You don’t necessarily need a plane to get that instant holiday feeling. Even close to home you can enjoy a few days away from the daily routine and experience a true holiday feeling. Hence why we decide to explore our very own capital, Brussels. Especially now – after the 22nd of March attacks in Zaventem – Brussels should get a boost of confidence and we want to help provide that. The world must know Brussels is more than worth it.

Granted, Brussels is primarily a business city. It doesn’t immediately categorizes itself as ‘major tourist attraction’ as do it’s big brothers (or sisters for that matter) London, Paris and Barcelona. Which doesn’t mean Brussels cannot welcome tourists and treat them to a couple of nice days. The one definitely does not exclude the other.

As real tourists behave, we stay in downtown Brussels, notably in The Dominican. A hotel that satisfies us more than well in terms of location, service and decor. This boutique hotel is just 5 minutes’ walk from the ‘Grote Markt’ (the big market square). The rooms are cozy and offer all required comfort. The slightly stiffer (stately, but very correct) service is compensated by the modern and cozy design of restaurant and bar.


The area that we appreciate most in Brussels is the area around the St. Katelijne church. On weekends you’ll find tourists and locals slurping oysters on the corner where the fish market ‘De Noordzee’ is located. With a glass of bubbles, of course. Around the square of the church you’ll find several restaurants. Ideal for lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to pick up delicious ice cream for dessert at Gaston and finish it sitting by the water.


In Brussels, you have a mandatory stop at the ‘Grote Markt’ (the big market square). Not only are you located at a historical site, but – if you have a preference for gold – you’ll for sure blink a few times at the sight of all that splendor. Since 1998 the square is also listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Still not convinced? The French writer Victor Hugo once proclaimed it the most beautiful square in the world. If Victor says it…

Around the ‘Sint Gorikshallen’- another fav spot of S&B – it buzzes with coziness. Certainly at aperitif time. Numerous cafes and lively bars open their doors (or are already open for a while, but finally getting the guests and the crowded terraces they deserve). The halls are former covered markets in the center of Brussels located at the ‘Sint-Goriksplein’. These days events and temporary exhibitions are organized in the halls.

We land on one of the terraces with a decent Gin and Tonic menu and do one of the things we like the most on vacation. With a drink and some sun on our face, watch the locals pass by. An activity that’s just about possible anywhere, doesn’t cost a cent and ensures conversation. Your subjects just pass you by.

For dinner, we let ourselves be led by our travel guide. After deliberation, we end up at Toukoul in the Kastanjeboomstraat, a stone’s throw from Sint-Katelijne square (strategically chosen for the frosty dessert afterwards). Toukoul has an Ethiopian cuisine that was a first for both of us. The interior is trendy with lots of woodwork. Service is top notch – our waitress made it a point of honor to speak Dutch, despite her obvious French accent. We appreciated that a lot. And the food…finger licking good! Literally as Ethiopian food is actually eaten by hand…Figuratively too, btw! We had a really delicious dinner in a very nice setting!




Four stolen days in May. Four days to recharge on a portion of very needed Vitamin D. Four days in a newly discovered gem. Four days in Split, Croatia! Below our top 10 things to do in and around Split!

1. Visit the famous and UNESCO protected Diocletian’s palace.
The Palace was built in the early fourth century by the Roman emperor Diocletian and developed itself throughout centuries as the heart of Split. Since 1979, it finds itself on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Today, the palace is still the center of the city, surrounded by shops, markets and restaurants. Besides the Cathedral of St. Domnius, the bell tower also belongs to the palace. A bell tower you can climb…and when reaching the top, rewards you with a beautiful view of the city for courage and self-sacrifice. We’re not entirely sure the climb is 100% safe… and people with a serious form of vertigo better think twice.🙂


2. From Split, visit the beautiful town of Sibenik.
img_2211Sibenik is the oldest town in Croatia and founded by the Croats themselves. The jewel in the city, the beautiful St. Jacob’s Cathedral, is also UNESCO listed. The Cathedral of white stone is unique. It was built without one single nail, wood, or other fixtures. We were particularly charmed by Sibenik and found one of the best places of our Croatian adventure: a nice spot in the lovely evening sun at the edge of the village, Makari club, overlooking a small marina. A second place that pleased us a lot in this village was restaurant Pelegrini…we chose the restaurant purely on appearances and nice tables outside in the sun. But were overwhelmed by the service and quality of food. Want to have lunch (or dinner), please take your time. This is definitely not a place for a quick bite. We also recommend to make a reservation, unless you can demonstrate the necessary charm to convince them you earn a spot on the terrace (as we did).


3. Climb Marjan Hill!
Marjan is a hill at the tip of the peninsula on which the Croatian city of Split is situated. The hill is covered by a dense forest of Mediterranean pine trees and is completely surrounded by the city and the Adriatic Sea. Atop the hill is a gazebo, where you have a spectacular view of the town of Split, including Diocletian’s Palace, the harbors and the sea with a number of Dalmatian islands. Remember to bring water, especially in hot temperatures! At the top, apart from the amazing sight, nothing is for sale.


4. Eat at restaurant Fife.
Climbing Marjan Hill has another advantage: following all the exercise, reward yourself with a nice lunch or dinner at Fife. We were food and drink starving after the Marjan performance…and without making too many demands and jumping on the first restaurant opportunity at the bottom of the hill, we seated ourselves on the terrace of Fife. How spoiled we got by great, honest, traditional Dalmatian food and large portions! Fife also appears to be a very popular place…where you find local writers and actors and also a large number of tourists because the restaurant is hailed in many blogs! It’s deserved, and thus also recommended to make a reservation!


5. Try some pašticada.
A beef stew dish cooked in special sauce that originated in Dalmatia. It requires a long and patient preparation. First, the meat is pierced and filled with garlic, cloves, carrots and bacon. It’s then salted and allowed to marinate overnight in vinegar. The marinated meat is then roasted and cooked with bacon, onions, parsley root, plums, tomato paste, nutmeg and water for five hours. Afterwards, the vegetables are mixed into a sauce. Pašticada is usually served with gnocchi. Very yummie indeed.

6. Search, find and chill on Bene Beach.
Finding Bene Beach proved to be a real adventure. GPS receivers that showed us all sides of Split, except Bene Beach. But the one who perseveres, wins…and wins big! Just in time for a beautiful sunset and a well-deserved glass of wine. Bene Beach may be reasonably ‘hidden’ (at least for us, we’re confident easier ways lead to it ;-)), but that’s probably what makes it the right place to be. Trust us: this really is a super spot in Split worth your effort to get there!


7. Visit Krka waterfalls.
Certainly one of the most popular attractions on the Dalmatian coast and also one of the most beautiful natural attractions in Croatia. Almost everyone who visits the park, initially visits for the waterfalls surrounding Skradinski buk. The Skradinski buk waterfall is the largest and most beautiful of all Krka waterfalls. Mapped across wooden ramps and walkways with various viewpoints, you can complete a walk that ends at the falls themselves – suddenly trading nature for a mega touristic corner including all sorts of stalls – where you can also bathe in the water! Definitely worth a visit.


8. Eat ice cream!
Croatians are obsessed with ice cream and – it must be said – they also produce delicious ice cream. In Trogir – a historic town located about 25 km outside Split – we rewarded ourselves with this delicacy. It was much appreciated! We – Shots and Bites bloggers – have our own method for rating ice cream. We rely on the taste of the vanilla ice cream. Does the vanilla flavor pass the test, you can usually be pretty sure that the other flavors are worth your consumption!


9. Take a boat and visit one of the islands of Split.
We ended up not taking a boat – partially because of laziness to sort out the boat timings (yep, it was vacation after all), partially because we wholeheartedly stand behind our own motto “you always need a reason to come back” – but in our opinion well worth it. Islands like Hvar, Brac, Vis, Solta are definitely must-do’s! We will for sure return and report on this one in the near future!🙂

10. Book a hotel outside of Split.
Visiting a city is always great. Sleeping in that same city, not a must. First, you can usually find less busy, nicer, more unique hotels outside of the bustling centre. Second, it more or less forces you to think outside the box as well as hire a car. Third, it motivates you to visit great spots elsewhere also. That’s exactly what we did and allowed us to go “off the beaten track”. We booked ‘Hotel Split’, a more or less new, architectural nice, not too big, family owned hotel located on Podstrana Beach overlooking the bay and Split. Great choice! We got a bay view room, breakfast was very nice, parking for our car, a local village to also discover next to Split, a roof terrace with pool. Very recommended indeed! 



Our 24 hours in Warsaw are finished. We trade Poland’s largest city with the 2nd largest one: Krakow! The differences are noticeable…where Warsaw is the political (and current real) capital, Krakow is certainly the cultural capital of Poland. While Warsaw was rebuilt depicting the former Warsaw, Krakow has retained its royal identity throughout centuries. This city was spared from bombings and came out of WWII intact.

We fly from Warsaw to Krakow, however, the distance can also easily be covered by train. And that has some advantages. You leave from downtown Warsaw and end in downtown Krakow.

We arrive at lunchtime in Krakow so the right moment to feed our inner souls. This time however, we have to work for our food and drinks during a Pierogi workshop. Pierogi are traditional Polish dumplings made with various fillings. You could compare them with ravioli, though they are slightly larger. Pierogi are boiled in water for a few minutes and – in our case – served with oil and fried chopped onion and no additional gravy. Krakow has a yearly Pierogi festival during which over 30,000 pieces are consumed daily. Impressive! A Pierogi meal is anything but light. But they are delicious…even the dessert we’re offered is Pierogi inspired with a sweet and fruity variant.


Stomachs (more than) filled, time to explore the city. One of the main attractions is the Wawel Royal Castle on Wawel Hill, including the Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislais ans Wenceslaus as one of the highlights. Wawel Cathedral for friends. It seems that the architect was struggling with an identity crisis, not sure what style to maintain. But history teaches us the truth. This cathedral was destroyed up to 2 times and rebuilt 3 times. Hence the potpourri of styles: Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance.


Strolling through the streets of Krakow, we discover the old town within city walls and we end up at the Main Market Square with covered halls. With 40,000m², this is one of the largest medieval market squares in Europe. The Cloth Hall – the Sikiennice or covered halls – divides the square in two. It’s a beautiful building, definitely worth walking through. Pity it only contains very touristy stalls, all selling the same tourist ‘crap’. This building deserves a better destiny than that.

In a corner of the Main Market Square, you find St Mary’s Cathedral. Built in Gothic style in the 14th century. It is certainly not a mastodon, but what makes the church (more) interesting is the “Hejnał Mariacki”. In other words, the trumpet player who plays every hour from every corner of the tower. The lament breaks rather abruptly halfway. This to commemorate history, in which the trumpet player, who warned citizens of a Mongol attack, was murdered while playing.

Those visiting Krakow, also often take the opportunity to visit the nearby former concentration camp Auschwitz. The largest destruction camp of the Second World War. Impressive, but also very emotional and confrontational. We didn’t visit the camp on this trip, however one day I’d like to visit for sure. Might be my reason for returning one day.

Perhaps a mead tasting after visiting Auschwitz could be ideal. The best means to wash away the painful and terrible history. Though I fear a lot of mead will have to pass…we kept it modest and sampled four mead versions. Mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey and water also known as honey wine. It’s a favorite drink in Poland, not entirely my cup of tea though.


Another, less depressing than Auschwitz, but very impressive excursion are the salt mines of Wieliczka – an underground complex of salt mines, equipped with artistic decorations and a real underground (and impressive) church. Weddings and other liturgies are still held here. Definitely worth a visit! The salt mines are slightly outside Krakow, a good 15 km.


Dining we did in Morskie Oko restaurant. A restaurant that could just as well be located in the mountains. Sheep skins, lots of woodwork, waitresses in traditional dress and so on. Seems like you arrive after a day of skiing instead of sightseeing in Krakow. The food is very tasty. The kitchen serves Polish dishes. We also try żurek (Sour Bread soup). Served in bread, giving it an exotic touch instantly. Not bad, not bad at all!


Stary Hotel hosts our bed for the night. A hotel to my liking. Modern and old combined, but in a stylish and successful manner. Very centrally located, near the Grote Markt. The hotel also houses a very good restaurant (hearsay). Unfortunately there is not enough time to test it.


Find out more about our 24h in Warsaw? Read all about Little Berlin aka Warsaw!







Few people, like us, think of Warsaw as a city trip destination. Therefore we’re very pleased one of us has a chance to discover this city. Albeit discovery time was limited and it turned out to be a race against time. Enough time to get a good picture of the so called Little Berlin? Yes indeed! Read and find out!

Compared to Krakow – Part 2 of the trip – Warsaw is a much larger city and labeled very often as “business city”. Warsaw – razed to the ground (literally) by the Nazis during WWII – was completely reconstructed after the war. Based on existing paintings and photographs of the Warsaw pré ‘Hitler and consorts’ era, the city was build up again brick by brick. The result is a very “clean” city, with a modern touch on the one side and a historical touch on the other side. Old and new go hand in hand.

We start our exploration with a Cold War tour through the city. And appropriately…in a retro communist Nysa 522. A funny way to discover the not so funny history of Warsaw. First stop: an old Jewish street, which used to be part of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw. The ghetto was closed off by a 3 meter high wired wall. Built to prevent any movement between the ghetto and the rest of Warsaw. The wall is – fortunately – no more. It’s a bit weird to walk through the – still reasonably intact – street, the terrible history in mind.



Also here we find a first view of the Palace of Culture and Science, a “gift” of “Uncle” Stalin. With its 188 meters height, it’s the third highest building in Poland. Once it even carried Joseph Stalin’s name. Later his name was – evidently – removed. Still, the building is an eyesore for Warsaw inhabitants. It’s thè symbol of Soviet domination of their country and many have not forgotten.


Today, the Palace houses a post office, swimming pool, museums, numerous conference rooms, a library, theaters,…but the biggest tourist attraction is the ‘Trzydziestka’, a large terrace on the 30th floor of the Palace. It offers you a spectacular 360 degree view of the city. Well worth it. Here and there inviting beach chairs welcome you to enjoy the first spring sunshine. According to ‘Warszawiaks’, it gives you the best view of Warsaw. Totally agreed! Although their opinion is mainly based on the fact that from the terrace, you can never see the Palace itself. Remember: that thorn in their eye.


Our Nysa 522 briefly crosses through Soho Factory. Thè place for hipsters, creatives and foodies. Soho Factory is located in the Praga area, on the right bank. Old factory buildings and warehouses serve as designer shops, art galleries, museums, restaurants, food and fashion markets and lofts. It exudes SOHO NY. Exactly as intended by the people behind the concept. Sadly our time here is very limited…no time to get lost in the boutiques, let alone bring out our credit cards. Or test local tips. The Neon Museum (Warsaw is known for its beautiful neon lights and brought together under one roof here), Warsaw Cut (a real barber) and resto Warszawa Wschodnia (open 24/7, housed in an old restored train station with a motto we support 100%: ‘Cooking connects People’). All absolute must-do’s!

Time for lunch! Located in an impressive mansion, Endorfina Foksal is top. High ceilings and wide corridors make the restaurant quite special. Our lunch is served in a – best described – small library. A nice beautiful separate room. The food is a combination of European and Polish cuisine served in a contemporary modern way. Yummy!

Two things make a city worthwhile. At least in my humble opinion. One: the presence of water (as in river or sea) and two: an authentic old center. Knowing that Warsaw was given a complete makeover, I’m not too sure of that. One should hope for no faint decoction or ridiculous caricature. Not in any way. True, you can certainly see that the buildings are not original. Yet the old town remains charming and interesting. Cobblestone streets, a very colorful market square, narrow alleys,…nice scene to walk around in. In the marketplace we pass Fukiera, the oldest restaurant in Warsaw. It is owned by Magdalena Gessler, the Polish Jamie Oliver / Gordon Ramsay. The authentic interior and traditional Polish cuisine have brought world stars like Naomi Campbell, Roman Polanski, the Queen of Spain,…as guests.


Our dinner is simmering elsewhere though. In the impressive Bristol Hotel. The oldest and most elegant hotel in Warsaw. It’s one of the few buildings that wasn’t bombed in WWII. The fact that Nazis stayed here during World War II, probably has something to do with it. 5* luxury and service go hand in hand in this place. Meanwhile, pretty starved after an intense day, we enjoy a delicious dinner at the Marconi restaurant. Compliments to the chef!


We also visited Krakow! Read all  about the cultural capital of Poland on Shots & Bites.






Traveling through California, soaking up so many impressions… we gathered them all in The Highlights Part I & this Part II here below! Enjoy!

Goleta, Santa Barbara

Goleta is a suburb of Santa Barbara. Goleta Slough, where the Santa Barbara Airport now sits, was a deepwater port used by Whalers in the 1800s. The name Goleta comes from the Spanish word for schooner.

Best Western South Coast Inn Goleta: I admit. This will never become my all-time favourite hotel destination…however, it did give us great value for money, a huge room, a very nice looking garden with pool and a super spot to start daytrips from around the Santa Barbara area. The breakfast was disappointing. The highway noise also…especially after our little piece of heaven in Mill Valley. Apart from the highway noise, I think I would have preferred the place next doors: The Goodland by Kimpton which totally looks like a cool surfer’s dude, all new, hip, trendy hotel. However, 3 times the price/night and of course still not without the highway noise so…Best Western it was!

Kyle’s Kitchen: for cheese burgers and salads with a cause. A special needs student at Mountain View school, Kyle, was the inspiration behind this new restaurant concept. Every time you eat at Kyle’s Kitchen you’re helping people with special needs reach their potential. That’s because each month Kyle’s Kitchen teams up with a great special needs organization in the community. In addition to donating a portion of their proceeds to the cause, Kyle’s Kitchen tries to be a place that spreads the word and helps us all connect better to those with special needs. So, a unique restaurant where you get to eat great food & help great people.

Santa Barbara 17 miles scenic drive: on your first day in Santa Barbara a good idea is to take the 17 miles scenic drive which gives you a good feel of what Santa Barbara has to offer. Stop at Mission Santa Barbara, Palm Drive, Stearns Wharf, Shoreline Park and Arroyo Burro Beach (or Hendry’s Beach) – which ended up to become our favourite beach by the way.


Chuck’s Waterfront Grill: one of the nicest spots in Santa Barbara to have lunch is at Stearns Wharf where you can overlook the entire Santa Barbara harbor and bay. Very nice view. And great food is definitely to be found at Chuck’s Waterfront Grill. We had the best burrito’s ever while soaking up the sun and a fresh fruit juice. Ahhhhh, life is good.



Outback Steakhouse: the positive side of staying at a rather large road is that it offers plenty of venues for coffee, juice, supermarkets and real American food. Like big juicy yummie steaks at Outback Steakhouse. And boy do they take their business serious: their steaks are all grain fed, USDA inspected, optimally aged and hand trimmed to deliver a steak that’s the star of their kitchen. And I have to say, it was delicious and if I could I would travel back right now to have one.

Goleta Beach Park: this park offers it all: beach, palm trees, Baywatch kinda rescue huts and rescuers, grass, BBQ spots, a great restaurant and a very long pier – 457,2 meters long to be exact. Nice spot to walk, lounge, sunbathe and eat so worth the trip for sure. Great (sea)food can be had at Beachside Bar Café. Also here the food pictures on the website speak for themselves. And we confirm, it was delicious and great to have such food with ocean and beach view.


Wheel Fun Rentals: obviously when in Santa Barbara you want to rent a cruising bike and ride alongside the coast. We did just that! Rented at Wheel Fun Rentals and drove up and down the boulevard. Bike Santa Barbara offers 8 Do It Yourself bike rides. Nice day trip!


La Paloma Goleta: not a restaurant you would normally find and pick as in front of it is a huge parking lot…however, if you crave for authentic Mexican cuisine and a tequila bar, this is the spot! I had Taquitos de Papa, yum – yum – yum.

Cachuma Lake Park: nice to visit and have a picknick is Cachuma Lake Park. The day we went it was bloody hot, 38 degrees. The park was pretty deserted, windy and dusty so we ended up staying only a short while. It’s used a lot for camping, family BBQ’s and it even has a couple of lodges that you can rent. The park surrounds Cachuma Lake, an artificial lake located in the Santa Ynez Valley, created by the construction of Bradbury Dam. Because of the long drought, the lake was only at 21% capacity when we were there. “Cachuma” comes from a Chumash village that the Spanish spelled “Aquitsumu”, from the Barbareno Chumash word aqitsu’m, meaning “sign”.


Santa Ynez: the cutest village ever. You basically feel like time stood still here as it has the look of a real western ghost cowboy village. We really only drove up and down main street and had coffee at Valley Grind coffeebar which offers coffee, gifts and more. I even scored a souvenir in this tiny little place. If you want to feel like time stood still and want to experience America at its purest, be sure to visit Santa Ynez and the Santa Ynez Valley as it for sure has a lot to offer. We also visited the small town of Solvang, a nice, calm, very Danish looking village. With windmills and all.



Pascucci: State Street is the shopping street and place to be in Santa Barbara. Plenty of restaurants, shops, coffee shops, theatres, cinemas, juice bars for everyone’s liking. If you don’t feel like having to choose, you can safely go and have Italian at Pascucci restaurant. Good Italian food. Nothing more, nothing less.

Yoghurtland: if you want to ‘make a bad day good’, don’t hesitate to stop at Yoghurtland. Boy oh boy, frozen yoghurt heaven. You find them everywhere, they are the MacDonalds of frozen yoghurt however, there is one big difference: real ingredients make the difference. They only use creamy, fresh, pure California milk without antibiotics or added hormones. Then they add the world’s finest ingredients to bring pure deliciousness to your cup for flavors that taste like the real thing. There are more flavors and toppings than you can wish for.

From Santa Barbara to Santa Monica passing Malibu: without a doubt this route is worth a day trip out of your schedule when in California. This speaks to your imagination and throws you back to the first days of American series like 90210 and Melrose Place. You pass Malibu very fast but the idea of having past it is already great. The beaches you pass with dozens of surfer dudes. The colonies of dolphins you see when early enough or lucky enough. Amazing. Ending up at Santa Monica Pier, not my all-time favourite because too many tourists, circus and neon lights but even so, you need to stop for a short while and soak it up.


Perry’s Cafe: Wanna have lunch with sand between your toes of Santa Monica Beach and with a view on Santa Monica Pier? Then check out Perry’s Café and Rentals represents “California Beach Lifestyle.”  An icon on the Santa Monica beach scene for 39 years,  Perry’s at the Beach serves delicious and healthy café food crafted from our chef’s own recipes and offers a myriad of  rentals  for the active beach-goer to include bikes, surf equipment, chairs, umbrellas, and  more. Perry’s is a Fun Day at the Beach.

Arigato: Had the most amazing sushi at this place and also the non-sushi people can eat very well. The teriyaki chicken also looked to die for. Very nice restaurant with open kitchen where you can also enjoy some kitchen action if you’re lucky enough to have a seat at the bar. No reservations so first come, first serve. A recommendation indeed located in a more quite part of State Street, Santa Barbara.

Arroyo Burro Beach: So happy we took some extra effort to find this beach as it immediately became my favourite beach of Santa Barbara. Also known as Hendry’s Beach. Not too big, not too small, nice bay, a mix of different people, families, singles, couples, laid back and the beach that granted us dolphins right in front of our noses. Gorgeous sunsets and a perfect ending with dinner at the Boathouse, right there. Had a very nice dinner there although be warned of the commercial friendly waiter who stops being friendly if you just order a glass of wine and not a bottle and a main course instead of three courses. Don’t let that one ruin the amazing part of the world you’re at on that very moment.



Solvang: Miss Europe a bit while in California? Hard to imagine however, of you want to get back in touch with European lifestyle, then for sure visit the city of Solvang – called the Danish capital of America. Really, feels like Denmark all over. A bit weird of course and very touristy but gives you a nice trip to the Valley of Santa Ynez.

Read all about the first highlights of California here!



I left my heart in San Francisco. However, as a result of these last 12 days in California, I moved it up slightly…20 minutes north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate, to Mill Valley.

What a hidden gem that is. In all these years traveling to San Francisco, nobody ever told me about this little perfect place.

Upon arrival we find ourselves (one of us and her significant other)  in fairy woods where in between the forest, quite some nice wooden houses are blended into the trees, as if they have arisen from within the forest itself.

We went for a first Airbnb experience and ended up renting a private hide-away studio on Mount Tamalpais in Mill Valley from the owners Greg and Barbara who live in the upper house. The private studio in the lowest level of the house is rented out to visitors and the perfect spot for winding down from work, enjoying perfect nature close to the city of San Francisco, relaxing and having a great holiday amongst the locals, living the Californian dream.

That’s exactly what this trip is all about. Arriving Saturday noon in San Francisco, picking up a rental car and driving across the Golden Gate bridge, staying in Mill Valley until Thursday and onwards to Goleta, 10 minutes north of Santa Barbara for another seven days and day tripping away from these two Californian treasures.

Let’s walk you through the highlights of our twelve days living the Californian dream!

Mill Valley, San Francisco

Mill Valley is a city in Marin County, California, United States, located about 14 miles (23 km) north of San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, on the western and northern shores of Richardson Bay, and the eastern slopes of Mount Tamalpais.

Avatars Punjabi Burrito: we all know Mexican burritos but have you ever tried a Punjabi Burrito which is basically the Indian version of the burrito? For us it was definitely a first and we enjoyed it to the very last bite. You can find them in Mill Valley at 15 Madrona Street. Don’t expect to find a fancy restaurant, it’s basically an open kitchen and counter, 3 tiny tables inside and 3 outside and that’s it. So if you’re in for a quick, uncomplicated, healthy, fast bite at location or you fancy a totally different take-away, this is the place! I was surprised to find out they are part of a chain: Avatars, purveyors of ethnic confusions, since 1989 in Sausalito, Larkspur, Fairfax and Mill Valley.

Equator Coffees and Teas: nice to find a different coffee shop in Mill Valley than the typical Starbucks of which the Bay Area supposedly counts 540. Yes, there is also a Peet’s Coffee. But we had our eyes on Equator Coffees and Teas on the corner of Throckmorton and Miller Avenue in downtown Mill Valley. Founded by business partners Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell who in 1995 began roasting coffee in a Marin County garage which marked the beginning of their journey to build a high impact coffee company focused on quality, sustainability and social responsibility.  Read their full story here.

Muir BeachStinson Beach – Golden Gate Viewpoint – Sausalito: a great combo of venues to experience on a clear blue Indian summer kind of day.


Muir beach is tiny, cute, perfect, in the middle of a nature protected area and on the right sight protected by a hill  covered by a couple of houses. Oh boy perfect place to own a house…! Further up the 101 the next beach you pass is Stinson beach. Much wider and longer than Muir beach but still manageable size wise. A couple of houses right on the beach and accessible through the small town of Stinson where you have a couple of shops and some good places to eat, outdoors preferably. Our favourite over there is Breakers!


If you want to experience uncomplicated and not too fancy Californian beach life, there are also a couple of B&B’s and small motel/hotel kind of accommodations. Driving back along the same coastal 101 that you came on is actually not a punishment as the view is the same but also spectacularly different as you’re driving in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Don’t miss the Golden Gate viewpoints and stop for sure. You’ll feel you’re on a special place on earth as you gaze out at the ocean, the bridge and the city – no one can deny that!


End you’re day by driving to the other side of the bridge where you will find the picturesque town of Sausalito. Perfect to wonder along on the waterfront boulevard and for some eating, drinking and shopping. Great outdoor view you get at The Trident where you can sit by the water and gaze out at the San Francisco skyline. Life is good!


Tiburon: tiny little town where you can catch the San Francisco ferry to the Ferry Building or Pier 39. Prior to that have crab cakes at Sam’s Café or any other delicious dish as you cannot go wrong here! They have the best outdoor spot in Tiburon!


Autodesk Gallery: not a museum fan but still want to learn something new in between all the site seeing, eating, drinking, shopping, enjoying? Then for sure visit the Autodesk Gallery at 1 Market Street where one of us used to work for 14 years, be it in Europe and visiting frequently the San Francisco headquarters. The Gallery features design work of interesting clients made with Autodesk design software. Imagine Design Create is their tagline.

Lori’s Diner: when you’ve walked all the way up from the Ferry Building on Market Street to Union Square, you for sure deserved a big American lunch at Lori’s Diner. Emerge yourself in the fifties. This is Grease all over and will not disappoint if you fancy yum American diner’s food. From pancakes to hamburgers, chicken with mash to Sunday milkshakes. Eat your heart out!


Westfield: is the shopping mall if you’re in for shop till you drop! All the brands you need in one place. Rest areas with Wi-Fi. Food courts to ensure you don’t need to leave or waste too much time feeding and drinking. And at the end of it a movie theatre if you want to go all the way. You can for sure leave happy and satisfied from this place.

Napa Valley: when in San Francisco you definitely want to allocate one day to wine tasting. Sonoma is a nice option but if you’re in for the real deal you go for Napa Valley. The city centre of Napa itself is nice to walk through but nothing too special. You however do want to stop there if you’re looking for expert advice on the route and choice between over 400 wineries spread across the Valley. In the Napa Valley Welcome Center you will find that and more. Suggestions but also tips on where you can score wine tasting deals like ‘two for one’ or which wineries also offer food to compensate for the wine. It’s worth a stop before you dive into the vineyards!


Oxbow Public Market: if you want to ensure a good stomach layer before you start the wine tasting, for sure stop at the Oxbow Public Market which is basically a huge covered market hall with lots of different food and drink boutiques. From vegetables to muffins to star Italian food. Plenty of options to choose from and also just nice to watch, smell and taste!

Winery V. Sattui: 400+ wineries so which one(s) do you go for when only one day in Napa…difficult choice. And as we are no wine experts, we go for one of the tips of the nice lady at the Napa Valley Welcome Center. This winery has a 2 for 1 deal, also offers a delicious food market apart from of course, wine tasting. And a hit it was! We tasted some delicious wines, had a nice rest and bite in the winery garden and went home with a gorgeous V. Sattui’s 130th Anniversary collector’s bottling of Madeira. A Solera-made, wood-aged wine, fortified with brandy. Over 120 years old, one of the oldest in the U.S. The wine is sweet and luscious with flavours of almonds, caramel, toffee and orange zest. It shares similar characteristics with a 20-year-old Tawny Port. Bring one home for holiday after thoughts.


Boo Koo Asian Food: definitely a spot to eat in Mill Valley. You might be confused by the outside so for sure stick your nose inside the door as otherwise you could just pass it. Boo Koo serves Southeast Asian street food with a California twist: fresh, healthy, and flavourful dishes that are both fast and affordable.
Everything’s made on the spot (no preservatives or MSG), and the meats and produce are sourced locally. The basic menu is vegan, customizable with high-quality proteins, from wild salmon and free-range chicken to natural pork and grass-fed beef.


San Francisco city highlights: of course I would recommend to walk San Francisco as much as possible. However, if your trip is not endless and you have a lot of other plans on the agenda outside of San Francisco, like Santa Barbara, then you can keep it short and sweet by driving to some of the must see spots. You’ll feel like you have covered most of what you needed to see in a convenient, easy and fast way. Our city daytrip by car this time, went from Golden Gate towards Lombard Street where you can admire the famous steep street with 8 hairpin turns. You can also drive it down if you dare. Next stop takes us to Alamo Square and the painted ladies. Then off to Twin Peaks where you have the most amazing view over the city from the back looking out to the bay. From there it’s a short drive towards Ocean Beach where you can enjoy ocean breeze and views. Time for lunch at the Cliff House. On the route back to the other side of the Golden Gate you can stop at China Beach, Baker Beach and Sausalito. Great one day trip if you ask me!



Piazza D’Angelo: in the centre of Mill Valley, you find this superb Italian restaurant where you can have the real Italian food. Really delicious and enjoyable space to have lunch or dinner. The pictures featured on the website speak for themselves if you ask me.

Gilroy Premium Outlets: ok, this does not satisfy the culturally or delicious food hungry people amongst us but it does more than do for the shopaholics. Why shop at a 100% price if you can also around the clock shop at very interesting discounts? That’s really what you think when you cruise the shops around here. Who are we kidding when shopping in downtown San Francisco shopping heaven? Ourselves, as you can find the same and more at one of the out of town outlet centres and save plenty of bucks. We stopped on our way to Santa Barbara and had lunch at Applebee’s, like real tourists do😉 In a way this is also local culture.


Want to know all about part II of our trip! Follow the link!




Without a doubt Berlin has many faces! Since the wall collapsed, Berlin has definitely become one of the most creative and cultural places in Europe (maybe even worldwide). Known and famous for its wild rave parties and typical underground scene. The German capital oozes history. And even though the tales are not always best, they for sure are interesting and diverse. Although quite alternative, Berlin also has a trendy and cool side with many hip hotspots. This combo is what makes Berlin a must-do destination!

Driving through Berlin you always wonder whether you’re on the west or east side. At times it’s pretty obvious by the typical Eastern style of the buildings. The wall, or what’s left of it, circles through the city.

Discovering the real artistic Berlin is best done with an introduction into the world of graffiti and street art. Late 70’s was the start of the graffiti scene and after the city was reunited, street art became popular pretty fast in the former East Berlin. No Berlin without graffiti. It offers in fact one big canvas for graffiti artists. Want to discover the best spots for it? The graffiti tour and workshop will guide you. And soon you realise rather than being a spray can game for youngsters, it’s actually a true urban art-form.


The tour guarantees you enough inspiration to get spraying in a desolated factory. Guided by real artists, protected with a white plastic layer and armed with the required amount of spray cans, you’re off to produce your own graffiti piece of art. Believe it or not, the result was there. For sure a recommendation!


Performing art gets you hungry…and what better than the one and only Berlin curry sausage to get rid of that? According to insiders, Curry 36 offers the best in town. Proven by the long waiting line. Yummie snack or lunch to keep you going. Open almost 24/24. So also the perfect late night or early morning snack after clubbing.


Time for some serious city-tripping. We dive into Jewish history and the accompanied museum. Visiting Berlin without touching this topic is practically impossible. Knowing musea are typically not our natural habitat, a great guide did make the visit more than worthwhile.  We end our Jewish history bath with a visit to the impressive Holocaust memorial (or Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe). The 2.711 concrete pillars, all different in height, make it very special and memorable.

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Dinner time! We spoil ourselves at restaurant SUPER. Truly a concept store, Supermaket, which offers design and interior decorating articles. And on top a long bar and gorgeous restaurant. On the menu mainly small items to share. With appropriate funky names as this is funky great! Some weekends visited by DJ’s who turn SUPER into a serious club.