Travel

Boulevard Leopard B&B Antwerp

Recently a project took me to Antwerp in Belgium, just a few days before the easter weekend. I was lucky enough to stay on the first floor of Boulevard Leopard bed and breakfast.

All original from the 1900's the 3 meter high ceilings and objects such as oil paintings and beautiful antique furniture surrounded you, the creaky wooden floorboards, the low lighting of the chandeliers all had me walking around touching things for hours.

Aantique tableware, coffee in a silver pot with a small bowl of greek yoghurt with watermelon awaited at a table at 8am on the morning after my arrival. I was greeted by Martin (the owner of the establishment) as i walked in to what is his own kitchen where he supplies breakfast and serves it himself to his quests)

A warm character, and very well to do, he brought me out some freshly squeezed orange juice, a selection of breads with cheese and ham. He then asked me if i would care for an egg. I misunderstood him at first so he did the impression of a chicken. Then understood him.

I dipped my left over cheese and ham sandwich into the boiled egg which was surprisingly great.





Apartment 01

The living room features a gas fire, flat screen cable television, DVD, Stereo, Wifi, Mini kitchen with a secretion of beverages.



The originally 1900's tiled bathroom was my favourite thing, with the tub and the huge double sink.



The main bedroom features a double bed theres also a quest room with two single beds down the hallway.



Thanks for having us Martin!
http://www.boulevard-leopold.be
By Luke


Miami Beach, FL

Just a few days before Miami's WMC (Winter music conference) i took a trip away from New york to warm and sunny Florida.

I spent 3 nights at a friends in Palm beach, drove to Fort Lauderdale and stayed with a friend there for two nights, then went onto Miami's south beach for two nights where i stayed at the newly opened Gaythering Hotel.

The hotel had a futuristic, industrial, parisian vibe to it. Red shower curtains, cool lighting fixtures, plus artwork by the owner.




A good all round view...

Lots of art/fashion magazines. This is the living area where quests can watch tv and relax. Sharon Needles came on the night i stayed to host Ru Pauls drag race.

However the self spa was my favourite bit, it features a jacuzzi with massage jets, dry cedar sauna, Aroma Hamam mud lounge and a steam room.


Thanks for having us!
By Luke
http://www.gaythering.com


Barcelona 
 Sometimes I get a strong desire to just up and leave London not for good but for a bit. Escape the damp, drizzle, the grey and the rush. I usually run to somewhere sun soaked and calmer, yet never too calm, being a boy born in the city yet raised in the country only to return to a capital, I know too much serenity and stillness isn't for me. So ideally I look for a city that's not too hectic offering sun, sea and sand yet one with nightlife and happening happenings. So I ended up in Barcelona. I've been before and enjoyed it, yet feel I didn't fully explore it.

the beach, the warmth, the easy transport that's cheap and cheerful with ten rides on train or tram hitting the ten euro mark.

Accommodation


We stayed close to the Fontana station at the Residencia Erasmus Gracia. The hotel was clean with multiple services on offer from bike hiring to wifi in the foyer opposed to in the rooms, which allowed for a form of  escape for me giving the space to enjoy the holiday without being constantly connected to emails and social media. I found the communal kitchen quite nice, coming in hand when you want a chilled and cheap night in. Prices start at around 29 Euros per night.

Shop

My favorite shop overall was a charity/ thift store called Humana that had a cute selection of garments from old school Adidas and Nike sweaters to throw back 80's patterned jackets. Surprisingly there was a large range of clothes for men from sportswear to Lyle & Scott, Fred Perry & Lacoste,  they were in mostly small to medium sizes. It was refreshing to see a charity store that was aware of it's second hand/vintage status yet didn't reflect that in the price. Many of the clothes were €4 with tailored and leather jackets also on hand for around €15.

Eat



There was a few places around us from the ever present McDonald's if you're into food that you know. For me it was more about quality eats nice places and low prices, There was a few shops to be cautious of serving bland and tasteless food, they even went so far to cook a Ristorante pizza and serve it doing nothing but taking it out of the box and placing it in the oven. There was also good experiences with variety of restaurants serving  Spanish cuisine to Chinese and Thai and even a Wok to Walk. I highly enjoyed Macchina Pasta bar, that stayed open till late, it allowed you to choose the pasta of your choice and then add toppings and sauce, prices were cheap and cheerful and you could watch as it was made. I also enjoyed some of the many bakeries that even had the NYC started 2013 craze the Cronut.

Things to do

The Aquarium is a nice escape for a few hours and next to the beach front, so you can go for a stroll before or after and soak up the sun. I also found trawling the La Boqueria food market. The market stocks a wide range of food from meats to fresh fruit, sweets and smoothies. I found it fun trying the fresh fruits and vegetables and conversing with the stall keepers.

Verdict

We traveled with Easy Jet, which was a first for me, fast, cheap and reliable it won't be the last. Its great to have budget airlines that don't feel to budget and that's where Easy Jet excels.This is my second time in Barcelona, I've always found that it's a city but a calm one. There's not much to sight see in truth beyond Gaudi's buildings and park but that's not what I expect from Barcelona. With cheap drinks and a slower and more relaxed pace, I escape to the city to party at night usually at Arena, the poly sexual club with the latest pop and r&b music with sprinkling of Spanish hits. It's cheap and cheerful and always brings in a Jolly crowd. and relax in the day on the beach by soaking up the sun.

By Jaiden

Far Rockaway 2014
On a strangely warm sunny weekend in late February i'm in a pair of Doctor Marten chelsea boots, some denim jeans and a faded blue hoodie walking along the snowy beach. We just spent a purifying weekend at the Playland Motel.


I first discovered Playland in the middle of summer when they threw one of their famous summer garden bashes.  The atmosphere was great, people were playing bowls, table tennis, laying in deck chairs and doing karaoke.

Each room, designed by a different artist takes you to a different realm when you close your eyes and wakeup in the morning. The first night we stayed in "My Bloody Dreams" by Nadia Kaufhold which included a hammock and red paint leaking down the walls like blood. The second night we went for something a little more calm. The simplicity room designed by Federico Saenz-Recio which by night you could only hear the ocean and the traffic light swinging gently in the breeze.

Below: Cactus room designed by Federico Saenz-Recio


Below: Room designed by British designer Simon Spurr which exlores the relationship of light moving within a fixed space.




Below: Robbie and Apples designed by WaveWam


Shasta and Robyn. Thanks for having us!
www.playlandmotel.com
By Luke

Paris 2013 

 
In total it's the second time I've visited the city of lights and on both occasions it's been nice to escape to a capital European city that has a slower pace than London yet is still buzzing enough to keep you on your toes and entertained.






Travel



We traveled on ID bus, the coaches were clean, smell and look new and were spacious enough to chill out and sleep with reclining chairs, curtains, night lights, air con and two very important factors that some of the rivals are missing, plugs & wifi, allowing for you to remain connected and entertained. Prices start at just £35 and I have to say I haven't traveled so easily on a coach ever and comfort is an important factor when you're spending 8-9 hours on board. ID bus is a much recommended service and source of Transport.





Entertainment & Activities 



Strolling across the Siene after a terrific display of talent from a troupe that played with fire and glass balls, watched from the steps outside Nortre Dame and looking onto the fabled church. Afterwards we met several interesting characters socializing and watching as see through moth like creatures danced to the lights illuminating the river bank and then it was on to Rue des arquebusiers to the opening of several small galleries show's. A personal favorite was the Walter Pffiefer exhibit at Sultana gallery.





We also went to the Lourve taking advantage of the free entry for EU members under 26 and seeing the majority of the painted collections with the Lourve being so big it's worth multiple trips to not exhaust yourself and take in the art and surroundings slowly and surely.





Accommodation 

Vintage hostel on Rue de dunkerque cheap and cheerful with single, double and triple to shared rooms. The shared reception leading to the kitchen where breakfast is offered and then on the facilities are available for use for personal requirements allowing for a sense of community and at 28 euro's a night one can hardly complain.

Nightlife



La Java was interesting to say the least a little too packed yet fun could be had and there was a performance from a band and enough room to dance, drink and get merry and on the Second night we went to a little bar called Mimi's which was great for a catch up with friends with a very chilled laid back vibe.



Verdict



It seems on every visit to the city I feel there's more to see and do and that I'm yet to truly experience the Parisian experience yet on this trip I saw more and felt more then I did on my last. Paris is a great city for culture and art with beautiful architecture, spacious streets and loads of underground art and music activities to go see and do. Both hotel and travel were more comfortable and experiences I would gladly do again

http://uk.idbus.com/

http://www.vintage-hostel.com/



Paris 2012

 
A first timer to the city of lights, which is beautiful and spacious allowing for relaxation and contemplation travelling by Eurolines which came in at just under 60 euros. The coach was a good way to socialise with other people from all walks of life, ages and cultures who were all going to the same destination but for different reasons & purposes. The 8 hour journey did seem to fly by with engaging conversations, brief stops for food and smokers fag breaks it could of been and seemed longer yet all in all was worth the price and a comfortable relaxed journey. On the way there we travelled via the euro tunnel where as on the way back we got a ferry which in my opinion was a better option to the first allowing room to walk around and eat & drink and charge phones, the views from France to Dover are dazzling taking in the white cliffs and knowing that you're home.
Accommodation


We stayed at the 'perfect hotel' in Anvel on the Rue Rodier not too far from the centre but still able to escape the hustle and bustle €28 per person per night for a triple room with shared showers or the option to have an ensuite for two euro's more was also on the cards, Anvel is full of hotels as is Paris on a whole but its advised to book in advance as finding a vacancy was quite hard visting no less than 15 before we finally came across a free space. Perfect Hotel was a relaxed and calm with the option for breakfast included for the price I cannot complain or find fault, the staff were helpful and must say I had an enjoyable stay and would gladly return.
Travel

The city is fairly easy to get around once you've got a grasp of the metro and travel comes in relatively cheap with a single on tube at just 1.70, bus is a great way to see the sights as is the zipper carts which we got from Palai de grande an overwhelming sight in itself and a grand introduction to the city beauty is never far from the eye from buildings to the Effiel tower. Ques seemed to snake for miles so we opted out on going in & up leaving it to another visit although we did get to witness its splendour and grandeur with the sheer size of it reminding of how small you're.

Nightlife

The city it seems is best at night with an interesting night Life we partied at The Social club one night (electro music and a mixed crowd of all sorts) we danced to electro beats to the early hours and then flagged down a cab to take us home (minimum spend or so we was told was €6.80 no matter how short the ride ). On the second night we drank at a cute little bar Acte 3 on Rue Qincampoix , Acte is neatly tucked away with no sign on the door, more of those who know just know where it is. Serving a range of cocktails and mixtures Acte is a nice place to escape to for quiet & cosy drinks. The beauty of Paris seems most evident at night with the dazzling and I mean literally dazzling & shimmering Eiffel tower a pretty sight as it is also sends out & beams of light across the Parisian sky.

Sightseeing  
Versailles is an attack on the eyes in the sense that over the top was definitely on the minds of its creator but there is beauty there within. 6.80 from Paris for a return and it was nice to escape the fast pace of the capital the shops here are relatively cheaper from chains such as Mcdonald's knocking off a good two euro's here and there and nice souvenirs for a fraction of the price, again Versailles is free for under 25's from Europe to enter and only paying if you want to visit the palaces garden
The louvre's Egyptian collection puts the British museum to shame although in one room it may seem you're looking at bricks and get tiresome the other rooms extensive collection of artefacts from scrolls, jewellery, clothing, busts etc make up for it.  There's a lot to take in and it feels as though you've visited Northern Africa after leaving the glass pyramids and reflecting on the greatness seen of a civilisation that always ceases to amaze. Not to overshadow the main attraction here which of course is the Mona Lisa surprised at first by its size its an attraction and something to see and do. Not too far from Anvel was The Sacre-coeur a multi domed and arched church that's dazzling to look at, to get to the church involves climbing many steps yet once at the top you can see a flat plan view of the capital and there's distractions on the way such as an entertainer covering a spectrum of songs from Take That to Bob Marley. Drink and food stalls clutter the courtyard from alcohol to pop inside is a feat stained glass windows and extensive art work

Verdict

Paris is a great city to escape to at an affordable price the eight hour journey isn't too bad as isn't the £58 price and with so much heritage and history allowing for so much to do experience, see and take in.. Although one of Europe's most expensive cities a good time can be had especially for under 25's on a budget, seeing and doing as many visitors to the city do. Overall an enjoyable experience with an endless list of things to do and others left for a revisit

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