How To Decrease Your Ecological Footprint While You Travel

Nowadays, there is so much written about the negative environmental impact of traveling that it almost seems impossible to buy a plane ticket without experiencing any form of guilt. The current growth and way of traveling is simply not long lasting and we’re facing a conflict between wanting to travel but not wanting to harm the planet. Yet -being a traveler by heart- I’ll be the last person on this (still) beautiful planet to discourage you to jump on that plane towards your next new adventure. In fact, I’m telling you exactly what you do want to hear. Go explore the planet, travel the globe and visit the places of your dreams, but we’ll have to make some changes. Cause while we’re all focusing on that perfect world on our Instagram feed, the real world is slowly drowning in our love for her beauty.

sustainable travel

Sustainable travel
One of those changes is putting sustainability on your holiday checklist. It’s the new IT-word that everybody talks about, but what exactly does it mean? I’ll teach you: Sustainability / Noun / [suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee] – the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance. Well, that’s what the dictionary says. To me, sustainable travel is being mindful to the economic, environmental, and cultural impact of travel. So it doesn’t necessarily mean we all have to stop traveling around the globe. By not traveling we will actually create far more severe complications. Many countries depend on tourism as a main source of income. Closing the borders will delay the spread of knowledge, economic opportunities and of course… shutting down the money flow.

It’s about making some smarter decisions that will allow earth to slowly recover to their original ecosystem. So let’s put the money where the mouth is: hereby I provide you with an easy to use guidebook to decrease your own ecological footprint.

Traveling
Choose your way of travel consciously. There are thousands of articles on how to travel cheap and comfortable, but (please) put sustainability on your check-list as well.
Paradise might be closer than you think. We go on 15 hours flights to discover the world while we haven’t even discovered our own country. Find a balance between traveling far and staying closer to home. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in your own country. In fact, I promise you it will be more fun than you think.
Calculate the Carbon Footprint of your Flight. Living in the Netherlands, I can understand that it’s sometimes unavoidable to travel further away. Although I love our small, flat, cow-country, it would be pretty difficult to climb mountains here… not to mention getting a tan. But if you can’t stop the urge to fly, you ca compensate by paying for your CO2. Calculate how much you use via this website. Also make sure you book your flights with an airline that recycles waste from food, beverages and paper.

At your destination
Support the community you’re visiting by purchasing products from local suppliers. It’s better for the environment, supports the economy and it’s a great way to meet locals.
Combine sightseeing with a workout: rent a bike or walk instead of hiring a car. The advantages are that you can stop whenever you want to take photo’s of the beautiful surroundings (or just a selfie cause the light is great). But moreover, you’ll work on your own health and the health of the globe.
Go for an Eco accommodation. You can choose your hotel that gives you the chance to offset your carbon footprint when you make a booking. By choosing an Eco Resort, you also contribute to the local community. Organisations like Better Places make this possible. By the way, did you know trees can be planted with your donated money for example? 
Mi casa es tu casa. Treat your hotel room like it’s your own house: turn the lights and air conditioning off while leave your room.

how to decrease your ecological footprint

Just as you explore the world, explore which of these guidelines work for you. They are all small steps, but small steps in de good direction. Combine them with your own ideas on how to decrease your ecological footprint and be mindful of your journey. Cause in the end we all want the same thing: make a contribution to a better world.

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.

6 Reasons To Still Love Thailand

Thailand. Once a tropical and far away destination but nowadays, more than ever, a super touristic country where real adventure and authenticity seem to be disappearing and mass tourism seems to be taking over. Some travelers don’t even bother going to Thailand any more, but for me, even after three times, it is still one of my favorite Southeast Asian countries. Why? I’ll give you 6 reasons why to still love Thailand.

1. The People.
Thailand is known as the land of the smile and even though ginormous amounts of tourists have found their way to the land once known as Siam, the Thai people still remain friendly. Of course you have the general exceptions such as the merchants on Khao San Road who don’t even let you try something before buying it, but the (big!) majority of Thai people I met remain respectful, friendly, humble and do everything with a big smile.

Bangkok, love Thailand
Bangkok

2. The Food.
Okay, this one is a SUPER big cliché, but so true! I tried fresh Spring Rolls in Vietnam, ate Khmer Amok in Cambodia and love a portion of Indonesian Gado Gado, but, let’s be honest, nothing beats a Pad Thai. Thai food is so versatile, so full of flavor and even as a vegetarian you are treated to mouthwatering dishes day after day after day. And yes, food is definitely a reason for me to go to a country and that’s why I love Thailand ;)

3. The convenience.
Traveling around Thailand is easy. Did I say easy? It is super easy! Every hostel has a travel desk and in every town you’ll find heaps of travel agencies. Whether you take the bus, boat, minivan and TukTuk, everything is well planned out and you’ll always arrive on your destination. Flying is sometimes even cheaper than the train or bus (you can, for instance, fly from Bangkok to Krabi for 20 Euros) and vehicles like minivans are often of good quality. Believe me, if you’ve seen what I traveled with in countries like Cambodia you’ll never complain about a Thai minivan again…

Love Thailand
Traveling through Thailand by boat

4. The Islands.
There are so many islands in Thailand that you could easily stay for 2 months, and there is something for everyone. If you like to go partying you go to Koh Phi Phi or Koh Phangan, if you want to relax I’d recommend Koh Lanta (check our tips on Koh Lanta), if you want to get your PADI or want to go snorkeling then Koh Tao is the place to be and if you’re looking for something different then Koh Chang is where you should set sail to. And what all the islands have in common: they are beautiful.

Krabi, Love Thailand

5. The Temples.
What can I say? I love temples, and Thailand has many of them. Some people say that “after you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all” but I strongly disagree, especially in Thailand. In Bangkok you can’t miss the reclining Buddha and Wat Arun, whereas in Chiang Mai Doi Suthep is a definite must-go-to. But also walking into the smaller, less well-known temples that aren’t mentioned in travel guides like the lonely planet are worth wandering around.

6. The Sunsets
Yes, there are pretty sunsets everywhere, but the last few I saw during my most recent visit to Thailand were out of this world. Whether you’re in a busy metropole like Bangkok or chilling on an island, Mother Nature will treat you to some of her best sunsets ever. Order a cold Chang, get comfortable and watch the day turn into night.

Sunsets in Krabi Thailand,
Sunsets like no other

I could go on about the weather, the parties, the adventure, how the Thai people speak English and so on but I think I made my point about why I love Thailand: this country is still more than worth visiting. Enjoy! 

Love,

Evelien

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

Top 5 » Badass Travel Women around the world

We celebrated international women’s day so a good reason to highlight some amazing women who inspire us to the max. We are so happy to see more and more independent females who pack their bags and travel around the world to show us that it can be done no matter what age, size or background. There are too many amazing women to mention them all but we’ve picked 5 badass travel chicks that we feel set a great example of what a strong female represents.

1. Celine Cousteau, USA & France
She’s a filmmaker, diver and most of all an explorer. Born in California and raised in France, she has certainly seen the world. Celine inspires people all over the world with her documentaires about humanitarian and environmental stories. She speaks 3 languages fluently and uses her voice as a public speaker. Besides all this, she is also a mother to a son. This woman has power!
www.celinecousteau.com

Celine Cousteau badass women
What a woman! 

2. Floortje Dessing, The Netherlands
She’s the most famous traveler from the Netherlands. She has seen the whole world from Amsterdam to Greenland, Japan, The North Pole and even North Korea (she and her TV crew are one of the only ones that were allowed to film there). In total she has visited more than 120 countries and for her latest television show she is visiting Dutch people who live in remote places around the world and the TV program scores high! Besides all her travels, she also gives a lot back and she started a fair-trade sustainable clothing store called Nukuhiva. This woman is far from being done with traveling and we love her for it!

Power woman Floortje Dessing
Our Dutch pride; Floortje Dessing

“These wanderlust women show us that anything is possible”

3. Morgan Brechler, USA
She is the bohemian dream-mother of the world. At least, we think so. Morgan (26) is a (extremely beautiful) young mother from the US who travels and climbs around the most amazing national parks of the USA and other parts of the world with her daughter Haidlie since she was only a small toddler. She is working towards a degree in sustainable agriculture and Morgan is part of a new documentary called Born Wild, celebrating single adventurous mothers who want to instill a love of nature and the outdoors into their children’s lives from the very beginnings. Can we say we are a little bit jealous of this amazing woman?
www.instagram.com/morganbrechler

Morgan Brechler badass women
Wanderlust mother Morgan

4. Liss Connel, Australia
We love her Aussi name but her lifestyle is seriously to die for! We’ve highlighted her famous caravan recently and we can’t get enough of her Instagram. She travels whenever she can and like us, she loves to write about it. She’s made the Philippines the new hottest hippie destination by showcasing it on her popular Instagram account. She is not focused on becoming a star but she lives life to the fullest and we applaud her for it. 
www.instagram.com/lifeintheslowlane

Life in the slow lanewanderlust women; Liss Connell
We are addicted to her Instagram account; Life in the slowlane

5. Roshni Sharma, India
Everybody told her she couldn’t do it and she proved them wrong. She became the first woman in India who drove all the way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir with on her motorbike. The 5452 km long road was dangerous and the trip was long but that didn’t hold her back. Armed with pepperspray, the 26 year old, took on the challenge and finished the journey. You go girl!

Roshni Sharma
The woman and her bike. Source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/

Love,

Wander-Lust

Bali must do’s for first timers

In my previous blog, I highlighted some sights you should visit in Java. Even though Java is beautiful, I think an even more special place in Indonesia is Bali. Bali is quite a popular destination and once you visited this island you’ll understand why. While in most of Indonesia, Islam is the main religion, in Bali most people are Hinduists. You’ll see Hindu temples everywhere. But these are not the only interesting sights. Here’s are some Bali must do’s if you’re visiting the island for the first time.

Ubud
Ubud is the cultural hart of Bali. It has a lovely center with nice bars and restaurants. It has quite a spiritual vibe with all its great temples. The most impressive one is Gunung Kawi, an 11th-century temple complex spread across both sides of the Pakerisan river. It comprises 10 shrines that are carved into seven (!) metre high sheltered niches on each side. Once you move away from the center, Ubud also has beautiful surroundings, you can walk for example to Campuang Ridge and see beautiful rice fields.

Bike downhill from Mount Batur
This is a spectacular tour which starts in Ubud, from where you’ll drive to Penelokan, which is right next to Mount Batur. You’ll have breakfast overlooking this impressive, active, volcano and its crater lake. After this great start, you will bike downhill back to Ubud. Along the way, you’ll see little villages and visit a coffee plantation, typical Balinese houses and the well-known rice fields.

breakfast-with-a-view
Breakfast with a view

Dive in Amed
If you like diving, Amed is the place to be in Bali. There are lots of different dive schools that all offer PADI or SSI courses, or just regular dive trips in case you are already certified. One of the most memorable dive spots is Manta Point, close to Nuusa Lembongan. It takes some time to get there and it’s therefore also quite a pricy dive, but it will be well worth once you see massive – up to 6 metres wide – Manta’s under water. 

it-is-called-manta-point-for-a-reason, Bali must do's
It is called Manta Point for a reason!

Relax at the Gili’s
The Gili’s do not really belong to Bali, but they are the perfect getaway with their white beaches, clear blue water and amazing sunsets. You can easily get there by boat from Padang Bay. Gili Trawangan is the biggest island and mostly known for its parties. Gili Air is a bit smaller but it has a great atmosphere and is very vibrant with all the restaurants along the beach where you can eat sea food that just came out of the ocean. And if you really want some relax time the smallest Gili Meno is the place to be. All islands are home to an impressive underwater world and snorkeling or diving are great activities here. Find more info about the Gili islands here.

There you have it, just a little guide into Bali must do’s for first timers. And I’m sure there will be a second time very soon after!

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.

The adventurous South Island of New Zealand

As the ultimate New Zealand ambassador (seriously, if the immigration laws weren’t so impossible, I would already live there) I would highly recommend to visit every part of this beautiful country. But I also know that you need at least two months to fully explore every corner. Reality is that a lot of (short-term) travelers have to be selective on where to go and pick the South-Island of New Zealand as their go-to destination. With reason, it’s a dream to drive the long roads, stare at the ridiculously gorgeous and ever-changing scenery, wander through the cozy towns and have fun with the hilarious, straightforward locals. Next to all this beauty, there are also a ton of opportunities to have some adventure. I’ll let you in on some of the ones I experienced.

Oh and by the way, if you are going to travel the whole country (you lucky bastard), make sure to check out our insights on the Stunning North Island as well!

The North Island of New Zealand
The North Island of New Zealand

Pick Picton
Easily overlooked by many, little port town Picton (where the ferry from the North Island arrives) is worth to stay for a few days. Where the town is small, the nature is grand! the maze of the Marlborough Sounds with it’s valley’s, peaks, beaches, birds and crystal clear waters just scream for some exploring. Be prepared to feel really small when walking (pieces of) the Queen Charlotte trail. If you are not a hiker, there are also plenty of kayak and bike tours, as long or short as you like. Also, if you’re into sailing, make sure to ask around in town if the local sailing club still has training nights and if you are allowed to join. It’s what we did and it resulted in an epic afternoon of high speed sailing on an amazing sailboat, sarcastic jokes and home-brewed rum by the crew included. You can find more info about Picton here: www.newzealand.com/nieuw-zeeland/picton/

The seals of Abel Tasman
Of course you are going to visit Abel Tasman National Park. Golden beaches, lush nature, secret waterfalls, they have it all here. Whatever you have planned for this park, make sure to add some kayaking even if it is just for a few hours. It’s paddling on open sea and therefore pretty damn exhausting, but you’ll forget about that when you look around you. The occasional seal will lazily float by your canoe, enjoying the sun as much as you’ll do. I did a two day tour, with one day of kayaking to a campsite (the tour agencies will provide you with a fully stocked kayak, tent included) and walking back to following day. This really was a magical two days, bonfires included!


south-island of new-zealand abel-tasman-park_kayaking
Kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park

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Roadtrip
If you have been doubting whether to hire a car to get around or just take the easy way and buy a buss pass: hire a car!! This coming from me (the most scared car driver alive) says something. The South Island offers not so many roads, and they are also not that busy. But men, they are breathtaking. And at some parts also quite adventurous, with mountain passes, hairpin bends, cliffs, no gas stations for miles and of course driving on the left side. Having your own car gives you the opportunity to really wander off the main roads, stop to gaze at your surroundings wherever and whenever you want, travel at your own pace. Oh and perhaps getting chased by a herd of cows and losing some hubcaps in the process, like happend to us. But hey, that’s a story for another time. Trust me, take the car. Car rental Picton (you can rent the car her, and drop it off in several other cities, Christchurch for instance): https://www.omegarentalcars.com/car-rental-picton/

new-zealand_south-island_roadtrip_crystal-clear

Adventure capital of the world
The true thrill seekers will know this: Queenstown is the place to be if you are looking for adventure (and for a scandalous pub-crawl). This town does, In my honest opinion, no real justice to the rest of the country since it pulls in a lot of tourists who just want to get hammered. But hey, it’s good fun for a few days and it still looks magnificent. Also it’s the best place to book a trip to Milford Sound, a mystical fjord which seems to come straight out of a movie (remember that movie with elves, a ring and some bad orcs ;-) ). But back to the adrenaline, this town will get you pumped with it. From jet boating to luging to bungeejumping, make sure to save some of your money to engage in at least one of the adventures on offer. If you have some real guts, do the bungeejumping. You have multiple bungee sites to choose from. The Nevis bungee let’s you fall ‘ only’ 180 meters, The Ledge offers cool views on Queenstown (but not sure if you’ll be aware of that if you are about to make a free fall with nothing but a rope around your ankles). I did the Kawarau Bridge jump, since this is the first commercial bungee site in the world and my inner nostalgia bubbled up because of this. Imagine jumping of an old bridge, in the middle of a gorge, dipping into turquoise water. And of course being pulled back by that gigantic elastic. I was scared, I screamed, I was terrified. And I would do it again any day.

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Queenstown

south-island of new-zealand queenstown_kawarau_bungee
It’s the perfect place for thrillseekers

Stewart Island
Most people know about the North and the South Island, but forget the third island of New Zealand: Stewart Island. I’ll admit, it will steal some days of your travels to get there, but if you have the time and you’re looking for nature in it’s purest form, go! While on the island, we had the privilege to actually spot a real life Kiwi (the bird which functions as New Zealand’s national symbol). They only live in the wild on Stewart Island and are hardly seen. We just happened to trip over one while we are arguing about the scary and dark forest path we were taking. Its all possible here. Same goes for the little penguins that show up at dawn in the harbor. Getting to Stewart Island is possible by ferry boat. But if it has always been your dream do go cage diving with great white sharks, you can also book a (really expensive) tour which offers you the cage as well as the transfer to the island. It’s what we did because my sister had this crazy desire to face the shark of death. Be careful when booking a trip like this, my sister actually ended up not seeing the shark in the water at all (while I had a pretty clear sight of the monster when I was just lounging on the deck). But hey, if it’s your dream..

Meet a sea lion
Another place that a lot of people skip is student town Dunedin. Which is a shame, since they have a chocolate factory! Jokes aside, it’s a very laid-back city, home to the worlds steepest residential street of the world. More importantly, it’ s also home to the Otago peninsula, where you can drive around and spot marine wildlife. Think penguins, albatrosses, seals and sea lions. We encountered two sea lions of which one was surrounding a bird watching hut to ensure that the people in there, would stay in there. The other sea lion (which we named Claude) was actually chasing us. Quite the adventure, but I guess that’s what the South Island of New Zealand is all about.

new-zealand_south-island_dunedin_otago-peninsula_sea-lion
Claude chasing us!

This is only a small list of everything you can do on this amazing island. there is whale-watching in Kaikoura, climbing Franz Josef glacier, Mount Cook. spotting dolphins in Greymouth, hiking around Lake Wanaka, the TranzAlpine train ride, Christchurch, Akaroa, and so so so much more. Go there, and make me jealous.

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!

How to avoid the crowds at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is undoubtedly Cambodia’s biggest tourist attraction. And this is no surprise since Angkor Wat is the biggest religious monument in the world which dates back to the early twelfth century. These days almost 5 million tourists yearly make their way over to Cambodia to wander around the temples of Angkor themselves, making it a very popular but very busy place to visit. You better think again if you ever dream of having these temples all to yourself, but there are a few tricks to avoid the big crowds and wander around in peace…

1. Watch the sunrise and leave a little early
Watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat is a definite must-do when you’re visiting these temples. Not only is it a truly magical experience when a new day presents itself by rising up against the temples, but it is also a great way to arrive at the temples early. If you want to have a good spot without hundreds of iPad and Selfiestick waving Chinese tourists in front of you, walk right instead of going straight ahead at the famous ‘sunrise temple spot’. You won’t be right in front of the temples, but you will share the view with just a dozen of other tourists. When the sun is up and you captured enough Instagram-worthy shots, head back to your Tuk Tuk driver before everybody else does. Doing this you’ll arrive at the other temples as one of the first, having the temples (almost) all to yourself :)

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

2. The further away, the better!
Ask your Tuk Tuk driver to bring you to the popular temples that are further away first. Many Tuk Tuk’s and tour buses follow a certain route, creating the perfect opportunity for you to do the exact opposite thing :) Also, if you see tons of big tour buses standing outside of a temple, ask your Tuk Tuk driver to take you to another temple which appears to be less crowded first.

no crowds at ankor-wat

3. Go back at the end of the day
Wandering around the temples of Angkor is extremely beautiful, but also extremely tiring and HOT! If you decided to watch the sunrise you will probably feel very tired around 12pm, making you want to go home and take a nap during the hottest hours of the day. If you buy a one-day-pass this pass is valid for a whole day, so you can come back to the temples in the late afternoon, when most of the crowds already have disappeared. Make sure you don’t go too late as Angkor Wat closes at 6pm.

Angkor Wat takes you back in time

I hope the three tips above will help you explore this ancient Kingdom in peace and quiet. Enjoy :)

Love,

Evelien

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

Did you know Cambodia is one of the world’s cheapest countries to live in? Check which countries made it to the top 5!

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Support the human rights of women in Bolivia

At Wander-Lust we get to travel to the most amazing places and experience various cool press trips. But life is not all about Instagram pictures by the pool. At Wander-Lust it’s also about giving back. To mother nature, to society and to the countries we visit.

Giving back is key! 
One of our first charity projects will be in Bolivia. On the 2nd of March,
Wander-Lusty Sarah will be joined by Fat Kids Cake Co-founder and photographer Ilsoo van Dijk for a charity project in Bolivia. This project, by the organization “Mensen met een missie” supports the human rights of women in Bolivia. We need your support too!

mensenmeteenmissie

Violence against women is becoming a huge problem in the Bolivian society. Seven out of ten women are dealing with physical or sexual abuse. Although Bolivia implemented a law back in 2012 that has to protect women from violence, in practice there is not much of a change. “Mensen met een Missie” from the Netherlands supports young people and victims in Bolivia.  They offer psychological, social and legal support for victims and they lobby actively at both local and national authorities.

We will travel around Bolivia for 2.5 weeks  to see how they work and to talk to the victims. We will write about our experiences during this trip and we will share our stories with you in the hope that also you will subscribe some day as volunteer or donate money to support “Mensen Met een Missie”.

We made a video with our friends!

Video by: Laurens Smit

To find more information about this project or to make a donation, please click here

Thank you!

(S.O. too everyone who helped us!)

Love,

Wander-Lust

4 Recommendations On Beautiful Java

Java is the most populated island of Indonesia and it has a great deal of sights which are worth a visit. You can easily travel the whole island by train, if you have the time off course, because the length of the island is about 1000 km so it does take you quite a few hours to get across. These are some of the sights I would recommend visiting:

The Dutch Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia with about 9,6 million citizens. A lot of people say Jakarta is too crowded, dirty (because of the smog), hot and therefore not necessarily worth a visit. But I like to think otherwise. Yes, it’s crowded and chaotic, but once you get used to that you will see this city has some great things to offer. Especially when you are interested in some (Dutch) history, Jakarta is an interesting metropolis. You can still see the Dutch influence for example in the buildings on Taman Fatahilla square. In the Jakarta History Museum you can get a glance of live in the earlier Dutch East Indies.

header-photo-prambanan-java
Inpressive Prambanan

When you are interested in some (Dutch) history, Jakarta is an interesting metropolis.

Borobudur
Borobudur is one of the most famous sights of Indonesia. Yes, it’s full of tourists, but since it’s the largest Buddhist temple in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you cannot skip a visit. The temple is designed as a mandala and has nine platforms in total, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. The temple represents the Buddhist cosmos. Next to a lot of tourists, the temple is also visited by many pilgrims. A pilgrim must walk every platform 7 times, clockwise and from bottom to top. This way, he or she will reach Nirvana; an ultimate state of soteriological release and liberation from rebirths.

highest-platform-of-the-famous-borobudur, Java
Highest platform of the famous Borobudur

Prambanan
Prambanan is probably just as famous as Borobudur, but this sight belongs to a completely different religion. It’s the largest Hindu temple of Indonesia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The compound consists of more than 200 temples, but the three main ones are the Trimurti temples; the largest one (47 metres) is dedicated to Shiva, God of Destruction. The two temples next to this one are dedicated to Brahma, God of Creation and Vishnu, God of Preservation. Like Borobudur, visitors should officially enter each temple from the east side and circumambulate clockwise.

The Ijen Volcano
While a lot of people visit Mount Bromo, the most famous volcano of Java, I decided to visit another volcano during our holiday in Indonesia; Ijen. Ijen is one of the few volcano’s with a crater lake. This lake contains a huge amount of sulfur, which supports a mining operation. Miners walk down the crater about twice a day to load the sulfur in baskets and carry it up to the crater rim and down the mountain by hand. This is a very labour-intensive operation, not to mention a very smelly one. When visiting the Ijen volcano, you should wear old, very old clothes. Even after washing them for about 10 times, I could still smell the sulfur! But you will see this is all worth it when you climbed Ijen and are standing at the crater rim and see the sunrise or sunset. The view is just indescribably amazing. And if you have the guts, you can even walk down the crater when it’s dark and see the so-called blue fire, which actually is ignited sulfuric gas.

sunset-at-the-top-of-ijen
Sunset at the top of Ijen, Java

In my next blog, I will continue my trip through Indonesia and give some insights in the interesting culture of Bali.

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.

How To Spend An Entire Day In Central Park Without Getting Bored

Central Park is the heart of New York City and the very first public park built in the United States. The thing I love most about it is that even though it is one of the biggest attractions in the city, it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly touristy like some other places. It is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit where you are able to quietly relax and enjoy being outside while taking in the melting pot of diversity that is New York City. Everywhere you turn you see people from all over the world speaking different languages and exploring everything the park has to offer.

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I recently realized that there are so many places throughout Central Park that I’ve never ventured into. Stretching over more than 840 acres, it’s decorated with sculptures, monuments, and fountains that pay tribute to literary characters, famous explorers, and artists. Knowing that I have the park to visit whenever I want, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of entering through the same entrance and walking around the same areas over and over again. So I decided to spend the day walking the park from top to bottom to take note of my favorite locations. It can be an unexpectedly overwhelming place if you are unsure how to navigate your way around or what exactly it is you’re looking for.

Central Park New York

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Central Park never get’s boring

Here’s a list of a few of the best attractions to visit when taking a stroll through the heart of New York City:

The Loch
A series of cute waterfalls and bridges that make you forget that you’re in Manhattan and give you a feeling as if you’ve transported to an enchanted forest. Location: North West corner of the park, just above the W 103rd St. entrance.

Central Park

Belvedere Castle
A small, beautiful castle that makes you quickly notice the contrast between the park and the modern city surrounding it. A great spot for photos!
Location: 79th Street in the middle of the park – Between the Museum of Natural History (west side) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (east side).

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Shakespeare Garden
One of the top spots for NYC weddings and a great place for photos. It’s best in the spring or summertime when the flowers are in bloom and contains interesting monuments from some of Shakespeare’s plays. Location: Right next to the Belvedere Castle. For more info check the official website.

The Boathouse
A great restaurant overlooking the lake. Spring for a lunch here if you’re feeling ~lavi$h~.Location: East side of the park, north of the 72nd st entrance.

The Boathouse Central Park

Alice in Wonderland Statue
Every kid’s favorite part of the park as it’s a large statue that’s easy to climb. This is also a good midway point in the park with a large seating area for you to rest your feet for awhile. Location: slightly West of the boathouse.

Alice in Wonderland statue Central Park

Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
A familiar spot as it is the filming location for many movies. It’s a great place to sit and people watch with many tourists and street performers visiting. The architecture is also great for photos! Location: Center of the park, 72nd street.

Bethesda Terrace Central Park
The impressive Bethesda Terrace

The Mall & Literary Walk
A row of American elm trees that line the parks wide pedestrian path. Perhaps one of the most photographed features of the park. There is also a statue of Christopher Columbus along with 4 other prominent writers. Location: A long path that leads from Bethesda Terrace down to the south end of the park, leading down toward the 59th street exit.

Central Park New York

Central Park’s designers had a simple goal: to create a place where city dwellers could go to forget the city. A combination escape hatch and exercise yard, Central Park is an urbanized Eden that gives both locals and tourists a different taste of one of the world’s greatest cities. Even though New York eventually grew much taller than the trees planted to hide it, the park is still a place to find peace and solace in an otherwise high-strung and, at times, overwhelming city. Without Central Park’s winding paths, tranquil lakes, ponds, and open meadows, New Yorkers (especially Manhattanites) might be a lot less sane.

Love,

Casey

*Casey is one of our guest bloggers from New York. She’s a 25 year old that grew up in Long Island NY. After graduating college, she moved into NYC and took a job in marketing. She and her large friend group of about 9 girls are all about trying out trendy restaurants and keeping busy with all this amazing city has to offer. She also has her own personal blog, Adolescent Adulthood. She will publish an article every start of the month.

Private slopes and more in Zillertal, Austria

I can ensure you that I’m not a morning person but while getting up at 5:30 am for the private slope at Hochfügen, Zillertal, I only snoozed once (very proud of that). Leaving my cozy bed at Das PostHotel – Zillerseasons to get ready for the untouched slopes and a heavenly white view.

Hire a Private Piste
The private slope is limited to a maximum of 30 people so take the title ‘private’ very serious. Standing 2.133m high with my head in de clouds, ready to take a jump in the powder snow on our very own red slope. The experience is amazing; nothing can be compared to skiing down the smooth white sheets while the world is still asleep. Creating that very first track, the silence that embraces you and nobody that (in my case) overtakes you. Truly an amazing experience, one of those try-before-you-die things. But, if you are a beginner be sure to check the type of slope before setting your alarm at 5:30 am. To be honest, going down a red slope on the third day of skiing was a little bit too ambitious for me. I have absolutely no regrets but for now I’ll stick to the blue beginner slopes to keep myself from a heart attack. The private piste hire is available from 7.30 – 8.30 am from €40 per person.

Private piste Zillental
Virgin slopes are guaranteed!

Luckily for me, Zillertal offers 132km of Eva-proof blue slopes. The confident skiers out there can take it to the next level with the 238 km of red slopes. Zillertal is also a perfect destination for snowboarders because of the small amount of flat connections between the slopes.
There is another 65km of black slopes for the experienced skiers and snowboarders. The real daredevils can try their luck on the Harakiri. Beware, cause with an average gradient of 78 percent this is the steepest slope in Austria. I kindly turned down the invitation this year, but who knows what the future will bring.

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skiing in Zillental

Those 435 km of slopes Zillertal has to offer will keep you from getting bored for sure. But there is more to Winter sport then stroking the slopes with your skis or snowboard. And no, I’m not talking about après-ski cause we all know how much fun that can be. Zillertal changed my opinion on which ingredients a laid back vacation had to include. Forget lying on the beach all day, working on your tan and following those yoga classes at Bali.

Winter sports is the new mindful vacation this world has to offer and will surprise you with the diversity of activities. Although I enjoyed skiing to the fullest, it wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience for me as a beginner. I’m not even talking about the muscle pain or bruises on my butt, cause that’s just part of the deal. The blame is to my inner voice who kept on shouting “DON’T DARE to fall in front of this cute ski instructor!” Well, bye bye inner peace… Here are my favorite activities that can clear your mind while still exploring the area and enjoying the nature:

Cross Country Skiing
It’s still quite a workout but that way you can order another plate of Keizerschmarren without any guilt feelings (at least I did). You use different muscles then with skiing, what makes it a perfect alternative if you suffer from muscle pain. Next to that it’s a really calm way to explore the area but way more fun than walking. Pause to take some photos, enjoy the view or to catch your breath. And once you are at the top of the mountain, you only have to slide down again. I took the Gamsstein Cross Country path near Hochfügen. The access to the area is free so grab those skies und gehen!

Langlaufen in Pill, Zillental

Toboggan Run
In Gerlosstein you can find the longest toboggan run in the Zillertal Valley, 7 km of sliding fun. The cable car will take you to an altitude of 1.650 m and after that you actually don’t have to do anything… perfect winter-sports- activity right? Just sit, enjoy and somehow find a way to steer around the corners. The best part; you’ll even find bars along the toboggan run for some Glühwein to warm you up.
Tip: Check the weather condition before planning a toboggan run. If there is too much snow you will loose your speed and will need a lot more Glühwein to stay excited.

Gluhwein in Zillertal

My verdict: Zillertal is a great place to discover and enjoy the diversity of winter sports. It offers a great amount of slopes, modern lifts and Austrian hospitality. Next to skiing there are plenty activities to add some variety to your trip. Choose from snowtubing, funparks, cross country skiing or rent your very own private slope. Whatever you choose, I can ensure you that you won’t get bored. Find more info about the area here.

Read my previous article, A Beginners Guide to Wintersport and find out where I had the best High Tea at 2600m!

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.