• Europe,  Restaurants

    Review: ‘Sapas’ lunch at Restaurant Juuri in Helsinki

    We had been strolling around in the ‘Capital of Design’ for a couple of hours, when the rain suddenly began to pour down and reminded us that it was time for lunch. Juuri was on the top of our list of restaurants that we wanted to visit. The restaurant was located on Korkeavuorenkatu 27 (Swedish: Högbergsgatan), a roughly 10-minute walk from Helsinki’s city center, and the sign outside told us we had come to the right place.

    History

    Juuri opened 2004 and quickly stood out with its focus on traditional Finnish food culture. Since the opening, it has been elected ‘Restaurant of the year’ by the Finnish Gastronomical Society (2010) and mentioned in the Michelin Guide. It is currently ranked #3 on TripAdvisor’s list of best restaurants in Helsinki, and holds a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence, which, according to the website, is only handed out to “restaurants and attractions that consistently receive great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor”.

    DSC01249 Bar Restaurant Juuri

    Our experience

    Since we arrived at nearly 2 pm (lunch is served from 11 am to 2.30 pm), the majority of the lunch guests had already left, and the staff could seat us right away. Reserve a table if you want to eat an earlier lunch, since this is a popular spot for lunch dates. The tables were set with colorful glasses and jugs from the well-known Finnish design brand Marimekko. Our waitress directed us to our table, right next to the window, where we could watch people trying to escape the rain. We quickly threw ourselves over the menus and it did not take long until I decided to try ‘Sapas’, the Finnish version of tapas. Juuri’s website declares the history of the name: “The name Sapas originally comes from the Finnish words for small Finnish starters” (Suomalaiset AlkuPAlaSet). Any similarity to the Spanish word “tapas” is purely coincidental.

    My boyfriend went for the lamb and shortly thereafter, we were served our dishes. My first thought was that I should have ordered more Sapas (a main course consisted of a selection of four sapas for 16 Euros). When I thought about it, the waitress might have mentioned that I could add the two piece Sapas from the starter menu to my main course. Despite my Finnish background, it can be difficult to keep up when the locals start talking really fast. However, the first bite compensated the small portion – the dishes are extremely well-made with outstanding flavors and impeccable presentation! Juuri gets an additional plus for the small but very appreciated details, like the butter, which was served in beautiful paper bundles.

    Sapas Restaurant Juuri We are Nodes Travel Blog Juuri Bread Butter We are Nodes Travel Blog Lamb We are Nodes Juuri Restaurant Juuri We are Nodes Sapas We are Nodes Juuri

    Final words

    Overall, we were extremely pleased with our visit to Juuri. Friendly staff with good English, central location, clean toilets, but above all; well-made, beautiful food with carefully thought-out, authentic flavors and nice details. The portions are however small, so do not come starving.

    Craving another Finnish classic for dessert? Take a short walk down to Helsinki Market Square after your visit at Juuri and top off your lunch with coffee and the Finnish pastry Munkipossu.

  • Europe

    Champagne Tasting at the Moët & Chandon / Dom Pérignon Champagne Cellars

    If you are planning to spend a couple of days in Paris and want to do a day trip to a nearby city, we know exactly where you should go; The Moët & Chandon’s/Dom Pérignon’s legendary champagne cellar in Champagne. This renowned champagne house offers guided tours, where insights in champagne production is combined with a history lesson of the high-class champagne brand. Spoiler alert: The best comes last. Because when the guided tour is coming to an end, a magnificent champagne tasting awaits!

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    A champagne house visit is the perfect activity for bubble lovers who are curious to find out more about the most talked about champagne brands in the world. It is also suitable for tourists wanting to escape the city pulse in Paris and do something out of the ordinary. We are Nodes chose to visit the cellars of Moët & Chandon’s and Dom Pérignon, which is the largest one within the Champagne region, but there are plenty of other champagne houses alongside Avenue de Champagne in Épernay to choose from. Follow us on the “Grand Vintage” visit:

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    Getting to Épernay, “The capital of Champagne”

    Getting to Champagne-Ardenne from Paris was a lot easier (and quicker!) than we first thought. In fact, it was only a 45 min direct train route from the Gare De L’est station – and by the time we had finished our morning coffees from Paul’s (as always, we went for the “Café Americano” with milk) we were already there.

    At the station, we were picked up by our local friends who drove us to Épernay, also known as “The capital of Champagne”, where most champagne houses are located. It was a pleasant 20 minute drive through an idyllic scenery.

    Our friends welcomed us with a traditional French ápero, which consisted of champagne (what else?), followed by a delicious lunch. By the end of our meal, we were more than ready for our guided tour. Off we go!

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    A short drive later we arrived at our destination. It was not entirely unexpected that the Moët & Chandon’s champagne house was as grand as its champagne. As soon as we stepped through the black gates, our eyes were drawn to the statue of Dom Pérignon, the monk who had a very significant role in the Champagne manufacture history. We were more than excited to begin the tour and find out more.

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    The Tour

    Our guide welcomed us to the Champagne house and began the tour with showing us an introduction video. Next, she told us more about the history of the well-known Möet family and the property we were in.

    Fun trivia: Did you know that Napoleon Bonaparte was a frequent guest of the estate in Épernay? According to the legend, he invented the tradition of sabering bottles of Moët to celebrate victory.

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    After the history lesson on the Moët and Chandon founders, we were invited to an extensive tour in the 28 km (!) long cellars where our guide combined champagne guidelines (such as how to store champagne – always horizontal, never in the fridge!) and facts about the production chain. She also had to handle a never-ending Q&A from curious champagne lovers.

    IMG_1819IMG_1809 IMG_1813 The Möet champagne caves are over 28 km long, 30 metres deep and is likely to store over 1000.000 bottles (the number of bottles is confidential). Pretty impressive!

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    Many wine enthusiasts are probably familiar with the vintage champagne brand Dom Pérignon – but Dom Piérre Pérignon, as his full name was, was a lot more than just a name behind a label.

    He was a monk who worked as a cellarer during forty seven years in the abbey of Hautvillers, during the same time that Ludvig XIV ruled Versailles. In order to pay for the maintenance of the monastery, Dom Pérignon was told by his abbot to make wine. Unfortunately, the monastery was located in the northern provence where the climate wasn’t in favor for winemaking. Not only did the grapevines tend to freeze in the winter, but the yeasts activity increased during the winter and started to fermenting again during springtime – which created a double fermentation – which in turn created carbondioxid bubbles.

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    During this time, bubbles in wine was considered a defect and the double fermentation made bottles explode under pressure. Dom Pérignon desperately tried to minimize the unwanted bubbles by mixing green and red grapes from different vineyards (he was the first person to mix different varieties before they were pressed) and got famous for his great blending skills. When Louis XIV tasted the wine he loved it, and from that moment on, the monastery didn’t have to worry about financial issues anymore. The wine was actually named Champagne – after Dom Pérignon’s home province.

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    And what has this to do with Moët & Chandon you might wonder? Well, as we were told at the guided tour Dom Pérignon is a vintage champagne brand produced by Moët & Chandon. A vintage champagne means that it is only made in the best years, and all grapes used to make the wine are harvested in the same year (unlike most champagne). Moët’s first first vintage champagne was released in the year of 1842 and their best-selling brand Brut Imperial was introduced in the 1860s. In fact, in a special room in the Moët caves (not open for public though), all the “vintage years” are projected on a wall. The most recent vintage year was 2006, which was the year of the champagne we drank at our tasting. 

    IMG_1825Fun fact: Did you know that Champagne is not made for storing and doesn’t age well? An unopened bottle of champagne should be consumed within a year. A vintage champagne lasts longer, around 4 years.

    Champagne Tasting

    The guided tour takes approximately one hour and is, as mentioned, topped off with a champagne tasting. We drank one glass of the classic Grand Vintage and one glass of Grand Vintage Rosé.

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    After the tasting, we were invited to the Moët shop where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs, everything from Champagne to bags, trays and notebooks.

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    Price

    We chose the “Grand Vintage Tour” which costs 35€/person and was more than worth the price. It included a 1 hour guided tour in the caves, 1 glass of Grand Vintage champagne and 1 glass of Grand Vintage Rosé. The prices differ between 22-35€/person depending on which tour you choose.

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    Address: 
    Champagne Moët & Chandon, 20 avenue de Champagne, 51200 Epernay
    How to get there: By train: One hour and twenty minutes from Paris Gare de l’Est train station to Epernay. Moët & Chandon is located 5 minutes by foot from the station.
    Price: Between 22-35€/person.
    Website: http://www.moet.com/Visit-us/Visit-our-cellars 

    Have you visited the Möet & Chandon Champagne cellar? What did you think about the tour? We’d love to hear your thoughts (and questions!)

  • Europe,  Restaurants

    Lunch with Pontus Frithiof, owner of Stockholm airport restaurant ’Pontus in the Air’

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    To be headed to Stockholm Arlanda Airport without having to worry about forgotten passports or tickets is new to us. We are on our way to ‘Pontus in the Air’, the latest addition to Pontus Frithiof’s collection of restaurants in Sweden. The restaurant is located in terminal 5, which boasts the majority of international departures at Arlanda.

    There is no escaping security even though we’re only visiting the restaurant. In addition, a visitor badge is needed to enter the area. We collect it from the airport service center after a thorough identification check. Walking around at the airport without having a flight to catch feels strange. Pontus Frithiof, restaurateur and entrepreneur, on the other hand is used to spending a lot of his waking hours at the airport. But he points out that he is very careful not to neglect his other restaurants. Before our lunch at noon,  he has managed to fit in four visits to his other restaurants“You do not really have a choice, it is a must when your restaurants are built on personal presence.”

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    The idea to open a restaurant at Arlanda was born two years ago. Business travellers, a target group with great purchasing power, attracted PontusThis, in combination with his frustration over the lack of good food at Arlanda, got Pontus to send an an email to Swedavia (Swedish nationally owned company which owns and operates the major airports) at 9 pm on a Thursday evening. To his big surprise, he received an immediate replySwedavia had been on the lookout for something new for Arlanda for a long time, but other restaurants had previously turned them down because of the location. Now, this was about to change. 

    After months and months of planning and venue hunting, the decision finally fell on a 1000 m2 location, which at the time was empty and unused. “Travellers come to airports as late as possible to avoid eating there. Therefore we want to offer something brand new. We are one of the few restaurants at Arlanda with a fully fitted kitchen and we cook all dishes from scratch. Our goal is to become the best airport restaurant in Europe”, Pontus declares in a determined tone. When asked which restaurant he benchmarks to, he quickly answers: Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant at Heathrow.

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    First impression

    Pontus guides us through the main floor, past all the boutiques and cafés, until we arrive outside of the restaurant. “Pontus in the Air is located on floor one, which gives you a very peaceful setting in comparison to downstairs where all the other restaurants are located.  Positioning airport restaurants on a higher floor is actually a European airport trend that has worked very well”Pontus explains as he walks up the two flights of stairs.

    The elevated location actually does make a big difference. The frantic vibe disappears as soon as we walk up the stairs and enter the restaurant. It is almost instantly replaced by the pleasant view over the runways where you can watch airplanes take off, without being disturbed by jet engines and stressed travellers. Maybe the calmness is due to the fact that it is still quiet when we arrive at the restaurant. The typical lunch rushes are rare, since people naturally adjust their dining after their flight tickets.

    The restaurant is enormous (1000 m2) and divided into two areas: ‘Market”, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, and the Brasserie from where the restaurant offers a la carte dining for up to a hundred seated guests.

    What stands out with regards to the interior are the two red and white wine cellars in the middle of the restaurantWe immediately notice them and Pontus proudly shows us around the numerous bottles: We have really invested on wines and can therefore offer a wide selection of wines here”, he says.
    IMG_2189 IMG_2175IMG_2173IMG_2167 The white wine cellar.

    IMG_2177 IMG_2179The red wine cellar.

    Airport restaurant, but how?

    At first glance, the only thing that reveals that we are in an airport – other than the view of the runways of course – is the departure board that hangs on one of the walls of the restaurant. However, Pontus lists several reasons how the restaurant is tailored for travellers.

    • Multiple power sockets where travellers can charge theirphones and computers. 
    • Private bathroom for restaurant guests (most restaurants refer their guests to the public airport bathrooms). 
    • Own Wi-Fi
    • ‘Pontus in the Air’ ensures a maximum wait time of 12 minutes, from order to table, for parties up to 6 people. If the staff would fail to deliver the food within the timeframe, they won’t charge for the food. 
    • Through the restaurant’s app you can pre-order food and pick it up at the restaurant before getting on the plane. Do not let long-distance flights stop you – the food will be handed to you in a thermal bagThe next step that Pontus is looking at is offering delivery at the gate for travellers in a hurry. 

    Food and Beverages

    The menu consists of hot and cold dishes in the price range from 175-395 SEK (19-42 euros) for a main course (see the full menu here)From previous experience from his other restaurants, we know that the Nicoise salad is fantastic, but we want to try something new. Pontus diplomatically responds that everything on the menu is goodbut his chief sommelier Mario E Moroni, who worked together with Pontus for over 16 years, is quick to list his personal favourites: I like the sautéed reindeer, tortellini and the burgers the best”.

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    Large veal carpaccio with asparagus, olives and parmesancrème.
    Price: 275 SEK (29 euros)

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    Steamed char with spinach, mushrooms, cucumber noodles served with cold caviar and chive sauce.
    Price: 295 SEK (31 euros)

    We are Nodes recommends:

    Pontus Dressed Lobster Salad
    The amazing lobster is first kibbled out of its shell and mixed with cucumber, avocado, mango and tomato, before served in its shell. The fresh mango adds a perfect touch the salad. It is served in two sizes, but half portion is enough for us.

    IMG_2193 Price 
    225 SEK (24 euros) Half 
    395 SEK (42 euros) Whole

    Believe it or not, but you can even get the lobster salad to go. It is not served with its shell though, for obvious reasons.

    Champagne Breakfast
    ‘Pontus in the Air’s offers both a breakfast buffet (served in the ‘Market’ area) and à la carte options at the Brasserie – with the possibility to add a glass of Henriot Champagne for 99 SEK. We are Nodes are huge fans of champagne breakfasts, so from now on this will be the starting point of our journeysThe restaurant has a liquor license that allows them to serve alcohol from 6 am, so even early travellers can enjoy a champagne breakfast on site. “I love Champagne, it is the best drink there is”, Pontus agrees. But considering most of his days begin at 4 am, we doubt that Champagne breakfasts are that frequent. 

    We recommend the Market Breakfast Buffé för only 99 SEK (10,40 Euroc),  including Coffee/Tea, orange juice, turkey and cheese sandwiches, organic yogurt with muesli, scrambled eggs, bacon and a lot more . Not that hungry? The A la carté-menu includes smaller alternatives, like Greek yogurt with homemade granola and fresh crushed berries (50 SEK/5.5euros) or scrambled eggs and toast (65 SEK/7 euros).

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    Speaking of Champagne, it is worth mentioning that ‘Pontus in the Air ‘ is one of three restaurants in Sweden who are official Krüg ambassadors (Krüg is considered to be one of the most exclusive champagne brands in the world). This means they can serve Krüg by the glass and have a wide selection of their Champagnes on the menu.

    IMG_2211Pontus Frithiof with chief sommelier Mario E Moroni.

    Yasmin Tilles Pontus Frithiof We are Nodes at Pontus in the Air at ArlandaYasmin and Sheida Tilles (We are Nodes) with Pontus Frithiof.

    Travel Q&A’s with Pontus Frithiof

    Favourite weekend city? London, it is a very good weekend destination located on a reasonable distance. 

    Favourite spot for holidays in the sun? If I get to choose anywhere in the world, would choose the Maldives. I also spend a lot of time in the south of France. I love Cannes (read more about Cannes on our city guide).

    Favourite airport? Heathrow and Copenhagen airport. 

    Worst airport? Two Ryanair airports; Beauvais in Paris and Stansted in London. You get treated like cattle there! I rarely have a problem with people finding ways to make money, but the whole business model, which is based on having to purchase a bunch of things just to not have to stand in a 40km long line, is not for me.


    Want to know more about what to do and see in Stockholm? We have gathered all our previous blog posts about our beloved hometown. Read our Stockholm guide »

  • Europe

    The Ultimate Cannes Guide

    7 tips to get a full-blown Cannes experience!

    Perhaps it is the fantastic beach walk (Boulevard de la Croisette), the extravagant hotels or the over the top-parties that has lingered celebrities to visit this French pearl time and time again. The city that has hosted the glamorous film festival since 1946 offers plenty of things to do and see. And let us clarify something straightaway – you do not need to be a millionaire to enjoy the French Riviera. It helps, but it is not in any means necessary. We are Nodes have spent months and months in this French gem, and here are our best tips for a full-blown Cannes experience!

    Baoli Beach Club

    The first thing you need to learn in order to avoid confusion is that there are two Baolis in Cannes: Le Bâoli Club, a nightclub located in the end of the La Croisette, and Bâoli Beach Club, located in the heart of the La Croisette, naturally next to the beach. This is where you want to spend your lazy beach days! Bâoli Beach Club is one of Cannes top daytime hot spots, so if you are planning to spend a full day here, we suggest you go all in. Start off by renting sun beds and an umbrella (do not forget to bring sun screen), because this is going to be a long day! Order in some cooled Rosé wine and share a plate of amazing sushi or fruit salad. Bâoli Beach Club is pricy, but the atmosphere, lounge music and crowd definitely makes it worth a visit.

    Baoli Beach We are Nodes

    Bâoli Beach Yearly Highlight – Remember the Coulisses/Fete de la Musique-party

    If you happen to be in Cannes in June, make sure to attend Baoli Beach’s yearly Fete de la Musique-party (previously called Remember the coulisses party), the epic beach party that kicks off the festive summer season. The fact is, We are Nodes accidentally ended up at this party a couple of years ago, and it was this specific event that made us fall in love with the city!IMG_0058

    Address: 50 Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes
    Phone: +33 4 93 99 49 26
    Website: http://www.lebaoli.com/cannes-beach.html

    The best public beach in Cannes

    Spending every day at beach clubs like Bâoli can get quite expensive, so why not take advantage of Cannes public beaches for no cost at all. However, do not make the mistake of choosing the La Croisette beach. The best public beach in Cannes is located on the other side of the Croisette Boulevard, behind the Old Town (Le Suquet) and close to the Port in Cannes. It is a 10-15 minute walk from the city center. If you have troubles finding, just ask for Radisson Blu (the hotel has got an awesome rooftop terrace, btw!) and you will find the beach in front of the hotel.
    DSC00245Address: Boulevard du Midi Jean Hibert

    Ice coffee at Armani Caffé

    Armani Caffé, located on Boulevard de la Croisette, is the perfect spot to sneak into when you want to take a break from your shopping. The Armani store has an elegant patio, partly shaded (super appreciated during hot and sweaty summer days!), where they offer food, snacks, drinks, fresh juices and hot beverages. We are Nodes recommends the iced coffee – it is to die for!
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    Address: 42/43 Boulevard de la Croisette
    Phone: +33 04 93 99 44 05
    Website: http://armanirestaurants.com/cannes-armani-caffe

    Champagne Breakfast at Carlton Hotel

    Not everyone can afford paying 7056 euro per night for the Suite Executive with ocean view at 5-star luxury hotel InterContinental Carlton Cannes. 42 euro for their Champagne breakfast is much more reasonable – and a fantastic way to experience the renowned hotel that had legendary guests like Sean Connery, Sean Penn, Sophia Loren and Grace Kelly (the hotel also offers extraordinary, but expensive, suites named after the movie stars).  

    The breakfast itself is nothing too remarkable, but the chilled Champagne in combination with the luxurious setting at the most prestigious hotel in Cannes makes the breakfast experience worth its price.

    Carlton Breakfast We are NodesCarlton Breakfast We are Nodes 2Carlton Hotel We are Nodes 2Fun trivia: Did you know that Carlton Hotel was the target of a massive jewel theft in 2013, where robbers came across jewels worth $136 million.  

    Address: 58 Boulevard la Croisette, CS 40052, Cannes
    Phone:  +33 (0)4 93 06 40 06
    Website: Official page: http://www.intercontinental-carlton-cannes.com/
    Restaurant/Breakfast info: http://www.intercontinental-carlton-cannes.com/en/your-stay-in-cannes/carlton-restaurant/

    Ile Sainte-Marguerite

    As it is most known for its glitz and glamour, it is easy to forget that Cannes also offers a lot of interesting history. A great day excursion to escape the vibrant pulse in Cannes is to take the ferry over to Ile Sainte-Marguerite (one of several islands belonging to the Iles de Lérins island group). Walk around this little island where the ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ was once held prisoner – you can even visit his actual cell at Fort Royal!

    The trip from Cannes does not take more than 20 minutes and costs only a few Euros. Tickets are bought in ticket stores close to the Port. Do not forget to buy your ticket in advance, during high season the boats tend to get full.cannes2014-10Website for ferry tickets: http://www.trans-cote-azur.co.uk/cannes-ile-sainte-marguerite.php

    Gotha Club and Le Bâoli– A little party ain’t killed nobody

    Where’s the party at, you wonder? It is at Gotha Club and Le Bâoli, the two biggest nightclubs in Cannes. During high seasons these hot spots are packed with famous celebrities and enthusiastic tourists from all over the world. International artists and DJ’s are performing almost every evening, so keep an eye on the event schedule (most easily done by following the club’s Facebook pages) since some nights one club is ‘the place to be’, while the other is more or less empty.

    And let us be honest here; being a girl or reserving a drink table helps the nightclub experience. Most clubs charge an entrance fee which varies depending how well-known the artist performing is, and a drink costs around 20-25 euros. The clubs in Cannes are not the cheapest, but they have without doubt given us some of our craziest and best nights. There is just something special with the party vibe in Cannes. 

    Le Baoli We are NodesIt’s party time at Le Bâoli

    IMG_8809Bob Sinclair spinning records at Gotha Club.

    IMG_5778 (1)High season nights at Gotha Club. 

    Address Le Bâoli: Port Pierre Canto, Boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes
    Website: http://www.lebaoli.com/baoli/

    Address Gotha Club: Place Franklin Roosevelt, 06400 Cannes
    Website: http://gotha-club.com/

    Boat life in Cannes

    “You spend time on land, you live life on water”

    Boat life is always fun, and there is no better way to experience the French Riviera than on water. Bring a bunch of snacks (the French’s love their classic baguettes, cheeses, Prosciuttos), wine, Champagne and other beverages (but hey, remember to drink responsibly!). Prepare the ultimate Spotify list and you are all set! There are services on the sea of course – taxi boats to take you to the adjacent beach clubs or service boats from where you can buy coffee or ice-cream.

    How do you throw the perfect Yacht party? There is a saying that explains it pretty well: One’s a company, two’s a crowd and three’s a party. Meet up with likeminded people on other boats, set anchor and join (party) forces in a mutual boat party until the sun goes down!
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    When, or if, you have had enough of partying, swimming and tanning, it is time to head for food at Marco Polo Beach. We love love love this cozy and relaxed beach restaurant, suitable for both families and leisure travelers! The restaurant is located right next to the beach, which makes it possible to moor the boat at their pier.
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    We are Nodes recommends the amazing seafood risotto that still makes us drool.

    Address: 47, avenue de Lerins, 06590 Théoule-sur-Mer (read more about how to get here if you do not have a boat on this page)
    Phone: +33 (4) 93499659

    Cannes, we will be back soon! 

    Read more:
    Visting the French Riviera for Bastille Day? Don’t miss our blog post
    How to celebrate Bastille Day on the French Riviera.

    Cannes is of course also featured in Yasmin’s Travel Q&A, read more here:
    Travel Q&A with Yasmin from We are Nodes

  • Central America

    3 Things You Don’t Want To Miss In Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

    Costa Rica is ranked one of the most popular international destinations and having spent a couple of weeks there – we can clearly see why. Very few countries offer the same wide variety of activities, wilderness and scenery, and the locals’ hospitality and pura vida-attitude quickly puts a permanent smile on your face.

    Santa Teresa is one of Costa Rica’s most visited destinations. The village is mostly known for its magical sunsets and amazing surfing, and those two alone are worth putting Santa Teresa on your roadmap. But the city is more than a surfer’s paradise. We can almost guarantee that there is something for everyone in this Central America located gem. The village is crowded of tourists during high season and the pulse is higher than in many other places in Costa Rica. Here are We are Nodes’ top 3 list of  things to do in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica! 

    Banana Beach Restaurant 

    If Banana Beach Restaurant does not get you into vacation mode, nothing ever will. The beach club is one of the hot-spots in Santa Teresa, located next to the beach, and is perfect for both late night exotic dinners as well as chill day hangouts. Cool down under the palm trees while sipping on tropical drinks and watch surfers as they hit the waves.
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    Address: Villa Bonita Dr, Costa Rica
    Phone: +506 2640 1117
    Banana Beach Restaurant on Tripadvisor 

    Hotel Vista de Olas

    If you are into infinity pools and extraordinary views, you need to put Hotel Vista de Olas on your list. The pool is open for both hotel guests and visitors (you pay an entrance fee of 16 dollars which can be used to purchase food and drinks). Lay back and enjoy the lounge music that gradually turns up during the day  – and why not catch the sunset from this mountaintop hotel and restaurant. It’s going to leave you speechless!

    The easiest way to get to Vista de Olas is to take a taxi there since it is located on top of a mountain a little outside of the city centre. Even though they serve food, the hotel is best suited for drinks and snacks – save your money for any of the restaurants in the city center instead.IMG_1520 IMG_1522

    Address: Vista de Olas, 160 5361, Costa Rica
    Phone: +506 2640 0183
    Website: http://www.vistadeolas.com/

    The amazing sunsets

    “After a visit to the beach, it’s hard to believe that we live in a material world.”

    When adding Santa Teresa’s spectacular sunsets to that beach experience, you could not agree more with the quote above. The famous sunsets are even more spectacular in real life. This is by far the best part about Santa Teresa, so we urge you to breathe in the atmosphere together with other  travelers, surfers and locals.IMG_4349IMG_3408IMG_4346 IMG_4348
    Stay tuned for more travel tips in Costa Rica!

  • Europe

    6 Amazing Places You Must Visit In Paris

    Botellón at La Perle, amazing burgers and a champagne experience out of the ordinary. We are Nodes has listed our 6 Paris-favourites:

    Dinner with a view at Kong

    Remember the Sex and the City episode where Carrie Bradshaw has lunch with Aleksandr Petrovsky’s ex-wife at a fabulous Parisian rooftop restaurant? Well, this is the place! With an exceptional view of the Seine and decor signed by Philippe Starck, KONG is the designer restaurant where the atmosphere (or the ambience as the french would say) is just as important as the French-Japanese cuisine. Having been one of Paris hotspots since its opening back in 2003, some say that KONG’s prime time is over – but if you haven’t visited this place you’ve certainly missed out on something! The service is excellent, the food will leave you satisfied and the vibe is good. As the evening progresses, the music gets louder and the lights go darker, making KONG the perfect restaurant to wine and dine at before hitting the town.

    We are Nodes recommend: Try the roasted duck breast with berries of sichuan and white rice.
    kong paris IMG_1686IMG_1662IMG_1689 IMG_1665
    Address: 1 Rue du Pont Neuf, 75001 Paris, France
    Phone:+33 1 40 39 09 00
    Website: http://www.kong.fr/_en  
    Metro: Pont Neuf

    Botellón at La Perle

    From the outside, this little corner bistro in Le Marais looks just like any other bar in Paris – but it is everything but ordinary! As soon as the sun goes down, the street outside of La Perle gets jam packed with Paris coolest crowd who are there to botellón. In case you’re not familiar with the term, it basically means:

    “big bottle in Spanish and is typically a nighttime (and often daytime) Spanish activity when people congregate in public areas to socialize while drinking alcohol (street drinking)”. 

    And yes, this pretty much summarizes what goes on at La Perle: a well mixed crowd consisting of designers, artists, models, hipsters, chic bohemians and the occasional tourist, standing on 78 rue Vieille du Temple, drinking cheap wine (3 euro/glass!), and mingling like there’s no tomorrow. By the end of the evening, we’d be suprised if you haven’t found both a fling, a new friend and had some very strange encounters with eccentric personalities. Nevertheless, you never have a dull night at La Perle!

    Fun trivia: Did you know that La Perle is “that bar” where ex-Dior designer, John Galliano had his anti-Semitic rant?

    IMG_1766IMG_3514Artist Mathias Kiss at La Perle, picture taken by: We are Nodes.

    Address: 78 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris.

    Phone: +33 1 42 72 69 93

    Eat the best burgers in Paris at Marche Des Enfantes Rouges

    The best thing with getting to know locals in new cities is that they can share their hidden gems with you. If we hadn’t been told that we “must try the burgers at Marche des Enfantes Rogues” we would a) probably never have found this lovely food market in Marais (which happens to be Paris oldest covered market built in 1615), and b) if we by any chance still would, we would just pass the burger place since it doesn’t really stand out. Good thing we are telling you now – because for only 10 euros (!!!) you will get Paris best burger and a food experience far from the typical tourist traps. If the weather is nice, we recommend you to take a doggy bag and enjoy your lunch at the park outside.

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    Adress: 39 Rue de Bretagne, Le Marais.
    Opening hours: Tue-Thu 8.30am-1pm, 4pm-7.30pm; Fri-Sat 8.30am-1pm, 4pm-8pm; Sun 8.30am-2pm
    Metro: Filles du Calvaire.

    Champagne tasting at Moët & Chandon Champagne Caves

    Ok, this one is not in Paris BUT if you are planning to spend a couple of days in Paris and are thinking about doing a day trip to an other city we know just the where you should go! How about visiting the Moët & Chandon (and Dom Perignon) champagne cellars in Champagne, rounding of with a champagne tasting? This activity is not only very, very French – but also very, very fun. We choose to do our tasting at Moët & Chandon’s cellars, which is the largest one within the Champagne region, but there are plenty of other champagne houses alongside Avenue de Champagne in Epernay to choose from. Just make sure you to book your visit well in advance. Oh, and come thirsty.

    IMG_1829IMG_1833IMG_1821The 28 km long champagne cellar.

    Here’s a more detailed post about the Möet & Chandom Champagne Caves. 

    Adress: 20 avenue de Champagne
    51200 Epernay
    Tel : 03.26.51.20.20
    Website: http://www.moet.com/

    Eat mashed potatoes from heaven at Le Coq

    We stumbled upon Le Coq by accident, many years ago, after visiting the Eiffel tower that is just footsteps away, and decided to try it out. Thank heavens we did, because the Chicken with mango chutney, curry and mashed potatoes is out of this world! Anyone who has tried purée de pommes de terre (mashed potatoes) in France know what we mean – it tastes much better than at home. Aside from serving mouth watering food, Le Coq also has an popular outdoor seating that is perfect for having drinks, long Sunday brunches and people watching on sunny days.

    We are Nodes tip: With only one minute to walk to the Place De la Concorde you can watch the light show at the Eiffel Tower after finishing your dinner. Perfect way to end the evening!

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    Adress: 2 Place du Trocadéro.
    Tel: +33 1 47 27 89 52
    Metro: Trocadero.

    The perfect shopping break at Printemp’s rooftop café

    Life on rooftops is simply… a little bit better. Especially when you have a 360° view of Paris and the Eiffel tower as your coulisse. Forget about long queues and ticket fees to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe and spend them on a rooftop-lunch or coffee instead. Café Le Déli-cieux is located in the middle of the city, on the 9th floor of the beautiful department store Printemps, and is definitely high on our list of favorite hangouts in Paris. With a huge outdoor terrace, coffee (and food for the hungry ones), you can easily spend a good couple of hours here, soaking up the sun and listening to music.IMG_4513 IMG_4515

    Adress: 64 Boulevard Haussmann
    Phone: +33 1 42 82 50 00
    Metro: Chaussée d’Antin – Lafayette, Opéra
    Website: http://www.printemps.com/

    Breakfast at Paul’s

    Forget about Breakfast at Tiffany’s – the best way to start your day is at Paul’s, the French bakery that has been around since 1889 and still going strong. Located all around town, you are more than likely to pass this place many times during your Paris getaway. We must give a shout out to their chicken baguettes and Pain au chocolat. Two of our all time favourites!

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    Address: 25 Avenue de l’Opéra, 75001 Paris, France

     

    Have you visited any of these places or do you have any other favourite spots in Paris that you’d like to share with us? Drop us a comment!
  • Amsterdam,  Hotels

    Hotel Review | Van Der Valk Schiphol, Amsterdam

    Stuck at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, at nine o clock on Sunday evening, with the first flight leaving the next morning is not exactly the ideal situation when you should be at work on Monday morning. Let’s just say that there comes a time for each traveller when the travel plans take unexpected turns. Bad weather conditions, flight delays and technical issues are just some of the external factors that can cause you to have to rearrange your schedule and spend those extra hours at a so called airport hotel. On this late March evening, We Are Nodes didn’t have any other choice but to explode the myth about those airport hotels once and for all:

    Airport Business Hotel – Van der Valk Hotel Schiphol A4

    After an hour and a half of waiting at the airport, we were finally on the shuttle bus taking us to Hotel Schiphol A4, our stay for the night. Van der Valk Hotel Schiphol A4 is a partner hotel of the Dutch airline company KLM, meaning this is the place that you must likely will end up on if KLM cancels your Amsterdam-flight. Never having spent the night at an airport hotel before, we must admit that we weren’t exactly thrilled. Checking in to a hotel in the middle of nowhere with no luggage probably isn’t high on any travellers list.

    First impression

    A fifteen to twenty minute drive later, the bus stopped outside of a large building with the hotel sign glowing in the dark. From the outside it didn’t look for much, but as soon as we got in to the hotel lobby we got a pleasant surprise. With a large reception area, friendly and helpful staff and a welcoming interior, we immediately got a warm and positive feeling. This airport hotel didn’t look like anything like the old concrete building with “cell-block” hotel rooms we had pictured in our heads.

    IMG_1952IMG_1956One of the hotel lobbies.

    Late night buffets and early breakfasts

    The first thing we noticed just when were about to stand in line to check-in was that the dinner buffet still was open. Not thinking twice, we decided to skip the queue and hit the buffet instead. Turned out to be a good choice! A wide selection of warm and cold food, desserts, beverages and above all, a serene ambience with lit candles everywhere was exactly what we needed after a really long day. If it wasn’t for the fact that the clock already was past eleven p.m, we would easily have spent a couple of more hours here.

    With an early flight the following morning, we also had time to enjoy the breakfast that opened as early as 05.00 a.m. The perfect way to start the day!IMG_1946

    The Room

    Checking in late turned out to be a good idea as we were given two of the newly built “I Am Superior” rooms and were the first guests to get to sleep in the comfy new Hypnos beds (which were voted bed of the year in 2012!). An other positive thing that struck us was that the rooms at Van Der Valk were quite spacious for thinking European-standards. Besides the large and comfortable twin bed, the I Am Suprior Rooms also had a big balcony, a desk and a sitting area.van der walk schiphol we are nodes IMG_1966IMG_1968 IMG_1961IMG_1965IMG_1992

    The semi open-plan bathroom is a growing trend at many hotels, and while it definitely adds a cool “Ibiza vibe” to the interior it also means that you can forget about privacy.
    In other words, you should be comfortable with your travelling companion if you are planning to share a room. But style goes before functionality right? IMG_1994 IMG_1989 IMG_1991

    Hotel Amneties

    Wellness area: The Schiphol A4 has a large wellness area with both an gym overlooking the garden and an indoor swimming pool with a relaxing area.
    Garden: The perks of not being a hotel in the middle of a city is that there is a big garden where you can do outdoor sports or go for a walk.
    Working spaces and meeting rooms: For the business traveller there are plenty of quiet corners where you can sit and work, or rooms that can be booked to have meetings or seminars.
    Conferences & events: The hotel has a floor area of 2.000 m2 that can be used for fairs, conference rooms and are experienced organizers of weddings and parties.

    Final Words

    For being a four star hotel outside Amsterdam city center, Hotel Van der Valk Schiphol A4 surely blew our expectations! The next time We are Nodes are stuck in Amsterdam, will be more than happy to be back! And hopefully not in such a hurry.

    Hotel Schiphol
    Adress: Rijksweg A 4 Nr.3
    2132 MA Hoofddorp – Schiphol
    Tel: +31 (0) 252 67 53 35
    E-Mail: Website: https://www.hotelschiphol.nl/en/