EXPLORED_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon

Explored_ Santa Clara 1728 in Lisbon - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

It’s early in the afternoon when I cross Campo Clara, a square which is home to the famous flee market Feira da Ladra twice a week.  When I lived in Lisbon a few years ago, I spent many hours wandering this market, looking for second hand treasures, but today I have a different goal.  I’m heading to Santa Clara 1728, a hotel hidden in an old convent on the often busy plaza.  Once I step foot inside the majestic entrance hall, the lively city couldn’t seem further away though.  

Santa Clara 1728 - Campo de Santa Clara 128, 1100-473 Lisbon - website - facebook - instagram 

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EXPLORED_ The Bunkers in Knokke-Heist

B&B The Bunkers Knokke-Heist - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

When driving through the polders in Knokke-Heist, it’s Jonas Van Put’s Observer emerging above the horizon that confirms we’ve almost reached our destination.  Amidst the meadows, sprinkled with bunker ruins dating back to 1785 and the occasional flock of sheep or herd of cows, The Bunkers has found its place in a former barn that has been beautifully renovated by architects Govaerts and Vanhoutte.  While this historical site’s architecture is remarkable, the true protagonist of the experience is the wide view over the luscious green polders, only occasionally disturbed by a few trees or bunker ruins, one of which is now serving as a sheep stable.  Upon our arrival, it’s immediately clear: partner in crime Lies and I have sucessfully managed to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and our daily lives.

The Bunkers - Burkeldijk 18, 8300 Knokke-Heist - website - facebook - instagram - twitter

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EXPLORED_ Casa C’Alma in Lisbon

It doesn’t take much for me to feel at home in the city of Lisbon (I studied in the Portugese capital for five months and have visited countless times since), but Casa C’Alma feels exactly as the calm home that this guest house‘s name suggests.  Scandinavia meets Portugal in the mix of hardwood floors, white walls, an occasional dash of color, carefully chosen furniture, luscious plants, excellent selection of reading material and delicious Portuguese breakfast.  The cherry on the cake in this spacious apartment is a dreamy light blue kitchen, making it hard not to fall in love with this boutique bed and breakfast that feels like a breath of fresh air.  Yes, whether you want to retreat into the privacy of one of their serene bedrooms or enjoy the spacious common living room while chatting with your fellow guests, stepping into Casa C’Alma will always feel like a breath of fresh air.   Its location couldn’t be better either, with Copenhagen Coffee Lab (perfect if you’d like to stick with the Nordic atmosphere), bakery Tease and the shops of Principe Real only a few minutes away, making it an excellent starting point to explore the city.   For a good night’s sleep in the city center of Lisbon and a dose of Scandinavian interior inspiration, this is exactly where you want to be.

Casa C'Alma - Praça das Flores, 48 1° Floor,  1200-192 Lisbon - website - facebook - instagram - booking

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EXPLORED_ kind of OJ

EXPLORED_ Kind of OJ, a bed & breakfast in Bruges

When walking through the Guido Gezellelaan in Bruges, number 36 might not seem that different from its neighbors. Only a subtle sign – Kind of OJ – on the front door alerts you that something might be going on here. However, first looks can be deceiving. Once the front door of Kind of OJ opens, it’s instantly clear: this is nothing like your typical hotel in Bruges. The majestic hallway, where statues of half naked punks by Rotterdam design label Nightshop greet you, gives you just a first impression of all the wonders that are waiting here for you. Welcome to Kind of OJ: part bed and breakfast, part gallery, part showroom, and all kinds of surprising.

kind of OJ - Guido Gezellelaan 36, 8000 Brugge - website - facebook - instagram - pinterest - booking

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EXPLORED_ Oasis Backpackers Mansion in Lisbon

oasis backpackers hostel lisbon - via au pays des merveilles-1

It’s been almost a week since I’ve returned from my summer holidays (in a nutshell: 4 days in beautiful Portugal with the family, 2 days in wonderful Lisbon visiting old friends, 1 day in surprising Leipzig with the girls, 3 days on the amazing Melt Festival with my friends and 4 days chilling out in Berlin with one friend) and I’m still adjusting to normal life.  So many bags to unpack, so much laundry to do, so many photos to edit, so many impressions to process and so many blog posts to write!  On top of that, I’m starting my new job at a young architecture firm next Monday (yay!), so I might need some time to adjust to that too.

Anyway, when I was in Lisbon I stayed at the amazing Oasis Backpackers Mansion, for old time’s sake.  This is where I stayed for a week and a half during my apartment search in 2012 and the place that immediately made me feel at home in this new city.  It’s where I made my first friends (both hostel staff and guests, who were also moving to Lisbon or just visiting and decided to stay because they loved the city so much) when I moved here and where I still keep coming back.   I’ve already mentioned this hostel in my Lisbon city guide, but I felt that it still needed a proper introduction, so take a look after the break for more photos and information!

Oasis Backpackers Mansion, Rua Santa Catarina 24, 1200-402 Lisbon - website - bookings - facebook - instagram - twitter

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