Backpacking through Europe; Prague

Technically my third stop.. But, since I started in Amsterdam (although I lived there) followed by Berlin, Prague was the third European city within the same week. I had very little time in Prague, but I managed to see most of it in 24h. The city is full of gorgeous historical buildings and the legendary Czech brews. A beer was the perfect cure to a misty Prague…

Prague rooftops in a misty morning
Prague’s old parts make up an idyllic scenery. It’s hard not to appreciate the city.

Where to stay in Prague

I ended up staying in the old town, which is a bit pricier. But, since I only had 24h in the city I didn’t wanna spend it on a tram or metro. Besides, it wasn’t crazy expensive, I stayed at a hostel called Homer (as in the Simpsons), the location was superb! I paid a small sum of 14 euros a night! I had basically all of Prague a walking distance away.

Food in Prague

Like many places in central/eastern Europe the typical cuisine is quite similar. Anywhere you looked they were selling ‘chimney cakes’ and other local sweets, I certainly felt a sweet-tooth coming along.

The Czechs have incredible beers and these are best consumed at a small local brewery! The dinners were mostly consisting of potatoes and a sort of meat, like a Viennese schnitzel or other delicious variants. Goulash is also something the Czechs eat and they make it superb or a more local ‘soup’ is the garlic soup. One particular restaurant does this better than anyone else, the U parlament. Perfect for a great and authentic Prague experience.

In Prague they are atoned to the ever-growing vegetarian food trends too and I saw several vegetarian options, but I tried Forky’s. This place had the best vegan milkshakes I’ve ever tried! The rest of the food was really good too and there was a nice healthy vibe. I would say this more of a lunch option than anything else.

A pint of beer on a wooden table.
Mmmm.. Czech beer is one of my favourites!

What to do in Prague

You will have to see the old astronomical clock, but you won’t miss it! It is beautiful and so is the surrounding square, here you can see many different types of architectural styles. Then there is the chain bridge, and all of these are spectacular parts of Prague.

Jewish Quarters

I went on a guided tour through the Jewish Quarters, and I was a bit disappointed. All the buildings from the ghetto were long gone and replaced with the second most expensive street in all of Prague. There are few (or none) signs of what the area once was. A jewish museum founded Hitler, he converted an old jewish school into a museum meant to show the ‘extinct race’ and showcase the fact that they did exist.

There are many Synagogues still in this area, and these are the only building still remaining after the Ghetto, one is the oldest still operating synagogue in the world. One of these synagogues has a cemetery you can visit. This synagogue also has an adjoining museum with probably one of the most horrible permanent exhibitions I could imagine there is. These are left over drawings from children who were murdered in the Nazi-concentration camps. The images depicts life in a concentration camp through the eyes of young children. These images survived time and the nazis since they where often left in the luggage and other belongings kept by the Nazis.

The Communist Museum

This was a fantastic museum to visit as it depicted the Czech history starting with the Nazi occupation and finishing in the fall of the USSR. The museum shows what happened and how the Czech people endured this dictatorship. I really think this museum is worth a visit, it gives a great insight to how life in the Czech communist state was.

The entry to the communist museum  in Prague, a Marx statue and the red star
The entry to the communist museum

My Prague

The rainy and cold city remained charming despite the weather. I love how it was so walkable and I could get around everywhere by foot. With that said, I only crossed the river and didn’t move too far outside the old town.

Arriving at the hostel you notice many people were there to drink beer, but there wasn’t a rowdy crowd at the hostel. The same goes for many of the tourists in town, coming from Amsterdam and Berlin, you notice a difference. There was an increase in both seniors and middle aged people with their families. However, there was many solo travellers making their way through Prague, its a gorgeous city and its nearby or on the way to many other places in Europe.

I spend most of my time walking all throughout the city, looking at all the buildings. I walked aimlessly in the cold, but I didn’t mind. You could tell the Czechs are used to us tourists and they have in many ways accommodated us, so it’s easy to get around without any major issues.

The only really horrible thing I experience was catching my bus to Vienna. I took the bus from the Prague main station and there was NO signs to the buses and on my flixbus ticket it said ‘platform 4’, that didn’t help until I found the actual place. There was no signs directing to platform 4 anywhere in the station.. But, I won’t this reflect my time in Prague too much.

Would you like to know more about my other visits in my Euro-backpacking? You can find all my posts here.

Selfie of a girl in a thick pullover.
Me in a COLD Prague!

Backpacking through Europe; Vienna

Beautiful Vienna was the third stop on my trip, after Prague and Berlin. It was my first time in Vienna and I was excited to see it. Particularly since it was named (second year in a row) as the most liveable city in the world by the Economist. Needless to say expectations where high.

Scooter driving down a street in Vienna, in the background you see the Stephans Dom, the monument of Vienna.
One of Viennas stunning streets with there enormous houses, in the back you can see the gothic ‘Stephans Dom’.

Where to stay in Vienna

Vienna is divided in to districts, district 1 is all of the centre, containing all the biggest sights. I was lucky enough to stay here, because I was staying at my friends gorgeous apartment. I was a 5 minute walk from Stephans platz where the incredible Stephans Dom is.

It’s a bit pricier in district 1, 2 and 3 but Vienna has incredible public transport. Both, U-bahn and S-bahn run across the city but there are also many tram lines across the city so getting anywhere is quick and cheap. So if you wanna save money on accomodation staying a bit in the outer districts is really no problem.

Must see in Vienna

Stephans Dom

As churches goes, the Stephans Dom is absolutely magnificent. It is massive and the roof is something else, it depicts the typical two headed Hapsburg eagle. The Hapsburgs are present throughout the city and they have made their impression on Vienna. The Hapsburg castle and their ‘guesthouse’ are witness to their royal wealth. The Dom is in the very centre of Vienna and its hard to miss, I suggest you have a walk around it and also visit the inside, you won’t regret it!

Museums in Vienna

The Albertina

This is an art museum in the old Hapsburg guest house. The art you can fins at the Albertina are giants like Picasso and Monet. There is for sure a more contemporary feel to the museum rather than classic. But it does have the old Hapsburg rooms left and walking through there you feel the old historical feels.

The World Musum

I loved this museum! It was massive and it contained the personal collection of arch duke Franz Ferdinand. The name the world museum is truly justified as it has something from everywhere.

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Museum of Art History)

This museum probably have more remains from the Roman Empire than Rome does. I found it really fascinating to see all the Mediterranean left overs. This museum had a huge downside, there was no signs in english. That has never happened to me before, and this museum is huge… So you better practice your German before you visit this museum.

Karls Kirche or Charles Church

This church is built on Roman ruins. That has given the church a unique look with the incredible peelers. I haven’t seen anything like that on a church before… You should pop in have a a look inside and up in the big dome of the church. If you are here you might as well walk a short block away and see the soviet liberation monument, a must see and you should look into Viennas special after war history.

Karls Kirche or Charles church, reflected in the fountain infront of the church
The Gorgeous Karls Kirche

The Vienna Wineyards

Vienna is in a valley and the mountains surrounding the city is full of wine yards. These are owned by the catholic church but they have leased them to local farmers (lucky farmers!). When the season is right you need to visit here and try some delicious Vienna wine out. A good reason to get some nature on a city trip.

Eating and dinking in Vienna

There are many restaurants in Vienna and bars. Something you have to try is the Vienna pastries and chocolate.. They love their sweets and they are great at it, so have a little break in a café and try some of the local stuff out.

Vienna is a bit pricier.. And something to keep in mind is that almost everything is closed on Sundays. But some restaurants I recommend are Disco Volante, a great Pizza place, which is SO good. It doesn’t matter what time of the day Ulrich has something to offer., brunch, lunch or dinner! It has everything. Finally it’s worth mentioning Kleines café a fabtastic place to enjoy a beer after a long day of tourism.

A small street in vienna.
One of Viennas many amazing streets.

My Vienna take away

I don’t think I could live in Vienna, even though its fantastic… But, it’s not a city for me! With that said I will definitely return and spend some more days here. All the architecture is wow and the city has a cool history. You feel safe walking around by yourself at any time a day. But I think the city is a bit too ‘grown up’ for my flavour…!

Backpacking through Europe: Berlin

The first stop on my EuroTrip was Berlin. I have never before done backpacking in Berlin, I have only visited as a main destination. This time around I paid more attention to the prices of things. I have always considered Berlin being a cheap city, but in my Europe Route Berlin is one of the more pricey destinations. My wallet thanks me for leaving.

Backpacking in Berlin – Where to stay

My first issue was picking a hostel, particularly since Berlin is hub for party-travellers-and-backpackers. I picked St. Christophers Inn, a little north of Alexander Platz, right by the Mitte-Prenzlauerberg border. Now this neighbourhood is great because its safe, central and up in Prenzlauerberg there are many lovely café, I had to work and study heaps so for me it was a no brainer to go pick this area. With that said, there was a party going on every night at my hostel and the booze was SO cheap. People came and went from the room all night and most slept late in the day. But, it was all good. Berlin is one of Europes Party capitals, considering that my hostel parties were meek. Most people appreciated the bars sport niché showing football and rugby, which frankly isn’t up my alley, but, people loved the place.

Generally, you always have good bars with cheap booze at the Berlin hostels. People are there to enjoy themselves and while I never been a backpacker I have stayed at these hostels ‘private rooms’. Germany has such a good standard of cleanliness in their hostels, our private room and bathroom got cleaned daily, and it was always sparkling clean.

The Berlin Boroughs

If you are considering where to stay in Berlin there are a few areas you need to consider. Pranzlauerberg and Mitte are typically more quiet but still very central. From here it’s easy to get anywhere in the city. Kreuzberg is great, lots of bars and clubs, it’s at the centre of the nightlife, here you have some great neighbourhoods and some very dodgy ones. Most of the remaining anarchist communities resides here. I would also dare to say ‘you stay here in x-berg if you wanna party’.

Friedrichhein is huge, but it has som lovely neighbourhoods with good bars and nightlife. It’s a bit more off than x-berg and you can end off really on the outskirt of Berlin here. Those old soviet union parts are not funny nor pretty. Neukölln is also a great option, it’s central and easy to get to and from. Lots of bars and nightlife here too and it is becoming more and more trendy. This area has typically been at the heart of the huge Turkish community (and it still is) that means you have great food options here.

The Berlin TV-Tower only the top visible in Black and white.
This is the famous TV-tower, did you know they have a TV-tower in the West too? It is tiny and looks like the Eiffel-tower.

Eating in Berlin

Berlin has so much food to offer other than Curry Würst and Döner. The Vietnamese food is delicious and they have so many good Vietnamese restaurants in Berlin and most of them are very cheap. I tried a new restaurant out called ‘Paoblo Pinkel‘ a super fun concept, and easy to share kind of food. It’s also a bar with a great selection of cocktails. I recommend going here if you are gearing up for a night out on the town (the bar is in Neukölln, on the more Northern side towards Kreuzberg-perfect party location)

Things to see in Berlin

I have previously written extensively about Berlin, since I can pride myself with the title Berliner (or maybe ex-Berliner). I have been to most, if not all museums in the city. This is actually not an exaggeration, I have been here on 3 school trips so I really have seen it all. Then living here, I saw even more. If you are looking for som more local tips on what to eat and where to go you can find that post here.

My instagram – here you can follow my travels

How travel changes your life

Dead tree in Nordfjord
Arches with light shining through them in a Mediterranean setting
There is much to discover while travelling.

Have you travelled a lot?

During recent years the travel industry has exploded into hysteria and travelling seems to be on everybody’s lips. There is much content about travelling online and there are even people opting for a vagabond life style, recording their journeys on social media. With that said, this does not apply to everyone. Some people have never had the opportunity to travel and who may wonder how amazing is travelling really? There are many ways how travel changes your life.

For me, the answer is simple I believe that travelling changes your life and it challenges you to become a better person. So, it doesn’t matter if you are an avid traveller or if you are new to the practice, you can still make sure that travelling does really change your life. A great way to getting started if you are new to travels. I recommend the lonely planet, particularly this book, the Travel Book, has lots to say about how to become a traveller.

Travels; A cultural exchange

First and formost, travelling is a cultural exchange. What I mean by that is that where ever you go you are faced with a new and foreign culture. Even if you travel to your neighbouring country, they will have different practices than those you are used too. These cultural exchanges can give you a new and sometimes better way of doing something. For example, when I moved to Amsterdam I started biking and now I can’t imagine taking a bus or a car. This cultural exchange has influenced how I live my life and I am better because of it.

A road to how travel changes your life…

A road in-between to oceans in Spain. Leading towards a city in the far
Travelling down the road. Travels can take you down many roads.

Learn something about yourself

For many, travelling is a way of finding yourself. This may sound cliché but travels really can teach us about ourselves. Particularly if you are travelling on your own. Travels forces you into, sometimes, uncomfortable situations. At home, you have a network of friends and family to rely on, but out in the world you are all alone. This forces you to think for yourself, act by only considering yourself. You learn to trust your instincts and you gather more confidence. This is how travel changes your life, you can never undo what you learn about yourself. Travels will make you grow as a person and maybe even face your most inner fears. Many travellers are vary at first, but this will inevitable grow into a confidence after some time on the road.

Aquire New Tastes

Another way how travel changes your life is how you face new flavours. The best example of this is of course the cuisine of the place you are visiting. At some point in your life you’ve probably eaten pizza, but this is not Italian pizza. But there is so much more, have you had proper tapas or have you eaten authentic Ethiopian food? These are probably all new flavours which you can add to your palette after your travels. Perhaps you may discover a liking to a new style of music, or the Louvre museum showed you the beauty of art. There is much we do not encounter in are safe home setting, mostly out of convenience. Coming back from travels you have the opportunity to rediscover your home town.

Ethiopian food, a mixed platter for four persons
This is a sharing plate of Ethiopian food, one of my personal favourites.

How travel changes your life

As you have seen there are many ways of how travel changes your life. The most important part of how travel changes your life is that it gets you out in the world. You will see things you never could have imagined. You will meet people, make friends and also realise the value of your friends back home. There are so much to learn out there but the first part you will learn about is yourself. I have learnt so much by my travels, I have forced myself working through difficult and sometimes scary situations. I have made friends for life and I have learnt I can be outgoing and talk to anyone and everyone. If you like to know more about me and my journey you can start by reading this. But I can promise you one thing, it will change your life.

Follow my vacation Instagram

Make sure to keep an eye out on my Instagram, here you can find new exciting content each day. This is an easy way for you to follow my vacation up close, and also my life in general. I always provide a lot of background knowledge within my posts. I have always appreciated those small little facts you learn when you travel, that’s why I want to share that with you. Hopefully, you will find my content interesting, I really put in a lot of effort in my content and it is all original content too.

The goal with the instagram is to share my daily life and also the curious things I have learnt from my travels. One continuing source of inspiration has been ‘atlas obscura‘ they list many odd places to see. Sometimes they are even gruesome. What Atlas Obscura has really taught me is that there is so much hidden knowledge in the world. It is free and it is all around us. I want to make that in to a more short and concise concept. Giving you some fun & comprehensive facts about your world.

So add me on instagram so that you can follow my vacation. I would also be really happy to interact with you there.

Discovering Berlin

Berlin, the first city I moved to. I was 19 and everything was exciting. Berlin has so much to offer, particularly when it comes to history. But, where do you go? What do you eat? And where do you go out? All the Berlin boroughs are completely different, moving across the city it is as if you are moving between cities. Everyone has an alternative in Berlin, and Berlin is for everyone. Here follows all you need to know to visit Berlin.

TV tower overlooking Alexanderplatz
The famous east Berlin hallmark of the TV-tower, overlooking Alexanderplatz

Berlin’s Historical sights

Berlins modern history is turbulent. From World War two to GDR and finally the reconciliation of Germany. This has left scars on Berlin, in the East you can still see bullet holes in the house facades. You can even see them in the gate of Brandenburger Tor. Which ones are the musts? and why?

The Stasi Museum

Have you ever heard of the Stasi? The GDR version of KGB or Gestapo, this is the east German secret police. People who entered the GDR can find their files still at the headquarters and the east Germans can find their files there too. This has caused a lot of emotions for the former east germans, because for many who looked in their files has a horrific realisation that their loved ones may have been spies.

Nowadays, the headquarter is firstly a museum to remember the hardships. Interestingly, the building is very difficult to find, it is ‘hidden’ it takes up a complete block in the city but you have to know where to go in order to find it. If you do find it, you can learn how the secret police spied on its citizens and the office of arguably the most powerful man in the GDR, Erich Mielke. They even had a small inventory, to collect the scent of their citizens, a bizarre totalitarian attribute. Fancy visiting? You can learn more here.

The infamous Stasi prison..
The infamous Stasi prison… You can find the picture here.

The Berlin Wall Memorial – The Real Wall

Many of you have seen pictures of East Side Gallery, the famous art on the old Berlin wall. However, doodles and art on the east side of the wall was unthinkable at the time. The gallery suggest that the wall was merely a huge concrete block, it wasn’t. By the end, there was two concrete walls with bob-wire, two paths with guards and dogs, more bob-wire and a mine field, don’t forget about the guard towers. The wall was about 5m broad and there was no chance to cross it.

It is very intriguing to see what the wall actually looked liked. East side gallery is a must, but to get the experience and the real feel, the real wall is a must. This memorial can be found between Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, these are two terrific boroughs. Do you feel like you want to know more? You can find all you need to know here.

The berlin wall with a banksy
This is one of many pieces of the Berlin wall you can find throughout the city. You can find the photo here.

Sachsenhausen

This is one of the worst parts of humanity all in one place. Sachsenhausen is the Berlin concentration camp, just a bit outside the city. You ride the S-bahn until one of the end stations and then a short bus ride, then you reach this odd and sad place. The camp has been kept in a diligent state, they’ve kept some barracks and to see them on the inside is a surreal experience. The gas-chambers have been torn down and are now only a ruin, but they have saved photos so you can get a vivid image of what it must have looked like.

To visit a concentration camp is uniquely weird experience and there is nothing to compare with. The institutional and efficient mass murder is an oddity in humanity, although there have been countless genocides in the world, the pure efficiency of this one makes it uncanny. If you feel like this is a place worth visiting, which I have to insist it truely is, you can find out more here.

An gas chamber in the nazi concentration camp, dachau..
The gas chambers where often labeled as showers or ‘brausebad’ in order to not create panic amongst the people being hurdled in. You can find the picture here.

Eating in Berlin

Berlin is fairly cheap, particularly alcohol and food, so you can find great meals for a good amount. It is also a hub for many international flavours, the Turkish influence is well known, but did you know that Berlin has an astonishing amount of Vietnamese food too. Here I will list some of Berlins best foods.

Burgermeister

Alright, this one had to be mentioned. It is the best fries I have ever had and the burgers are definitely no disappointment either. The chili-cheese fries are beyond delicious, and I never had anything like it since. The ‘venue’ is quite unique too, it is in an old public toilet underneath the U-bahn, right by Schlesisches Tor. So do your tastebuds a favour and visit Burgermeister.

Burgermeister in Berlin, at Schlesisches tor
Burgermeister picture from visitberlin.de

Madami

This is one of Berlins best Vietnamese restaurants. Madami not only has a great and cozy venue but they also have really, really tasty food. The area is also great, it is in the southern parts of Prenzlauer Berg. Perhaps a bit ironically, but there are many Vietnamese restaurants in this area and honestly they are all really good.

Weihenstephaner

This may be a bit of a curve ball, but the Weihenstephaner is traditional German food. The venue is more than 200 years old and is therefore one of the oldest buildings in Berlin. The name Weihenstephaner may strike a cord for you, that’s not strange, the Weihenstephaner is a famous brewery making traditional German beer. So if you wanna try something ‘authentical’ old German, this restaurant is for you.

Beers flowing from a draft
Weihenstephaner is perfect to get som good beers into you, The Germans take much pride in their ‘purity laws’ and this brewery is one of the originals. You can find the picture here.

Malakeh

This restaurant serve is a must, Malakeh has amazing food. It is recognises as such too, it was voted 1 of top 5 new restaurants in Berlin by Vogue. The interior is fresh and cozy, which definitely contributes to a lovely dinner. This is a real touch to Syria and sitting in the restaurant you can almost forget that you are in Berlin. You will get an urge to travel to Syria for a foodfest, but Malakeh is a good start.

Nights in Berlin

Berlin has one of Europes busiest nightlife, living in several other cities after my Berlin debut taught me this. There is no match for the nightlife, it is full on all the time. But where you go and what to do is tricker. If it’s summer, I recommend you try and find a ‘open air’. They are everywhere and they are without any doubt the best experience. Besides that here follows some bars and clubs which will make your Berlin visit.

Süß war gestern

Sweet was yesterday, indeed it was. This club or rather bar with a dance floor is where the locals go. The venue has a funky 60’s vibe perpetuated by the ‘oh-so-60s’ tapestry covering the walls. If you are looking for a big night out, this is a good place to start your evening. This bar/club can be found in Friedrichhein (F-hein).

Sisyphos

Photo taken from Foursquare

Berghein is for the tourists, the locals go to Sisyphos. In true Berlin spirit, the club throws parties from Fridays until Mondays, and of course it’s not closed in between.

The vibe is intense and calm, as Berlin is probably the only place in the world where that combination is possible. This is the sort of places where the bouncer will scan you head-to-feet and question whether you can handle the club. Play it cool, at least pretend that you can, once you are in, you are left fending for yourself.

MS Hoppetosse

This bar and club, Hoppetosse, is quite spectacular for one reason. It is on a boat. If you are a bit tipsy, this is a funny fact. The club itself is like many Berlin clubs, but it’s on a boat so it does get some props for that fact. It is also in a great location, in Kreuzberg, nearby other really cool Berlin clubs like, Watergate and Wilde Renate. These two are much like Hoppetosse (and like most Berlin clubs) the beat is always techno and the crowd is cool and casual.

Madame Claude

This is not your typical bar, well they serve beer and everything so don’t worry. The atypical nature of this bar comes from the furniture. There is a 70’s feel all throughout the bar but what is even more remarkable is that the furniture is in the ceiling. Have you ever seen a TV upside down? Probably not, but this certainly causes some giggles.

Other things to see in Berlin

A must is Alexanderplatz and the world clock. The giant Karl Marx street testifies to the communist roots of East Berlin. To walk in Tiergarten on a sunny day is magnificent. How about eating a great brunch on one of the many breakfast places in Prenzlauer Berg? There is so much to do, and Berlin is easy to get lost in, walking through the boroughs and seeing each one of their unique history. Berlin truly is one of a kind.

Alexanderplatz the world clock and TV tower
A legendary view over Alexplatz- A must visit in Berlin. You can find the picture here.

5 venues you can’t miss in London

London, one of the most vibrant cities in Europe, this massive capital homes many, countless expats. Even though the UK is experiencing ‘Brexit’ the city will always be international, it is the very nature of London. The city consists of more than 8 million people, so it can be difficult to know exactly what to do and where to go. I had the fortune to spend 1 year in this city & I will tell you about 5 venues you can’t miss in London.

Sketch

Sketch bathrooms
The famous bathroom pods of Sketch

This odd place is a bar & restaurant, but also much more. Sketch has those iconic bathroom pods. Perhaps you have some trendy London friends, then you you’ve surely seen some instagrams of this iconic venue. The ‘blood’ giving life to this venue is art. The walls are covered in a tasteful art decor.

The Venue is huge, a three story Georgian building, it stands out in the Mayfair area. But, it has only been Sketch since the early 2000, which to be fair, still is a long time nowadays.

Remember that art IS this venue and that goes for the food too. All the dishes are nothing other than spectacular. You will get a work of art on your plate, so exquisite you will not want to eat it.

Flight Club Darts

If you think of the UK, what comes to mind? Pubs. That’s right! And what does those pubs have? Darts. Precisely. Imagine a modern take on this, with a very relevant software update (That is, darts minus math) you have Flight Club Darts. They have two venues, but the O.G one is in Shoreditch. This venue has kept the traditional pub feeling, but giving it a much needed upgrade.

The venue is centred around darts, obviously. But, they have fantastic and unique cocktails and a bottomless brunch on Sundays. Perfect for getting tipsy on mimosa and filling up on tasty pizzas. They serve other food too, but this is more British bar food. Nothing wrong with that but this is fries and a burger rather than a fantastic salad.

A dart board in the dark
Have you ever played darts? I LOVE IT. You can find the picture here.

Duck & Waffle

Duck on a waffle from the London skyline restaurant Duck and Waffle
This is the famous Duck & waffle, it is insanely tasty.

This venue is famous, Duck & Waffle does not only have a skyline view from the 40 -something floor. But, they are open 24/7, you can go here and view the London skyline at any time of the day.

Since they are open 24/7 they have all courses of the day on the menu. They of course have a lot of things to drink too, containing alcohol. The famous Duck & Waffle is served all day, since it is their signature dish.

If you want to have the best view of London? And visit a cozy & classy restaurant? Duck and Waffle is a must.

Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC)

ECC in London, a small table in a corner
Not at primetime, but a small table for an intimate date.

I have never felt as sneaky as when I went here. This one is an inside tip, since you have to enter a random door in china town (looking awfully residential) and walk up some stairs and voilà, a bar. The ECC is cozy and dark with brilliant cocktails, it is perfect to bring a date around.

The vibe is low-key, there is a communal feeling of being a bit special. We all made it here, to a secret bar. There is a soft and secluded vibe, whoever you bring here will be seriously impressed with your London-knowledge.

Be daring, grab that secret door and have a tasty, tasty cocktail. The venue is a whole apartment complex and it is truely Unique.

Bounce

The last unique must see venue is Bounce. This bar has a unique concept, it is a ping pong bar! The game vibe is awesome, you hire a table and order some beers and of course they serve pizzas too. The bar is typically very dark with neon colouring, a perfect way to start your night out.

Of course, there menu is full of signature cocktails and none of them are a disappointment. The drinks have a reasonable London price, that is, it’s not a complete rip off. This together with the fact that its ping pong makes the crowd a tad younger, not necessarily too young, but if you wanna hang out with 35 year olds perhaps look elsewhere. However, this is to be taken a bit lightly, if you are 50+ and enjoy ping pong, don’t let the crowds typical age discourage you.

Ping pong tables in a cool underground setting
I may be a good dart player, but I have little skills in ping pong… How about you? You can find the picture here.

Would you like to see some photos of London? View my gallery here.

Amsterdam; get the authentic experience

Emma In amsterdam
This is me enjoying the Amsterdam sun, a late summers day.

Have you visited Amsterdam? Then you’ve probably been stuck in the centre of Amsterdam with all the tourist and tacky shops. But this city has so much more to offer than expensive souvenir and pretty canals. I have lived 2 years in Amsterdam and has managed to gather a lot of local knowledge about the city. It is with pleasure I will give you a full on guide to this city.

Morning in Amsterdam

I have always found that what you do in the mornings determine your day. I also think that eating breakfast out is one of the most luxurious things one can do. The tricky part is finding the best breakfast and brunch places and Amsterdam is full of them. Here I will list some of my all time favourite Amsterdam Brunches

Staring at Jakob

This massive plate is the ‘all around veggie’

Do you want a boozy brunch? Pitcher of mimosa sound appealing? How about a waffle with some fried chicken? The all around veggie plate is delicious! Sounds good? This is a very filling brunch, and very tasty. Their venue is cozy too, but usually popular so book a table on advance. They have two locations in Amsterdam so there if always on nearby. You find it here.

The Breakfast club

This is the ‘Mexico City’ Brekkie

This chain also has several venues across Amsterdam, but the one ate Bellamystraat is by far the cosiest. Their menu is super fresh but also cheat yummy and they have a different daily pancake. I full-heartedly recommend the ‘Mexcio City Breakfast’. You can find more information about this place here.

Bakers & Roasters

If you are in Amsterdam, you are likely to have a hangover. Then this place is perfect. Besides being very instagram-friendly, they have a variety of eggs, sweets and bowls. A perfect way to get a fresh start to the day and they have boozy options too, if you’d like a more party start to your day. You can find the restaurant here.

Coffee & Coconuts

Perhaps you fancy a healthier brekkie? No worries, this place have a smashingly healthy menu, for both brunch and lunch. The coffees are so so soo great and the venue has a cool Hawaii vibe. It is like you were to step in to a different place ad you left the busy borough of ‘De Pijp’. You can find this place here.

After brekkie there are several beautiful things to view in Amsterdam and perhaps you feel like you need to compensate for all those pancakes? I think a long walk is perfect after a full brunch, if the Dutch weather allows. I have many favourite routes to walk and here are a few must ‘see’ which are perfect for a slow morning.

The Seven bridges

These lovely bridges are nearby ‘Rembrandtplein’ follow a canal down to ‘De Pijp’. They are said to be seven identical bridges, you can see this through the bridges’ arches.

The Amstel

This iconic river gave the city its name. The river follows the east side of the city all the way north passed the central station and the Ij (another river). The river is fairly broad and filled with house boats and one of the most expensive hotels in Amsterdam, the InterContinental. This is definitely out of my price range, but the building is very impressive and its a nice walk along the river up to the city centre. You will also pass some famous bridges and the famous dancing houses.

Vondelpark

This is the biggest park in Amsterdam but tourists rarely make it to the southend of the park. Many are biking, walking and rollerblading through this park, and others are sitting on the grass having a drink or a simple picnic. To take a ‘long-cut’ through the park is often worth it. If you walk along the east side of the park, you will get to see some amazing realestate facing the park.

 Blue Tea House in Vondelspark
This is the Blue Tea House in Vondelspark, It is brewery and the beers are very tasty! Perfect for a sunny day!

Lunch in Amsterdam

This beautiful dish you can find at ‘the Avocado Show’

After any busy day in Amsterdam you should definitely treat yourself to a tasty lunch. There are some restaurants that are a must visit for lunch. The Avocado show, they have two venues, one is very small right by Vondelpark -perfect for a takeaway to eat in the park. Their avocado dishes are nothing but masterpieces. Another great lunch place is Cabrón, a Mexican food bar on the big market street “Albert Cyup straat”. This Restaurant has several tasty tacos and is very price worthy, I love ordering several tacos and splitting them amongst my company, a lovely way of enjoying your company. The last lunch place is brilliant, the Box Sociaal, this awesome restaurant is Australian inspired. They have both health and more fatty thing on the menu, alongside funky Aussie beers.

Fancy a really unique lunch? I suggest you visit the foodhallen this is a permanent food-market, with 21 stands selling a wide variety of food. This is perfect if you can’t decide on the same thing to eat or if you have to escape the rain a visit here is perfect.

Museums in Amsterdam

After Lunch, a museum might be exactly what you need. Particularly if the weather is acting up and you need to escape the ever returning rain. Here follows my list of the best museums in Amsterdam.

The Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum with the IAmsterdam

This museum is iconic, not so for the content but the building is massive and resemble the central station, this is because it’s the same architect. The Rijks incorporates the ‘Dutch Golden Age’ not only the building, but the museum displays all the Dutch Masters and the crown jewel the Night Watch. In the museum you can walk for hours, it is huge. But a heads up, it is an art museum so you should enjoy watching paintings. Here you can find some more information about the Rijksmuseum.

The Tropenmuseum

You may not have heard of this museum before, it is not at the museumplein (museum square) and its not popular amongst tourists. This Museum deals with the former Dutch colonies, such as Indonesia and Surinam, and of course many more. I think the museum is beautiful and unique, but it does not properly deal with colonisation, the Dutch (not all), can have a lenient view of their colonies and there is definitely a underlaying conflict about their national role in the Dutch society. I would like to hear what you would have to say about that, so if you have had the opportunity to visit it, let me know what your impression was.

The Micropia

If you are a germaphobe, don’t go to Micropia. This museum is filled with rotten and mouldy things, I have never washed my hands as frenetically as I did afterward my visit here. However, it very unique and I have never experienced anything like it. Here you’ll open your eyes to a hidden world.

The Van Gogh

Never ever ask a Dutch person to pronounce the painters name, it will spoil it for you. No worries, the Van Gogh museum and its art though will not be spoiled. His art is beautiful and so is the museum, but you have to be a fan of art to appreciate it.

Other Museums Worth a Mention

There are many, many other museums in Amsterdam, the museum density is high. Surely, you’ve heard of Anne Frank, in Amsterdam you can see the attic where her and her family hid from the nazis. Their home has remained somewhat intact, but a heads up is to book tickets in advance here.

Another unique museum is the ‘prostitution museum‘ of course this museum can be found in the ‘red-light district’. Amsterdam is famous for their huge sex-district and liberal sex-view. So, if you find the girls in the window peculiar, visit the museum and to learn some more about it.

What more you can do an afternoon in Amsterdam

Of course, there are several other things to do then visiting museums. Here you get some of my top picks for an Amsterdam afternoon.

Bridge in AMsterdam
One of Amsterdams many adorable bridges.

Boat tour

One of the by far best way to see the city, I cannot stress this enough. Some of my best afternoons and days have been spent on the canals. This is perfect if you are a bit of a bigger group, because then you can rent a boat on by yourselves. Otherwise, this may be a bit too pricey, but there are so many other fun options for this, not only the hop-on-hop-off alternative. I recommend these two, Boat Amsterdam and Mokum boat. Make sure to bring something tasty to eat and fun to drink, but make sure you follow the traffic rules.

Bike Hire

Amsterdam is made for biking, seriously. After living here I have become an avid biker and I urge you to join the fad. More importantly, it’s a fun way of seeing the city, it is no joke the fastest way to get around in this city. There are many companies who provide bikes, so you’ll never go without a bike, to mention one try Mac Bike. If you wanna bike in Amsterdam, you have to be prepared of some aggressive locals screaming at you. The Dutch are basically born on bikes and are far better than you are at biking and most get very frustrated at the tourists who destroy their work commutes. Stay safe and keep the tempo up!

Shopping

You could walk along Kalverstraat, here you have all the cheap big brands, H&M, Zara, Urban Outfitters, Pull & bear, Mango and etc. If you want more poshbrands you have to wander a bit more south, just to the west of museumplein a street called P.C. Hooftstraat. Finally, you have the 9 streets, or de 9 straatjes here you find trendy and pricy brands, such as Acne and Samsø&Samsø, but you also have a vast amount of second hand stores too. The area is adorable, it’s called Jordaan and you can find many nice cafés along the streets.

Keukenhof

Holland is famous for clogs and tulips, and at Keukenhof you can see the latter. At least, during the spring since the season is pretty brief you will have to time this. To get here is a bit of a hassel, it in a different city but there are many resellers of tickets for entry and ride here. If you can’t be bothered? just walk through the famous flower market.

Amsterdamse Bos

This photo is taken from a canoe in the ‘Amsterdamse Bos’

Sometimes you really miss the nature, then the Amsterdamse Bos is the perfect excursion. This is a man-made forest popular amongst the locals, just jump on your bike (or take the metro) and head over. Since it is man-made you have pavements and cafés along the forest, which for me renders it as a wild-grown park rather than forest, but the Dutch thinks of it as a forest. Here you can go to swim and you can hire a canoe or simply walk around enjoying the green trees.

Dinner in Amsterdam

Finally dinner time, and Amsterdam has so many great restaurants to offer, spoiler they are not in the centre. Here follows a list of not only the tastiest but also the most price worth food, since Amsterdam is expensive you can pay 25 euros for a below decent meal in the centre.

Fenan klein

Wow, wow, WOW! This is one of my favourite restaurants ever, which is a big sell. But Fenan Klein really has a uniqueness to them, it’s run by a family and it’s only the four of them working there. The venue feels very homey, like you are in their living room and the service they give is top quality. They serve everything in traditional Ethiopian style, so you’ll eat with your fingers and your group will share a big ‘plate’ all together.

Sharing plate at Fenan Klein
This is a sharing ‘plate’ you get at Fenan Klein, and its AMAZING!!

Barrica Wine & Food bar

This is a bit more pricey, but it is so worth it. This is a Spanish tapas bar with a focus on wine, their staff is very talented and can easily help you with the wine selection. Barrica’s food is well made, using fresh and good ingredients, put together in a fantastic manner. The venue is trendy and dark, with small lights making it romantic and perfect for a date.

De Kas

First course at the kas
One of the many courses at ‘de kas’

This is a very unique restaurant, at de Kas every ingredient is grown their, with a very few exceptions. That means the menu is seasonal, a very fascinating concept , but more importantly, the taste is marvellous. This food is pricey, but it is beyond tasty, so if you have anything to celebrate do it here. The menu actually doesn’t exist, you pay for amount of courses, since they only cook the current seasonal food. The venue is really cool, it goes well with their notion of sustainability.

Umaimon

This is a hidden gem in the centre, a ramen restaurant with not only tasty Ramen but also pricey worth. Umaimon is one of the cheaper options in Amsterdam, you buy a bowl of Ramen and beer for around 20 euros. Perfect before a night out, you get really full and don’t spend to much money, besides its in the middle of Amsterdam so you are nearby everything.

Evening in Amsterdam

After dinner the night is yours, perhaps a walk around the redlight? this is a busy area in Amsterdam with many tourists, because nowhere else in the world do you have anything like this. But, please don’t take pictures of the girls in the windows, its really rude. Around these neighbourhood there are many coffeeshops too, filled with stoned tourists and usually very lively, the ones on the outskirts are more quite.

Bars

Best place to go is around Gerard Douplein, near Bar Mash a fun bar with great cocktails. Around here you have many more bars like it, the green butterfly , Pils Vogel, EscoBAR and calle8. These bars gets pumping and people are dancing later in the evenings perfect if you don’t wanna go clubbing but still stay out late.

Rembrandtplein is typically also popular amongst tourists and there are many cheap bars around here, like Coco’s outback an Aussie bar which usually gets rowdy. But you have much more around here, except local Amsterdamers.

There are two other bars worth a mention. If you find yourself here on a beautiful day with a hot sun, you need to visit Waterkant, it will be very busy if the weather is good, so its perfect for a summer party vibe. The other is Reyleigh and Ramsey, a very unique concept where you top up a card and can use it in the wine dispensers, they have about 100 wines and you can buy a taste, half and full glass. It is very funny and the staff is very knowledgeable and will be able to help you with all your wine-questions. It is perfect if you wanna get a bit boozy. in a classy environment.

Reyleigh & Ramsley winebar in Amsterdam
This is my favourite Wine bar, Reyleigh & Ramsley

Clubs

Techno is the trend in Amsterdam, so this is probably what you will encounter at the club. One of the biggest and trendiest clubs is De School, for those who are familiar with Berlin, this club is the closest you get to a Berlin vibe. Another similarish club, but a bit more mainstream is the Marktkantine this is a popular club which fits most people. If you fancy a bit more posh clubs I suggest you visit Chin chin club, which have a karaoke and tree inside. You can also have dinner here, but that doesn’t look to nice since people are very loud around.. But hey that’s up to you!

I hope you’ve found this informative, if you like to see some more pictures suss out my gallery here.

Me drinking red wine.
Cheers! Hope you enjoy your full on day(s) in Amsterdam!

Visiting Stockholm; what to do?

Stockholm at sunset. You can find the picture here.

Travelling can be challenging, since you always strive for the local experience. For people visiting Stockholm, this must be particularly challenging. The Nordic countries are infamous for their coldness, fear not, I will provide you with a full on guide to the real Stockholm.  I grew up in Stockholm, I found that growing up there I never explored the city. There was rarely a time when I discovered new things, and I’ve been to all the museums on school excursions. But I cannot recall anything about my visits to them. There is an innate bias against my home city, with that said, as I’ve become a swede abroad, and on my many returns I have finally been given the chance to explore my beautiful hometown and I have gained some new found appreciation.

Which borough is the best?

This is a fairly straight forward question anyone and everybody ought to ask in a new city. Of course, this may also depend on your own preferences. But I will describe the most relevant ones and what to expect in each borough.

The image is borrowed from here.

Södermalm
Old street at sodermalm stockholm
Typical Södermalm-looking street

This trendy part of Stockholm is home too many popular bars. There is amazing shopping throughout this borough, such as the high-end Stockholm brands like, Filippa K, Acne & Whyred. In the summer ‘medis’ or medborgarplatsen is filled with restaurant seating. Trying a shrimp toast or crayfish sandwich at the legendary ‘Kvarnen‘ is a must. from Slussen the North/East end (towards Gamla stan) to the southern part the street ‘Götgatan’ runs and here you can find heaps of shopping. Don’t miss cool restaurants such as the ‘Bistro Bananas’ who serve delicious vegan food and pizzas (they have meat options too, for those of you who worry).

Lots to see along ‘Hornsgatan’

Running in the opposite direction from Slussen is ‘Hornsgatan’, towards Hornsgatan. At the end of the Island, you find Hornstull, here you have a beach and park where you can swim, drink & have a BBQ. Generally public drinking isn’t allowed in Sweden, but the ‘Tantolunden’ is exempted. At this part of Södermalm you also find ‘Hornhuset‘ which hosts a bunch of bars and restaurants. Perfect for a trendy evening out.

Skinnarviksberget in stockholm
The view from Skinnarviksberget

On ‘Hornsgatan’ you have a bunch of hidden gems. Restaurant ROST a trendy Pizza restaurant with contemporary Swedish Pizzas and tasty semi-local beers. Fancy some Spanish food? Suss out out ‘Ramblas‘ by Mariatorget.  This square ‘Mariatorget’, is home to heaps of bars and restaurants, it’s easy to find some nice places to hangout around here. Nearby ‘Hornsgatan’, you have one of the best viewpoints of Stockholm, on the top of a mountain. So if you feel like a unique point of view, suss out ‘Skinnarviksberget‘.

There is another trendy and hidden from tourists area at Södermalm, a square called ‘Nytorget’. Its easy to walk from both ‘Slussen’ and ‘Medis’. But, walking from ‘Slussen’ you’ll have the chance to get a terrific view over Stockholm. Around Nytorget, you’ll find some cool clothing stores and great cafés. Such as this remarkable place ‘Urban Deli’, perfect for both lunch and dinner, they have several locations in Stockholm, but this is my personal favourite, although another one of them have a lovely roof terrace. At Urban Deli, they have an emphasis on good and fresh food, they have their own grocery store. Around this area you have loads of bars too, perfect for a night out.

The hidden gems

Nearby ‘Skanstull’ you have two very local hidden gems. First is the ‘Thaiboat‘ this is a restaurant on a boat who serve thai-food, as the name gives away. On this boat, the food is amazing, but what’s even more impressive is the beach where you can have a delicious cocktail. The decor is exotic and funny, the whole experience is very enjoyable. Just ‘around the corner’ you have one of Stockholm’s best Night Clubs ‘Trädgården‘ this has a more trendy vibe rather than a posh. It has a ‘Söder-vibe’ truly incorporating the Söder-feels. So if you’ve fallen in love with Södermalm, Trädgården is a must to finish the evening off.

Gamla Stan
Thin street in a typical stockholm street
This is a typically smal street in Gamla Stan. You can find the picture here

This small island north of Södermalm is the old town of Stockholm. Here you have the castle and the old church, the ‘Storkyrkan‘ still have a catholic vibe, although Sweden is protestant, the King(s) have chosen to let the church remain decorated in a catholic vibe, the Castle itself is open to visitors and have a museum in the basement, exhibiting the clothes worn by the royals throughout the centuries. The small island also borders to ‘Drottninggatan’ the biggest shopping street in Stockholm. Before that, you will pass a tiny island where the parliament is located. Experiencing this view is amazing, overlooking Grand Hotel and the castle. All the buildings around here are old and colourful, giving a true Stockholm feeling.

The area of Gamla Stan is crawling with tourists, and there are many shops and restaurants directed at the tourist, and many traps. Particularly at ‘Västerlånggatan’ & ‘Österlånggatan’ I’d say; ‘stay clear off’. But, wander off a bit and you will find breathtaking streets with cosy cafés and restaurants. It is a tiny island and you can easily explore every part of it. I did have the chance to go to a ‘touristy’ restaurant, in Gamla Stan, a viking restaurant, with the full decor and dishes. It was amazing, what an experience it was fun (& expensive), I was also surprised that the food was very tasty. I full heartedly recommend this viking restaurant ‘Aifur‘ it truly is an enjoyable experience.

Where the locals go

By the docks, facing the ‘Djurgården’ you have some very lovely bar/restaurants which is a popular spot any warm summer day. Particularly ‘Mr. French‘ is seemingly packed at any given sunny day. The food they serve is delicious too, I definitely recommend a visit at the restaurant.

Norrmalm & Östermalm

This massive borough is mostly divided into smaller parts. Like, Vasastaden, Gärdet etc. Most significant is that this, particularly Östermalm is associated with the posher parts of Stockholm. If you fancy some expensive shopping, here you can visit ‘Biblioteksgatan’ a shopping street, NK (Nordiska Kompaniet) and Mood Gallerian.  The latter two are high-end malls, where you can find any fashion brand imaginable.

In this areas you have some famous landmarks, Hötorget (the Haymarket) where, Konserthuset,  the concert hall is located, a big blue building. This is where the Nobel price ceremony is held. There is yet another high-end mall here too, P.U.B, which bridges Hötorget and Drottninggatan, the biggest shopping street stretching from Gamla Stan through the parliament and beyond Hötorget.

A back-pocket of a Michelin restaurant
This is Oaxen’s lovely outside seating.

The famous square ‘Sergels Torg’ by Central station is also here. but it is not necessarily something you need to see. It is much nicer walking towards Djurgården and through Kungsträdgården. Djurgården is very beautiful and you have both two of my favourite restaurants there, Skroten and Oaxen.

There is a square called ‘Stureplan’ here you have a hectic nightlife and many posh clubs night clubs. Usually the nightclubs have a higher age limit that what’s required by law. Typically its 23-25 y/o, but on Wednesdays you’ll be able to get in if your younger. Of course, if you are 20 etc, you may be let in on a Friday and Saturday too, but then it’s usually better to be on the list or be a bit early.

Something unique

Do you fancy Market Halls? Östermalm has one of Stockholm’s best one, definitely most beautiful Market Halls, ‘Östermalms Saluhall‘ is terrific local market. Lots of great coffees around for those Swedish ‘fikas’ (The verb for having a coffee or tea & Kanelbulle with a friend). The area is also very local and non-touristic, so can get that ‘Stockholm-feel’ and seamlessly melt in the local surrounding. 

Are you looking for dinner in this area? There is a lot of restaurants around these neighbourhoods. ‘Taverna Brillo‘ right at Stureplan is a great dinner place right before a night out. The restaurant is huge, with more casual dinners to proper ones too. It’s a very cool vibe throughout the venue and the atmosphere is excellent. Fancy some meat or fish? I suggest you visit ‘Kött & Fiskbaren‘ the fresh food is of top quality and the staff is very knowing. In addition, they have great cocktails! The last restaurant I will mention is ‘Brasserie Balzac‘ a french inspired vibe with lovely staff and delicious food, what more could you wish for? 

Perhaps you are keen for some bubbles and cheese? Then visit the trendy new ‘Cavabaren‘ There menu includes oysters, iberico ham and many more tapas. Of course there is an emphasis on Cava! The venue is super trendy and cosy. Definitely a place you’d like to hang around at.

Kungsholmen
Stockholm's city hall
This is what the Stockholm city hall looks like at night. Behind it you see the Kungsholmen. You can find the picture here.

Nearby Central station you can see ‘Stockolms Stadshus’, the city hall, with the 3 crowns.  At the beginning of the borough ‘Kungsholmen’, although being more residential, the area has a lot of lovely restaurants such as ‘Orangeriet‘ the atmosphere of the place is incredible.

Walking along the water by the city hall, you see across to the island of Södermalm, a very pretty view. You will see the ‘München Bryggeriet’ and the skinnarviksberget. Along this walk, you’ll pass a lovely café, right on the water side with an idyllic feeling. Definitely worth a visit, the café is called ‘Mälarpaviljongen‘ and at night it turns in to a bar with latish opening hours when the weather allows for it. To visit Kungsholmen definitely accounts for an experience in the real Stockholm. 

Missing trees?

On Kungsholmen there is a huge park, Rålambshovsparken, in this park there is a very unique bar ‘The Boule bar’,  although they do have several locations, this is a personal favourite. The serve, brunch, lunch and dinner, that’s beside the main point of the bar, to play the game boule. It’s a lot of fun to do with a group of friends whilst enjoying some tasty alcoholic beverages.

Feel like you are missing nature and a swim? Then I suggest you visit the ‘Fredhällsbadet‘ a lovely swimming spot right at Kungsholmen. Even though you are in central Stockholm, the nature is very present.

Other Boroughs- also key to the real Stockholm
The beautiful Stockholm Archipelago
This is what the nature in Stockholm can look like. Both at liljeholmen and at Fredhälls. This picture is taken from here..

There are of course other boroughs and much more to see of Stockholm. But these are the main areas you’ll be moving within on your visit. Something that is very unique to Stockholm is its archipelago. It consists of more than 20.000+ islands, and some are Grinda and Sandhamn popular and easy to get to. Here you can spend a night at a Wärdshus, a local in, typically serving amazing food. There are many people living here seasonally, but some are all-year-arounders, regardless life is flourishing in the summers. So, if you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, give it a visit. It’s an experience you won’t regret. 

Want to see some more photos of Stockholm? Suss out my Gallery!