Keep Your Travel Spirit Alive at Home

You just said bye-bye to your travel plans for the upcoming weeks, months even. You threw away that Lonely Planet guide to Colombia, because that’s for the bin now too. But even if hotels are closed, flight companies suspend their flights and you have to stay inside, you can always keep on dreaming. Don’t lose that fire inside you!

I’ve listed 7 ways on how to spend time at home and keep your travel spirit alive. Just because there are hard times outside, doesn’t mean we have to make it hard for us inside.

Cherish your previous travels

This is not a time of being sad and nostalgic: this is a time to be grateful and appreciative. Leaf through your travel journal, grabble through old tickets, scroll through your camera roll and relive your past trips. It will bring you immense joy and make you realize how lucky you are to have seen those beautiful places, conquered those courageous adventures and met those wonderful people. So smile, and be proud of yourself for how much you’ve seen and how much you’ve traveled.

Go through your souvenirs

Another way to relive those past moments and give yourself a pat on the shoulder is to open that big box of souvenirs. Whether it’s your fridge’s magnets, postcards, pictures or just random souvenirs: now is the time to look at them. This is that moment that you had in your head when you bought them. This is the time to reflect and let those memories flow. So sit down, grab your big box of souvenirs and think about the moment when you bought them. What were you doing that day? What were the highlights of that trip? What did you really enjoy?

Make photo albums for fun

These days, it’s hard not to take pictures when you’re on a trip. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a rookie who takes pictures just for fun, we all do it. Gather all your photos, on- or offline, and start making a photo album of every trip you made. You can do it by country, by city, how ever you like to order it.

Now is a great time to be creative, so let yourself really enjoy this. Go with the flow and make a fun photo book, or release your digital design skills and make one online, on MyAlbum, SnapFish, PhotoBox, etc. If you’d rather let someone else make it for you, support (local and) small artists who offer to make your projects online. During these times, it can be hard for small or local entrepreneurs to keep their businesses running. If they still offer online services such as a web-shop or on-demand orders and you want to make a contribution, you can do so in this way.

Write down your ultimate travel bucket-list

Let’s start dreaming! Now that you’ve relived your past travels, you actually gained something out of this: you got to know yourself better. Ask yourself: where do I really want to go next? What did I like about my past trips, and why did I enjoy that? Where can I find more of that? For example, I really liked my trip to Iguaçu Waterfalls in Argentina. because I love being into nature because it calms me and makes me appreciate our planet. So I know this know and I can start looking for more waterfalls or natural parks to go ti.

If you’re into diving, and you’ve had a great time in Curaçao while diving, good news: there are so much more beautiful diving sites! Think about what places you dream of visiting one day and write them down into a bucket list. It can be as long as you want it to be: the world is big enough.

Plan out your next trip to the detail

Now let’s shorten that list. Pick one destination out of your travel bucket list. Now start planning that trip. From activities to accommodation, try to look up all that you need for your next adventure. Don’t be afraid to feel pressured, you cannot really book anything now due to the current situation. Just pretend as if you’re planning this trip and think about the activities, tours, and adventures you want to go on while you’re there. Design your perfect voyage.

Discuss travel plans with your friends

We’ve all done a trip with a friend, family member or lover. And if you’re a core-hard solo traveler, I’m sure yo have met people along the way. Contact them, catch up with them, and let them know you were thinking about those great memories. Maybe you’re still active in a travel chat, Facebook group or other online community. Say hi to your (ex) travel companions, and who knows what nice conversations might follow. Maybe there’s even talks about future travels together.

Try meditation and visualisations to manifest your next trip

Let’s try something new: meditation. During these times, when many of us are at home, are great to relax, to be at peace, to return inward. Whether you’re already familiar with meditation or you’re totally new to it, I encourage you to try out a visualization meditation to manifest your upcoming trip. It works like this:

Picture your next dream trip. Really imagine what it feels like to be laying on that pearly-white beach. Feel the sun burning on your skin while sipping your cocktail on the beach. How does that cocktail tastes? How does the sand feel like? What do you see?

By imagining everything about this trip, you will feel like you are already there. It’s an amazing feeling, who doesn’t want that? By doing this frequently, the feeling of being on that trip will get closer and closer and your brain is a huge fan of visual stimuli. You will familiarize yourself with the picture and tricking your brain into believing you are already there. Until one day, you are. Visualization (meditation) has proven to boost your confidence, your immunity, to decrease levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and much more.

If you’re unsure about how to start this, then don’t worry: there are a lot of free meditations online. Whether on apps such as Insight Timer, Headspace, Calm, YouTube, or other websites; you’ll be sure to find a visualization exercise.

There are many ways to keep your travel spirit alive: whether you share it with others or keep your solo adventures cherished in your own heart, take this time to not only look back on past travels, but dream about future travels. Because this too will pass. It’s a time to take a break and just be – wherever you are.

Triple Travel Guide: Barcelona

Welcome to another triple travel guide, dear salty souls. In this guide, I list the top three recommendations to visit, taste and to stay at. This time, it’s the turn of Barcelona. You might have already read my insider’s guide to Barcelona. After living in Barcelona for a while and discovering all the amazing things about this world famous city, I decided to share my tips with you so you can make the most out of a visit to Catalunya’s capital.

This guide is a shorter version and is a perfect pocket guide if you’re planning to travel to Catalunya’s capital.

What to visit

La Sagrada Familia €€

This iconic masterpiece of Gaudí earns its worldwide fame to its unique architectural style, however the inside of the cathedral is often not visited by the majority of tourists – but its interior beauty exceeds, like the previous works, the exterior beauty. So make sure you buy your tickets early in advance and save time and money.

Entrance: online ticket prices start at €22.60

Montjuïc

Montjuïc is a magical place an sich. Hike uphill towards the magical fountain that lights up occasionally for a spectacular light show, and continue your road with stunning view of the iconic castle of Montjuïc. Walk further and run into the stretched, green park, accompanied by the Olympic stadium and further lays the botanical garden. What is a better way to enjoy a city then to come to rest in its nature, right in the city centre?

Parque Guëll & Museu Gaudí

Parque Guëll is often described as “Gaudi’s playground”, the place where he let all his fantasy run wild and create the most unique and gorgeous works. There is a free area as well, however to access the famous mosaic bench and Gaudi’s house, you must enter the paying area, which has a price of €10.

What to taste

Bar Jaica

If you’re craving delicious, traditional tapas, then Bar Jaica is the place to be. Located in the Barceloneta area, close to the beach and port of Barcelona, this spot is ideal for a lunch break during your day. Every dish is prepared with love, especially combined with the iconic beer Estrella (or try a local type of beer named Clara). Salada russa, berenjenas con miel, tortilla are some of the most typical dishes your belly will thank you for.

La Barca del Salamanca €€

In this huge restaurant located near the casino of Barcelona, you’ll find all kinds of fresh seafood dishes such as paella, grilled fish, pasta, etc. However, what makes la Barca del Salamanca so special, is their service and atmosphere. You’ll be guaranteed to receive a welcome drink, free entrees, dessert and liquor on the house, as well as musical entertainment and photography services. Visiting this restaurant is an experience I have introduced to every guest in Barcelona.

La pepita €€€

A balanced combination between traditional tapas and high-end, creative cuisine is the perfect remedy for your appetite while in Barcelona. Try some of the iconic tapas with an extra touch of la Pepita’s style and taste. Their entire menu cart consists out of unique and imaginative Spanish “pepitas”.

Where to stay at

Urbany Hostel BCN GO & Urbany Hostel Barcelona

At the Urbany Hostels, you will be welcomed warmly by the friendly staff who will do anything in their power to make your stay a memorable adventure. With hostel activities, free entries to the biggest nightclubs in Barcelona and a cozy bar open every day, you will not be bored one second of your stay and by meeting people from all over the world you will experience the true feeling of traveling: connecting with others.

Ayre Hotel Caspe €€

Ayre Hotel Caspe is a modern, luxurious hotel with a perfect location. Their friendly staff will happily help you with all your requests. Each one of their rooms are spacious, beautiful and comfortable. The price range differs from season to season, but in general you receive a good price-quality for what you get.

W Hotel €€€

The iconic W Hotel is a must-visit if your budget can handle it. One of the trademarks of Barcelona is this five star hotel which guarantees you to experience an elite and enriching stay at la Barceloneta, the most famous beach of Catalunya’s capital. Bear in mind the exclusive rooftop parties this hotel hosts, as non-guests can enter as well. If you’re craving a luxurious stay in Barcelona, and are looking for the top notch when it comes to stunning rooftop parties, this is your place to be.

An Insider’s Guide to Barcelona

The vivid capital of Catalunya is known for its mouthwatering tapas, extraordinary art collections and one-of-a-kind architecture. With Gaudí’s spirit present in every barceloní and barcelonina, it’s not hard to understand why many tourists come to admire the many attractions of the global city in all its defined glory. And for that, it might be confusing to know where to start – not only has Gaudí left outstanding artworks in the city, the football club Barcelona also has many fanatics from all over the world and keeps the fire burning in the modern, spicy cosmopolitan.

If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know I lived in Barcelona for a while. After exploring the city with locals and visiting the best spots, I came to the conclusion that Barcelona has it all: mountains, beaches, parks, malls, castles, viewpoints; whatever it is that you are looking for in a city. To guide you during your next trip to Barcelona, I created an insider’s guide so you can fully immerse yourself in the Catalonian spirit and, like a local, devour delicious tapas, visit gorgeous architectural wonders and come to a relaxation at the most stunning and highest viewpoints.

Your Arrival

Aerobus

The Aerobus is the most convenient way to transport yourself from the airport to the city. It has several stops throughout the city center, free wifi and luggage storage space.

Cost: €5.90

Golden Gaudí

Parque Guëll

Parque Guëll is often described as “Gaudi’s playground”, the place where he let all his fantasy run wild and create the most unique and gorgeous works. There is a free area as well, however to access the famous mosaic bench and Gaudi’s house, you must enter the paying area, which has a price of €10.

Casa Battló

Entering casa Battló is like immersing yourself in the deep, enchanting blue ocean. With a decor that takes you to your wildest fantasies, a visit to this house is often one skipped by many tourists, however very much worth a visit. Its location on Passeig de Gracia, in the middle of high-end fashion boutiques, represents the spirit of Barcelona very well, mixing the modern shopping street with an authentic showpiece, brought to you by the famous Gaudí.

Entrance: online ticket prices start at €25

Casa Milá

Casa Milá is the next Gaudí-made piece of art on Passeig de Gracia, however its themes are distinctively different. Casa Milá serves many as a natural wonder, a place for exhibitions and at the same time a foundation for disabled people. Go all the way up to this casa to enjoy the beautifully shaped chimneys, ventilation towers and stairwells.

Entrance: online ticket prices start at €22

Casa Vicens

Casa Vicens was Gaudí’s first gem in Barcelona, built between 1883 and 1885, served as a summer house for the Vicens family. Gaudí started his series of masterpieces with a contrasting styled, extremely detailed and in every way mesmerizing jewel.

Entrance: online ticket prices start at €16

Sagrada Familia

This iconic masterpiece of Gaudí earns its worldwide fame to its unique architectural style, however the inside of the cathedral is often not visited by the majority of tourists – but its interior beauty exceeds, like the previous works, the exterior beauty. So make sure you buy your tickets early in advance and save time and money.

Entrance: online ticket prices start at €22.60

The Hidden Gems

Bunkers del Carmel

Higher above Park Guëll, there is a non-touristic part of the city that, in my experience, gives you the most breathtaking view in town: Bunkers del Carmel. Many locals, mostly youngsters, join on this secret spot to enjoy the passing of sunset. Bring some snacks, a good camera and nice company and prepare yourself for sweeping sunset views.

Botanical Garden

Montjuïc is a magical place an sich. Hike uphill towards the magical fountain that lights up occasionally for a spectacular light show, and continue your road with stunning view of the iconic castle of Montjuïc. When you walk further, you run into a stretched, green park, accompanied by the Olympic stadium and further lays the botanical garden. What is a better way to enjoy a city then to come to rest in its nature, right in the city centre?

Horta Labyrinth

This park makes you feel like you’re in that Harry Potter movie – the one with the deadly labyrinth and the goblet of fire. Just one thing: this maze is not deadly. And smaller. But nevertheless worth the visit and the getting lost-part (especially while losing from toddlers that find the exit sooner than you). The ancient architectural gems and gigantic park surrounding the laybrinth make up for the €2.23 entrance fee.

Taste Catalunya

La Boqueria

It is hard to miss this food market in the middle of the Rambla, the most visited street in Barcelona. From fresh fruits to southern seafood, nothing lacks this tasteful food heaven. You’ll walk out of it satisfied, with in one hand holding a cup filled with watermelon and in the other one some candy – yes, there’s candy as well.

La Pepita

A balanced combination between traditional tapas and high-end, creative cuisine is the perfect remedy for your appetite while in Barcelona. Try some of the iconic tapas with an extra touch of la Pepita’s style and taste. Their entire menu cart consists out of unique and imaginative Spanish “pepitas”.

Bar Jaica

If you’re craving delicious, traditional tapas, then Bar Jaica is the place to be. Located in the Barceloneta area, close to the beach and port of Barcelona, this spot is ideal for a lunch break during your day. Every dish is prepared with love, especially combined with the iconic beer Estrella (or try a local type of beer named Clara).

Dazzling Disco

La Taverna de Barcelona

La Taverna de Barcelona takes you to a place where music is only played live and acoustically, while its wooden interior decorated with international flags focuses on welcoming people from all corners of the world. While bringing forth this international spirit, the pub breathes in life from the authentic Catalan fuego, making it very hard for you to sit still during an evening spent here.

Jamboree Jazz

Somewhere in the middle of La Rambla, you find Placa Reial, an exotic square filled with restaurants and bars, connecting the most popular street in Barcelona with the old neighbourhood: the Gothic Quarter. In the corner of Placa Reial, you find Jamboree. However, don’t enter the first level of the club, but descend until you find yourself in a Rnb/Jazz/Hip Hop heaven, with the finest selection of DJ’s playing your favourite and most soulful tracks from the 80’s until now. Pay attention to their Facebook page, as they often give away tickets or offer a possibility to put you and your friends on the guestlist in advance.

Pacha Club Barcelona

The world-wide famous Pacha Club has a franchise in Barcelona as well. The all-white themed luxurious night club offers various theme parties with a variety of music genres, such as: techno, hip hop, rnb, disco, etc. Be sure to buy your tickets online in advance to avoid lines, waiting times and more expensive tickets.

Triple Travel Guide: Seville

Seville’s charms put a spell on me – read all about the magic of Andalusia’s ancient capital here – and who would I be to keep this charming and seducing city unknown to my dear readers? After my recent travel blog about Seville, this is a more practical guide to the blossoming Andalusian capital, sharing with you the three best places to visit, the three best dishes to try (and where to try it), and the best accomodations – whichever kind of traveler you might be. Because whether you rest you eyes on a king size bed or a bunk bed in a hostel: travel is for everyone, and the sightseeings and local dishes still stay the same. And that is why I have created yet another Triple Travel Guide. Enjoy, or, as the Spanish say, disfruta-lo!

What to visit

Real Alcazares €€

Feeling like a true king isn’t difficult in this Moorish decorative and ornate collection of beautiful royal rooms, immense and fresh green gardens, also known as the Real Alcazares. It served as a set location for the serie Game of Thrones, which made this location immensely popular – more than it already was. The general entrance costs €11.50 and you pay extra for other add-ons, such as the royal bedroom, which is €4.50. Buy the tickets in advance on the official website and avoid queues of +2 hours.

Plaza de España €

One of the most iconic plazas in Spain is undoubtedly Plaza de España, built for the Ibero-American exposition in 1929. A visit to this monument won’t leave you without a grand history lesson: this plaza surrounds four bridges, each representing the ancient kingdoms of Spain. Furthermore, the brilliant Alcoves of the different Spanish regions shine beautifully in their ornate of colourful tiles, each telling their own story about the history of Spain’s different provinces.

Entrance is free.

Metrosol Parasol

Las Setas de Sevilla (the mushrooms of Seville) are a unique landmark, visited abundantly by curious tourists and locals too. As largest wooden structure in the world, built on Roman ruins, now serving as an archeological museum – included in the ticket price -, these “mushrooms” are worth paying a visit to. Since Seville is relatively flat, you can enjoy stretched views all over town, providing you with a splendid oversight of all the city’s churches, cathedrals and other iconic buildings of matter.

Entrance is €3

What to taste

Cervecería Puerto Plata

Pan con tomate y jamón is a must-try when in Seville, usually eaten around 11a.m. as a late breakfast. If you like to sleep out (as I do), wake up slowly with a aromatic cup of coffee and taste a crunchy, warm pan con tomate y jamón and enjoy splendid views in front of you on the Plaza Ministro Indalecio Prieto, with in the background the sound of horses galloping rhythmically, transporting carriages throughout the old city centre.

Taberna Coloniales €€

This restaurant is known for its famous, traditional secreto Iberico (Iberian secret), a piece of meat originated from Iberian pigs, keeping the meat tasty and juicy inside, covered by a crusty layer on the outside.

Mama Bistro €€

Carrillada de Cerdo, braised pork cheeks in a variety of different sauces, is another typical Sevillian speciality and a must try-out when visiting Seville. The best one? Available at Mama Bistro.

Bonus: place not to miss

Estraperlo €€

An ecological restaurant with nothing but fresh, tasteful biological products, where the friendly and helpful staff’s only intention is to meet your needs as good as possible and treats you like family – and not to mention the wine collection is deliciously tantalizing.

Where to stay

For You Hostel

For You Hostel is a hostel of the hotel group Zenit Hotels. The benefit of a hotel group launching its first hostel? An experience that makes you feel the ease and luxury of a hotel, yet gives you the low rates of a hostel, and a comfortable and fully furnished bunk bed, inclusive of bathroom amenities, a reading light, curtains, international plugs and a soft pillow. Equipped with a bar, patio, kitchen, and other communal areas, feel free to socialize in this modern hostel, as the staff will be happy to help you if you have any needs.

Hotel Adriano Sevilla (&Café Pompeia) €€

My quest to a paella con pollo for one person led me to Café Pompeia. This modern and delightful bistro offers a wide range of classic Spanish dishes at a reasonable price, a warm smile from the staff and, above the fact you can have paella per person here, cozy uptown vibes with a location on the vivid calle Adriano. Above this bistro, you’ll find the charming hotel Adriano Sevilla, a chic, sophisticated, luxurious hotel with small prices for the quality you receive.

Hotel Casa del Poeta €€€

As multiple times winner of the Trivago National Awards, earning its title as best hotel in Spain, this lovely boutique hotel combines both relaxation and luxury while immersing you in the ancient history of Seville and at the same time being located in the heart of the Andalusia’s capital.

Triple Travel Guide: Guimaraes

Guimaraes, the first Portuguese capital, built in the 4th century, earns its a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its well preserved medieval city centre. My visit to this city was like a journey back in time: to the Middle Ages.

Welcome to another Triple Travel Guide, curious travelers. This Triple Travel Guide features three hidden gems to visit, taste and stay at in marvellous Guimaraes. Scroll down to the end of this blog to see my Triple Travel pocket-sized Guide of Guimaraes.

What to visit

Choosing the three best places to visit in Guimaraes is hard. Even though it is a small, medieval village, there are a lot of beautiful squares, monuments, castles, churches and viewpoints to visit. I listed the three hidden gems when it comes to sightseeing, cuisine and accommodation.

Montanha da Penha

For impressing and high views stretching over Guimaraes, Braga and Penha, the miradouro da Penha or the Santuario da Penha is your go-to. You can easily take the cable car up and down between the woods in the city until the top of the hill, where the 20th-century, art-deco sanctuary is located. If you want to enjoy the sunset, be aware: the cable cars close before 7pm. In this case, your best option is to go by Uber: cable car up and Uber down.

Largo da Misericórdia

Forget Paris, forget Venice, forget every romantic destination you know about: Guimaraes tops these well-known romantic destinations easily. The historical centre offer a range of romantic, cozy, medieval squares, accompanied by christmas lights everywhere – all year round. After a local recommended me a to go to a restaurant on this square, I stayed there sitting for a few hours, admiring the colourful sunset and enjoying local dishes and a glass of regional, red wine.

Largo República do Brasil

If you couldn’t make it to a sunset on Montanha da Penha or Largo da Misericórdia, there is an even worthy alternative: the central point of Guimaraes, Largo República do Brasil. This long stretched flower field, with at its ending the church of Guimaraes, and at its beginning a fountain, offers you magical sunset views. Enjoy a drink while overlooking Guimaraes’ modern city centre as you watch locals and tourists pass by.

What to taste

Cervejaria Guimaraes

After being recommended by a local to visit this restaurant, I ended up in this traditional Portuguese diner – and it sure was worth it. Typical Portuguese dishes are served in this restaurant located right in the middle of Largo da Misericórdia. I see myself as an enthusiast of the Portuguese cuisine and I have tried out all one dishes in several restaurants, namely alheira – a type of sausage mixed with several types of meat, served with fried egg and rice. As a self-made alheira expert, I have to admit: the alheira here is worth the try!

Gil Doce

Regional products such as pastries and sweets are the specialities of this Portuguese pastelaria. What distinguishes this one from the thousand other pastelarias, you might wonder? The artisanal products and the love which they are served with gives a extra taste. And while you’re in Portugal, you’re allowed try out as many pasteís as possible, without a single feeling of guilt – you have to truly discover the taste of the country, am I right?

Xisko restaurant

Try out one of the most popular Portuguese dishes, Bacalhau a Bras, in this beautifully styled and elegant restaurant. If you’re looking for a different setting than the traditional pastelarias in Guimaraes, but still receive high quality food, this restaurant might be your best option.

Where to stay

Hotel Fundador

Hotel Fundador is a budget-friendly hotel, located close to the train station of Guimaraes. Easily reachable by foot from the centre and offering nice hotel rooms for a very small price, this is the perfect accommodation if you’re traveling on a budget and looking for a well located and decent hotel.

EMAJ boutique Hotel €€

Feel the medieval spirit of Guimaraes in this well-preserved National Bank turned into a centrally-located boutique hotel. Luxury and budget come together in this renovated building, with very reasonable prices for the comfort, location and service that is offered to you.

Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães €€€

If you really want to travel back in time during your trip to Guimaraes, then complete your trip with a stay in this 12th-century Augustinian Monastery. Relax after a day of citytrippin’ in the 9-hectare garden and release your inner medieval highness in one of the luxurious rooms.