Travels

Aruba, one happy island!

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Because I will celebrate my 26th birthday this week, I´m a bit excited to write about one of my best birthdays I´ve ever had, spending it on this tiny island called Aruba. Their slogan `Aruba, one happy island´ does count for me.  For my 24th birthday, my boyfriend and I decided to go somewhere hotter than the month March could offer in The Netherlands.  Aruba is one of the Dutch islands in the Caribbean, also known as the Netherlands Antilles. The mean monthly temperature varies from 26 to 30 degrees and the island is blessed with white sands and crystalline turquoise waters.

Beneath some pictures of my favourite spots in Aruba:

 

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The Palm Beach Area

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The capital of Aruba, Oranjestad:

 

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Kite shack, California Lighthouse and the famous divi divi tree

 

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Smokey Joe’s Island Grill

 

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At the Palm Island Waterpark, where scuba diving was a nice activity to do!

 

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Paris

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La cité de l’amour et la lumière (The city of love and light) as the French call it. From Amsterdam, Paris is only a 5-hour drive. It’s an easy drive until you reach the city of Paris. Then everything becomes a blur, as the streets are large and the signs aren’t very clear, especially when your French isn’t that great. And you have to drive aggressively. We got lost many times, but even though the French are known for their arrogance and unkindness, we did get help to find the way.

We stayed in a hotel near la Défense, which was a few metrostops away from the city center. I always use the tube when in Paris, as it is conventient and walking is just too far.

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Of course, the most remarkable building in Paris is the Eiffeltower, which you can see from everywhere in the city. Even from my hotel in the suburb!

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Another favourite is the Sacre Cour. You have to travel all the way up the hill with the cable way which is cool, then climb some stairs to reach the church. The church is beautiful, how do they keep it so white? From up there, you get an amazing view of Paris. On the other side of the church, painters hang out and you can let them paint you a portrait for a small fee.

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My favorite museum in Paris is of course La Louvre. It is so massive, there’s so much to see. My favorite part is of course the crown room. I was looking for the Mona Lisa and found it hanging on a huge white wall with the painting in the middle and a herd of tourists in front of it. The painting was smaller than I imagined it would be but very beautiful. Word of advice: do not try to take a picture of it. It is utmost prohibited and they will confiscate your camera if you even hold it in your hand.

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For shopping, the Champs-Éllysée is fancy and sophisticated if you have a big wallet. Otherwise, it’s nice to stroll around and pass the Arce de Triomph. The Saint-Germain-de-Prés is also a nice place to go shopping or drink a coffee in one of the café’s. I found a nice English bookstore there. And of course, the ultimate shopping center in Paris is La Fayette.

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Batu Caves in Malaysia

Batu Cave

The Batu Caves is said to be around 400 million years old and one of the best tourist attractions to visit while being in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. About the spiritual caves:  Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader dedicated the temple to Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war, victory, wisdom and love.  The statue in the front of the caves represent the Hindu God. To enter the cave, you must walk 272 wooden steps and finally upstairs, you will have an incredible view.

When you’re inside the caves, you will notice some little monkeys. The largest cave is called the Temple of Cathedral Cave, there are Hindu shrines inside and the cave curtains are really impressing. My favorite spot in the cave is where there is a large hole in the ceiling and the daylight shines through it. This spot reminds me of so many fantasy movies but also creeps me out, when you think about how it feels being there all alone in the night.

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London, baby!

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I can never get enough of London! It is clear why they call it “City of Dreams”. The buildings, the people, the ambiance are almost addictive. I usually go there during the summer and although London is known for it’s bad weather, my visits have always been sunny.
There are plenty of ways to discover London: by metro, which is quick but expensive (multiple days-tickets are cheaper and you can use them in the bus as well); by bus, which takes a bit longer and is quite complicated, but you do get to see more; and walking, which is probably my favorite, because you can feel the ambiance and it’s a good work-out at the same time. Also, you can get lost and bump into something very nice.

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Buckingham Palace
What I like about Buckingham Palace is that it is in the middle of the city (just like the Royal Palace in Amsterdam). It’s a beautiful and elegant palace and the surroundings are well maintained (unlike the Royal Palace in Amsterdam). I like to watch the switch of guards. Word from the wise: Do not harass the guards, because you will look very stupid and really… do you like being harassed by complete strangers when you’re at work?

Hyde Park
A beautiful park, peaceful and relaxing. We had dinner in the restaurant along the water. There was a concert in the park, so it was pretty crowded, but we managed to get a good seat on the terrace with a view of the water and the swans swimming, while the sun was setting. Very romantic. But the most surprising thing of all was that the band that was playing at the concert that evening was none other than THE ROLLING STONES! What are the odds….

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Harrods
This luxurious store is my favorite in London. The beautiful interior and clothing heal my sorrow and make me happy again, even just for a while. One time I was there during the supersale (December 27th) and it was amazing. Almost everything was half the regular price. I felt like a fat kid in a candy store with a discount card. My favorite spot in Harrods is the Ice Cream Bar. An ice cream is very expensive (around 13 pounds) but massive and delicious!

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Big Apple

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The first time I was in the Big Apple was in 2001, the summer before 9/11. Imagine having a picture of the Twin Towers just months before it collapsed. Makes you wonder what if…

I never went to the top of the Twin Towers, which was too bad. So the next time I went to New York, I wanted to make sure that I would go on top of the Empire State Building. But when we got there, there was a 3-hour line.

Empire State Building

If you want to go on top of the ESB, you need to do some serious planning, because it’s a whole process. First, you have to get a ticket (2nd floor). If you are early and lucky, you might only have to wait half an hour. Then after buying your ticket ($27 for adults), you have to wait in line for the elevator to the 86th floor and from there you have to get another elevator to the 102nd floor. Then climb some stairs to go to the rooftop. It takes a while, but when you are up there the view is breathtaking! The sight of concrete city surrounded by water. You suddenly realize the giganticity of Central Park within it. The Statue of Liberty waving from out far. The view is one of a kind and definitely worth seeing. I looked down and wondered: what if I dropped a coin, the thought was terrifying. Also, I couldn’t help thinking: what if a something would crash into this building at this moment.  It horrified me to think what the people felt during 9/11; powerless. Don’t think of that when you’re up there, it’s creepy.

On our way down, we got a discount on our picture after pretending like we were poor students, which of course was kind of true.

Museums

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The Metropolitan Museum of Arts is definitely a must-see in New York City. The museum is too big to see in one day, so take a whole afternoon off if you want to visit and wear comfortable shoes. We made a small donation, so we didn’t have to pay entrance fee (just tell the lady you want to make a donation).

The Museum of Modern Arts is also nice to see, especially when you are a fan of modern arts, which I am not. But because there was no entrance fee on Wednesday afternoon, I took the opportunity to take a peek inside. MOMA has a large collection of paintings, some of the most special and valuable paintings in the world. Even for a non-modern art lover like me, it was worth the visit.

Central Park

Besides the fact that Central Park is a huge park in the middle of the concrete city, it is also funny in the way that I recognize everything in it from a movie, from Home Alone to One Fine Day to A Winter’s Tale. So when we were there, we reenacted some of these movies, which was fun, but kind of embarrassing as well. Luckily, people in New York don’t really care about what others do. There’s a lot of things to do in Central Park: sit on the grass, go sunbathing, watch people jogging or doing stuff, rent a boat from the boat house or eat at the charismatic boat house restaurant. Overall, lots to do and lots to see.

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InterContinental Doha Hotel

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It’s always hot in Qatar and one of the finest places to take a dip in the pool is at the InterContintental in Doha, Qatar.

I spent a few months in Qatar for an internship and already had accommodation and even though our condominium had a pool, visiting the InterContintal was a big plus for us. A nice place to relax in the hot Novembers in Qatar.

The private beach of the InterContinental is small but lovely. 

 

(Not a long) walk on the beach 😉

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At the poolside

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A little Paradise it is.

Singapore Marina Bay Sands

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My favourite city state in the world is of course Singapore. Soon, I will share more experiences of Singapore which I have visited very often.  For now, I would like to share some of my pictures of Marina Bay Sands. This luxurious resort is famous for it’s infinity pool and breathtaking views. There’s a little Venice river inside with gondola’s, lots of shops and nice restaurants. A must-see and a must-stay when in Singapore (even for only one night)!

 

View on top of Marina Bay Sands, at the Ku De Ta bar

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Love the city lights!

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Enjoying my coconut drink 🙂

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The infinity pool

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At Marina Square Foodcourt. I always enjoy this foodcourt, because my uncle used to have a stand for fish meals here.