Carolien's travel blog!

Exploring the world one bite at a time

Street Art: The Crystal Ship in Ostend

The Belgium coast is mostly famous for it’s ugly buildings and crowded beaches the moment the suns casts it’s first summer rays. But did you know that the Queen of the Bath Cities, as Ostend is often referred to, is home to an impressive collection of street art? Yes, for the third time running, Belgian’s largest coastal city forms the backdrop for the popular art festival The Crystal Ship.

This year over fifteen artists created large scale murals and art installations using Ostend as their canvas. The new artworks became a permanent addition to the fifty larger and hundreds of smaller creations which resulted from the past two editions. Together they form an impressive artistic trail throughout Ostend.

You can discover the art works on foot or rent a bike to get around even faster and absorb more of the art.

Alexis Diaz:

Oak Oak:


Unknown artist (not part of The Crystal Ship catalogue):

Outings Project:


Ben Slow:



Pol Cosmo and Jaune:


Bué The Warrior:

Bué The Warrior and Jaune:

Isaac Cordal (it takes a bit of an effort to find the artwork):



Pixel Pancho:

I hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour. Please let me know which is your favorite work of art.

Duffy’s Pub: “Traditional pub”

Duffy’s pub is a friendly place to eat, have snack or just have drinks. The interior is what you would expect from a decent pub: lots of wood, a nice bar and big tv screens. Service is friendly.

My boyfriend and I ordered poutine, a pulled pork sandwich and a wonton soup. The poutine was to share. To be honest I think we ordered too much food. Portions are big and the poutine in itself is a heavy dish. Everything was well made, but not exceptional. The broth of my soup (which was served boiling hot) needed more seasoning. The pulled pork sandwich was ok.

If you’re looking for a traditional place that serves honest food for a decent price, Duffy’s pub is the place to be.

Duffy’s Pub
1797 Pacific Way
Kamloops BC
British Columbia V2E 2H9
(+1) 250.372.5453

Visited July 2015. You can find my review about Duffy’s Pub also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 5/5, service 4/5, food 3/5.

Yale Historic Site: “A pleasant surprise”

We hadn’t planned visiting this historic site beforehand, but I’m very glad we did. Really interesting stuff to see here. Loved the reconstruction of the gold miner tents. You really get a feeling of how life must have been during the Fraser River Gold Rush. The old church is also really lovely. Highly recommend visiting this place! A real time machine.

Yale Historic Site
31187 Douglas Street
British Columbia V0K 2S0
(+1)(604) 863-2324

Visited July 2015. You can find my review about Yale Historic Site also on TripAdvisor.

Sushi Matsuri: “Lovely sushi and gyoza”

We were very tired after a long drive, so just wanted to have a quick bite to eat. My boyfriend and I both love sushi, so we decided on trying Sushi Matsuri, mainly because it was close to our hotel.

The entrance to this small restaurant is marked by a typical Japanese cloth, but the people working there are, I think, Korean. The interior isn’t much to talk about, but I liked the lanterns which gave the restaurant a lively feel.

Since we were there right before closing time, we decided on ordering some starters and a sushi combination to satisfy our hunger. We went for edamame, oyster tempura, gyoza, the Alaska roll and Combo C (some nigiri and rolls). Our order turned out to be more than enough. We even had some trouble finishing it all.

The nigiri sushi was really good. I loved it. The seaweed in the rolls was a little bit to chewy for my taste, but I enjoyed the rolls nonetheless.

Throughout the meal our tea cups got regularly refilled. Staff was very friendly. Really made us feel welcome.

I can recommend this place, if you’re looking for no nonsense sushi.

Restaurant Sushi Matsuri
239 Menzies St
Victoria BC V8V 1R9
British Columbia
+1 250-590-8110

Visited July 2015. You can find my review about Sushi Matsuri also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 5/5, service 5/5, food 4/5.

Getting to know Bern

Cities as Barcelona, Paris, Tokyo, New York, London are so famous that when you think about them there are immediately popping up images in your head of their famous landmarks. But what do you see when you close your eyes and think about Bern? In my case the answer was simple: nothing. I had no clue what to expect from the de facto capital of Switzerland. So I was curious about how it would be like, strolling through Bern’s streets.

Turns out the historical city center of Bern is well worth a visit. It’s a shame really that this city isn’t more known internationally, but that also means you can enjoy this beautiful place without begin bothered by too many other tourists. What really makes Bern’s city center stand out are the incredibly well preserved medieval buildings with arcades that shield you from the elements and the 16th century fountains with allegorical statues on top. The most gruesome of those fountains, the Kindlifresserbrunnen, represents an ogre eating children. Not for the faint of heart. It’s no wonder the historical center has been recognized by UNESCO as a Cultural World Heritage Site.

The medieval part of Bern lies on a peninsula formed by the river Aare. You can cross the river by multiple bridges and enjoy stunning views on the historical buildings on the other side of the river. We visited in winter, but it is clear people enjoy being outdoor when weather permits. There are lots of places to relax, enjoy the view and have something to drink.

Moreover, did you know that Bern has had a bear pit, the Bärengraben, since the 15th century? Not to worry, nowadays the bears lead a life of luxury! The bear is the heraldic animal of the seal and coat of arms of Bern and you’ll find depictions of bears throughout the whole city. We even stayed in a Bear Hotel!

Judge for yourself:

Pairi Daiza: “A must visit”

Pairi Daiza is a gorgeous animal park in Brugelette. This park is so much more than a zoo, though, the environment is breath taking, with beautiful gardens, temples, an African stilt village, a nice playground for the children and so much more. A day really isn’t enough to visit everything thouroughly. The animals in the zoo have plenty of space and can be admired from different view points. No ugly cages here, but nice, clean housing with animals who look well fed and not stressed at all.

There are lots of different options for food. You can take your own picknick, buy some fastfood or eat in a real restaurant. Food is a little bit expensive, though.

I have to say, the pandas were a bit of a disappointment. Their housing was quite dark and to be honest, these animals are cute, but also a bit boring. The visit to the Lemure island was a highlight, though. It is absolutely wonderful to encounter these lovely animals up close and personal (one even sat on my shoulder).

Pairi Daiza
Hainaut / Henegouwen

Visited July 2015. You can find my review about Pairi Daiza also on TripAdvisor.

Belfry and Cloth Hall (Belfort en Lakenhalle): “Incredible views”

This is a must see when visiting Ghent. From the top of the Belfry you have a splendid view on two of the three famous Ghent Towers (you’re standing on the third). You can also see the famous bell ‘Klokke Roeland’ and two of the older versions of the dragon on top of the tower. The Belfry is a beautiful historical place, you won’t regret visiting. Don’t worry about the stairs, there is an elevator which brings you to the highest level.

Belfry Gent / Belfort
Ghent 9000

Visited June 2015. You can find my review about Belfry and Cloth Hall (Belfort en Lakenhalle) also on TripAdvisor.

London off the beaten path

London is a city that never ceases to amaze me. So many things to do and visit. Since I’ve been in London four times now, I thought I’d share some less touristy places to visit. I can guarantee you: you won’t be disappointed.

1. The Charterhouse

This museum site is packed with history and has lots of interesting stories to tell. I liked the fact that the narrative of the museum takes the visitor back in time. Using artifacts (including a skeleton from the time this site was used as a cemetery for plague victims) as anchors for the visitor’s journey. The highlight of the visit to me was the beautiful chapel. So much history condensed in one place, impressive!

location: Charterhouse Square, London
price: free

2. Borough Market

Well, perhaps not really a hidden gem, but no foodie can miss the opportunity to sample the great dishes the food stalls prepare. I would personally recommend to go for the more traditional British dishes, but you’ll find dishes from all over the world here. My personal favorites: the fresh oysters. Lovely!

location: 8 Southwark St, London
price: free (although you’ll want to make sure to have enough cash on you to pay for all that great food)

3. The Old Operating Theatre

To enter this quaint museum you’ll have to climb a steep and winding staircase. Although very interesting, this place isn’t for the faint of heart, because the whole place has kind of a creepy vibe. You’ll find an impressive collection of medical instruments, medicinal plants and some specimens of human pathologies. I personally was both fascinated and abhorred by the historical operating theatre.

location: 9a St Thomas Street, London
price: £6.50

4. Alternative London Walking Tour

Do you love street art? Then this is the tour for you. The Alternative London guides are great and very knowledgeable, which is not surprising because they are street artists themselves. East London is teeming with great street art from the most famous street artists in the world (cough, Banksy). When the tour is finished, you choose how much you want to pay.

location: East London
price: what it’s worth to you

5. Regent’s Park

One of the Royal Parks of London and an ideal place to wind down from the busy city life. This beautifully maintained park is huge and consists of mainly open parkland with a wide range of facilities and amenities. My favorite spots were the Japanese Garden Island and Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens. I also recommend you visit the nearby Primrose Hill for some lovely views on the London skyline.

location: Chester Rd, London
price: free

6. Chelsea Physic Garden

One of the oldest botanical gardens in Britain and definitely worth a visit. The walled garden in itself isn’t that big, but the variety of plants is absolutely impressive. You can visit the garden on your own, but I highly recommend taking a guided tour. The guides will amaze you with lots of interesting facts regarding the garden and its collection. I especially loved the green houses with their beautiful architecture.

location: 66 Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London
price: £6.10

7. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Save the best for last? This hindu temple is situated in Neasden. It takes some time getting there if you’re staying in the center of London, but the temple is well worth the travel effort. The temple is built entirely using traditional methods and materials. The carvings and statues on the inside of the building are stunningly beautiful. Unbelievable that this is all man made. Sadly the whole building is concealed from the outside by a big wall and iron gates. So it is kinda hard to take a good picture of the exterior.

location: 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, London
price: free

Singapore Zoo: “Excellent Zoo”

Very beautiful zoo that takes pride in showing the animals in their natural habitat. No cages whatsoever, you get to enjoy the animals up close and personal. I got a chance to encounter a snake. 🙂 The panda’s are an absolute highlight and don’t forget the night safari which is a very special experience.

Singapore Zoo
Mandai Lake Road 80
Singapore 729826

Visited October 2013. You can find my review about Singapore Zoo also on TripAdvisor.

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