Paris versus Antwerp

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Paris versus Antwerp

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Paris, the city of love, food and fashion. It's a pleasure to be part of this vibrant city and I simply enjoyed my stay here. I started my evening with a very good asian-fusion restaurant named "Bon" at rue de la Pompe. This trendy Philip Starck designed bar-restaurant is a discreet destination for 16eme locals and expats. Get a platter of the most excellent spring rolls-shrimp coriandre, beef basil & chicken curry, spicy beef salad and crispy chinatown duck for savory re-invented classics!

A good place to start shopping in Paris is the nice old quarter of Le Marais. I think Le Marais is the best shopping neighborhood in the city. There are tons of independently owned boutiques as well as luxury shops, trendy restaurants, hip galleries and wonderful markets. Today, the neighborhood is a mix of several communities which, at one time or another, played an important role in its history. Le Marais remains a central part of the Jewish community in Paris, and is also home to other more recent immigrant communities such as Algerians and Asians. Le Marais is also one of present-day Paris’ most prominent gay communities, with lots of gay night clubs, shops, and restaurants. The second place that I went to was the Furla store at Rue Saint Honoré. I purchased my little bag in this "chic" shopping area. (I have a bag obsession!). Here you've got expensive couturiers, more moderate designer boutiques and also you'll find the famous cult store Colette.

After a wonderful shopping session it was time to have some lunch. Ladurée is perfect for macarons and afternoon tea. Ladurée's salted caramel macaron is by far my favorite!

Margré

Going to Antwerp means going to my neighbor country where they also speak Dutch but in a slightly different way. Antwerp is not the capital of Belgium, that's Brussels, but it is a big city with a lot of remarkable cultural and fashionable hotspots. I made a reservation in one of The Soul studio's on the Marnixplaats in the bustling het Zuid district. This hip apartment hotel is a 3-minute walk from a tram stop and 8 minutes on foot from modern art exhibits at the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst and the FOMU. "The Soul" is an experience for the body and soul.. It offers healthy food and drinks in The Soul Café and a good night sleep in The Soul Studios, Apartments and Loft. For a professional and luxurious treatment for your hair you can visit The Soul Hairspa. A nice experience and the studio was designed very well.

I visited the FOMU, the foto museum of Antwerp. They have interesting exhibitions all year long. You only have to walk ten minutes from the FOMU to reach the centre of Antwerp. During my walk to the centre I saw many nice vintage stores. There were lots of them with all different types of antique like, old school maps, furniture, toys, cloth... you name it! Antwerp is also a city of fashion and there are so many shops with high end brands. Belgium people know how to dress! And if you want to buy a high end delicacy to pair with your coffee or champagne, go to Ladurée in the Schuttershofstraat 51. This is un upscale bakery with Parisian origins, specializing in French macarons in a number of flavors. Be prepared!

The Wasbar...it's absolutely worth a visit! The decor is cute and the atmosphere is very relaxed. It is a great place to chill, mingle with friends and do your laundry while having lunch or a nice drink. I choose the 'cappuccino wasbar', a cappuccino with little marshmallows in it. It looks like my coffee had detergent in it and it tasted a little bit weird. But after all it was fun to have this drink especially in the Wasbar.

if you want to have a nice dinner go to Pasta Hippo Vino. You may notice the absence of pizza when you read the menu. What you will find here, however, is food made from real, home-made ingredients, made to the highest standards. The restaurant is not far from the Grote Markt, in the middle of the centre of Antwerp. If you don't want Italian wine, try the real Begium beer. Vedett is a good option ;-)!

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San Francisco versus Hong Kong

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San Francisco versus Hong Kong

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If you're going to San francisco....rent a bike! That's what I did. Pacific Bicycle is a professional bike shop, and has an even more professional team. A friendly guy set me up on a Hybrid bike just after I landed in San Francisco. Quick checkout, free lock and a free helmet... didn't wear it! Okay, I know Safety is important and San Francisco has mountains and isn't as flat as The Netherlands, but still.

After I was done shopping at Whole foods and Target I followed my way to the Piers.They are located north of the Ferry Building and feature unique dining, retail and over an acre of public waterfront access. On clear days when there isn’t a lot of fog on the water you can see the Golden Gate Bridge from a distance while visiting Pier 39. Unfortunately that wasn't the case for me.

Time to have a quick bite...riding a bike makes you hungry! Salt House is a great gem in downtown San Francisco. It has great atmosphere, food and very innovative dishes made with fresh ingredients. What really stood out was the service, thanks to Taylor, the friendly bartender. And after enjoying a delicious meal it was time to catch some z's!

Margré

Hong Kong, a city that never never sleeps! The skyline of Hong Kong is fantastic. Visit a rooftop bar to have a nice view over the city, especially during sunset. It is up to you to choose to have a view of Hong Kong island or on the opposite of the river, to have a view of the main land.

Only on wednesday evenings you can visit the Hong Kong Jockey Club at Happy Valley for horse races. It is one of the most famous horse racing venues in the world. This famous racing place is situated in the middle of the Metropolis of Hong Kong island, surrounded by sky scrapers. It is a fantastic happening with thousands of people who bet on one or more horses. The green field will be prepared race after race and meanwhile people are standing in line to bet on the racing horses. I bet on four horses and one of them won the race! Music, drinks, performances…it is all in the game. Don’t hesistate to ask people which horse you have to bet on. They are more than willing to help you!

Le Boudoir in Soho is a nice pit stop after you counted your 'winning money’ from the races ;-). Le boudoir is a delightfully conceived cocktail lounge, evoking the seductive opulence and glamour of an 18th Century French palatial residence. 

If you want window shopping, Hong Kong is the place to be. For something different go to D-mop. D-mop is a very hip and stylish fashion shop where you can find a lot of unique brands for sale. They have not only fashion, but also books, music and accessoires with a modern twist. If you want to have a unique piece of clothing it is absolutely worth a visit. It is not cheap, but if you want to be original, I think you are more than willing to pay for it.

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