The past months I’ve been spending a lot of my weekends in my hometown, Mechelen. The city has changed quite dramatically since I lived there 1o years ago - building projects reshaped the city, young entrepreneurs opened up cool shops & eateries and projects like the Contour biennale for video art or the new museum Kazerne Dossin brought a steady flow of tourists to the city. 

One of my favourite places in town is Gamine, a breakfast and lunch bar on one of the beautiful squares in the city center. Debby worked as a copywriter for years, but decided to follow her childhood dream of opening up her own bistro. Homemade specials like - my favourite - avocado toast with prawns, seasonal salads and the delicious breakfast menu of pancakes, overnight oats and a superfood bowl with fruits and yoghurt will have you spoilt for choice. Catching up with friends and having a big cup of coffee from micro roastery OR coffee with a slice of cheesecake is my favourite way to spend a Saturday afternoon in town. The Gamine menu changes every week, so make sure to visit this gem of a lunch café often. You might find me sitting at a table next to you...

Korenmarkt 6, 2800 Mechelen
*update 2017: sadly Gamine has closed it's doors

August Mallorca


Last week I returned from my summer holiday on the island of Mallorca. It's the second year in a row I end up there, and I'm sure I'll visit this beautiful Balearic island again.
This time round I discovered a really cool tapas bar (more on that soon) and a pop-up shop with an amazing selection of Spanish designer items: August. The name says it all - August opened in the heart of Palma just for the summer months. The clever people from Better, a pop-up agency from Madrid, opened their summer house in an old town house of 600 m2 with a sequence of bright spaces and intimate corners where you could discover the men's and women's fashion, accessories, cosmetics, books, art, ceramics and gourmet food. 
I bought a gorgeous pair of sunglasses from Mr Boho, a couple of funny fish purses from Don Fisher and a delicate ring from Ouibyou. Curious where August pops up next? Check the Better Facebook page.

La flâneuse in... Barcelona


Best thing about the past month? Spending a couple of sunny days in Barcelona to celebrate my birthday. My last visit to BCN was 10 years or so ago and I couldn't wait to go back to  the vibrant Spanish city that made a lasting impression on me...
My birthday bash in Barcelona turned out pretty perfect - a superb mix of shopping, eating good food, relaxing and having a laugh. Here are my top tips for your stay:

Discover/ On my last visit to the city I checked out all the touristic highlights - Gaudi's  architectural marvels, the old city centre with its winding streets and the hip area of El RavalThis time round I wanted to spent some time in the area around Barceloneta beach.   The spectacular W hotel is a beacon in the area - standing proud among the beach bars at it's feet. Relax and enjoy the sunshine at Pez Vela or hang out in the Wet bar of the W hotel.  Feeling sporty?Rent a bike and spin along the seaside promenade. 

Drink/A strong cup of coffee at the Federal Café, cocktails and tapas on the terrace of Bar Lobo, chocolate milk at Cacao Sampaka or indulge in some sweet and traditional 'crema catalana' in old-school milk bar Granja M. Viader.  

Eat/ I love burgers and fries, so for my birthday dinner we went to Oval in the Eixample area. At this cool burger bar you can pick your choice of bun, meat, garments and dressing on an ordering sheet. Best Birthday Burger Ever! And I also really enjoyed their G&T cocktail infused with roses... Another nice restaurant is Garriga - this charming eatery serves delicious home cooking, nice wines and delicatessen in a romantic atmosphere. Looking for a quick bite? Check out one of my favourite places: the Woki Organic Market. In this organic restaurant and supermarket you can eat 100% bio. Pasta, burgers, woks, salads and even breakfast - all can be ordered as take away or eaten at the spot. Woki has restaurants all over town, so there's sure to be one near you...

Buy/ Perfect donuts, macarons and chocolates at Chök and cute kids wear at Tiny Cottons. Spoil yourself with beautiful clothes and delicate jewelry from Le Fortune.

Stay/ Ever since I saw some pictures of the big terrace and airy rooms of the Praktik Rambla, this hotel near the Passeig de Gracia was top of my list. The hotel has the perfect location, boasts beautiful rooms full of detail (loved the green tiling in the bathroom!) and has a sunny patio at the back with lounge chairs and wicker sofas to relax after a day in the bustling city. On my next visit to Barcelona I'll definitely stay in one of the Praktik hotels again - perhaps the Praktik Garden hotel? Or maybe I'll give brand new hotel Brummell a try? Can't wait to go back...

Als ik mijn ogen toedoe, ben ik in Honoloeloe


There's a new hotspot in Mechelen with the most exotic - and long - name I ever came across: 'Als ik mijn ogen toedoe, ben ik in Honoloeloe' (If I close my eyes, I'm in Honolulu). This homely lunch & beer bar in the city centre serves tasty lunch dishes - do try their homemade pastrami on rye bread - delicious cakes from Antwerp based BAKED, an extensive selection of specialty beers, and tapas for cocktail hour.
The cool interior was designed by Atelier Belge and features a 'living room' on the first floor with a cosy seating area, a communal table, a beautifully designed bar in dark wood and tables-for-two with bar stools.
If you'd like to try something different for lunch, head over to Honoloeloe!

Als ik mijn ogen toedoe, ben ik in Honoloeloe - Grote Markt 11 - Mechelen

La flâneuse in... London


Last month I spent three beautiful days in London with a friend. The sun was shining and the city was bustling - time went by too quickly. Can't wait to go back...

Discover/ Up-and-coming Shoreditch is my favourite neighbourhood. Start the day with a coffee and croissant at Fix Coffee. Check out the shops at pop-up mall Boxpark. Have lunch at Albion. Try on the beautiful clothing at The Goodhood Store. Take home some timeless, functional products for home, kitchen and garden from Labour and Wait.

Drink/ A perfect cup of coffee at Soho Grind or Shoreditch Grind. The cute baristas make a mean cup of coffee from their house blend. The Soho branch has a cool basement where they serve cocktails at night - the Espresso Martini is pretty good. 

Visit/ The Victoria and Albert Museum. It was my first visit to the V&A and I was impressed. The exhibitions were well-presented, the gift shops had a nice variety of items and the free tours make it possible to discover every nook and cranny of the vast museum.

Eat/ The best burgers and fries at Byron Burger - I went to the restaurant in Fulham, but you can find their hamburger joints all over town. Another favourite is Comptoir Libanais. Eating on the go? Visit Borough Market and buy something tasty at one of the food trucks. Didn't get there this time, but Ottolenghi and Wahaca are on the list for my next visit - I get rave reviews from friends.

Buy/ Beautiful artbooks and fashion magazines at Artwords Bookshop. I bought the biography of Vivienne Westwood and a copy of So It Goes magazine. The big department stores (my favourites are Liberty and Selfridges) are good hunting ground for unique gifts, beauty products and - this time of the year - Christmas knick knacks.

Stay/ This time round I stayed at a friend's place, but for my next visit I want to book a room at the ACE hotel in Shoreditch. The boutique hotel has beautiful rooms, a juice bar and a modernist brasserie. One can happily stay in the building for days...

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