Vintage Shopping in Paris

Haute Couture can be linked back as early as 1700s with ties to the French fashion designer to Queen Marie Antoinette. Since then, the French have been credited  as being the forefront of fashion and haute couture. If the French have the culture of fashion, Paris is the manifestation of haute couture itself. Every fashion designer dreams of showcasing during Paris Fashion Week and having their designs seen by the world. But, what happens to the clothing that becomes last season? Well, it has the title of vintage now, and the best vintage shops or “Depots-vente” are in Paris. Paris has some of the most unique, quirky and characterful vintage shops in the world. If you find yourself  in Paris, these are the best shops you cannot leave the city without visiting.

  • Madame De- The Unique One

This vintage shop located in Montparnasse takes its name from the 1951 Max Ophius film, in which a Parisian heroine is forced to pawn her beloved diamond earrings, which causes her trouble. However, this delightful vintage shop is not so dark. Shop owner Armelle Franz takes pride her quality pieces. She promises to her customers that pieces are not well worn, rather they look and feel like new. Applauded for the quality merchandise, the shop has recently garnered accolades from the Public dans Actualities, Presse. From Couture to silver spoons, Madame De definitely has some one of a kind pieces.

madame de

@EP/ TimeOut Paris

Address: 65 rue Daguerre  14e, Paris

Phone: 01.77.10.59.46

Website: madamede.net

Email: depotvente@madame.net

Transport: Metro- Denfert- Rochereau

  • Chercheminippes- The Queen

Many regard this Depot-vente as the queen of vintage shops in Paris. Located near St. Germain, Chercheminippes has been been open to Parisians for four decades. Today, the brand has six shops. Each is located in St, Germain each with a specific purpose. The shops include ready-to-wear, designer, men’s, children’s, accessories and home decor. Just like a queen, people clamor to see it, so be prepared to deal with crowds as you rummage through to find hidden gems.

@ashton / Flickr

@ashton / Flickr

Address: 102 rue du Cherche-Midi , 6e, Paris

Phone: 01.45.44.97.96

Website: http://www.chercheminippes.com

Transport: Metro: Vaneau

  • Lorette et Jasmin – The New Girls

Lorette et Jasmin opened its doors in 2011 and in just three short years has made a considerable name for themselves. Featured in Le Journal du Dimanche ,Tellerama and other media outlets. Owner Laurence notes that the success of the shop comes from its loyal clientele that visits the shop frequently for their favorites. Lorette and Jasmin blends luxury garments with ready-to-wear on its racks located only steps away from La Seine and our apartments.

Lorrette&Jasmin / Facebook

Lorrette&Jasmin / Facebook

Address:  6 rue Francois Millet, 16e Paris

Phone: 01. 45.25.41.36

Website: www.lorretejasmin.com

Metro: Jasmin ou Mirabeau

  • Reciproque – The Largest Consignment  

From Kenzo and Moschino to ungaro and Balmain, Reciproque can boast as the largest consignment shop, and it is rightfully so. The shop is over 7,500 square feet with 7 boutiques  inside the massive construction. This is the location where true Parisians buy their designer duds. Discounts can range from 20% to 80% depending on each item, brand and the demand. The shop is nestled in the chic 16e , that many Parisians aspire to live in, with its stunning view of the Eiffel Tower and Ecole Militaire. It is the perfect place for this perfect shop.

@RobertoTrm / Flickr

@RobertoTrm / Flickr

 Address: Rue de la Pompe, 16e, Paris

Phone: 01 47 04 30 28

Website: www.reciproque.fr

Metro: Rue de la Pompe

  • Catherine Max- The Largest Designer Clearance

You know a shop is good when it employs its own security guards for crowd control. Yes, you read that correctly, Catherine Max’s deals are so amazing that it employs security guards. Justly so, this gigantic 12,00 square foot store is an outlet for fashion designers, jewelers, perfumers, and high-end home accessories. You must be a member to shop here for a reasonable price of €20 per year.  Members receive emails notifying them of special events and clearance sales that should criminal for the steals that people get. It sounds to good to be true, but the shop does offer designers such as Dior, LaCroix and Louboutin for a steal. Due to its rapid turnover, the floor space is  constantly monitored. The next time you’re having your holiday in Paris, make sure to visit this shop in 16e.

@dbPhotography/ Flickr

@dbPhotography/ Flickr

 Address: 17 Avenue Raymond Pincare, 16e Paris

Website: www.catherinemax.com

Metro: Trocadero, Victor Hugo

 > Loving Apartments offers 70 apartment locations near these vintage shops. Before you  go on an extravagant shopping spree, choose a relaxing place to rest your credit card hand with us.

 A few notes:

  • Consignment – is the act of consigning, which is placing any material in the hand of another, but retaining ownership until the goods are sold.

> Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

15 Top Travel Hacks

After you’ve booked your next trip and all of the travel details have been sorted, the last thing you want to worry about is a weight limit.  The best way to maximize your luggage space is through clever thinking and quick wit. But, if you don’t have the time to create your own travel hacks, here are some for you to use on your next holiday.

1. Store your camera in a soap container.

DIY Hack1

2. Store hairpins in a Tic-Tac Box.

DIY Hack2

3. Sort your earrings with a pill box.

DIY Hack3

4. A Binder clip can be used to protect razors.

DIY Hack4

5. Use eyeglass cases to store chargers.

DIY Hack5

6. Medicine bottles are great for Q- tips.

DIY Hack6

7. Put dirty shoes in shower caps.

DIY Hack7

8. Forgotten your charger at home? Most hotels have USB plugs in their TVs.

DIY Hack8

9. Put dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep your clothes fresh.

DIY Hack9

10. Use cereal containers as garbage bins during long car trips.

DIY Hack10

11. Put belts in the collar of shirts to keep the collars stiff.

DIY Hack11

12.Store your cell phones in plastic bags while out in the rain or on the beach.

DIY Hack12

13. Scan images of your passport, ticket numbers and other important information and email them to yourself.

DIY Hack13

14. Bring travel sized liquor bottles with you to take the edge of of flying.

DIY Hack14

15. Most Importantly, invest in a multi-plug.

DIY Hack15

 

 

> Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

5 Best Seafood Cafes and Restaurants in Lisbon

Known as a seafaring nation, Portugal has a well developed and unique identity when it comes to cuisine. Heavy Mediterranean influences and a myriad of spices have made a mark on the dishes served in this Atlantic country, most notably in Lisbon. Lisbon offers some of the best cafes and restaurants in Europe. Lisbon has Europe’s highest consumption per capita of fish, and amongst this list, one can get fish grilled, boiled, fried, deep fried or even roasted.

Cervejaria Ramiro, Intende

Cervejaria Ramiro first opened its doors in 1956 and was originally a small eatery. It wasn’t until some years later that the restaurant moved into selling seafood. It was a good choice made by the owner Mr. Ramiro whose restaurant is one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Lisbon. Expanding over three floors, this space indulges locals and tourists alike in spiky shell fish, scrumptious tiger prawns and the succulent oysters. Regarded as a family establishment, the restaurant has a steady clientele that queue each day to taste the menu. Cervejaria Ramiro values itself on speedy service with new age technology that allows customers to easily order via tablets. You can even order in advance and skip the queue.

Address: Avenida Almirante Reis 1

Phone: +351 21 885 1024

Website: www.cervejariaramiro.pt

@ArmandoAlves/ Flickr

@ArmandoAlves/ Flickr

Solar dos Presuntos, Baixa

Solar dos Presuntos prides themselves on a warm home like environment. Opening its doors in 1974, this traditional Minho kitchen gives customers a series of authentic Portuguese cuisines. Huge photographs and cartoons of their valued customers line the walls of the restaurant. The owners feel that it is necessary to showcase the pictures of their customers as if they were family, and it recreates the feeling of walking into the home of a family member.  However, if you want to visit this restaurant, you should book in advance. There are no “drop ins.” Once you make your reservation, make sure to try the Seafood Paella with lobster and prawns and the Black rice with cuttlefish, scallops,prawns, mussels and mushrooms.

@MarianaAurelio / Flickr

@MarianaAurelio / Flick

@MarianaAurelio / Flickr

@MarianaAurelio / Flickr

Address: Rua Das Portas de Santo Antao, 150, Lisbon 1150-269, Portugal (Baixa)

Phone: +351 21 342 4253

Website: http://www.solardospresuntos.com/

Farol de Santa Luzia

Farol de Santa Luzia recently celebrated it’s 40th anniversary. With reasonable prices and signature seafood dishes, Farol de Santa Luzia has become a crowd favorite. Many customers have noted the friendly and welcoming atmosphere as they taste the Lulas à la plancha (grilled squid with baked potatoes and sauteed vegetables) or snack on Amêijoa à Bolhão Pato com toque de mostarda (clams cooked in olive oil, with coriander, garlic and a mustard). This rustic restaurant is housed in a 17th century building that offers customers a cozy viewpoint of Santa Luzia.

 

@avlxyz/ Flickr

@avlxyz/ Flickr

Address: Travessa de Santa Luzia, 5, Lisbon 1100-487

Phone: +351 218 863 884

Website: http://www.farolsantaluzia.com/

Cantinho do Avillez, Chiado

When compared to the other restaurants on this list,Cantinho dos Avillez, is the new kid on the block. Complete with modern industrial chic features, factory lights and concrete floors, this dream child of Chef Jose Avillez offers customers a modern take on Portuguese cuisine. Located in Chiado and close to Parque das Nacoes, Cantinho do Avilliez mixes traditional and modern food while prioritizing quality ingredients in its dishes. The menu includes a myriad of appetizers, pregos (steak sandwiches) and some unique main dishes including Pan fried scallops with tomato, green asparagus and Aljezur sweet potatoes. Make sure to finish your dining experience with the desert and try the Lemon Sorbet with basil and vodka.

Phone: + 351 21 199 23 69

Address: Rua dos Duques de Bragança, 7 1200-162 Lisboa

Website: www.joseavillez.pt

@stu_spivack/ Flickr

@stu_spivack/ Flickr

SeaMe, Chiado

SeaMe also offers a modern take on Portuguese cuisine, but specializes in seafood. The menu offers sushi, sashimi, seared tuna and fried Azores parrot fish. Famous for their raw fish specialties, SeaMe also contains its own Bar, Sushi Bar and Peixaria. Chef Filipe Rodrigues opened the doors in 2010. Since then, he has served the public in tapas style dedicated  to Japanese twists on traditional Portuguese cuisine.Make sure to book in advance. Many locals clamor to get a seat in  this popular hotspot. Close to the Igreja de Sao Roque, SeaMe is a wonderful way to end your day of sightseeing in Lisbon.

Address: Rua do Loreto 21

Phone: +351 21 346 1564

Website: www.peixariamoderna.com  

@adactio /Flickr

@adactio /Flickr

> Jonathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

Gay Nightlife in Prague

Prague has become a haven for night life due to the growing number of tourists seeking small crowds, moderate drink prices and up-scale environments. It should come as no surprise the Prague’s night life extends to offer bars and night life to the LGBTQ community. This post will be dedicated to the most popular and trendy destinations that Prague offers. Loving Apartments offers accommodation in and around Prague as well, providing comfort and convenience after a night out.

The Saints

It’s no coincidence that I featured this bar first. The Saints is a well respected establishment located in the heart of Prague. In many ways this bar can be considered the heart of gay night life as well because the bar hosts an on-line website that allows for potential gay travellers to get the 411 before coming to the city. Beyond their own bar, The Saints offers opinions and inside tips to give visitors local knowledge. The bar itself is small, like most bars and clubs in Prague, but maintains a warm atmosphere with moderately priced drinks.

saint

Address & info:

> Polska 32, Praha 2, Czech Republic > +420 222 250 326

>www.saintsbar.cz  >  info@praguesaints.cz 

Klub 21Flickr/ @klub21

The basement pub has been on the local scene in Prague for a number of years. The brick walls are decorated with art from locals. Be careful, one crazy night could end with you purchasing some of the rare art, which might be a tad spendy. Many view this place to be a typical Czech gay pub and a friendly place  to share a beer with your party.

Address &  Info:

> Rimska 21, Prague 2 > +420 603 539 475

www.klub21.cz  > info@klub21.cz

Club Termix

Club Termix is widely known as the most popular gay nightclub in Prague despite its small size. The lack of square footage is compensated for by the pleasant atmosphere and fun crowd. During the week the the venue doubles as a bar; but on Thursdays, the space turns into a club like no other. If reviews are true, the bar staff is hospitable, and the music choices blend between current dance tunes and local pop music.  Club Termix is located right around the corner from Saints bar, so it would be easy to hit both in one night. The club has reasonable prices and no entrance fee.

Address & Info:

>Trebizskeho 4a, Prague 2  > http://www.club-termix.cz/

> +420 222 710 462   >  club-termix@club-termix.cz 

 

>Johnathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

Paris Unleashed

When I was just a little tyke, my eldest sister travelled to Paris for a musical tour around Europe. I remember her stories about the romantic city – the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomph, Champs Élysées, the crepes and lovely street art.

I had fallen under a second-hand Parisian spell, and the city made it to the top of my life list. (I like to call it life list instead of bucket list because of some valuable advice I once got from my auntie, “You should focus on the living part. Not the dying part.” Amen to that.) Well over a decade later, I made a weekend trip to Paris with a group of friends, and I can finally cross the destination off my list.

*Caution: The trip itinerary you are about to read is jam-packed because we were only able to allot a few days in Paris before we had to return to London for class on Monday. We hit it hard. So if that type of travelling floats your boat, feel free to borrow our itinerary. If you prefer to slow down the pace and just take it easy, I suggest you pick and choose or finagle the itinerary a bit to suit your desires.

Thursday Evening:

We began our trip on a Thursday evening by hopping on the Eurostar from London to Paris. It’s extraordinary that we have the ability to travel under the ocean by train. That’s just an experience within itself.

Whenever I arrive somewhere new, I always get antsy to see the most iconic sight right away. In this case – the Eiffel Tower. We hopped on the Metro and found our way to this majestic monument, just in time to catch its light show on the hour.

Eiffel Tower. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Eiffel Tower. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

The night continued to get even better when we bumped into a crepe stand by the tower, and I had my first Parisian Nutella crepe. It was nothing short of a religious experience. To say the least, it was a magical first night in Paris.

Friday:

Friday morning we got up bright and early and set out to the Eiffel once again to conquer the tower from the bottom up. I must warn you that the queue to catch the elevator from the ground to the top is quite long – even right at the opening time. So if you are physically-able, I suggest that you buy a ticket to walk halfway up to the second platform and then jump on a lift to the top. We only had to queue for a couple of minutes to get this ticket. I’ll be upfront with you. The steps are a bit strenuous, but you can take them at your leisure. They also allow you to better relish the view on the way up rather than being whisked immediately to the top. Once you’re to the tip, you won’t regret all the effort you took to climb those pesky stairs.

A view from atop the Eiffel Tower. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

A view from atop the Eiffel Tower. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Next stop: Musée D’Orsay – which is a convenient walking distance from the Eiffel Tower (It all helps to save money on public transportation). This was my favourite museum in Paris (gasp that it’s not the Lourve) because its architecture as an old train station is breath-taking with a massive, ornate clock on the wall. I’m also a fan of impressionism, and the Musée D’Orsay has a large impressionist collection including Monet. I was also impressed with the number of Van Goghes they had. If paintings aren’t your cup of tea, the museum also has a plethora of other exhibits including photography, antiques, sculptures, glasswork and much more.

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

The main Hall of the Musée D’Orsay. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

The Love Lock Bridge, officially called the Ponte des Artes, was our next destination. Yes, I gave into the cliché and took part in the cheesy ritual of fastening a lock to the bridge and tossing the key in the River Seine. But hey, can you blame me? I’ve been waiting to do this since I was like 10. This practice is even more frowned upon since the bridge has started to collapse under the weight of all the locks. I suppose if a bridge is going to collapse it’s a good thing that it’s collapsing because there’s just too much love, right?

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Love Lock Bridge. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Not far from the Love Lock Bridge is Sainte Chapelle and Notre Dame. Sainte Chapelle was an unexpected gem for me. I had honestly never heard of the chapel until it was brought to my attention by my travel companions. It turned out to be one of the most gorgeous sights of the weekend, which is quite a feat when touring the beautiful city of Paris. Almost the entire second floor of the chapel is windows. The stained glass shone in the late afternoon light, showing off the vivid hues and design. I was mesmerized by the deep maroons, golds, blues and purples. If I had my way, I would have sat in that chapel for hours just simply staring at the glasswork.

Sainte Chapelle. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Sainte Chapelle. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

I had a preconceived image of Notre Dame from the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and it was actually pretty accurate – other than Quasimodo dwelling in the bell towers. The cathedral was quite busy, but it was worth the visit.

Being the thrifty college students that we are, my friends and I visited the Louvre Friday evening because it is free for anyone under the age of 26 from 6:00 pm to 9:45 pm. You probably already know this, but that place is massive! We almost got lost. No rephrase that. We definitely got lost – even with a map. However, we were able to see the biggies like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Liberty Leading the People and The Raft of Medusa – and  everything in between.

The Louvre. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

The Louvre. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Our evening ended atop the top of the Arc de Triomph, with a sweeping view of the city lighs, including all the Christmas displays as well. It was marvelous.

Saturday:

Our Saturday morning was dedicated to the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. We arrived right when the estate opened, so it wasn’t too busy. The palace was magnificent and luxurious with the King’s Grand Apartments and the Hall of Mirrors. But perhaps the biggest treat of our trip to Versailles was the gardens with their majestic, gold fountains, well-manicured trees and hedges and all the autumn colours. It’s the perfect location for a long stroll.

On our way back to the city center from Versailles, we stopped off at the Grande Arch de la Defénse, located in a business district of Paris. Lucky for us, there was also a Christmas market in front of the Arch. We perused all the booths with jolly Christmas carols and the sweet aromas of goodies as a festive back drop.

Goodies at the Christmas market. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Goodies at the Christmas market. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Then in the evening we made our way to the vibrant Parisian neighbourhood of Montmartre. Here we did some browsing of all the little souvenir shops and quaint boutiques. Things you definitely won’t want to miss while you’re there is the “I Love You Wall,” the Sacre Coeur and the Artist Square. The Artist Square was the most charming characteristic of Montmartre because you can watch artists in action as they work on their masterpieces. If you are looking especially smart that day, you can even hire one of the artists to draw a portrait of yourself.

We rounded out the evening with a photo opportunity at the infamous Moulin Rouge and a walk through the bustling Christmas market at Champs Élysées. Paris is such a festive, holiday city.

Sunday:

Our final day in Paris. One of the last things that we definitely needed to see before we left was the Catacombs. Now I had researched a visit to the Catacombs before we left, and I had gotten the advice that you should at 9:00 am in the morning even though it opens at 10:00 am. After my visit, I would have to pass along that same advice. We arrived around that time and were second in the queue to get in. If you arrive much later than that though, you will probably have to wait 2 to 3 hours to get inside. Prepare yourself for a very fascinating and slightly morbid  walk along the tunnels lined with human bones.

Entrance to the Catacombs. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Entrance to the Catacombs. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

My friends and I ended our Parisian excursion with some relaxation in the Jardin de Luxembourg as we watched people sail their little boats in the garden fountain. We also soaked up some sun in the Jardin des Tuilieries so that we could say farewell to the Louvre and a view of the Eiffel Tower just one last time.

I hope that you find this itinerary helpful or at least pick up some small morsel of advice to keep in mind during your trip to Paris. And what I hope you find even more helpful is that Loving Apartments offers over 400 apartments to stay in the city. Many are conveniently located near these points of interest. Enjoy your time in Paris!

>Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unusual Museums in Amsterdam

Have you been looking to see some different museums for your next trip to Amsterdam? No worries. We have compiled Amsterdam’s most unusual museums. From diamonds to tattoos, its seems as if no subject is out of reach for museums in this city.

Diamond Museum

With over 400 years of history, this museum traces the formation and modern applications of diamonds. The museum gives visitors a geological view into the history of diamonds as it follows the process of diamond formations over billions of years. The exhibit includes a permanent collection of famous pieces like the Rembrandt Diamond, the Katana, and the Ape Skull. The museum offers a diamond workshop for those who have a thing for bling. The workshop gives guests a tour of the museum, and then the museum’s master diamond cutter will teach the basics of cutting and polishing a diamond. The true appeal of this workshop is that the museum provides a free diamond for the workshop attendees to polish and cut themselves.

Location and Times:

Paulus Potterstraat 8, 1071 CZ Amsterdam

Mon-Sun: 09:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Biblical Museum3631902258_d0cdb98f79_o

The Biblical Museum’ was built upon the collection of Reverend Leendert Schouten, who first established this museum in the 19th century. Now located in the heart of old Amsterdam at Herengracht Canal,  the collection has an abundance of artifacts and archaeological  objects originally found in Palestine and Egypt. The museum also features temple models that are intricately designed and finely detailed. The models are temples of Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths. The Bibles featured includes the first Dutch translation of the Bible (1637) and the oldest printed Bible in the Netherlands (1477). On the last Saturday of October, The Biblical Museum organizes a free taxation of old Bibles and religious books. If visitors come with books older than 1900, the museums expert will appraise their Bible.

Location & Times:

Herengracht 366-368
1016 CH AMSTERDAM
Mo : Closed Tu -Sa : 10:00 – 17:00 hour Su: 11:00 – 17:00 hour Open on Thursday 25 December 2014 from 11:00 – 17:00 hour Open on Friday 26 December 2014 from 11:00 – 17:00 hour Open on Thursday 1 January 2015 from 11:00 – 17:00 hour.

 

Cat Cabinet ( Kattenkabinet )

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If your allergic to cats, I’d stay away from this marvelous museum dedicated to all things feline. Cat Cabinet was founded in 1990 to commemorate the owner’s, Bob Meijer’s, red tom cat called John Morgan who lived between 1966 and 1983.  As expected, the museum contains a selection of photos, drawings, sculptures and paintings of cats. The collection is dedicated entirely to the role of cats in art and culture throughout history.  What might come as a surprise is the artists that compose the various exhibits. Notable artists such as Pablo Piccaso, Rembrandt, Sam Meijer and Henri de Toulouse L’Autrec all have their feline-focused work displayed here. Even if your not cat-crazy, a quick stroll through the impressive rooms of this house in the Canal Belt is an unexpected treat. Loving Apartments even offers accommodation at the museum.

Location & Times:

The Cat Cabinet, Herengracht 497, Amsterdam T:  +31(0)20 626 9040

Mon- Fri: 10am-4pm

Sat-Sun: 12pm- 5pm

Tattoo Museum 8018821130_d27c6f9c61_b

Opened in 2011, the Tattoo Museum in Plantage is one of the newer museums in Amsterdam. The museum has more than 40 thousand objects in it collection. Divided geographically, each exhibit showcases the history of tattooing and tattooing traditions. The exhibit provides an in-depth look into traditions of various subcultures such as prisons, the army and more. The museum has a playful feeling about it with its brightly decorated walls, exotic wood floors and open floor plan. Once a month the museum welcomes a reputable tattoo artist, and the previous guest artists have been form locations all over the world. Additionally, the museum has a permanent tattoo shop on the premises.

Location & Times:

Tattoo Museum in Amsterdam
Plantage Middenlaan 62
1018 DH   Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Every day 10 A.M. – 7 P.M.
Closed on January 1st and December 25th. On December 24th and January 1st the closes at 4 P.M.

Loving Apartment offers a number of apartments in Amsterdam.

>Johnathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

A Night in Madrid

Spain – the land of siestas. Once you’ve visited Barcelona and Madrid, you’ll understand why siestas are necessary. Generally, Spanish daily living just simply starts later. Lunch is often in the afternoon around 3:00 pm, and dinner around 10:00 pm. Naturally, their nights out gear up later as well around 2:00 am to 3:00 am. This is often the time that many other large cities around the globe start to wind down.

It is this type of lifestyle that makes Spain such a lively and exciting destination to visit, especially if you are looking for some great night life. It can be a bit difficult adjusting to this sort of clock, but it is worth the routine switch-up.

Madrid has a little bit of everything to offer for nights out – local pubs, bars, clubs, flamenco, discos and more.  We’ve tried our best to recommend some popular areas in Madrid for you to spend a night out with your mates.

Photo Credit: Jan Solo@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Jan Solo@Flickr.

Huertas

This is perhaps the most popular entertainment area of Madrid and is probably the most frequented by tourists. The area covers Plaza de Santa Ana  and Huertas Street, Cruz Street and other parallel streets as well. The store fronts that line Huertas is almost all pubs, restaurants and clubs so there is plenty to choose from. But you’ll want to keep an eye out for two very popular bars – the Magister and Viva Madrid. The Viva Madrid is the oldest bar in Madrid dating back to 1856. It must be doing something right if it has managed to last through the centuries. The Magister, a small brew pub, is known for it delicious, free tapas. In Huertas, you’ll also find Cardamomo, one of Madrid’s famous flamenco clubs, and the house in which Miguel de Cervantes, author of  Don Quijote, died.

Moncloa and Argüelles

Photo Credit: mfajardo@Flickr.

Photo Credit: mfajardo@Flickr.

This is the night life scene mostly preferred by younger people and students in Madrid because it is located nearby universities and student residences. All the night venues are mostly located in the Plaza de la Moncloa, and the venues tend to be more trendy and hip because they are geared towards the younger generation. You’ll run across a variety of bars, pubs and nightclubs, specifically featuring rock and Spanish pop music. Some suggested places to drop in by are Sala Heineken and The Host. The advantage of going to this area for your night out is that the bars and dances clubs are usually less expensive in order to serve the student population.

Chueca

Chueca has set itself apart as Madrid’s gay night life area. It is located in the Plaza de Chueca between the streets of Fuencarral and Barquillo  and near the Gran Vía Avenue. Some well known stops in this area are Troyans, LL Bar and Clip Bar. Younger crowds tend to gravitate towards Black & White and Rimmel. This neighbourhood fills up during Madrid’s Gay Pride Day with a parade on the Gran Vía Avenue.

Malasaña

Malasaña, also referred to as the Maravillas district, is situated between Gran Vía Avenue and San Bernardo, Fuencarral and the Glorieta de Bilbao. Malasaña has a vibrant personality with hints of bohemian and hipster. You’ll stumble upon more intimate bars and clubs here such as Malabar (a circus themed bar), La Lolita, Tupperware, La Realidad and Taboo. Just to name a few. If you like alternative, punk or indie-pop music, Malasaña is definitely the place for your late night adventures.

Photo Credit: miamism@Flickr.

Photo Credit: miamism@Flickr.

 Salamanca Neighborhood

Sleek and chic. Salamanca is a wealthy mix of night venues. If you have hopes of spotting a famous celebrity or athlete in Madrid, this would be a good place to start. Gabana and Shabay are the hottest spots in the area. However if you plan to party there, be looking your best and have your wallet ready to go.

People in Madrid literally stay out until the crack of dawn. So if one of these night life areas don’t meet your party expectations, there is always plenty more to try. After a night of drinks and dancing, be sure to enjoy an early breakfast of churros with chocolate. The best way to top off all the fun.

> Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.

A Happy Hipster Day in London

Have you ever wanted to be a hipster? Lets be honest- no one does- but it’d be fun to live like one for a day, right? Well, we couldn’t think of any other place more hipster than some of the neighbourhoods of London. From the gentrified East London to the up and coming South London, we have put together a day that will live in instagram infamy. #instagramgame #sostrong

7:30 am : Morning Glory Rave

If you think going for jog is the best way to get your blood pumping for the day, you’d be wrong. The growing movement referred to as Morning Glory Rave is an early morning, substance-free dance party that is intended to give attendees a lively and different way to jump-start their mornings. The group suggesst that ravers give themselves a full hour to truly experience Morning Glory. The relaxed atmosphere allows for participants to be themselves and even allows for people to turn up in their Pj’s. Complete with coffee, smoothie bars and complimentary wake-up massages, this morning rave is truly unique. The conscious clubbing movement begins at 6:30 am and goes until 10:30 am. Located in Oval Space, the rave brings in large crowds. Don’t forget to wear your neon lycra.

Location:

29-32, The Oval London United Kingdom E2 9DT

10:30 am:  Breakfast-Cereal Killer Cafe

The best ideas come when your hungover. At least that can be said by Cereal Killer Cafe identical twin owners Alan and Gary Keery. The cafe is dedicated to all things cereal. The bowl sizes offered include small, medium and large. The cafe offers over 100 different cereals and 12 different milk options including choices for those who are vegan or lactose intolerant. They even have toppings from fresh fruit to mini Oreos. Located in trendy Shoreditch, this charming cafe recently opened its doors this past December. So go for the Cereal but stay for the Pop Tarts, which is what they serve as a side dish with the cereal.

Location:

139 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, London, E1 6SB.

11:30 am: The Last Tuesday Society’s Museum – Taxidermy Exhibition

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After you’ve had a proper morning with raving and eating niche cereals, head over to Hackney to visit The Last Tuesday Society Museum. The museum take its name from a society that was founded at Harvard by William James and has come to London in the form of a “pataphysical organisation.” The museum prides itself on featuring offbeat and quirky subject matter. Recent exhibitions have focused on taxidermy and domesticated aquatics pets and aquariums.

Location & Times:

11 Mare Street London E8 4RP

Wednesday-Sunday:11am-10pm

 1:30 pm: Lunch- Draughts/Board Game Cafe

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After the Last Society’s Taxidermy exhibition, head on over to Draughts Board Game Cafe, also in Hackney. Play some board games and enjoy lunch. Opened in early November of last year, this cafe has a vast amount of board games to offer guests. If you have a childhood favorite, they will probably have it. In addition to honing your strategy skills against your friends, you can enjoy a pint and toget your gears turning. Only don’t go over board because the next stop on this jam packed journey involves a trip to Greenwich.

3:00 pm Meantime Brewery Tour

Proud of their Greenwich location, Meantime Brewery, has been heralded around London as one of the best micro-breweries. Lucky for the beer connoisseurs, the brewery host weekly tours of their brewery.  TimeOut says:

Tuesday evenings next year just got a little bit brighter. The Meantime Brewery in Greenwich has decided to open its doors to the public for weekly tours. Expect ample opportunity to learn about (as well as sample) brewmaster Alastair Hook’s award-winning beers.”

A comprehensive tour happens four days out of the week. Each tour is followed by a tutored tasting of a selection of beers.

Location & Times:

Lawrence Trading Estate, Blackwall Lane, London SE10 0AR.
Tel: +44 (0)20 8293 1111

Shop: Wed / Thurs / Fri: 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Saturday: 11:00am – 8:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 4:00pm

5:00pm Dinner: Wine & Charcuterie (W&C)

I admit, W&C aligns itself on the higher-end spectrum of all things hipster. But if reviews are any indication, the prices are well worth it. Located in Clapham, this renovated foodie haven opened its doors just last year after a large installment of the Clapham Old Town Regeneration Project. Originally a public lavatory, W&C is nothing less than spectacular. The menu is short and to the point with limited but flavorful options. Inside the bar, ham is hanging and electric candlesticks are scattered throughout the venue.  As for wine, the list consist of 10 whites and 10 reds along with certain roses and sparklers.

TimeOut/ @JoshKearns

TimeOut/ @JoshKearns

Location & Times:

The Pavement, Clapham Common, SW4

Mon-Fri: 6pm- late

Sat/Sun: Noon-late.

 7:30: Pillow Cinema

Opening its doors this past November, Pillow Cinema is a great “night in” night out.  PC offers a unique viewing experience, as viewers are allowed to watch movies on pillows for two. In fact the cinema offers tickets that valid for two, which is perfect for couples who want to catch a movie. The cinema was opened by the same owners who created Hot Tub Cinema. It features blockbusters, Indy dramas, thrillers and everything in between. You name it – they’ll show it. Quite often there are additional activities for the audience at each show as well.

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Location & Times

Pedley Street, London United Kingdom E1 5ES

*Check online for movie showings here

Loving  Apartments offers a number of apartments in London, that would be great to crash at after your Happy Hipster Day in London.

>Johnathan Redmond is an Advertising Undergraduate @ University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a keen interest in Fashion and exploring London Culture.

Paris Made for Kids

It’s never too early to start thinking about summer plans, especially when you have children to entertain all day. This can be even more difficult when you are on holiday in a location that you are not entirely familiar with.

Loving Apartments would like to lend a helping hand and recommend some great outdoor activities in Paris to keep your kids busy and to give you a breather.

Parc de la Villette

This massive park was designed by the French architect, Bernard Tschumi, as an urban redevelopment program from 1984 to 1987. During its construction Tschumi was able to transform this industrial space into a futuristic park for children, and it has even further developed into a huge cultural hub for Paris with several museums, theatres, themed  gardens and concert venues. But more importantly, the park is home to many imaginative park structures for children to play on. The most popular being The Garden of the Dragon  with a steel sculptural dragon with an 80 ft. slide and the Bamboo Garden with an enormous bamboo maze. This area will keep your kids entertained for hours, with plenty left over to do for days in the future.

Photo Credit: Christophe ALARY@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Christophe ALARY@Flickr.

Paris Plages

Photo Credit: Patrick Janicek@Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Patrick Janicek@Wikipedia.

Paris got smart and decided to bring the sandy beaches to the bank of the River Seine with the Paris Plages instead of having the locals travel out of the city for the summer scene. The city literally brings in truckloads of sand during the summer to create their own urban beach. Not only do the beaches give Parisians the opportunity to soak up the sun, but they also host a festival in late July and early August that includes bouncy houses, carnival games and concerts – a perfect event for your youngsters. If you aren’t in Paris during the festival, just simply take the chance to sun bathe and build sand castles. It’s not every day that you get to enjoy a beach in the heart of a city.

 

Jardin d’Acclimatation

This is the hot spot for all the Parisian tykes. The park has a little bit of everything- puppet shows, pony rides, a river ride, an aviary with hundreds of birds, a zoo, a sprinkler park, countless pieces of playground equipment for all ages, a train and a board-walk area with games and goodies. It’s a heaven on earth for kids. Parents, you will have no trouble keeping your little ones busy here. Napoleon III is the one to thank for this family-friendly space.

Photo Credit: Sylvain Leprovost@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Sylvain Leprovost@Flickr.

Hot Air Balloon at the Parc André Citroën

Photo Credit: Aero4@Wikipedia.

Photo Credit: Aero4@Wikipedia.

Sure, there are plenty of buildings to climb in order to get a great city view. But a view from a hot air balloon? Now that’s extraordinary. The hot air balloon is also the largest in the world. Sounds expensive right? Well, you might be surprised to hear that the charge is €12 for adults and €6 for kids – very comparable to other admission rates. You also won’t have to fight the crowds that you’ll find at the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomph. However, it may be a good idea to call ahead to make sure that the weather conditions are fit for a ride with the kids.

Ménagerie at the Jardin des Plantes

This isn’t the largest zoo in Paris, but it is probably the most easily accessed in the Latin Quarter. It is also one of the oldest zoos, established in 1794. Kids will find over 1,800 animals at the zoo ranging from red pandas, snow leopards, crocodiles, turtles, snakes, orangutans and so many more. Everyone loves a good zoo, and Ménagerie at the Jardin des Plantes is superb. The zoo also offers special tours and encounters depending upon their calendar and season, and they are listed on their website.

Photo Credit: Rog01@Flickr.

Photo Credit: Rog01@Flickr.

> Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.

 

 

A Week of Everything Italian

So if you’ve been tuning into the Loving Apartment‘s blog for the last couple of months, I, an American student studying abroad in London, have been relaying some of my travelling experiences and tips that I’ve picked up so far during my semester. Well, in late October, I had a one glorious week of fall break.

When I originally found out that we had such a lengthy break, I remember thinking: “What in the world will I do with so much free time?”

Italy! I chose to spend my Fall break touring Italy with a few close friends. Sunny, warm and romantic – it met all expectations and more. Okay, so maybe I didn’t experience too much romance while in Italy – unless you count my love affair with gelato.

Squeezing Italy into seven days is a challenge. It certainly deserves longer. However, it is possible to see most of the Italian highlights in a week with free time to spare for shopping, extra exploring or just simply basking in the sunlight.

Destination #1: Venice

Venice – a city unlike any other – a maze of winding corridors and alleyways. This is mostly due to the fact that traffic isn’t allowed into the city centre. Because of this, much of its historical integrity has remained intact over the years, creating a charming ambiance for locals and visitors alike. I must admit that the twisting, winding streets  made it easy to get lost. But quite frankly, who wouldn’t want to get a little lost among all the Venetian mask shops, pasta joints and  bakeries? Losing my way for a while was the best thing that happened to me in Venice, and I suggest the same to you. All the hidden gems are found during wandering.

But have no fear, there were plenty of signs to get us on the right path to see all the sites that we had in mind:

>The Doge’s Palace: This is a palace in the famous San Marco Square that used to be home of  the Venetian Doge (The name of the supreme ruler of Venice). The palace is now a huge museum and symbol of Venice with hundreds of massive and ornate rooms to visit including the courtyard, the Doge’s Apartments, the Institutional Chambers, the prison and the armouries.
>The Campanile di San Marco: A huge bell tower standing tall next to the Doge’s Palace on San Marco Square.
The Basilica di San MarcoThis impressive basilica is the the main cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. The cathedral is one of the best examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture and is a monument to Venice’s rich history and magnificence with its art, religious contents and stunning architecture.
>Ponte di Rialto: Or more commonly referred to as the Rialto bridge, is a famous stone arch bridge of Venice that spans the Grand Canal. It is the oldest bridge in Venice and has become an icon for Venetian architecture. It’s hard to choose, but this was my top thing to see in Venice. So don’t miss it.

Now for my absolute favorite memory from Venice . . . the Gondola ride. I know, I know. Quite cliché, but it was absolutely lovely and so relaxing to glide through the serene canals after all the touring. There are gondola rides offered all along the canals and St. Mark’s Basin, so it is more than easy to snag one. If you’re really lucky, your gondolier will serenade you during the ride. I must say that ours was a real charmer.

Venice Blog

St. Mark’s Basin. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Destination #2: Florence

Ahhh, Florence. My city of exquisite views . . . and pizza. That’s right folks. I had the best pizza of my life there. The name of the little shop escapes me, and I’ve been unsuccessful in my attempts to find it online. However, it is located on the Piazza Duomo, which is a must see in Florence. So if you have a hankering for a good slice of pizza, peruse the square, and I’m sure you’ll bump into it.

Another list of all the incredible sites:

Brunelleschi’s Dome: We hiked up the 500 steps to the top of the dome of Florence’s main cathedral, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. The view from up there is the highest in the city and gave us a ground-breaking view of the Tuscany countryside.
The Duomo: This is just a fancy term for the rest of the cathedral. The exterior of the cathedral was gorgeous with cream, mint, and pink hues of marble, and the interior was just as impressive with intricate mosaic tiles.
The Campanile de Giotto: While at the cathedral’s square, we also climbed up another 500 steps to the top of the clock tower right next to the cathedral. It wasn’t as high as the dome, but it gave a good view of the skyline that included the dome.
The Baptistery: This was a separate building from the cathedral and is officially called the Baptistery of Saint John. The ceiling of the Baptistery is remarkable. It is split into different painted layers, and each layer represents different Biblical stories. The baptistery’s doors, The Gates of Paradise, are another famous feature of the baptistery and depict Biblical tales as well.
The Uffizi Gallery: This is one of the most popular art galleries in both Florence and Italy itself. The gallery is home of the famous painting “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli. There was also a room entirely dedicated to Michelangelo’s paintings and sculptures.
Accademia Gallery: Another art gallery that is home to the renowned sculpture,”The David,” also made by Michelangelo.
Piazzale de Michelangelo: I’ve actually blogged about this site before, but it’s definitely worth mentioning again. It’s situated on top up a hill and is a hot spot for many street performers and artists. There is a nice staircase, so you can sit and watch the sun set over Florence and see the city lighted up from above at night.
Ponte Vecchio: Another world famous bridge in Italy that spans the Arno River. It’s well-known for its jewellry shops. We sat on another bridge parallel to it for quite some time, so we could admire the Medieval bridge as we soaked up the sun and ate lunch.
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Brunelleschi’s Dome. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Destination #3: Pisa

I’m going to be upfront with you. There’s not many notable places of interest in Pisa other than the Leaning Tower. The folks in Pisa probably wouldn’t like me saying so. Don’t get me wrong. The little city is adorable with shops and restaurants, and the locals were extremely friendly. However, my friends and I didn’t have too much time for meandering, so we were only in Pisa for two hours. This was plenty of time to find the tower, marvel at the architectural wonder and snap some memorable photos.

I also had my first gelato in Pisa. After that cone, I knew my life would never be the same.

Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Leaning Tower of Pisa. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen

Destination #4: Rome

Rome was the last city on our Italian agenda:

The Vatican City: Technically speaking, the Vatican City is its own country. So I suppose that I could say that we explored an entire country in a day! Here we saw the Raphael Rooms and the Borgia Apartments which are suite rooms in the Vatican Palace, now referred to as the Vatican Museum. We also saw the Sistine Chapel there. My neck started to hurt from gazing up at the beautiful ceilings.
St. Peter’s Basilica: This is the cathedral located in the Vatican City and is the location from which the Pope does all of his official papal addresses to the public. It is said to be the largest church in the world, and I’m sure one of the most ornate as well. St. Peter’s is perhaps the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture. It’s also where the Apostle Peter is buried, which I hadn’t realized until I was there. Hence, St. Peter’s Dome, huh? The dots all started to connect.
Trastevere District: Famous shopping and restaurant district in Rome. You’ll find some of the best pasta there.
The Colosseum: An elliptical ampitheatre in the city centre and the  infamous home of the gladiatorial contests, executions, animals hunts and other public spectacles. This site is considered to be one of the most remarkable  examples of Roman engineering and architecture. I couldn’t help but picture Russell Crowe from The Gladiator in the middle of the Colosseum while making my way around the massive arena.
Palantine Hill and the Roman Forums: These were my most enjoyable sights in Rome. Palantine Hill is one of the most ancient parts of the city. It used to be home to many elite Roman citizens, and the remnants of these luxurious homes still stand today. Palantine Hill is right next door to the Roman Forum which was the political center of Ancient Rome. There are many temples and buildings there that were established by Julius Caesar. It was hard to fathom how long some of the structures and ruins have survived.
> The Spanish Steps: These are around 150 steps that lead up to the Trinità dei Monti church. The staircase is impressive; but what’s more impressive about this place is how it is a social center of Rome. The steps were chockfull of people just sitting and chatting.
> The Pantheon: This is one of the most well-preserved buildings of Ancient Rome. It was the most popular and influential temple in Rome during its time and remains popular today. What’s most interesting about the building is that is it circular and has an open top. I hear it is gorgeous and almost magical to see during a snowfall.
The Trevi Fountain: This was one of my most anticipated sites in Rome. Unfortunately, it was under construction. We could hardly see the fountain, and it wasn’t filled with water either. However, there was a walkway over the fountain where the water normally is, so I suppose I got the chance to walk over the fountain which not many people can claim. To make up for all the wishes that couldn’t be made by tossing coins into the famous fountain, they had set up a small well to toss coins in, so we had to make due with that. I heard that they were almost done with the preservation work, so don’t fret if you are planning to visit.
Roman Colosseum Cropped

Roman Colosseum. Photo Credit: Dana Wolthuizen.

I hope that this blog will help you to plan your next adventure to Italy, or at least get you to consider paying a visit. What is even more convenient is that Loving Apartments offers accommodation in Venice, Florence and Rome. Their self-catering apartments are  the perfect place to make your home while exploring.
>Dana Wolthuizen is studying English and non-profit business at Central College with a passion for travel writing.