travel

Sleepover: La Maison D'été

I've mentioned La Maison D'été in my last blog post. It's the hotel where we first stayed arriving in Mauritius. For two nights we had the pleasure of wining, dining, relaxing and exploring this ultra relaxing spot on the north east coast. Here's my full review. 

Banyan trees
It takes about an hour to get to the hotel from the airport. The route takes you along the highway and several small roads where one thing was made clear instantly. This is a green, luscious island. The long flight had made me tired, but the huge palms, banana leaves and incredible banyan trees kept me awake. Wow, absolutely gorgeous flora!

First impressions
First impressions matter. And La Maison D'éte knows what's up. Arriving on the driveway, immediately we were taken care off. A lovely welcome drink, a small tour around the grounds, and the fresh fruit in the room. It's exactly what you need after a trip across the globe. The room was amazing. My favorite part? Our balcony overlooking the pool and the beach. I've spend hours there just relaxing, reading my book, listening to the waves and appreciating life. 

Playing games
The high season was coming to an end and we could notice that in the amount of guests. I would love to see the place with a few more people. Since it felt like we had the place to ourselves we enjoyed everything around the hotel. Sunbathing at the pool, spotting coral in the sea, biking around the small villages in the area and a lot of eating. There's no place in Mauritius where the food isn't good. And La Maison D'été is no exception. Especially the selection of fresh fish is in high demand. Eat the restaurant, the patio or on the beach. It's all possible. After dinner you can enjoy a few cocktails at the bar or in the lounge area while you play board games. One tip from my side? Let the bar be open for just a little while longer. 

Carefree
Everything in the hotel is what you expect and want from a med-high stay. Spotless clean, fresh (beach) towels, beautiful beauty products in the bathroom, complimentary cooled water, privacy, security, super friendly and involved staff. It made our stay truly carefree and relaxing. There's not a whole lot to do in the direct area, so make sure to rent a car or book a driver. The concierge can help you with getting you a taxi, giving advice on where to go or hand you the hotel bikes. Make sure you bring water shoes since the beach and sand here is quite painful to walk on due to coral and rocks. 

I would def recommend this hotel to people who are searching for something for a boutique hotel that's personal, small with a very relaxing vibe. Thanks for having us La Maison D'été!

Travel journal: Mauritius

When I was backpacking in Asia 10 years ago I traveled around for some time with a British girl that had roots in Mauritius (Hi Vanesha!). I had never heard of the island or had a clue where on the globe this paradise island was located. Well... I can tell you that I've found it!

Bye bye Dodo
Mauritius is famous for different things. Their Dodo bird tragedy, the different cultural influences and of course the beautiful beaches. The island is the perfect honeymoon getaway. White beaches, lovely temperatures and unlimited coconut sipping. What more do you want? There are loads of options of hotels, villas and apartments where you can stay. From budget to the most luxurious A-list spots. 

Well deserved holiday
The bf and I spent 10 days on this paradise island. (No, we did not get engaged.) Luckily for us Mauritius Airways has a direct flight from Amsterdam (+/- 12 hours) since March so that's saves a ton of time on this already long commute. In all honestly, the airline is far off from Emirates quality, but they are really making an effort. Since it's only a two hour time difference you don't feel terribly awful once you arrive. The drive from the airport to the first hotel took a little over an hour - so far so good.  

Two hotels, two experiences
We stayed at La Maison d'été and LUX* Grande Gaube. Both wonderful hotels with each their unique vibe and feel. I will come up with a dedicated blog for both places, so stay tuned! Since the bf and I aren't the all-day-sun-tanning kind of people we rented a scooter and a car to explore the island. If you're planning to visit Mauritius I would most def recommend to do this! It's easy once you've downloaded the map of Mauritius in Google Maps. 

Food, food, food
Thanks to the huge diversity in cultures Mauritius has a broad range of flavors to choose from. Indian, Chinese, Portugese, Creole, French. You name it, they make it. It was such a fun experience going from place to place, eating our way and hitting the jackpot every time. Best food we had? Peruvian, can you imagine! 

That's it for now. Soon I'll update you with a lot more!

Travel journal: Iran

So.. I went to Iran. First of all: put this one on your travel bucket list. I've never felt more safe, I've never felt more welcome. Okay, now that's done. Here's my short recap, more detailled blogs about specific places will follow!

Revise your fear
Everyone has an opinion about Iran. When I told people I was planning a trip there I heard so many fearful reactions. And till this day I just don't understand why. When you are respectful of the local manners and skip the problem areas near the borders, you are good to go. Really, this country is warm and heartfelt. 

1500 kilometers
The country is huge, so there's a lot to see and explore. I only had 10 days, so I had to choose wisely. The trip became a nice mixture of city and villages, architecture and nature. The best tip I could give you is to rent a car. This saves you a lot of time and makes it easier to travel to remote spots. We rented a Peugeot 405 for 34€ a day and drove around 1500 kilometers the entire trip. Gas cost almost nothing, so don't worry about that. Driving is an adventure itself, but for the thrill seekers that have driven around the world this won't be hard. 

Itinerary 
After two nights in Tehran we drove the long haul to Taft, nearby Yazd. There we stayed for two nights in the wonderful Nartitee Ecolodge (blog will follow). After exploring Yazd, we continued offroad and parked our car in the desert village Varzaneh, staying at Varzaneh traditional guesthouse. With sand in our shoes, hair and car we drove to the city of Esfehan for one night, which was more than enough in my opinion. Last stop: Kashan. There we combined some much needed down time with bazaar shopping, sipping coffee and cultural sights. Luckily we could drop the car off at Tehran airport so we didn't have to drive into the mayhem that is Tehran again. 

Must know
As I said, rent a car! Other handy tips: make sure you have enough cash, you can't get money in Iran only with a local card. Learn some Farsi, English is not very well spread outside the cities. Bring something from your home country that you can give when you are welcomed in someone's home. Candy, cookies, anything. Iranians have a killer sweet tooth. Coffee lover? There wasn't always coffee at the guesthouses, so bring some yourself. There's always free tea and hot water! 

The Fezzzzjunnn
For women: buy some clothing you feel comfortable in that follow the regulations. I had three outfits that were a hit. First of all my cotton black headscarf, it's breathable and heavy enough so it doesn't fall from your head all day. A long over the knee loose grey dress with black leggings. A sort of vest slash coat that locally would be called a manteau. You can button it or not, depending on the rest of your outfit. And what I also wore a lot was a long black blazer with pearl buttons. It stopped my butt from showing off and also still had some flair, so I didn't look like a complete potato sack.  

I'll soon write a blog about the ecolodges and homestaying in Iran! 

Sleepover: Hotel V Amsterdam

Countless times I've visited Hotel V at Nes for a breakfast meeting, afternoon drink or as a second living room whenever I'm in the capital city. That's one of the reasons why I was very curious about their newer hotel in Amsterdam Oost. This one opened late 2016 and is as beautiful as its older sibling in the city centre. I booked a night in one of the suites, here's my full report. 

First impressions
You can only make one first impression. Quickly after I entered the parking garage I saw a sign with my name on it. The simplicity of such a sign instantly makes you feel welcome. The lobby of the hotel feels warm and cosy and were full of beautiful peacock chairs (that I now need to have). I was early and couldn't go into my room, but I had a complete city to explore so that didn't matter at all. I left my luggage got some info on how to go from the hotel to my next meeting the quickest and left. 

Sound and safe
When I returned the personnel remembered me, which I think is very lovely. The suite is located on the second floor, all the way in the back (a corner room). Hallways to the rooms are guests only and only accessible with your room card, the key only works if your room is in that exact hallway. What makes sure there's less traffic on the floors (nice and quiet) and makes you feel safe. 

Pass out blissfully
The room. Oh men! Wonderful! Everything breathes relaxation and designed simplicity. The suite offered a large double bed, a relax area, working area and a nice walkin shower. Enough space to set up your stuff if you're working, to enjoy some well deserved me-time or to pass out blissfully. 

Misty mornings
We slept with the curtains open and woke up bright and early with a misty view of Amsterdam. Time for breakfast! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And hotel breakfasts are even better. The breakfast is included in the hotel fee and The Lobby, the restaurant and bar area of Hotel V. Cravings were understood. Fresh coffee, and a pick of one savory item and one sweet. I opted for the eggs Florentine and French toast. A great way to kickstart your day. 

Sleepover gone great
We had arranged an late checkout the night before, so we had all the time in the world to walk around. Spot all the beautiful details in the hotel and spoil ourselves with our temporary home. Well rested and our bellies full of deliciousness we exited the hotel with smiling faces. A great sleepover. Of course I took loads of photos, have a look!

What I always pack when I go hiking

Whether it's a weekend getaway or a full on thru hike, there are always a few things I pack. 

Pillow case
You can make a pillow from your down jacket, the clothes you want to wear the next day or even your backpack. But life is a lot easier when you bring a cotton pillow case. Stuff it all in and your new pillow will be as comfy as the one at home. No more gathering your pillow package in the middle of the night. 

Lightweight string
With 3 meters of lightweight string and an optional handful of pegs you can do your laundry and have them dry before the next day. Nothing beats the old fashioned drying rack, not even warm stones or weird looking branches. That piece of string will save you a lot of time and walking in wet socks. 

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Good luck charm
Call me superstitious, but I always bring a good luck charm. Something given by someone you love. It doesn't have to be a good luck charm, it can be a mascotte or cute key chain. It makes your bag easier to spot and gives you a little reminder of home. 

Pen & paper
You don't have to be a poet to be in need of paper and pen. Drawing a map, making a to do list, writing your memoirs, playing tic tac toe. With some paper and a pen you're never bored. 

Oral rehydration solution
ORS has been a life saver a couple of times. You might get sick, have the worst hangover or are afraid of altitude sickness. ORS does wonders for your system. When things seem terrible and as prevention. 

What do you always pack when you go hiking no matter the duration and destination? Let me know!