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?

Swiss
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

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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

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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.

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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!

Berlin City Guide 2016

When I visited Berlin for the first time in 2005 for the closing parties of the old Tresor club. I immediately fell in love with the vibe of this  amazing city. The never-ending parties at vibrant locations swept me off my feet. Though I am a bit older now and 24-hour party marathons will cost me weeks to recover ;-), Berlin still manages to make me fall in love again every time we meet. The traces of the Berlin wall, its city parks and the alternative and relaxed people. The big old brick buildings, the historical feeling in general and the thriving club scene. It’s museums, shops and great restaurants. And last but not least: how everything is still quite affordable and cheap. This combined makes Berlin an interesting place for everyone. Enjoy this Berlin city guide 2016!

Sleep in Ostkreuz Area (Because it has the best East-Berlin Feeling)
When you ask people where to stay in Berlin, the answer often will be Kreuzberg. And yes, this is a great area, but personally I like to stay a bit more in the North-East in the area between Friedrichshain and Lichtenberg, closer to Ostkreuz station. While this area might be a bit rougher, it is less touristy and embodies that typical East-Berlin feeling that I love so deeply. If you like clubbing, this area is by far the best to stay. Berghain/Panoramabar is only a 10 minute bike ride (or 5 minutes by S-train) and Kosmonaut, Salon zur wilden Renate, Chalet, Club der Visionaere, Watergate and Sisyphos are all just around the corner.

Berghain Berlin
The infamous Berghain Club (source: www.rbb-online.de)

Where to Eat?
In this area its easy to find good places to eat. Have breakfast, lunch or just a coffee at Milja & Schäfa , Zebrano, or Silo . If you like Asian food Berlin is The Place To Be. For dinner I would recommend Transit , it has delicious Asian tapas you can share with your friends. I had an amazing red duck curry at Glory Duck. Other must visits are Haubentaucher, Else (only open during summer), restaurant FAME  and Holzmarkt. The last two are from the owners of the famous Bar25 and Katerholzig. You can find them next to each other and the atmosphere is fantastic. Have a few drinks or a pizza at Holzmarkt and enjoy the view over the river Spree. If you want to have dinner at restaurant Fame its best to make a reservation.

fame Berlin
Lunch at Fame

silo Berlin
Enjoy a lovely breakfast at Silo. Guten Appetit! Source: Silo Coffee’s Facebook

Cycle around! 
Bikes have become more popular over the last couple of years in Berlin. And let’s be real- there is no better way to explore a city! It gives you freedom to go wherever whenever and it makes you feel a resident of the city. On my last visit, luckily my Airbnb came with its own bikes, but you can easily rent them at a bike shop – just ask your host. A rental bike will cost you around 10 euros a day. For me the number one thing to do in Berlin is cycling at Tempelhof Park. This park used to be an airport that closed in 2008. Nowadays it’s a 386-hectare park that almost feels surreal.

Tempelhof Map Berlin
Tempelhof Park

We have all been in airports but when you cycle over the airstrip, the massiveness overwhelms you. There are a few bars and in the summer you can BBQ. But mostly it is a park where people run, kite, skate, cycle, watch the sunset, picknick and take pictures. It is so much fun! This year I cycled my own little tour from Ostkreuz area to Tempelhof and managed to include two city parks – always a win! My route was: Oberbaumbrücke – Skalitzetstrasse – Görlitzer Park – Pannierstrasse – Volkspark and than Tempelhof. After my visit to Tempelhof I cycled north, up to Kreuzberg and enjoyed a great Asian lunch at restaurant Umami at the famous Bergmannstrasse. It’s easy to discover the city by yourself with a little help from Google Maps but you can also book a bike tour with a guide. Visit Berlin on A Bike for three different tours: one with the highlights of Berlin (Berlins Best), a Berlin Wall Tour or choose for the Alternative one. They all seem interesting and fun!

tempelhof Berlin
Enjoy your bike ride at Tempelhof. Photo by Floksor (Flickr)

Shop! (Eat, Drink and Shop again..!)
My favorite shop in Berlin is Overkill. This sneaker shop has a men and a women store next to each other. Welcome to Sneaker Heaven! I always end up buying a new pair every time I visit. Very nearby you can find a cool boathouse on the river where you can enjoy a coffee, lunch or dinner before you hop on your bike again to continue your shopping spree. A good area to shop is the Rosa-Luxemburg Platz/Weinmeisterstrasse area. It’s not overcrowded like Alexanderplatz and not that big. There are some small boutiques with Berlin fashion labels and vintage shops (Pick ‘n Weight and Made in Berlin) but you can also find the bigger brands like American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Mango and H&M. For lunch I would recommend YamYam, this Korean restaurant is always full but it’s definitely worth the wait. I heard shopping in Kreuzberg is fun as well. You can find a huge vintage shop at the Bergmannstrasse called Colours. It is a bit hidden but when you find it you will be lost there for a few hours.

YamYam Berlin
Enjoy a Korean Bibimbap at Yam Yam

overkill Berlin
An overkill on sneakers!

Feel like going to Berlin yet? I definitely do! Enjoy und viel Spass!

Love,

Kim

*Kim Bosman is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands. This gymrat works as a digital creative and loves to travel. Other things she likes: eating, writing and photography. You can expect an article from her once a month. Go check out her Instagram

More city Trips?

A Barcelona Love Affair

Not many people know I have a secret long distance love affair. I was 13 when we met, way too young to understand raw beauty. We spend one day together but there was not really a spark. Three years later we bumped into each other again and got a little touchy feely over the course of 6 days. I thought about you a lot, visited once more. But it wasn’t until 2 summers ago that we actually connected, when I finally got the courage to go see you alone. Whenever I feel down or happy, have a few days off or when its my birthday, there is only one I want to run to. Barcelona and I, we have a special thing going on. As strongly as I feel for her, she is too amazing to claim her for myself. So here it is, a partial disclosure on our affair, so you can have one for yourself as well.

Get to know her, and get to know her well.

1. Go solo
It might seem a bit scary and a bit crazy, but in my opinion, Barcelona is best explored when one is not bothered by anyone but the companionship of the city itself. Wander through the barrios at your own pace, grab a cup of coffee in the morning to do some people watching and get over the fear to dine alone (trust me, it took me some time as well). Get absolutely lost by yourself and enjoy it to the fullest.

2. El Born
If you took the plunge to go alone, make sure to book your stay in El Born. This little Barcelona maze is a barrio perfectly located near the beach, the centre of the city and parc de la ciutadella. Its filled with bars, little shops and laundry lines. Also it has a lest touristy feel then very popular Barri Gotic (also very pretty, but a bit more crowded with cruise line tourists).

El Born Barcelona

3. Ride or die
Maybe this should have been the first on the list: rent a ff-ing bike! The city is equipped with nice bike lanes (and if not, there is always the sidewalk) and a bike gives you all the freedom you need. Pretend to be a local when you effortlessly cruise the beach promenade all the way to the north (where you see a different, more modern side of BCN). The wind in your hair and the city under your pedals. In only one day I saw all the beaches, made a trip around the Sagrada Familia and ended up at the olympic village (go here, it is super impressive with the best views over the city) without a hassle in the world. Also in the hot summers, the little breeze you feel when on your bike will be very welcome.

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I got my bike at ‘ Ride or Die’ in El Born. Super friendly bike lovers with well kept bikes and very reasonable prices (10 euro for a day, including a map and a lock). They offer tours as well.

Ride or Die
c/ Pescateria, 2 BARCELONA
www.rideordie.es

4. Beach bum
A city with a beach, must be heaven! The beaches are crowded during summer, but perfect for a quick cool down and an evening stroll. Or what I used to do: go there early in the morning and grab a coffee at one of the beach cabana’s. You get an overpriced coffee, but the quiet beach view with the sun on your skin is worth it all!

EarlyMorningCoffee
Have your early morning coffee at the beach

Now about that quick cool down, when you are alone you might not feel comfy leaving your bag unsupervised on the beach when you dive in. Which is a normal feeling since the speakers on the beach keep repeating not to leave your stuff alone. Here’s what you do: you’re alone, you don’t need much space so walk down the waterline and find a spot between the sunlovers on the first row. Being this close to the water you can easily dive in and float around a bit with your face towards your bag. Keep your head cool! After dipping in, your stomach might need some food. Head for Surf House or Habana Barcelona. At Surf House the staff can be a bit rude (they think they are really cool) but their menu will make your mouth water. Think laid back variations on classic food. The menu el dia at Habana Barcelona is true value for your money. Also, I eat the best Caesar salad ever here!

Surf House
Carrer l’Almirall Aixada, 22, 08003 Barcelona
www.surfhousebarcelona.com

Habana Barcelona
Passeig Joan de Borbó, 74, 08039 Barcelona
www.habanabarcelona.com

5. Drink cava, eat tapas and do it here!
Plenty of cava bars and tapas joints. But I made my best memories at Can Paixano, a crowded and little dodgy cava bar. Tourists mixed up with the locals and cava for 1,20 per glass. Great place to make some new (Spanish) friends! Fill up on the booze and then head for El Xampanyet to feast on tapas. It’s always busy at this place and for good reason. The lights are awful, the food amazing. Oh and did I mention the staff runs around with bottles of cava to fill up whenever your glass is empty?

Can Paixano
Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 7, 08003 Barcelona

El Xampanyet
Carrer de Montcada, 22, 08003 Barcelona

6. If there is one tourist thing to do…
I think Parc Guell is overpriced. I’ve never seen the magic fountains. I have yet to visit one of Gaudi’s houses or pay to get my picture taken with one of the living statues. The tourist highlights of Barcelona never really got my attention. But please do visit the Sagrada Familia. And do please buy a ticket to go inside. It took my breath away. Several times. The truest piece of art I have ever experienced. Be smart: buy your tickets online since that means no waiting with all the Chinese people standing in line outside.

SagradaFamilia Barcelona

7. Hit the roof
A sucker for rooftop bars like me? Every night after eight ‘o clock, the Grand Central Hotel allows non-guest at their rooftop bar. You do pay 6 euro’s for a beer, but that includes a bowl of crisps and a stunning poolside view. Come early and it’s still pretty quiet, the perfect moment to think about how happy you are to spend time in the best city in the world.

Grand Central Rooftop Barcelona

Grand Central Hotel
Via Laietana, 30, 08003 Barcelona

So, yes, you should stroll along La Rambla, watch people at place Catalunya and eat tapas. Of course you have to shop the Spanish clothing valhalla’s and drink Sangria. I don’t have to tell you that. But now you also have ammunition to explore the city a bit different. I have tons of tips more, but they’ll remain a secret for now. Get your own affair!

Love,

Jill

*Jill is one of our guest bloggers living in Amsterdam 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!

Wanna have 5 reasons why you should live in Barcelona? Check this out!

Light Festival Barcelona