The 12 steps to plan a perfect journey

I love planning. I really do. Planning a trip, for me, is almost as much fun as the trip itself. The anticipation, thinking about what you’re going to do, where you’ll stay, how to travel. I really love it. Usually, I plan short trips, a week max, and pick one or two cities that we’ll visit. It’s easy planning. Decide on a city, pick a hotel and then find out what kind of activities you want to do when you’re there. A bigger trip, like a honeymoon, however, requires a lot more work. So I made a step to step guide on how to plan a perfect journey.

This is not the first time I’m planning a trip of this scale. We had planned to visit Iceland in 2020 and, with some input of the Boyfriend, of course, I planned the entire route, chose hotels and B&B’s, and made a considerable list of things we wanted to see. The journey would have been amazing. Of course, covid hit, so we couldn’t actually do it, but the plans are still there, waiting for us to finally go.

Before we do that, I have to plan a wedding AND a honeymoon. In some earlier posts I already talked about finding the perfect location. This is the first step:

Step one

Deciding where you want to go is obviously the first step. If you decide on a small citytrip, the planning phase is easy, but if you’ll want a longer, extended vacation where you’ll visit several cities and landmarks, the first thing you’ll have to do is pick a country. For our honeymoon, we are going to Australia. Step one complete!

For me, Lonely Planet’s Honeymoon Handbook helped a lot in picking a location. This book is specific to Honeymoons but there are many, many, MANY other books to help you find the perfect location for your journey.

Step two

Decide on which area of the country you’ll want to visit. When planning the trip to Iceland, we decided that we wanted to see everything. Which is possible, as it’s not that big a country. For Australia, however, if you want to visit everything, you’re gonna need months instead of weeks. As I’m pretty sure my boss wouldn’t allow me to go away for months, we had to make some decisions on what areas we wanted to visit.

I asked around on Instagram what we definitely should visit, googled and looked through some books. Me and the Boyfriend made an excel sheet with all the areas in Australia and jotted down all the cool places I had come across. Two areas had the longest lists, so the decision to visit those two was easily made. For us this was Queensland and Sydney & New South Wales.

Step three

Pick a begin and end for your trip. All the places in between, you can look at later, but it’s important to set a beginning and an end, so you can buy your plane tickets early (which most of the times means they’ll be cheaper). The easiest way is to put all the places you wanted to visit in google maps, and let google plan your route. You’ll easily see a begin and end point.

Step four

Now is the time to fill in the spaces in between. I always buy a Lonely Planet or another guide of the area I’m visiting and then just read a lot and write down all the places I want to visit. Do some thorough research so you won’t miss a thing.

Step five

Turn on notification on flight tickets. If you know where you’re starting and where you’ll be going home again, find airports in the area and turn on notifications so you’ll get a message when the flight tickets are cheap. If you want to go by car, boat or train, of course you can skip this step and just buy the tickets as soon as possible, as they will probably get more expensive the longer you wait.

I haven’t used a flight deal alert yet, but I’m going to do it for Australia, as the tickets are usually quite pricey. I found a blogpost with a list of ten websites that offer these alerts.

Step 6

Decide on transport. You know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there and where you want to go. But how are going to get around in the country? If you want to go by train, buy tickets early, as they’re cheaper the sooner you book. If you want to fly, use the flight deal alerts. If you want to rent a car or a van, do this early too, and make sure you google what kind of car you’ll need. For instance, if you’re going to Iceland, you are going to need a fourwheeldrive.

Step 7

Decide what you want to do, fill in the details. You know the cities and you know your route. This is the time to find museums, galleries, theme parks, theatres, parks, landmarks, anything you like. Make a planning for what you want to do in each city. Check out the best restaurants and find what the specialties of the country are.

Step 8

If you know what you want to do in each city, you can decide how much time you want to spend everywhere and make a thorough time planning. You can also decide to wing it, just have a list of things you’ll want to do and a couple of days in each city, and decide what you’re going to do when if you’re there.

Step 9

Find hotels and B&Bs and other accomodations you want to stay in, and book them, unless you are winging it, of course, as per the previous step. I’m always a fan of booking.com, as you can book now and only pay the hotels when you get there, so you don’t have to spend all your money at once.

Step 10

Buy tickets to museums and other places you want to visit, for faster entrance and sometimes it’s cheaper too. For a lot of countries, buying your tickets beforehand is mandatory because of covid.

Step 11

Check what else you’re gonna need. Do you need vaccinations? A covid passport or health app? If you want to go diving, do you need a diving license? If you’re gonna drive, now is also the time to see what the rules are, and what to look out for.

Step 12

Last one! Get insurance. You don’t want your trip to be cancelled and leaving you penniless.

So that’s it. Your 12 step list to your perfect journey.

3 Amsterdam-like cities to avoid the masses

When people think about the Netherlands, they think of Amsterdam. And it is a truly beautiful city. Most Dutch people I know, never visit the city much, because of how touristic it is. There are loads and loads of visitors every year, smoking weed, visiting the sex museum and cycling on the wrong side of the road. It’s a very popular city. But did you know there are actually a couple of cities that look a lot like Amsterdam, but are a whole lot less crowded? Here’s three Amsterdam-like cities in the Netherlands to avoid the masses!

Delft

Delft is a famous Dutch city that, just like the other cities in this blogpost, has the same canals and quaint little houses that Amsterdam does. It’s cute and pictoresque and easy to photograph without hundreds of other tourists! Make sure to check out the market square and the library.

Alkmaar

A city famous for it’s cheese and cheese markets, Alkmaar is really lovely. It’s not too crowded, except in the summer and it’s close to Amsterdam. Don’t miss the cheese museum and markets.

Utrecht

My favourite city has to make the list: Utrecht. It’s what we Dutch would call gezellig, great for shopping, gaming in the arcade and it has the best pancakes in the country. Check out my city guide for all the highlights!

Car versus Plane: what’s the best way to travel?

Having gone to Nice twice in two months, it’s easy two compare the two trips. The second one was obviously better, as we had a lot more time to do what we wanted and not having to go back earlier for a funeral. But the trips also differed in means of transport. The first time we went, we drove, as we thought that would be cheaper (ha!), better for the environment and it would give us more freedom. The second time we knew what a roadtrip would actually cost and we wanted to spend as much time as we could in Nice, so we went by plane instead. Time to compare the two, which one is better?

Car

Travel time: 14 hours (single trip)
Travel costs: €582,- (return)
Parking, gas, tollroads

Plane

Travel time: 2 hours (single trip)
Travel costs: €380,- (return for two people)
Flight tickets, parking at Schiphol airport

Driving by car is better for the environment and it gives you a whole lot of freedom to go at your own pace, stop wherever you want and take detours. It does take forever and is in no way cheaper than an airplane, especially if you’re driving through a country that has tollroads. A plane is quick and less expensive, but honestly a bit boring.

It’s about the journey, not the destination

Yeah, cheesy, I know. But it’s true enough for roadtrips. Planes are fine if you wanna get somewhere quick, or if you’re traveling to the other side of the world. But a roadtrip is so much more, see it as a part of your trip, and not only your way of transport. Pack the car with good food, good music and good people (the more the merrier, and the more, the cheaper in comparison to airplanes) and plan your route along the way.

When I first got my driver’s license, I felt so free. I knew I could go anywhere by car and the world opened up for me. I never actually did it, but the possibility was enough for me then. But this year we did it. And the south of France isn’t really that far, but it’s the furthest I ever drove. It was amazing: seeing the landscape and the vegetation change, driving through mountains, see the temperature rising on my dashboard. I was so happy, I cried. I have never felt more free in my life.

We didn’t have that much time but I did see so many stops where I would have loved to get out of the car, take pictures, walk around, smell the lavender. We drove through so many amazing cities, saw flower fields and castles at the side of the road. It was amazing.

A relaxing day in Nice

Our last day in Nice was a fairly relaxing one. We slept in, I almost missed breakfast and though we had originally planned to go visit another city, Boyfriend has such blisters on his feet that we opted for a quiet day at the beach instead.

He sat down reading, while I went into the sea. The water was heavenly. The rocks did hurt my feet, but luckily I had learned from my mistakes on my last visit, and I was wearing special water shoes so I could actually walk. I could really recommend buying these if you’re visiting the city and want to spent some time on the beach.

I spent quite some time in the water. It was so warm and nice and I could float a bit. Oh can I go back again?

We stayed here for an hour or two, swimming, enjoying the sun and eating the slightly melted macaroons we bought the previous day. For lunch, we had ice cream, because, why not? Fenocchio for me and bubblewaffle ice cream for Boyfriend. It was all so so yummy!

We went shopping in the afternoon. We left the old city and ventured into the newer parts where all the cool kids hang out. There were some really cool shops, like the Pimkie, an amazing clothes store you’ll only find in France and Pylones, which sold all kinds of cute stuff. I bought a perfume vaporizer and, for some reason, got a free toothbrush when I signed up for the newsletter. Score!

We had dinner at Chez Juliette, a cute little place that we had walked by a couple of times before. The napkin rings had flowers, and so did the menu. The menu also had a note: please don’t steal them. It probably happened more than once… Anyway, we had a classic French dinner and there was an accordion player right next to us, to give it even more of a French vibe.

Boyfriend had the onion soup for starters, then we both had the coq au vin as a main course and we ended with a crème brûlée pour moi and some kind of pear with chocolate for the boyfriend. It was all very yummy.

We ended the night on a high as we heard fireworks when we walked back to the hotel. Now, we’ve heard the canon go off at noon every day, but this was different and we weren’t quite sure what we heard until we were done climbing the hill where the hotel lay. Fireworks! The city celebrated its 77th year of freedom and the coordinated fireworks were absolutely beautiful. We could watch from our hotel room and it was absolutely stunning!

Female Pop-Art, Nana’s and the color blue in Musée Mamac

There are many museums in Nice and with the museum pass you can visit all the big ones within 3 days. There were a couple we wanted to visit. We had already visited Palais Lascaris, a museum of musical instruments and today we wanted to do something different, so we went to Mamac: Musée d’art Moderne et d’art Contemporain. A museum for modern and postmodern artwork.

Continue reading “Female Pop-Art, Nana’s and the color blue in Musée Mamac”

Exploring Castle Hill

Castle hill or Colline du Chateau is another one of the highlights of Nice. It is where everyone takes the iconic photo of the city and the sea, seen from above. The view truly is spectacular. We had wanted to visit Castle Hill on our first trip to Nice, but we accidentally got locked in at night, so that was no fun. On our second trip, we decided to visit it in the morning to make sure that didn’t happen again…

Castle Hill is easy to find. You can walk to the top of the hill from two directions: the regular entrance is near the eastern end of the promenade, there’s also an elevator here. You can also choose to go up at the harbor. We had decided to walk the 3658977231 steps up (don’t ask me why) to this magnificent, iconic view of Nice.

We had lunch on top of the hill, and just relaxed. It’s the perfect setting to get away from the bustling city centre or the crowded beach. There’s a park and you can get lunch and icecream up the hill so it’s lovely for a quiet afternoon. There were quite some people, but everyone kept their own, mostly it was just locals enjoying the sun. We saw a woman doing tai-chi, a man balancing on a rope, children on tiny bicycles and people lounging in hammocks.

You can walk around the park for some awesome views. Like I said before, the one from the sea and the city is iconic, but make sure to walk around, as the view from the other side, the harbor, is just as beautiful.

There were a lot of Greek influences on castle hill, which I really appreciated, such as the artwork you see here: Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage: happy are those who, like Ulysses, make a great journey. I couldn’t agree more!

There were also some cool looking stairs depicting different scenes of Ulysses’ journey. Nice used to be a Greek city, named after Nike, goddess of victory. The park at castle hill was renovated in 1960 and the city decided to add these mosaics as a wink to the Greek heritage. When walking on these stairs, you’ll get a quick summary of Homer’s Odyssey in 13 images, with scenes depicted such as Polyphemus the Cyclops, Circe and the Sirens.

There’s no castle anymore at Castle Hill, only some ruins. I did find this beautiful building, that doesn’t appear to have a function anymore, besides being an amazing backdrop for pictures.

Another highlight from Castle Hill is the waterfall. Google castle hill and you will immediately find pictures of this beautiful waterfall. Thing is, it’s artificial and they had turned it off when we were there. Even without the water, it was still really beautiful.

If you’re visiting Nice, Castle Hill should definitely be on your list to visit. The view is amazing and it’s the perfect place to get some rest and to freshen up your knowledge of your Greek classics.

Day one: Nachos, Palais Lascaris and Gnocchi

When visiting a southern city in summer, it’s always a good idea to have some options of things to do in the afternoon, when it gets too hot to be outside. The Spanish have invented the siësta, which is something that I love to do, but if you want to do some more exploring of the city you’re in, visiting a museum in the hotter hours of the day is a great alternative. Or maybe even the better option. So when we had explored Vieux Nice and the sun was shining brightly, we decided to get lunch and then visit Palais Lascaris, a museum of musical instruments.

Continue reading “Day one: Nachos, Palais Lascaris and Gnocchi”

Returning to Nice: A guide to Vieille Ville

As I’ve been looking forward to revisiting Nice for years, and our last trip was cut short, I knew I had to get back at the end of summer. It feels kinda silly to visit a city again within a month, but we just felt we hadn’t seen everything we wanted. So we planned another weekend away. We left the Netherlands Thursday night by plane (more info on plane versus roadtrip in a later blogpost) and came back Monday morning, so we would have three more days in this beautiful city.

We started Friday morning by sleeping in. We agreed that this weekend away would be a chill one, one to get some rest as well as seeing some more highlights of Nice. We stayed at Le petit palais which is one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever stayed in, not too far from the city center and with a bed that was superduper comfortable. Our relaxing weekend away was off to a good start!

So after the amazing breakfast buffet, we set out to the city. The only plans for today were Vieux Nice and Museum Lascaris when it got too warm. It was August, after all, and the south of France can get quite hot in the summer months.

Vieux Nice or Vieille Ville

One of the highlights of the city that we didn’t get to the first time around, is Vieux Nice, or Old Nice. It’s the oldest part of the city and also the most bustling. I really loved the atmosphere here. There are all kinds of boutiques and restaurants. It kinda reminded me of the hippie markets on Ibiza.

Speaking of markets, these you’ll also find in the old city. If you want some provençal souvenirs, this is the place to be. Vendors sell everything from soap to bags of lavender, but if you’re in the mood for some fruit or if you wanna buy flowers, you’ll also find them here. You’ll find the market every day except Mondays, and from mid-May to mid-September there’s an artisan market at Cours Saleya where vendors sell jewelry, notebooks and other handmade items.

Besides the markets, there are some other great places in Vieux Nice that are definitely worth a visit. First stop? Fenocchio!

Fenocchio is Nice’s number one place to get ice cream. You haven’t been to Nice if you haven’t tried one of their more original flavors. We didn’t have time to check it out last time, so we had to visit on our first day back. Normally I’m a picky eater and don’t really like to try new things. I’m like an opposite foodie. But this I wanted to try! I had two flavours, namely Tomato/Basil and Rosemary, while boyfriend opted for the more ‘normal’ flavours: Lemon and Orange. Other ‘strange’ flavours the store offers are olive, rhubarb, avocado, cactus and beer. I really liked the rosemary icecream. It was very fresh and perfect for a summer’s day. The tomato/basil was… interesting. It kinda tasted like gazpacho ice cream. I didn’t really like it, though it wasn’t really gross or anything. Just, not really my thing. I’m glad I tried it, though!

Later this trip, we went back and I tried Green apple (which I didn’t really like) and vanilla. The vanilla was super yummy, as were the lemon and orange boyfriend had the first time. So even if you’re not craving weird flavours, you could also try Fenocchio for your regulars, as they are really good too!

And if you’re stopping at Fenocchio, get some macaroons at the place next door. Angea has the best macaroons in town. In fact, these were the best I ever had! The store also has some yummy looking frozen yoghurt if that’s your thing!

If you’ve had enough weird flavours or regular icecream, you can also find Bubble waffles in Old Nice! Walk towards Roberto 1er (mind, the pictures on google streetview are old, so it looks a little different) where you can eat bubble waffles with nutella and bueno’s!

Shopping

If you want to do some shopping in Old Nice, there are so many places you can go. It’s a true shopping valhalla and I absolutely loved just browsing the streets, do some window shopping and look at trinkets in the storefronts. Some stores I really loved were Savonnerie, which is located right next to Angea. The store sells soaps, bathbombs and other luxury products that look like cupcakes. All of it looked so beautiful and yummy and it smelled amazing! I bought a bathbomb that I tried out later that night and it turned the entire bath pink and smelling like roses and candy. Best of all: it didn’t leave any residue in the tub like Lush’s always do!

Another store that I loved was Nirvana, which had beautiful clothing, bags and amazing jewelry. Lastly: we found an art gallery that had the most beautiful pieces. I wanted to take it all home with me, but I couldn’t, because we only had hand luggage this time around. I’ll definitely come back to buy a couple of these pieces, or maybe I’ll order some online. The gallery was called WeMood.

Vieux Nice is definitely worth a visit when you’re traveling to Nice. It’s so quaint and charming, with gorgeous architecture, amazing restaurants and lovely shops. I really enjoyed spending some time here!

Numbers of Nice

I am someone who likes to make lists. Lists are comforting, orderly, and provide a nice, alternative way of recounting experiences. While there are a lot of posts about the lovely city of Nice to come, in this post I want to summarize our stay in this wonderful city on the Côte d’Azur, in the form of a list.

Number of people seen in the streets with a baguette under their arms: 5

Number of cats we’ve seen: 2
Number of cats petted: 1
Number of times we saw tiny dogs: 27
Mosquito bites: 12

Number of old harps we’ve seen: 12
Number of old harps we’ve played: 0
Number of times we heared a canon being fired: 3

Number of acrobatic street performers: 4
Number of musical street performers: 6

Number of wedding parties we’ve seen: 4

Books bought: 1
Bookmarks bought: 1
Bookmarks gifted from Boyfriend: 1

Number of times I marveled at how blue the ocean is: 5.232
Times I went into said ocean: 3

Estimated number of breakfast items boyfriend consumed at the hotel’s buffet: 28
Times I wanted to get macarons: 5
Times I got macarons: 1
Weirdest icecream flavour I’ve tried: tomato with basil

Number of times people asked to see our pass sanitaire: 4
Number of times people should have asked to see our pass sanitaire but didn’t: 3


Distance walked: 18.8 kilometres (11.7 miles)
Pictures taken: 331
Videos filmed: 41