A walk in Delft

On paper Delft should be the Dutch number two tourist destination. It’s where Vermeer created some of his most famous paintings and it’s where the famous white and blue pottery is made.

Mentally prepared for crowds we arrive at Delft central station on Sunday morning….

  1. The Central Station

Even though we came to Delft by bus we rushed to see the train station first. It’s really the best way to start the walk. Although nowadays it’s divided into an old and new part, it’s the new part that took our breath away. On the ceiling we immediately spotted panels with a massive map of Delft. It shows how the city looked in 1877. To accompany this masterpiece the columns and walls of the station contain pieces of broken Delft Blue.

  1. Museum Prinsenhof Delft

From the station we headed straight to the Prinsenhof Museum which provided us with a lot of insight into the history of Holland and quite some curious facts about the Delftware. Who would have thought it all started just as a cheaper, more accessibly replicas of Chinese porcelain?!

The building was a witness of one of the most important moments in Dutch history. It’s where King Willem of Orange was assassinated. You can still see the bullet holes in the wall. There is no way you will miss it as the whole scene is being projected on the walls…

  1. Oude Delft

Going out from the Prinsenhof Museum we came out on Oude Delft, the oldest canal in Delft. It was created in 1100 when the city itself didn’t even exist yet. Nowadays that’s where the most monumental houses are situated. Every single one of them is unique and has its own story. We walked along that canal various times and on both ways. We loved it from every perspective. Don’t forget to walk till the very end of it. Not only are there plenty of charming, little bridges to cross on it but also on each end there is quite something to see. On one side it ends next to the Royal Dutch Army Museum and on the other side with the Old Church. Both of which are spectacular.

  1. Lunch at Kek

An absolute must! Kek is the only busy spot that we saw in Delft, there was even a long queue to get a table. The waiting time went flying in this amazing interior and it was well worth it. Already in the door we realized we were in for something special. The interior is very green, full of plants, food and coziness. Everywhere we looked there was a little designed detail we loved. Some of those pieces you can buy directly in the café, others have info next to them to make sure you find the shop that sells them.

Not only our eyes got fed but also our bellies. Kek serves dishes from all over the world accompanied by homemade smoothies or great coffee. There is something for everyone and all of it is delicious!

  1. Stroll through the center

After a great meal it’s time to burn it walking through the center. Voldersgracht is possibly the most touristic part of the old town but it’s well worth a stroll. For Vermeer lovers- that’s where the Vermeer center is located. We have to admit we were not convinced enough by its content to visit.

Just around the corner there is the heart of the city, the main square with the City Hall. For those who would like a beer or more coffee… there is plenty of lively cafes, restaurants and bars over there.

If you come during the summer and it’s not raining we would recommend stopping at the Beestenmarkt Square. It’s where all the restaurants put tables outside under some trees.

  1. The Eastern Gate

It’s the only city gate still standing in Delft. It dates back to 1400. Not only is there a beautiful street leading towards it but also the Towers themselves are magnificent. I got a bit jealous that someone can call it home since it’s partially a residence, partially an art gallery.

TIP! For the best views on the Gate head to the other side of the river, where there are some benches to enjoy the sights in peace. The exact location is indicated on the map below

How to get to Delft?

Delft is just an hour away on a train from Amsterdam. You can easily check the timetables on google.

We decided to go to Delft from The Hague which was just a 15-20 min tram ride.

Where to sleep?

We really wanted to stay somewhere special and still be able to afford a living at the end of the month. We really couldn’t find a place like that in Delft so we decided to go for a hotel in The Hague. It was one of the most incredible stays we have ever had. Hotel Indigo is a brand new pearl, situated in plain center of the city. The hotel itself is worth a visit as such. It used to be an old bank and the designers embraced the idea. It’s a very modern but cosy interior with elements of an old bank. The bar in each room is in a safe, the pub in the basement is in an old vault and it features massive doors that once guarded gold and money. The past is warmly recalled on the pictures hanging on the walls. Highly recommendable stay!

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Takayama, Japan

24 hours in Takayama

Takayama is one of those magical places where time disappears and you can spend days just wandering around, hours sipping coffee and countless nights enjoying sake. Although it’s fairly touristic, going just around the corner from the main street, everyone can find a calm place for themselves. We had a few days to explore the place on a very slow pace but the main highlands are definitely doable in a day. So let’s explore Takayama in 24 hours 🙂

Escaping the crowds on the main street

The main street in Takayama tends to get busy at around 9 am with groups of tourists. We went there before to feed our eyes with wooden, traditional architecture. With all gift shops closed and no groups of Chinese tourists it was nicely calm and quiet. Not comparable to the crowds later on the day. Though we loved the other face of the streets as well, vibrant, busy with lots of arty gifts and sake tastings.

Strolling through the morning market

Splendid way to spend a morning is going to the Miyagawa morning market where people who can handle some savory treats in the morning can enjoy pickles and those who love art can enjoy some live, calligraphy artists and locally made chopsticks. Something for everyone that’s for sure.

Morning coffee with charming, old couple in their little art paradise

Walking past it we got tempted by good price for coffee and music hits from the past. As soon as we entered we got completely charmed by the old couple running this place. They were both overjoyed and enthusiastic about art & coffee. We did not only sit on the tatami floor surrounded by pottery and jewelry but we also got coffee that was just divine! Delicious and beautiful with a painted teddy bear on there. Some say that Japanese live long because they follow their ikigai, their passion and purpose in life. That just has to be true with these seniors and we couldn’t resist going back for more every day.

Hida beef for lunch

Takayama is famous for Hida beef- high quality, meat that just melts in your mouth. We enjoyed in an amazing stew from one of the food kiosks on the main street. Although the name is only available in mysterious Japanese alphabet, the location is clear on the map below.

Since it’s not a big portion and not a cheap treat, we recommend it for small eaters for lunch.

Sake tasting

Sake is an essential part of Japnese culture and Takayama reached perfection in its production. There are many sake breweries offering sake tasting for a small charge presenting quite a selection to try. Those who think sake is not for them should give it a try. There are so many dry and sweet variation that I can’t imagine someone wouldn’t find something suitable for his/hers taste buds. For porridge lovers there is even sake with rice particles still in it. For whisky lovers there are quite few smoky ones out there.

We recommend three breweries for sake tasting

Funasaka Sake Brewery

Although located in a touristic, busy street, it’s pretty calm because 99% of the people don’t realize that once you bought your sake you can chill out with it in a charming little bar behind the shop. We especially loved that they were the only ones that served their goodies in a wooden container overflowing on a little ceramic plate underneath it. It also changes the taste slightly making it more whisky-like because of the wood.

Kawashiri Sake Brewery

It’s a small, family business run throughout generations with love and devotion. They don’t speak any English but they give a very interesting leaflet explaining all the different sake they offer as well as the process.

Hirata Sake Brewery

Another small, family business with plenty of sake bottles open to viewing, touching and tasting.

Serious bowl of decadent ramen for dinner

Tiny restaurant with very few tables, chairs along the bar and small table on a tatami floor. That’s where the whole neighborhood comes together to sip their evening away with bottles of sake and delicious noodles. We absolutely loved the food and the vibe in there. And it's worth mentioning that Hida ramen is another specialty of the region.

A good night sleep in a capsula

K’s house is a charming hostel with comfy capsulas as well as private rooms and a great common area to chill out. People working there are enthusiastic, very helpful and always smiling. The hostel has an excellent kitchen with great pottery to make whatever you cook very presentable.

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Panama City, Panama

Where the modern meets the old – Panama City

Panama City is most certainly not like any other city we saw in Latin America. First of all it's really clean, we could walk around in our flip flops without having to jump between mountains of poo. There were way less homeless people lying on the streets. We didn't have to look around anxiously while running through the pedestrian crossings because the drivers were really stopping on red!! And not only a red light would stop them, every time I was taking a picture, they would stop not to destroy my shot. Panama City was definitely a whole other world compared to other cities in Latin America. Rather peaceful, cheerful people and... It was actually really pretty! We are both not particularly city people and for sure we are not in love with cities that we saw so far. But Panama City was so vibrant, colorful and organised. The old city town was charming, full of soul, hip cafes and restaurants and undisturbed by skyscrapers. It was visible that someone thought about the city before building its new part which is completely separated from the old part. They didn't think too hard though as in the middle of the modern part of the city they placed a Donald Trump tower but well ... It still has it's charm. For those who want to drive through the city but skip the narrow streets of the old there is a road that goes above the water. It's faster and it offers incredible views of the old & new.
Honestly we both thought The Canal was the least impressive of all that Panama City had to offer. It was massive but it was nothing special. Big ships passing through a big canal that's pretty much it.
Below few pictures from lovely Panama City:)