalk or a cute little cafe in a corner somewhere. Here you will find the most delicious food and drinks in narrow Italian alleys or on grand marble boulevards. Everything for very reasonable prices. And by reasonable I mean you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner every night without a worry in your wallet. Feeling romantic? A must-go is Osteria I Vitelloni, situated in one of the main streets in the centre of Trapani. Order the tuna in a pistachio crust and let them pick the wine. But, skip the dessert. You’ll need some room for an amazing ice-cream at Panna & Co. If that isn’t love in a cone.. You can thank me later.

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Osteria I Vitelloni

Scooter your way around
Trapani is also a perfect gateway to a ton of other places you must see while you are on this side of the island. A scooter will take you and your loved one(s) everywhere! Go to Marsala for instance, a famous wine town a little drive to the south. Along the way you’ll see the salt pans this area is known for and feel the wind in your hair. A little more inland (after a fun drive) you can find the majestic temple complex of Segesta. A history lesson has never been more exciting as you climb the ruins and check out those magnificent views. Another piece of the past can be found in Erice, a medieval town which you can find hovering on a mountain above Trapani. Get there by scooter, or by cable car! And try not to get lost in all the bumpy, winding streets. Although I didn’t try it, I have been told you can buy the best canolli on the whole island here (why I didn’t try it myself will always be a mystery).

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Whatever you do in Trapani, don’t forget to visits the Egadi Islands. They are only a boat ride away but you’ll feel as if you travelled back years in time. The little villages cannot be any more picturesque and the surrounding waters couldn’t be more azure. If you have the chance to stay a few days on one of these islands, go for it. Opting for a day trip? Don’t fall for the tourist trap, the packed boats. If you are on a ‘everything is possible’ trip, book the catamaran. Little more of a budget? Just take the ferry to one of the islands and rent a bike once you are there. Exploring a tiny tiny island together, oh the romance.

San Vito Lo Capo, just the sound of it makes you want to go
Trapani is the perfect place to stay and to explore this side of Sicily. However, if you are a beachlover, this town’s city beach won’t fulfil your sandy and salty dreams. Luckily there are some options for you to get your toes touching some lovely blue water. When traveling a lot to find that perfect spot isn’t your cup of tea, then head over to San Vito Lo Capo. It’s possible to scooter there for a day trip from Trapani, or if you want to lounge around the beach for a few days you can book a place to stay. It is a bit more touristy, best don’t expect the Robinson Crusoe vibe and book your accommodation in advance (in the high season from June to August). This little coastal village offers a beach that makes you feel as if you are on a tropical island. There are plenty of cute shops and spots to grab a bite, put on your holiday hat and enjoy. Every year in September they host the Cous Cous Fest in San Vito. Do check it out whenever you are in the area at the right time and feed each other some couscous!

Not far from San Vito Lo Capo lies the Riserva Naturale Orientata Dello Zingaro, a nature reserve which holds some beautiful bays with rocky beaches and ridiculously azure water. Bring your goggles for some underwater fun with the fishes! The park is not accessible for cars or any other type of vehicle, be prepared for some hiking. It’s worth it!

Chill in Cefalu
Want to head over to a different side of Sicily to chill? Cefalu is your town! From Trapani you can book a ticket with public transport and it will take little over half a day of travel by bus and train. Cefalu looks like the Italian coastal towns that you see in paintings. It’s got the maximum idyllic factor. There’s lots to do here if you want to, from sailing to an active volcano-island to day trips to other well-know Sicilian places like Taormina. Or you can just stroll through the paved alleys, have an iced-cappuccino every once in a while and stretch your legs on the beach. I have to admit, that latter was how I filled my days in Cefalu.

Sicily Cefalu view point

Even if you are feeling the lazy vibe, you should get of your beach bed once to climb Rocca di Cefalu. This massive rock towers above Cefalu and will give you some breathtaking views and historical facts. It is quite the climb, leave your flip flops at home and put on some more solid footwear. Once you’re on the top, there are loads of spots for that perfect lovey-dovey selfie. Just like in Trapani, San Vito Lo Capo and probably all the Sicilian towns, the food in Cefalu is amazing and the amount of restaurants to try is enormous. You cannot leave without trying at least five different types of pasta (more is better in this case). Many restaurants have hidden terraces overlooking the sea, be there in time for sunset!

Give each other a kiss, and book that ticket to this North-Western part of Sicily!

Love,

Jill

*Jill is one of our guest bloggers living in Amsterdam (@jillgwendolyn) where she works as a content manager for a digital agency. She’s Crazy about traveling and has spend her studies in New Zealand . You can read a new article from Jill in every 3rd week of the month!