Polaroid Of The Week: Charming Trastevere, Rome

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week italy rome trastevereI was beyond excited to return to Rome at the end of my Italy trip last week – a city I hadn’t been to in many years but that I had truly loved during my previous visits. Since I didn’t have much time, I decided to spend most of my time in Trastevere, my favorite neighborhood in Rome. Located on the west bank of the river (Trastevere translates to across the Tiber (river) ), it has become a favorite with many Rome fans over the years, yet it doesn’t see as many visitors as the part of town on the east bank. Why is that? Because all of Rome’s famous sights, like the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon… are located on the east bank of the Tiber, and most people don’t make it on the other side of the river during their visit to Rome – except for the obligatory stop in Vatican City, which is also on the west bank.

What I love about Trastevere is that is the neighborhood in Rome where not only can you find typical Italian architecture, charming piazzas (squares), cobble stone streets (many of which are pedestrianized), many outdoor cafes and restaurants, but also plenty of street art, which gives the neighborhood a bit of an edge.

I love to simply wander around the labyrinth of narrow streets while marveling at the ivy-covered facades, the new street art and check out cute cafes. On this visit, I noticed though that there were more tourists than during previous visits – Trastevere is definitely not a hidden gem anymore – but it hasn’t lost any of its charming character. If you are visiting Rome, definitely head over to Trastevere – Lonely Planet has a great 1-day itinerary with all the spots you shouldn’t miss.

My wanderings brought me back to the east bank of the river eventually, because there is one stop that has to happen every time I’m in Rome: The Trevi Fountain. This famous fountain is not only the most spectacular and elaborate fountain in the city, but also plays a significant role in ensuring your next trip to Rome: Legend says that a coin thrown over your shoulder into the fountain will guarantee a return to Rome, a tradition that dates back to the ancient Romans who often threw coins in water to make the gods of water favor their journey or help them get back home safely.

Well, for me it has worked every time, and I am already looking forward to my next visit to Rome 🙂

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See Paris Like A Local: My Five Favorite Off The Beaten Path Experiences in Paris

paris sacre coeur

One of my favorite things about living in Europe was how fast you could get to another country. A long weekend in Ireland? A city break in Barcelona? That’s something we’d do regularly – not just because everything is so close to each other, but also because it is so easy to get to a different country, with the amount of budget airlines that are covering even smaller cities all over Europe. And that’s another thing: thanks to the large number of airlines, trains and buses that connect European countries these days, you can travel on the cheap.Paris1

One of my favorite weekend trips to take from England was going to Paris. There are dozens of daily flights from London to Paris, but great deals can be found no matter if you’re taking a flight from London, from Manchester or a flight from Edinburg to Paris.

Paris est toujours une bonne idée – Paris is always a good idea, Audrey Hepburn famously said, and I couldn’t agree more. I never got tired of our weekends in this stunning city, Saturday mornings with cheese and baguette picnics in Jardin d’ Luxembourg, and afternoon eclairs from patisserie L’Éclair De Génie, where you find, undoubtedly, the best eclairs in all of Paris. Strolls along the Seine, seeing new art at the Centre Pompidou art center, meandering through the streets of Montmartre, ending the day with a glass of wine at the Le Baron Rouge wine bar…  I could do it all over and over again, but I also made it a point to discover something new on each visit to one of my favorite cities in Europe.hong kong pastries passion by gerard dubois

You all know about the touristy stuff in Paris, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre and Notre Dame, the Champs-Élysées and the Arc d’Triomphe. So today I wanted to share my top five off-the-beaten path things to experience in Paris – from flea markets to street art to extraordinary city parks:

1 Canal St Martin

What the Seine is tourists, Canal St Martin is to locals. This 4.5km long canal, which winds its way through Paris northwest of the Seine River, is a favorite with Parisians who you can see sitting along the edge, enjoying a chat and a bottle of wine. Join them – a good place to start your canal walk is La Villette Park. Closest metro stations: Porte De Martin on the 5 and Corentin Cariou on the in the winter

2 La Promenade Plantée 

What the High Line is to New York, La Promenade Plantée is to Paris: a 4.7 kilometer long elevated green space, which was created, just like the High Line Park in Manhattan, on an abandoned railway line. If you are wondering which one came first: it was the Promenade Plantee, and the railroad that it is set on is the disused 19th-century Vincennes railway viaduct. The park offers a unique aerial vantage point on Paris. Closest metro station: Bastille on the 1, 5 and 8 lines – Walk to the staircase south of Place de la Bastille on Rue de metro

3 Belleville

This up-and-coming neighborhood is known for its multi-cultural feel and the colorful street art. Here you find Chinese grocery stores right next to African shops and French cafes. You’ll notice that the neighborhood is grittier than most of Paris’ picture-perfect neighborhoods and get to know a side of Paris only very tourists get to know. If you’re into street art, don’t miss Rue Denoyez. Closest metro station: Belleville on the 2 and 11 lines.buenos aires street art hand

4 Les Puces (Saint-Ouen Flea Market)

Officically named Saint-Ouen Flea Market, among Parisians, the city’s largest flea market is known simply as Les Puces, which translates to ‘The Fleas’. The flea market, which takes place every weekend, is with over 2,500 market stalls the largest antiques market in the world and sees between 120,000 and 180,000 visitors every week. Treasure hunters, vintage lovers and souvenir shoppers can’t miss a visit to this market. Closest metro stations: Porte de Clignancourt on the 4, Garibaldi on the 13, or take the 85 bus right into the middle of it all.williamsburg flea market women shoes

5 Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a giant park in northeast Paris, just north of Bellevlle. It is so much more than just your regular city park, with stunning landscape design and sights that include a Roman Pavilion (Temple De La Sibylle), a suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, concrete cliffs and a man-made lake. Plus: incredible views over Paris. Bring a picnic, or head to Rosa Bonheur, a bar inside the park that has a gorgeous terrace. Closest metro station: Buttes Chaumont or Botzaris on the 7BJardin Tuileries Paris

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Polaroid Of The Week: Hiking The Via Amerina In Italy

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week italy umbria via amerinaWhat a week it has been! My rather spontaneous journey to Italy was such a whirlwind trip that I am still processing everything I’ve experienced during my eight days of walking through Umbria and Lazio into Rome. (For those of you who haven’t read my September round-up: I walked parts of the historic Via Amerina pilgrims path from Assisi to Rome).

I don’t even know where to begin… but let’s just say that this has easily been one of the highlights of my entire year, and when I finally took off my walking shoes (to be precise, my running shoes, in lieu of actual hiking shoes) on the very last day, my emotions were torn between substantial relief about not having to put these shoes back on and the desire to keep walking.

Umbria was a region that I hadn’t known very well prior to this trip, and I was once again amazed by the beauty of this country. Is there any region in Italy that is not absolutely stunning?! I felt the same way about Lombardy last year. The scenery reminded me of Tuscany initially, with rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards, but later on it changed into a much greener, forest-y landscape with gorges and waterfalls. No matter where we were walking – everywhere it felt like a scene straight out of a painting.

One thing we saw over and over again? Picturesque medieval hilltop towns. It seems like every town in Italy is sitting on top of a hill, and every town dates back to medieval times. Whenever we walked through one of the ancient gates into the historic town center, I was mesmerized by the centuries-old stone walls, the cobble stones, the aura of medieval merchants, monks, ladies and lords, thinking to myself repeatedly ‘If walks could talk…’

I would be lying if I said this walking trip was NOT physically challenging – but the rewards it offered made more than up for the blisters and hurting legs. And I haven’t even mentioned the food yet..

Stay tuned for full articles about my trip – for now, head over to Facebook to see more photos of the trip as I keep updating my Via Amerina photo album..

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My six favorite London markets

london camden market

No matter where I travel, one integral part of sightseeing in a new city are markets. Be it a flea market, fish market or simply a fruit and vegetable market, I just love the atmosphere of a lively market, and seeing what is sold in markets in different countries. Last month, I hit up some of my favorite markets in Berlin, and I’ve written about markets in Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires and told you about my favorite markets in South East Asia and New York City. But I’ve never shared my favorite markets in London, which is the place I lived in the longest – which means there isn’t a market I haven’t been to in London, and it became a ritual for me to head out on weekends to pick up vintage clothes, unique gifts for friends, fresh flowers or just fruits and vegetables for the week, or just to grab a snack.

London MarketsRead on for the six markets I recommend you don’t miss on a visit to London – not a single one is like another and I love each one for a different reason – plus a few honorable mentions which, should you spend a longer period in the city, are worth a visit as well. Speaking of visiting London: If you are still looking for a place to stay in London, I recommend checking Expedia, where you can find the best deals for London hotels, apartments and hostels.

Borough Market

What started out as a local food & vegetable market right off London Bridge quickly turned into the city’s #1 gourmet food market, selling high quality fresh breads and pastries, cheeses, meats, fish and condiments like olives, nuts and other goodies. The market gained in popularity so quickly that it is basically impossible to make your way across the market without being pushed through the crowds, but if you visit Borough Market on a Friday or Thursday before lunch, you should be able to avoid the masses (do yourself a favor though and don’t go on a Saturday, unless you are willing to get up early!).

Make sure to come hungry, because not only will you want to try some of the specialty sandwiches (raclette!) or bratwurst, but the vendors also offer generous samples of Italian salami, French cheese, fresh muffins or homemade jam. If you are a foodie, you can’t leave London without visiting this market!

Where? Southwark Street (closest tube station: London Bridge)

When? There is a limited market operating Monday and Tuesday 10am to 5pm. The Full market is in operation Wednesday & Thursday: 10am to 5pm, Friday: 10am to 6pm, Saturdays: 8am to 5pm. It is closed on Sundays.

London Borough Market

Columbia Road Market

Columbia Road Market is actually called Columbia Flower Market – and is easily the best smelling market in London. Every Sunday, flower vendors line up along Columbia Road and sell an array of flowers and plants that makes every person with a ‘green thumb’ or simply adores flowers, very happy indeed. Thousands of flowers make the quaint Columbia Road shine in a blaze of colors. I have traveled all over the world but I have rarely seen a market that compares.

Visiting the Columbia Road Market makes for a lovely Sunday morning stroll through East London, and can be combined with brunch in Shoreditch or a stroll through Brick Lane Market (see below). Make sure to also check out the galleries, vintage shops and boutiques on Columbia Road while you’re there.

Where? Columbia Road (closest public transport: Hoxton or Shoreditch High Street on the London Overground)

When? Sundays 8am – 3pm.

london columbia road flower marketPortobello Road Market

London’s best known market has been going strong for decades now, turning Portobello Road into London’s busiest street each and every Saturday, rain or shine. The market was originally founded as an antiques market but has since added clothing, souvenirs, art, vintage clothes and even household cleaners to the mix. Towards the end of the market (close to Ladbroke Grove), you’ll find fruits, vegetables and other fresh produce and when I lived in Ladbroke Grove, I would visit the market every week to shop for inexpensive groceries. I was never able to resist the giant olives, cheese vendors and fresh French baguettes. If you’re in town on a sunny day, I’d recommend picking up some snack food and heading to Kensington Gardens afterwards for a picnic.

Where? Portobello Road (closest tube station: Notting Hill Gate, Ladbroke Grove)

When? Every Saturday from 9am to 6pm

London Portobello Road MarketBrick Lane Market

Brick Lane Market is my favorite place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon in London. This massive flea market in East London stretches all the way down Brick Lane and also includes Cheshire Street. As East London has become more and more trendy over the past decade or so, the market has also seen a huge growth in visitor numbers, so I recommend you go early. You can find all kinds of second-hand goods here, vintage clothes and antiques, but also toys, all sorts of knick knacks and even home decor.

There are tons of food vendors here, too, so you don’t have to go hungry. And let’s not forget about all of the amazing curry houses that made Brick Lane famous in the first place – you won’t regret stopping for lunch at any of them. During the warmer months, there are live bands and other entertainment along the street or in places like the Truman Brewery. Street art lovers take note: Brick Lane is also home to some of London’s finest street art.

Where? Brick Lane (closest tube station: Liverpool Street Station and Aldgate East)

When? Every Sunday from 10am to 5pm

London Brick Lane MarketPetticoat Lane Market

Another amazing Sunday market (you could basically spend all Sunday exploring different markets!), Petticoat Lane Market specializes entirely in fashion. The market was established over 400 years ago by French Huguenots who were selling petticoats there. Even though the street name has long since changed, the market has kept its original name and is a paradise for fashionistas. There is no fashion article that you won’t find here – from belts, buttons, underwear, leather, jeans and work clothes, this market sells anything to do with clothing. Bring enough cash, because you’ll most likely buy much more than you plan on buying! The rock-bottom prices here never cease to amaze me.

Where? On Middlesex Street (closest tube station: Liverpool Street Station, Aldgate or Aldgate East)

When? Every Sunday from 9am to 2.30pm

petticoatlane marketCamden Lock Market

Another one of London’s markets that has become way too commercialized over the years. When I visited Camden Market for the first time a decade ago, the market still had an edgy, in parts almost grimy feel to it, but the more it has gained in popularity, the more it was cleaned up by the officials. While it has become cleaner and more organized, it has also lost most of its edginess – that being said, Camden Market is still my absolute favorite market in the world. I have yet to find another market that I love equally as much and that combines vintage, food (oh the glorious food! Do yourself a favor and come with an empty belly!), jewelry, art, music and amazing gifts. If you happen to be in London during the week, you’ll be able to shop in a much less crowded environment on a weekday morning. If you’re not a fan of crowds, I’d recommend staying away on the weekends or otherwise go to the market super early. But make sure that you do go: this is the one market that should absolutely not be missed on a visit to London.

Where? Camden High Street (closest tube station: Camden Town or Chalk Farm)

When? Every day from 10am to 6pm

London Camden Lock MarketThese are only a few of the markets I love in London and ones that I frequented dozens of times. I could go on and on, also introducing you to Leadenhall Market, Brixton Village Market, Covent Garden Market, Greenwich Market, Spitalsfield Market and Broadway Market… your options for markets to attend in London are nearly endless. A quick weekend trip to London is one of the easiest things to do these days with the large number of budget airlines and trains connecting London to mainland Europe. If you are based in the UK, cheap coach operators offer tickets for as little as £1, but even from Germany or France there are always bargain train or flight offers available. It has never been easier and cheaper to visit Britain’s capital for a quick shopping trip – and no shopping trip would be complete without a visit to the city’s awesome markets!
Brixton Village Market

Have you been to London? What are your favorite markets? Share in the comments below!

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13 Things About Berlin That Might Surprise You

berlin cathedral and tv tower

I’ve talked about Berlin a lot on this site, providing you with some useful guides for the city (check out:

das ist so berlin
That’s so Berlin.

…but returning after a year, several first-time visitors in tow, I noticed that there are quite a few things that I’ve never shared with you: The things I find surprising about Berlin, and the things people I show around find surprising and interesting. So without further ado, here are 13 things about Berlin that I find surprising and that might surprise you, too:

1 Berlin is the vegan capital of Europe

This one is surprising – who would’ve thought that you’d find one of Europe’s most vegan-friendly cities in meat loving Germany? It seems like vegan cafes, bars and restaurants are popping up everywhere around the city, but I was skeptical when my friend Sam told me that Berlin was the vegan capital of Europe. A quick Google search revealed that he was correct though, and Berlin is in fact the city with more vegan restaurants than any other city in Europe, according to CNN. Germany’s first vegan supermarket chain, Veganz, was founded here, and Berlin is home to the biggest vegan festival in all of Europe. You can get vegan versions of the meat dishes that Berlin is famous for, doner and curry wurst, and you can get pretty much anything vegan: wine, cheese, ice cream, pizza… There are vegan versions of everything, and then there are of course the 60+ purely vegan restaurants and cafes in the city.vegan berlin

2 Berlin is not pretty

Compared to other European capitals like Paris, Budapest, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Prague or Ljubljana, which are known for their impeccable beauty, charming atmosphere and postcard-worthy photo opps around every corner, Berlin can only be called a city with some pretty corners at best. Gritty fits Berlin much better than pretty, and people traveling around Europe are often surprised when they get to Berlin and realize it’s not like the picture-perfect cities that they’ve got to enjoy in other European countries. That’s why Berlin isn’t for everyone – and I have to admit that it can be difficult to grasp the sprawling mess of neighborhoods. But if you make an effort to explore both the pretty and the less pretty parts, you’ll find that the city has much more facets than the cleaner, neater neighboring capitals.gritty berlin

3 Berlin is quiet

One thing that almost everyone visiting Berlin comments on is how quiet the city is. And I agree – I don’t think there are many cities the size of Berlin where you can find yourself frequently in tranquil, peaceful spaces. Even walking through the Mitte neighborhood (Central Berlin) there are a lot of spots where you feel more like you are in a small town rather than in Germany’s capital. And in the residential streets of Kreuzberg, Neukölln or Prenzlauer Berg, the only noise I found myself surrounded by was the chirping of the birds. Heavenly!

dani tempelhof
You can always find quiet, empty places in Berlin!

4 Berlin doesn’t have a skyline

Berlin doesn’t have much of a skyline – in fact, there aren’t any skyscrapers in Berlin. The highest building in Berlin is the omnipresent TV Tower at 1,207 ft (368 meters), which always peaks out from the lower buildings of the city. The Park Inn Hotel, right across from the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz, is one of the very few other high buildings in Berlin, but at 410 feet (125 meters) it is considerably smaller than the TV sunset

5 Berlin is cheap

People are always surprised about just how cheap Berlin is, and I agree: having traveled all over Germany this year, I have to say that I have yet to find another city that has prices as cheap as Berlin. Food is super cheap, and drinks are moderately priced in most places – a large beer for €3.50 is seen as expensive, and €2 glasses of wine are not a rarity. Plus: groceries are cheap in the supermarkets, the Turkish Market in Maybachufer has the most inexpensive fresh produce I’ve come across in the whole country. Since many sights are also free, Berlin is one of the most budget-friendly cities in Europe.

cheap berlin
€5 lunches and an entire box of avocados for €3? Yes, please!

6 Berlin is smoky

And with that I don’t mean ‘smoggy’, no, I actually mean smoky as in cigarette smoke. Having spent so much time in the US in recent years, I am shocked every time I get to Germany and realize just how many people smoke there. The worst thing? Many bars have found loopholes to avoid the smoking ban, and so I find myself constantly surrounded by cigarette smoke when I go out in Berlin, waking up with hair that reeks of cigarettes. smokers

7 Everyone is drinking beer (everywhere!)

Everyone in Berlin is walking around with a beer bottle in their hands. Well maybe not everybody, but probably 90%* of people you’ll pass in Berlin, especially in Neukölln or Kreuzberg, are carrying an open beer bottle. And if not beer, then Club Mate, a popular hipster soda drink.. but if you find yourself in Berlin, just look around you and you’ll notice that almost everyone has a beer bottle in their hands. The most plausible explanation for this is that a bottle of beer is usually cheaper than a bottle of water, so why not enjoy a bottle of fine German beer? But why not enjoy a beer at any given time, considering that it’s cheaper than a bottle of water?  And yes, it is completely legal to booze in public, and Berliners take advantage of that privilege all the time – more so than in most other German cities.

*number might have been slightly exaggerated by the author of this articleberlin beer

8 Finding German food in Berlin can be tricky

When my friend announced she wanted to try some German food, I broke out in a sweat. Where the heck could we sample some German food that goes beyond the ubiquitous currywurst? Berlin has so much ethnic food – Turkish, Vietnamese, Indian, Lebanese, Indian, Thai, Mexican.. you can find pretty much any cuisine you’re craving. But German food options seem to be few and far between. And even though you’ll discover that there are quite a few German restaurants once you start looking for them, be warned: not all of them are great. The quality varies drastically! If you find yourself in Berlin and hungry for German food, check out Dicke Wirtin, Zeit fuer Brot (their bread is amazing!), Schwarzwaldstuben and Marjellchen.Berlin foreign food

9 Doner Kebab is everywhere

While we’re talking about food: one thing you won’t ever have difficulties finding is the doner kebab, a national treasure when it comes to German fast food. Even though the kebab is a type of Turkish kebab, made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie (similar to the Arab shawarma) some people claim it was invented in Germany, and the Wall Street Journal states that There’s Nothing More German Than a Big, Fat Juicy Döner Kebab. Yes – the döner, how the Germans call it, is popular not only in Berlin but throughout the entire country with over 17,000 doner slingers, and it even outsells hamburgers and sausages, taking the #1 spot for fast food in Germany.

mustafas gemuese kebap

Apparently there are more doner stands in Berlin than there are in Istanbul! You can’t go to Berlin and NOT have a doner – and the fight for the title of ‘Best Doner In Berlin’ is an ongoing one. Opinions vary (ask a group of Berliners what their favorite doner place is and it’s likely you will trigger a dispute among them!), but here are The Guardian’s 2016 picks for the best doner in Berlin, Thrillist’s best doner spots in Berlin, and Berlin Food Stories’ favorite doner places.

10 Berlin is cash only

maybe you should go fuck yourself
What I feel Berliners are thinking every time I ask if I can pay with card

Try to use plastic in Berlin – and you’ll get frustrated quickly. Germans do not like credit cards (or even debit cards) and Berlin is no exception here. Whenever I visit and try to pay by card, I get to hear ‘We’re cash only’ almost every time. Cash is king in Berlin, so get out a huge chunk of Euros as soon as you arrive. I am not sure why Germans are so adamant about paying in cash, but if you don’t want to end up in constant frustration about not being able to pay with your card (I find that most places that do accept card payment only accept German ‘EC’ or ‘Giro’ cards, but no foreign debit and credit cards), have your cash ready.

11 Berlin is a bike city

bike traffic light berlin
Bikes even have their own traffic lights in Berlin!

When people think of bike cities in Europe, they usually think of Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but not of Berlin. However, Berlin is just as much of a bike city as the aforementioned two, with a constant stream of cyclists using the well-marked bike lanes. One morning during rush hour, I found myself in a bike traffic jam and was surrounded by sharply dressed business men on their bikes, women in heels and suits on their way to the office, and moms with two kids on their bike on the way to kindergarten to drop them off. No matter what time of day – there always seemed to be more bikes than cars on the streets. And I have to say: cycling is the best way to get around Berlin, so do yourself a favor and rent a bike for the day at one of the many bike rental places around the city.

12 Berlin is green

Did you know that one fifth of Berlin is covered with trees? And there are 2,500 green spaces and parks in the city, ranging from massive parks like Tiergarten (Berlin’s version of Central Park) and the city forest of Grunewald to small green spaces like Monbijoupark or Helmholtzplatz. There are a number of Volksgärten (people’s parks), and there are plenty of green spaces along the canals and the river Spree that flows through Berlin from east to west. And then there’s Tempelhof, of course, Berlin’s city airport that was, after closing down, turned into a public park, larger than Central berlin

13 Berlin is full of street art

A lot of people are aware that Berlin has a thriving street art scene, but they don’t expect there to be so much street art… everywhere! In most cities, street art is confined to one or a couple of neighborhoods, but in Berlin you can’t walk a few meters without stumbling upon a piece of street art, graffiti or a mural. Even in the most random places, inside staircases for example, you’ll find tags or graffiti. Sometimes I feel like there is not a single door in the city that doesn’t have something painted on it! I personally love it, and I think it adds so much to what makes Berlin such a special street art

No, the city is not perfect, but that’s what makes me love it even more.

Have you been to Berlin? Was there anything about the city that you didn’t expect / that surprised you? Share in the comments below!

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5 reasons why you should visit Cannes

France chez marie cafe

Cannes – playground of the rich and famous, with its azure blue waters and palm-tree lined boulevard a picture-perfect holiday spot on the French Riviera, and must-go place for anyone planning a Cote d’Azur sojourn. Cannes is so much more than the film festival that makes into the worldwide news every year, when Hollywood stars conglomerate in France’s most sophisticated and glamorous beach destination. But what makes Cannes so special outside of the Cannes Film Festival? We’re sharing five reasons why Cannes is worth a visit:

1 La Croisette

A long, elegant, palm tree-lined boulevard that stretches along the seafront for miles, La Croisette can’t be missed on a visit to Cannes. It is here where the rich & famous shop whose yachts you can see lined up in one of Cannes’ marinas. You find plenty of upscale boutiques here, sidewalk cafes and restaurants, or you could just go for a stroll and marvel at the beautiful villas on the one side, and tourists enjoying he beaches on the other. Make sure to walk all the way down to the Old Port, Vieux Port, for the scenic views.

La Croisette

2 Iles de Lerins

The Iles de Lerins are two wooded islets just off the coast of Cannes which have been famously inhabited by monks for many centuries. The monks produce the tasty Lerina liqueur on Saint Honorat and also organize wine tastings for visitors. You can even stay in a hostel in the abbey on the island to experience the simple life the monks there are living. The other island, Saint Marguerite, is famous for its gorgeous beaches and clear waters that make you think you’re in the Caribbean instead of the Mediterranean! There are regularly boat trips to the isles from Gare Maritime hourly during the summer months (and less frequently during the winter).

Île Sainte-Marguerite

3 The beautiful beaches

Cannes stretches along the sea for over four miles (7 kilometers) – and the beaches are stunning. The beach that stretches along La Croisette Boulevard is of course the most famous one, but note that not all of Cannes’ beach front is public – there are several private beaches right in the city. Among the best public beaches are Zamenhof Beach and Mace Beach (both right by Croisette Boulevard), Moure Rouge Beach near the fishing ports and the golden sand beach La Bocca. Most of the private beaches can be visited too, by the way, but they charge up to €20 admission.

Part of Cannes Beach

4 Le Suquet: The Old Town

The Old Town raises up on the mountainside of Mont Chevalier, overlooking the entire bay. This is what used to be the original fishing village that eventually turned into what Cannes is today. The setting of this neighborhood couldn’t be more picturesque, and the views over the red roofs of Cannes and the Mediterranean from up here are breathtaking. Traffic isn’t allowed, which means you can fully enjoy the narrow alleyways and staircases, courtyards and ancient walls. Make sure to climb the 11th century Tour Du Mont watchtower from which you can see all the way out to the Lerins Islands. The streets of Le Suquet are lined with fabulous boutiques and shops, by the way – not to be missed if you’re a shopaholic! In addition to luxury shops for fashionistas, you’ll find food and flower markets as well as flea markets in Cannes’ Old Town.

le suquet - vieux cannes

5 The stunning Notre-Dame d’Esperance church

This provencal Gothic church will show you that Cannes has so much more to offer than the Film Festival. History buffs will appreciate the wood paneling that dates back to the 14th century and the collection of 19th century paintings. It’s the most significant church in town. The views from the church are also some of the most terrific ones in Cannes, given that Notre-Dame d’Esperance sits on top of the hill that is home to the Old Town.

Church Notre Dame d'Espérance, Cannes

Where to stay in Cannes

Check out Villa Les Palmes – 15 recently renovated apartments inside a traditional French Riveran-style building. The apartments are furnished in a modern, contemporary way and come with fully-equipped kitchens as well as amenities such as washing machines, dishes, WiFi and satellite TV. . The apartments are near the Croisetter and only a five-minute walk from the beach. You’re right in the middle of it all, and the apartments start at only €70 per night for two people or €75 for three people!


How to get to Cannes

The closest airport is Nice, a 30-minute bus or taxi ride away. There are plenty of shuttle services that will bring you straight from the Nice Cote d’Azur airport to Cannes. The train ride from the airport is the most scenic way to arrive since it runs right alongside the coast.

Sunset on Cannes
Photo credit: All images used via Flickr’s Creative Commons Licensing. (1) Cannes La Croisette; (2) Iles Sainte-Marguerite by Anthony Fino; (3) Cannes Beach by Paulo; (4) Le Suquet by Dominique Bergeron ; (5) Notre Dame d’Esperance Church by Sam2907; (6) Cannes by Stefan Jurca; (7) Cannes sunset by Jullen Sanine
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Polaroid Of The Week: A Perfect London Summer Day

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week england london kensington gardensAfter a week by the sea, I made my way up to London, deciding that I can’t leave England without at least a quick pit stop in my former adopted hometown.

Summer was in full swing when I arrived in Friday (a rare thing for London!) and I spontaneously decided to take some time off work and spend my Saturday like most other people this weekend, and like I used to spend so many of my London weekends: in the park (with a run though Hyde Park in the morning and a picnic in Kensington Gardens in the afternoon, where I snapped the picture above), with a bit of shopping (the madness that is Oxford Street seems less crazy when you’ve been away for a while) and last but not least: with a visit to the West End, where I saw Guys & Dolls, currently starring Rebel Wilson, who always makes me laugh, and it wasn’t any different in this musical. If you happen to find yourself in London before 21 August, I highly recommend it – look for cheap tickets on

My quick visit in London ended with some bubbles at the Searcys champagne bar in St Pancras with Becki, who I hadn’t seen since the NBE conference in Finland in January 2014, and was the perfect way to conclude a fantastic week in the UK. Next stop: Munich!

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Polaroid Of The Week: Beach Day In Brighton

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week brighton englandI decided instead of boring you with yet another Polaroid from Berlin, I’d wait another day and share a photo of the place where I’m spending the bigger part of this week: Brighton, England! When I came here for Brighton Pride last summer, I sure didn’t think I’d be back less than a year later, but as so often… I just never know where my travels take me 🙂 (Remember how I ended up in the Amazon in March? Yeah, I had no intentions to go there either..).

Until last week I had no idea that I’d be hanging out at the beach in Brighton today, but I sure won’t complain about this! Apparently, summer and sunshine only arrived in Britain this past weekend, and I got to enjoy the most beautiful summer day on England’s south coast today. The beach was packed, as one would expect with fabulous weather like this – there was not a single cloud in the sky. People were barbecuing at the beach, SUPing in the ocean (something I’m hoping to do later this week!), and the bars and pubs along the beach were packed.

I’ve had a crush on Brighton ever since I first came here in 2005, and won’t ever tire of coming here – if you wanted to know more about what makes Brighton so special, I recommend my article Irresistable Brighton: What makes Brighton so appealing?

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Polaroid of the week: Love lock madness in Cologne, Germany

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week germany cologne love locks bridgeIt feels like I’ve been all over the place this week: Berlin, then Dusseldorf, and now in Cologne, where I am spending the weekend. My three days in Cologne were definitely my favorite part of the week – my last two days in Berlin and also in Dusseldorf, it was mostly about work, but I tried to take some time off this weekend to find out if I still loved Cologne as much as I did fifteen years ago. Cologne and I have a special history: I visited the city for the first time with my girlfriends when I was 15 and was instantly mesmerized by the multi-cultural, vibrant city. What a difference from my sleepy hometown it was! I decided right there and then that I was going to move to Cologne one day, and a few more visits during my last couple of years in high school reaffirmed my love for the city, which is why I ended up enrolling in the University Of Cologne in 2000.

I had to leave unexpectedly after only two years, but always thought I’d come back one day – possibly to live there. But life had other plans for me and I never returned – until now, that is. As so many cities, Cologne has changed considerably since I lived here, and I had the best time this weekend rediscovering the place I called home all those years ago. With a good friend in tow and perfect summer weather, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect time here – from food markets to bike rides along the Rhine River to a night out in Cologne’s thriving LGBT bar scene, I loved every second of it.

Being a sucker for love locks (and maybe even having locked my very own one on a famous bridge) one thing I was excited about was that I finally got to see one of the most famous love lock bridges in the world: the Hohenzollern Bridge. Back when I lived here, there were no love locks on that bridge, but a few years ago I came across an article mentioning that the bridge was covered in more than 40,000 love pad locks. After photographing the love lock fountain in Montevideo, the love locks on the Brooklyn Bridge (which have been removed now), love locks along Italy’s Via Dell’Amore, and many other spots around the world, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a bridge covered in padlocks to the extent this bridge is covered. It’s absolutely insane! Now that I’ve become a little more jaded rational when it comes to everlasting love and love declarations, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these couples were still together. There must be far more than 40,000 locks now – apparently, the love locks weigh over 2 tons! Let’s just hope they don’t cause the bridge to collapse like the love locks at the Pont Des Arts in Paris, where the locks have been removed consequently.

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Polaroid of the week: A walk inside Berlin’s stunning parliament dome

Polaroid of the week

polaroid of the week berlin reichstag dome

After a few short days with my family, I returned to Berlin on Thursday for six days – and to welcome two special visitors from New York!

I have to admit that I am slightly exhausted after  sightseeing for days, but I love showing people around this giant urban sprawl that can be overwhelming and hard to grasp for first time visitors.

We wandered the tree-lined streets of Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, shopped at the Sunday flea market in Mauerpark and listened to people from all over the world belt out their favorite songs in front of 1,000 people at Bearpit Karaoke. We watched an epic sunset from Berlin’s coolest rooftop bar, Klunkerkranich (which even made it in the NYT, as a must-go spot in 36 hours in Berlin) and strolled along the canals. I also managed to get us tickets to visit the Reichstag dome on Saturday, which I hadn’t done in three years  – tickets are hard to get during the summer months, probably because they’re free. Sadly I couldn’t get them for my first visitors a couple of weeks ago, so the happier I was that I was able to show these two Berlin’s best 360 degrees views.

As an architecture geek, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing this stunning glass dome close up, designed by Sir Norman Foster and only added to Germany’s historic Parliament Building in 1999. We lucked out with the time of our visit, which happened to coincide with the time that the sun finally broke through the clouds after a rainy, gray day. And as we made our way up the ramp up to an observation deck at the very top of the dome, blue skies appeared, and we learned all kinds of trivia about the state-of-the-art environmentally friendly features of the dome and about the surrounding buildings thanks to the free GPS audio guide you get when you visit. If you’re heading to Berlin, don’t miss the Reichstag Dome – you can book your tickets online here.

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