My first brush with Belgium came in the winter of 2010, I was on a tour of Europe and the city I decided to visit in Belgium was Brussels.
Apart from the fact that it was the seat of the European Union, the tasty waffles I purchased from the city center, and a big Elephant figure made of Chocolate in front of a Chocolate shop, I left Belgium feeling none too impressed.
That is why, when a Dutch student studying in Antwerp whom I met in Lithuania invited me to profile the city where she studied, I immediately jumped at the opportunity and decided to give Belgium one more try.
Antwerp is Belgium’s biggest port city, with a population of about 520,000 inhabitants. The city has a large student population and is a popular destination for Erasmus students due to it’s many universities, some of which include: The University of Antwerp, Lessius Hogeschool, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. This adds to Antwerp’s youthful vibrance and fuels it reputation as the best city to party in Belgium.
Some of the best landmarks to see in Antwerp during the day are it’s incredible Central station that sources an amazing network of buses and trains that run to and from Antwerp.
Other landmarks include Antwerp city hall, Guildhouses, an underground pedestrian tunnel that runs through the city , and the Statue of Brabo and the giant’s hand.
Antwerp also has a great outdoor café culture and when the weather permits, it’s easy to notice locals gingerly enjoying some of the properly brewed beers that the city has to offer. At night time during the school months, the city’s students and locals hit many of the (pubs and nightclubs Antwerp’s Nightclubs) that keeps Antwerp beaming with life.
I would like to thank my friend who invited led my party trail down to this amazing city. At the time of this writing, Europe is experiencing unprecedented turmoil battling issues such as terrorism, mass migration, and an unstable economic future.
It was nice to visit a city that distracts from that and remind us why Europe is and will be the cultural epicenter of the world for centuries to come. If you have any doubts, you need look no further than Antwerp to see why.
If you are a resident of downtown Los Angeles (d.t.l.a.) there is no doubt you have noticed a renaissance of epic proportions is going on in this part of the city.
This resurgence has been fueled in part by professionals whom in the past fled the downtown area after work for the safety and excitement other parts of Los Angeles provided.
For all the restaurants, pubs, theatres, and cultural venues that have sprung up since d.t.l.a’s renaissance began, there has always been one missing ingredient, a missing void, that made it impossible for it to contend with other L.A. cultural heavy weights.
The Globe theatre LA located on 740 South Broadway, downtown, Los Angeles hopes to fill this void. If a district in a city hopes to be a contender for a nightlife heavyweight title, it needs to have a marquee club. This newly minted club downtown that is housed in an antique theatre has all it takes to be d.t.l.a’s marquee club.
The Partytrail was invited to the Globe theatre to give our thoughts on what a night partying at this nightclub is like and we were very impressed.
The layout of the club is very spacious, there are two bars in the nightclub serving drinks, and they had an amazing DJ.
Getting past the line if you are on the guest list seemed to be a breeze and the staff seemed to be committed to ensuring guests had a great time at the club.
One thing the Globe theatre will need to do if it wants to solidify it’s position as the place to be if you visit downtown Los Angeles is work harder in getting the word out about this wonderful establishment.
The potential for this club is huge and if the right promotional steps are taken, that potential will quickly become kinetic. There are tons of young professionals who have chosen signature apartments like 717 olympic, Pegasus, 1010 Wilshire, and the Milano lofts just to name a few as their places of abode.
Also there are two big universities (U.S.C. and F.I.D.M) that have potential patrons. This is a pool of people this establishment will have to tap into if it wants to escape the fate (an early death due to lack of patrons) of several clubs that have come before it.
In our opinion, significant efforts need to be made to reach these populations. Downtown clubs from past experience have a nasty habit of being unpleasantly empty when they shouldn’t be.
In terms of size, ambience, layout, and the quality of music we experienced, Globe theatre L.A. has no where to go but up. How their ascension to downtown L.A’s nightlife throne plays out will pretty much rest on how they play their cards in the promotional arena.
If Globe there does not fulfill it’s rightful destiny, we might just have to continue to settle for the crappy bars on spring street.
In 2008, while at the University of Southern California (USC), I was standing at the university’s fraternity row (for those of you not in the know, it’s a strip on 28th Street in downtown Los Angeles (L.A.) with some friends from Mexico when out of nowhere, I saw this girl elegantly approaching our group.
She was tall, had short blonde hair, accompanied with a well chiseled face. Her looks and swagger were uncharacteristic of most of the other girls I encountered at the university.
My friends and I knew she had to be foreign. About 10 minutes into our conversation with her, she told us she was from Lithuania (up to that point, all I knew of Lithunia was that it was a former Soviet state and a basketball powerhouse somewhere in Europe).
She would go on to tell us all about her country and their struggle to achieve independence from the Soviets.
She also let us in on the fact that while she loved L.A., Lithuania was where her heart belonged. I never saw her again but she left such an impression on me that I decided some day, if I got a chance I would visit Lithuania–a country that up until that point was a mystery to me.
After an awesome time attending Exit festival in Serbia, it was time for me to finally make good on the promise I made on that day back in 2008.
I boarded a flight out of Belgrade and headed straight for Lithuania. I didn’t know what to expect, so I decided it was best to keep an open mind.
On arrival at the airport in Vilnius, I had my first encounter with a Lithuanian while trying to organize a cab ride down to the city center where my hostel was booked.
A middle aged man, approached me and asked: “What are you doing here? Are you lost?” I was taken aback by the question, not knowing if he was being rude or just inquisitive, I retorted: “No! Are you?” to which, he turned around and briskly walked away.
I got into the cab and wondered what that encounter was about. All I could do was ponder what point he was trying to make.
However, in the next two weeks of me spending time in his country, his aversion to strangers, while uncalled for, would somewhat make sense to me.
Lithuania is one of three Baltic states that used to be a part of the now defunct Soviet Union. It is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Belarus, Latvia, and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast.
The administrative capital of Lithuania is Vilnius, which also doubles as the economic epicenter of the country. Vilnius as of 2014 boasts a population of about 540,000.
After settling into my hostel in Vilnius, I decided to wander around the city a bit.
Vilnius truly shows itself in the summer as a really beautiful capital city, and for a country that some 20-odd years ago was holed up behind the Iron curtain, it was obvious Lithuania seemed to be moving in the right direction.
The main strip that holds most of the restaurants and coffee shops in Vilnius is “Gediminas Avenue”.
One of the things that stood out to me was the almost ubiquitous presence of Scandinavian and American businesses in Vilnius.
This to me was evidence of foreign investment into the Country. I also found that most people under the age of 30 spoke decent English.
Another location of note is the Old town hall, which was in the past a site of Lithuanian resistance to Soviet occupation. Twenty-four years later, streets adjacent to the old town hall are lined with outdoor cafes, restaurants, and bars.
At first glance, one would think Vilnius was an ethnically homogenous city but I would later find out that there is a good mix of Russians, Poles, native Lithuanians and expatriates who had chosen to make Vilnius home.
People in Vilnius also have a good sense of style and fashion; they portray the sort of looks that would make Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine feel validated.
As I wound down my first day touring the city, the word that bubbled up in my mind about Vilnius was “impressed”.
Vilnius for all its architecture, clean streets, outdoor cafes, and restaurants, struck me as a world class city.
The Russians Came And Took It From Them……
The next day, I decided I wanted to explore some more and went to rent a bicycle. At the bicycle shop, there was a tattooed gentleman with a Skrillex-style hair cut. He sat expressionless in his chair, looked up to see who had walked into his shop and without a bother, looked right back down into his computer screen.
I inquired about renting a bicycle to which he asked “Why? To tour the city?”. I had to decipher what he was saying through his thick Lithuanian accent, which made me a little slow to respond.
I told him I wanted to rent a bicycle, to which, he replied “Why don’t you visit Klaipeda or Kaunas? In my opinion those are more authentic Lithuanian cities.” Vilnius is all shiny because it has been polished up with European Union (E.U.) money.
He said “Besides Klaipeda is a port city and of great historical significance to Lithuania. It used to be a very German city until the Russians came and took it from them.”
“You definitely have to visit it,” he said. I paid the deposit on the bicycle and headed out. His comments about Kaunas and Klaipeda left me wanting to visit, so I planned trips to both cities in the coming week.
I would spend the rest of the week trying out local Lithuanian dishes like Cepelinai (which are potato dumplings) and hot borscht (which is beet soup).
The evenings saw me and newly acquainted travelers or expatriates head to local bars and clubs on Vilnius Street like Pablo Latino, Salento, Exit, and Cocaine all loathed by locals but very popular amongst Erasmus students and expatriates.
The one thing I took away from Vilnius nightlife is that it is quite tame compared to a lot of other European destinations.
If you are looking for a rager, Vilnius is definitely not a city you want to come to. Most bars are virtually empty during the week and close around 3 am on the weekends.
After a week, enjoying the architecture, local dishes and nightlife in Vilnius, I decided it was time to take the advice of the guy from the bicycle rental shop and head to Kaunas.
I took a bus from the Vilnius bus station and an hour later I was in Kaunas.
Kaunas was a much different city than Vilnius, first of all it was not as posh as Vilnius and it was a lot more telling of Lithunia’s Soviet past than Vilnius.
In Vilnius, one could see evidence of Lithuania’s tilt to the EU and “The West” in general.
The main strip that holds most of the bars and restaurants in Kaunas is called “Laisves Aleja”. It is one of the Longest pedestrian streets in all of Europe. Laisves Aleja virtually runs from the Kaunas city center all the way to 0ld town Kaunas. Amongst some of the must see landmarks in Kaunas are….
The Lithuanian Aviation Museum
City Hall Square
The Akropolis Shopping Mall
Vytautas the Great War Museum
The Kaunas Castle
The nightlife in Kaunas is centered mostly around old town where you have Lithuanians sitting in outdoor cafes in the summer and hitting up clubs like The Basement, rePUBlic, the legendary Blue Orange pub, and Mojo Lounge.
While out in partying in Kaunas, I felt an over-arching sense of danger that I did not feel in Vilnius.
There was no shortage of macho guys wanting to pick a fight with any willing participants. I was never personally attacked or abused, but this was due to me being overtly diplomatic.
I did also see some ethnic tension manifest itself in the form of local Lithuanians getting into fist fights with their Polish and Russo-Lithuanian counterparts.
A piece of valuable advice for anyone visiting Kaunas: look out for these situations and to try as much as possible not to provoke or incite any unnecessary fights.
The city is safe enough if you keep your head about your wits. Kaunas also moonshines as a student city so that adds some foreign diversity to a population that is comprised of more native Lithuanians than Vilnius by a stretch.
This is Lithuania’s third largest city; it is also a port city as it has access to the Baltic Sea. There are two seaside resorts of note close to Klaipeda, one being, Palanga and the other being Nida.
The Curonian Spit is also a landmark worth seeing if one were to visit Klaipeda. The city of Klaipeda, because of it’s strategic location by the Baltic Sea has been the subject of foreign conquests ranging from the Teutonic Knights, the Third Reich and the Soviets to name a few.
In fact, if one were to visit Klaipeda, most of the architecture betrays the existence of its current Russo-Lithuanian inhabitants.
It was inhabited for a long time by Germans and from what I gathered, the population was more or less wiped out when the Germans lost the war to the Russians on the eastern front during the Second World War.
It was interesting to visit another former Soviet country and experience some of the changes that were occurring in the country post independence. Lithuania, from what I noticed, had experienced quite some agony in the past at the hands of foreigners.
From foreign opression at the hands of the Germans and Russians, to the unruly Turkish, Italian and British tourists who would later come and treat Lithuania like it was some sort of playground with cheap booze and quick flings.
It is no wonder Lithuanians have developed some sort of aversion to foreigners. By the end of my trip to Lithuania, I understood where the gentleman who inquired “if I was lost” was coming from.
Lithuania has had it rough to say the least; it’s small size and close geographical location to superpowers, like Russia and Germany, leave it open to the whims of foreign nations with ambitions of expanding their geopolitical and economic reach.
There are just about 3 million Lithuanians at the time of this publication. A sizeable number emigrated abroad after the collapse of the Soviet Union in search of better opportunities, while some decided to stay home and tough it out.
The wages in Lithuania are also low compared to other E.U. member states; there is an oversupply of educated candidates and not enough jobs to go round.
However, if one were to compare Lithuania today to what it was in 1991 when the Iron Curtain fell, one would see that this country has nowhere to go but up. Hopefully, I get to go back one day to visit Lithuania once it has achieved it’s Baltic promise.
In Serbia, A love Story, we talked about Belgrade and raved about all its awesomeness. What the partytrail was yet to find out was that Novi Sad, another city in Serbia, where thousands descend each year to experience the magic of the Exit music festival is just as charming and endearing as Belgrade.
Novi Sad, a city located in the northern part of Serbia was founded sometime around 1694. Today it plays a vital role as a financial and cultural center in Serbia. Every year thousands of revelers descend on the city of Novi Sad to attend the Exit festival at the Petrovaradin fortress. The Exit festival started as a political movement with students fighting for freedom and democracy in Serbia and the larger Balkans region. It has since spawned into an award wining music festival where the likes of Faithless, Hardwell and Martin Garrix spin their tunes.
The Exit festival is usually held over a four day period, with about 15 stages scattered all around the fortress. At these stages an array of Dj’s and starring artists play genres of music ranging from Hip Hop, House, Dubstep, Reggae, and Latin music to name a few. If you are looking for musical diversity this is one festival you need to attend.
There is also a campsite located next to a beach where people attending the festival can set up shop and get some much-needed rest away from the festivities. The age range of people attending the festival is anywhere between 18 and 35 years old but don’t be surprised if you meet the occasional cliff-hanger (people over the age of 35) who still enjoy the festival life.
The Petrovaradin fortress itself is quite a marvel, with its location on the banks of the Danube river, it adds a sense of other worldliness to the festival we are yet to encounter anywhere else.
In terms of the attendees, expect to meet people from all works of life. The festival draws students, hippies, music lovers, and working professionals. We did find that although the Exit festival is gaining mainstream popularity (In 2015, it set a new record for number of attendees), it seemed to attract mostly people from the Balkans region of Europe, which adds some level of authenticity to the festival in our opinion.
On a final note, the Exit festival is one of the most magical experiences we at the partytrail have ever experienced, and that is saying a lot. We will definitely be visiting again next year to experience yet another four nights of pure fucking magic. Till then…… Poštovanje
Early in 2014, I met a guy at a party in Los Angeles and asked where he was from. He told me Serbia, to which I responded: “aren’t you guys at war?”
He gave me a cold stare, and with a smirk on his face, he scoldingly blurted out “Yeah like twenty years ago”.
I immediately felt like I put my foot in my mouth and hastily retreated from the conversation. Being someone who tries to pay attention to world affairs, I felt my “faux pas” was inexcusable, right there and then I decided to plan a trip to Serbia.
On my arrival in Belgrade, it was immediately evident that Serbia had long moved on from the warring past it often gets associated with.
The ride to the city center from the airport was an interesting one, Belgrade is not a beautiful city, like Paris, nor is it modern like Hong Kong. It does, however, have its own charm and if you stay in Belgrade long enough, you start to fall in love with it.
Part of Belgrade’s charm is the fact that it is cheap, the people are fiercely proud of their culture, yet very welcoming. It is gritty, yet very safe.
There is an over-arching sense of despair amongst the younger population who feel corrupt politicians have mortgaged their future, but they will proudly tell you, if, given the chance in another life, they would still choose to be Serbs.
The men here in Belgrade are tall, good looking, and for the most part very athletic. The women are hands down some of the best-looking women you will see in Europe.
Alcohol and Food are also very cheap, a bottle of beer will run you between 200 and 500 Serbian Dinar (As of this post, 1 American Dollar equals approximately 107 Serbian Dinar).
There is a lot to see and do in Belgrade, and while the title of “New Berlin” has been bestowed upon Belgrade with regards to it’s round the clock crazy nightlife.
I found that to be a tad exaggerated. People party every day just like any other city but things really get going on the weekends.
In the winter, people party in underground bunkers and in the summer, those parties are moved to house boats on the Sava river. These houseboats are called Splavs, and parties go on here basically every day of the week, especially during summer’s high season (July to September).
The Food in Serbia, has many influences, drawing from Mediterranean, Turkish, Balkans, and Central European Cuisine, the national dishes are Cevapi, Pljeskavica, and, Sarma, all which are heavy in grilled meat and potatoes.
The national drink is Rakia, a must try if you visit Belgrade or any other city or town in Serbia.
There are three areas in Belgrade where one can find an assortment of restaurants for food and drinks; Beton Hala, Skadarlija, and Silicon Valley. The first, Beton Hala is a strip of high-end restaurants overlooking the Sava river where classy Belgradians go to dine whenever they feel like eating out.
Skadarlija, on the other hand, is the cobble-stoned strip also known as the Bohemian quarter, there are plenty of restaurants here that serve up mostly Serbian delicacies. Silicon Valley, another area in Belgrade, got it’s reputation in the 90’s, as a place where local girls hustled local gangsters with money for cash during the Yugoslav wars.
The girls’ as legend has it used this cash to buy Silicon implants hence the name “Silicon Valley”. In recent times, Silicon Valley has undergone a “renaissance of sorts” and now offers restaurants and bars that are priced higher than what you would find for instance in Republic square.
Silicon Valley has however not lived down its reputation as the place in Belgrade to go to see or be seen.
Other than the aforementioned areas, which are great for dining out, Savamala is a nightlife district in Belgrade with bars like Tranzit, and Radost Ludost. A night on the town in Belgrade would not be complete without going to party at Savamala.
To cap things off, we have provided you with a list of things to do if visiting Belgrade, Serbia.
It’s summer again which means there are tons of summer music festivals going on. In our opinion, there is no better way to have an unforgettable summer than to attend a music festival.
We have compiled a list of 10 of the best summer music festivals that you can attend this summer. Enjoy!!
1. Exit Music Festival (Novi Sad, Serbia)
The Exit festival in Novi Sad, Serbia started out as a student movement fighting for peace and democracy in Serbia and the greater Balkans. In recent times, it has grown to become one of the most popular summer music festivals in Europe.
With a reported 2 million people attending the music festival from over 60 countries it has become one of Europe’s most revered summer music festivals. The festival itself is hosted in the Petrovaradin fortress overlooking the river Danube in the student city of Novi Sad.
If you want an unforgettable summer defined by a great atmosphere and music, this is one of those summer music festival you surely don’t want to miss.
2. Glastonbury Festival (Pilton, Somerset, England)
The Glastonbury music festival is a 5-day event that takes place in Somerset England. The festival not only involves headline DJ’s spinning their tunes, it also includes comedians, theatre artists and circus acts all plying their trade.
The festival was held originally in 1970 and has since become a staple on the music festival circuit. Website: http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk
3. Fullmoon Party (Koh Pha-ngan, Thailand)
The Fullmoon party in Koh Pha-ngan, Thailand is a monthly festival that celebrates the full moon. It is usually preceded by the lesser known but equally fun “Half-moon party” also held in Koh Pha-ngan.
Haad-Rin beach where the party is held is usually packed with revelers from all over the world. In the lead up to the full moon party expect forest parties, buckets of vodka, glowing body paint, fire dancers, and a beach party that will go on into the mid-day the day following. Website: http://fullmoonparty-thailand.com
4. Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, USA
This music festival used to be held in Los Angeles but was moved to Las Vegas, U.S.A because Los Angeles didn’t want to deal with the craziness associated with summer music festivals.
The line up of artists at this festival is usually to die for. Our advice is that you buy tickets early for this one because they sellout fast. Website: http://lasvegas.electricdaisycarnival.com
5.Best Kept Secret Music Festival (HILVARENBEEK, THE NETHERLANDS)
This music festival is held in HILVARENBEEK, The Netherlands, every summer. It serves up a diverse genre of music including Hip Hop, Folk Music, and everything in between. It also features an open-air campsite, beach and swimming pools.
Considering the fact that some of the best DJ’s in the world are from the Netherlands, we are rest assured that this music festival should definitely be on your list this summer. Website: http://www.bestkeptsecret.nl
6. Lollapalooza (Grant Park Chicago)
This festival is one of America’s most revered music festivals. Lollapalooza is what you get when you have an incredible line up of musicians, a great city and a great venue, all put together, you end up with a recipe for a life-changing event.
All you need to do is check out 2015’s line up and you will know why this music festival should definitely be on your list of must attend summer festivities. Website: http://www.lollapalooza.com
7. Ultra Korea
Ultra is a music festival franchise that is location independent, rotating through several venues around the globe. If you live in South Korea or you are just visiting this summer they will be rolling into town in June. Ultra After Movie
8. Tomorrowland Belgium
The Tomorrowland music festival is such an awe-inspiring festival that it borderline transcends reality. Everything about this music festival is other-worldly, from the fantasy themed stage, to the amazing DJ’s. People have returned from this music festival and raved about amazing and life changing it was. Tomorrowland Aftermovie
9. Roskilde (Denmark)
This festival used to be originally frequented by Scandinavians but has recently expanded its reach to a more international crowd. Originally started in 1971 by two friends and a promoter, the festival used to be frequented by hippies.
It later went mainstream once the Roskilde foundation took it over and started managing it. The present day line up includes a wide range of artists and music genres. Our advice is that you snag tickets quick because of how quickly this festival sells out. Website: http://www.roskilde-festival.dk
10. Guca Festival, (Guca Serbia)
The festival of trumpets in Guca, Serbia is a 6 day festival in August that attracts up to 600,000 people mostly from neighboring European countries. Serbia is a hot tourism spot at the moment, which accounts for the recent popularity of this festival. Take a peek at the website to get a feel for what this festival is about. Website: http://www.gucafestival.rs
Summer is upon us again which means it’s time to dust off your plane tickets, hit an amazing spot and soak in some Sun in a faraway exotic location.
To facilitate your travels, we, at the Partytrail have compiled a list of 20 essential items that you must possess for a successful summer vacation.
A Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) Camera.
As a traveler, relying on your memory banks is not enough for you to recall all the potentially wonderful moments you will have on your journey.
A DSLR is a great way to capture those moments to share with your family and friends when you return from your trip.
During the summer months, temperatures can rise to dangerous levels and one must make sure they are properly protected from the ultra violet rays that have been given way by less cloudy skies.
Apart from the short-term effects of UV exposure of burns from the UV radiation and heat, longer term effects like Skin cancer can be prevented by applying Sunscreen always while traveling.
Comfortable Sole Pads
The whole point of traveling is exploring whatever destination you choose to the maximum extent that you can.
This will involve quite some walking. Attaching a pair of sole pads to your shoes can reduce the pain of your soles reciprocating the force you exert on them as you walk the streets. Sole Pads like Dr. Scholls will absorb some of that force and reduce the amount of pain your feet have to endure.
A Portable Battery
We cannot recommend one of these enough, for a couple of hundred dollars or less, you can store up to 8 hours of battery life on a mobile battery.
This way no matter where you are taken by the off-beaten path, you will find you never run out of battery life on your electronic devices.
Offline Travel Maps: Apps like “HERE” make it possible for you to never get lost again when you travel. Simply go to your app store and download the country map for whatever country you are visiting, and using Global Positioning System (GPS) you get turn by turn directions on your phone even without a wireless connection. This is ideal if you don’t intend on getting a sim card when you travel abroad.
A Neck Pillow
These have been around for a while and are not going anywhere soon. They are great for those times when you are waiting at the airport for your plane, or sleeping on your flight. Avoid a stiff neck and make sure you pack one in your suitcase.
A water proof camera
What is a summer vacation if you don’t indulge in some water sports or get into the water. Your vacation memories don’t have to end on dry land make sure you get a water proof camera before heading out on your summer travels. This way you get to relive your vacation through your picture both on dry land and in water.
There are so many of these on the market that it would be madness not to get one. These are great for listening to better quality sounds on the plane. Tuning out rowdy travelers at the airport, or listening to some relaxing music if you ever catch some time to reflect during your travels.
A Passport Holder
Invest in a passport holder to protect your passport from damage and also to hold anything from extra cash to your credit cards. If you are an avid traveler, this is would prove exceedingly useful in protecting your travel documents from the wear and tear of constant travel.
This one is a no-brainer, make sure you carry one large enough for all your essentials. However, if you want to be savvy about which suit case you should buy, there are tons of new generation luggage manufacturers that are pushing the envelope when it comes to making suitcases.
Give them a try and you will find traveling a much more pleasant experience. Sun Glasses: Sunnies as the Austrialians call them are great for protecting your eyes from UV rays. Our recommendation is that you get inexpensive ones as these get lost easily.
An E-Reader or Tablet
In our opinion, a laptop might be too heavy and slow you down as you travel from location to location. Packing an E-reader or tablet is a great way to stay connected or read a novel while on the road.
A Selfie Stick
This is a great accessory to have if you want to avoid having to use sign language to gesture to the locals that you need your photo taken. They can also be modified to fit onto your GoPro if you have one and thus act as a handle for filming or taking pictures underwater.
A hat is great for adding an extra layer of protection from UV rays but they also add a level of cool to your summer repertoire.
Locks For Luggage
Once at your hotel, hostel or rented apartment, it is generally a good idea to lock your luggage with a combination lock that way you can keep your items protected or give intending thieves a barrier to overcome were they to get their hands on your luggage.
A Current Converter
Different countries have different voltage ratings, it is a good idea to buy a one in all converter. That way you don’t have to keep buying new converters for each country to you go to.
Wireless Key Locator
This is a good idea for your passport if it has a case that comes with a key chain or for your keys. Using one of these devices, if you were to lose your item within a certain distance, your smart phone can help you locate it using Bluetooth technology.
Depending on your location, it is advisable to have medicine like Immodium, Ibuprofen and the like in your luggage, these can serve as first aid until you can be taken to a hospital for further treatment.
If you have a blog, of you just like to keep note of interesting events on the trail. It would be a great idea to buy a journal where you can take and keep notes while you travel.
An Eye Mask and Ear Plugs
Chances are you will need these to filter out light and noise during your travels. These are a win win if you have hostel mates that are noisy or don’t bother turning off the lights while you are asleep.
In our previous post we ran a profile of one of Los Angeles’ (L.A.’s) up and coming neighborhoods (Echo Park).
In this post, we profile one of L.A’s more quaint and homey neighborhoods. Atwater Village Los Angeles is a not too talked about hidden gem tucked away in the northeastern part of Los Angeles.
Whereas Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards are associated with glitz and glam. Atwater Village is synonymous with local coffee shops, mom and pop stores, local bookstores and tiny cafes.
Getting To Atwater Village Los Angeles
Atwater Village Los Angeles is about 30 miles (50 km) from the Airport. As we alluded to in earlier posts, Los Angeles is very spread out, so it is advisable to rent a vehicle to get around.
A second but not recommended option to getting around Los Angeles is by public transportation. The Los Angeles metro website has bus schedules for anyone interested.
Things To Do In Atwater Village Los Angeles
We suggest Atwater Village to anyone who wants to experience Los Angeles from the perspective of a local. There are several things to do in this part of town that betrays L.A’s stereotype on T.V. We have listed a couple below.
Visit A Taco Stand
Stop By A Local BookStore
Patronize A Sidewalk Cafe
Cycle Or Stroll Along The Los Angeles River
Cross The Bridge Into Silver Lake
Go Window Shopping Along The Sidewalks
Atwater Village Los Angeles is definitely not a bastion of entertainment, but there is something refreshing and romantic about this neighborhoods’ small town feel, the lack of infiltration by big box stores and retailer and most of all the inauthenticity that sometimes defines L.A.’s more popular neighborhoods.
Our verdict on this neighborhood is that if you have some spare time to kill while in Los Angeles, it wouldn’t hurt to stop by and pay Atwater Village a visit.
Echo Park Los Angeles is an often overlooked neighborhood in Los Angeles when talking about travel to Los Angeles. The more talked about neighborhoods of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Sunset Boulevard usually steal the spotlight.
The aforementioned neighborhoods losing their spotlight is probably not going to be happening anytime soon but from the recent developments (gentrification, reduction in crime and new businesses springing up) taking place in Echo Park Los Angeles, it seems like this neighborhood’s spotlight might soon be shining a little bit brighter.
Where is Echo Park Located ?
Echo Park Los Angeles is about 20 miles (32 KM) from the Los Angeles Airport (LAX). It is bordered by Chinatown, Elysian Valley, Silver Lake and the Los Angeles river.
As was mentioned in previous posts, the best way to get around the city of Los Angeles is by car, there is public transportation available depending on where you are staying during your visit to the city.
Let’s get right to it, Echo Park Los Angeles enjoys several attractions, from the paddling around on the lake to, climbing the baxter stairs for a great view of downtown L.A’s skyline, there are quite a few things for a traveler to do in this part of Los Angeles.
Based on our experiences in this neighborhood, we have listed a few things anyone who visits this neighborhood to do.
A Visit To The Dodger Stadium
There is no better way to appreciate the city of Los Angeles, than to partake in America’s favorite past time of baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers have their stadium situated in Echo Park.
If you would like to visit the games during your stay in Los Angeles, you can visit StubHub to pick up some tickets.
Paddle Boat Rentals
Shop At A Vintage Store
Nothing says L.A. more than vintage clothing, and Echo Park Los Angeles seems to have several of these stores tucked into neat little corners along Echo Park Avenue.
Anyone visiting Echo Park should endeavor to stop by one of these shops and see what forgotten treasures they might be able to dig up.
Stop By A Neighborhood Coffee Shop
There are several neighborhood coffee shops in Echo Park that are great for hanging out and grabbing a cup of coffee or two. Make Sure you stop by at one of these while in Echo Park Los Angeles.
The Baxter Stairs
Walking up the Baxter Stairs in Echo Park leads to a view of Downtown Los Angeles that is just plain awesome. It is quite a hike but definitely worth it.
The Victorian Homes
There are several victorian homes in Echo Park that have been around since the inception of Los Angeles as a city. While they are not exactly a tourist attraction, a stop by this landmark helps put the city of Los Angeles in perspective.
Nightlife In Echo Park
Echo Park is known as a hipster haven, which means anything mainstream pretty much doesn’t fly here. The nightlife scene in Echo park is more alternative and punk rock.
The Echo is a musicplex that features Indie bands playing tunes you wouldn’t hear anywhere else on a nightly basis. There are also a ton of dive bars in Echo Park Los Angeles where one can mingle with locals and kick back a couple of beers.
Echo Park Los Angeles is poised to become the next big thing in Los Angeles, with the more prominent L.A. neighborhoods being overpriced and over exposed, the spotlight is beginning to turn towards neighborhoods like Echo Park.
Koreatown Los Angeles is one of the more fascinating neighborhoods in the city of Los Angeles (L.A.). An integral factor in L.A’s DNA is the fact that it is a make up of neighborhoods from cultures spanning the entire globe.
Even though L.A.’s more renowned mainstream enclaves like Hollywood, Venice, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills often steal the spotlight, we would not be painting an accurate picture of Los Angeles if we ignored important ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Little Bangladesh, Thai town, and Little Ethiopia, just to name a few.
In this post however, we are going to focus on Koreatown Los Angeles. Koreatown Los Angeles is a three square mile area in central L.A. bordered by West Olympic Boulevard, West 3rd street, South Vermont Avenue and South Western Avenue.
It is referred to by locals simply as K-Town, an interesting fact about Koreatown is that even though a lot of Americans of “South Korean origin” have chosen to call this portion of Los Angeles home, a majority of K-Town’s residents in recent times are of Spanish ancestry.
Furthermore, what makes Koreatown unique is that it tells an unromanticized story of what Los Angeles is all about.
The story of Koreatown is one that is often defined by the resilience of the migrant communities that have chosen to make it home.
Koreatown’s nightlife, restaurants, and shopping malls are so unique that enough time here could leave one convinced that they have teleported to a city in Asia.
All in all, we believe if a tourist were to visit Los Angeles, a stop in Koreatown is necessary for a truly authentic L.A. experience.
Getting To Koreatown Los Angeles
As strange as it may seem to anyone visiting L.A., getting around is best done by car so we always advise renting one.
In the absence of being able to get your hands around a steering wheeling, patronizing a ride sharing app like UBER or using public transportation is your next best option.
There are two metro stops that can get one to the heart of K-Town, the first is “Wilshire/Normandie” and the other is “Wilshire/Western” both on the purple line.
The Los Angeles Metro website – Metro.net is a good resource on how to get around Los Angeles using the metro rail. Once at this metro stop, one can easily get a taxi, or use the bus to get to your chosen destination in Koreatown.
Things To Do In Koreatown Los Angeles
Koreatown is very spread out and can actually leave a first time tourist confused on arrival. There is no one center around which things revolve so walking around would prove futile.
Our advice is to pick a venue to visit in Koreatown and stick to it. Here are some things to do while in Koreatown.
Koreatown is an amazing place for food due to the Asian and Hispanic influences that have come to define this part of Los Angeles. From 24 hour restaurants to food trucks, Koreatown has enough variety to keep a foodie permanently salivating.
Some must go restaurants in this part of town include:
Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong
Pollo a La Brasa
Myung In Dumplings
For a more in depth information on some of the best eateries in Koreatown, resources like Zomato and Yelp will be useful.
There are lots of shopping options in Koreatown, from night markets to bigger shopping malls. We have listed some shopping options below:
Koreatown night market
The nightlife in Koreatown is epic and in recent times has been taken to new heights. There are lots of nightlife options in Koreatown from karaoke bars to Nightclubs, and Bars.
Of significance are the Houston brothers who are nightlife aficionados and have brought their nightlife expertise to Los Angeles in the way of “The Line Hotel”. At The Line Hotel, there is a restaurant, bar, and nightclub called Breakroom 86.
For more on Koreatown nightlife, please use the resources we have provided: Koreatown Nightlife
If you have ever been to South Korea, you would know Spa culture is big over there. For the same reasons, there are tons of spas in Koreatown that are perfect to detox after a night out in Koreatown.
Some spas you must visit while in Koreatown include:
In conclusion, koreatown is one of L.A’s up and coming neighborhoods. It is definitely worth a visit for anyone coming to Los Angeles.
The food is cheaper, the experience more authentic and tells a better tale of everyday Los Angelenos than any other neighborhood in the city.
In our next post, we shall visit a part of Los Angeles synonymous with wealth, status, and excess — Beverly Hills