Forcado Pastelaria

Everytime I take tram 92 to the city centre from our house, it goes past Forcado. It’s one of the few café-like places that looks cozy from the outside looking in. It’s a Portuguese pastelaria that has specialised in pasteis de nata, the national pastry. The places has been there since 1982 and still, it’s extremely popular. And with reason! One bite of the pastry took me straight back to Lisbon; if heaven were a pastry, it’d definitely be this! For those that like experimenting with flavours, they have different variations of the traditional pastry, ranging from speculoos, chocolate, praliné to lemon and coffee.

Where? Charleroise Steenweg 196, Brussels (close to tram stop Janson)

When? Every day from 10am till 6pm, except for Mondays

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Rotterdam – a shopping guide

Between Christmas and New Years, my boyfriend and I took a little getaway to Rotterdam. We took things slow and explored some of the great architectural constructions like the Markthal, saw some art at the Kunsthal and wandered the city’s streets. There were definitely too many nice looking shops and cozy cafés, but we managed to squeeze in quite a few! I’m giving you an overview below so you can enjoy some of the best ones. The shopping must go on!

PLEK – concept store

Where? 

What? This concept store is a design lover’s dream. From clothes to homeware, this place has everything in its own style, from Scandi chic to German retro. They also have a great selection of fragrances. My favourite – the Bon Parfumeur in the scent 301 – a woody scent with sandalwood, amber and cardamom. It was love at first smell.

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STEK – de stadstuinwinkel

Where? Nieuwe Binnenweg 195B

What? It’s the urban jungle lover’s dream. You walk into the shop and immediately get that jungle vibe: there’s literally plants everywhere! If your love of plants exceeds the plants itself, like me, you  will also like the botanical greeting cards and lovely ceramic pots as decoration. The shop owner is also really helpful! Basically, I could live in this store and be perfectly happy.

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HAY

Where? Haagseveer 99

What?  Anyone that knows me, knows I absolutely love this brand. It’s a Danish design brand that distinguishes itself from others by using unique shapes and colours. Regular scissors, clothing hooks and towels become objects of marvel. Time and time again, I end up buying nothing at all because I want everything and my budget just doesn’t allow for that to happen.

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VOORLOPIG

Where? Nieuwe Binnenweg 165

What? Everything you didn’t know you needed. There’s not really anything you couldn’t live without at this store, but there’s A LOT of things that you don’t feel like you want to live without. It’s got a wide selection of greeting cards, children’s books and posters. And I mean, who doesn’t love a store that makes a Christmas tree out of books! Out of books! Right.

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Hutspot

Where? Karel Doormanstraat 317

What? Really cool and edgy clothes and accessories that are comparably very affordable. From basic items to some pieces to stand out with.  I especially liked their jewellery collection, which as on point. You can kind of get the vibe of the store by looking at their website.

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Markthal

Where? Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298

What? Only the most amazing architectural construction in Rotterdam, with a combination of apartments and a huge glass market hall. This really is the place to be for food lovers. If you’re not already hungry by the thought of the market hall, you will definitely get some cravings when you see al the glorious food stands. A must if you’re ever in Rotterdam!

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GROOS

Where? Achterklooster 13

What? A really basic but artsy store that is enjoyable by the way it’s been set up alone. It’s kind of like a mix between a warehouse and an art or design gallery. We bought some local beer (with lime) there and socks with an unbearably cute print. It’s a great place to get a gift for the ungiftable person.

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KEET

Where? Oppert 2a

What? A gift store that doubles up as a café. The perfect place to go snoop around when the weather isn’t that great. They have a great selection of ceramics and jewellery. Again, you’ll need nothing but end up wanting everything.

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Coffeelicious

Where? Nieuwe Binnenweg 174

What? After all the shopping, it’s nice to bop in somewhere to grab a cup of coffee or tea. This place’s interior looks like Alice in Wonderland had a baby with a Scandinavian designer (not my favourite combo) but the cake here was the bomb.com and all was forgiven quickly. Try the carrot cake!

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This is only a grasp of the many, many more shops and cool places in Rotterdam and I’m pretty sure I’ll have to go back in summer one day, but I feel like these are a solid list to get your started. If you’re into one of a kind shops and laid back wandering around the city, Rotterdam is definitely the place for you.

Please be sure to let me know if you have any questions or comments! I’d love to tell you more about it.

Until the next shopping spree! :-)

Lilith

If you’re ever in Rotterdam and just like me, you are a huge fan of going out for breakfast, Lilith might just be the place for you. It’s an old bar with lots of hipster elements but a bit of a rockery vibe. I mean, the water we asked for came in a skull-shaped bottle and the music they play is mostly hard rock (in a non-disturbing kind of way!). Not to mention the food is delicious: there’s lots of options for everyone, from the bacon and eggs indulging lover (Gillian) to the vegan fruit and yoghurt bowl favourite (Me). One tip: go early! Right after we got there, the place was full and there’s a waiting line. I can understand why… :-)

When? Monday-Wednesday from 8am till 7pm, Thursdays from 8am till 9pm, Friday-Saturday from 8am till 10pm and Sundays from 8am till 9pm.

Where? Nieuwe Binnenweg 125H, Rotterdam

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3L Buurtkantine

On one of the few occasions I go back to my hometown, Tienen, a friend and I decided it was time to go and discover this unique (!) place in town. It’s pretty much the only place that sells coffee and cake as well as healthy lunch alternatives (salad jars, yay). The menu changes regularly, so there’s no way you’ll ever get bored. Really, in a city like Tienen, this place is a welcome change for us twenty-somethings. It’s bright, colourful and warm – perfect for catching up with hometown friends. 3L Buurtkantine also has a blog, which you can read here (Dutch).

When? Weekdays from 10am till 4pm

Where? Leuvensestraat 14, 3300 Tienen

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Cafe Vida

During our stay in La Paz, Bolivia, we were desperate for a good café and as of wonder, out of nowhere came Cafe Vida, a vegan café on a small interior square that was calm and had an outdoor seating area. It was perfect. The apple pie we had was divine and the Chaï Lattes tasted like home. Service was also really quick and friendly. And English-speaking!

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Where? Calle Sagarnaga 213, La Paz

When? Monday – Friday from 9.30 am till 7 pm, Saturdays from 9.30 am till 5 pm

ZOET

Zoet calls itself the tastiest candy shop in Mechelen, and I have to agree! My girlfriend and I stumble across this too cute for words sweets shop on the hunt for cool clothing shops. What we found was better! Zoet is a bright and colourful candy shop that wants to go back to the roots of the little corner candy shop with glass jars and unique products. The sweets they sell are authentic and original. What’s even cooler is that they also have an online shop so you can spoil someone you love or miss or even yourself if you are craving something sweet, without having to venture out to Mechelen. (Would recommend though!) Seriously, I get happy just looking at their website.

Where? In Mechelen, at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwestraat 108 or online

When? Mondays-Tuesdays from 11am till 5pm, Wednesdays – Saturdays from 11am till 6pm. Closed on Sundays. Online: always open!

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