A Day at Walt Disney World Orlando

I have very fond memories of the Disney World parks in Orlando. I used to go there on vacation with my parents as a kid. It’s been 15 years since my last visit and this was Pieter’s first time at any of the Disney parks. So, we were both pretty excited to be there. We had one day-hopper tickets which meant we could visit all 4 theme parks in one day. We originally wanted to end the day at Magic Kingdom in order to watch the fireworks show at the end. But the day we went, they had an especial Halloween show which meant no fireworks. We decided to start at Magic Kingdom instead.

We arrived bout 15 minutes before the park opened. I do recommend to try to go on a weekday if you can, and arriving a bit before the park opens. Then you can go straight to the most popular attraction that you want to go to, and can skip the lines. After buying some souvenirs and taking a mandatory picture in front of Cinderella’s castle, we headed straight towards space mountain. I had forgotten how much fun rollercoasters are. We got some pineapple Dole Whip at Aloha Isle, which was very welcome since it was scorching hot that day. We also grabbed a Mickey pretzel with cheese sauce.

We then took the bus towards Disney’s Hollywood studios and headed straight towards the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

We were too late to book a fast pass for this, so we waited about an hour in line. It was well worth it though. This was both our favorite ride that day. Then we went to Aerosmith’s rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. This was so much fun and we only waited in line for about 10 minutes. We had a corn dog and then took another bus towards Epcot center.

There was a Food & Wine festival at Epcot so we grabbed some bites to eat at a few stands.

Then I had some shaved ice at the Japan Pavilion. We had some funnel cake with powdered sugar. This was so good and I haven’t had it in ages. We walked through the rest of the countries and then finished it off by going on Mission Space.

We had an amazing day at Disney and loved going to the thrill rides.

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A Guide to the Tulip Fields in the Netherlands

It’s only since I moved to the Netherlands that I get so excited about spring. I’ve always liked spring, it’s warmer and it means that summer is coming. But we don’t have these kinds of flowers fields in Peru.

The famous Keukenhof gardens are gorgeous don’t get me wrong. I’ve been there twice and I’ve really enjoyed it. But it’s the endless sea of flowers in the fields that take my breath away every time. The tulip season is around mid-April to early May. When to go is a bit tricky since it is very weather dependent. But I think late April is usually best, especially if you are coming from abroad and planning this trip in advance. I always check the geo tags in Lisse in April to keep an eye for when the tulips start to bloom. This year we were also lucky that a colleague of Pieter, who lives in Lisse, was keeping an eye on the fields for us. She told us to go on the weekend of the 21st of April.

Lisse and its surroundings (Noordwijkerhout)

By bike:

For the first few years, we went to see the fields by bike. We would take the train from Amsterdam to Hillegom Station and take our bikes with us. We would take the train from Sloterdijk Station with a change in Haarlem. It takes about 25-30 minutes in total. You can also take it from Central station. It’s the same route just one stop before the one we take. If you bring your bike, don’t forget to pay the extra fee when you buy your ticket or load the fee on your transport card. Keep in mind that the train station in Hillegom is very small. It is more a stop than a station, so no bike rentals there. You can always rent a bike in Amsterdam.

You can check 9292.nl to plan your train ride. It is also in English. They also have an app which you can download into your phone.

I still remember getting off the train and you are immediately welcomed by the scent of the Hyacinth fields. From there we would just bike towards Lisse (using google maps) and from then on just get lost. We usually see google maps on satellite, there you can see which areas are fields. And you can use that as reference.

By car:

In the past couples of years, we’ve been visiting the fields by car. Just so we could cover more ground in less time. Depending on the time you go, some fields might already be cut down and in some the flowers may not be open yet. Which means you need to keep exploring, which by car is much easier and faster than biking. It takes about 30 minutes to get there from Amsterdam.

Flevoland Tulip route:

Lisse is not the only area in the Netherlands with flower fields. It is definitely the most popular and touristy, but Flevoland (north east of Amsterdam) also has gorgeous fields. We even saw much larger ones here than in Lisse. This year we also visited the area of Dronten in Flevoland. On their website, there is a walking, biking and car route. You can see them here. But since we went later in the season we decided to rent a car again. And we were happy we did because the distances between the fields were longer. The drive there is only about 1 hour. Once we were in Dronten, we drove around for around 3 hours and found some gorgeous fields and hardly any people. It might also had to do with the fact that it rained that day but still we didn’t see any tourist buses like when we visit the area of Lisse.

There are also flower fields where you can actually pick your own bouquet. I wrote about one of them here.

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and Youtube channel.

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A weekend in Vienna at 25Hours Hotel MuseumsQuartier

Vienna has been on my list for a while. So when Pieter got a birthday party invitation, we booked our tickets. We thought it would be a good excuse to visit, since both of us had never been. We stayed at the 25Hours Hotel at the Museum Quarter.

We arrived Friday morning and took the CAT train which takes about 17 minutes to get to the center of Vienna. From there we took the metro, and after a few stops we arrived at our destination. The hotel has a good connection, so it was just a short walk away.

We arrived quite early and our room wasn’t ready yet, so we decided to take a mini road trip. We had read that the Wachau Valley was beautiful and it was only 1.5 hours drive from Vienna. The hotel has a collaboration with MINI and they offer guests a car to rent out for free. It’s on a first come, first serve basis but when we arrived they still had one left. So we decided to take it and drive there for a bit since the weather was beautiful. The scenery was definitely pretty, we just thought that it would have been better to visit in late spring, or fall. We saw a few trees with blossoms but other than that they trees didn’t have any leaves yet.

25hours hotel Vienna

By the time we came back, our room was ready. This hotel is very hip, unlike some places in Vienna which are more traditional. The cool décor makes you feel more relaxed. For breakfast they offer a nice buffet selection with different breads, eggs, charcuterie and sausage. I really liked käsekrainer, a sausage stuffed with cheese. We ate so many of these while we were there.

The next day we went to the rooftop bar. We wanted to grab a drink and chill before heading to our friend’s birthday. Pieter had a mojito and I had a mocktail. Both were really good. We also ordered some bites. On the way to the birthday party we found these gorgeous Cherry blossom trees at Hofmühlgasse.

On our last day we decided to grab some burgers at their food truck on the terrace. The burgers were delicious and so were the fries. I had the sweet potato ones and Pieter ordered the ones with Parmesan and rosemary.

You can tell that the burger truck and bar are popular among the locals. We were there when they opened, and it got very busy within half an hour. Besides a good public transport connection, the hotel is also walking distance to the Naschmarkt. We walked there on Saturday and it is definitely a must stop, especially if you like food. You can find there many restaurant stalls, fresh produce, spices and second-hand items. I bought some spices, edible dried flowers and a cute straw bag there.

I would definitely recommend this hotel if you are in Vienna.

25Hours Hotel Vienna
Lerchenfelder Straße 1-3
1070 Vienna

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A day In the Exumas (swimming with pigs and nurse sharks in the Bahamas)

Last month we took a little winter break and flew to the Bahamas. And we couldn’t leave without visiting the famous swimming pigs.

We took a powerboat tour from Nassau to the Exuma islands to see them. Even though the pigs are wild, they are so used to tourists feeding them that the big ones will come swimming to the boat asking for food. It was really nice to be able to see them in person and swim with them.

Part of the tour also involved visiting the nurse sharks at Compass Cay. I am super scared of sharks and even though these are bottom dwellers, they still have teeth. The tour guide just told us to be cautious and to not try to touch them close to their mouths. I was very nervous at first but I’m really happy that I didn’t chicken out. Once we were in the water, it was fine. It was a really cool experience being in the water with them.



Overall we loved this day trip. We had a lot of fun and all the beaches that we saw in the Exumas were a little piece of paradise.

A few tips to keep in mind if you take one of the power boat tours from Nassau:

If you want to see the famous pigs, they live at Big Major Cay (Pig Beach). Because the pigs draw a lot of tourists, there are other beaches which now also have pigs. If you want to see the (so to say) original pig beach, make sure your tour stops at Big Major Cay.

The boat ride is a bit bumpy and wet. Since they have to cover quite a distance to get to the Exumas, they go really fast. They tell you to bring a light sweater or jacket, which we did. And it’s fine if you are sitting in the middle and don’t get wet. But I think it’s better to bring a raincoat (or even a poncho). if you get wet on the way back which takes more than 1 hour, it gets cold. Pieter sat next to the edge of the boat and got soaked (and cold). And definitely bring sunglasses otherwise it is very hard to open up your eyes when the boat is going so fast.

It does get very crowded. So if you want to avoid being with a lot of people and to be able to take better pictures, it’s worth looking into renting a private charter and arriving early in the morning. Here is a very short video of Big Major Cay, so you can get an impression of what it looks like.

Swimming pigs in the Bahamas

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and Youtube channel.

 

 

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Venice in the Fall

I’ve dreamed of going to Venice since I was a little kid. And finally in late November we did. For two days we just got lost through little streets and just wandered around. We ate artisanal gelato at Suso.

We went to T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a department store close to the Rialto bridge. It has a roof terrace where you can get a view of the Grand Canal.

We visited Libreria Acqua Alta. A peculiar library where the books are piled up in the walls, a bathtub and a gondola. They are even used as stairs that overlook the canal in the back. I read that this library is home to some cats, unfortunately we didn’t run into any kitties.


We had an amazing lunch at Osteria Alla Staffa (thank you Jen for the tip). Not only was the food delicious, the prices were also very reasonable.

We also took a boat to visit the Island of Burano. A fisherman’s Island known for its colorful houses. It was definitely worth the trip. We were thinking of visiting Murano too but the weather got worse, so we decided to just head back to Venice.

We stayed at the NH Palazzo Barocci. We had the junior suit with a view. And what a spectacular view it was. We arrived at night so we couldn’t see much, but the next morning we opened the doors to the balcony to see a gorgeous view of the Grand Canal and the Rialto bridge. The hotel has a great location, as one of the boat stops (Vaporetto) was right outside.

 

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A Magical Weekend in Western Germany (Burg Eltz, Cochem, Schloss Drachenburg & Monschau)

I had read that fall was a beautiful time to visit the castles in Germany, so I was really looking forward to this season just for that. We rented a car for only two days to drive to there. The weather on Saturday was not ideal as it started raining quite hard by the time we arrived in Germany. Our first stop was Eltz Castle, about 4 hours from Amsterdam. Since the weather was dreadful, we parked the car and got in the shuttle bus (2 euros per person, per ride). In about 2 minutes, we arrived at the castle. It was really magical to see it tucked away in the forest.

After that we drove to Cochem. The ride took us about 35 minutes. This is a very pretty town along the Mosel River. We drove up a very steep and narrow road to get to the castle. Mosel is one of Germany’s wine region and this castle was surrounded by vineyards. We were planning on exploring a bit more here but the weather got worse so we decided to drive to Bonn and have dinner there, since we were going to spend the night there anyways.

The next morning we drove to the Dragon Castle (Schloss Drachenburg). The ride was around 30 minutes. On our drive, we caught a glimpse of the silhouette of the castle in the mountains.

There is parking lot close by where you can leave your car and then you have to walk up the forest for about 10 minutes to get to the castle. Tip: We got there 1 hour before the castle opened and we found a few parking spots a lot closer to the castle. Instead of parking your car at the parking lot, follow the road to the forest (it’s at the end of the parking lot). Following the path that leads to the castle, there were a few cafes and also a couple of parking spaces. So if you don’t want to walk, be there early. Otherwise you can also take a tram. On this day we were lucky with the weather as it was dry and very sunny. It costs 7 euros to go to the castle premises. This one really looked like it came out of an animated Disney movie and it has a beautiful view of the Rhine river.

Once we were done exploring there, we hopped into the car and drove to Monschau which was just 1 ½ hours away. Monschau is a town close to the Belgian border, sort of in the way back home for us. That’s why we left it for last. We were not sure if we would have time to stop there, but we are so happy we did. It is such a picturesque place with half-timbered houses and narrow streets. We only stayed there for a few hours but that was enough time to explore its medieval center. We really enjoyed this mini road trip and can’t wait to return to Germany and explore more.

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and Youtube channel.

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Annecy

About a week ago we went to Annecy (France). The closest Airport was in Geneva, so that’s where we flew to. After arriving in Geneva, we rented a car and drove to Annecy. The drive was about 30 minutes long and the scenery was beautiful. Renting a car was the right decision for us, as it kept us flexible and it allowed us to explore more of the surrounding areas. We were very lucky with the weather; the whole weekend was sunny.

Annecy is called the Venice of the Alps for a reason. The canals running through the city have crystal clear water. And with swans floating around, it looked like a fairy tale town. We arrived Friday morning at our hotel. We stayed at the Atipik Hotel Alexandra. It has a great location, right next to the old town. The staff was very friendly, the rooms were clean and the breakfast was good.

We walked a bit through the old part of the city, grabbed a sandwich with raclette and went to explore the lake. You can rent a bike (either normal or electric) and bike along the lake which takes about 2 hours. We were so tired because we got up at 3:30am to catch our flight that we decided to do it by car. Our first stop was the Chateau de Duingt. The castle is privately owned so you can’t go inside but we took out the drone and got an aerial view of it.

Then we drove to Chateau de Menthon – Saint Bernard. They say that Disney was inspired by this castle. Unfortunately for us, it was closed when we arrived.

We really enjoyed driving around the lake and getting lost in the roads around it. We ended up in Col de la Forclaz. On one side you could view the lake and on the other the mountains. It was so beautiful, especially this time of the year because of all the fall colors.

For dinner we went to L’Etage. Pieter ordered a raclette. I had some escargot and seared tuna. We didn’t do any fancy dining this time. But if you are looking for a more upscale dining experience, I would recommend Clos des Sens. I lived in Lyon for a few months while I was taking a cooking course at the Paul Bocuse Institute. During my time there, I went to Annecy with some friends to have lunch there and I loved it. This restaurant has 2 Michelin stars.

The next day there was a festival in town called Le Retour des Alpages. A tradition where they celebrate bringing the cattle back to the farms after grazing in the mountains during the summer months. They were stands everywhere with food and local products.

We got some pastries at Philippe Rigollot. The pastry chef is a MOF (best craftsman of France in English). If you are not familiar with it, it is a very prestigious award in France. It was hard to choose as they all looked so delicious.

We had some ice cream at Glacier des Alpes. We had to wait in line for it but it was worth it. And the lady working there was so nice, she gave me an extra scoop for free.

We snacked so much throughout the day that we were not hungry for dinner. At one of the festival stands, we had tartiflette for the first time. It is a local dish made with potatoes, reblochon cheese, bacon and onions. Needless to say we devoured the whole thing. We also bought a few baguettes at one of the stands and even though they were good. The best ones we had were from a bakery called Boulangerie Artisanale Marmillon, located in the old center.

On our last day, we gathered some food at the farmer’s market and drove to the lake to have a picnic for lunch. A great way to say goodbye to this wonderful region.

For more foodie inspiration, travel & lifestyle; you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and Youtube channel.

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Logroño & Bilbao (Northern Spain) Photo Diary

Last week I was in Spain for 3 days. I had a direct flight from Amsterdam to Bilbao airport and after a 1.5 hour drive, I was in Logroño (the capital of the Rioja province). A very small but charming town. We explored the city during the siesta (afternoon), which was great because the streets were not crowded.

That night, we went on a Tapas tour. We were told that each bar specializes in one kind of tapa and that is what they are known for. We went to a lot and I don’t remember the names of them all, except for these ones: El soldado de tudelilla for their tomato salad and Bar Soriano for their garlicky mushrooms. We also had some piparras, fried peppers similar to shishito peppers. They are just fried in olive oil and then sprinkled with sea salt. Some are spicy and some are not. So fun to eat with a group. If you like crispy pork, look for a bar that sells cecina.

The next day we visited the Campo Viejo vineyard and had some paella for lunch there.

    

That afternoon, we headed back to Bilbao and visited the Guggenheim museum. After the tour we had dinner at Nerua, the 1 Michelin star restaurant located at the museum. The food was amazing. Simple and delicate dishes, but very well executed.

The next morning, we had a little tour of the Mercado de la Ribera (market). You can have some tapas there. I bought some piparras (chilies) to bring back home. After that, we had a private tapas workshop at Los Fueros (Bilbao’s oldest restaurant).

    

The picture below is from the chilies I took back home. I’m so hooked that I am going to try to find them here, or at least something similar.

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Kupu Kupu Phangan Beach Villas and Spa by L’Occitane

 

Coming back to our trip to Thailand, from Koh Samui we took the fast ferry to the island of Ko Pha Ngan. There we stayed at Kupu Kupu Phangan Beach Villas and Spa by L’Occitane. The resort is located on the west side of the island. It is about a 10 minute ride from Thong Sala, which is great because you can just rent a scooter and go visit the night market. The big street market is only open on Saturdays. But throughout the week, there is a smaller market which still has plenty of food stands to choose from.

We stayed at one of their Sea view pool villas. The picture below was the view from ours. The resort is small and cozy, so no need to walk a lot to use the facilities.

The beach is surrounded by a few rocks which are easier to climb on low tide (nice for pictures 😉 ).

The resort has one restaurant called the Plage. We had lunch at one of their tables in the pool. Their grilled watermelon salad was so delicious, not to mention also very pretty.
We also had a tuna & scallop tartare which was also very good. We also tried their Thai set dinner. It was already too dark to take proper pictures, but we really enjoyed their 3 course menu. And actually their deep fried pork with garlic and pepper was the best one we had during our trip. We liked it so much that we ordered the same dish at other places later on, and none were as good as the one we had here. We also had a couple’s massage at their Spa. Pieter actually fell asleep during it. So nice to just let go and relax completely. The whole staff was very friendly and attentive. We were very pleased with our stay!

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InterContinental Samui Resort

Pieter and I went to Thailand last month and we stayed at the Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort in Koh Samui. This resort was included in the “1,000 Places to see before you die book”. So we knew we were in for a treat. The resort is situated among different levels of a cliff, so you can choose to move by golf car (you just have to make a call and they will pick you up) or you can be sporty and use the stairs. The stairs are nice because everything around you is green and they also have a hanging bridge.

We stayed at one of their Club beachfront Pool Villas which was incredible. Each villa has private garden and pool with sea view, as the name describes. The bathroom had a Jacuzzi and two showers (one outdoors).

The bed was very comfortable (100% Egyptian cotton sheets). Because of our jetlag, afternoon naps were mandatory. The WiFi was very good throughout the resort. I was quite surprised that I was able to do a Live Instagram story from the pier. I didn’t think I would have internet that far away but I did.

The resort is located on the west coast of the island and their Air Bar is a famous spot to view the sunset. We had some cocktails there, eagerly waiting for the sunset but unfortunately we were unlucky with the weather, as we got rain around that time on both days. But luckily the rain didn’t last very long.

The breakfast at Amber was great. It had a very large variety of dishes to choose from. From classic breakfast items, like pancakes, waffles and cereals.  To a noodle bar where you could choose your kind of noodle plus toppings. And they also served dumplings, curry, fresh fruit and juices. They had me at noodles and dumplings.

We also had dinner in the same restaurant because that night, they had World of Siam. A buffet-styled Thai dinner. We both loved it. We had the coconut soup. There was a make your own green papaya salad bar, so of course I had to make one. If you follow my Instagram stories, you probably saw that I was eating green papaya salad twice a day throughout our whole trip. They also served different kind of stir-fries, seafood and of course, a large selection of Thai desserts. I loved the fried banana and sticky rice with mango.

On our last day we got a couple’s massage at their Baan Thai Spa. Our masseuses were superb. They really went hard on us, on request. We were very hectic prior to this trip, so we were very happy to have someone work on all the stress accumulated in our shoulders.

One of the things that drew me to this hotel was their main infinity pool, located next to their bar.

Because from one side you overlook a coconut plantation and from the other, you overlook the sea. So beautiful and romantic! They also have another infinity pool next to the beach and 5 other ones along the cliff-side. The ones cliff-side have different colors (yellow, orange, blue, red and purple), which represent the different palette of colors of the sky during the day and night.

Overall we had a great experience. The service was outstanding and the location was dreamy.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories.

 

 

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