The Northern (high)lights of Vietnam

Vietnam is hot. And i’m not only talking about the weather. This long stretched south-east Asian country is on the rise for backpackers and travelers alike. Not so strange when you come to think of the perfectly spiced and easy-to-digest food goodies, bright rice paddies, staggering karst mountains and sandy beaches. Vietnam is the place to be if you want to take in as much different scenery as possible. If you start of in the North of the country, there are a number of hotspots you simply cannot miss.

Happy in Hanoi
Sweat is dripping of your face, not to mention the rest of your body. Around you it’s a hot mess of honking motorbikes, waving salesladies and strange smells. This is Hanoi. One of the two big cities of Vietnam and for many travelers the kick-off of their journey. It’s also the gateway to many of the highlights in the North of the country. Many people use this city in exactly that way, a travel-through kind of city to get to more beautiful places. But Hanoi should not be overlooked. It’s a bustling city with lots to see, feel and do. For all you foodies out there, your mouth will water with the endless options of amazing dishes. From sitting on little plastic chairs on the street to high-class dining it’s all there. My advise: opt for the plastic chairs for intense flavors and a true local experience. Think rice pancakes, filled with shrimp, beansprouts and pork. Fresh springrolls, rice noodles with beef and amazing broth, it’s all heaven. Order a glass of fresh draft beer (starting at 20ct’s a glass!) look around you and enjoy! Besides eating, Hanoi offers enough sightseeing. Go to the Hanoi Hilton Prison to experience what it was like being captured by the French, to the Ho Chi Minh Masoleum to see the body of Vietnam’s great leader (check opening hours carefully to avoid closed doors) and stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake where Vietnamese kids will try to learn some English by starting a conversation (and taking some selfies). Budget wise, Hanoi won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Hotels and hostels are cheap and fine. My advise: the Bluebell Hotel. In the middle of the backpacker district, offering large and clean double rooms with a funny and friendly manager and price tag.


The streets (and rails) of Hanoi

Halong Bay Beauty
Probably the most famous landmark of Vietnam, Halong Bay lies a 3,5 hours drive east of Hanoi. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is full of amazing vista’s, high-rising karst mountains and deep green waters. It’s not an option to go to Vietnam and not see this epic landscape. There are several ways to see the bay. Cheap and less touristy is arranging a bus to Cat Ba and board a tour from there. However, this does take up a lot of travel time that you could have spend on the water. Feeling lazy? Book a tour in Hanoi and everything will be arranged. Some pointers: never book a one day trip, as you will spend most of your day in the bus traveling towards Halong Bay. 2 or 3 days is perfect (also on days 2 and 3 you will enter the less touristy part of the bay). If you want to have a relaxed and clean stay, always go for those that are a bit more expensive. Sailing 3 days for 80 dollars will most likely mean you share your cabin with cockroaches and a fishy smell. The tours that come with a price between 130 to 160 dollar (for 3 days) are worth the splurge. Always ask what you get for the price and what kind of luxury (or not) you can expect. Now all you need to do is chill on one of the loungers on deck and take in the view!

Halong Bay, Northern Vietnam
H
along Bay

Scenic Sapa
Rice fields as far as your eyes reach, in stunning shades of green. A local ‘mama’ guiding you around on steep paths and into their homes. Sapa, close to the Chinese border, is not to be missed. Unfortunately I did miss it and still regret it deeply. Everyone who has been there, mentions it is one of their Vietnam favorites. You can take a bus or a train there, and local guides will be waiting to take you at the station. This is a cheap way to see Sapa (most of the times this includes two days of hiking and one night in a traditional homestay). If you feel more comfortable knowing who you are going with upfront, book a tour. Do expect lots of begging little children and people trying to sell you stuff, the tourist industry is booming here (not in a good way). You can avoid this a bit by booking a tour that takes you to another part of Sapa and usually only costs a few dollars extra.

Imagine lush green mountains and valleys full of rices fields

Biking Mai Chau
A lot less touristy and still very beautiful is Mai Chau. Those who have limited time, will often skip this area since it is not on the standard route. But that is a mistake. Mai Chau feels more authentic than most of the other places in the north. Imagine lush green mountains and valleys full of rices fields. Add the occasional herd of cows crossing the road and local markets (not advisable for those with sensitive noses and stomachs) and you have a pretty good picture of what to expect. Cycling through the valleys is the way to move forward and to learn about the traditional Thai and Hmong people living here. During your bike ride, you might encounter the 1000 steps stairway, leading to a cave and a great viewpoint. Be aware that these stairs are not for those who are in a bad shape. The steps can be slippery and are quite uneven. Oh right, and there are a thousand of them! The perfect place to spend the night is Mai Chau Sunrise resort.

Tam Coc Adventures
They call it Halong Bay on land and the latest King Kong movie (Skull Island) was shot here. For a reason I might add. The Tam Coc mountains are stunning. To gaze at the mountains you can book a boat ride, but this is expensive and a lot of travelers mention it’s unpleasant due to the demands for a big tip by the ladies rowing the boat. So, why not grab a (motor)bike and see the area on your own terms? It’s the perfect way to explore and enjoy. Climb the stairs at Hang Mua (only 500 this time, and way easier) for an Instagram worthy shot of the karst mountains and the river. If you have the time, make your way to the temple complex of Bai Dinh (about 20 KM from Tam Coc). Even if you are not a temple lover, this place will impress you.

Northern Vietnam, Tam coc - viewpoint
The stunning viewpoint at Tam coc 

Booking A Tour
‘Book a tour’ is mentioned a number of times above. But in Hanoi, there are almost more tour agencies than there are motorbikes (okay, not sure if that is possible, but still) and not all of them are honest with what they sell. But there is one local angel that will make your trip (and life) a little easier and fun. Lily’s Travel Agency truly is number one. They offer fair prices, but above all: honest advise (they actually listen to what you want and what you don’t want) and the best service I’ve have ever had from a tour operator (including free water and fruit while waiting and a free beer when we stepped back into her office to give some feedback).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think there are some rice pancakes calling out my name.

Love from Vietnam,

Jill

The diversity of Basque Country, Spain

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

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

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

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

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The Guggenheim Museum

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Puppy & Torre Iberdrola in Bilbao

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

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A perfect viewing point over San Sebastians bay

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

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

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The streets of Vitoria

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

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San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

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

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There is an unmistakable joie de vivre in Basque Country

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

Wander-Lust
www.wander-lust.nl

baskenland

What you need to know before you go Caravanning

Caravanning? If you know the word, you’re probably getting ready for your first caravan holiday. An exciting time of freedom, fun and the thrill of a new experience awaits and it’s not just for the 50+ age group. It’s extremely popular in Europe and there are so many cool caravans available nowadays. But before you’re ready to enjoy this new adventure in your holiday life, there’s a couple of important issues you should think about. Factors such as what to bring, how to be safe on the road or where to park when all of a sudden you have to pull over. And what about insurance? To get you started we’ve put together a bunch of basic tips for a steady start of an unforgettable caravanning experience.

Make a checklist
Before you jump in the car and start your adventure, make sure that you’ve packed everything you and your caravan need. You’ll have to bring an array of items when holidaying with a caravan. Apart from a fully functional car, of course. But have you thought about a fire extinguisher, wheel chocks, a caravan jack, towing mirrors, extra coolant and oil and a spare fan belt? Some items are essentials, others are just based on the level of comfort you’re aiming for.

Why the rush? It’s your holiday!

Be safe and take it easy
Fully packed and stocked? Time to hit the open road. But not before you’re absolutely sure that your caravan and vehicle are safe. Again, making a checklist before you depart is an easy referral. Among necessary checks are that the towing aid is fitted correctly, drawers and other loose items are secured, and windows and doors are locked. Remove wheel chocks and the jockey wheel, raise the caravans steps, switch on the lights and you’re good to go! But take it easy on the roads. Towing something this big takes time getting used to. Don’t endanger yourself and your fellow motorists and drive safe. Besides, why the rush? It’s your holiday!

Caravanning
Are you going caravanning this summer?

Your freedom, well covered

No matter how careful you are, an accident can happen anytime and anywhere. Nobody likes to think about a vacation falling down the drain due to a car accident or a related caravan drama. To make sure you’ll get all the help you need in times of small or major discomfort, be sure to buy travel insurance. This way you and your family are sure to have medical and cancellation cover abroad. But what about your caravan? Well, there’re loads of options for your beloved mobile home as well! Protect your caravan of camper trailer with a caravan insurance and enjoy cover against accidental damage or damage due to theft, fire or storm. Your freedom, well covered. Happy holidays!

Love,

Wander-Lust

*We collaborated with HEMA for this article

Amsterdam in top 10 most popular cities

We knew Amsterdam is a great city, and I guess many of you must agree because Amsterdam just kicked off Hong Kong out of the top 10 most popular cities in the world.

Market research company Ipsos ask more than 18500 people of 26 different countries what their favorite city was to live, work or do business in and they could choose between 60 different cities. Amsterdam made it to number 9 in the overall standings and that’s a great improvement because our capital city was on the 14th place back in 2013. 

amsterdam-event-calendar-for-july-2017

New York holds the overall number 1 spot, followed by Abu Dhabi and surprisingly London made it to third place. Then again, the research was done before the many terrorist attacks happened. 

To see the full list check the Ipsos Report

Love,

Wander-Lust

Wanna know why we think Amsterdam is so awesome?

Why we love Amsterdam

Summer Trend » The Slogan Beach Hat

You may have seen them in your Instagram feed. The beautiful straw hats with various words written on them. The Slogan Beach Hat is the musthave for this summer!

Large beachy straw hats are both practical and fashionable. Nobody wants a burned face right? You can now order your personalized hat with the words of your choice. All the way from Lebanon, we feel the best customized slogan hats are made by @bitsandpiecestogo. Just have a look at their Instagram account! We ordered one and can’t wait to show it off.

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The Slogan Beach Hat with Wanderlust. Photo by @bitsandpiecestogo

Slogan beach hat trend
On a Safari. Photo by @theblondmacaron

You will really stand out with this musthave summer essential. If you live in the Netherlands, you can also order this one at Modemusthaves.com for €24,95.

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Love,

Elke

More Essentials? Check here!

 

 

Why You Should Travel Alone

It’s midnight and I’m walking through the rainy streets of Koh San Road, Thailand. I’m surrounded by fried scorpions and Thai neon signs I don’t understand. With a backpack filled with courage I try to connect with the already drunken tourists, but unfortunately without any success. The first time out of Europe, the first time backpacking. I walk alone, but I feel more powerful then ever. A sense of freedom, I can do what I want, whenever I want. There is nobody here to stop me. I kissed my fears goodbye and convinced my dad that backpacking through Asia would be a better fit for me than a road trip trough Belgium. (seriously dad?) It was time to discover the world on my own, and go on an adventure. It was the best decision I could have made. Here are 5 reasons why I think you should travel alone.

Why you should travel alone

Nobody can discover the world for you
We can get lost in the most beautiful travel documentaries, dream away with breath taking photos and listen with unbelief to the stories of others. But nothing can compare to the experience in real life. If you want to discover the world we live in, go. Cause nobody can discover it for you. Being on your own means you can decide where you want to go, which places inspire you and choose the adventures that most appeal to you. You are in charge of broadening your horizons.

Finding your own rhythm
I’m definitely not a morning person and it has always been a challenge to agree with the overenthusiastic waking-up time of my friends. It’s a great feeling waking up and start doing whatever you want. There is no boss waiting for you at the office or a friend that desperately wants to go to that trendy, hipster breakfast place four blocks away while you’re starving. You have the time and space to create your own rhythm and discover your own needs. This is a valuable lesson to learn, also regarding your daily routines back home.

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You are more in the moment when you travel alone

While traveling I realized that the differences between all of us are insignificant compared to what connects us.

Experiences will be more intense
The autopilot of the mind will be switched off when you’re confronted with new situations, which results in a higher level of focus. You’ll have to stay alert, take care of yourself and create your own path. Because of this you’ll feel more aware of your surroundings instead of looking at it passively or getting lost in a conversation with your partner. You will experience the world around you instead of only seeing it.

New perspectives
Not being with friends or a partner means you have to go out of your comfort zone to meet new people or talk to locals. You’ll meet travelers from different cultures, backgrounds, social environments and also different characters. While traveling I realized that the differences between all of us are insignificant compared to what connects us. Traveling alone will teach you to be flexible, open minded and less judgmental.

Trust your intuition
Being on your own in an unknown country will give you a major confidence boost. Not only will your self-esteem grow (cause it’s really awesome to travel alone), the trust in your own intuition will increase as well. I can be quite the control freak so I tried to avoid making too many plans for my backpacking trip. It made me really nervous in the beginning as I was constantly questioning myself if it would workout. And to be honest, not everything did work out like it was suppose to. There was one day I didn’t have any money, food or a place to sleep cause my creditcard got blocked. Or this time that I jokingly challenged a Muay Thai boxer (what was I thinking) and broke my toe. But in the end, everything will be fine, one-way or another. There is no need to stress or worry cause if you trust on your intuition it will always work out.

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Eva in Chiang May, 2015

In my opinion, to travel alone is not only a ‘cool’ thing to do but it really helps you to extend your boarders and develop yourself. You will gain new insights of the places you go, the people you meet and the cultures you will learn about. Beside that it will also deepen the perspective on your own social environment and needs.

Traveling alone is the greatest gift you can give yourself. So, where are you going next?

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

More travel tips? Check them here!

 

 

A little Romance on Sicily

We all know, Italy is for lovers. And so is Sicily. Lovers of people. Lovers of food. Lovers of ocean views and mountain roads. It doesn’t really matter what kind of love, Sicily is the perfect place to enjoy it. And here’s exactly where to do that in the North-Western side of this stunning island.

Dine your way through Trapani
The small city of Trapani isn’t the first spot people think of when they want to book a trip to Sicily. Which leaves Trapani a little bit undiscovered, always a good thing! It’s the type of town where you will get lost the first few times you walk around the city-center and every time you’ll discover something else to marvel about. Maybe an ancient church, the magnificent views from the boardwalk or a cute little cafe in a corner somewhere. Here you will find the most delicious food and drinks in narrow Italian alleys or on grand marble boulevards. Everything for very reasonable prices. And by reasonable I mean you can go for breakfast, lunch and dinner every night without a worry in your wallet. Feeling romantic? A must-go is Osteria I Vitelloni, situated in one of the main streets in the centre of Trapani. Order the tuna in a pistachio crust and let them pick the wine. But, skip the dessert. You’ll need some room for an amazing ice-cream at Panna & Co. If that isn’t love in a cone.. You can thank me later.

osteria-i-vitelloni-sicily
Osteria I Vitelloni

Scooter your way around
Trapani is also a perfect gateway to a ton of other places you must see while you are on this side of the island. A scooter will take you and your loved one(s) everywhere! Go to Marsala for instance, a famous wine town a little drive to the south. Along the way you’ll see the salt pans this area is known for and feel the wind in your hair. A little more inland (after a fun drive) you can find the majestic temple complex of Segesta. A history lesson has never been more exciting as you climb the ruins and check out those magnificent views. Another piece of the past can be found in Erice, a medieval town which you can find hovering on a mountain above Trapani. Get there by scooter, or by cable car! And try not to get lost in all the bumpy, winding streets. Although I didn’t try it, I have been told you can buy the best canolli on the whole island here (why I didn’t try it myself will always be a mystery).

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Whatever you do in Trapani, don’t forget to visits the Egadi Islands. They are only a boat ride away but you’ll feel as if you travelled back years in time. The little villages cannot be any more picturesque and the surrounding waters couldn’t be more azure. If you have the chance to stay a few days on one of these islands, go for it. Opting for a day trip? Don’t fall for the tourist trap, the packed boats. If you are on a ‘everything is possible’ trip, book the catamaran. Little more of a budget? Just take the ferry to one of the islands and rent a bike once you are there. Exploring a tiny tiny island together, oh the romance.

San Vito Lo Capo, just the sound of it makes you want to go
Trapani is the perfect place to stay and to explore this side of Sicily. However, if you are a beachlover, this town’s city beach won’t fulfil your sandy and salty dreams. Luckily there are some options for you to get your toes touching some lovely blue water. When traveling a lot to find that perfect spot isn’t your cup of tea, then head over to San Vito Lo Capo. It’s possible to scooter there for a day trip from Trapani, or if you want to lounge around the beach for a few days you can book a place to stay. It is a bit more touristy, best don’t expect the Robinson Crusoe vibe and book your accommodation in advance (in the high season from June to August). This little coastal village offers a beach that makes you feel as if you are on a tropical island. There are plenty of cute shops and spots to grab a bite, put on your holiday hat and enjoy. Every year in September they host the Cous Cous Fest in San Vito. Do check it out whenever you are in the area at the right time and feed each other some couscous!

Not far from San Vito Lo Capo lies the Riserva Naturale Orientata Dello Zingaro, a nature reserve which holds some beautiful bays with rocky beaches and ridiculously azure water. Bring your goggles for some underwater fun with the fishes! The park is not accessible for cars or any other type of vehicle, be prepared for some hiking. It’s worth it!

Chill in Cefalu
Want to head over to a different side of Sicily to chill? Cefalu is your town! From Trapani you can book a ticket with public transport and it will take little over half a day of travel by bus and train. Cefalu looks like the Italian coastal towns that you see in paintings. It’s got the maximum idyllic factor. There’s lots to do here if you want to, from sailing to an active volcano-island to day trips to other well-know Sicilian places like Taormina. Or you can just stroll through the paved alleys, have an iced-cappuccino every once in a while and stretch your legs on the beach. I have to admit, that latter was how I filled my days in Cefalu.

Sicily Cefalu view point

Even if you are feeling the lazy vibe, you should get of your beach bed once to climb Rocca di Cefalu. This massive rock towers above Cefalu and will give you some breathtaking views and historical facts. It is quite the climb, leave your flip flops at home and put on some more solid footwear. Once you’re on the top, there are loads of spots for that perfect lovey-dovey selfie. Just like in Trapani, San Vito Lo Capo and probably all the Sicilian towns, the food in Cefalu is amazing and the amount of restaurants to try is enormous. You cannot leave without trying at least five different types of pasta (more is better in this case). Many restaurants have hidden terraces overlooking the sea, be there in time for sunset!

Give each other a kiss, and book that ticket to this North-Western part of Sicily!

Love,

Jill

*Jill is one of our guest bloggers living in Amsterdam (@jillgwendolyn) where she works as a content manager for a digital agency. She’s Crazy about traveling and has spend her studies in New Zealand . You can read a new article from Jill in every 3rd week of the month!

The Cuba Experience

It has been said a million times: “go to Cuba now, while it is still authentic”. And people will probably say it a million times more. Before the Americans flood this paradise, with their all-inclusive resorts and McDonald’s and the Cuban culture is lost. But after spending three weeks on this island, I am convinced it will take a lot more than some Americans and hamburgers for the Cuban culture to get lost. These people are proud of their country, of their food and of their way of living. Even if they don’t own a fortune and have some struggles. So. I would like to rephrase that sentence “Go to Cuba”. Into; it will be authentic for a pretty long time if you ask me, it’s a hell of a country. And while you are there, here’s what you definitely should do to enhance that Cuba experience:

1. Turn of your phone and enjoy the ride
If you are as addicted to your smartphone as I am, this might sound a bit scary. But after a few days of digital detox, you’ll ask yourself why you have never done this before. You see, in Cuba internet and WIFI are not that common. A lot of people don’t even have an internet connection in their homes, let alone on their mobile phones. And they don’t miss or need it. Some Cubans even believe that the internet should be banned from their country since it is making people less and less social. Do as the Cubans do, let go of the feeling of always wanting to be connected to the whole world. Yes, this also means no Google maps and no Instagram. Just look around you, talk to people and feel completely lost and happy.

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2. Drink a Mojito every day, wherever you are
Relax, you’re on a holiday, a little boozing and snoozing won’t hurt. Specially not when you are in Cuba, home of the Mojito. This delicious rum cocktail is what it is all about in this country and you should try as many as possible. No Mojito is the same, whether it’s because of some secret ingredient, the vibe or the view. Not to mention that fact that this elixer of life usually is cheaper than a cola. So it’s best to take another one.

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The Cuba experience is not complete without a Mojito!

You can get one on every street corner, but these are my favourite places:
Hotel Nacional – Havana Vedado: this famous hotel bursts with history and the drinks come with an amazing complementary view.
The little beach hut on Playa Los Cocos – Playa Giron: where the lifeguard is your bartender and the prices will have you order round after round. Centro Recreativo La Punta – Cienfuegos: in a little park, at the southern tip of Cienfuegos, a perfectly well dressed bartender will create a masterpiece for you with precision and craftsmanship. Of how I wish I was there right now. Hostal Colina – Trinidad: on the road to disco Ayala, this casa particulara offers ‘special Mojito’s’, and they sure are special. Just like the garden you will be in while drinking them.

3. Travel with a Taxi collectivo, even if it is just once
Getting around Cuba is easy if you book the Via Azul tourist busses. But it’s fun when you book a taxi collectivo! You’ll share this oldtimer ride with as many people that fit in the vehicle (and sometimes even more) and your luggage on top. This is traveling in style, Cuban style. it’s easy to arrange your taxi collectivo on the streets, many drivers offer their services. Usually it’s easy to bargain and to come to an agreement of the price. Just never pay in advance, you can settle that with the actual driver on the day of your trip.

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4. Only stay at Casa Particulara’s
Thinking about booking a hotel in Cuba? Don’t even bother (unless you have unlimited funds and are aiming for an ultimate high-end holiday). Try a casa particulara, you won’t be disappointed. these casa’s are rooms that are rented out by the Cubans. Usually they come with your own bathroom, your own rocking chair on the porch and sometimes your own entrance. And if you are lucky, with breakfast. It’s the best way to travel for a reasonable price and feeling the local vibe. Also, Casa owners have lots of friends and family in other cities, so if your traveling onwards they always know a new casa and will even arrange it for you. Easy does it!

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Check out:
Casa Eliza – Rafael Trejo, Vinales: spotless rooms, your own entrance and breakfast under the gazebo. Oh and it’s just on street behind the mainstreet, hello centre location!
Casa Hostal El Castillito Yaya y Monolito – Playa Giron: great food, big rooms and Yaya is like a mother to the guests.
Casa Castro & Anita – between C43 and C44, Varadero: big rooms, great location and sweet people. What more can you ask for?

5. Taking a dive
Cuba is home to some real sweet diving spots. However, the best ones are hard to reach and will eat half of your budget. But there is this one place, between two very tiny villages, where the water calls your name and you won’t loose oxygen over the price. Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) is where you need to be. There are several dive spots, suited for beginners to the more advanced Dive Masters. First timer? At Playa el Tanque you can go into the water without a boat. Just put on your tank and goggles and go! Best village to stay for this dive trip: Playa Giron. It offers not more than about 4 dusty roads, some houses and a war museum. But it has a beach, some restaurants and the divers bus to take you to the fishes. Dive and chill, my friends.

cuba_varadero_beach_ocean_travel

6. From Cienfuegos to Trinidad through the mountains

Cienfuegos, it’s a pretty town a lot of travellers skip. Which is a shame since it is the perfect city to do absolutely nothing for a day or two (and sip on those amazing Mojito’s I mentioned earlier). But beside that cocktail, there is one reason why I would urge you to go to this city, and that is the way out to Trinidad. In Cienfuegos you can book a tour at Cubanacan to travel to Trinidad through the beautiful Parque Natural Topes de Collantes, including the amazing El Nicho waterfalls. At the end you will be dropped off in Trinidad. This private tour will take you through the mountains in a jeep, with a real Cuban tourguide. He can tell you all about the surroundings as well as the (communist) culture and lots of other stories. Plus, he knows exactly when El Nicho is not flooded with tourists and you have the natural swimming pools to yourself (oh and he can take stunning pictures from you). You’ll drive past small, simple villages (which have a school and a discotheque) and taste the most amazing coffee you will ever taste at this small cafe in the middle of the mountains. If you are lucky, you’ll also have the chance to sing along to The Backstreetboys playing on an old CD in the car. Here’s your authentic experience!

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Cuba’s nature is stunning too

Enough said. Go to Cuba. Enjoy it to the fullest.

Love,

Jill

Read Jill’s tips about New Zealand here:

south-island of new zealand__adventurous

World Festival Guide 2017

The festival season has began! Time to put up our new World Festival Guide 2017! We’ve picked our favorite festivals from around the world. Some you might know, others you don’t. But one thing is for sure; book your tickets and dance!

World Festival guide 2017

We are FSTVL, UK
When? 27th – 28th of May
Where? Upminster Greater London
It’s a huge festival with a lot of big names is dance and techno music and guess what, Graig David is even performing! Expect 50.000 people in London’s bankholiday weekend. Tickets are about £60 and almost sold out so if you’re heading over to London you might as well check this festival out. www.wearefstvl.com

We Love Green 2017, France
When? 10th – 11th of June
Where? Paris, France
This festival focuses on sustainability and uses solar power to generate enegrie. It will celebrate it’s 6th year and eadliners include Solange, A Tribe Names Quest, Flying Lotus and Maceo Plex. www.welovegreen.fr

Word Festival Guide 2017
Dance all summer!

Meadows in the Mountains, Bulgaria
When? 9th -11th of June
Where? Bulgaria
If you want something different and special you should check this festival out. Right near the Greek border, this is a festival hidden away in the mountains where you will see day turn into night and the morning fog fall over the trees. A truly encompassing and unique music and arts festival that brings to life the possibility of real adventure embraced by guaranteed sun and friendly faces. Unlike UK festivals our accommodation, food and drinks prices are affordable also because  Bulgaria is yet to convert to the Euro. www.meadowsinthemountains.com

mountain festival

Awakenings Festival, Netherlands
When? 24th – 25th of June

Where? Spaarnwoude, near Amsterdam
The best names in the Techno, minimal and deephouse gather each year to make this festival a huge succes. stages are huge and the sound is spot on. A must visit if you love Techno music! www.awakeningsfestival.nl

Awakenings Festival
The sunset at Awakenings Festival

North Sea Jazz Festival, Netherlands
When? 7th – 9th of Juli
Where? Rotterdam, Netherlands
Our Dutch city Rotterdam does a briljant job in hosting one of the best Jazz festivals in the world. With names like Erykah Badu, The Roots, Gladys Knight, Norah Jones and Usher, it’s hosting more than 1000 artists from the worlds of jazz, hip-hop, and pop music. www.northseajazz.com

north-sea-jazz
Source: North Sea Jazz

Love International Festival, Croatia
When? 29th of June – 6th of July
Where? Tisno, Croatia
Love International was born after Croatia’s legendary electric garden festival ended 2 summers ago. Some of the world’s best DJs provide the soundtrack to open-air clubs, boat parties, beach parties, stages, and even secret island parties. Previously a small funny train is took you from the amazing camping site to the festival so we are expecting more of this and… you’ll make friends for life! www.loveinternationalfestival.com

The Garden Festival
Croatia’s most famous festival (source: Love International)

Sea You Festival, Germany
When? 15th – 16th of Juli
Where? Freiburg, Germany
Just around the corner of the black forest, lays a lake where summer will be celebrated to the max. It’s an intimate festival with 2 stages but the biggest names in dance/techno music. It’s about 6-7 hours drive from The Netherlands so a nice roadtrip that’s well worth it. You can also wakeboard if you’re up for it and cool down in the big lake. www.seayou-festival.de

SeaYouFestival2016_V11
Source: Sea You Festival

Wilderness Festival, UK
When? 3rd – 6th of August
Where? Oxfordshire, England
Here you will find barefoot, flower-garland-toting bohemians dancing about the woods and skinny-dip in the lake at Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire.Grace Jones and Two Door Cinema Club will headline the festival this year but music is not all you can experience here. There is theatre, debate, arts, workshops, food and more. www.wildernessfestival.com

Festival guide wilderness
Is it real? (Source Wilderness Festival)

DGTL Festival, Spain
When? 11th – 12th of August
Where? Parc del Forum, Barcelona
Elke was there when they hosted their first edition and it was amazing. Strangely enough, it rained a lot but that didn’t even matter. Everybody was having a good time. Besides the festival, it’s a great opportunity to eat tapas and check out the capital’s beach. We say: book your flight and go! http://bcn.dgtl.com

DGTL Barcelona

Lost Village Festival, UK
When? 24th – 27th of August

Where? Lincolnshire, England
We had never heard of this one before until this year but wow, this looks cool! Tucked away in a woodland of the Lincolnshire countryside is a world where the best DJ’s and acts come together and make you dance until your feet hurt. Sleep in basecamp where the fun never stops and shop and eat at the village market. Names like Dixon, Jackmaster, The Black Madonna, Ben UFO will be present in this intimate setting. They open the gateway once a year so you better be there to experience the fun.. Check out the cool website for more info!

lost village festival

LolaPalooza, Germany
When? 9th – 10th September
Where? Berlin, Germany
This intimate festival is striking down in Berlin for the 3rd time and with succes! Names like The Foofighters, The XX and Hardwell will be on stage. Book yourself a comfy hotel in Berlin and explore the city! www.lollapaloozade.com

Other cool festivals worth mentioning this spring/summer:

May
20th May: 22Fest, Netherlands
26th – 28th May: Masked Ball Festival, UK

June
31st May – 4th June: Distortion Festival, Denmark
9th – 10th June: Wildlife Festival, UK

10th of June: Komm Schon Alter, NL
15th – 17th June: Sonar Festival, Spain
21st -25th June: Glastonbury, UK
24th of June: Boardlife Festival, NL

July
4th – 9th July: Nowhere Festival, Spain
6th – 8th July: NOS Festival, Portugal
12th – 15th July: Gurten Festival, Switzerland
22nd of July: Welcome to the Future Festival, NL

27th – 30st July: Kendal Calling, UK
27th -31st July: Soundwave Festival, Croatia

August
19th – 20th August: Summer Sonic, Japan
17th – 20st August: Green Man Festival, Wales
24th – 27th August: Shambala Festival, UK

We hope you enjoy our world festival guide 2017!

Love,

Wander-Lust

Book a surprise backpacking trip without a return ticket

Travel organisation srprs.me, founded in 2014, is a travel organization where you can book yourself a mystery holiday or city break. You find out where you are going, at the airport or on the road. Totally on trend, srprs.me believes it’s time to bring some spontaneity back into travel, make your own memories and no longer google your way into a vacation. At Wander-Lust we also believe that the most beautiful things will happen if you have no expectations. You can book blind trips in several themes like Adventure, Broke, City Tripping, Honeymoon & Luxury, Multi City, Road Tripping, Solo Together, Sunsation and the ever changing theme of the Month. A week in advance, you will discover what the temperature is at your mystery destination and what time you should be at the airport or at your car checkpoint. Here you enter a scratch-code into your smartphone. Pretty cool right?

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Are you ready for adventure?

Book a surprise backpacking trip and start the adventure!

Well they’ve just added a whole new dimension to adventure because from this coming Monday you can book a surprise backpacking trip to a surprise destination. With their new travel theme Backpacking, you will be dropped to a destination unknown from which your backpack adventure unfolds. The renewed theme allows you to leave an end date and return ticket out of the package. From your surprise destination, you can then create your own route and choose how long your trip will take.. Are you ready for backpacking 2.0?

Sarah and I actually took one of their surprise trips last year and ended up in sunny Valencia! It was awesome to say the least. Check the moment we found out where we were going:

Love,

Elke