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.

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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
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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
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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

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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

 

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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

Hotel Dephine BE in Turkey
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!

Camptoo, the Airbnb for Campers!

As a traveler, you always have a few things on your bucketlist that NEED to be done. These could be destinations, but also experiences. Most people would agree if I said that taking a roadtrip with an old Volkswagen Van would be one of them. I certainly had it on my list and 2 weeks ago I was so lucky to cross it off my bucketlist! Camptoo, the Airbnb for campers and mobile homes, asked me to take an oldtimer Volkswagen T2 for a little roadtrip.

What is Camptoo?
It’s too easy to compare Camptoo with Airbnb but it’s really the best comparison to make. It basicely works like this; most mobile-home owners only use their ride half the time so it just sits there, in front of their garage. Camptoo makes it possible for those owners, to rent out their camper. Just look on their website and select the camper you want, for how long and which date. You get several options and all you need to do is to pick your favorite and send the owner a message. You will see if it’s available and if they accept your request.

After a quick check up, we were handed over the keys and headed on our little adventure.

Once accepted you will receive a confirmation email plus a text message. I picked the beautiful (and in a very good state!) Volkswagen T2 Van owned by Nicole from Limburg. Not really knowing what to expect, me and my family drove down to her house where Nicole explained everything we needed to know about her precious ride. Camptoo makes sure that you are all-risk insured and you pay a deposit to cover yourself for any damages along the way. Just make sure to have your travel insurance sorted. After a quick check up on damages and details, we were handed over the keys and headed on our little adventure.

On an adventure with Camptoo

I have a baby of 3,5 months old so I was a little nervous about sleeping in a van of course. What about the cold? Would the rain come inside? What if the van breaks down? All the motherly instincts you would expect, but as a true traveler, I needed to let some of these insecurities go and enjoy the ride. Literally.

Volkswagen dreams. Camptoo

The Route
The first thing I noticed is that driving a car like this get’s a lot of attention. A lot. People waving, throwing up peace signs or giving you a thumbs up out of respect. Pretty cool. We decided to drive to The Ardennes, an area with hills and greenery and lot’s of adventurous roads. From Limburg we had about 2 more hours to go and we found this amazing camping online called Les Cabanes De Rensiwez. Here you can camp but also rent the most amazing lodges such as treehouses, Norwegian style cabins and hobbit-like-houses. Our campervan included a little kitchen with a stove so we could prepare dinner and make some tea. Very handy if you need to warm up! No camping adventure is complete without a little thunder storm and boy did we have one on the first night! It rained and rumbled for about 3 hours but it just made the whole experience even more special and cozy. TIP: Bring your own pillows for comfort and a (extra) warm sleeping bag as it get’s very cold at night even during summer. Many camper owners have blankets available but they can be too thin for your liking.

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Bohemian dream
Yep, this is soo me!

Breakfast at the camping
A breakfast basket brought to our camper

The next we drove down to a special place called the Jan Foppen Forest. This is a small forest on top of a hill where you can do crazy survival stuff like abseiling, climbing, paragliding, horse riding and more. My boyfriend and his parents used to come here and group of friends book a weekend here to spend quality time. We just came to say hello and show off our amazing campervan of course ;-). It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re heading to the Ardennes. Check here for more info.

Camptoo at The Foppen Bos
Our VolkswagenT2 at the Foppen Forest

On our last and final day we really got to drive through small towns where we stopped if we saw something nice such as a little Sunday market or a beautiful viewing point. We had to deliver the Van back to it’s owner in the early afternoon so we decided to sleep at a camping in Limburg, near the Belgian border. This camping was very modern and even had a swimming pool, restaurant and beautiful forest nearby to walk in.

La Roche
We stopped at La Roche, a town visited by many cyclist 

My Verdict
A dream come true. honestly. Okok, I didn’t have a lot of sleep like I would have in a 5 star hotel but that’s not what camping is about. Camping and especially, camping in an oldtimer, is about the magic of it. The adventure without knowing where you will sleep the next day and to follow your own path. I’m so glad I did this as a family so I can tell my son about our little adventure when he’s older. I felt like a true nomad and how amazing that he was a part of it. Besides that, the whole thing was so well organized from beginning to the end.

Me and the VolkswagenT2, Camptoo

Do you want to go on the same adventure? You can find the Volkswagen Van that I traveled in, here: camper/2553. Thinking about renting out your mobile home? Visit Camptoo’s website and check their Facebook & Instagram for inspiration!

Check out my video to get a good impression!

Love,

Elke

8x tips for a weekend citytrip to The Hague

I love springtime! For me it’s the best time for a citytrip. Last weekend I played the tourist in the royal, majestic The Hague. Let’s zoom in on some great trendy and even some vintage hotspots I figured out for you. Here’s the wanderlust citytrip to The Hague. 

Where To Eat
Food, food, food. I can think about it the whole day long if you give me the chance. Because I really see the daily ‘food moments’ as something important, I don’t take pleasure with every standard looking food spot just around the corner. It’s a discovery tour to find the gems! Below you’ll find a couple of (coffee) spots which caught my attention. pistachecafe.nl

Pistache Café
Located behind the royal palace ‘Noordeinde’, this healthy oriented hotspot is definitely one for your food bucket list. Why? The Pistachers only work with fresh ingredients and are figuratively allergic for E-numbers and other chemical stuff. Most of the foodies tried the bread with avocado, looked finger lickin’ good! I ordered the sweet potato pancakes – what a surprise – which were also yummy, but a bit too little if you’re hungry after a city walk ;)

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Pistache Café, one of the hotspots I’ve tried during my citytrip in The Hague

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Blij
Drop by and enjoy a good cup of coffee, fresh juice, breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’ve tried the Eggs Florentine which was really delicious. Tip: order the hollandaise sauce on the side. Especially, I would like to point out the genuine hospitality of the staff, thumps up for them.
Little V – This Vietnamese hotspot is tha bomb! They’re famous for their homemade ice teas, worth to try. If you’ve ever been to Vietnam you definitely will taste the real Vietnamese buns, pho’s and spring rolls in the beating city heart of The Hague. Also the laid back ambiance is great. And for the dessert lovers? The chocolate mousse with a Vietnamese touch is the one you definitely have to order! *Update, we are told that Blij is sold to new entrepreneurs and is called restaurant KADE from now on.

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Vietnamese food lovers, this is your spot to drop by in The Hague

The Hague Bookstore
Located in the city center, this is the vintage spot for your shot of caffeine, cakes – the cake of dates is heavenly – and books. They have a kind of a garden where you can escape the hustle and bustle of The Hague. Sit back and relax! Website.

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The Hague Bookstore, the place during your citytrip in The Hague for a relaxation moment

Lola  
A bike and coffee shop in one, love the concept! It’s a heaven on earth for cycling enthusiasts, no doubt about that. Expect an easy-going atmosphere – even in the weekend -, superb coffee and cakes ánd friendly staff who like to make a chitchat. lolabikesandcoffee.nl

LISTed
You definitely will fall in love with this fashion meets coffee concept store. They have in my opinion the coolest Scandinavian clothing brands, original accessories and…coffee! Girls, take your time, the boyfriend will enjoy their coffee with a book in the chill chesterfield. Win – win! Facebook

Where To Stay
The best way to explore The Hague is to stay a night in one of the mostly classical designed hotels or Airbnb’s. I tried the budget proof The Student Hotel, located nearby the train station The Hague HS. It’s a place where students can live for a couple of months and design-savvy travelers can stay for a few nights. My opinion? It’s a modern, simple and very clean hotel (room) with all the facilities you need. No foolishness, only functional design. I really loved the helpfulness of the receptionists, credits for them. Besides I prefer the smaller boutique hotels instead of the – with all the respect – more ‘room factories’ like The Student Hotel, I absolutely recommend The Student Hotel when your budget isn’t sky high. You can book your room here. Book your stay here.

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The Student Hotel, my stay during my citytrip to The Hague

Oh and by the way: In 10-15 minutes you’re in Scheveningen by tram, the place to be when it’s a blue sky, sunny day. There are a lot of beach resto’s where you can have a pit stop for nibbles, drinks and more. Locals told me the less touristic spots are located around the ‘Zwarte Pad’ (Black Path).

Keep the above tips in mind and go for your The Hague citytrip as soon as possible. The welcoming inhabitants are waiting for you!

Love,

Sharmaine

Check Sharmaine’s midweek citytrip to Maastricht and get all the tips! Follow Sharmaine on Instagram.

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6 x Ibiza Hotspots where you can Chill Out

The first flights to Spanish island Ibiza have been booked. Ibiza keeps on attracting sun seekers from all over the world which can make the island a bit busy at times. If you’re looking for a place to relax, idyllischibiza listed 6 Ibiza hotspots for us where you can chill out at.

Sa Trinxa – beach club with hippie vibes
Sa Trinxa is Ibiza’s no nonsense beach club. It’s always busy at this Salinas beach club and arriving here will give you instant happy, summer feelings. DJ Jon Sa Trinxa plays the best beats while the crowd is enjoying a day in the sun, whether that means dancing on the beach or lounging at the beach bar roofed in palm leaves. The waiters will help you with great enthusiasm and the public is always having fun, most of the time spotted with a sangria in one hand and a smile on their face. www.satrinxa.com

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Source: Satrinxa

Cala Bonita – picture perfect beach restaurant
Former PK2 was turned into Cala Bonita in July 2016. Right away, this stylish beach restaurant with its large terrace and a few luxury beds on the beach became a populair spot to escape from the crowds. Famous Australian chef Karen Martini is responsible for the restaurant’s mouth watering menu, and the picture perfect coast of S’Estanyol beach makes a perfect setting for a beach restaurant extravaganza on the bustling South side of Ibiza. Cala Bonita offers a peaceful and laid back base for a perfect day at the beach. The picturesque beach club is also available for private celebrations, like weddings and corporate events. www.calabonitaibiza.com

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Tasty prawns at Cala Bonita

Elements Ibiza – for the hidden hippy inside
Located on the famous hippy beach of Benirrás in the North of the island, some real chill out vibes define the atmosphere of Elements Ibiza. Ever since the start Elements was winning the hearts of locals and tourists in-the-know by offering extra services on top of an outstanding fresh local menu. Yoga classes, a juice & cocktail bar and massages after class include of the many possibilities at Elements Ibiza. A perfect time to visit Elements is on Sunday evening, when you can experience the famous sunset drums on the Benirrás beach. www.elements-ibiza.com

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Elements

 

Babylon Beach – Ibiza’s first organic beachclub
This beachclub is a synonym for laidback and relaxed. The restaurant offers some real great island food. Organic, fresh ingredients come directly from the Babylon farm, C’an Pere Mussona. (When you’re at Babylon, don’t forget to taste the homemade organic ice lollies!)
Though the drinks from the adjoining cocktail bar might be a bit pricey, fortunately, the menu is affordable and suits most people’s budget. After passing the entrance of Ibiza’s first organic beach club, a bohemian vibe is immediately revealed. A long row of waterfront sun loungers, a kids’ playing area and a floating pontoon to hop onto – as your meal and drink await you – are all included at Babylon. The perfect beachclub to visit when you want to experience the best of Ibiza: from delicious food to cool vibes, music and mindset! www.babylonbeachbar.com

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Kumharas – chill-out restaurant & bar
This chill-out restaurant and bar in the San Antonio bay includes an impressive bohemian decor along with a relaxed atmosphere. Kumharas has the perfect summer getaway feel: an Asian influenced menu, four different areas to dine, a laid back chill-out area and an intimate lounge. The Moroccan style interior offers many cushions to relax on, along with great architectural features. The menu is a blend of international flavors with dominant Asian influence, but all made with fresh local ingredients. Not feeling like ordering a menu? Just simply go for one of the many famous cocktails. Visit this beautiful venue around sunset to watch the sun sink into the sea while sipping on a mouth-watering cocktail, while live music is played in the background. Kumharas is also available for special type of events, from weddings to corporate events like business dinners. www.kumharas.org

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Bambuddha – spiritual & luxurious ambiance
Ibiza’s newbee Bambuddha is already running for place to be in 2017. This venue is a cocktail of luxury, spiritual, exotic and erotic altogether. Owner Jon Moon knows how to impress with this new Tantra Cocktail Palace. Islanders and visitors order a drink at one of the bars before making their way tot the restaurant for a ‘Mediterranean’ inspired dinner. This place is also famous as chill-out lounge before a night out. The interior – surprise – consists of a lot of golden Buddhas, led lights, wood and a jungle themed ambiance. While you’re at Bambuddha, don’t forget to try on the signature cocktails (tip: try the black sheep tribe, bamboozle or sassy Bamburrita!). During summer evenings, top DJ’s play the best beats until the early hours. The temple of Bambuddha is also available for private parties, extraordinary events or anything else with a festive theme. www.bambuddha.com

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Source: Bambuddha

Love,

Ellen