The Algarve is a beautiful region in the South of Portugal. It’s mostly known for its small beaches with rock formations and caves. Because of these many cliffs it has stunning views almost everywhere in the region. That’s why so many tourists like to visit The Algarve. While most people only visit Faro and Albufeira, this region has so much more to offer. I do recommend to rent a car, it’s so much easier to get to the small beaches and villages. We stayed in Portimão, and visited a lot of places nearby. But here is my personal to do list:
As I mentioned, The Algarve is mostly known for its beaches. They’re very popular among surfers. Some are called the most beautiful beaches in Europe. The ones I highly recommend are Praia Dona Anna (near Lagos), Praia Da Marinha (Benagil, this one had some wild waves), Praia da Falesia (near Albufeira).
2. Ponte Da Piedade
The most impressive cliffs are at Ponte De Piedade, near Lagos. The best view is from down in the water. You can take a boat trip or be more sportive and take a kayak tour. We did the kaya tour and saw the most stunning caves. You can also admire these cliffs from above. We were there at sunset and it was absolutely stunning! Just know that Portugal is a bit windy, so bring a jacket
Lagos is a small city near the beach with an old port. For centuries it was ruled by the Moors, who left a lasting impression on the region. If you walk around in the city, you’ll find many small shops, cozy restaurants and beautiful architecture. If you have some time for some shopping, make sure to check out all the articles they made out of cork (bags, purses, magnets…). There is a preserved old defensive wall, which you can climb and have a stunning panoramic view over the city. Not too far from the city is this wonderful beach “Praia Dona Ana”, from here you’ll have this wonderful view over Ponte Da Piedade. If you’re looking for a good place to have diner, I totally recommend beats and burritos (try the nachos with vegan cheese!).
Faro has a lot off white houses, flowers and orange trees. It has this perfect southern Europe vibe. Next to Faro is a nature reserve Ria Formosa. Which you can best observe during a boat ride. If you take a boat trip I do recommend you visit Ihla Deserta. This small island has clear water and an almost white beach. It’s the perfect spot to see some small fishes while snorkeling. Some boat trips offer Dolphin spotting. It’s amazing to see those animals in the wild.
Albufeira is another city nearby. We didn’t have time to visit the center of the city. But there was this stunning beach Praia Da Falésia. The rocks are red and white, which is very impressive.
Burgau is a very small city but it’s very scenic. It is mostly up hill and full with white houses decorated with bright flowers.The beach of Burgau is beautiful but nothing compared with the ones in Albufeira.
Portimão is mostly known for Praia da Rocha, a very long beach full with many tourists. Although the small beaches a little bit further are much more worth a visit. Portimão is also perfect if you like some shopping and great food. At night there are many pubs open and there is a good atmosphere here. If you want to find a good restaurant here, I highly recommend Safari. The daughter of the owner is vegan and the food is absolutely delicious! They have a terrace with an ocean view.
So this is my experience in the Algarve. I do hope you enjoyed my tips.
Kneipp is a brand that produces ecological beauty products (for bath, shower, body cremes, foot care, hand lotion, lip balms….). Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “Yet another beauty brand? What would make Kneipp different from all the others?” Well the philosophy of the brand is still based on the ideas of Sebastian Kneipp (who founded the brand in 1891). According to his philosophy, everything is connected; the man, his habits and nature. He developed this holistic health philosophy and even wrote several books about it. He particularly liked to use water-based solutions and natural products in his compositions. Today Kneipp still uses as many natural products as possible. They prefer to use locally grown plants in their products and European made raw materials, with perfect control on quality and supply chains.
“Nature has provided us generously with everything we need to remain in good health.”
Quote by Sebastian Kneipp.
What makes Kneipp different form other beauty brands is that they use sustainable ingredients and are highly engaged with the environment. They use as many recyclable materials as humanly possible. Their oils for example are in glass bottles, and their plastic bottles are completely recyclable. Another mentionable topic is that they do not test their products on animals. Something I personally value very much, and for which I want to thank Kneipp. They offer a wide range of vegan products as well, as you can see on their website . If a product still contains animal products, it’s specifically mentioned (like for example milk constituents). Clearly, Kneipp is a brand that respects the environment and animal well-being. Therefore, I couldn’t wait to test their products.
In January 2020 they launched a new line called “Goodbye Stress”. These products will give you that an extra boost of energy. They even offer anti-stress guidelines on their website. As a main fragrance they chose rosemary and mint. Mint is very refreshing and ensures a higher energy level. While rosemary stimulates memory and provides more focus and concentration.
As I ‘m a stressy person myself, I couldn’t wait to try out this line of products. I tested their new candle and shower foam. The candle has a soft hint of eucalyptus. Not too much, which is perfect for me since I don’t like harsh smells. Light it while taking a bath and it reminds you of a day at the sauna, it will take the stress right away. The shower foam smelled like watermelon and rosemary. I must admit this sounded like an odd combination to me at first. But I was pleasantly surprised as the smell of watermelon makes it fresh. I found my perfect shower foam for the morning. The shower foam contains essential oils to nourish the skin. Essential oils have different qualities, some oils increase the energy level while other oils improve the concentration. For the Goodbye Stress products Kneipp selected and combined the most effective oils for an optimal stimulating effect. Hello positive energy! And I must admit my skin felt super soft, even hours after taking a shower.
I already said Kneipp uses ecological packaging, and for the “Goodbye Stress” line they used 100% recycled and fully recyclable PET. This is a recycled material that largely comes from plastic waste. It can be recycled again. The labels of the shower bottle are made of “tree-free” stone paper. This is more sustainable in production and can be broken down under the influence of sunlight. A minimal amount of ink is used to print the Kneipp Goodbye Stress labels.
I can say I was pleasantly surprised by discovering this brand and I will be using their products much more in the future.
Hope you liked my first beauty blog. Greets, Charis
Since I don’t live that far from The Netherlands, a small getaway with a friend at the neighbors sounded like a great idea. But we wanted to do something different than another big city, everybody has already seen. We thought it would be a great idea to see a few cities in one single weekend. Not so far from the border of Belgium (the country where I live) there are three interesting cities: The Hague, Leiden and Delft. All three have picturesque canals (which makes the cities even more adorable). Here are the must-sees per city.
You can easily spend a whole day in The Hague. But to give you a handy overview I’ll sum up the highlights for you.
We started our weekend in Scheveningen, this is the seaside village near The Hague. The beach is mostly known for the lovely pier. Which contains many restaurant and bars here. These are perfect if you are spending a day at the beach. We were there in January, it was cold but sunny. The perfect weather for a walk on the beach. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Scheveningen, since we only had a weekend and still had 3 more cities to visit.
The Hague is a city mostly known for its international courts, so you might have heard about it before. You can visit the peace palace, this is the where the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the United Nations International Court of Justice, the Hague Academy of International Law, the Peace Palace Library and the Carnegie Foundation are seated. It’s a really important and quite beautiful building.
It certainly is worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood.
You can find the Mauritshuis museum right in the center of the city. This art museum is next to a canal and you can find the works from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rubens inside.
The Courtyard is a parliament meeting place from The Netherlands. And I must say, there are worse places to meet. It is the oldest parliament building in the world that is still in use, and it’s right in the center of city. If you walk around the building you can admire the great architecture. If you go through the gates you’ll discover the “Hall Of Knights”.
This palace is one of the three palaces owned by the royal family of the Netherlands. And it has a great design. It is the palace where king Willem-Alexander still work and it also has a lovely garden, which you can visit. It’s near the major shopping street, so not too hard to find. Across the palace is a majestic statue of Willem Van Oranje
This Passage is the oldest shopping mall in The Netherlands that is still open. It was built in 1885. There are still all kind of amiable small shops. It’s certainly worth a visit.
Just like most big cities The Hague also has a Chinatown with all kinds of Asian restaurants. This was a really nice neighborhood.
Where to eat in The Hague
As a vegetarian it’s not always easy to find places to eat. We had a breakfast-buffet in our hotel, so enough options there.
For lunch we choose Mugs & Mermaids, not only do they have an amazing mermaid themed interior they also have a wide range of vegan, gluten free and sugar free meals. Their breakfasts and lunches look very colorful. They also sell some “mermazing” product.
For diner we went to Chinatown, and found Little V a Vietnamese restaurant. They have a great vegetarian option “Bun Chay”. I thought it was a pity that almost everything else on the menu had meat or fish (even the salads and soups). Little V had a lovely interior as well, with a jungle-themed inside. Guess we went for restaurants with a theme this day.
The second day we went to Leiden. The Hague and Leiden are only 21km apart. Leiden is a much smaller city, and the weather gods where not so merciful that day. Here are some attractions to filled our day.
De Valk Windmill museum
The Netherlands is mostly known for windmills, tulips, cheese and clogs. So if you’re in The Netherlands you ‘ll try to see all these things. In Leiden there are two big windmills and the one in this picture is also a museum. The museum offers a great insight on their history (entrance is € 5).
Leiden has a great botanical garden. Off course if you visit the city in January like we did, the garden isn’t that spectacular as it is in spring.
Castle of Leiden
If you climb to the top of the castle of Leiden, you’ll have a great panoramic view of the city (the entrance is free). It was built in the 11the century and has a spectacular gate, where you can spot the symbol of Leiden (Sint-Pieter’s Key).
You’ll notice this symbol everywhere in the city.
The Pieterskerk is the oldest church in Leiden and took more than 150 years to build. You can also visit the Hooglandse kerk, this one has a Gothic style and is more impressive. Near the mean shopping street there is also a church, the Harteburgkerk. My personal favorite of the three, it’s more impressive because of the ionic pillars.
The canals of Leiden
Just like many Dutch cities, Leiden has many canals. You can take a boot tour. Leiden has many small streets with little bridges, not so easy if you visit by car. The city is just picturesque and pleasant to walk around.
Windmill De Put
As I said before Leiden has two windmills that are worth a visit, and this is the second one. Windmill De Put is smaller than windmill De Valk. But it’ has a much nicer scenery.
Where to eat in Leiden?
Because it was a rainy day, we first decided to have a tea by Lot & the Walvis. At this place you can also have breakfast and lunch. It’s really cozy and near a small harbor.
For lunch we went to the Yoghurt Barn, for a true yogurt and granola lover like me it was the perfect place. If you’re not really a yogurt fan, they also have a hummus or avocado toast. I really liked their concept.
We had our dinner at an old warehouse that they turned into a restaurant, called De Waag. It sure was worth a visit, I can personally recommend the veggie burger (the best I had so far!).
Before heading home we decided to visit Noordwijk first and Delft. The beach at Noordwijk is perfect if you like to walk through the dunes. A great way to start a Monday morning.
By making this little detour to the beach, we had less time to visit Delft. Because we wanted to leave in time to avoid the traffic jams on our way back home.
What did we do in Delft?
If you haven’t had enough of the canals. Delft has some more and even more delightful canals. In the other cities, there are cars parked near the canals. In Delft the streets in the center where even smaller with less cars in them. So, they looked much nicer.
City Hall is right in the center of Delft and is definitely worth a visit. You can’t miss it if you are here. The market is really big and has all these old houses around. In this area you’ll finds shops with cheese and blue Delftsware that are painted in Delft (the city is quite famous for it).
And in one of the little streets that start here you’ll find this graffiti of blue Delftsware.
The old church
What makes this church especially special is that it is almost completely surrounded by canals. The church was built in 1246, so they are quite right to call it an old church.
If you are up to visit a museum about Vermeersch, blue Delftsware and some other painters from Delft this is the place to be. But also, the of the building itself is stunning and worth a visit.
In the same street as the museum you can find this house. It has a very worthwhile facade with all kinds of shields. The building was built in 1505 and is now used for meetings of province council.
Where to eat in Delft
We had lunch at Kek, a small lunchbar right in the center. Here you find some great vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.
Hope you liked my blog about my little road trip in South-Holland.
Who doesn’t want to give a present that last forever? That’s why a sustainable present is perfect. So, I made this list with gift ideas.
1. Safety razor
A safety razor is a perfect gift for all genders. It’s something we all use very often and they last a lifetime. Buying a sustainable safety razor will also save you money on the long term. The little razors you put inside them are cheaper than most plastic razorblades. I bought my safety razor in rose pink (off course) for less than €50 this year. I totally love it, it’s super easy to use and I just adore the colour.
2. Washable cotton pads
At first, I had my doubt about washable cotton pads, ‘will they remove my mascara?’ and ‘can I get them clean enough after removing my make-up?’. But after using them for a few months, I totally recommend them. I feel like they remove more make-up then cotton pads and I just machine wash them in a net. You have them in different colours, and you can even give them in a bamboo holder. Not only do you have less waste, you also save money by not buying cotton pads again. One small tip: when I use them remove mascara, I just rinse them the same day.
3. Solid soap
Using solid can be very handy and you don’t have any plastic. At the moment you have solid shampoo, washing soap, face cleaner but also soap to do your dishes. They are very easy to use. I already tried a few and did not regret that. I do use a ‘soap holder’ to store them. My favourite is the solid shaving soap with lavender (my legs do feel so super soft after using it!).
4. Something for the kitchen?
There are many sustainable ideas for the kitchen too. My favourite are stainless steel straws. you can get them in a few colours (I got them in gold, which just looks fancy). There are also many cleaning products you can give, like bamboo sponges, soapnuts, glass jars for storage, dishwashing brush…
5. Dry flowers
I’m kind off obsessed with dry flowers. You’ll have flowers in your house all the time but in a more sustainable way. You’ll find them in different colours and sizes. It’s even possible to make your own bouquet. I love them in neutral colours (so they fit any season and occasion). They bright up my apartment without buying fresh flowers every week. You only have to ‘dust’ them from time to time. I recently found this Christmas arrangement with lights, and doesn’t it look adorable?
6. Water bottle
I can’t even imagine my life without my water bottle. Everywhere I go I take it with me. You can easily refill them and carry them with you. So again, no more plastic and you can save money (by not buying plastic water bottles). Some stores sell bottles with really nice designs or glass ones. So, they are perfect as a gift.
7. Coffee lovers?
If you’re searching a perfect gift for coffee lovers there is nothing better then reusable coffee pads (or filter) with some coffee. These reusable pads are easy to use, less plastic and saves you money in the long term.
8. Luxury gifts
There are many luxuriouss gifts you can give. My all-time favourite are the hand bags from Luxtra. I already wrote a blog about them. This brand is vegan, cruelty-free and ethical. You also give sustainable jewellery. Earlier this year I wrote a blog ethical and sustainable jewellery. Or you give organic lingerie (organic basics have top quality). There are many other great sustainable options like vegan shoes or a vegan backpack.
I hope you got some inspiration for your Christmas shopping!
To be honest, on my quest to a more sustainable lifestyle I didn’t think about jewellery. Materials like gold, silver and stainless steel are all sustainable right? I was aware that cheap jewels (with plastic for example) where not. But at first, I didn’t see the problem. What could be unsustainable or unethical about diamonds and gemstones? I didn’t think about the mines they need, the chemicals they use, or the people working in these mines (modern slavery). The question is the same as with your clothes, who made this? And at what cost? Because often we don’t think about the person working in the mines for our diamond. It’s actually very easy to lab grown a diamond and reuse metals like gold and silver. By reusing metals brands are already a little bit eco-friendlier. But to be really sustainable it means much more than the materials they’re using. The company should also consider packaging and ethical treatment. This means the brand has a fair treatment of its workers, the way it deals with chemicals (waste policy) and recycling.
Current problems with jewellery
Jewellery is often a gift, something precious (like for a birthday). Yet we own a lot more jewelry then we think, just like fast fashion. Pieces we buy because they look cute for this one event. And most of the time we only where it once. So the first problem is overconsuming (a problem of our time). A second problem is transparency, often we don’t know who made our pieces. The raw materials are often mined in one country, processed in another, then turned into jewellery in yet another country. Sadly many brands don’t have any transparency. Did you know you can see mines (for diamonds) from out of space? Well that sounds cool right? But to mine one diamond an estimated 250 tons of earth are shifted for every single carat. So we can conclude this is not so eco-friendly. That’s why lab grown diamands are much more sustainable. I consider these the three biggest problems when you want to buy a new piece of jewellery.
Wolf & Zephyr
In my search for a sustainable brand I found Wolf & Zephry These pieces are made from silver, coated in recycled 14K gold. The gemstones are handpicked by the founder (Tori Shay) in India. So you know where the gemstones are from, and who made them. They use eco-friendly packaging in the whole process. Every piece is designed in the UK and handcrafted in an ethical workshop in India. Having a look on their website I already saw some necklaces that where 100% my style. So I choose to buy the “two sisters” necklace, a symbol for powerful women. Every piece of jewellery has a small story behind it, which is so nice to know. Because now everytime I’ll whear my two sister necklace I’ll feel the femine power. They also sell vintage pieces. These are all orignals (they only have one piece of each). The necklace came in a small box, always handy when I choose not to where it. Wolf & Zephry is member of the 1% for the planet, meaning they donate to this goodcause with every sale they make. It’s an organization that tries to give back to our planet as much as possible (many big brands are donating).
Right now I can give you a promocode: THISISCHARIS, which will give you a 10% discount at Wolf & Zephry
I didn’t go to Italy for 10 years and I almost forgot how much I love this country. The small streets, the friendly people, the food, the cheap Aperol spritz, the Italian lifestyle… My teenage dream of living under the Tuscan sun immediately came back. We chose to go to Palermo, known for the big lemons, fresh olives, rich history and off course the mafia. At a certain point I guess everybody once owned Palermo. I saw some pictures online before booking, and it looked like time stopped here. Palermo looks like a typical south Italian city. Although you can clearly see the influence from other cultures here. Through the years Palermo has always been an important city, right in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. So, it seemed like Palermo was certainly worth a visit. Because of the Sicilian history with the mafia I first thought that Palermo wouldn’t be safe. Seemed I was wrong, the center is safe. It’s possible to see the whole city by foot but if you are not in the best shape you can also rent a bike. If you’re visiting Palermo by plane, there is a shuttle bus to the city for €6 (or €10 if you buy your retour ticket at the same time). I’ll give an overview of the highlights in the city.
1. Fontane Pretoria
This fountain is also known as the fountain of shame, because all the statues are naked. It was built in the 16th century in Florence (Italy) for the viceroy of Spain. Sadly, he died before the fountain was finished and his son sold it to the city of Palermo. You can find it at piazza Pretoria surrounded by the city hall and the Sint Caterina church.
2. Quatro Canti
This historic square is just around the corner from Fontane Pretoria and is also known as Teatro del Sole, because the sun is here at every moment of the day. So do not visit this at noon in July or august, you will regret it! The four houses here each represent a season and in the middle of each building you can see a Spanish king.
3. Cathedral de Palermo
The Cathedral off Palermo has different architectural styles, because of the city’s rich history. You can visit the rooftop here and enjoy a stunning view over the city (the rooftop is €5, a visit with the whole cathedral is €10). In the basement you can find tombs from kings and bishops. In the 16the century this cathedral was a Mosque because the Arabs took over Sicily. In 1169 there was an earthquake and the Cathedral was hit very bad. Later in 1179 they started to build an “new” cathedral.
4. Pallazzo dei Normanni
Palazzo dei Normanni or also known as the royal palace was built in the 9th century. Later in the 11th century the Normans took over Sicily (yes even the Normans ruled over Sicily once) and the palace.
You can’t visit Italy without visiting a church and there are many in Palermo. My favorite is San Domenico because of its gorgeous baroque style. If you like a rooftop view, there is a shopping center right next to it where you can have a drink in their rooftop bar.
Chiesa de Gusu is another baroque church in Palermo. Make sure to visit the inside of this church too! It’s a Jesuit church from the 16the century with colorful marble interior decoration. When we were here there was a wedding which made the church look extra spectacular.
La chiesa di San Cataldo is an iconic church in the city. It has three red bolls on the roofs, which you’ll see from the street (or from any rooftop view). These bolls are typical for the Arabic Normandy architecture. Across from the chiesa di San Cataldo is the Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio. I do recommend you’ll visit the rooftop here; it has a spectacular view over the Fontane Pretoria.
6. Theatro Massimo
Theatro Massimo is right in the center of the city and is the biggest opera house in Italy. If you have seen the movies from The Godfather, you ‘ll recognize this building from the last scene of the second movie.
7. La Calla
Near the city there is a small port (called La Calla) where you can find a lot of small boats and enjoy a drink. If you do want to see the beach you ‘ll need to take a bus.
8. No Mafia Museum
For a long time, the mafia ruled Sicily. In this museum you find the history of the mafia and how they tried to conquer the region. There’re pictures of ex-mafia members and victims (heads up, they can be bloody!).
Where to eat in Palermo?
I’ll share some vegan hotspots in Sicily with you. I thought it would be hard to eat vegan in Italy, because they are known for eating a lot of cheese and ham. But I forgot they eat a lot of pasta (with veggies!). Our first night we found a vegan burger place named Flower Burger where you can eat all kinds of colorful burgers. They have a lot of restaurants all over Italy, France and The Netherlands (please come to Belgium). I choose the “Cheesy Chickpea” with patatas bravas and loved it!
The next morning, we choose to go to Cuma, a shop with a lot of healthy food and vegan options. You should try the vegan croissant, it’s black but really delicious. You can also have a vegan lunch and dinner here and some healthy juices.
For dinner we choose to go to Haiku, a plant-based restaurant which I highly recommend (we even went here twice for dinner!). They have the best pasta that I ever had, you should try the ‘Spagetti alla pantesca’ or the ‘Pappardelle’. These are sold as ‘primo’ (appetizer) but we had them as main dish and this was really enough. Don’t forget to check out their desert chart as well!
When you walk around in Palermo, you’ll find a lot of street food. At KePalle you can try vegan “arancine”, these are fried rice balls and the vegan option had mushrooms. If you are in the mood for some gelato (which you are when you’re in Italy) you can have a vegan option right next to Kepalle and Bar Cheri also has multiple options.
I hope you liked my blog,
If it needs changes you can always leave a message.
If you know me, you know that I only use vegan and cruelty-free skincare products.Since I have a sensitive skin, I do prefer products without alcohol, parabens and sulfates.
So a few months ago I discovered a new brand that lived up to my standards: “Good Molecules”. All off their products are vegan (except for their new pineapple exfoliating powder) and they promote the fact that they never tested their products on animals. On their website you can see that they promote themselves for their ingredients (you can find a whole list on their website) and low prices. And to be honest I was surprised by these prices! Good skincare can be for everybody with these rates.
I normally wash my face before using my products (every morning and evening). Afterwards I like to use a toner, just to make sure my face is really clean. And this toner promises to makes your skin bright and to reduce big pores. I must admit it really felt nice, my skin felt really clean. I bought two serums one named “discoloration” to make sure my skin is bright and even and the second one is “super peptide serum” which works anti-aging and hydrates the skin. Since I’m not 21 anymore (making a sad face typing this sentence) I need to think about anti-aging product too.
At what age should you start using anti age products? Well, after the age of 21 your collagen and elastin production start to slow down. This means your skin will start to age then. So you better start using good products and some hydrating creams in your twenties. Although you can’t use creams that are too “heavy”, these are meant for a more mature skin. As you can see, finding the right skincare products for your skin aren’t always that easy…And this peptide serum had copper tripeptides (to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin) and acetyl Hexapeptide-8 and acetyl octapeptide-3 (to reduce fine lines).
As you can see I use two serums, some days only one and some days both. You can use them after your toner and when your skin is damp (meaning just cleaned your skin and it’s not completely dry). You’ll only need a few drups. Make sure to leave 30 seconds before using the second serum or a moisturizer. So it can completely work in. Personally I’m a big fan of a jade roller, so you roll the serum into your skin. I find it very relaxing, like a little spa moment every night. After using your serums you need to use a moisturizer, to make sure your skin is hydrated enough. Even a greasy or a combinated skin needs a moisturizer. When your skin doesn’t get what it needs you can get some acne or outbreaks. At the end I like to use an eye cream as well (for the fine lines around my eyes). And don’t forget to use your sunscreen in the morning! Not only to prevent a sunburn, but also to prevent wrinkles and pigmentation spots. I wrote a blog about sunscreen earlier this year.
So I just started using this products last month, but I already notice a big difference. I have a mixed skin (greasy T zone and some small wrinkles around my eyes) and mostly my skin feels greasy by the end of the day. While using these products I didn’t had this greasy effect. So I can’t wait to test the other product from Good Molecules as well. The products spread well and drink quickly into the skin. This makes them very pleasant to use.
I do hope you liked my review about Good Molecules
Lille is a small city in the north of France (close to the Belgium border). It was perfect for a little get away after this long lockdown. We booked a cute bohémian air bnb just outside the center (good to know, there was free parking in this neighborhood). If you do want to park outside the center, you can take the metro to the center. It’s also easy to reach Lille by train or bus. A weekend pass for the metro is only € 9/pp and these metros are super-fast and easy to find your way. The center of Lille isn’t that big so you can reach everything by foot and see the whole city in a day.
We started our day at place Rihour (here is also the metro station) where you can find Palais Rihour. A palace from 1453 build by Philips De Goede.
Right next to this place is Place Charles de Gaulle. As you already guessed the placed is named after the general and 1e president Charles de Gaulle who was born in Lille. It’s surrounded with bars and restaurants. On this place is also the entrance to le Vielle Bourse, this is the old stock exchange from and was once the Lille Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Right now, you can find an old book market here, but not only old books also old comic books and prints. So if you like to read or you feel nostalgic, make sure to visit this market.
If you walk through le ville bourse you’ll end up at Place Du Théâtre. Here you find a neo-classic opera house which is absolutely stunning. In the same street is the old Belfry. You can climb on top of this belfry to have a panoramic view of the city. I’m true sucker for a beautiful view over the city but due to circumstances I was unable. The Belfry is 101-meter-high and it’s the symbol of Lille. As you can see in the pictures it’s worth a visit.
Only a 5 minute walk will bring you to the Notre Dame de la Treille. This cathedral is a mix of gothic and modern art. Make sure to take a look inside too, the entrance is free and it has some gorgeous glasswork.
While walking around in Lille, you’ll notice the city is full with colorful houses from 17th century. So it isn’t so bad to walk instead of taking public transport.
A little outside the center you can find Le Palais des Beaux artes. This is the second biggest museum in France (the Louvre in France being number one of course). It has 22,00m2 full off paintings from 17e – 19e century. But if you don’t have the time or don’t like arts, the building itself is also quite impressive.
A few streets further you’ll find Porte de Paris. This is an arc de triomphe which was built in the 17e century to remember the capture by the city by Louis XIV. The gate is quite stunning and if you look closely you can see Hercules (symbol of power) and Mars (god of war) on the arc. At the top of the arc, two angels are trumpets with mouths of trumpet, proclaiming the victory of the Sun King all over the world. Because this arc the triomphe was so stunning, I tried my very first reflection picture out here. And really think it worked out great!
Lille has more to offer then these great historical spots, you can also find cute shopping streets here and a shopping mall (near the train station). And if do have some spare time, there is EuroLille. A big outlet mall outside of the center. If you do want to spend a weekend at Lille you can visit Roubaix. There is this old pool which they turned into a museum.
Where to eat?
Since Lille is on the border with France and Belgium you can find both cuisines in the city. There are so many cute little restaurants here but I tested some that offered a vegan option (of course). We first had lunch at Bernard & Leon, this place seemed to be really popular. We arrived here at 12 o’clock and only a few minutes later the place was totally full. Their menu consists off bowls, and they look super good. Head up, they also have a menu deal, a bowl + drink + dessert for € 14,20.
The second day we had lunch at We Are Ara. The placelooks gorgeous inside, pink walls with a lot of plants. To be totally fair the presentation of the food and hospitality where not that great. I had La Clairie Lille on my list too, but you can only have lunch once a day right? This place looked totally worth it and so colorful. So it remains on my list (if I ever make it to Lille again…).
For dinner we choose to go to le Bleu Canard. You can also have lunch here (they offer a vegan lunch deal!) but we choose to have dinner here. And I can surely recommend this place, the staff was super friendly and the food was delicious.
We went for a little drink and choose to check out Mama Shelter, which is hyper modern hotel near the station and shopping mall. It had a restaurant and bar as well, where you can have a relaxing drink.
I know it’s very important to put on sunscreen, but I hate almost every sunscreen I know. They are all sticky, make your face look super white, and when you’re on the beach the sand is even more adhesive because of the sunscreen. So, I get that a lot of people don’t want to use sunscreen. Although it’s very important, the sun makes us look older (more wrinkles, spots) and can give us cancer. Because I want to look young forever, I started looking for a good sunscreen. Off course I wanted my new sunscreen to be cruelty-free, vegan and eco-friendly. So, it had to live up to hard expectations! After a little search I found a brand in New Zealand named “Skinnies”.
What’s so special about Skinnies?
Skinnies is the first brand that doesn’t use water in their sunscreen, so it’s more concentrated and you’ll be needing less. That’s why they call it a sun gel. With only a drop the size off a pea you can protect your face, ears and neck! You’ll buy the same amount but it will last longer. With this adapted formula they want to save up to 10,000 liters of water per year. The big difference is therefore in smearing the product. This sun gel spreads better, there is no white haze and it does not stick. After a half an hour I was even doubting if I even put on sun protection. They also don’t use plastic tubes, but instead they use sugar cane packaging which is more eco-friendly. This sun gel doesn’t contain any toxins, which is good for your skin but is also good for the environment (think about the reefs and the fishes).
So I needed a new a sunscreen (or sun gel) this year and decided to order two product from Skinnies, one for my face(bb cream spf 30) and one for my body (Skinnies sungel spf 30). Normally I hate wearing makeup when it’s warm and sunny. The foundation starts to feel sticky and it’s just a real unpleasant feeling. But this BB cream looked totally different. When applying it, it feels more like putting on a primer. It had a nice cover (off course, if you have some spots you’ll need a concealer too) and felt like I wasn’t wearing anything on my face. The best feeling! Even later that day, it was 25°C, it didn’t get sticky. This BB cream isn’t only perfect for a day on the beach (no sticky sand on your face) but I guess it’s also perfect for a citytrip (you look great all day and are protected from the sun). Same with the sungel, it’s not sticky, so in my opinion perfect for any occasion. While with other sun protection you might don’t want to use them (because they are sticky, are whhite and unsafe for your skin). They also have a wide range of products for children or for outside sports (they last longer and are waterproof).
The world is changing and so is the consumer’s demand. A few decades ago, we all wore leather and didn’t think about its origin. Nowadays, people are more concerned more about the wellbeing of animals and the environmentalimpact of leather products. Alternatively you could buy a bag made of plastic. No animals will be sacrificed but this will make the environmental impact greater.
As consumers we’re also looking for beautiful and more sustainable alternatives. We want a gorgeous and strong handbag to carry our daily essentials. Preferably a handbag that will last for many years.
About the brand
After a little search I found ‘Luxtra’, a brand that sells vegan luxurious handbags. After reading more about their products I immediately fell in love! I also found out more about the boss lady behind the brand, Jessica Kruger. She wanted to start selling vegan leather bags because of her love for animals, and her concern about the environment. So, she started Luxtra hoping to be a positive change by using eco-friendly materials. Before she started Luxtra she had Etos, meat-free restaurants in London. On top of her eco-fashion business, she also shares her thoughts and experiences on entrepreneurship, mental health and well-being (issues which are close to her heart) by talking in schools. Luxtra creates timeless pieces (ready for all-season, all-occasion and all-purposes) that will help and stop over consuming. This way we don’t need to buy a new bag every single year. Their bags are made in Italy (in a little town near Florence), these bags are packaged in recyclable paper. In fact, no plastic is used throughout the process. They have also taken actions at their headquarters to be more environmentally conscious. For instance, they switched the office energy source to 100% renewable energy, reducing their carbon footprint by around 3,5 tones of CO2 per year! They also actively support some foundations like ‘1% For The Planet’ (an environmental foundation created by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard), ‘London Waterkeeper’ (a charity that is fighting water pollution) and ‘Dress For Success Greater London’ (to help vulnerable women find and maintain work).
We all know what ‘vegan’ means, but not everybody knows that there are actually vegan leather bags. What is vegan leather? According to Peta, it is often made from innovative and sustainable materials such as pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, other fruit waste, and recycled plastic. More than a billion cows, pigs, goats, sheep, alligators, ostriches, kangaroos, even dogs and cats are cruelly slaughtered for their skins every year. The tails and horns of many of these animals are cut off without sedation, and some are even skinned while they’re still conscious. By contrast, vegan leather offers a ‘killer’ look without any killing. Luxtra is one of the first brands to find an eco-friendly alternative for leather. They use Piñatex®, a textile made from pineapple leaf fibers, and Frumat which partly made from apples. They are also working with a company called Fruit Leather Rotterdam who uses discarded fruits as their base materials for their new products. Luxtra is very proud to be a cruelty-free brand, and to have this confirmed by PETA. Hopefully every fashion company will start using these vegan and highly sustainable materials! Because to be honest I don’t see any reason why not. I mean how cool is it to say your bag is made out of pineapples?
I mentioned earlier that Luxtra wants to make timeless classics which is my favorite style. I’ve been guilty of buying too many bags in the past, but I always find myself using the same bag almost every single day (mostly a practical bag that goes well with everything). I was curious to try a vegan leather bag, and to be really honest when the bag arrived, I didn’t see much difference with real leather. The bag looked strong and looked the same as any other bag at first sight. The biggest difference is that it doesn’t smell like animal leather which is a huge plus point. Luxtra offers their bags in three colors: black (sometimes with a blue accent), silver and burgundy. I chose the “Aphra” bag, a small elegant shoulder bag made partly out of apples. For a “small” bag it’s actually really spacious, and looks exquisite.
Now, the only question I have after I got the bag is… How do I take care of it? Just like any leather bag, a vegan leather bag needs care too for it to last long. I would love to keep this bag for many years! Luckily, Luxtra provides some useful tips on their website which I’ll sum up for you.
It’s important to keep the bag moisturized by using a natural wax (e.g. Barbour Wax). After applying the wax, you can leave the bag in a warm place for about 24 hours, and then rub it gently with a soft cloth. If you have some marks, you can clean them with some water (a damp soft cloth or sponge). Some more general tips on how to keep your bag in top condition? – Do not overfill it as this may permanently distort its shape. – Avoid contact with water, taking special care within the first month of use to avoid rain. – Avoid exposure to grease, perfumes, cosmetics, heat and strong sources of light. – Store your bag in its protective dust bag when not in use. Do not store in a plastic bag, as this will prevent the leather from breathing. – Avoid storing your bag anywhere too warm, too humid or unventilated.
Actually, this isn’t so hard! If you love your bag, you’ll be sure to take up these ‘rules’. It’s almost the same as taking care for a leather bag.
Hope you liked my blog. And I do hope you’ll try a vegan leather bag soon (and if you do, let me know!).
Do you know how many plastic bottles get thrown away every year? The bottles we use for our shampoo, shower gel, body lotion etc. We just throw them away and never think of what happens next. We all know that this plastic waste is not good for the environment. Well Cîme is the first Belgian brand in Belgium to think of minimizing the plastic waste by offering a refill service! They’ve created a simple refill box they install in some shops.
Who’s is Cîme?
Cîme is an all-natural and organic skincare brand from Belgium. The brand is founded by two former female lawyers, who had trouble finding natural skincare before starting their own brand. So in 2012 these two boss lady’s started Cîme. An all-natural brand, conscious about their environmental and social impact! Their products don’t use synthetic ingredients such as parabens, phenoxyethanol, synthetic perfumes and propylene glycol. These ingredients could harm your skin in a long-term, and cause a allergy to some of us. Many of their products contain ingredients from the Himalayas and they work together with local farmers in Nepal. These farmers produce highly concentrated liquids from the ingredients, which then shipped to Cime’s facility in Belgium. By doing this, Cîme supports local economy and minimize their ecological footprint. Cîme is a sustainable brand because they use an eco-friendly packaging, support the local economy and fair trade, organic and vegan-friendly ingredients, and they are animal-cruelty free. They are also an socially-concious brand. They want to build the community around the Himalayas by contributing to a social project called ‘Little doctors’-project. Cîme ticks all the check boxes for a sustainable brand.
The refill station
Cïme’s refill stations are available at different shops in Belgium where you can refill their ‘Nuts about you’ product line. These products contain Himalayan soap nuts that prevent the skin from getting dry or irritated. It is a natural alternative to agressive detergents which can dry out your skin. These refill stations allow us to reuse the bottle instead of buying a new one once it runs out, and they are also very easy to find! So when your shampoo or shower gel bottle is empty, you can go to one of the shops and refill it. Nice to know, this is €4 cheaper than buying a new bottle!Each of the station could refill an equal of 17 bottles, that’s already a huge different from buying 17 new bottles! The station is made out of a recyclable cardboard box and inside is a bag made of out of soft plastic. All of the stuff used to build the station comes from sustainable and responsible sources, including the bottle which is made out of 100% recycled plastic waste.
How does it work?
Well, I was at there at their launch event in the beginning of March 2020. For the first time public could try and test the refill station. In general, I’m not always good at trying something new a.k.a not a handy person, but I could tell you in all honesty that it was super easy to use and fast. After using the whole bottle of your first ‘Nuts about you’ shower gel or shampoo (please wash the bottle before refilling!). You can go to one of the stores to refill your empty Cîme bottle. This station works with a hand-tap which will refill your bottle in less than a minute!
Cîme is a brand of the future. A sustainable brand who cares about the environmental and social benefits of its product! So thumbs up for Cîme!