Why Kerala is a different kind of India

So you think you know India? Crowded, polluted and heaving with holy cows? Well, think again! In February, I had the chance to visit the southern state of Kerala and boy, was I in for a surprise! Kerala is different from other parts of India! How? Glad you asked: 1.Where are the cows? I mean, seriously, where are they? A few years ago, I went to the Indian states of Rajasthan and Delhi where roaming cows in the city centre are as common as pedestrians or rickshaws. Everybody gets out of the Continue Reading

Rio de Janeiro: the ultimate travel tips!

Aaah, Rio de Janeiro! A name and place that leaves nobody indifferent! I planned on spending 4 days here, I ended up staying eight! A lot has been said or written about Brazil’s most (in)famous city. But how exactly do you “tackle” Rio? By all means, read on! 1/ Is Rio safe? Rio de Janeiro:  a name that evokes “beach, sun and sex”.  To some… To others Rio apparently evokes “crime, favela’s and hold-ups.  “Oh, be careful!  Are you sure it’s wise to go on Continue Reading

León: the revolutionary side of Nicaragua

The intoxicating smell of grilled meat and the plumes of smoke indicate that I’m close. I’ve just arrived in León, the revolutionary capital of Nicaragua and my first mission after a long bus ride is to find food. Behind the cathedral I can spot the little chairs and tables of the fritangas. Fritangas are small, casual outdoor food stands that fill the main square just before sunset in most Nicaraguan towns. There’s no menu, it’s point and choose, and the main staple Continue Reading

The most beautiful colonial towns of Brazil

From the southern town of Paraty to the northern city of Olinda: colonial architecture and cobblestone streets can be found all over Brazil. But nowhere is the concentration so high than in the inland state of Minas Gerais. Minas Gerais has long been known for its wealth of minerals and its mining activities, which, together with the goldrush, created huge wealth in the 18th century. The result is a mix of beautifully decorated churches, colonial houses and a peek into the country’s rich Continue Reading

Salvador da Bahia: beyond the Pelourinho

Colonial architecture, capoeira and Afro-Brazilian culture: these are the clichés that usually come to mind when you think of Brazil’s 3rd biggest city: Salvador da Bahia. And they are all there indeed! All concentrated in the small historic neighbourhood of the “Pelourinho”. You can spend hours walking the steep cobble-stone streets hunting for souvenirs, visiting one of the many beautifully decorated churches or stopping at the Terreiro de Jesus for a Continue Reading

Moving to the UK: things you’ll need to get used to

It’s been nearly 3 years now since I’ve moved from Belgium to the United Kingdom. I wasn’t expecting any great difficulties: I knew the language, was familiar with British culture and absolutely loved the British sense of humour. Moving to the UK was going to be an easy ride, I thought. And while there were no big culture shocks, there were some things I wasn’t really prepared for. Come to think of it, I think I’m still not used to them. 1/ “Sorry, I’m British” It must be in Continue Reading

The best food tour in Marrakech: from mechoui to avocado juice

“ I hope you are hungry?” Youssef asks me. We meet on the main square, Djema el Fna, where, together with 8 other food enthusiasts, I’ll be taken on an evening food tour in Marrakech. The Djema isn’t the best place to find good quality food, so we start off at the entrance of the medina, where a family business has set up a few stalls, booming with local customers. On the menu: mechoui (slowly roasted lamb in an underground clay oven) and sheep head. Yes, you read that correctly, Continue Reading

How to meet locals while traveling

I don’t know about you, but for me, travelling is a lot more than seeing the sights. Yes, of course I want to visit the Louvre on a Paris trip and yes, I’ve been to Lady Liberty in New York, but what really makes a trip is to meet locals while traveling, to meet the ordinary people like you and me, who live, work and play in the city or country you’re visiting! And no, that doesn’t mean you have to strike up a conversation with every person on the street. (although feel free to do so) Continue Reading

Village life in the Spanish mountains

It’s mid-March when I land in Malaga, the gateway to Andalusia. John is picking me up and together we set off for Cartajima, a tiny village in the Ronda-mountain range of Andalusia. This will be my home for the next two weeks; the place I chose to start my first experience of volunteering abroad: helping out in a hotel! I am going to help John and Di running “Los Castaños”, a small boutique hotel. My main tasks are setting up the breakfast and dinner table, cleaning dishes and changing Continue Reading

10 reasons why Belgium is NOT boring!

I feel sorry for Belgium. Squeezed in between its three big neighbours (France, Germany and the Netherlands), this tiny country often gets overlooked on the main tourist trail. Apart from Bruges, or “fucking Bruges” as Colin Farrell so poetically nicknamed it in the movie “In Bruges”, few people venture further inland to discover the true beauties of this nation. The reason for this is that Belgium is considered “boring”! Belgium boring, really? Have a look at these 10 reasons why Continue Reading