This weekend Antwerp’s hip and trendy ‘Eilandje’ neighbourhood offered thé perfect and sunny scenery for the 10th edition of the Water-rAnt festival. The city’s oldest docks welcomed around 115 historical ships and put nautical heritage and tradition in the spotlight.
Highlights: the 2km stroll along the historical vessels, some of them open to board and explore, tours with old steam tugs or other historical ships, ambiance à volonté and couleur locale, musical performances, demonstrations and no festival without food stands of course!
a knot is not just a knot
MAS museum centerpoint and in full glory and for once maybe could be re-named MASt
Inhaling life on the water makes hungry as a horse, no worries, different food stands kept every wannabe sailor satisfied, think oysters, mussels, sea food platters, smoked eel and lots of sweet treats and drinks of course.
Not just an ordinary street band, contagious enthusiasm, happy vibes and funky beats are their trademark, with success, resulting in lots of cheers and smiling faces!
Draft horses and their ability to pull weight up to 3 ton each were an enormous asset in port’s history. Belgian heavy horses are among the strongest of the heavy breeds. You can still spot these power beauties when making a city tour with the horse-drawn streetcar. Keep an eye on them and make sure they are well taken care of and get to drink regularly. The way our driver spoke about his beauties showed his passion and love for them.
The new ‘Londenbrug’ bridge opens up to welcome sailing boats and yachts into the inner docks and offers open view on Port Authority house, one of the last completed designs by Zaha Hadid.
Did I awaken some nautical vibes with you? See you next year then or check the eventspage below to find future interesting festivities!
Hard to believe it has already been a year since we returned from our Southwest USA road trip, a trip that took a lot of planning (and saving) ahead and rewarded us with unerasable memories of magnificent landscapes and road adventures.
In the months after our return I managed to sort out the insane amount of photos taken and composed an old-school photo album with the highlights and ‘best of’ moments however somehow a blogpost on the entire trip seemed not feasible: so many stories, so many interesting places we’ve visited, so many angles…where to start?! Well, I guess at the beginning…
After a very long flight including stopover at Chicago airport we landed in San Francisco. We chose SF to be at the beginning of our tour for several personal practical reasons: doing a road trip is rather exhausting, positioning a citytrip at the end wouldn’t be wise. Exploring SF needed us still fit in body and mind! Then there is the issue of ‘Karl’, Karl the Fog that is…Summer weather in SF can be tricky and for me, it’s just not that much fun ending the holiday in chilly and cloudy weather after spending two weeks in the sun and heat…
We spent four nights in SF and still wasn’t enough to explore all the city has to offer though we got an excellent taste of its variety: we did a cable car ride, explored Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach, did a hop-on/hop-off tour, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, walked Lombard street, did some shopping, joined an Alcatraz night tour,… more on that here Off to prison with a smile…only in San Francisco!
Time to say goodbye to SF and pick-up our rental car…adventure awaits with a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway leading us to Bixby Bridge, the wonderful scenic 17 mile drive and the historic coastal towns Carmel and Monterey where we spent the night.
Strongly recommend, if you can, to spend more than one night here, wish we had too, however our next destination was already in mind and required quite a distance to cover, next stop…Yosemite NP!
Our hotel was located just outside the park, only a short drive to the Park’s entrance immediately rewarding us with jaw-dropping Tunnel View…
Lovely walks in Yosemite Valley, exploring the Falls, a ranger sunset talk at epic Glacier Point overlooking Half Dome…
Leaving Yosemite for our next destination came with a bonus as we had to cross Tioga Pass, with its lovely viewpoints and magical Tenaya lake.
and bonus number two with enchanting Mono Lake being on our route!
Next stop…Death Valley NP!
We have only spent one afternoon, night and early morning here, (taking in mind the high temperatures it is best to plan your sightseeing late afternoons and early mornings) however did give us time to explore some of the highlights the park has to offer: the dunes upon entering, lovely Artists Drive, sunset at Zabriskie point, Badwater, Devil’s Golf Course and the wonderful overview you get from Dante’s View…
…off to thé city of lights…(and noise, every minute, night and day)…viva Las Vegas…though must admit, for us, looking back on the trip now, not really our thing: the contrast when coming from nature’s overwhelming power and beauty is huge and my senses went on overdrive with the combination of heat, noise, lights, hustle and bustle,…we stayed two nights, however one would have been better! Still would leave ample of time to visit some of the casinos of choice, shop and eat!
We did enjoy the tour with the High Roller ferris wheel and the Bellagio fountain show!
As you can guess, we were glad to escape LV madness and submerge ourselves again into nature’s grandeur and boy, we were rewarded big time! Our route to Zion NP allowed us a little detour to Valley of Fire State Park…do not miss this one if you get the chance, you will not regret!
Zion NP to me had it all: the easy walks for those taking it slow (that’s me) the challenging ones for daredevils, water, rocks, green, it is thé perfect combination, everywhere you look, nature plays its dominant and bewitching role…oh, and I got to celebrate my 45th birthday there!
We got some more of the same magic visiting our next destination Bryce NP…hoodoos in all shapes add to the enchanting vibe hiking here, trails for all fitness levels, luckily!
Upon entering state Arizona we had a bit of weather change, lots of clouds, not the best of timing or condition with Antelope Canyon being on the programme, however we were lucky to catch a little glimpse just upon leaving the canyon!
Rain and thunder clouds packing above Horseshoe Bend as if life on the edge isn’t drama enough!
Unstable weather accompanied us the rest of our trip with blue sky one minute and dark thunder clouds and strong sudden winds approaching the next, having only one night to spend in Grand Canyon NP, we weren’t able to check off all the highlights marked on our list, however exploring the West Rim is already a treat for the eyes.
Last stop before flying home…Phoenix…no worries flight home was with a normal airplane!
Well…it’s a wrap…time flies when you’re having fun!
First time we did an overseas road trip of this length in time and distance and overall feeling was more than ok. We did the planning ourselves and took our complete plan and budget to Eric of Inforeizen, who specialises in overseas travels to the US and Africa and tried to match our desires and route as much as possible. Made it easy for us as he handled all the bookings and we had therefore only one contact person in case of questions or problems.
Curious where we stayed? Will list up all the hotels at the end of this post.
Anything we would do differently looking back? Would spend an extra night in Monterey area, extra night in Yosemite, skip Las Vegas as a destination, though it might be interesting as an airport arrival or departure point, if more time and budget include Monument Valley, pack less bagage!
Hope you enjoyed this little tour…going through these photos again, am already planning and dreaming of future adventures, great and small!
‘ I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me’
Long overdue this post, no worries, am still alive and had promised you another glance on wonderful Lenk in Swiss Bernese Oberland and its lovely peaceful surroundings. To us no stay is complete without a trip to the local waterfalls. Photos include shots taken on the recent trip and some represent a little trip down memory lane with our son still being the smallest one in the house…now that’s me!
Our daily evening routine and only a short hike leads us to Simmefälle as close by to our rental accomodation.
From Simmefälle the rather steep walking path brings you up to Barbarabrücke: with the water spraying over the bridge it is a most welcome cool-down! The bridge is named after a female hotel manager who initiated development of the waterfall and local dam for tourists. A windy path through forests will leed you further up to Rezliberg Alp, birthplace of Simme river with seven springs crashing from a limestone wall…Siebe Brünne…pretty spectacular, though my current back condition doesn’t allow me anymore to go all the way up there, it would take me too long and backfire the next days with too much pain. For those who can, up you go!
Another great local Waterfall to explore is the Iffigfall and according hike! An easy, not strenuous hike, following the stream and leading you up to the waterfall charging down with high speed!
One of my personal favourites is the Wallbachschlucht hike: gorge and waterfall combined, easy walk, though some stairclimbing to do once you reach the waterfall and want to go further up. The force of the falling water has carved out wonderful cylinders and patterns in the limestone, could watch this wonder of nature for hours, very peaceful! There’s a picnic area too if you want to spend more time there.
Well there you have it, we have been chasing these in the past, in not too distant past and hope to be able to do so many, many times more!
As always, hope you enjoyed, feel free to comment!
Though our recent Swiss break was mainly used to recharge those inner batteries and we mostly stayed close to our base of operations and relaxation for the week, Lenk, we did squeeze in a trip to nearby Spiez to get some rivièra vibes!
Spiez is ideally located at the magnificent lake Thun in Bernese Oberland and offers a wide variety of activities and highlights. It is dominated by its medieval castle and the romanesque church that must have been built somewhere in 8th century.
After exploring the castle, the gardens and admiring the outstanding view a walking trail leads to the surrounding vineyards…
S for Spiez, Sylvaner wine, Steep Slopes???
Of course the locals always know the best spots!
Morning walks and breathtaking views makes hungry, so heading down again for a lakeside lunch, which really means ‘lakeside’ and guarantees you a marvellous view at Hotel-Restaurant Riviera by Elio…
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The ferry services and cruises on Lake Thun are a fun means of transport to discover neighbouring lake villages or the larger cities like Thun and Interlaken where you can connect onto lake Brienz for even more water cruising fun. We hopped off at the next village and used the walking path to make our way back to Spiez.
Pyramid shaped house mountain Niessen
the old man and the sea…
Wooden sculptures along the lakeside walking path
may look like rivièra, but we’re still in Switzerland!
Next time more on our little hike to Wallbachschlucht in Lenk and the Simme Waterfall, hope this post gave you a lovely view on versatile Switzerland, land of mountains and glaciers, yes of course…but do not forget to catch some rivièra vibes!
Weekend approaching fast and some fun intermezzo is allowed, right?! Those of you who read my previous post already know we spent a lovely week in beautiful sunny Simmental, Switzerland. During our usual daily and evening walks one sound always accompanied us, being close or somewhere remote in the distance: the Swiss cow bells…oh, and do not mistake, when close-by, these beautifully manufactured bells make decibel metres explode and your ears pop! No cow bells without cows and must say some were pretty anxious to hit the spotlights!
“Holy cow, is she taking pictures? I want in, I want in…”
“Ok, switching positions now…”
“I want to be on cover this issue…no, I want to be…noooo, I want to be…move over”
“Strike a pose?! Can’t you see we’re naturals!”
Enjoy the weekend!
Next time will take you around wineslopes of Spiez at stunning Thunersee, so stay tuned!
As much as I like to travel, in mind and in actual distance, I always like returning home, bringing back a heart and mind full of memories…but what if the place you travel to feels like coming home? No destressing or acclimatisation needed…I just need to open, in this case, the car door, breathe in the fresh mountain air and rest my eyes on ‘our’ mountain to know we’re home again…Leaving this place again, and the people we know there, until our next visit always leaves me in a bit of melancholic state of mind and heavy hearted. For us, that ‘second home’ is Lenk in Simmental region, part of Swiss Bernese Oberland.
My husband used to visit this picturesque little village every year in his childhood years, this tradition must have started somewhere early seventies. His siblings and him, having their own families, kept tradition going and still visit with their own children, though not every year. We ourselves went about eight times, usually end of May and this was the first time just the two of us, son Nick guarding the house, feeding our cat and a probably very limited amount of studying.
In the posts still coming up in the following weeks I’ll take you along on some of the excursions we made, today’s post however is all about getting that fresh Swiss mountain air vibe, filling your head with Spring alpine flower meadows, cow bells replacing the alarm clock and the welcome sound and refreshing touch of the Simme stream, always close companion on our walks to town or up to the Waterfall.
So just sit back, relax and welcome to Lenk!
Our home during our Swiss breaks lies in one of Lenk’s quieter hamlets called ‘Oberried’ giving clear mountain view and direct access to walking trail path up to the waterfall and town. Weather gods have always been kind to us when choosing end of May as holiday period and this time was no exception, by far thé best weather we ever had!
Lenk is a popular health and spa facility destination and known in Winter as top ski destination, making a link with the Adelboden region and facilities, however not being a fan of snow and cold we ourselves prefer the Spring up to Autumn season. The village lies 1068 metres above sea level at the foot of the Wildstrubel massif.
Curious where ‘Lenk’ got its name? It’s composed of two German words meaning ‘long nook’, and that’s exactly the shape and function the town has at the top of the long, Simme River valley. Nestled up against the might of the Wilstrubel’s steep face, the locals simply state that they are ‘in the nook’ (an der Lenk)!
More next time on our strolls through Lenk and surroundings!
We, that is the husband and myself, were beyond thrilled winning an exclusive stay at the newly openend Pier Suites in Scheveningen, hurray…a trip to always inspiring and relaxing Holland! As at a stone’s throw, we combined this trip with a visit to royal The Hague…A weekend to indulge ourselves in luxury, relaxed beach vibes, city exploring, shopping, fun, food and fascination, with special thanks to Linda Magazine that held the contest!
Let’s check in first…the Pier Suites‘ website promises an unforgettable experience, located at the very end of the Pier Boulevard…not hard to understand we were extremely curious to check out our very own suite and view!
suite 2, The Pier Suites, Scheveningen
seeing all that water gets you thirsty!
bubbles with a view
Just the two of us
Sea through see through
The room has all comfort you’d expect from a suite and offers full free use of the minibar filled with bubbles, beers, white wine, water…if you are the sober type, red wine…there are coffee and tea facilities, etc…however the star attraction of the room is the enormous private terrace to enjoy the spectacular view on and above the North Sea! As the water rustles gently under your room, you feel embraced by the sea, such an indescribable feeling!
The Pierboulevard offers a variety of shops and ‘food truck-style’ eating facilities…had a total crush when I noticed the Spicy Scarves Amsterdam boutique, where lovely enthousiastic owner Waheeda translates her creative passion into stunning handmade layered scarves. Keep this brand on your radar as they often attend the Swan Markets held all over Holland and Belgium and they do of course have a webshop too.
Seeking some thrill? The pier has a zipline installed, I heard a lot of woohoo’s and wow’s, so if that’s your thing, zip away! The large ferris wheel is another main attraction and was rather looking forward to a ride, however on the day of our visit it was closed for maintenance. The hotel however did supply me with a voucher, so now have an excellent excuse to return, right?!
Foodwise, no problem here, there’s the foodboulevard on the pier, and on the beach you can find any style or cuisine food bar, lounge club or restaurant you prefer…
colourful resto and lounge bars
art meets sea, must eat fish!
Kurhaus Hotel Scheveningen
For those into culture and colour, Scheveningen of course joins The Hague in celebrating 100 years De Stijl and artist Mondriaan. No worries if you are normally not a museum visitor or lover, the city will remind you on the festivities and treat you for free just strolling through the streets!
Got a final golden local tip that the best restaurants dinner-wise are situated at the harbour area…definitely going to check those out next time, however we decided to enjoy our ‘room with a view’ as much as possible, so after some small local snacks and bites in one of the beach bars, and a nice walk we headed back to our own private world above the sea, with the company of bubbles, jacuzzi-wise and prosecco-wise and more than enough wine…when night arrives, a starry sky ceiling feature accompagnies sweet dreams…royal city the Hague awaits…to be continued next post!
Our city break last week, brought us to Wallonia’s capital Namur, in the previous post you could follow in our footsteps along la Merveuilleuse, hiking up the citadel. In this post, time to explore the city itself, however, no hastiness, just follow the rhythm of the city and the stream as do les Namurois.
we arrived at Namur late morning, enough time for a first exploring stroll…
Tourist season hadn’t begun yet last week, usually that starts around the 1st of April, and that showed. Namur sure plans on doing things right, we spotted a lot of constructions sites near the river, a city so it seems that keeps reinventing itself, however, when getting closer to the inner heart, keeps traditions and culture intact.
La fresque des Wallons can be found in the small garden of the city hall, the facade-high mural refers to about 250 persons and events marking a stamp on Walloon identity, may that be important historic figures, artists, scientists, regional produce,…
Time for lunch…our eye fell on Le Pâtanthrope, I remembered it was highly recommended in ‘Le Petit Deborsu’ written by local and fully-declared Namur lover Christophe Deborsu. Gastronomy on the plate without showing astromic prices on the bill, now that’s the way we like it! Wondering were the name comes from? It’s a mix of pâte, which means pasta and philanthrope and their you go! I had scallops as entree, my husband had tartare of green asparagus, baked foie gras and ravioli. As a main, we had beef Rossini on a gallette de rigatoni and I chose stuffed squid with chorizo and ravioli. Desserts brought us moeulleux au chocolat and a delice framboises with macarons. Needless to say we sat more than two hours in the restaurant…and still needed to climb the citadel! However, all dishes were airy and light, as was the bill!
Time to move on, after the restaurant, we first explored the citadel, more on that here Weekend Namur…the citadel part and returned later for a quiet stroll through the car-free streets. A lot of them situated around the St-Loup church, Jesuit order, founded by St-Ignatius. Baroque-style church, same architect had also built the Barrolus Borremeus church in Antwerp and it shows. It is the church where famous poet Charles Baudelaire had a massive stroke, leaving him in semi-paralyzed-state before his death. Struck by beauty? By overwhelming emotions? If only time to visit one church in Namur, St-Loup is definitely the one to go to, the church often acts as decor for concerts and events too and volunteers are availabe on site if you want a tour.
‘In can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no melancholy’ (Charles Baudelaire)
Marché de légumes is thé square in Namur for people watching, we were there just around the hour schools had finished…the square was packed with young and little less young, enjoying the sun and their regained freedom after a day at school and/or work. Enough bars to choose from, though when the weather is fine, no-one to spot inside: everyone sits, stands, hangs in the middle of the square.
and all this under the watchful eye and shadow of St-Jean church, the oldest church in town, though the tower was only added later, as the first one was hit by lightning. Story goes the workmen at that time, 1616, spent more time in the local pub, leaving the bell tower not perfectly straight as was the intention.
At the river border you will find the Walloon Parliament, no worries, hardly to miss, the colour pop’s out! The walk upto the citadel starts right after the corner.
We made this little trip discovering Namur winning a contest organised by Pays du Vallées. Our package included an overnight stay in b&b La Noiseraie, a 10′ drive from centre Namur. the b&b is located in a commerical zone with factories, however when going evenings and weekends like we did, these are all abandoned and all is peace and quiet. The domain itself is large enough, green and besides the b&b activities it is a walnut oil producer, hence the name, la Noiseraie. Would recommend to visist in autumn, to get the most out of that experience!
Another post, discovering some of the surrounding villages will follow shortly, stay tuned!
When visiting Namur, the local citadel is a must-see, strategically located on a hill at the confluence of rivers Sambre and Meuse, the fortress offers great views. It finds its origins in the Roman era but was rebuilt several times. The route leading to the top is called ‘la Merveilleuse’, offering a combination of steep, but manageable, walks, great views, a mix of culture and nature, a Visitor Centre and guided tours for those in need for some more historic background and tales and a tourist train for those with kids or for those just out of breath…
The walk upto the top offers great viewpoints on the surrounding area as well as the city centre and its churches, on the above photo, from left to right, église St-Jean Baptiste, beautiful baroque église St-Loup and cathedral St-Aubain.
For the Facing Time exposition in 2015 the ‘Searching for Utopia’ turtle, or at least one of the copies of the original, of artist Jan Fabre, was placed on the citadel. After the exposition Namur’s inhabitants felt so connected to the turtle they decided to buy the artpiece, through crowdfunding, linking it forever to the city and the citadel. Les Namurois embrace the slow life, they have a snail as city symbol and mascotte and, well, a turtle fits the slow profile perfectly, funny detail however, the copy in Namur was far more expensive than its original in Nieuwpoort which was bought twelve years earlier.
There is someting with a city by the water, be that the sea or a river: it adds life, motion though at the same time brings peace, slows you and your senses down, exactly the way of life in Namur.
A new cable car station is being built, linking the city centre to the citadel top and the 2015 Belgian pavillion at the Milan Expo was bought to be installed at the esplanade and stade at the top…old and new…forever in harmony, forever in motion, facing time,…
This weekend, after many many years I returned to the town of my early childhood: the tiny hamlet Eizeringen in lovely Flemish Pajottenland, Belgium. Strange sensation taking this trip down memory lane, driving through this very tiny village: some things never changed in my memory and well…some things didn’t change there either…
I couldn’t recognize at first the house where we used to live, it appears to be a baby and children day-care centre now, however, now I know where it is, should return later to take some pics. We left there and moved when I was still a little girl, think I must have been four or five years old, but we returned many times during school holidays or visiting family. It was only when my grandparents died and we all had our own lives that contact was lost.
School used to be around a ten or fifteen minute walk from where we lived and my grandparents lived only five minutes away. I remember there was this little grocery store on the corner where we used to buy candy, however the store has been long gone I guess, as it isnow a normal house. The school building is still there and it still is a school…they even had left the entrance gate open for me.
On the oppositie site of the school used to be a little forest where we went to play hide and seek, think at lot of trees have been chopped down with the years passing or it might just be my imagination is playing tricks on me…as a child maybe everything just looks bigger, I don’t know…
We, my husband joined me on this trip to my childhood past, also visited my grandparents house, where my aunt now lives and took a little stroll through the village. There used to be a little post office, I remember those stairs well, playing on them going up and down endlessly!
After our little stroll we returned to the church square where we had parked our car and also went to see my grandparents grave. I am not the greatest cemetery-lover, I like to remember my lost ones by the warm memories I have of them or by little objects or photos, however, being in the village after so long, would have felt strange not to go.
However tiny the hamlet of Eizeringen, part of St-Kwintens-Lennik, may be, on Sundays it often attracts an international and mixed crowd as for many years in a row now the café located in the church’s shadow is voted best beer pub in the world by the influential website Ratebeer.com. It is also known as the second best beer destination in general in the world! Think it has the longest and most peculiar name ever for a pub, it is called “In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst” which you can translate as “In the Insurance against Great Thirst”
It’s a very characteristic pub, stepping inside, brings you into a warm vibrant 40s, or early 50s décor and they serve the most extensive selection of Geuze and Kriek beers, speciality of the region. However, bear in mind the pub has very limited opening hours: Sundays and Public Holidays 10:00-13:30. In February and March, celebrating its 175th anniversary, opening hours are extended till 20:00. The two owners still have their own jobs aside running this pub, explaining these limited opening hours. They took over the pub from an 85 year-old lady who was about to stop the café activities, closing down that way the last remaining pub in the village. That is where the new owners Kurt and Yves stepped in, as according to them, and very true, a village without a pub just isn’t a proper village!
We spent some lovely hours there, thoughts and stories were exchanged, my husband and me got the most lovely little drawings from local artist Chris, who used to be an architect and local poet and optimist Fons couldn’t stop charming us all, including me, with his witty rhymes and poems from the heart, which deserved him a hug and kiss, right?!
This is the place where you enter, take a seat next to complete strangers, but when you close the door behind you again, your heart is filled with warmth and joy, soft music, lovely stories, little poems…and you drank some excellent beers!