Beach day in Zeeland

When the official summer holidays are over there is nothing better than going to the beach on a hot sunny Sunday and pretend that you’re still on vacation. When we’re in Brussels we often head across the border to Holland. Where as Belgium’s beach side is very crowded and full of concrete buildings in Zeeland you can find more natural environment and relaxed atmosphere.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe way to the beach in Domburg

Zeeland is about an 1,5 hour drive from Brussels and the best thing is that it is not on the same road than the way to Oostende or even Knokke so you can avoid the worst traffic jams when getting in and out from Brussels.

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In Zeeland there are many towns and beaches but we often go Domburg. I really like the fact that you can get very near to the beach with car, the parking is free, the town itself is very cute and there are good restaurants.

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Of course when in Holland the bikes are everywhere!

Last Sunday we went to Domburg with B and after a week in boiling hot Paris the fresh air from Mer du Nord felt incredible. After sunbathing and swimming we headed to the town for a meal in our favorite restaurant the Brasserie Domburg.

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Kun lomat on ohi ja koko viikon on talsinut töihin yli 30 asteen helteissä, ei ole mitään mukavempaa, kuin suunnistaa kohti rantaa ja kuvitella, että lomat jatkuu edelleen. Klassinen vaihtoehto Brysselistä olisi suunnata kohti Belgian rannikkoa Oostenden, Knokken tms rannoille, mutta suoraan sanottuna kamalat ruuhkat, väen paljous sekä betonirakennusten runsaus ei ole meitä paljoa sykähdyttänyt. Sen sijaan Hollannin puolelta Zeelandista löytyy luontoa ja söpöjä pikku kyliä ja upeaa hiekkarantaa. Domburg on siellä meidän suosikki kohteemme ja aivan täydellinen pienelle päiväretkelle. Brysselistä sinne kestää n. 1,5h ja suurin osa matkaa ilman ruuhkia, auton saa ilmaiseen parkkiin lähelle rantaa ja keskustasta löytyy paljon kivoja putiikkeja ja ruokapaikkoja. Jos etsit hyvää ruokaa ja kivaa terassia suosittelen ehdottomasti  Brasserie Domburg ravintolaa, jossa tekisi mieli kokeille koko lista läpi! Jälkkäriksi söimme jätskit merenrannalla viimeisistä auringon säteistä nauttien ennen kuin suuntasimme takaisin kohti Brysseliä. Täydellinen kesäpäivä sanoisin!

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Maastricht Christmas shopping

Christmas lights in Maastricht

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I am a big fan of this small Dutch town and I love to go there on Sundays when all the shops are open and the streets are buzzing.

Last Sunday we took the car from Brussels and drove to Maastricht in early afternoon. It is only one hour drive and as soon as you get to the city center there are big parking halls to easily park your car. Once we tried to leave the car on the street but we ended up turning around for 45 minutes without finding a a spot so now we pay the 8 Euro fee for the afternoon without a question! I would especially recommend the Mosae Forum parking hall which is in the heart of the city and under a shopping mall.

We arrived around 3 pm and were hungry so we started to look for a restaurant to have late lunch. It is not difficult to find a place to eat in Maastricht because it is the city with most of restaurants per square mettre in Holland! So which one to choose… We ended up going to Cafe Charlemagne in a beautiful square of Onze Lieve Vrouweplein and I had some pasta with scampis and B took Bratwurst with mashed potatoes. What’s nice in Holland in comparison to Paris is that you can eat what you want when you want not regarding is it the proper lunch time or not. In Paris it is sometimes so difficult to find a restaurant for late lunch and even if you find one to get served without “an attitude”.  Here is Cafe Charlemagne the atmosphere was relaxed, the decor was nice and typical Dutch with wooden floors and tables and the prices were abordable.

View from the Cafe Charlemagne

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After a nice lunch we went to see some of my favorite shops including Festen for notebooks, jewellery, gifts and they also have a café in the store, Retro and Chic for the really inspiring decor and exquisite vintage fashion (by the way the sales personnel is extremely elegant and super nice there),’t Stokpeerdsje home decor shop in a really cute alley and last but not least De Tuinen bio store for super foods and herbal teas with very nice prices.

So many nice cafés and restaurants there…

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At the end of our shopping spree we headed to the The Vrijthof square Christmas market for some mulled wine and hot chocolate and it was perfect ending for our Christmas shopping day in Maastricht.

Magical Maastricht

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Hotel The Exchange, Amsterdam, Holland

Last year we went to a short week end break to Amsterdam with B and as usual I was in charge for the organization of the trip. First thing to do was to find a nice place to stay so I googled “design hotel Amsterdam” and found Hotel The Exchange, fashion hotel in central Amsterdam. A couple of clicks later I had booked a room for a very reasonable price in this fashion hotel, where the rooms are dressed like models as they tell on their web site. The interior decoration is done by the students of the nearby fashion school The Amsterdam Fashion Institute.

This room has a feeling of a 90’s rave party

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Black and white

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All white and crispy clean

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So when we arrive I’m really excited and a bit scared to find what kind of room we’ll have. I’m telling B that it’s a design hotel and it will be a fashion experience for us and even if we’d hate it it’s only for one night. And so we get our key and go up to our room which is….. all white and with no decor what so ever! (Ok the reading lamps were golden metallic colored…)The room was tiny so the good thing was that the completely white interior made it feel more airy. So this had to be the budget traveller’s fashion room, extreme minimalism! The bed was big and comfortable, television worked well and in our small bathroom we could have a nice hot shower (which was much appreciated by us because that week-end the temperature dropped significantly and there was even a snowstorm… I get chills even just remembering that!).

View from the hotel corridor to the cafe Stock

Hotel Exchange

In the hotel there was a small cafe style restaurant and next door you can find a cool shop called Options which was great for small and original souvenirs. The hotel was well located and it was easy to go everywhere by foot. We came from Brussels by car and the hotel gave us a discount card for the parking hall. The parking was almost the same price than our hotel room (around 70 Euros), so next time if we go for longer than a week-end it would be better to go by Thalys.

We really liked the feeling and the atmosphere of this small hotel. The communal spaces were colorful and quirky and I was happy to find myself there for that snowy Dutch week-end.

Breda, Netherlands

A good destination for a day trip from Brussels is a small Dutch town called Breda. It’s situated just across the border between Belgium and Holland and every 1st Sunday of the month the shops are open in city center. There are many restaurants, pubs and cafes and I can imagine that the week-ends are quite lively there.

Breda, Netherland

Aivan Belgian ja Hollannin rajan lahelta loytyy Breda niminen pikkukaupunki, joka on tosi soma. Joka kuukauden ensimmaisena lauantaina kaupat ovat keskustassa auki ja kaupungissa on porukkaa liikenteessa. Keskustassa on paljon pubeja, kahviloita, ravintoloita ja baareja ja voisin kuvitella, etta lauantai iltana kaupungissa on tunnelma katossa!

Le 1er Dimanche de chaque mois les magasin sont ouverts dans ce petit ville à Pays-Bas vers la frontière de Belgique. Le centre ville est super mignon avec plein boutiques, restos, bars, pubs et cafés et je peux imaginer que le samedi soir il y a de l’ambiance là-bas!