Tips, reviews and experiences of a 30 year old freelance journalist and traveller

Category: Travel

Amsterdam, my first impressions

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and, in my opinion, one of its most beautiful cities. Its canals, its particular structure, its museums and monuments will make us fall in love. It would be difficult in an article that will tell everything that can be seen in this city. However, I will tell you the main details and places that have impressed me on my first visit.

Amsterdam and its canals

It is one of the most particular things in this city, they remind us of Venice and the reflection of light in the water at night is simply beautiful. If you are lucky enough to get a boat, you can navigate them, although I recommend walking them or using a bicycle to get around them all.

Amsterdam's canals

They go around the city in an almost circular way, making our walks around Amsterdam a continuous up and down of the bridges that cross it.

Amsterdam’s famous bicycles

As I said, you can take a bicycle to visit the city. What’s more, it is even an obligation, since bicycles are all over Amsterdam and it is the best means of transport. It is not difficult to rent a bicycle and you can park anywhere.

Cycle paths

If you go to Amsterdam, you will see that the bike lanes are more common than the roads and the traffic in the city center is not a nuisance. They run throughout the city as if they were a subway line. Pay attention to respect the rules of the road! Traffic is heavy!

The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

One of the biggest attractions in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank house. This is the Annex, the one we read in her famous diary, and it is perfectly preserved. It is very difficult to enter that house without feeling chills knowing what has happened. However, you have to plan the visit well in advance, as it is much better to make a reservation than to have to queue. For example, I had to wait more than two hours until I could enter because I had no reservation.

The journal

In the museum that is inside the Anne Frank house, we can find the original of the newspaper in which she began to write in 1942. A red and white notebook that is well protected to the delight of all visitors.

Other interesting places in Amsterdam

Parks

Amsterdam is surrounded by parks on the outskirts of the center that will delight young and old. The one I most recommend visiting is, without a doubt, the Vondelpark. The perfect place to make a break during a summer day. 

Museums

It is known to all that Amsterdam is full of museums. However, the one that everyone says to visit without fail is the Rijksmuseum. A very large building where you can see great artistic works.

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam’s pubs & bars

Finally, we cannot be in Amsterdam without stopping at one of its particular bars. We all know what is special about these bars, I only advise you not to take the bicycle after going inside one of them. It is not recommended.

The Hummingbird Bakery – a must visit

If you have a sweet tooth just like me and are always on the lookout for new places to try I can highly recommend The Hummingbird Bakery in Notting Hill! It’s without a doubt one of my favourite spots in all of London for a coffee and a piece of cake! Don’t miss it next time you travel there. 

Where it all began

In 2004 the first Hummingbird Bakery opened on Portobello Road in Notting Hill. The idea was to bake cupcakes and other sweet treats according to American tradition. Something which could not be found in London at that point. The founder, Tarek, was very keen on providing cake and cupcakes that tasted homemade and that is still the key today! That is why every bakery has its own kitchen where the magic happens! 

The Hummingbird Bakery a story of success

Oh boy have they succeeded! The cupcakes at The Hummingbird Bakery are out of this world and so are the rest of their cakes. Today they have five other branches around London and one in Surrey. And they are so successful that they have now also opened two branches in Dubai. I’m pretty sure they will be taking over the whole world soon! 

What not to miss 

I have probably tried most (if not all) of the cupcakes and other cakes at The Hummingbird Bakery. And my absolute favourite is their Red Velvet Cupcake. This is a classic american flavor and their recipe is just perfect. The subtle hint of chocolate in the sponge cake and the fluffy cream cheese frosting makes it unbeatable! You should not miss this if you stop by any of their shops when you are visiting London. 

My other favourite is the Black Bottom Cupcake. It has a rich chocolate sponge as a base filled with cream cheese and cream cheese frosting to top it off. The perfect way to really indulge. 

If you’re feeling a bit peckish but you don’t want something quite as filling as a cupcake I’d recommend that you go for brownie. They might actually be equally as filling as a cupcake but give them a try, they are delicious!

The Hummingbird bakery - a must visit. Don't miss this when you are in London. Delicious cakes and cupcakes for the sweet tooth.

Bake your own cupcakes with The Hummingbird Bakery

If you are not able to travel to London at the moment to try the delicacies at The Hummingbird Bakery, don’t despair! You can make the cakes at home instead! The bakery has created various cookbooks that you can easily order online and have delivered to your door! How great is that?! If you are interested in baking your own cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery here’s the link to order the book: https://hummingbirdbakery.com/collections/gifts-books

They don’t only offer the cookbooks in their shop, you can also get a lot of fun utensils to make you a pro baker in no time! If you’re getting one of the cookbooks you should also get the cupcake starter kit, that really goes without saying. 

All in all, a place you really should try when visiting London if you have a sweet tooth. It will not disappoint! And be sure to get a copy of their cookbook because you will be craving the cupcakes even when you get back home!

When you have been indulging in a few cakes or cupcakes you might feel like you want to move a bit, check out my article on my home workout and healthy food for inspiration!

Brooklyn: an exciting borough to visit

If you have planned a trip to New York I have a few recommendations for you that you shouldn’t miss. I love New York, it’s my favorite city in the world (so far). I think it doesn’t matter how many times you go there, you’ll always have something new to discover! Brooklyn: an exciting borough in New York and I spent a lot of time there during my visit to the city earlier this year. I have gathered a few tips here and why I think Brooklyn is worth your time!

A short walk from Manhattan 

Manhattan in all its glory is of course fabulous but there is something very charming with walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and ending up in the wonderful borough that has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Brooklyn is an exciting borough and there is no shortage of places to go and things to see. It is a hip borough with a lot of focus on fashion and food.

Small independent shops with great quality goods

When strolling on Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn you will come across a large number of cute small shops all owned by local people. I absolutely love this! Everything they sell is handmade in a small scale and of great quality! If you are looking for a unique gift for someone you love you’ll without a doubt find what you’re looking for here! One shop which caught my eye and where I couldn’t stop myself from splurging was Line and Label! Luckily they also sell their products online: check out Line&Label here!

Brooklyn an exciting borough to visit. Great places to eat. Visit a rooftop bar for n amazing view of Manhattan or shop in one of the small shops.

Brooklyn: an exciting borough with wonderful food

There are plenty of choices and food from every corner of the planet in Brooklyn just as in the rest of New York City but I actually like that everything is on a smaller scale here. The restaurants are smaller and that means the service is much better! 

If you are looking for a great brunch spot you agev come to the right place! In the Williamsburg neighbourhood there are an unlimited amount of options for the one who wants to eat waffles and pancakes like a true New Yorker! Don’t miss Sunday in Brooklyn just next to the Brooklyn Bridge. 

Brooklyn an exciting borough with amazing rooftop bars

What also makes Brooklyn an exciting borough is that it has great rooftop bars to enjoy a good cocktail and the best skyline of Manhattan. You’ll definitely see the skyline much better from here than any rooftop bar in Manhattan! My favourite one is Westlight, which you can find on 111 N 12th St on the 22nd floor. This bar offers a spectacular view of Manhattan and also Brooklyn. The food and drinks are also amazing. Do make sure you reserve a spot as it gets very busy and you don’t want to miss out! 

Ice cream at the fireboat house 

When you are strolling through the streets you will soon realize why Brooklyn is an exciting borough. One of the things you shouldn’t miss is having an ice cream at the Brooklyn based creamery Ample Hill. There are various locations all around but my favorite one is the onel located just by the water at the firebout house! You have to try the peaches and cream, it’s summer in an ice cream scoop!

Are you interested in visiting France I’d recommend you to read my article about France here!

France: what to know to spend the best holidays

I was born in France, close to the border with Switzerland. Therefore, it is natural that I’m very attached to this country. It will forever be my home and half of my family still live there, near Lyon. French can look a bit rude at first but once you get to know them, they are incredible people. The country is big and has many differences between all the regions, so in this article I will just talk quickly about the main things you need to know and to do. 

Cities and Monuments in France

france chamonix

In France, we are lucky to have the sea as well as the mountains. In my opinion, these few cities are the ones you can not miss:

  • Paris

The capital, the city of love It is essential for you to stop there. I would suggest staying a minimum a week. Be ready to walk a lot: the city is very big! There is so much to visit. The Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame-de-Paris, the Tuileries garden, The Champs Elysées… If you have time you can also visit the Louvre Museum with the best masterpieces in the world. Besides, if you like museums, you’ll find tons in Paris.

  • Annecy

In the Alps mountains and very close to Switzerland, Annecy is a fancy city. Its lake is the main attraction but you will also love its culinary diversity. You can enjoy to take a day tour to Geneva and be on time to eat a delicious fondue in the small pedestrian centre at night.

  • Lyon

In the centre-east of the country, Lyon is very eclectic. It is a student city as well as the gastronomic capital of France. Enjoy a stroll along the Quais du Rhône and a fun night out in one of the many bars or clubs. Have diner in one of the Brasseries of Paul Bocuse, one of the world’s best cook. My favourite is the south one. I also like to party close to Bellecour, the heart of the city.

  • Marseille

Enjoy the beautiful beaches of Côte d’Azur. In my opinion, the best of France! Marseille is full of monuments and I love the fact that the sun is always shining. Visit the old port and eat fresh fish in an old cute restaurant.

Local French food
France food cheese wine

Of course, we all know that one of the best thing of France is: the food! Nothing to envy to our Spanish neighboors!

Cheese, wine, patries, bread, meat, cakes… I could just spend days and days eating. My all-time favourite treat is the macarons! Every time I go back, the first thing I do is to stop in the bakery to buy a full box. You have every flavour you want. Red wine is amazing and so tasteful accompanied by good cheese.

 

To sum up, France has everything you need to spend good holidays. If you don’t have too much time, choose carefully where you want to go but anyway, you won’t be disappointed.

What about you? Have you ever been to France? What is your favourite food speciality?

Cuba: the best places to visit on the Caribbean island

Cuba is one of the four biggest Caribbean islands, along with Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Hispaniola.  Full of History, good food, and an amazing sense of happiness, your heart will be conquered. There is so much to see, but I tried to sum it up and keep only the most important. Of course this list is non-exhaustive and I can not recommend enough spending there as much time as you can (keep in mind that the tourist limit visa is 30 days). You will need it!

La Havana, the capital of Cuba

La Havana is the vibrant heart of Cuba. In this city you will find every class of inhabitants. People spend their day in the streets playing music, chatting, dancing… It is full of life. I remember above all their kindness. La Havana has many monuments to visit, such as the Capitol, cathedrals, castles, the Malecon, and la Plaza de la Revolución, a tribute to che Guevara.

Trinidad

Trinidad is a colourful and very alive little city. You can simply enjoy a stroll in the street looking for the cutest house, or do many more activities. I did a horse riding tour there, it was amazing! We rode for 2 hours through banana and tobacco plantations. Eventually, we reached a natural pool in the rock. There were cocktails, music, and incredible vibes!

You can also go to the beach, do a coffee tasting tour, or enjoy salsa in La Casa de La Música.

Varadero, paradisiacal beaches of Cuba

cuba beach

There are beautiful beaches all around Cuba. Even the ones of La Havana, although they are less wild. But the most beautiful are undoubtedly located in Varadero. A short 3 hours drive will take you there from the capital. They are typical Caribbean beaches: crystal clear sea, sugar white sand, palm trees… Enjoy your favourite cocktails in a beach bar and get the perfect tan! Varadero is full of resorts and all-inclusive hotels. Therefore, this is not a city I recommend if you’re looking for the authentic Cuba. But you must stop at least a few days. If you’re on a budget travel, you can sleep in a Casa close to the beach.

Food and music

cuba music

Cuba has probably the best food of Central America. You will of course find the traditional rice and beans, but you can also eat pretty much everything you want. Seafood, meat, pizza… Everything is good quality and taste. Prices are correct, although it can become a bit expensive in the centre of La Havana, for example. This is mainly because of the 2 currencies they are using. One is for locals (CUP) and the other for tourists (CUC). 1 CUC is the equivalent of 1 US dollar.

The Cuban salsa is a worldwide famous an art all alone: you can take dance lessons everywhere. Buskers are putting the streets in fire with their songs and of couse you have to visit La Casa de la Música everywhere you go!

 

To sum up, Cuba has definitely everything: breathtaking landscapes, a rich culture and history, kind inhabitants, a good climate… It is very different from other travels I had done before. Also, their Spanish is easy to understand. It is the perfect place to disconnect from the reality and forget your troubles. You have no excuses!

Have you ever been to Cuba? What was your favourite thing about your visit?

Eastern Europe, small visit to the East!

 I offer a short visit to three countries in Eastern Europe. A trip that can be done in two weeks in which you can get to know three different countries. A true adventure! 

Hungary, first stop in the East! 

My first stop is Hungary, more specifically Budapest. It is a city divided in two thanks to the Danube. I can enjoy both a modern and a historical side. As it was my first visit to the east of the continent, I stayed ive days. It gave me the time to visit places such as the Parliament, the Chain Bridge, Vajdahunyad Castle or Hosök Square, among other things. The city has a particular charm, a lot of history and perfectly represents the spirit of the East. 

Budapest, Europe, East.

Take a break!

To enjoy a little rest in this city, I visited green areas, such as the large Margitsziget park, located in the middle of the Danube between Buda and Pest. I also enjoyed the thermal waters of a Thermal bath. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath is highly recommended. 

Slovakia, my second stop in Eastern Europe

Bratislava, just four hours by bus from Budapest, was my second stop. It is true that it is much smaller, but do not be fooled, it also has great charm and can be visited in just three days. The most important place to see is the Castle, located on top of a hill. From it, you can enjoy an excellent view of Bratislava and Austria, and if it is a clear day, even Vienna and Hungary. A part of Eastern Europe at your feet! 

For all the cats lovers like me in eastern Europe! 

 Going up one of the alleys that go towards the Castle, you will find a small bar with a normal appearance, however, when you open it, you will enter the cat’s paradise: the Mackafe! A few partners have built this place to protect stray cats thanks to the participation of the customers who go for a coffee or a snack. The ideal place for cats lovers.

Austria, the golden East

My last stop is in the famous Vienna, where it took me almost a week to see everything. Thousands of things could be said about this city, however I will only say that you should have patience, that the distances are long, you have to walk a lot and use comfortable shoes. It is undoubtedly the least representative city of the East. There are numerous monuments, museums, and cathedrals to visit. In my opinion, the most beautiful one is the Schönbrunn Castle and its gardens. Immense! 

 

Schönbrunn Castle, Vienna, Europe, East.

Last tip to visit Eastern Europe

If you have time and courage for another getaway, take the train and in a few hours from Vienna, you can reach the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. A visit not suitable for young children, but necessary for our memory and our History.

Would you like to travel far away from home?

Eastern Europe is not far away, but it is a good choice if you want to start travelling. Otherwise, you can always travel far away from the East, even from home, and visit others places, it is up to you!  I will always be here to help you!

Andalusia: best tips for your holidays in Southern Spain

When I was little, I travelled so many times to Andalusia with my family. In fact, it was almost every year. We were going to a different camping every time and I remember having so much fun. Spanish are very welcoming and the country has so much to offer. It is easy to reach no matter where you come from in Europe (no more than 2 hours flight from South England) and the prices  are very low, therefore very helpful for a big family.

Best beaches of Andalusia

andalusia best beache almería spain

Andalusia has nothing to envy to the Caribbean littoral. In fact, several tourist guides and websites consider some beaches of the Costa Almeriense, Costa del Sol or Costa de la Luz  as the most beautiful in Europe or even in the world. I personally love the region of Cádiz and Tarifa. On the Atlantic Ocean side, it is a surfers paradise and the beaches are kilometres long. Furthermore, it is not much frequented by tourists and has kept its authenticity.

You will find amazing beaches on the Mediterranean side as well. Lose yourself driving around Nerja and Maro in the province of Malaga and you will find small wild beaches. You can also go to the famous Cabo de Gata, in Almería. They probably are the most Caribbean-like beaches of the Hispanic peninsula, hence there are many more visitors.

Culture and History

I’m always impressed how rich Spanish culture is. History of the country is thriving and all the influences are still very present. Andalusia has long been under the domination of Muslims. Most of the monuments are preserved and without the shadow of a doubt, the Mezquita-Catedral of Córdoba is the most beautiful. I recommend you take a guide to fully enjoy your visit. Do not miss the Alhambra of Granada and its architecture either; as well as the sunset from the mirador San Nicolas. Sevilla and its square should also be on your list!

Food is an essential part of the Andalusian culture and oh my! you won’t be disappointed. You can eat fresh products in Chirringuitos, these typical beach bars. Do not forget to try local beers, whine and fish. Stay away from touristic restaurants in the centre. They are expensive and often don’t offer good quality. You can check out my article about how to eat healthy while travelling. It won’t be hard in Spain, the country is full of fresh fruits and vegetables! Just be careful to prefer raw olive oil than cooked.

The famous white villages of Andalusia

Andalusia white village spain

How many times have you seen a white village on a postcard? They are possibly more emblematic than the beaches.  Their walls are whitewashed in order to keep the heat away. My favourite one is Mijas! It is located on top of a mountain, overlooking the sea. Full of charm, you can spend an entire afternoon just walking about. The botanic garden is quiet and amazing. You also have the village of Frigiliana, probably the most famous. Just over Nerja and its beaches, you can see both in one day.

 

In a word, if you’re looking for a cheap and spectacular destination, go to Andalusia!  I advise you to learn a few words such as ¡Hola! (hello) or Gracias (thank you). Locals always appreciate it and will be even more talkative with you. On the other hand, if you plan on only visiting (not everyone’s a beach lover as I am), I strongly suggest you to avoid July and August as the heat can become unbearable.

What about you? Have you been to Andalusia yet? Where is your favourite place?

My Bolivia travel guide : what you need to know

Among all the Latin countries in South America, Bolivia is often forgotten and underrated. For that reason I want to share with you my Bolivia travel guide. The diversity of the landscapes and the kindness of its inhabitants made it my favourite country of the South American continent. Bolivia is rich in surprises and has many gems to offer. Here are my tips based on my experience. 

About Bolivia

Bolivia is a centre-west country of South America, sharing borders with 5 other countries. Its biodiversity is one of the richest of the continent and its extreme climate offers different landscapes. You can find high mountains (most of the cities are over 6,500 m of altitude) as well as deserts, lakes and of course the Amazonian rainforest.  Besides, History lovers will enjoy loads of Inca civilization archaeological sites.

General information

Bolivia travel guide llama

You have to keep in mind that Bolivia is a poor country. People work with their hands and except in big cities they eat what they grow. Furthermore, this country seems intact from any American influence. Indeed, it is the only Latin country without any fast food or big American chains. The indigene community is big and respected. As a matter of fact, everyone has always been so nice with me, because of this authenticity. The typical women you can see everywhere with their Chaplin hat and colourful clothes are called Cholitas. I recommended not to take a picture of their faces. According to their beliefs, the camera steals their soul. Please respect them!

You can easily travel within the country in collectivos, the name of shared taxis. You share them with other tourists or locals, on the main roads. Hence, it is not rare to share your seat with a cute baby animal! I was one day surrounded by llamas and a group of kids going to school. It was so much fun! They were so interested and fascinated by my stories.

What to do : my Bolivia travel guide

This country is so big, consequently, you can not see everything unless you spend months. In this travel guide, I will share with you some of my favourite places:

  • La Paz

La Paz is the administrative capital. With almost 3 million inhabitants, it looks like an anthill. You can just walk about the city and discover its hidden gem, or take one of the four cable cars. A lot of agencies offer touristic tours. My favourite one was cycling down the Death Road.  On the other hand, there are also tours to go to Madidi Park in the rainforest and watch wildlife.

  • Uyuni salt desert

boliva travel guide lagoon flamingo

Probably the most amazing landscape I’ve seen in my life. You can do a 1-day tour as well as a 4 days. Pick up an agency in Uyuni and let’s go! Take warm clothes with you, sunglasses and altitude sickness pill. You will forever remember the ride through the salt desert.  The sunset is my favourite memory ever. It was so beautiful. The guide/driver takes a lot of photos and bring lunch.

  • Titicaca Lake

It is the biggest lake of the continent, therefore you can visit it from the Peruvian side or Bolivian. In my opinion, the latter is the most authentical. In fact, go to Copacabana and visit La Isla del Sol. I loved loosing myself on this island and it is so rich in culture. Notwithstanding, you can only reach it by boat and the trip can be rough.

 

In a word: go!! You will be in awe in front of the charm of this country. I’m already planning on my second visit! This guide helped me a lot to plan my trip.

What about you? Have you ever been to Bolivia? What is your experience?

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