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!

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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Restaurant Mirabelle, Belgian cuisine in Brussels

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This week-end we had some friends from Paris visiting us in Brussels. As usual I had work on Saturday in Paris and straight after finishing my day I hopped into Thalys and arrived to Brussels to meet B and our guests.

Our Belgian home is in Ixelles, one of the 19 municipalities of Brussels Capital Region and perfectly located nearby the Cimetière d’Ixelles neighborhood which is mostly known for bars, restaurants and beer drinking students. I might not be a student anymore but I love the liveliness of the Cimetière d’Ixelles and that’s where we wanted to take our friends too.

One of my favorite restaurants in Brussels is Mirabelle. It has 40 years of history and it is an institution in this neighborhood. What I love about their menu is that you can find all the traditional dishes but also modern bistro food. And most importantly, it is well prepared and delicious. Portions are generous and it is impossible to leave there hungry.

This high quality picture is taken from my favorite part of the menu.

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The interior of the restaurant is cozy and in the summertime they open a terrace at the inside court. Actually I really love the terraces in Belgium because they are often not in the front like in France but hidden at the back where you can enjoy your meal in the calm (and not in the middle of the street next to trash cans and pedestrians like in Paris).

Mirabelle is open everyday from 12 a.m. to 2.30 a.m and you can find it at Chaussée de Boondael 459, 1050 Ixelles.

One day in Lille

I had a Saturday off (very rare) and was looking for train tickets to go to my second home in Brussels. 2 weeks in advance and the rates were high (around 80 Euros). After having a look in Google maps I suggested that my boyfriend B would come to meet me in Lille, we could spend the day there and then head back home to Brussels with our car. Also the train tickets were really cheap, 38 Euros in 1st class!

It’s an hour trip with the TGV from Paris and I arrived around 11 am to Lille. It was really sunny and warm for the 1st of November.

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B came with the car, we parked it and saw that the parking hall was filled with cars from Belgium. Apparently in Brussels all the shops are closed the 1st of November so people came to the French side to shop and spend the day off.

Our plan was to find a nice place to have lunch. We didn’t know Lille very well and just started to walk around without any specific destination. Then suddenly we saw a nice little street and a small terrace, we stopped there and decided to have our lunch at the Berliner. It was very relaxed and nice and simple menu; bagels, falafels and burgers.

Nice touch on the drink list was the German organic lemonade!

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After lunch we just walked around, visited some interesting shops. It is so nice to see independent shop keepers instead of chains. We had some ice cream on a sunny terrace and then after the sun started to go down around 4 pm (we almost forgot it was November with that lovely blue sky and 20 C!) we headed back to the car and drove to Brussels which was around 1,5 hours away. Every time we take the car in Belgium there is something strange with the traffic. This time it was a lost cow under a bridge one meter from the motorway! Scary and dangerous…

A fashionable dessert in Lille “le merveilleux”. These photos are taken outside of the boutique Aux merveilleux de Fred

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Köln Cologne, Germany

A quick trip to Germany in January. I found a really nice price from Thalys 29 Euros for a ticket from Paris to Cologne which sealed the deal to go discover Cologne.

So I arrived by train to a beautiful train station before noon and met B who came there from Brussels with car. I hopped in and we went searching our airbnb apartment in the hip Belgian quarter. We left the car there (no parking fees btw!) and went to discover the Cologne center with it’s magnificent gothic cathedral and old town. We went for a lunch in a typical German brewery Peters Brauhaus . Another nice place and completely different from the old town atmosphere was the cafe Yo next to our flat. We went there for a Sunday brunch and it was nice to people watch customers from all age range from baby to grand parents! Of course the average customer there was the hip 20’s youngster 😉

As a conclusion Cologne was very nice discovery and next time I would like to see it in summer!

Pieni viikonloppumatka tammikuussa Saksan puolelle Kölniin oli oikein mukava!

Paris-Cologne junalippu maksoi Thalyksella tarjouksessa 29 Euroa ja B tuli Brysselista autolla. Treffattiin klo 11.30 Kölnin juna-aseman edessa.

IMG_2740Sitten lahdettiin autolla etsimaan Belgialaista korttelia, jossa oli meidan airbnb:n kautta varaama huone. Ihastuttiin kortteliin heti ja mentiin kahville YO! kahvilaan

https://www.facebook.com/Yo.Speiselokal

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IMG_2750 No huonetta ei saatukaan heti, mutta jatettiin auto parkkiin ja lahdettiin kavelemaan kohti Kölnin keskustaa ja uskomatonta katedraalia!IMG_2753 IMG_2768

Ja sitten pitikin etsia lounaspaikka ja tuttuun tyyliin loydettiinkin oikein perinteinen saksalainen kievari

http://www.peters-brauhaus.de/


Sitten paastiinkin jo hakemaan avaimet yopaikkaamme ja vahan lepaamaan ennenkuin lahdettiin taas kappailemaan keskustaan.
IMG_2794 Hyvin nukutun yon jalkeen menimme saksalaiselle brunssille YO kahvilaan ja kiva seurailla paikallisia joita oli ihan laidasta laitaan, nuoria, vanhoja, perheita… Todella leppoisaa!IMG_2803Sitten taas kaupungille katsastamaan vanhaa kaupunkia ja ennen kuin jatkoimme matkaa takaisin Brysseliin nappasimme mukaan munkit!

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Nous avons fait un rdv à Cologne avec B qui venait de Bruxelles et moi qui venais de Paris avec Thalys. On a réservé un studio par airbnb dans le quartier Belge et on a promené pendent 2 jours dans la ville.