Total relaxation at hidden Spa Mika in London

Last week I traveled west, to Shepherds bush. Known for it’s amazing Westfield shopping centre and the one place in London where you can find a decent roti wrap. Right at the areas focal point lies the Dorsett Shepherds Bush Hotel with hidden gem SpaMika.

The Dorsett Shepherds Bush has that amazing Great Gatsby and Art Deco vibe, which completes a perfect London feel. Maybe it’s the fact that the building used to be a cinema, built in 1923 that gives you that royal 20’s luxury feeling. Tucked away in this beautiful 8-story hotel you will find SpaMika, where you enter a world of luxury and tranquility.

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The Dorsett Shepherds Bush

Time to Relax
SpaMika is the perfect place to get away from all the noise of the city and hear yourself think again in the sauna, steam room or in one of the four therapy suites. There’s even a room for a couples massage, is it Valentine’s day yet? 
After a good sweat and steam I chilled in the relaxation room. I might have enjoyed this one the most, it’s so lovely and light and you can just relax on a sofa bed and think about how good life is in that moment. And after I had my zen-moment and cup of English tea I enjoyed the Elemis facial. Elemis is known for their luxury products all sourced from nature but with a scientific proven result. The brand is constantly evolving and researching new methods to improve people’s skin. The anti-aging facial I had made my skin soft and radiant without greasing my skin, loved it.

Spa Mika, London
Time to relax!

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Every girl needs a me-day every now and then, I know I do! This is my new go-to spot in the city to unwind and treat myself. Although, maybe next time I’ll bring a friend as the afternoon tea looked AMAZING ;)

*The Dorsett Spa Taster and Afternoon Tea Package is £84.00 per person and includes a 25 minute treatment, up to 1-hour access to the heated facilities and viewpoint relaxation lounge and refreshments. The facilities include changing rooms with amenities, robe, slippers, and towel with access to the Eucalyptus Finish sauna and Aroma steam rooms before your treatment. Classic Afternoon Tea serviced at the Dorsett Atrium Jin Bar.

SpaMika at Dorsett Shepherds Bush
58 Shepherd’s Bush Green, London
Website

Love,

Jantine

*Jantine is a hip hop & cheese enthusiast and a city girl with a love for everything local. After having explored everything there is in Amsterdam while living there, London became her new playground. Her best days are spent exploring the city off the grid, into neighborhoods where you can eat, drink, dance and chat with locals and become one yourself. She will write for Wander-Lust on a monthly basis where she will tip you about the places to be in London! Follow her on Instagram @jantinevanbloois.

6 Tasty and Affordable Restaurants in London

Trendy, yummy and affordable restaurants in London? It is possible! From pizza to steak, no matter what you’re in the mood for, there are some amazing places to visit without going broke…

Flat Iron (for Steak)
The que is ridiculous, so be prepared when you’re going to this amazing place. Pop by to put your name on the list and go for a drink until your table is free. The food and ambiance is definitely worth the wait. Favorite dish: spinach and the flat iron steak. www.flatironsteak.co.uk

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Wahaca (for Mexican)
Wahaca is a chain of Mexican restaurants in London, but so good! Wahaca has become a classic in London to go out for a nice bite with friends before a good night out. Fave dish: the pork taco’s. www.wahaca.co.uk

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Source: Wahaca

Pizza Pilgrims (for Pizza)
Pizza pilgrims was inspired in Napoli and is the new hot pizzeria in town, cool crowd guaranteed. Pizza’s start from £5,50 and the one in Shoreditch allows you to bring your own booze! pizzapilgrims.co.uk

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Pizza Pilgrims

Herman Ze German
The best sausage in town comes from Herman ze German. Order a big Paulaner beer to go with the spicy curry wurst and enjoy! instagram.com/hermanzegerman

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Herman Ze German

Beagle London (for amazing brunch)
Beagle has one of the best brunch menu’s in the city. Go for a bottomless boozy one and enjoy the culinary feast by the amazing chef. beaglelondon.co.uk

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Beagle London

Any Classic pub (for Sunday roast)
Looking for a great value for money meal? On a Sunday all pubs will serve a Sunday roast, slow cooked meat, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and vegetables of the season are the ingredients of this classic meal.

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I hope you enjoy these delicious and affordable restaurants in London next time you’re around!

Love,

Jantine

*Jantine is a hip hop & cheese enthusiast and a city girl with a love for everything local. After having explored everything there is in Amsterdam while living there, London became her new playground. Her best days are spent exploring the city off the grid, into neighborhoods where you can eat, drink, dance and chat with locals and become one yourself. She will write for Wander-Lust on a monthly basis where she will tip you about the places to be in London! Follow her on Instagram @jantinevanbloois.

The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London

Outdoor drinking spots where you can actually catch some sunshine are rare in London. But when you know your way around you’ll find some hidden treasures all around the city. East London has a couple of the best outdoor vibes for the weekend, enjoy the sunshine, creative vibes and this list of the best terraces and rooftops in East London.

People’s park tavern
360 Victoria Park Rd, London E9 7BT
In Victoria park lies my absolute favourite beer garden: the people’s park tavern. It’s so much more than just a garden, situated in the beautiful park. The tavern hosts mini golf for the kids, has an amazing BBQ going on, and on the weekends it’s the best place to enjoy some live music and chat with some locals. Oh. And did I mention it’s HUGE?

 

peoples-park-tavern, The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London
Isn’t it huge?

Pub on the Park
19 Martello St, London E8 3PE
London Fields just off Broadway market is one of the few parks where you can actually have a BBQ in London. You’ll find loads of twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings chilling with their mates on a sunny day here. The Pub on the Park with their big terrace overlooking the park is the perfect spot to enjoy the weekend and get a bit of colour.

pub-on-the-park, The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London

Boundary rooftop
2-4 Boundary St, London E2 7DD
In the centre of Shoreditch, east London, you’ll find my fave street; Redchurch street. This street has a great selection of shops, street art, cool cafe’s and the hidden rooftop bar at Boundary where you can enjoy the sun all the way until it goes down.

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Boundary Rooftop. Source

The Aviary
10th Floor Montcalm Royal London House, 22-25 Finsbury Square, London EC2A 1DX
This cool new hotspot just off Liverpool street station just opened it’s doors a couple of months ago. The decor has the ultimate Instagram factor, the view is stunning and the roof terrace brings you back to a beach bar vibe with a sophisticated style. There’s an outside bar and the sofa’s and chairs are so comfy that you never want to go home…

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Stunning views at The Aviary

Netil 360
1 Westgate St, London E8 3RL
Cool workspace, cafe, restaurant, outside movie theater… Netil360 has the whole package of the East London creative scene. They spent months revamping the rooftop bar and on the 1st of April doors opened again, check it out because it was definitely worth waiting for and belongs to the one of the best terraces and rooftops in East London.

The Best Terraces and Rooftops in East London

Colombia road on Sunday
Ezra St, Bethnal Green, London E2 7RH
Not necessary a terrace, but Colombia road should be on this list. There’s a sunny little square on Ezra street, just off the flower market. Pop into the royal oak for a cold one and just chill on the street listening to some live bossa nova by street musicians to complete your perfect Sunday.

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The real East London vibe at Colombia Road

Love,

Jantine

*Jantine is a hip hop & cheese enthusiast and a city girl with a love for everything local. After having explored everything there is in Amsterdam while living there, London became her new playground. Her best days are spent exploring the city off the grid, into neighborhoods where you can eat, drink, dance and chat with locals and become one yourself. She will write for Wander-Lust on a monthly basis where she will tip you about the places to be in London!

These are the 10 most visited cities in the world

In at number one is Hong Kong! Yes, this expats city has topped the charts with 26 million international arrivals in 2015. The report was published yesterday by the Euromonitor’s annual rankings. It beat Bangkok, which saw 18.8 million international tourist arrivals. One thing is for sure, Asia is a popular Continent! Here is the full list of the most visited cities!

1. Hong Kong 26.7m
2. Bangkok 18.7m
3. London 18.6m
4. Singapore 16.9m
5. Paris 15m
6. Macau 14.3m
7. Istanbul 12.4m
8. New York 12.3m
9. Kuala Lumpur 12.2

Euromonitor rankings only has 2015 as the most recent year available to be able to create a comprehensive list. Expected is that Istanbul and Paris will vanish of the top 10 list due to the recent events in 2016. Asia will probably still top the list when the new report comes out next year. Hong Kong is doing so well not only because it’s a perfect layover between many Asian countries but the city is vibrant, has a growing food culture (not just in Chinese food) and 70% of the city is green and great for hiking. Read our DimSum report about Hong Kong.

Elke in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong 

The cities with the largest growth are:

  1. Osaka, Japan – 52 per cent rise in visitor numbers
  2. Kyoto, Japan – 48%
  3. Chiang Mai, Thailand – 40%
  4. Tokyo, Japan – 35%
  5. Agra, India – 28%
  6. Delhi, India – 26%
  7. Mumbai, India – 26%
  8. Milan, Italy – 18%
  9. Mecca, Saudi Arabia – 17%
  10. Pattaya, Thailand – 17%

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

Love,

Elke

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.

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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.

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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,-).

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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.

Why you should live abroad at least once in your lifetime

When I just turned seventeen years old, I moved to London. Why? Simply because I wanted to see what it was like. My plan was to live there for one year, and then explore the rest of the world. I ended up staying for 7 years..
I also lived in Los Angeles on and off for about 2 years. It was a great experience. It taught me so many life lessons. I came to London young and pretty naive when I look back at it but living abroad has made me into the women that I am today.

So, do you have any plans to live abroad? And is it for you? If so, these few lessons and tips may prepare you for one of the best decisions of your life. 

1. Stand on your own 2 feet
It’s about letting go of the save harbor and sailing away to a new experience. Yes, it might seem scary but taking that first step and just GO feels great.
You’ll be surprised how quickly you will become that independent person.

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Living abroad made me stand on my own 2 feet and gain my independence.

2. Learn a new language and culture
Ok, I probably picked one of the easiest countries to live in because in The Netherlands we all speak a fair bit of English. 
But I must say, every city speaks it’s own language and with it, it’s own culture. I learned to speak “the London way” and even understood it when people told me they were “Lee Marvin”. (which means Starvin’  in cockney English.) If you learn about different cultures and habits you will also become more open minded, which I think is a good thing.
If you don’t know the language at all, take a course. It will make everything 10 times easier.

3. Meet new people (from all over the world)
If you’re going to move to a big city, you’re probably going to meet new friends with different nationalities.
I’m still in contact with people from Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Mexico, England, Australia and the States. Some of these contacts have visited me back home and the other way around. This way you broaden your network.


Meet new friends for life.

4. You will get to know yourself (really really well)
There’s no better way of getting to know yourself whilst traveling or living abroad. Learn from your mistakes and get back up. Always listen to your intuition if you’re unsure.

5. Make a plan before you go
So, what will you do when you get there? Don’t go there with empty pockets. Save enough money to last you a few months or even better, find a job or course before you go.

Depending on which country you may fly to, you may need to arrange a visa and working permits. When I moved over to London, I worked as an Au-Pair. This meant that I needed to look after the kids, clean the house and cook dinner. Is a good starting job when you are young and you want to integrate quickly. For this you need some experience and it’s always a good idea to get some sort of a diploma. 
For more information on how to start to work as an Au-Pair, check this website.

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Make a plan before you decide to leave your mark 

6. Fall in love
Whether it’s with a person or a city, you’re probably going to fall in love. Let it happen and enjoy it. It happened to me twice (I dated an English man for 5 years and a guy in LA for about 2,5 years) and although it didn’t work out, it helped me grow and taught me the life lessons we all need to know. Falling in love with a country, city or small town is a beautiful thing. Because you can always return and you will never forget the experience!

Falling in love abroad
Don’t be afraid to fall in love abroad..

7. You can make a new start
You may have fucked up a few times in your life. Or you may have done really good. It doesn’t matter because when you move to another country, you can start all over again!
This is great. New friends, new habits, new food, new adventures. 

8. You will appreciate your home country
Homesickness. If you are a frequent traveler, you may have experienced this feeling before. Yes, I have called my mum up a few times, crying my eyes out because I didn’t like my job, didn’t have a lot of friends in the beginning or felt lonely. But I never gave up. At the end, you know you can always return. Nowadays we have so many channels that help us to get in touch with the home front that it is almost impossible to miss home! Living abroad makes you appreciate where you came from. Maybe you shouldn’t complain about the rain so much (sunshine everyday of the year can also get a bit boring believe it or not!) or you may appreciate your mothers home cooked dinners a lot more.

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When I stayed in sunny LA, I loved it when it rained now and then.

So whether you want to move to England, Miami or Australia. Prepare yourself for the best ride of your life and always stay true to yourself.
You’ll be fine!

Love,

Elke

5 Things People Worry About in London and Shouldn’t

1. The Tube
I have lived in London my whole life and I still know people that are confused by the tube. While the map is a maze of colors and routes, the only line that has ever caught me out is the Northern line. This can be hard to navigate because of the way that it splits. If you are a tourist in London you will pretty much rely on the Central Line to take you everywhere you need to go. However, I am a firm believer in walking EVERYWHERE. When you are exploring somewhere new, Google Maps is ideal to help you navigate without getting too lost in your surroundings. If you map your journey before you leave your hotel/hostel, then you can save the route and use the GPRS to get you where you need to. If you are feeling adventurous and energetic, you can always jump on a Shared Bike. Something which I would highly recommend if you are spending you day looking around Buckingham Palace and the Royal Parks. Do remember though, some of the Royal Parks don’t allow bikes along all routes.

London underground
Never empty?

2. Getting Lost
No matter where you are, I would always recommend getting lost. It’s the best way to find something new and exciting. Covent Garden is a great place to this, with its millions of backstreets and history, you are bound to find something that your Lonely Planet hasn’t recommended.

TIP » Stop for a pub lunch in Covent Garden if you can. There are lots of places to explore and eat there and the best ones are well hidden. My personal favourite is Porter House, an Irish bar that looks like a ship inside.

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Getting lost in London. Photo by Lauren

3. Asking Questions
Londoners have a bit of a bad rep for being grumpy, however, that’s probably because we are on our way to work rather than on holiday. But if you ask us for directions, we will help you as best we can or direct you to someone else that will probably know.
TIP» If you travel outside of rush hour you will get cheaper fares and have a more comfortable journey (because there will be less people).

Lots of stops on the Tube are really close together, so it is quick to walk. For example: Covent Garden is really close to Holborn, Embankment and Leicester Square (where you are able to see everything from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square, the South Bank and much, much more).

5 Things People Worry About in London
You can never ask a dumb question

4. Going into ‘The City’
Going into the city can be intimidating, but it has some of the best buildings and views with the old and new contrasting each other beautifully. It’s a photographers dream in lots of respects. However, it is always very busy. Or is it? If you save your City exploration for the weekend, you will find it is a mere ghost town, with not a suit in sight. Not sure what I mean by City? In London there is a particular area called The Square Mile, also known as The City of London, which is essentially a small area of London which is pretty old and holds a lot of the most interesting buildings in London. It’s really easy to get to via Monument, Bank, Liverpool Street, Fenchurch Street and Tower Hill stations, which are all within walking distance (and I do recommend walking everywhere here). You will also find lots of other famous tourist attractions not far from here too. Those include; Borough Market, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The Sky Garden, The Shard and HMS Belfast.

London City
Photo by lauren

5. Going into buildings
There are lots of magnificent buildings around London and a lot of them can be pretty intimidating. Not that long ago I took my brother to the Shard and he actually said to me “I don’t think we are supposed to be in here…”. But actually you are allowed in lots of these places for free, if you are eating or drinking. You won’t be allowed in them all, but if you do your research, you will find that there is an area of the building that is open to the general public. The Shard is an obvious one, however, if you don’t fancy paying a lot of money to go to the top of the building and look out over London on the Observation deck, you can always pop up to some of the restaurants like Aqua or the Shangri La for a few drinks, afternoon tea or if you’re feeling fancy a three course meal. Plus if you are just popping up there for a quick drink, then you will find it a lot cheaper than paying for the observation deck and a much more relaxing experience.

Go into buildings
Check out buildings even if they look a bit weird. Photo by Lauren

All in all, London is a much friendlier city than most people realize and when we have the time, we love talking about the town we call home. In fact, once you’ve asked us for some tips, you’ll probably have a job in getting us to stop talking. If you are planning a visit to London soon, don’t forget about the home counties too, which are a short train ride outside of central London and make for lovely relaxing weekends.

Love,

Lauren
 

*Lauren is one of our guest bloggers and lives in London, UK. You can find her personal stories on her blog Hiking in Heels.

Going to London? Get our personal London Guidebook!

We have teamed up with Favoroute and created a London guidebook for your phone. How cool! Favoroute is a website that enhances your travel experience by getting different travel designers (journalist, bloggers and locals) to write guidebooks.
You can find city guidebooks (like ours), different countries and other inside travel tips. They’ve selected some of their online guidebooks and made them available in the app store and ours is available now!

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A sneak preview of our London Guidebook

So why did we write about London?
Well, Elke has lived there for 7 years and Sarah has been on lot’s of press trips over there. London is ever changing and it’s hard to keep up with the latest trendy hotspots but I think we managed pretty well! 
In our guidebook we will show you how to experience London like a true local. Yes, try and steer away from the usual tourist attractions in London because you won’t find anything about Buckingham Palace in our guidebook!

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Trendy East London

Instead we show you London in 3 days by guiding you through hip and trendy East-London on day 1 where you will find amazing shops, food markets and local goods. Day 2 is all about shopping and clubbing (because that’s something you should experience in London) We highlight some of the best clubs and restaurants, including my all time favorite Asian spot in town! On day 3 we take it a bit easier and relax by taking you to the best high tea spots and healthy joints.We tip the most trendy hotels with great value and close to the all the best attractions. Our guide is available to buy on iTunes for $3,99 and will be available on android in April.

 London Guidebook
The Roof Gardens founded by Richard Brandson

So if you’re heading over to London, get our guidebook here and let us know what you think!

*We will update our guidebook from time to time if needed.

Love,

Wander-Lust

7 beautiful wall paintings around the world

Sarah and I have been in a lot of cities and places around the world and one of the things we love to photograph are wall paintings.
Here are some of the best wall paintings we have come across:

Penang, Malaysia
These wall paintings took Sarah’s breath away when she visited Penang this winter. You can expect a blogpost about this amazing town in March!

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The most beautiful wall paintings in Penang, Malaysia

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
We live in Amsterdam and our town has a lot of street art. I went on a street art tour and discovered the stories and meaning about these wall paintings.

Amazing wall paintings Amsterdamamazing wall paintings Amsterdam
Left: From street artist at Icy & Soy. Right: A beautiful painting of travels at sea

Rome, Italy
When I visited Rome I walked around one of the most local neighborhoods called Trastevere and I found this beautiful wall painting.

wall paintings Rome

Barcelona, Spain
When I visited Barcelona last summer, I stayed in a secluded area where the locals live. It was near the end of the beach and I found a wall full of street art.
I loved this particular one of the famous Biggie “ready to die”album cover.

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London, England
Because I lived in London for 7 years, I had the privilege to live amoungst the real Banksy wall paintings in the Camden Town Area.
One of his most famous works was just around the corner of where I lived!

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Banksy Graffiti Art On West Bank Barrier
The king of street art: Banksy

Brussels, Belgium
When Sarah goes to Brussels for her work, she never has time to wander around but last month she consciously took some time off and walked around the streets before heading to bed. She found this cool wall painting and we featured it on our Instagram.

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Brussels is full of surprises..

Berlin, Germany
We love ourselfs a little provocative art and Berlin is just the place for that. Sarah came across this piece in East Berlin.

wall paintings Berlin

Where in the world is your favorite wall art piece?

Love,

Elke

*All pictures are courtesy of Wander-Lust except the Banksy Photographs

The most beautiful Christmas Trees in the world!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…
My Christmas fever started, Christmas it’s just around the corner people!
Did you buy your Christmas tree already in November, or did you buy your tree on the 1st of December, or do you even wait for Christmas Eve?

If you are like me, you will start thinking about buying a Christmas tree in December. Last weekend I decided to buy one – small and lovely – and it makes my home so warm. Maybe not as impressive as the below Christmas trees, but I can say that my tree looks exquisite and classic!

One of the things I love to do is to check out the Christmas trees in different cities around the world. They are so impressive: huge amount of lights, big and so beautiful!

Next to me, a lot of people around the world come and visit their huge and impressive hometown Christmas trees every year, no matter the weather.

‘The most beautiful Christmas Trees in the world!’

 

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