The Wanderlust Barcelona Guide!

Barcelona is one of those cities that you keep coming back to. As much as we both love exploring new places, this Spanish delight keeps pulling us back every 2 years or so. It might has something to do with the fact that Barcelona has a wonderful beach combined with a vibrant nightlife that includes one of the best cuisines in Europe. We booked a weekend away with TravelBird and checked out the newest and best spots so you can relax and enjoy your citytrip. Here’s our Wanderlust Barcelona Guide!

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Why Choose TravelBird?
There are tons of travel agencies out there so we can imagine that it’s hard to pick an agency that really suit your needs. So why book with TravelBird? And why go with an travel agency at all? First of all, we noticed that the website of TraveBird is super easy to navigate on and looks fresh and modern. Secondly, once you’ve booked your trip, you will receive an inlog so you can quickly check all of your documents onto one page. You can find your boarding pass, hotel info, possible transfers and contact details. TIP: download the TraveBird App so you have everything on hand PLUS you can keep an eye on the latest travel deals! 

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Hotel Retrome

But the one thing we really liked is the diversity of destinations and type of accommodations they put on offer. Our hotel was a retro style boutique hotel named Retrome in the lovely area Eixample, close to pretty much everything including the beach. Even though we arrived during high season, the area we stayed in was peaceful yet full of local cafe’s and restaurants. The reception knew our names which made it feel very personal. Something you don’t see everyday. But let’s be real, they already had us when they offered us a free glass of cava ;-). The whole trip was just so well organized. All we did was book and go. And that’s pretty much all you want to do when you’re enjoying a weekend away right?

wanderlust Barcelona Guide

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
It’s one of the first things that comes to mind when you arrive. Food. Food. And more food. Barcelona is a city with many “hotspots” and these are our favorite ones!

» Lulu’s,  It’s a tiny cafe in El Born where you can eat healthy. There are a few tables outside and they serve Iced Matcha Latte’s!
» Nomads coffee, we passed this hipster coffee house by chance and grabbed a coffee to go. They take it serious, so expect a real tasty cup! nomadcoffee.es
» Brunch & Cake, Hotspot number one at the moment. They serve well known dishes in a very special way. Go for the Blue Acai Bowl, Green Bagel and try one of their juices! if you need to wait for a seat (chances are, you will) grab a lovely coffee at De La Crem right across the street. cupcakesbarcelona.com
» The Green Spot, brand new in Barcelona and already one of the best veggie spots in town. It doesn’t matter whether you are a vegetarian or not, the pretty dishes will make your mouth water. Prices are a bit higher than usual. encompaniadelobos.com
» Flax & Kale, not new but still hot, you need to check it out if you are around. Get your phones out, because this is Instagram worthy food! 80% of the food they serve is plant based and their slogan is Eat Better, Be Happier, Live Longer. Well, that never hurt anyone, right? teresacarles.com
» Tropico, for the best juices in Barcelona! Inspired by tropical destinations, this hotspot is something you cannot miss out on. tropicobcn.com
» The Surf House, next to the beach you can find this popular joint. The food is healthy, tasty and pretty. The vibe is just like you can imagine from a place like this. Book activities such as paddle surf , beach workouts and surfing of course. Also keep an eye out for their mobile food truck that you will find around Barcelona. surfhousebarcelona.com
» Blai Tonight It’s not big, it might be a bit too popular but we still think you should try it. Blai tonight is located in the Poble Sec area and has been voted as one of the top 10 places to go when it comes to your value for money. Their famous Pinchos only cost €1,50 and if you do it well, you can eat for only 10 euro per person including your drink! Facebook

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From left to right: Lulu’s, The Surf House, Brunch & Cake and Nomad Coffee

COCKTAILS & DANCE
Barcelona offers a great nightlife. As a first time visitor you may run to the Las Ramblas but we would advise you to avoid this tourist trap and visit some other places where the cocktails are also flowing and the atmosphere is great.

» Champagneria, the name might ring a bell, Cava galore! Facebook
» The Mint, They say some of the best Mojito’s are made here..That’s enough right?! Facebook
» Yurbban, this hotel has a cool rooftop with one of the best views in Barcelona. You can only use the pool if you are a guest but you are welcome to enjoy a few drinks during the day or night. yurbban.com
» Jamboree, if you like jazz, this is your club! masimas.com
» Zero KM, combine dinner with drinks and stay until they close. They serve tapas with a twist and the food can be described at high end.
» La Terazza, this club and bar is tucked away in the Olympic village, so you must know that it’s there. This outdoor club hosts parties and plays good music until the early hours. laterrrazza.com
» Elrow, If you feel like a real crazy party with confetti, attributes and costumes, you must visit an El Row party. Originated from Barcelona, this infamous techno club is now making waves all over the world with parties in Amsterdam, Dubai and New York. Some of the best DJ’s play at the club and during the summer months there are several events so keep an eye out on the website. elrow.es

Yurbban Hotel Rooftop, Wanderlust Barcelona Guide
The rooftop of the Yurbban hotel

EXTRA TIPS
» Rent a bicycle we can’t say this enough. Really, it’s the best way to see the city. We got ours for 15 euro per 24 hours bit there are many options throughout the city where you can rent one.
» Visit Bunkers del Carmel aka “Bunkers” for the best viewing point. A friend tipped us about this old bunker build on a hill back in the 30’s. Not everybody knows about this special place and it’s worth seeing the sunrise or sunset if you have the time.
» Talk to the locals, we always do this and this trip was no exception. It brought us to a cool graffiti skate park!

Cycling in Barcelona, Wanderlust Barcelona Guide
Cycling had to be a part of our wanderlust Barcelona guide

Wanderlust Barcelona Guide
Cycling through the Parc de les Tres Xemeneies

I don’t think we need to convince you to go to Barcelona but maybe we have convinced you to go back, yet again. To book our trip and stay in the same retro hotel, check  www.travelbird.nl! For more inspiration and to get a chance to get featured, follow @TravelBird on Instagram!

Love,

Wander-Lust

*We collaborated with TravelBird for this article

More tips about other Spanish destinations? Check our Spain section!

The diversity of Basque Country, Spain

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

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

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

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

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The Guggenheim Museum

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Puppy & Torre Iberdrola in Bilbao

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

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A perfect viewing point over San Sebastians bay

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

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

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The streets of Vitoria

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

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San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

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

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There is an unmistakable joie de vivre in Basque Country

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

Wander-Lust
www.wander-lust.nl

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12 x Tips for a Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht

We Dutchies are globe-trotters with a capital ‘G’ and an exclamation mark. Our travel-around-the-world-craving seems to become bigger and bigger, year after year. But besides all the international magic, did you know our own Dutchieland has just as much to offer as the most distant destinations? A nice side note: you save yourself a pricey ticket and killer jetlag (here’s how to avoid one). Let’s go back to our roots! Last midweek I traveled to Maastricht and it’s surroundings. Wander-Lust received the invite by the VVV Zuid-Limburg and Marketing Maastricht to experience how interesting and beautiful it is to go on a discovery trip in your own country. I can tell you, it was livin’ the good life.

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht in a nutshell
Would you like to experience life like the Maastricht citizens do? Drop by on a Sunday afternoon till Thursday and you’ll get that slow living, enjoyable feeling! No hustle and bustle, just everything at ease. The authentic atmosphere of Maastricht made me feel like I was on a laid back mini vacation abroad – and that wasn’t just because of the lovely spring sunshine, cold beer with Italian nibbles and a hospitable community. There is so much to explore, let’s zoom in on a few highlights and to do’s I’ve tried & tested.

Where to Stay
In my opinion the best district to stay is without doubt the hip and lively district ‘Wyck’. Extra plus: it’s near the train station, which is super convenient. Let me give you three really cool hotel tips for your citytrip in Maastricht:
» The Dutch: My first choice in Maastricht. The colorful, trendy design with international allure would certainly not be missed in Amsterdam, London or Barcelona. I’m in love with their breakfast bag, which they hang on your door in the early morning, so cute. Food allergy, vegan or other wishes? No problem for the genuinely friendly staff! www.hotelthedutch.com

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht The Dutch

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht The Dutch
The Dutch, one of my stays during my midweekend citytrip in Maastricht

» Kaboom Hotel, are you smart, worldly-wise and a tad of a rebel? Did you hear yourself saying three times ‘yes’ than you definitely have to stay here. Rewarded as the best hotel concept in 2015 according to Entree Magazine, good job! Oh and they’re nice for your wallet: budget-friendly without feeling cheap. Book your stay here.
» Townhouse Hotel. They want to give you the feelin’ like home-away-from-home experience: rent a goldfish for one night – how funny is that! – and enjoy their homemade soup or a little alcoholic drink in one of the comfortable, retro sofas. If you prefer a pure and ‘down to earth’ hotel, this is your match! Book here!

Townhouse Hotel
The Townhouse Hotel

Where to Eat
Oh Yes, we have arrived (figuratively  speaking) at my favorite chapter: Food! During my citytrip in Maastricht I spotted many pretty new hotspots.
» Jack White’s, I’ve started my food fest at Jack White’s creative fish & chips, a fairly new resto. Normally fish & chips is made of a white fish, mostly codfish. The heroes of Jack White’s have given it an original twist. They can do the same delicious, fried trick with fresh salmon, mackerel and even sea bass. Give it a try with a Goose Islands beer during your citytrip! Facebook
» Mr. Smith, Say hi to this new kid in town. A stylish cocktailbar of two hipsters. This cocktailicious hotspot is one you need to know, otherwise you will spontaneously go along. Press the bell and a small-scale, hidden cocktail heaven will open in front of you. Go for their fresh GT’s or ask the staff for a tasty advice. In advance #sorrynotsorry for your hangover. mrsmithmaastricht
» De Poshoorn, on Sunday evening I went to the well-known De Poshoorn. In the past a brown, tiny unobtrusive pub, nowadays a vibrant beer café with a fresh, contemporary atmosphere. Sixteen beers on tap and hundred on bottle. Go local and try the ‘Mestreechs Zoervleis’, a local food specialty. In spite of the fact the Maastrichtians see this dish as something unique, for this girl from above the rivers it’s a look-alike of the meaty hachee, so delicious! www.poshoorn.nl
» De Tapijn, is a very cool 4-year catering project in a former barrack. Relaxed location near the park, welcoming staff, a huge terrace and yummy food. I love the fact they know the origin of the fresh, local ingredients. This alone makes the food even better. Lunch, dinner or a Friday drink with friends, this hotspot in Maastricht has it all! www.tapijn.nl

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht
Jack White’s, one of the hotspots I’ve tried during my citytrip in Maastricht

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht
Never mind the beer! ;-)

What To Do
Boy o boy where to start, there’s so much to do during a (mid)weekend Maastricht and other parts of South Limburg! Here are my favorite highlights:
Let’s start with the city walk through the urban part of Maastricht. Honestly, the excitement of the guide is essential for making or failing it, but luckily I had an amazing time with Lianne Schuuring, credits for her. She showed all the interesting ins and outs of Maastricht from the history till today. Bucketlist proof!

Midweekend Citytrip to Maastricht
Sightseeing Maastricht, a must do during your citytrip!

Midweekend citytrip to Maastricht

If you’d rather ride a bike than walk, rent a mountainbike and work on your condition in this hilly area. There’re so many bike routes. I cycled to the newly opened ENCI-quarry, a wonderful spot for a swim in summertime. Just a guess, I think you’ve never thought about a kickbike tour in the caves of Zonnebergust. In the Maastricht underground nothing is too crazy. Although I do not have much with visiting caves, the whole new experience ánd power chick Niké Hermans made it really enjoyable. See the Southern part of South Limburg from a fascinating, different angle. Are you claustrophobic? Let shake hands…but I can tell you this wasn’t too claustrophobic for me, so don’t worry.

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Entering the cave

A herbal walk in Maastricht or other parts in South Limburg, have you ever done it? Come one, once has to be the very first time. Definitely book it via the enthusiastic master herborist Anne van der Linden. She’s is a running encyclopedia, she really knows everything about herbs and their special function: tea of nettle for blood purification, the juice from the dandelion for drying out annoying pimples and so on, and so on.
If you’re very interested in the history of historical buildings go to Abdij Rolduc in Kerkrade and book a tour. To be honest, it wasn’t my favorite, but I can imagine you don’t want to miss it during your midweekend in Maastricht and surroundings. Afterwards you can have some food in the Brasserie or have a quick look in the microbrewery, a hidden gem!

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Maastricht

An information overload summarized in a city guide for you, you’re welcome ;)
I’ll definitely go back to the south if I need a mini-break!

Love,

Sharmaine

Read more of Sharmaine’s foodie tips here!

Budapest » A Citytrip To ‘The Pearl of the Danube’

Just a short two hour flight from Amsterdam and you’re in Budapest. Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is also known as The Pearl of the Danube – a title the city rightfully carries with pride. Buda and Pest used to be two separate cities and were divided by the Danube. The two were joined together in 1873 to form one big capital known as present day Budapest. This city breathes history and with so much to do and see it definitely deserves a top spot on your city trip bucket list.

Sightseeing Heaven
Start the day early in Buda, and make sure you’ve got your camera ready and your walking shoes on because your first day in Budapest is going to be a sightseeing fest. Imagine yourself back in the 13th century whilst walking around Buda Castle, enjoy the marvelous architecture and views at the Fisherman’s Bastion and walk over the first permanent stone bridge, the Chain Bridge, that connects Buda and Pest together whilst enjoying your view over the Danube. Once in Pest don’t forget to check out St. Stephen’s Basilica and last but definitely not least wander around the impressive and gigantic Parliament.

Chain Bridge Budapest
Chain Bridge

Budapest
Fishermans Bastion 

Parliament by day Budapest
Parliament by day 

Gliding down the Danube
After having strolled around the city for hours your feet probably need some rest. And when you’re visiting The Pearl of the Danube a boat trip on this river shouldn’t be left out whilst exploring this city. There are many operators in Budapest that offer boat trips up and down the Danube, and some of them also make a stop on the little island between Buda and Pest called Margaret Island. Some tours are including drinks and dinner but here are also tours that just offer a boat ride. Make sure you pick a company that offers unlimited 24-hour boat rides so that you can go on a day tour, and on a day night tour. You haven’t been to Budapest if you haven’t seen it by night, it’s just magical!

Sightseeing Budapest

What time is it? Spa o’clock!
Budapest is not only famous for its countless historic buildings, it is also famous for its thermal baths. There are many natural hot water springs under the city and therefore a lot of spas have made their appearance ever since the old days. Go to one of the many spas to relax, play a little chess and enjoy some more gorgeous architecture. Try to go early cause I have been told the spas can get a bit dirty at the end of the day…

Budapest has so much to offer, and the above is just a small glimpse of it. Whether you’re planning a short visit or you’re going to stay there for a week: you’ll love this city.

Love,

Evelien

*Evelien is one of our guest bloggers who currently travels and lives in Australia. Follow her on Instagram (@eefexplores) or check out her website!

A City Trip To Zurich

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

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

The town of Zurich
The cutest streets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Salads at Delish

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

Juicery 21 Zurich
Juicery 21

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

Love,

Sharmaine

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

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

Travel to Zurich in style with SWISS

My first media trip for Wander-Lust was a fact. The destination to discover: Zurich! I never really had this city in my top 10 bucket list, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t worth exploring. Time to give it a try with SWISS!

Book a budget proof ticket with SWISS
So last week I tested the airline SWISS and flew to Zurich – two days, one night. Yehesss, I felt like a lucky bastard. Some nice to know facts of SWISS: They fly four times a day from Schiphol to Zurich and a retour economy class ticket only costs €129,- (incl. taxes and fees). For an airline with so much comfort and good service, I think this is a very good price to pay. Despite the fact I have wanderlust, flying is not my cup of tea but that didn’t spoil the fun. During my first flight with this airline I noticed that the service and seats were really Swiss style and definitely worth repeating. Small side note: the cold croissant has some room for improvement, but the Swiss chocolate was de-li-ci-ous!

Did you know that Swiss is part of the Lufthansa Group that exist out of Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings?

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SWISS economy seats..not bad!

Airplane meals with a story
What really makes  SWISS so interesting for me as a food lover, is the story behind their airplane meals: SWISS taste of Switzerland. Every 4 months they ask the crème de la crème among the top chefs to prepare a menu. Just one great chef from one of the Swiss regions is the lucky one. The big challenge for the master chef is to come up with airplane business and first class proof meals that are made with typical local, seasonable ingredients and specialties of that amazing region. During this trip I was at the food presentation for spring 2017, an overwhelming food walhalla created by the famous and commended Thomas Neeser. My oh my, so great to see so much passion, fun and creativity in one person. Not so surprising that SWISS have won so many awards with this unique food concept, thumbs up! Are you a vegetarian than this would be great news for you: SWISS cooperates with the world’s first vegetarian restaurant HILTL, who caters the vegetarian airplane meals day after day. Next week I tell you more about this extraordinary hotspot.

Checking out the new Swiss menu
Checking out the new menu for spring 2017

The chefs at Swiss
Thomas Neeser (left) at the menu presentation

Let’s go business class
The part of my trip I’ll never forget was my flight back. SWISS surprised me with a business class seat, OMG! Maybe you know what that means: entrance to the business lounge! A world full of food opened for me including my all-time favorite M&Ms – please, squeeze me here – chocolate desserts, oh and let’s not forget the champagne! It was all you can imagine. I flew back to Amsterdam, totally relaxed with,…more food and wine! I could get used to this. I hear you thinking: ‘my wallet does not allow me to buy a business ticket.’ No, mine does neither. But from €900,- you can fly business class during international flights. That means for a bit more you get much more luxury: lounge access, extra luggage, better meals, more legroom etc. The price differences in economy and business class aren’t always so huge, it was an eye opener for me. Tip » Always check the economy and business class prices, include a Saturday into your trip and book well in advance to get the scharpest price!

Business Class food at Swiss
Enjoying the business class food on the way back

Food allergies? No problem for SWISS
Last but not least, SWISS is an ideal airline if you suffer from a food allergy or intolerance, they even were the first allergy-friendly one in the world. You can contact the customer service prior to your flight and they’ll do everything they can do for you! They even have lactose free chocolate, that’s what I call Swiss service!

Wanna check out SWISS yourself? Visit the website.

Love,

Sharmaine

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

11 tips for a City Trip to Barcelona

Oh how we love Barcelona! The city that has a beach and some of the best food cultures in Europe! We’ve written a few articles about this vibrant city but we’ve never actually given you a small city guide which will make your stay even better. (we hope!). Enjoy our 11 tips for a city trip to Barcelona!

FOOD
Let’s start with some amazing food spots because one of the things you want to do when you find yourself in Barcelona, is eating. A lot. Besides the traditional Tapas and Paella, there are more restaurants and cafes to make you wild.

  1. Surfhouse Barcelona The perfect spot for the kids of Barcelona. The food is healthy, tasty and pretty. The vibe is just like you can imagine from a place like this. It may feel like you’re in California for a minute because of the surfers vibe. Book activities such as paddle surf , beach workouts and surfing of course. Also keep an eye out for their mobile food truck that you will find around Barcelona. www.surfhousebarcelona.com
  2. Blai Tonight It’s not big, it might be a bit too popular but we still think you should try it. Blai tonight is located in the Poble Sec area and has been voted as one of the top 10 places to go when it comes to your value for money. Their famous Pinchos only cost €1,50 and if you do it well, you can eat for only 10 euro per person including your drink! Facebook
  3. Trópico Just check out their Instagram account and your mouth will begin to water. Inspired by tropical destinations, this hotspot is something you cannot miss out on. www.tropicobcn.com
  4. Candendê Breakfast and Brunch for champions! They prepare your eggs in the best way possible and they serve some killer pancakes and bagels. www.candende.com
  5. Flax & Kale We know this isn’t new but we needed to add it on the list. Get your phones out because every dish is Instagramable! (is that even a word?) 80% of the food they serve is plant based and their slogan is Eat Better, Be Happier, Live Longer. Well, that never hurt anyone, right? www.teresacarles.com

Surfshop Barcelona
Pretty food at the Surfhouse Barcelona Source

Flax & Kale Barcelona
Still popular and not without reason. Flax & Kale Source

DRINKS & DANCE
After some good food Barcelona offers a great nightlife. As a first time visitor you may run to the Las Ramblas but we would advise you to avoid this tourist area and visit some other places where the cocktails and atmosphere are great.

  1. El Row If you feel like a real crazy party with confetti, attributes and costumes, you must visit an El Row party. Originated from Barcelona, this infamous techno club is now making waves all over the world with parties in Amsterdam, Dubai and New York. Some of the best DJ’s play at the club and during the summer months there are several events so keep an eye out on the website. www.elrow.es
  2. La Terrrazza This club and bar is tucked away in the Olympic village, so you must know that it’s there. This outdoor club hosts parties and plays good music until the early hours. www.laterrrazza.com
  3. Dry Martini Cocktail Bar This is one of the most famous cocktail bars in Barcelona if not in the world. It first opened back in 1971 and was famous for their dry martini’s. They now serve exiting and innovating drinks you should try out! You can find bars in Europe, USA and Asia. www.drymartiniorg.com
  4. Pulitzer Hotel Rooftop or Grand Hotel Skybar It’s hard to make a choice between these two because one is cozy and tropical (Pulitzer) and the other (The Grand Hotel) has an infinity pool. Both are great for evening drinks! www.hotelpulitzer.es / www.grandhotelcentral.com
  5. Makamaka Also great for food but maybe even better for cocktails! Ironically a couple of Dutch guys were involved in this project back in 2012. It’s where the locals and travelers meet. Start sipping on the cocktails early before heading into town! www.makamaka.es

La Terrazza Barcelona
Summer parties at La Terrrazza Source

infinity-pool-grand-hotel-barcelona
The Skybar at The Grand Hotel Source

STAY
There are many good options in Barcelona but we love El Born. This little Barcelona maze is a barrio perfectly located near the beach, the center of the city and Parc de la Ciutadella. Its filled with bars, little shops and locals.

  1. AB Apartment Barcelona If you’re looking for a place to stay, this is the website you want to look at. Full with apartments in all different shapes and sizes throughout the city, it’s perfect for a city break or holiday period. It’s the home from home and all apartments include a kitchen, allowing you to prepare your very own home-cooked meals, or even try some Mediterranean inspired dishes! Bonus: when you book here you’ll also get great discounts on many top attractions and activities throughout the city. www.apartmentbarcelona.com

barcelona-apartments-731-0
One of the AB Apartments in Barcelona

We hope these tips for a city trip to Barcelona will make your stay even more enjoyable!

Love,

Wander-Lust

*We’ve collaborated with AB Apartment Barcelona for this article.

3 magical cities to visit during your Christmas holiday

Are you also looking forward to the upcoming holidays, like Christmas and New Year’s Eve? If you want something different this year, I can recommend the following cities as the perfect get-away.

1. Paris
The city of love; even more with all the Christmas decorations. Paris is the perfect city if you’re looking for a romantic weekend. Highlights are off course the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum (free admission for people under 25), the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre Dame, the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, Centre Pompidou, Panthéon and Sainte-Chapelle. The most romantic part of town is the Montmartre district, with its cozy, little, cobbled streets with lots of art studios and its beautiful Sacré-Coeur. If you have enough time to go outside the city center, the Palace of Versailles is definitely worth a visit. You can spend all day wandering around the palace of Louis XIV, the house of Marie-Antoinette and the amazing gardens (free admission for people under 26). And, if you want to get back to your childhood, you should go visit Disneyland to meet all your favorite Disney characters. A Paris Visite Travel Card for 1 day is € 12,85 for the city center or € 26,95 to include destinations like Versailles and Disneyland.

montmartre-in-christmas-ambiance
Montmartre in Christmas ambience

2. London
Looking for a good place to do all your Christmas shopping? London is the place to be! By plane you can get there in 1 hour, but there are also a lot of bus companies that offer a 1-day trip. Check this blog for the best Christmas shopping hotspots: http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/shopping/christmas-shopping-hotspots. For an easy tour around town, you can catch a hop-on hop-off bus and see all the highlights like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Tower Bridge, London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey. If you want to explore the city by yourself, you can best take the Tube (Metro). You can buy a Day Travelcard (£12,10 for travelling in the city center) or a so-called Oyster card; this card costs £3 and you can put as much credit on it as you want/need. Don’t forget to pass by Harrods which is amazing during the Christmas period.

harrods London
Harrods London (source)

3. Berlin
Berlin is a city with a lot of history and is therefore a city you should definitely see. Basically, you can go there all-year-round, but in the winter it has an even more special vibe because of all the Christmas markets. You can find most of them around Alexanderplatz. Definitely go for a Glühwein or Currywurst here. If you’re interested in the history of this city, there are some places to visit next to the well-known highlights like The Wall and CheckPoint Charlie. Quite interesting are for example the museum The Story of Berlin, the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial (a former detainment and transit camp and later on Stasi prison), and the ‘Berliner Unterwelten’, in which you can do multiple tours to discover the history of Berlin’s underground (and see for example escape tunnels built during the Cold War). Best way to travel around town is by S-bahn and U-bahn (a one-day ticket for the city center costs €7,-).

brandenburger-tor-in-christmas-ambiance
Brandenburger Tor during Christmas 

There you have it, 3 magical cities to visit during your Christmas holiday. Where will you go this year?

Love,

Dionne

*Dionne is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands, currently living in Den Bosch. In everyday life she works as a marketing-communications professional. She loves to travel to distant destinations, but she also enjoys a city trip closer to home.

Amsterdam Events Calendar for December

It’s the most wonderful time of the year..tralalalalaaaa. Believe it or not, but we’ve come to the last month of the year! December is great for Amsterdam because we have markets, shopping opportunities and events. Let’s see what’s going on shall we?

Amsterdam Light Festival
When? 1st of December – 22nd of January, along the canals
What?  Beautiful light objects display along the canals of Amsterdam 
We love this festival! It seems like it’s getting better each year and it’s definitely worth checking it out. You can walk around but the best thing is to do a boat tour. This year there are more than 35 displays from several local and foreign artists. For more info check www.amsterdamlightfestival.com

Amsterdam Light Festival
One of the amazing light objects

Iceskating at Floor 17
When? All winter
What? Ice Skating and winter events on the top of Ramada Hotel
Get into the winter spirit and get your skates on! The rooftop of the Ramada Hotel in Amsterdam West is hosting this wonderful ice-skating ring where you can enjoy the view whilst sipping on hot chocolate and curry sausages. You can try some curling lessons from the 9th of December or check out the small Christmas Market on the 17th & 18th of December! www.floor17.nl/rooftop-terrace

Floor 17 ice skating

Sunday Market Sinterklaas & Funky Christmas Edition
When? 4th of December & 11th of December, Westergasfabriek (in and outside)
What? The nicest market in Amsterdam
The Sinterklaas and Christmas markets are by far the best so keep these Sundays free! Entrance is free as usual and there is plently to look forward to. Food, clothes, performances, photo’s, music and local goodies. www.sundaymarket.nl

Sissy Boy Christmas Market
When? 10th of December, Amstelveld en Brasserie Nel
What? The brand Sissy-Boy comes with a market
Enjoyt gluhwein, live Christmas music, good food and all your favorite fashion brands. Young and beginning designers will be spread over the Amstelfield on the 10th of December. Entrance is free but bring some cash for shopping! Facebook

Sissiy Boy Christmas Market

Pure Markt Winter Edition
When? 11th of December, Amstelpark
What? Organic, fair and delicious
I love this market because it’s in my favorite park in Amsterdam. Amstelpark. A little more far out of the city center but worth paying a visit to on a Sunday. The pure market is a place to explore, discover, taste and learn about all the different foods of Holland (and the rest of the world). Try some Dutch Gouda cheese, Surinam roti, Indian curry, American pie or a freshly chucked oyster. Order an organic beer, coffee or wine to go. Facebook

Ice Sculpture Festival
When? 10th of December – 5th of February, Arena Park
What? Beautiful Ice Sculptures
From an icy Elvis to disco music inspired sculptures, you can see it at the Ice Sculpture Festival in Amsterdam this year. Tickets are €16,50,-  www.ijsbeelden.nl

Ice Sculpture Festival

Zolder 47
When? 16th – 18th of December, Hotel De Hallen
What? Vintage, art, design, fashion sale
The owner of Hotel the Hallen has a love for art, design, vintage and special objects he collects throughout his travels. Each year the hotel hosts a special sale where some of these items are being sold for a reasonable price. Be quick, because the best items will go quickly! www.hoteldehallen.com

Circus Zanzara
When? 20th of December – 8th of January, Westergasfabriek
What? A circus with a special twist
This is a circus but not the type that you are used to. It’s theatrical, bohemian and kitsch. It’s interactive and special. Instead of animals they use dolls and they have a organic-bar. This is the circus that you would want to join! www.circuszanzara.com

Eventbrite Gentle Yoga Classes
When? Every Saturday throughout December, Lijnbaansgracht 173
What? Yoga classes organized by Expats Republic in Amsterdam
The man behind Expats in Amsterdam organized these gentle yoga classes for beginners as well as experienced practitioners that includes playful teamwork.  The class only cost 9 euro’s per lesson and are given by Anna Kushnir who has more than 10 years experience in this field. Bring comfy clothes and a mat (you can rent one for 1 euro) Check here for tickets and more info.

photo-1473006438583-a1566dcc55df-1

Futurist Dinner
When? 24th, 25th, 26, 27th, 28th 31st of  December, Mediamatic Biotoop, Dijkspark 6
What?  Food of the future
If you have never heard of Mediamatic in Amsterdam, than now is the time. This innovating space in Amsterdam East is the place to be when it comes to discovery in every sense of the word. They also host dinners and workshops surrounding food. Futurist Dinner is a collaboration with Odorama-curator Caro Verbeek, Giulia Soldati, Cateringa & Kompanen and Mediamatic. The dinners start at 7pm. Prices will be available soon so check: www.mediamatic.net

Mediamatics

 

Digital Products Design & UX Networking Event
When? 15th of  December, Suzy Wong
What?  This event is about connecting you with folks who can be of assistance and vice versa, whether it’s looking for help or advice on a product you’re working on, trying to get involved with a specific company, or just discussing topics that you’re interested in. Want to learn more about UX and Product Design? The event is free but don’t forget to sign up. More info here

*This calendar will be updated weekly!

Love,

Wander-Lust

What to do when you have a stopover in Toronto

Considering a transfer in Toronto? You might want to extend your time in-between flights, because it’s only a 30-min train ride to the city center from the airport and there’s a lot you can see and do. Here are some tips if you have a stopover in Toronto.

Have lunch at the CN tower
The CN tower is thé trademark of Toronto. Most people just go up to see the view around the city, but there’s an even better way to spend your time up there: have lunch at 360 The Restaurant. Lunch at this restaurant may seem a little bit expensive (2-course lunch is $56; 3-course is $69), but compared to the general admission ($35) it is not that big of a difference. The main advantage of having lunch here is that you don’t have to get in line, you can just get to the reservation desk of the restaurant, you can take a separate elevator (for which there also is no line) and once you’re at your table in the restaurant you can see all over Toronto in just 45 minutes while having a great meal. www.cntower.ca

view-from-cn-tower Toronto
View over Toronto from 360 The Restaurant

Stroll down the Old Town
There’s a lot to see in Old Town Toronto. Start your walk at The Toronto City Hall, which lies right next to the Old City Hall. A little bit further north you’ll find Yonge-Dundas Square, which gives you a little bit the impression you’re on Time Square in New York or Piccadilly Circus in London. This is a lively square that hosts community celebrations, theatrical events, promotions, and concerts. End your walk at St. Lawrence market; in the North building you’ll find weekly farmer’s markets and antique markets and the South building locates the number 1 food market in the world, with over 80 vendors selling fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, fish and sandwiches.

Visit Chinatown and Kensington Market
Want to see a completely different side of Toronto? This city has one of the largest Chinatowns in North America and it is definitely worth a visit. Even the street signs are in Chinese in this neighborhood. You’ll find a lot of small Asian shops and markets, as well as great restaurants which are relatively cheap. And while you’re in the area, don’t forget to take a detour to Kensington Market, which is also a very vibrant, little bit alternative, neighborhood with lots of nice bars, food stores and shops.

kensington-market
Kensington Market

Watch the Toronto Maple Leafs
If you’re into sports and have a bit of money to spend, you should definitely go and see an ice hockey game of the Toronto Maple Leafs. They play around twice a week; tickets range from $50 to $400. Other interesting sports to see are Basketball (Toronto Raptors), Baseball (Toronto Blue Jays) or Football (Toronto Argonauts). If you’re more into museums around sports, you should pay a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame, which gives a lot of info on the history of ice hockey and has a great hall of fame that exhibits great players, teams and trophies.

Take the ferry to Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands are a nice contrast to the crowded city center of Toronto. It takes only 10 minutes to get here by ferry. You can have a tasty picnic in one of the scenic picnic spots, take a walk or bike tour to one of the beaches or you can go canoeing or kayaking on the water and see the impressive skyline of the city. Perfect for a stopover in Toronto! For kore info check out www.torontoisland.com

toronto-islands on your 1 day in Toronto

Please note that from November 9 (2016) onward you need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to visit or transfer through Canada by air. This costs $7 and you can easily get it online.

Love,

Dionne

*Dionne is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands, currently living in Den Bosch. In everyday life she works as a marketing-communications professional. She loves to travel to distant destinations, but I also enjoy a city trip closer to home. Read her article about 7 highlights in Cuba here!