A lovely warm Sunday in Belgium. As we’re driving towards Brussels Airport a mixture of excitement and sad feelings is running through our veins. We’re super excited to leave on this huge adventure but we also know that we’ll miss all of our family and friends.
Our flight is at 13.55. When we arrive at the airport around 11 am the huge screen in the welcome hall tells us we need to go to desk 6. After queuing for about an hour the lovely lady at the front desk gives us some great news. Our flight is overbooked and we are on the waiting list.
Awesome start of our adventure.
We say goodbye to our parents, turn around and walk towards whatever is ahead of us.
We go through security, buy some water and walk towards the B gates. Gate B.06 is waiting for us. We are the second last couple to board. Another nice lady with great news. Our boarding pass isn’t scanning. “Seating issue”. She calls her manager and after a few (long) minutes he finally tells her to ‘manually seat us in the system’.
Next, she tells us that we need to go to the information desk as soon as we land if we want to get on that plane.
Brussels – Kiev
After a pleasant flight of 2 hours and 50 minutes, we landed in Kiev, Ukraine. We went straight to the information desk. This time a little less nice lady points towards her male partner after we show her our boarding passes. The guy is on the phone, barely gives us a good day and just keeps talking to the other end of his line.
He takes our boarding pass with his other hand, types something on his computer and 2 boarding passes roll out of his printer.
He said something in Ukrainian we obviously didn’t understand but when he saw our faces he said: “free upgrade”, with a slight smile. And yes indeed, our boarding pass said “premium economy” instead of the usual economy.
So instead of hearing that we needed to stay the night at the airport, he gave us better seats than what we paid for.
Now that is what we call a great start! 😊
I’m not sure if it’s because of the excitement of business class or just plain stupidity, but something strange happened. The guy behind his computer pointed us towards some queues, so that’s where we went. We gave our passport and they put a Ukrainian stamp in it. We walked ahead and we arrived in the luggage hall, which was followed by the exit of the airport.
Not really what should’ve happened as we needed to get on our connecting flight. We tried to retrace our steps, but we couldn’t get through ‘because of security issues’.
We still had a little over 2 hours before our flight so we went out of the airport. While we took a stroll outside, Yentl checked Instagram for a minute or 2 and got a lovely text message from Mobile Vikings “You’ve used 48 euros on roaming”. Seems that Ukraine is not part of Europe according to them…
Our rule of thumb is that we can only tick off a country of our Where have we been-list when we’ve exited the airport, so it had one advantage… 😊
We went through security again and got some weird faces from the migration officers. Why on earth is your arrival stamp August 5th too?
Kiev – Colombo
Our second plane left half an hour late, but at least we had extra legroom space.
After about 90 mins our first meal was brought: a salad with bread, chicken with mashed potatoes and some chocolate dessert with lots of whipped cream. As we had no individual tv screens, the meal was followed by a movie on the big screen.
We bought a zoo. A classic movie we both saw already but it killed the time. After that, we started writing this blog posts as we couldn’t sleep because of the not-so-quiet Russians behind us.
I think we both slept for about 2 hours (out of 9) when they woke us for breakfast: we could choose between an omelet or something with macaroni and cheese. We both picked the latter.
We arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka
The plane made a nice landing at around 9 o’clock, local time. We set foot on Asian soil, bought a local sim card for 9 dollars from Mobitel and went through migration once again. Another stamp, this time Sri Lanka, shining next to the Brazil stamp.
Something odd struck us: at the airport in Colombo, there are at least 10 stores selling washing machines, fridges, ovens… Why on earth would you buy a fridge at the airport? Is it because of tax-free? If anyone knows, please enlighten us in the comments. 😉
After we got some Sri Lankan Rupees we took a tuk-tuk to our hotel. He wanted to charge us 1000 Rupees, but we bargained to 700 (which we know was still too much, but is actually only 4 euros for 35 minutes of driving).
If you’ve never been to Asia, you have to take a tuk-tuk. The drivers are crazy, but the experience is great and cheap (around 45 rupees (€ 0,25) /km). I think our driver drove more on the wrong side of the road than on the correct one.
Sri Lanka used to be a colony of the Dutch, but because the UK feared that Napoleon might take the Netherlands (and thus Sri Lanka) they conquered Sri Lanka in 1815, making it a crown colony until 1948. That’s why in Sri Lanka cars drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Winston beach guest house
When we arrived at our hotel we dropped off our luggage and jumped into the swimming pool. Ice cold water never felt so good!
We fell asleep next to the pool and woke up a few hours later. We agreed to stroll a bit through Negombo and have a small snack somewhere. Crispy fried cheese balls. Heaven. We decided to return to the hotel via the beach (as our hotel was just in front of the ocean).
Negombo isn’t the clean city Katrijn hoped for, although our hotel and swimming pool were clean. The beach was full of garbage at most places and the water of the sea wasn’t that clean & clear either.
When we arrived at our hotel once again it started to darken already and we decided it was time for a decent night rest. Sunset is around 7 pm and looks like this:
So where do you take that bus to Kurunegala? At the Negombo bus station. We had some difficulties figuring out which bus station we should go to, but people in Sri Lanka are very friendly and helpful. On Google maps, it’s called Negombo bus terminal.
Once you’re there (either by tuk-tuk, taxi or another bus) search for the sign which says Kurunegala. It should be bus number 34.
Make sure you buy something to drinkbefore you hop on as these busses have no airconditioning. At some bus stops, people will hop on the bus and sell some food, yet we haven’t seen anyone sell drinks.
Bus 34 will take you in 2 to 3 hours from Negombo to Kurunegala bus terminal, depending on traffic.
Kurunegala bus terminal
Kurunegala bus terminal is big and chaotic, once you see the signage above the vehicles it gets easy to find your bus. People are always ready to help you so don’t hesitate to ask something. Keep in mind, always check with the bus driver before you hop on the bus to double check the information given.
Once you’re out of the city center of Kurunegala, you’ll pass through the beautiful landscape of Sri Lanka. You’ll see fewer houses and more fields with palm trees and other local vegetation.
After a 2 hour bumpy ride, you’ll arrive in Dambulla. The bus driver dropped us off at the first bus stop in Dambulla (near a bank/atm), but according to our tuk-tuk driver there is a big bus terminal in Dambulla too.
Bus from Negombo to Kurunegala: 100 RS per person
Bus from Kurunegala: 95 RS per person
>> 195 RS is 1,05 EUR or 1,22 USD.
Negombo – Kurunegala: 2-3 hours
Kurunegala: 2 hours
Busses should be every 20 mins in the morning. Don’t take the bus too late as it’ll get warm in the busses if there’s a lot of traffic and air is not coming in.
Heavy backpacks have to be stowed in front of the bus. We took another bus to Dambulla because there was no place left to put our luggage.
A visitor wishing to stay more than 30 days in Sri Lanka, may apply for an extension. The Short Visit visa may be extended up to 90 days from the date of arrival at the first instance and further 90 days at the second instance.
Application for an extension should be submitted to the Visa Section of the Department of Immigration (head office) by visiting the Department or through an Authorized Agent.
For more details visit. www.immigration.gov.lk.
How do you start your own (travel) blog? It is actually quite easy to start blogging. The hardest part is maintaining it. In this blog post, we’ll explain to you how to get started and which pitfalls to avoid. This will be a huge post, so don’t forget to bookmark it or save it to your Pinterest 😉
Buy them quickly. There are lots of ‘domain resellers’ on the market. They buy domain names and try to sell them for thousands of euros/dollars.
2. Choose a web hosting company
I’ve worked with lots and lots of hosting companies in the past. Some of them are GoDaddy, Versio, Combell, Hostgator, one.com, Siteground, A2, Google Hosting and Bluehost. As of today, I’m still using 3 of the above hosting companies.
Choosing a bad hosting company will lower your page speed and thus lower your rankings in Google. Google hates slow websites. and so do you.
Versio is my cheap hosting provider. I use them to buy domains and redirect these to my main websites (prices starting at €1/domain). Their servers suck, but they give me the option to buy domains cheap.
Combell is my go to hosting company for professional websites in Belgium as they have some of the best servers and services around in Belgium.
Bluehost* is my favourite international hosting company (thus for travel blogs with a broad audience). They are recommended by the company behind WordPress itself ever since 2005. They have a 24/7 service and offer free refunds. My favourite thing about Bluehost is that they work together with Cloudflare CDN. More info later in this post about that (optimize your blog).
Another big plus of Bluehost* is that they have 1-click installs for the most popular blogging platforms. It’s not a plus for me personally, but if you’ve never set up a website it’ll be a huge time saver.
I do recommend Bluehost when you’re just starting out and don’t have an audience yet, it’s easy and cheap. We started this blog on Bluehost ourselves, but as I’m a web developer I love to play around with our own site and after a year I’ve chosen for another hosting option for ourselves. This site is now hosted by Google Cloud Computing, which has great servers but is (way too) hard to set up..
*This link is a referral link. If you click it you’ll get a reduction in your hosting plan (3.95/month, including a free domain name) and Bluehost will reward us for referring them to you.
3. Choose a blogging platform and install it
I’ve tested out many blogging platforms myself. Blogger, Drupal, Squarespace, Wix, WordPress.com, WordPress.org…
The reason why I love self-hosted WordPress.org (not .com!) websites are that they have so many possibilities to customize, and yet are so easy to use for the average Joe.
On one hand, you can customize your layout with themes, on the other hand, you can customize all functionality with plugins. And most important of all: you’re the owner of your own website and thus you’re allowed to put advertisements on your content.
In this post, I’ll be using WordPress.org self-hosted websites as an example, but feel free to ask me anything in the comments below! 🙂
4. Install your website on your hosting
Depending on your hosting this will be easy or hard. If you chose for Bluehost, all you have to do is click install and your website will be up and running within 5 minutes. If you’re using another hosting company, you’ll have to
Make sure you use safe & unique passwords. You don’t want to see your site hacked and/or deleted!
5. Pick a theme
A WordPress theme can make or break your website. The theme is either super customizable or rock solid. A lot of the features will depend on this theme. Don’t be scared to pay some money for a theme, it’ll pay off in the end.
My two favourite themes for WordPress are Enfold and Newspaper. Enfold is my go-to theme for corporate websites due to its flexibility and demo import, Newspaper is my blogging theme because of it’s optimized for blogs.
6. Build a site structure
The most simple setup for your site is:
a homepage with your blog posts
individual blog and category posts
a contact page (don’t miss out on this one if you’re looking for partnerships etc!)
You can get as creative as you want, as long as you have a theme that is easily customizable.
7. Create some content
As long as your website is not the next Facebook or Instagram, people won’t come to your website and scroll around for hours.
Make some great content so your visitors have a reason the click around and read.
Be unique. Don’t copy. Don’t steal.
Of course, you can search for inspiration on other travel sites (like this one 😉 ), but make sure the content is yours. Two reasons:
Google doesn’t like duplicate content, so they won’t index your page.
It’s just not nice to steal other people’s intellectual property.
Try to develop your own style. Whether it’s your way of writing or the type of content you provide. Give your visitors a reason to return!
8. Customize your website
Make sure your visitors can easily navigate on your website. If someone wants to contact you, they should be able to do so in 2 seconds. If they want to search for something, make sure there is a search bar on your menu…
In WordPress, you can adjust your menu via Dashboard > Appearance > Menu.
The real power of WordPress lies in the plugins. Do you want social share buttons on your blog posts? Just install a plugin. (We’re using Social Warfare for that.)
Go to Dashboard > Plugins > Install new and you’re able to install thousands of plugins.
Do some research before you install plugins. I don’t recommend you to install plugins you find anywhere on the internet that’s not https://wordpress.org/plugins/ unless you’re certain it’s trustworthy.
Don’t just install plugins for the sake of it. Because plugins will slow down your blog and, again, Google doesn’t like slow sites. You’ll have to find a balance between online marketing, user experience, and site speed.
Some plugins we do recommend you to install:
Accelerated Mobile Pages for AMP
Akismet for SPAM
Contact form 7
Glue for Yoast and AMP
Really simple SSL
Shortpixel for image optimization
Social Warfare for social share
WPS hide login for security reasons
Yoast for SEO
One of the most important settings for your SEO is your URL structure or your ‘permalinks’.
You can edit them via Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks. We recommend you to use /%category%/%postname%/ as seen below. It’s the best option for Google as it’s readable and gives a nice structure to your site.
If you’re editing your site or you are moving your site to a new platform (for example blogger.com > self-hosted WordPress) make sure to make 301 redirects from your old posts to your new posts. Otherwise, you’ll use all of Google’s history for those posts.
Depending on your theme you can hide or show your user details below a post. We’ve chosen not to (by the time you read this we might have changed our thoughts though ;)). Anyways it’s a good idea to edit your user details as you can put a CTA (call to action) in it.
For example, you can show people where to find your social media channels and to subscribe to your YouTube channel.
Dashboard > Users > Your Profile
9. Create even more content
We cannot stress this enough: content is super important.
Without good, unique and relevant content your site is worthless. You can invest 1000’s of dollars into online marketing, but you will never gain any profit. Unless you’re Justin Bieber and have a fanbase of millions of groupies that is.
Fresh content keeps readers coming back and gives Google an alert that you have an updated site. Google will crawl your site more often and show your pages higher in the rankings.
10. (online) marketing
If the content is your engine, online marketing (paid or not) is the gasoline that keeps it going.
Social media accounts
If you’re just starting your online blogging journey, make sure to claim all of your social media channels. Try to get them as identical as possible.
Probably the most important, but at the same time the most forgotten way of driving traffic to your blog.
I know some bloggers with a 300k email list. That is 300 000 people who have proven to like your content and that are likely to read your content again. All you have to do is send them an email with your fresh content.
We are using MailChimp to automate some emails. If you subscribe to our blog you’ll get an automatic mail on the first day of every month with an overview of every new blog post, published in the last month.
We don’t forget to send updates, as they’re automatic.
Your followers get a reminder to read your content and visit your blog.
MailChimp is free if you have less than 2000 subscribers 🙂
Link building & commenting on other blogs for traffic
I won’t be going into too much detail about SEO. Of course, your website has to be ‘SEO-proof’. More on that later in this post.
Link building is one of the most important aspects to get a high ranking in Google. You can create awesome content and hope that someone links to it. But it might be a better idea to have a strategy about it. Reach out to other websites and ask them to link to your content.
Then again, make sure you have great content that people are looking for and they will write about it. Create lame content and no one wants to link.
Keep in mind that it’s not only website owners, but also social media shares. They have a bit less power in Google’s eyes, but they’ll help.
So if you like this post, be sure to pin, share or tweet this post 😉
Guest posting is one easiest way to gain links, but it takes time. You’ll have to write quality content for other blogs. In return, you may post a link back to your website.
Forum links are most of the time no-follow links, so they don’t really matter for Google. If you provide valuable comments on a forum, people might take a look at your website to see what else you’ve got to say.
11. Monetize your blog
If you’re a blogger, you want to provide value to your audience. Without asking for anything in return. You can, however, earn a few bucks whilst doing what you love.
You’ve probably seen ads more than you’d like. They’re annoying for the user (as they’ll slow down your site and hide content), but they will earn you some money. If you have a lot of traffic on your website you might consider placing ads on your website.
As a reference: if we place ads on our site we earn €1.5 per 1000 views. If someone clicks on your ads you’ll get some more.
If you’re getting 1 000 000 pageviews per month you’d get around €1500.
Affiliate marketing is one of the more subtle ways of earning some money for your hard work. In the beginning of this post, we’ve mentioned BlueHost to get your hosting. If you click that link you’ll get a reduced price for your hosting and we get some credits too.
Same if we refer someone to Airbnb or Booking.com. That person gets a price reduction for his/her stay and we get some credits.
If you want to help us you can check out our support page! 🙂
Just as we’ve got sponsored posts (#sp) on Instagram, you can partner up with companies (hotels, hostels, brands or activity companies).
In exchange for an honest review, you’re getting paid, either with goods, a stay or even cash.
12. Optimize your blog
I won’t go too deep into details about SEO. There are 1000’s of good blog posts out there that’ll teach you all of the ins and outs of SEO.
I’ll list some of the most important things to start with.
Pick an SEO optimised theme. A solid base makes it easier to work with afterwards.
Install the Yoast SEO plugin. You’ll be able to adjust your metadata etc.
Start building links to your blog. A good start is to install a social sharing plugin.
If you have any question about SEO let us know in the comments below and Yentl’ll help you out 😉
Normally a website is hosted on 1 server. A CDN (Content Delivery Network) “copies” your website to multiple servers. That way a user is able to connect to the closest server. This way the loading time of your website is lower.
Another plus of a CDN is that they have built-in security.
We’re using CloudFlare, which is an official partner of Bluehost.
See what I did there 😉
Good luck with you blog! If you have any question, let us know in the comments below.
Last week Lonely Planet published their famous top 10’s for 2018.
Amongst the many lists, they have a “top 10 cities to visit in 2018”. We weren’t really surprised. However, we were flattered that at number 6 – our own city – Antwerp was shining like a diamond (pun intended ;)).
You can find the complete list of cities to visit at the bottom of this post!
This is how Lonely planet describes Antwerp:
“Once northern Europe’s greatest city, today Antwerp is one of its best-kept secrets. Flanders’ unofficial capital is laden with historic riches and home to world-class arts and design, and this year it’s showing its cultural chops with a celebration of its Baroque heyday. Inspired by the city’s most famous resident, Rubens, Antwerp Baroque 2018 will feature Flemish Masters rubbing shoulders with modern talent in a calendar that spans parades, concerts, street art, multimedia shows and workshops. Not that Antwerp’s residents need an excuse to unleash their creativity: the city, especially its former docks, is flush with pop-up bars, farm-to-fork joints and architectural showstoppers.”
From master painter Peter Paul Rubens to the crashing drum ‘n’ bass of Rampage, Belgium’s biggest port has been setting trends for over 500 years. Could this be the most continuous cool city in the world?
As you might know, we live in Antwerp. Or perhaps it’s even better to say that we have our home there, as we’re only there half of the time…
That being said, we both just love Antwerp. Katrijn moved to Antwerp at the age of 18, when she started studying at Karel de Grote University college. After we met each other in Toledo (Spain), Yentl moved there too. We rented a place for 1 year and the following year we bought a house in Antwerp. At the time of writing, we are both working at Karel de Grote University College.
Our favourite places and activities in Antwerp
We made a list of our favourite spots in and around Antwerp. Restaurants, bars, museums, parks, breweries, activities and there is even a festival or 2 involved…
Our favourite restaurants
We don’t really have a favourite frituur, but whenever you visit Antwerp you have to eat French fries. We’re not going to discuss the name here, but if you ask us it’s Belgian Fries… 😉
There are over 100 frituren in Antwerp so just ask anyone for a good one nearby.
If you want to go to a fancy place (not so typical), you could go to Frites Atelier. It’s a deluxe frituur by Sergio Herman (a famous chef; see ‘The Jane’ below).
Yentl’s favourite burger place. Their burgers are freshly made and cost between 5 and 10 euros. They have around 50 different burgers and they even have a dozen veggie burgers. We always order some delicious fries with their homemade mayonnaise to accompany our burger.
If you love Thai food you should definitely visit this restaurant. You can find it next to the museum of contemporary arts in the middle of a trendy neighbourhood. Everything is freshly made by Asian cooks, so the food is really authentic. Make sure you make a reservation in advance because it’s a really popular restaurant.
Our Mercado is a bit different from the ones you know from Spain. The Mercado is located in the old post building next to the Groenplaats. It’s a fancy place to have dinner and you can stay for an after party as well(mostly on Friday’s). Inside you can find 10 small restaurants. The place has a really chilly atmosphere and you can enjoy different types of food like croquettes, pizza’s, Asian food, bubble waffles…
Pitten en Bonen
Pitten & Bonen (seeds & beans) is a really cosy lunch bar in shopping area de wilde zee (the wild sea). They have a lot of healthy salads, sandwiches, quiches, shakes, juices…
If you like a healthy and quick lunch during your shopping spree, this is the place to be.
If your mouth starts watering when you hear bagel, cheesecake and an extraordinary coffee, then this is your spot. They serve coffees with marshmallows and delicious bagels with cream cheese and spinach, that’s why this is one of Katrijn’s favourite lunch spots in Antwerp. You can find it in a cosy square next to the Nationalestreet.
We’ve never eaten there ourselves, but if you have plenty of money you have to go there. The Jane is located inside a church and the chef is Sergio Herman (the owner of the French fries place).
Our favourite bars and clubs
Belgium is famous for its beers so you’ll have to drink some beers. We have bitter, sweet, sour, dark, blond, triple, abbey, red, amber,… The list is endless.
This is Yentl’s favourite bar near the Grote Markt. The bartenders are super talented and know lots about beer. If you don’t know what beers you like, just tell them that you don’t know and they’ll start asking you questions until they have a beer that you’ll definitely like.
We used to go here a lot because they have hundreds of beers and Yentl has a beer blog with 2 of his friends (Loft-7.be).
If you want some super cheap cocktails, this is the place to be! You can find it at the Groenplaats. They have a wide variety of cocktails to try. Prices are around €5 a cocktail. Don’t expect the fancy cocktails, but you’ll definitely get the alcohol you long for… Great place if you want to do a pré-drink for a night out in the centre.
Beer lovers bar
Another great beer bar with every month 12 different draft beers and around 150 special beers in bottles. If you’re picking random names of draft beers, always double check with the waiter what kind of beer it is. Yentl once got a black, coffee savoured beer by accident…
Antwerp has a huge amount of clubs. Because of that, we can’t really say to which clubs you’ll have to go, as clubs come and go. Some noteworthy clubs are Red & blue (Thursdays are normal club days, the other days this is a gay club), Café D’anvers (in the middle of our red district)…
If you’re coming to Antwerp, let us know in the comments below and we’ll check with our Facebook friends where the party is at.
Other things you must see/do
There are a lot of things you can do or see in Antwerp, so we’re going to list a few of the things we’ve already done or visited.
Antwerp has a lot of parks. In the centre, you can visit park spoor Noord, Stadspark or Harmoniepark. Our favourite parks are the 3 parks close to our home, being Park de Brandt, Nachtegaelenpark and Middelheim park. They are all 3 next to each other.
Middelheim park is the special one. It’s actually an open-air museum with around 50 statues and pieces of art. And it’s free!
Antwerp’s red light district is the ideal base between the bustling city centre and the trendy Eilandje neighbourhood. While this part of Antwerp traditionally has been the realm of the ladies of the night, nowadays it has much more to offer to visitors to the city.
The ladies of the night are still there. I wouldn’t suggest taking pictures there as I guess they won’t like it. If you’ve never seen a red light district we highly recommend you to quicklywalk through. You could do it at night whilst going to the club Café D’anvers!
The famous MAS museum is located in the newest neighbourhood of Antwerp, ‘tEilandje. It’s the iconic big red building surrounded by water. You will recognize it immediately. On each floor, you can find a different story about Antwerp, the port, the world,…
Tip: go to the rooftop of the building, where you can watch the stars and have an overview of the whole city.
Tip 2: if you have some spare money you can make a reservation in ‘t Zilte at the top floor to have a fancy dinner with an amazing view.
De Konick Brewery and museum
If you haven’t visited a brewery yet you’ll have to visit one in Belgium. De Koninck museum is located in the centre of Antwerp (Harmoniepark). It’s not the best brewery tour in our opinion as it’s not really personal, but because it’s so interactive you can do it at your own pace. (Yentl has done too many brewery visits.. 🙂 )
At the end of the tour you can choose 3 beers at the bar, so that’s a huge plus!
Something you’ll notice for sure is the red bikes. You’ll see them everywhere! As soon as you leave the central station you’ll see a huge line of these cute red bikes. You can rent them for 1 day, 3 days or a week.
Go for a bike tour next to the Schelde (through the docks perhaps) or visit one of the parks we described earlier.
The cathedral of Antwerp
Another must visit is the cathedral of Antwerp, next to the Grote Markt. The Cathedral has an impressive collection of major artworks, including a series of paintings by Rubens.
If you come by train to Antwerp, you’ll arrive at our central train station. Chances are you already saw this big and majestic building with some nice roofing and a super impressive entrance hall somewhere online. Below our train station there’s always some kind of expo or temporary art gallery, so make sure you check out these hidden gems as well!
Right beside the central train station, you’ll find the ZOO of Antwerp, a must do if you’re visiting our town with your children. They have a lot of different animal species. If you come in the winter you can watch ‘China Lights’. During the evening they light up the zoo with Chinese inspired lampions and animals, really beautiful to see.
At the other side of the central station, you’ll find the diamond district or diamond quarter. It consists of several square blocks covering an area of about one square mile (thus the nickname “the square mile”). Over $16 billion in polished diamonds pass through the district’s exchanges each year. There are 380 workshops that serve 1,500 companies.
So guys, if you’re looking for a nice piece of jewellery for your girlfriend… Look no further 😉
If you haven’t spent all your money on diamonds and you love shopping, then you must go the Meir. It’s the biggest shopping street in Antwerp and even in Belgium! You can find all kinds of shops there, ranging from H&M, Bershka and ZARA to Esprit, AS Adventure and Primark.
Fosbury & sons
Fosbury & sons is a co-working space near Harmoniepark. They decorated the place really nicely into ‘rooms’ ie. themed rooms like living, kitchen, desk… Plus they have delicious food, snacks and drinks!
When we’re abroad and we tell people we are from Belgium, they always say ‘Oh, so you’re from Tomorrowland’. Yes, we are, and we’re proud of it because this is (in our opinion) the best festival in Europe.
Not particularly because of de DJ’s but because of the atmosphere, the stages which are really nicely designed, the way the crew is dressed up and of course there are people from all over the world… United, as one happy family.
Tip: you have to book your tickets in January! The festival itself is in July and sold out in minutes… If you need a place to stay during the festival you can always contact us! We’re also working at the festival so if you need some help or information, you can find us there.
We started off the year in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Even though it’s not even a 2-hour drive, we both had never been there in our lives. We stayed in a hotel outside of Amsterdam in Sloterdijk. It’s way cheaper to stay there and you can take the train or tram to the city centre (which takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on traffic and waiting times).
You can read all about this trip in our upcoming blog post!
Another city we both had never visited! 2 hours on a plane later we landed in Berlin. We stayed for 3 days in the ‘Three Little pigs hostel’, which cost us just a bit over €100. Good thing we had our walking shoes, as we walked over 120km in those 3 days!
Things you must see in Berlin:
The Berlin Wall
The Brandenburg Gate
Memorial of the Murdered Jews
March: Barcelona & Dublin
In March Katrijn went to Barcelona on a school trip she organises. Yentl went on a boys trip with his friend Leander to Dublin. Seeing they’re having a (Dutch) beer blog together, we don’t have to explain why a visit to the Guinness brewery was the highlight of their trip.. 😉
One of our best friends was doing an internship in London. There couldn’t be a better reason to revisit London. It’s always way more fun to visit a city with a ‘local’.
New things we’ve done:
We went to ‘The Grand’. A club with theme nights. Disney theme nights! You first watch a Disney movie and afterwards you will party in that exact same location. We were lucky to go there the night they played The Lion King. Awesome!
Another awesome place we went to is Satan’s Whiskers in Bethnal Green. The street view of this bar makes you think it’s a dilapidated house. On the inside, however, it’s a really vivid bar with lots of great cocktails. The menu changes daily. Don’t know what to choose? The waiters are so skilled they’ll give you something you will like for sure based on a few questions. They gave Yentl a cocktail based on egg yolk. Something he would never pick, but it was heavenly!
May: Toledo, Spain
Probably the best trip of our lives. We went back to the city where we met in 2013. Toledo, the old capital of Spain. Not only was it awesome just to stroll through the cosy streets of the city we love, but something special happened as well.
Yentl’s mom was begging for a nice photo of the two of us for a long time already. With that in mind, we went to the nicest hill on the outside of the city to take a photo of us with our beloved city in the background. Little did Katrijn know that Yentl was about to propose to her…
After we’ve celebrated Christmas in London last year, we thought it’d be great to pay Germany a visit this year. Aachen, Berlin, Koln, Dusseldorf, or maybe somewhere else?
Yentl saw a great deal passing by on Facebook: A&0 (hotels and hostels) was offering hotel stays at 2 euro per person per night. He randomly picked Aachen out of their destinations as a surprise for Katrijn.
We then booked a train ticket to Aachen Hauptbahnhof and off we went. Katrijn could still buy a go pass 1 in Belgium (6 euro per fare + 2,2 fee as it arrives in another country) as she’s still under 26. Yentl had to pay around 50 euro for a return ticket.
The hotel was super close to the train station (as in 100m down the road). We dropped off our luggage, asked for a map and went into town.
We’re not sure if you can actually call it a breakfast at 11.30am, but still. Katrijn ordered a breakfast with croissants and Yentl ordered some raspberry & chocolate cake. Because Katrijn couldn’t resist the awesomeness of Yentl’s cake, she ordered a ‘Rahbarbar-tarte’ as well.
Being Belgians we’re always sceptical to eat French fries somewhere. Frittenwerk tries to deliver Canadian street food. The Canadian kitchen has had a big influence by other kitchens throughout the centuries. It won’t surprise you that they have Mexican, French and American dishes. All main dishes have (variants of) French fries and have different toppings. Varying from Mexican a styled portion with guacamole and tomatoes to pulled pork or a typical Canadian poutine.
The food was delicious. The overall design, location and atmosphere in the restaurant made it a must visit for anyone looking for a quick and cheap meal, with lots of fresh ingredients.
The internet told us the Christmas markets closed at 8, so we went there first. And, as usual, the internet was not right. We have no idea when it actually closes, but certainly not at 8. 😉
At the Christmas market, there is a huge variety of stalls. Of course, there are the famous gluhwein and bratwurst stalls, but don’t forget to pay the crazy ducks, the chocolate or the Christmas dolls a visit.
You definitely cannot visit the Christmas market without eating something there. Whether it’s the famous bratwurst, a Reibekuchen (a big version of Rösti: delicious), gluhwein, cacao (hot chocolate) or just some candy, you just have to try something typical. Below you can find a gallery with images of all kinds of Christmas stalls. Feel free to dream away…
This blog post will tell you what you need to know to make a city trip as cheap and efficient as possible. That means you won’t be bathing in luxury, but you’ll enjoy the city as much as possible with the least possible amount of money.
First things first. You’ll need a flight, hotel & transfer. We wrote a blog postHow to book a cheap city trip, so we won’t repeat that information here 🙂
Free walking tour
When we do a city trip we stay more or less 4 days. That gives us plenty of time to explore the city at our own pace. We both love knowing the history of a city, that’s why we always do a ‘free walking tour’ on the first or second day of our arrival.
Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria. They have around 350 000 inhabitants right now and their mother tongue is Bulgarian. About half of the Bulgarians we spoke to were able to respond in decent English, so there will always be someone around to help you out. Compared to most European cities it is really cheap living here, therefore don’t expect an expensive trip.
Fun fact: we were on the first trip ever between Brussels Charleroi and Plovdiv by Ryanair. When we arrived we got ‘baptized’ by a fire truck. At first, we thought it was raining, when we saw the fire truck we thought our plane was on fire…
As you can read in our blog post How to save money during your city trip, we almost always do a ‘free walking tour’ on our first or second day of the city trip. That means we’ll know quite a bit of the history of the city afterwards and that we’ve seen most, if not all, of the important squares, buildings and statues.
That’s when Pokemon Go comes in handy.
On the map in the Pokémon Go app, there are 2 different kinds of markers. Pokéstops and pokégyms. The pokégyms are the important buildings like churches, governmental buildings and such. The Pokéstops indicate statues, fountains, wall paintings or even the most random things. As you probably figured out by now, that’s what we’ll use.