Hong Kong in 48 Hours

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After a whirlwind book tour in Europe and a week of stuffing myself with pastries in Paris, I made my way back towards Australia via Hong Kong, one of the most logical stopovers when journeying from Australia to Europe (along with Singapore).

With just 48 hours in the city and jet lag weighing my down, I was surprised to see how much I could fit in to such a short visit! If you also find yourself in Hong Kong for such a short space of time, here’s a complete itinerary to match (with some options, depending on how many times you have visited!)

Hong Kong Guide | World of Wanderlust

Check In: Hong Kong Island VS. Kowloon 

There are two main options when you arrive in Hong Kong: to stay “on the island” or to stay in Kowloon (the huge landmass on the other side of the water, connected to mainland China). To be completely honest with you, I love both and each for different reasons.

Hong Kong Island has the benefit of centrality, being within walking distance of many of the cities’ main attractions. Much of the island does have more of a financial vibe, with much of the business for Hong Kong operating out of Central. On the other hand you have Kowloon, offering a more authentic stay just minutes to the local markets and right “in the thick of it”.

On this trip I checked in to the Kerry Hotel, a new hotel located away from the hustle and bustle, with a view of the entire harbour. Other hotels I have really enjoyed are the Landmark Mandarin Oriental (a fashion bloggers’ dream), the Four Seasons Hotel (one of the best views of Kowloon from the Island), The Ritz Carlton (one of the highest hotels in the world – you literally wake up in the clouds) and a handful of 3-4 star hotels on Nathan Road from my days before blogging (all which were fantastic but none of which I remember the name).

Get your Bearings: Take the Peak Tram!

You can’t come to Hong Kong and not visit Victoria Peak, the iconic mountain overlooking Hong Kong Island below and with uninterrupted views of Kowloon Harbour. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for mountain mansions as you journey up the peak, where house prices fetch the multi-millions (some of the most expensive real estate in the entire world!)

Quirky Eats in Hong Kong | World of Wanderlust Hong Kong Guide | World of Wanderlust Quirky Eats in Hong Kong | World of Wanderlust

Grab Some Lunch at Cat Street

Bang in the expat-heavy part of town is Cat Street, which has nonetheless retained its authenticity offering local handicrafts, souvenirs, and plenty of great food to sink in to. The food is not quite as local as the neighbourhood has maintained itself, largely due to the expat population and a logical sense to offer more Western foods in the area (but thankfully most of these are Asian-Western fusions and usually really clever and original in their approach).

Catch the Star Ferry to Kowloon

No matter how many times I have visited Hong Kong and will continue to visit in to the future, I could never tire of the views and serenity when cruising from the island to Kowloon for a very reasonable price of less than $1 return.

Walk along the Kowloon Harbour

The Avenue of Stars is as tacky and kitsch as it sounds, but it does still offer one of the best views of the city skyline! I would recommend arriving in time for sunset and watching the city evolve from day to night. Bring along a picnic if you wish and watch the light show unfold at 8:00pm every evening.

Shopping in Hong Kong | World of Wanderlust

Night Markets in Mong Kok

After the peace and serenity of the harbour, switch things up a gear and make your way by MTR to Mong Kok, home to Hong Kong’s famous night markets. Over the years I have admittedly fallen out of love with the products (mostly cheap copies of brand items, phone cases and souvenir t-shirts, but the experience itself is still as fun as ever.

The most famous night markets are Temple Street Night Market and Ladies Market, but during the day check out Fa Yuen Street, the Fish Market and the Flower Market for something a little different.

Day 2: Visit an Outlying Island

Experiencing Hong Kong is as much about escaping it as it is visiting the city itself, if only for a day or an afternoon! Much of the beauty of Hong Kong lies outside of the city centre, with oodles of hikes, beaches and natural beauty to discover. If this is your first trip to Hong Kong you should make Lantau Island your first stop, as it is here where you will see the famous Bronze Buddha up close and experience more of Hong Kong’s ancient cultures and traditions.

If you have already visited Lantau, the options are endless! Lamma Island is another great half day trip for a more relaxed escape from the city and beautiful beaches that will make you forget the hustle and bustle in no time at all.

Dinner at Ho Lee Fook

On this most recent trip I found a new favourite dinner place in Central, thanks to my friend Morgan who has been living in Hong Kong the past year and has discovered the best that the city has to offer right now (it is always changing so so quickly).

This was hands down one of my favourite dining experiences in Hong Kong, and believe me when I say there are a lot to compare to! The food was exceptional – lots of Asian flavours, a quirky cocktail menu and low-key environment in a dimly lit basement.

The options to keep one entertained in Hong Kong are quite literally limitless and impossible to list in full detail. Here are some of my other favourite things to do that might take your fancy, depending on what you want from your time in Hong Kong!

Disneyland – Great for the young ones (or young at heart!) Very easy to reach by train.

Ocean Park – Hong Kong’s famous water theme park (with temperamental ride opening days – beware!)

Stanley Market – A really nice day trip out of town but the market itself is pretty kitsch, albeit slightly less so than the Mong Kok offerings.

Causeway Bay – A really nice neighbourhood to explore with great small cafes and cheaper accommodation offerings.

Macau – One of my favourite day trips just a 45 minute ferry away. Regarded as the “Las Vegas of the East” (but a much cleaner version).

Central – One of my favourite neighbourhoods to wander with so many cool up-and-coming cafes and quirky eateries.

I visited Hong Kong as a stopover on my way from Europe back to Australia with Finnair. The flight time from Helsinki to Hong Kong is around 10 hours, followed by the 8 hour journey back to Melbourne. If you’re looking to switch your body clock back before returning home, Hong Kong is just two hours behind Australia, making for the perfect stopover city between Oz and Europe.

Paris Photo Diary

Each year I make what has unintentionally become an annual pilgrimage to Paris. As if I need an annual ‘hit’ of the city that inspires me most, I conjure up any and every excuse to visit and spend months planning all the new eateries I will visit (which more often than not are patisseries). Below you will find snapshots of my week in Paris this month, where I pushed the boundaries of sweet tooth, burned my way through a pair of shoes from so much walking, and finally had the chance to visit the Gardens of Versailles, which were closed on my last visit in the unseasonal month of January. So, here we go! As per usual, you’ll find all my camera/lens details at the bottom of the post and commentary throughout should you wish to visit the same places. Enjoy! Old vs. New. It is no secret I visit Angelina on every trip to Paris, but on this trip I was excited to find new finds, especially if they were less talked about or written about in magazines. Au Petit Versailles was one such fab little find in Le Marais. The quiches made for a perfectly cheap breakfast each morning! Spring […]

The post Paris Photo Diary appeared first on WORLD OF WANDERLUST.

Checking In to a Dutch Chateau! My stay at St Gerlach Chateau

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When my Dutch book tour concluded (shout out to all who came to the signings!) I made my way to the countryside for a little R&R, checking myself in to the gorgeous St Gerlach Hotel and Chateau. The following three days would be spent walking the gardens, reading my book (currently Paris for One) and checking in to check out for a few days. If you’re looking for a little luxury and to escape city life, here’s a little insight in to my countryside escape!

St Gerlach Chateau | World of Wanderlust

Checking In: St Gerlach Chateau

St Gerlach is located just 20 minutes drive from Maastricht, deep in the South of the Netherlands and near to the border to Belgium (as well as France and Germany). Although not too far from the city, the hotel feels a world away from reality: focusing on luxurious spa retreats, gastronomic restaurants and beautiful gardens to explore. The good news for me was that you could do as much or as little as you like during your stay. As tempting as it was to rent a bicycle or take a vespa for a spin (sadly I lost my licence recently so couldn’t do so), I decided just to kick back, enjoy the countryside and eat my way through the hotel’s offerings.

St Gerlach Chateau | World of Wanderlust St Gerlach Chateau | World of Wanderlust

Around the Hotel

As the hotel promotes a city escape, it was little wonder they had an incredible indoor pool with a full spa menu to enjoy. There are gardens surrounding the hotel and chateau (which houses the hotel’s restaurant and bistro), so I made it my mission to explore these at great length and enjoy switching off after a week of city living. As I live on a farm back at home in Tasmania, I have a constant desire to switch off and enjoy the outdoors – something I had missed since boarding the plane over a week ago!

St Gerlach Chateau | World of Wanderlust

The Room

The rooms are simple and elegant, decorated in true countryside style. My room was located above reception on level two, giving me a nice view of the winter garden and allowing me the convenience to walk down to breakfast in my sweater before taking a walk around the grounds each morning.

City Guide to Maastricht | World of Wanderlust St Gerlach Chateau | World of Wanderlust St Gerlach Chateau | World of Wanderlust

Gastronomic Eats & Drinks

The food was one of the highlights of my time at St Gerlach and believe me when I say the chefs here are world class! Both nights I enjoyed a casual dinner in the bistro, which was much more my style over the fancy fine dining option. The food was exceptional both nights, reasonably priced and with great service.

Because of the hotel’s location in the countryside, there aren’t any other dining options nearby. Thus if you would prefer more options it would be wise to rent a car and make the trip in to Maastricht, located just 20 minutes away. The hotel also offers a free shuttle service to and from the city between the hours of 10:00am and 18:00pm.

City Guide to Maastricht | World of Wanderlust

Nearby: Maastricht and three country borders

If you decide to stay at St Gerlach I would highly recommend taking the time to explore nearby Maastricht. As I arrived by train from Utrecht, I left my luggage in the station lockers whilst spending my first day here exploring the city (besides, check-in time is 3pm, so it made sense!) You can also rent bicycles and vespas directly from the hotel, giving you a great excuse to explore the villages nearby or venture over the border into Belgium, France or Germany.

A very large thank you to St Gerlach for welcoming me on this two night retreat! It was a lovely little end to my book tour in the Netherlands. All photos and opinions are my own!

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

Checking In: Hotel Des Indes

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It doesn’t get much fancier than Hotel des Indes in Den Haag (that’s the Hague for all my English speakers out there). For as long as I can remember I have dreamed about visiting The Hague, so when the opportunity arose to promote my book in the Netherlands (I still cannot believe I have a published book in Dutch language), I jumped at the opportunity for a book signing in The Hague. With such a whirlwind trip, I checked in to the centrally located Des Indes, a part of the Leading Hotels Collection and truly a once-in-a-lifetime kinda hotel stay!

The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust

Checking In: Hotel Des Indes

The hotel is located just a few minutes by taxi from the central train station, smack bang in the centre of town. I was able to walk to all of the cities’ major attractions without too much hassle of getting lost, using the hotel as a central point to explore from.

The hotel is a very traditional form of luxury with plenty of gold, mahogony, rich velvet furnishings and all the palatial interior decor one would imagine to be in a royal residence! It was quite fun playing along in the hotel’s lounge area, sipping on a coffee in the morning or watching the ladies who lunch enjoy their afternoon tea later in the day.

The Hague by World of Wanderlust

The Room

My room was located on the third floor and provided enough room to have a slumber party (shame I didn’t know anyone in town!) However as it was so large and dark in a masculine kind of way, I didn’t take any room photos as I was more interested in the view. The bed was however incredibly plush and comfortable, as has become a staple with Starwood hotels (they might be even better than my own bed at home – which is hard to beat!)

The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust

Around the Hague

Throughout my short stay in The Hague I found plenty of attractions, eateries and namely patisseries to keep myself entertained! The hotel’s location near Frederikstraat was one of the highlights, as it is here you will find many great restaurants and cafes that are frequented by locals.

From here you can easily walk to all the attractions The Hague has to offer, as well as being a convenient 10-minute walk from the city centre.

The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust

Sweet treats and eats Nearby

If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me, be sure to take a walk to Patisserie Jarreau, which is where you will find the best macarons in the city. This city is lucky to have a large amount of patisseries headed up by French pastry chefs, so you will be delighted to find macarons to the quality of what can be found in Paris!

For lunches and dinners I would highly recommend making your way to Frederikstraat, an eats street full of endless options (cafes, restaurants, gastro pubs and even a vegan eatery!)

A huge thanks to Starwood Hotels for welcoming me to stay at Hotel Des Indes, y’all know how long this has been on my hotels bucket list! All opinions and too many photos are my own. Thank you!

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

7 Cities & Towns you Must Visit in the Netherlands

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My time in the Netherlands came and went in a flash. But if we’re being particular it lasted 8 days and 7 nights, all of which were jam-packed with adventure, sight-seeing, castles, church towers and way too many deep fried sweets (uh woops!)

Throughout my time here in the land of bicycles and miniature pancakes I was eager to see, do and taste as much as possible. Although I didn’t quite get to every pitstop I had planned, I did manage to see and do everything I wanted in each of the cities I did visit, making up for quality over quantity.

So if you’re heading to the Netherlands and want a complete highlights tour, these are the cities and towns you must visit in the Netherlands!

Amsterdam by World of Wanderlust

Amsterdam

An obvious starting point: Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most visited cities and with one picture or postcard, it isn’t hard to see why. This city, built on canals with wonky houses, would have to be one of the world’s most photographed cities if not the most. Be sure to wander around at leisure and leave yourself three days here (minimum) as there’s a lot to see and do. In terms of museums make sure you don’t miss the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. Elsewhere be sure to visit Singel Canal, Keizersgracht Canal, Vondelpark and Jordaan neighbourhood.

One Day in the Hague | World of Wanderlust

The Hague

My next stop in the Netherlands was to catch the (30 minutes-ish) train ride to The Hague, which is better known to the Dutchies as Den Haag. As the centre for global judiciary decisions, I had been eager to visit since my first two years of law school (of which I dropped out of to complete a political science degree). This city was as grand as I had envisioned, with beautiful architecture and perfectly manicured gardens at every turn.

Flickr_Leiden_Netherlands

image via Flickr

Leiden

You can reach Leiden by train from Amsterdam in less than 30 minutes, or by train from The Hague in just 10. Pronounced “LIE – DEN”, this city is a great pit stop if travelling between one Dutch city and another, dropping your bags at the train station and exploring for a day. With canals and quintessentially Dutch architecture, this is a great alternative to the tourist-heavy streets of Amsterdam.

Day Trip to Delft | World of Wanderlust

Delft

By far the cutest city I came across in all of the Netherlands and even one of the most charming in all of Europe, I cannot believe it has taken me so many years of travel to discover Delft! Just a few minutes by train from The Hague, Delft has the charm of a small town with the benefits of a sizeable city nearby (not to mention some of the world’s best gelato!)

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

Utrecht

Described to me as Amsterdam’s cooler little sister, Utrecht is a city like no other in the Netherlands and perhaps even in Europe (though it kind of reminded me of the effortless coolness of Antwerp and Ghent in Belgium). Utrecht doesn’t have many sights or attractions, but has plenty of cool cafes, eateries and boutiques to discover. Its the kind of city you can visit and feel like a local within minutes.

Rotterdam Netherlands via Flickr

Image via Flickr

Rotterdam

Perhaps the “coolest” city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is in a league of its own. Modern and design-focused, Rotterdam was completely wiped out by the Germans in in 1940 as a sign of power to the rest of the country who might similarly meet the Germany army with resistance. For this reason Rotterdam is extremely unique to the Netherlands, as it does not have an old town centre or appear alike any of the other cities in the country, though it does have a widespread reputation for architecture and design.

City Guide to Maastricht | World of Wanderlust

Maastricht

Well and truly in the south of the Netherlands is Maastricht, another interesting city I discovered on my travels through the country and one that I found a great base to explore from. With a unique location near to the Belgium border and not far from France or Germany, this is a great city to base yourself in for day trips to explore nearby Cologne, Liege, and you could even travel down in to Luxembourg! The city itself warrants a couple of days to explore – Maastricht iss a beautiful city with a well-deserved gastronomic reputation.

NETHERLANDS CITIES YOU MUST VISIT

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

Visiting The Hague in 24 Hours: A complete Guide

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As a political science major at University, a trip to The Hague has been on my to-go list for quite some time. Yet standing there in the centre of it all, it was still surreal to me to be standing where the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court reside. I had just one night in The Hague for my book signing tour in the Netherlands, so I was determined to hit the ground running and see as much as I could within 24 hours. So with that, here’s what to see and do in The Hague in 24 hours!

The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust

Introducing The Hague

I told many Dutchies I encountered of my plans to visit The Hague but every single one of them looked at me in confusion. “Den Haag” is how to say it in Dutch, so I would suggest you use this term as it warranted a much better reaction!

Although not the capital of The Netherlands (a title that belongs to Amsterdam), The Hague is indeed the seat of Dutch parliament and as previously mentioned, the judicial capital of the world. With such a strong international identity, I wasn’t surprised to see this spill out in to all aspects of life in The Hague – not least the fantastic little Italian restaurant I found near to my hotel! With stunning stately architecture and cute little cafes/boutiques to discover, I had my work cut out to see in the city in such a short space of time.

The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust

Checking In: Hotel Des Indes

For my one night stay I checked in to the ultra-luxe bucket list hotel, Hotel Des Indes. As part of the Leading Hotels of the World, this hotel has a strong clientele of men in suits and ladies dressed without wrinkles (in their clothes – an unattainable luxury for someone living out of a suitcase).

The hotel is in a great location for exploring, especially if you’re anything like me and plan to find all the great eats around town. A short walk away you will stumble upon Frederikstraat, home to many cute cafes, restaurants and tiny boutiques as you continue to wander along it.

One Day in the Hague | World of Wanderlust One Day in the Hague | World of Wanderlust The Hague | World of Wanderlust The Hague | World of Wanderlust

Sights & Attractions Not to be Missed

The Hague is deceptively large and there’s much to see, so be ready to hit the ground running!

Binnenhof – Surrounded by moats, Binnenhof was once a castle and now the seat of Dutch parliament. It is probably the most impressive building in all of The Hague, centrally located and with great restaurants nearby.

Plein – The most elegant square in the city centre and a great central point to begin your explorations.

Peace Palace – Home of the International Court of Justice.

Paleis Noordeinde – The royal palace, used as the office of King Willem-Alexander since he became king in 2013.

The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust The Hague Netherlands | World of Wanderlust One Day in the Hague | World of Wanderlust

Eats & Drinks

How I managed to fit so much in to my two half days in The Hague one will never know, but believe me when I say I found some great eateries!

De Bakkerswinkel – Got a huge portion of yogurt + granola here for breakfast one morning. They also have a house cat!

FOAM – Great little vegan find on Frederikstraat. They do superb smoothies!

Barista Cafe – Probably the best coffee in town (even if its the only one I tried). But yeah, it was good!

Delicious Sweetness – Cute little patisserie I picked up a couple of macarons from. The macarons were nice enough, but I knew I could find better!

Patisserie Jarreau – Hands down the best macarons in The Hague – unsurprisingly by a French pastry chef!

Day Trip to Delft | World of Wanderlust

Day Trips from The Hague

If you have more time or are planning a larger trip of the Netherlands, I would highly recommend taking a day trip to Delft (the cutest little town to ever exist) and Leiden (ten minutes by train and another pretty city in the Netherlands).

The_Hague_Netherlands

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

WOW Book Club: Paris For One

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I know I know, I’ve been super slack on book club lately, which has every part to do with being super slack on reading lately (which in turn is of course a lack of time for extracurriculars). But ask and you shall receive! The past few weeks I’ve been back on planes and in airports, giving me plenty of time to catch up reading given the amount of time I spend waiting (in lines, in airports, for my hotel room to be ready, the list goes on…)

SO I came across this little pocket of happiness on my way to Paris. The whole reason I picked it up was because the irony was too much to ignore, given I was about to board a plane bound for the city of light and would be visiting on my own. Thus we have arrived at another WOW BOOK CLUB!

Paris for one by Jojo Moyes

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

Buy the book here.

I’ve picked a lot of Paris-centric reads for this book club but that’s the beauty of having a personal travel blog – you get to pick the topics you love and well, it really is no secret that I luuuuurve Paris!

This book is a mix of stories, though focuses mostly on a girl’s trip to Paris with her boyfriend who never shows. Before even opening the pages I knew I was gonna love this one.

A few years ago I travelled to Europe with an ex boyfriend for 4 weeks and our final stop of the trip was to visit Paris. By the time we reached the city of love we were so not in love that a break up could be clearly viewed beyond the horizon (or more accurately, the minute we arrived home). This book really resonated with me because although I wasn’t alone on that trip, it felt like I was because I knew the end of the relationship was so near and it was difficult to enjoy such a romantic city with that in the back of my mind.

Years later I returned to Paris with my now boyfriend and was able to fall back in love with the city and share it with him – reigniting my love for the city and reminding me that we’ve gotta go through the bad ones to reach the good ones!

I loved this book and I know you will too. I can’t wait to chat about it in a few weeks!

Buy the book here:

Paris for One and Other Stories

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

The Secret Passages of Paris

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Paris for me is Paris in the 20’s, through a lens of Woody Allen level nostalgia and with A Moveable Feast in mind. Thus it probably comes as no surprise to my readers that I made it a mission on this trip to Paris to uncover the secret passages of Paris, the history behind them, and spend too much time sipping on a cafe au lait with a crunchy pain au chocolat in hand.

The passages are a nostalgic glimpse in the cities’ past, before the days of modern shopping malls and convenience stores, when small boutiques and artisans weren’t just highly prized, they were the norm. There were originally more than 150 of these passageways around Paris in the 18th and late 19th centuries, however most of them were sadly demolished during modernisation and only a handful remain.

The passageways that remain today are more than listed here, but these were my absolute favourite passageways that I wanted to share with you in the hopes that you visit and see Paris through my lens of the golden days!

Secret Passages of Paris | World of Wanderlust Paris photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Paris photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Paris photo Diary | World of Wanderlust Secret Passages of Paris | World of Wanderlust

Galerie Vivienne

For sure my favourite passageway and I dare say the most glamorous remaining today, Galerie Vivienne is a popular pitstop for locals and their miniature pooches, looking for artisan goods and services in the heart of Paris. Located right by the Palais Royal Theatre, this gallery in the second arrondisement of Paris is an almost perfect display of polished wood, ample natural light and wrought iron.

4 Rue des Petits Champs, 2nd arrondisement

Secret Passages of Paris | World of Wanderlust Secret Passages of Paris | World of Wanderlust Secret Passages of Paris | World of Wanderlust

Passage des Panoramas

With antique signs laced with gold foil and a train restaurant reminiscent of the Hogwarts Express, Passage des Panoramas is a close second favourite for me given its similarities to Diagon Alley (yup, hopelessly devoted fan over here!) This is one of my favourite places in all of Paris for a completely nostalgic kick, and with companions it would be the perfect place to sit and enjoy for hours over a long lunch.

11 Boulevard Montmartre, 2nd arrondisement

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Passage Jouffroy

My third favourite passageway I found in Paris is located in the 9th arrondisement, conveniently located opposite the Passage des Panoramas (although the locations are two separate arrondisements, they are literally on opposite sides of Montmartre Boulevard, facing one another. This Passage offers a cute boutique hotel at the finish line, completely reminiscent of life in Paris during the 1920’s.

10 Boulevard Montmartre Boulevard, 9th arrondisement

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Galerie Vero-Dodat

I stumbled upon Galerie Vero-Dodat by chance, walking around the louvre for a bite to eat. This happens to be one of the quieter passages in Paris, so is great for a photo op with those iconic black and white tiled floors.

19 Galerie Vero-Dodat, 1st arrondisement

Secret Passages of Paris Secret Passages of Paris | World of Wanderlust

Over to you!

Have you visited more of the secret passages of Paris? Which was your favourite?

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

How to Spend 48 Hours in Utrecht

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Travelling throughout the Netherlands on a whirlwind week of adventures, I was eager to discover the best cities and towns, each with something different to offer. After visiting The Hague, I made my way by train to Utrecht, a city that has come to be known by many as “Amsterdam’s cool little sister” as quoted by a local.

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

Touch Down: In Need of Coffee?

The best way to experience Utrecht is not necessarily to “see” the city, but to “do”. The city of Utrecht doesn’t offer much by way of must see attractions, as the whole charm of the city is purely in experiencing it. With plenty of great coffee shops and bakeries, there’s a lot to begin discovering!

De Koekfabriek – at the cookie factory you get free cookies with your coffee. Ummm yes please!

Carla’s Conditorie – located right behind the dom is one of the cities’ cutest cafe/bakeries with a hint of Scandinavian flavour.

The Village Coffee – said to be the best coffee in the entire city.

De Bakkerswinkel – I first discovered this little gem in The Hague and was delighted to see it again in Utrecht! A very cute old school bakery with great (and huge) breakfasts.

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

From the centre of town you can explore all that Utrecht has to offer, which is predominantly centred around the cities’ canals. The city is full of cheap eats, al fresco restaurants, boutiques and the usual chain brands you’ll see everywhere in Europe.

The best way to discover Utrecht is to begin on foot around the city centre, later renting a bike when (and if) you feel comfortable navigating the streets to explore more of the neighbourhoods on the fringe of the CBD!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust 48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust 48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust 48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

Climb the Dom Tower to get your bearings

Figuring our your place in a city is often a task that takes a few days to master, but the city of Utrecht has one main attraction that is better experienced sooner rather than later. The Dom Tower Climb is an absolute must when in Utrecht and will give you a much better understanding for the city from above.

Climbing the tour is by guided tour only, lasting 60 minutes total. There are 465 steps to climb (yup!) so make sure you wear your comfy shoes before you commence your climb of the highest church tower in the Netherlands.

The climb begins at the Tourist Office and you can purchase tickets on the day.

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The city of Utrecht comes to life in the evenings, when the canals reflect the buildings and their light. Be sure to wander late in to the evening to really get a feel for this city – there’s a lot to discover in the cobblestone alleyways!

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Cheap Eats Around Town

Frites Atelier

Although they began in Amsterdam, I discovered the Frites Atelier in Utrecht and my goodness what a find! These fancy fries are as good as they sound with house made sauces like “Deep Truffle”, “French Bernaise” and “Indian Curry”. There are also flavour specials like “Indo Peanut” to discover, which come with fried onions, peanut sauce, rempejek and lime zest. Life made.

Frietwinkel

For research marketing purposes I made it my business to try another frites shop in town: Frietwinkel. This is more of a traditional offering and a really popular choice for locals. The only downside was the minimal sauce (though I am someone who has more sauce than fries most of the time!)

Stach

This bakery is originally from Amsterdam but I loved it so much I had to give their Utrecht store a mention. They specialise in meringues, cookies, and traditional Dutch sweets (like stroopwaffle).

De Oude Muntkelder

In need of a pick-me-up? I’ve got just the answer for you! The best poffertjes (dutch pancakes) in town are said to be had at De Oude Muntkelder. These pancakes are covered in icing sugar and full o’ goodness (by no means sugar free or anything free)!

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Free cookies at the cookie factory!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

A healthier dinner option from SLA (vegetarian and vegan)

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

Seek Out the Miffy Traffic Light

Sometimes I get a little (way) too excited about tourist attractions you won’t find elsewhere in the world, like the “Miffy Traffic Light”. I only learnt on arrival that the creator of Miffy was a resident of Utrecht, making Miffy a celebrity of the city!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

A Day Trip to Kasteel De Haar

On my last afternoon in Utrecht I made a mission out of riding my bicycle to De Haar Castle, an apparent 50-minute ride out of Utrecht. With many wrong turns and failed attempts at gear changes (haha) I made it there in around an hour (okay, maybe a little more).

The castle closes at 5:00pm in the evening, so be sure to around before 4:00pm if you plan on going inside. The entrance fee is 10€ or for entrance to the gardens only it is 5€. Due to my late arrival I only had time to enter the gardens, but what I did see was certainly worth while!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust Malie Hotel Utrecht

Check In: Malie Hotel

For my stay in Utrecht I checked in to Malie Hotel, located in a residential neighbourhood which gave me the perfect excuse to go complete “Dutchie” and ride a bike everywhere! The hotel offers rental bikes for 8€ a day, which seems like a pretty reasonable deal to get around.

Walking to the town centre was a 20 minute trip one way, which gave me all the more reason to stop at my favourite ice cream shop on the way home every day! The buffet breakfast was really generous and if you’re after a nice hotel out of the city centre, this is the perfect choice.

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A huge thank you to Visit Utrecht for welcoming me to explore the city and supporting my visit with endless recommendations and research! I loved my time in Utrecht – all opinions and photos are my own.

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!

A Day Trip to De Haar Castle in the Netherlands!

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During my time in the Netherlands I had one wish: to see a castle. Whether it be from a train or a plane above, I was sure I would see a castle of two through my travels. Nope. Nada. So when I researched where to find the castles in the Netherlands I came across De Haar Castle, said to be the prettiest castle in the entire country and only a short drive away from a city I was visiting: Utrecht.

I had only two nights in Utrecht so I first made sure I saw everything I wanted to see in the city, then made plans to visit the castle. Given that the public bus to and from the castle took one hour each way and Google maps suggested bike riding would be slightly less than that (47 minutes), I rented a bike for €8 and went on my merry way to the castle.

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Visit the Village of Haarzuilens

As it would turn out, the 47 minutes soon turned in to 90 as I mistakenly made wrong turns, was led to locked gates, and finally found a local village person to ask for directions. The castle closes at 5:00pm and I arrived at 4:15pm, so I was somewhat unsurprised to learn that I could no longer enter the castle itself, only being allowed access to the grounds (which was still so worth it!)

On my way to the castle I got lost inside the Village of Haarzuilens, built at the turn of the 19th century after a fire swept through the castle. The village itself is enough of an attraction – built in the same style of the castle with red and white stripes at every turn. I would highly recommend visiting the village after the castle (there’s a great pub / eatery in the centre of “town”).

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The Castle Grounds

Given that my entry was restricted to the gardens and I was still on a time limit, I found myself prancing around the grounds in a half-sprint, half-dance, too happy to care that it was raining with gloomy skies. I know, I know, castles aren’t that exciting to Europeans, but for an Australian who lives on an island, I was in heaven!

48 Hours in Utrecht | World of Wanderlust

Inside the Castle

If you’re smarter than me (not difficult) and arrive prior to the closing time, be sure to buy a ticket to enter the castle and learn about its history. Entrance to the gardens was €5 versus entry to the castle and gardens for €10. I’d allow at least 2 hours to enjoy the castle and grounds, as well as another hour to explore the nearby village. Bike riding was by no means a bad idea (it took me precisely 47 minutes to cycle back to Utrecht), but may not be the best idea I’ve ever had when it starts pouring down with rain. The alternative would be the public bus or to drive – both options that will keep you dry (and prevent getting lost – which isn’t as good a story now, is it?)

De Haar Castle | World of Wanderlust

Thanks to Visit Utrecht for welcoming me to the city!

Brooke Saward

Brooke founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen!