Desa Seni, total bliss at this healthy yoga retreat in Bali

Yoga, meditations, massages, healthy food, a beautiful swimming pool, private sleeping cabins, an overwhelming tropical garden and super friendly staff. I haven’t even mentioned the comfortable big beds, the outside bathroom, and this all located close to the beach: Yoga retreat Desa Seni in Canggu is the perfect retreat to recharge.

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After a super busy year and some private circumstances, I needed some time to relax. Bali is the perfect place for that since there are a lot of healthy spots and yoga retreats on the island. I was already in Canggu and I heard that Desa Seni is one of the best yoga retreats of Bali: they have the most experienced teachers, delicious fresh and healthy food, luxurious surroundings and a great service! That’s exactly what I needed.

  I wasn’t a big yoga fan, but ever since I took some classes at Desa Seni I decided to continue to practice yoga in Amsterdam.

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Desa Seni
The retreat is located amid ancient rice terraces.
You get a warm welcome when you arrive by the lovely women at the entrance desk of Desa Seni. Then a guided tour is waiting for you first before drinking a welcomes cocktail at the pool. The first thing you will notice is the relaxed and beautiful vibe of this retreat: The beautiful garden with colorful flowers, the big and comfortable sun bets and the stunning swimming pool was exactly what I was looking for. They seriously have thought about everything: mosquito spray, candles, incense, holiday cards to send out and a lot more.
You get to chill in a zen location for a few days where everything is included and that is what you want when you go to a retreat.
This Village Resort serves an eclectic Asian-Western cuisine with a focus on organic, healthy and fresh food. It has a
 vegetarian menu where delicious fish and veggie dishes from the resort’s own organic gardens are waiting for you. The restaurant is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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The traditional wooden farmhouse

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The outside bathroom

Yoga
Desa Seni’s daily Yoga program caters to all levels and offers a variety of yoga styles, open to the community and led by a qualified, dedicated, and passionate team of teachers. Apparently Desa Seni has the best yoga teachers on the island. A lot of people come here to take part of the 5 yoga classes they offer each day: From Kundalini Yoga and Hatha (the most reckon one) to Sunset Flow and Fly High Yoga. They might be a but heavier than in your own country, but it has also to do with the weather (you sweat a lot). The classes are super divers and you feel great when your done.

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So what does it cost?
Desa Seni offers a variety of accommodations, all of which are antique wooden houses with beautiful terraces, sitting areas and private modern outside bathrooms. The interior of each unique house has been re-furbished to provide all the modern comforts, while the exteriors have retained the integrity of rural village life. Check the prices hereRoom Rates include: Gourmet Breakfast – Daily Yoga & Meditation Classes – Unlimited Drinking Water – Complimentary Wireless Internet – Daily Ceremonial Offering – DVD & Book Library.

Desa Seni
Jl. Subak Sari No.13, Canggu, Bali
Website

Love,

Sarah

This is why we are in love with the Indonesian island Bali

There’s no place like Bali! Bali is an exotic Indonesian paradise where you will get the experience you will never forget. The first time when I fell in love of this wonderful island was 6 years ago. I completed my communication studies, saved enough money and decided to pack my bags for a 4 month backpacking trip in Southeast Asia. My dear friend Marlieke joined me for the first 3 weeks in Bali.

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Me and Marlieke in Seminyak 7 years ago. Too cute:)

I remember driving the motorbike for the first time, watching the magical sun rise on the Gili islands, the super nice local food corners where I tasted spices I have never had tasted before, my first surfing experience, the wonderful rice fields … and a lot more. Who wouldn’t wanna go back?
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Sunset at the Gili Islands

Those 3 weeks in 2011 were definitely not enough, so it was time to go back together to Bali! The month December is maybe not the best month due to rain season, but we were super lucky. Sunny Days and blue Skies every day! 

I started on my own and Marlieke flew in at New Year’s Eve. We fell in love all over again!
In Love with Bali
Marlieke and me in 2017 in Canggu

Bali is known for it’s healthy foodspots, surfing, yoga, picturesque beaches, friendly locals, party’s and of course cheap and nice massages. Bali has you covered! Apparently Bali sometimes has a bad reputation, especially Kuta where many tourists come to party. But trust me, there are plenty of areas where you can chill and enjoy your holiday big time and avoid the crowd. 

I travelled from Uluwatu, Canggu, Ubud, Seminyak Nusa Lembognon and Nusa Ceningan back to Uluwatu and ended in Seminyak. I forced myself to relax and chill and my goal was to find the best places to do so and share these with you! So in the upcoming weeks you will find the best tips and my favorite hotspots!

Get inspired!

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Le Pirat beachclub in Nusa Ceningan

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We stayed in this instagramable hotel Sal Secret Spot in Uluwatu

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Beautiful view at Rob Peetoom in Seminyak

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Healthy lunch at Milk & Madu in Canggu

 

Love, 

Sarah

Club Med Palmiye » the crème de la crème of all inclusive

Don’t get me wrong, I really like my live in Amsterdam. Correction; I LOVE my life in Amsterdam but sometimes it can be quite hectic. Life goes pretty fast down here and catches up with you, especially in a big city. So when I say that sometimes you need to get away from it all, I think a lot of you can relate to this. It was time for me to have a little break. Now, if you know me, you know that I’m a true traveler, explorer and someone that can’t stay in one place for too long. And if you know me, you also know that I would never go for the All Inclusive concept. Right? Last week I tried something a bit different. I needed to give my body and mind some rest so I did the unexpected; I booked an All Inclusive. But not just any..I stayed in one of the best All Inclusive resorts there is. Club Med Palmiye.

Tipi at Club Med

Club Med
The all inclusive concept has been around for ages and Club Med was there from the start. They have resorts all over the world but because I wanted to stay in Europe plus get a temperature of at least 25 degrees, I decided to fly to the south of Turkey. And it was more than just sunshine I got! Upon arrival you feel this is a different kind of all inclusive you might expect. With this resort, transfers are included and the 50 minutes drive in the nice airconditioned bus only seemed like a short ride. When you arrive you get a warm welcome from the staff and a refreshing lemon drink while some of the park details are explained.

The Accommodation
Your suitcases will be waiting for you in front of your room when you get there. The resort has several options when it comes to accommodation. Overall, the rooms are more basic than the rest of the resort because they want people to go outside and enjoy the sun, sea and activities. That completely makes sense because the park is only open until the last week of October before having a winter break. You can sleep in one of the many bungalows or stay in the hotel next to the entrance. Both nice in their own right but I preferred the bungalow that I stayed in because it feels more natural. Around the bungalows you will find different sort of trees and plants that really take your breath away. Besides the many palmtrees, you will also find orange and persimmon trees (my favorite fruit!)

Accommodation Club Med

Accommodation Club Med Palmiye
Tropical bungalows

Activities
One thing is for sure, you won’t get bored at a Club Med resort. There are lot’s of things to do and the Palmiye resort I stayed in offered activities such as wake-boarding, water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, tennis, archery, Pilates, fitness and more. If you don’t feel like doing anything at all, there are 2 adults-only areas where you can chill to the max while ordering cocktails or other refreshments. As much as you like! Yes, if you’ve never enjoyed an all inclusive resort before, it might be something to get used to. (I needed one day haha) If you want to out at sea, you can take the resort boat and enjoy some snorkeling or sunbathing on the deck for about 2 hours or grab a Catamaran and sail away on your own. (there is a small training course if you need to). At night there is a beach club open until 2am and you can enjoy several shows in the open air theater. The staff even joins in which made me laugh because they’re not the best dancers but ey, they certainly entertained me! 

Activities Club Med
Trying to hit the bullseye

Hammam Club Med in Turkey
Enjoying the Hammam

Sailing at Club Med Palmiye
Sailing

If you know me, you also know that I would never go for the All Inclusive concept. Right?

The Food
Ok, this is probably one of the best parts of Club Med. The Food! Wow, but seriously, really wow. Every day it’s a feast of different flavors and colorful decorations made out of food. At Club Med you never want to sleep in because you don’t want to miss breakfast! At home you pay a fortune for pomegranate seeds and here you can grab bowls full of it! It’s not just a buffet like you’re used to. No, there is a different chef at every food stand; Pasta (homemade), traditional Turkish food, cakes and sweets, salads, BBQ and the theme changes day by day so you never get bored of eating the same thing. There are 4 restaurants at the resort but because I visited the Club in October, only one was open but it was perfect for the amount of guest at the resort.

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Heaven!

Lunch at Club Med Palmiye
One of the amazing pool lunches at Club Med Palmiye

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The sun dissapearing behind the mountains

Strange but true, I really enjoyed my time here and managed to relax and enjoy the perks of the ultimate All Inclusive concept to the max (without having to run for towel space). Yes, Club Med Palmiye is designed to take away your stress and worries and simply makes sure you can get away from it all. Perfect for city people that are so foccused on work. And let’s be honest, you freakin’ deserve it!

Club Med has resorts all over the world and this is just one of them. They even have winter resorts in the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. To find out about all their destinations and booking details check www.clubmed.us or www.clubmed.nl

Want a really good impression before you book? Check out my video on YOUTUBE!

Love,

Elke

Discovering the Cyclades » Folegandros & Santorini

After 3,5 days sightseeing in Naxos, it was time to visit my 2 most anticipated islands of the Cyclades: Folegandros & Santorini.
Both islands are very different in many ways but nevertheless extremely beautiful in their own right.


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Folegandros and Santorini

Folegandros
From Naxos I took the ferry to Folegandros but if you do, always make sure you check the ferry times before planning your trip.
My ferry stopped at about 3 different islands before arriving in Folegandros and by that time it was evening and I missed a whole day.
When you arrive in Folegandros, you can take a public bus to the village which cost about 1.80 euro’s per person and takes you there in less than 15 min.

The island is very small and you immediately get a sense of the peace & calmness this place represents.
It was easy to find my bed for the night because all the locals know each other and when I asked for my reservation at “Castro“, I was pointed in the right direction. The more steps I took, the more I fell in love. Guesthouse Castro owes its name from the location where it’s found, in the region of the medieval Castle of Folegandros. The Castle of Folegandros functioned as a defensive fortress and.. I got to sleep there. How cool!
The friendly owners guided me to my room and although it was getting dark, my mouth fell open when I saw my balcony with probably the best view in town!

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The amazing private balcony at Castro’s

At night, the town turns into a romantic bohemian village. Trees with lights cover the top of outside restaurants. There are 6 different squares divided and each one of those has another cute place to eat.
I arrived on a Saturday and because most Greek people are free on Sunday, the town is vibrant and alive.
You will see everyone having a drink, pretty much everywhere where they can sit. If you want to join in the fun, you should try Raki, Ouzo or a hot drink I wasn’t familiar with, called Rakomelo. It tastes a bit like Glühwine and is delicious!

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A bohemian dream

Folegandros is too beautiful to lay in your bed for too long, so I advice you to get up early. The town is wonderful in the morning and great to shoot some nice pictures.
My balcony was a great place to have breakfast but you should also go into town and sit in one of the beautiful gardens to drink coffee. I had breakfast at Pounda where you can enjoy a Greek breakfast whilst looking at beautiful flowers.



The town of Chora is beautiful for walking around


Feeling 
completely zen at  Agios Nikolaos beach. Wearing a colorful bikini of Triangl

The best beaches in Folegandros are Agios Nikolaos beach (if you like peace and quiet), Agali beach (more popular) and the beach near the port, Karavostasi beach.
I wish I had more time to explore this special island but I had already booked my next ferry to Santorini. If you are planning to visit Folegandros, I would stay at least 4 days.

Santorini
With the fast boat you can get to Santorini within 45 min. Ferries can be late sometimes so always prepare yourself for this. Book your ferry ahead as it will save you money and you can do this online or at one of the tourist offices you will find in the main areas.
Coming into Santorini is something special. The impressive rock formations leave your mouth wide open and the thought that this island lays next to a vulcano, makes it even more special.

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The ferries look small compared to the impressive coastline. The volcano on the right.

Santorini is an island that attracts many tourist so if you are doing the Cyclades tour, this is the one you shouldn’t miss. It is rather special. If you want a little less touristy but still enjoy the amazing views whilst waking up, you should definitely book your accommodation in Imerovigli.
With the busy Oia on the right side and the main town of Thira only 10 min away, it’s the perfect place to stay and enjoy breathtaking views.

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Breaktaking views from the Absolutely Bliss Hotel in Imerovigli. 

Did you know Santorini has a White, Black and Red beach? The island is not known for it’s beautiful sandy beaches but if you get a chance, you should visit Red beach and Kamari Beach where you can find sunbeds, beach restaurants and shops.

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A red beach, who knew!

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Red or Black. Only on Santorini

If you visit Santorini with your partner, you should definitely book a romantic dinner for 2 but… do something different and eat in one of the old villages like Pyrgos. Why? Because it’s authentic, the food taste amazing and it’s half the price!
Still enjoy a meal with that-oh-so-amazing-view? Have breakfast at one of the many hotel breakfast options along the cliff. If you want to shop for some nice jewelry and high-end clothes, you should visit Oia but do it at the end of the day or early in the morning when it’s not boiling hot. Yes, there will be a lot of tourist so prepare yourself and breath in, breath out. You’ll be fine :-)

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Romantic dinner for 2 anyone?

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Realizing the craaazy view. Picture shot at Oia.

One of the other must do’s in Santorini is to walk to the top of Skaros Rock right across Imerovigli.
It’s about a 20 min walk when you start across and you can get right to the top if you can get past your fear of heights.
My legs were shaking a little bit while I was climbing up the last bit, but it was totally worth seeing the sun disappear into the sea. 
You can also get up early and walk all the way to Oia or back. For this walk you need some trainers or steady shoes. It takes about 3,5 hours from Thira to Oia and about 1,5 hours from Imerovigli.

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Skaros Rock on the left with Imerovigli on the right

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And on top of the world on Skaros rock. (still weak in the knees!)

As I said, Folegandros & Santorini are two different and unique islands, but they also have a lot of similarities.
To make things a little easier…

Romance? Check.
Best views? Check.
Tasty cuisine? Check.
You want to chill to the max? Pick Folegandros.
You want to shop and feel like a princess? Pick Santorini.
You want to see paradise? Pick both.

Love,

Elke

Missed the previous adventures of Elke’s Greek Island hopping tour?
Check her post about Naxos and Mykonos.

Finding the best in Mykonos

Everybody has heard of Mykonos once in their lifetime. Mykonos is a small island of the Greek Cyclades and like the Spanish Ibiza, it never sleeps.
Known for it’s lavish parties and the jetset life, yet it has a lot more to offer than just that.
Mykonos was the first Island of my Greek Cyclades hopping tour and is easy to fly to from
Rome where I spend the first few days.
I dislike mass tourism so finding some less crowded spots on Mykonos seemed to be a quest. But lucky enough I did find some and I love to share these with you.

The Beaches:
Mykonos is surrounded by the Aegean sea so there are plenty beaches to choose from!
But not all are suitable for what you might be looking for.
If you have small children, you might want to visit the south east coast for example.
For the best quiet beaches check these out:

The North:
» Fokos Beach (quiet, plus one small and tasty restaurant!)
» Merssini (private beach best for couples! No restaurant)

Mykonos has some quiet beaches
Staring in to the sea and feeling the warm sand at Fokos Beach

The South:
» Kalaftis (beautiful, windsurfing, good for children)
» Kapari beach (great for couples, to get there you must go off road a little bit)
» Agios Ioannis Beach (some nice beach bars like Hippiefish but very chilled out and not crowded)

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The hard to find Kapari beach. Ssst, it’s a secret!

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Eating well and enjoying the sound of children playing at Kalaftis beach

Accomodation:
Hotels can be expensive in the high season so if you’re looking for the best budget deal, check out the Paraga Beach Hostel at Paraga Beach. The view from the poolside is amazing and you won’t spend more than 120 euro’s for 3 nights depending on what accommodation type you will get. I slept in a 2 persons tent (TRB) with electricity but you can also hire a small tent for as little as 15 euro’s per night.
The only thing to be aware of is that on the left side of paraga beach you will find the infamous Paradise beach which is full of youngsters getting their groove on until 4 in the morning. Bring some earplugs and you should be fine though. The service at this hostel is great and they serve food all day long and even have a small supermarket.

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The view from Paraga Beach Hostel was pretty amazing!

glamping at Paraga Beach Hostel Mykonos
Very basic but you can’t get a better deal in Mykonos than this one! :-)


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Laying by the pool at Paraga Beach Hostel

Next door to this hostel is an amazing boutique hotel called San Giorgio.
This is a completely different experience and a big upgrade! I was lucky enough to get a tour and taste the amazing breakfast buffet.

The hotel manager (who happened to be Dutch) explained to me that a lot of her guest come here to get that comfortable “home” feeling that large hotels don’t offer. San Giorgio’s architecture suits any type of traveller because it’s warm, stylish screams hippie chic.

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The bohemian entrance of San Giorgio Hotel

Their pool area is by far my favorite place of the hotel. Overlooking the aegan sea, you can chill here on large beds or relax at the bar next to the pool. I enjoyed my first healthy smoothly here and it cured my cold which I brought back from The Netherlands.
For rooms check their amazing website: http://sangiorgio-mykonos.com/en/

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Endless views from the pool area

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A colorful vitamin boost!

San Giorgio also has a stylish little brother called the Scorpios beach club just on the other side of Paraga beach. Same architect, different management.
They just opened in May and it already attracts celebrities and the elite.
I danced at sunset which is something you must do when coming to mykonos.

Read about the best beach bars in Mykonos here.
In the “club” they also have an amazing clothing shop where they sell one Mexican label called Caravana Montaecristo. They offer an exclusive capsule collection for luxury-minded globetrotting travelers.

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The beautiful collection of  Caravana

Eating:
The main town of Mykonos is called Chora. Be aware that it’s crowded at nights and you will walk through the small street at a slow pace. The best time to visit is in the morning. I have to be honest and I have to say I was a little disappointed by the food in this area and it was overpriced when you compare it to the more secluded areas.
One restaurant I can highly recommend is Joanna’s Nikos Place Taverna. I think it might be run by women only because on the evening I ate there, I didn’t see one men on the floor. (even the cook!)
And the food is amazing. Try the moussaka or the fresh fish from the grill!

It’s situated at the left beach next to Chora and it can be busy. If you want a table with sea view, you must make a reservation.
If you’re on a budget I have a great tip for you: try and visit your nearest bakery and order a feta and spinach roll or if you like something sweet, try the pastery filled with cream. Both are tipically Greek and this way you can have lunch on the beach and save some cash! A win win right?

Verdict: Mykonos is a must visit if you like the jetset life, don’t mind to spend a little more cash than usual and dance until sunset.
This island hasn’t lost his raw beauty yet so definately check out the afore mentioned beaches and enjoy the white and blue houses!

My next Island on the map is Naxos. But be patient, it will be on wander-lust next week!

Love,

Elke