Exploring the world one bite at a time

Category: Europe (continent) (Page 1 of 16)

The continent Europe

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.

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

Dunheanish Guest House: “A lovely stay in a wonderful place”

Dunheanish Guest House has it all: friendly hosts (with a lovely sense of humour), excellent breakfast, clean and spacious rooms and a view to die for. We absolutely enjoyed our stay here and wouldn’t think about staying anywhere else if we return to Oban. Be prepared to climb some steps though when coming from the harbour. But we didn’t mind the exercise.

Sadly there wasn’t room for us in the rooms facing the bay of Oban, but we could sit outside on the terrace while watching the sunset.

Dunheanish Guest House
Ardconnel Road
Argyll PA34 5DW
+44(0) 1631 566556

Stayed June 2013. You can find my review about Dunheanish Guest House also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 5/5, location 5/5, sleep quality 4/5, rooms 4/5, cleanliness 5/5, service 5/5.

Cathedrale de St-Pierre: “Beautiful”

You should definitely visit the separate chapel, very beautiful. In the cathedral you can see the chair of Calvin which is very small. I enjoyed the view from the towers of the cathedral. It is a climb, but worth the effort.

Saint-Pierre Cathedral
Place du Bourg-de-Four 24
CH-1204 Genève

Visited November 2012. You can find my review about Cathedrale de St-Pierre also on TripAdvisor.

Izumi: “Absolutely adored the food”

I have to say, this is definitely the best meal I’ve had in Geneva so far. Looking for a nice restaurant to spend the evening, we were very lucky to find a table for two, since we failed to make reservations. The restaurant can only accommodate 25 people, so reservations are normally needed.

The food really was outstanding. Sort of a Japanese fusion style. We opted for the menu and were not disappointed. The yellowtail sashimi with chilipepper and seabass sashimi were just incredible. Also loved the lobster and baby spinach. And a restaurant that serves ice mochi as dessert, can do no wrong (just a small tip for the staff: the mochi were served too cold).

Be warned though, drinks are very expensive. We were kind of shocked when we saw the prices of the champagne we choose as aperitif on the bill. Skip the aperitif and go straight for the sake, which is very good. Still pricy, but not as expensive as the champagne.

Really loved the atmosphere in the restaurant, very cosy. Service was also excellent! Staff was very helpful in explaining the courses and very attentive. Never in my life have I been asked so many times if I enjoyed my mail. (I did, very much, so thank you.)

Next time we visit Geneva, we’ll certainly be back! With reservations!

Restaurant Izumi
Rooftop of Four Seasons hotel
Quai des Bergues 33
1201 Geneva
+41 22 908 7522

Visited November 2014. You can find my review about Izumi also on TripAdvisor. My scores: value 4/5, atmosphere 5/5, service 5/5, food 5/5.

Casemates du Bock: “A must see when in Luxembourg”

Such an interesting historic place right in the middle of Luxemburg. I was really impressed by the extent of the Casemates. If you’re interested in the history of this beautiful city, you really must visit this site. It only costs 4 euro per person and you get a feeling of how it must have been when people where using this place to defend the city. Be warned though, lots of narrow staircases and some places are really dark. Not for you if you are claustrophobic.

Casemates du Bock
Montée de Clausen 10
Luxembourg City

Visited April 2015. You can find my review about Casemates du Bock also on TripAdvisor.

« Older posts