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A Visual Hotel Story: Hamsa Hotel

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Hamsa hotel is a stunning triplex apartment situated in the historic heart of Antwerp. Last month we were lucky enough to book in as the first official guests via airbnb and had an absolutely dreamy stay. This bright space was spread over three floors and had the most charming kitchen I think I’ve ever seen. I snapped a few photos to share with you and hopefully inspire some weekend wanderlust…
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Morning runs to nearby bakery, Goossens, is essential for your flemish sweet fix! Try their special Van Dijck bread which is only available on Fridays.

Morning runs to nearby bakery, Goossens, is essential for your flemish sweet fix! Try their special Van Dijck bread which is only available on Fridays.


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For inquiries or to book your stay contact lovely owner Lies Vangeel here:

Triplex apt in the heart of Antwerp in Antwerpen

Apartment in Antwerpen, Belgium. The Hamsa is an old town house in the fashion district of Antwerp. It has all the original features an old house should have, but has been renovated very recently. The high and charming hallway connects all the different rooms and mezzanines. Wind… View all listings in Antwerpen

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Let’s Go To La Loire!

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Dreaming of a fairytale valley filled with castles, quaint country cottages and french cuisine? I was too, so after the holidays we packed our bags along with our dog and headed to Le val de la Loire. While famous for its stunning collection of castles, we opted to stay in a former mill that dates to the 19th century, called Le Moulin Bregeon. American artist and aesthetic warrior Jonathan Robinson purchased the mill almost 20 years ago and has painstakingly restored and re-imagined it as a luxury bed & breakfast in the heart of the Loire. Days at the mill always started with letting the hens, geese and turkeys out of their pen for their morning constitutional and dip in the nearby stream. After lots of squawking and gobbling from both the turkeys and geese, mostly due to their indignation at our 15 pound boston terrier suddenly thinking he was a herd dog, we would proceed to hunt for eggs to be used in our country breakfast. Evenings began with a selection of local cheeses and wine from the vineyards of neighboring Chinon. Dinners were prepared by Jonathan himself and often with ingredients he’d pick from the mill’s very own gardens. This was life at the mill and it was pure magic. Jonathan has created a mostly self-sustaining world where quiet moments are to be savored and all thoughts turn towards nature and her bounty.
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Mornings at the mill always began with letting the animals out of their pen.

Mornings at the mill always began with letting the animals out of their pen.


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Enchanting doorways in the village of Linieres-Bouton just down the road from the Moulin.

Enchanting doorways in the village of Linieres-Bouton just down the road from the Moulin.


Figaro, the friendly chocolate labrador who was born and raised at the mill would often accompany us on walks around the property.

Figaro, the friendly chocolate labrador who was born and raised at the mill would often accompany us on walks around the property.


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The frosty days of December didn’t lend themselves to long country walks in the afternoons so instead we’d sit indoors by the crackling fire and read while listening to 1960s french chanteuse Françoise Hardy. The countless charming villages and regal châteaus nearby did manage to lure us away from our romantic life at the mill on one or two occasions. Château de Chenonceau, a mere hours drive from the mill, was the very vision of a fairytale castle I had always dreamt of exploring. The castle’s most striking feature is its arched bridge that dramatically spans the river Cher. It was commissioned by its then inhabitant Diane de Poitiers in the year 1555. The castle was also the sight of France’s first ever fireworks display which was commissioned by another famous resident Catherine de Medici. Our favorite rooms to wander through were the kitchens which were housed in the lowest portion of the castle. Stone rooms flooded with afternoon light made all those gleaming copper pots and pans glitter. Another added bonus of visiting Chenonceau during this period of winter are the blazing fires burning in all of the late Gothic style fireplaces. Temperatures had dipped on the day we toured the castle so visitors were grateful for their warm glow.
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I hope you enjoyed this little peek into the Loire and the beautiful sanctuary known as Le Moulin Bregeon. Jonathan and his team have truly created a special place that will leave you longing for a french country mill of your very own. We are excited to return to this part of France when the days are longer and warmer and all those sleeping fields surrounding the mill have sprung back into a jungle of giant sunflowers… Countryside brocantes should be in full swing by summer as well!

Dreamy countryside cottages with views!

Dreamy countryside cottages with views!

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A Weekend In Istanbul

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Known to the ancient Greeks as Byzantion and later renamed Constantinople under the Roman Empire, Istanbul beckons visitors with its storied past and exciting juxtaposition of Eastern and Western culture. Today this beauty by the Bosphorus is still filled with rewarding travel treasures from gazing into the glittery golden mosaics of the Hagia Sophia to surrendering to an invigorating scrub at a beautifully restored 16th century hamam. I spent a short and somewhat wet weekend back in June discovering some of the delights that Turkey’s cultural capital had to offer and created a photo story of some of the best moments along with a few dreamy addresses for good measure…
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There are many turkish baths in the city to choose from but we opted to get our scrub on at the newly restored 16th century hamam, Kilic Ali Pasa. Built beside a beautiful mosque of the same name in Tophane, the hamam offers separate times for men and women which I inadvertently found out after barging in to make my appointment during their women only hours. I was quickly strong-armed out by two sturdy turkish spa attendants and after much blushing on my part saw the clearly marked sign on the front door. The best bit of our experience was most certainly sipping apple-tea post-scrub while relaxing under a beautiful dome designed by architect Mimar Sinan.
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For a truly dreamy breakfast head to CUMA in Beyoglu in the heart of the antique shopping district. I took shelter from two rainy mornings here feasting on their scrambled eggs with feta and home-made bread while lazily flipping through their collection of international design magazines. Bonus points for their wonderful collection of freshly baked cakes and crumbles and their beautiful mint tea.
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Dine on lovely seasonal fare from vegetarian friendly GRAM for lunch in Pera. Chef Didem Signol cites both Tartine Bakery of San Francisco fame and Chez Pannisse of Berkeley as inspiration. Salads were bright and earthy and I couldn’t resist a piece of almond and pear pudding for dessert.
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Don’t forget to refuel while taking in the sights of Istanbul with a snack from one of the many charmingly striped simit stalls accompanied by a fresh pomegranate juice to wash it all down!
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Get blinded by the glittering gold of the Byzantine mosaics housed inside the Hagia Sophia, some of which date back to the 11th century.
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Grab a coffee post mosaic-marveling back over in Beyoglu at Holy Coffee to sustain you for all that market shopping at the Grand Bazaar. I wrestled with setting foot inside the bazaar since I was told it would be just a nightmare of tourists and cheap souvenir shops. I gave in on our last afternoon and was rewarded by unearthing a glorious kilim at one of the many carpet shops inside the bazaar. Happy hunting!
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Istanbul is a vibrant and ever-changing city with many travel secrets yet to be found. I personally promise to indulge in more mounds of decadent turkish delight while sipping apple tea along the Bosphorus on my next visit, meet me there?
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Kolonel Koffie, Antwerp

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Just next to the river Scheldt lies one of the loveliest little coffee spots in all of Antwerp, Kolonel Koffie. Housed in a former cigar shop, the two-level cafe is an airy light-filled space that still retains its historically flemish brick facade. The location is ideal for those touring Antwerp’s historic center or for fashionistas who might need a quick coffee fix after visiting the nearby MOMU.
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Owner Kobe van Gaveren sources beans from local microroastery NORMO and offers occasional guest coffee from such further afield favorites like Copenhagen’s “The Coffee Collective”. Delicious homemade muffins such as the frangipane/apricot and speculoos make for a perfect pairing with one of Kobe’s flawless flat whites. Charming interiors, friendly service plus good coffee made by a skilled barista certainly add up to Kolonel Koffie being one of the most alluring addresses in Antwerp.
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Address: Grote Pieter Potstraat 38, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium

Open Tue.-Fri.: 10.00h-18.00h, Sat.-Sun.: 11.00h-18.00h

*Complimentary Wifi

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Café Kitsuné, Paris

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Paris based fashion label, Maison Kitsuné, unveiled it’s light-filled espresso bar back in January making it the second cafe after their Tokyo location. The quaint space takes up residence in a former fabric showroom along the Galerie de Montpensier in one of the loveliest gardens of Paris, Jardin du Palais Royal.
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The space was designed to fuse old with new and has retained its original moldings and hardwood floors which are contrasted with a beautiful slab of Italian marble used for the bar where a shiny new La Marzocco coffee machine now resides.
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Workshop Coffee of London has created a special blend for Kitsuné which pairs nicely with their selection of cakes and cookies on offer from noglu , a gluten free epicerie in the neighborhood.
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Although the cafe currently serves up standing room only coffee and cake there is talk of terrace seating come summer time. With views of the intimate garden courtyard it’s sure to be a dreamy cup of Parisian coffee indeed.
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Café Kitsuné, 51 Galerie de Montpensier, 75001 Paris.

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Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters, Amsterdam

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lotsixtyoneSometimes we must suffer through bad coffee while searching for the sublime. This is what happened to me last week in old Amsterdam. I had relied on the advice of a local friend of mine who admitted he wasn’t the best source for coffee in town which of course led to a couple of very disappointing brews.  I decided to do a bit of my own leg-work which led me onto Kinkerstraat in the Oud-West neighborhood of the city and into the warm and intoxicating interiors of Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters.  On the day of my visit the city had been cast into a deluge of rain and strong winds all morning and I had nearly been blown into various canals on my trek over from the 9 streets district. Thankfully the moment I entered the cafe I knew it had all been worth it. The aroma inside Lot Sixty One was a heady mix of both freshly roasted coffee and chocolate chip cookies. I ordered a Flat white and said cookie and happily took up residence for the next hour or so. The barista expertly pulled shots from the beautifully designed Kees van der Westen Spirit Triplette and their shiny new Probat roaster downstairs looked very impressive. It was wonderful to find a spot in Amsterdam roasting their own beans with such a delicious finish.  I must also note that the chocolate chip cookies on offer were quite exceptional and delivered the perfect balance of salty & sweet that I love in my coffee sidekicks.  I do wish I had discovered the joys of Lot Sixty One sooner on my trip but I’ve added it to the long list of reasons to return to the canal encrusted streets of Amsterdam posthaste!

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Follow this link to a proper coffee in Amsterdam:Lot Sixty One

Kinkerstraat 112

1053 ED AMSTERDAM

Mon-Friday 08:00-17:00

Saturday 09:00-17:00

Sunday 10:00-17:00

*Opening image was borrowed from Lot Sixty One’s website.