2017 in hindsight

This year has been a year of change, both on personal and professional grounds. Not only did I move to a different city that was entirely new to me, Brussels, but I also moved into a new apartment with my boyfriend Gillian. Only a few days later, I started my first ever ‘real’ job. It’s been a year of finding balance between visiting family, catching up with friends and spending enough time with each other (because living together doesn’t automatically mean you get to talk or see each other a lot) as well as work obligations and finding time for myself (aka blogging).

It’s been a year of learning and growing from both positive and negative experiences, but I guess that’s what makes life so interesting. I’m pretty sure I’ll  learn even more in the year to come, and that makes me both excited and a little bit scared. But most things that are worth it, are a little bit scary. We already have an exciting trip planned and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Whenever I look back on a certain amount of time – a month, a year – I feel very blessed and full. When you’re so busy and very much in the moment, it’s nice to reflect and come to realise that you’ve experienced A LOT. It’s magnificent. Here’s some of my favourite moments from 2017. Let’s toast to many more…

In January I spent my last time solo travelling (for now) in Vienna (more photos over here) and realised that once you’ve found your partner in crime, travel buddy aka love of your life, it’ll never be the same. It’s also the month we moved into our first apartment together. I can’t describe it anything but chaotic bliss.

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In February, I spent the first full month working and really enjoying all the different office views. We also spent a wonderful weekend in Paris for Valentine’s day (more photos here).

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In March, I was reunited with my little sister, Pia, from Uruguay. We met when on exchange in Australia, where she became my host sister and have been friends ever since. Whenever we meet, no matter how long since the last time, it’s like we see each other every day. It was also the month Gillian and I bought our first car together.

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In April, I was surrounded by flowers and friends, a good combo. We took on swimming as a new hobby and it was also the month I donated over 20 centimetres of my hair to the Think Pink foundation, a change to say the least!

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May was all about taking it easy and exploring Brussels, which was exactly what I needed. We also took a little holiday to Lisbon in Portugal (more photos here) and life was simply perfect and perfectly simple.

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In June we took a weekent trip to the Belgian coast and we enjoyed everything from my birthday to the little things, and everything in between.

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In July I visited Pia during her exchange in Valencia and got a taste of real summer. More photos here.

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August was a busy month, but we managed to squeeze in a little weekend getaway to the Dutch regions, Zeeland and breathe in some of that salty sea air. More photos here.

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September was so busy that I focused most of my spare time on friends and family and didn’t have the proper time to record any of it.

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In October I spent a weekend with my girlfriends in the Ardennes and the weather was a-ma-zing.  Golden hour has never been so golden as that weekend. More photos here.

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In November my boyfriend and I took a long awaited vacation and spent our time travelling through two fantastic countries, Peru and Bolivia. You can read more about the trip by clicking on both countries.

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The final month of 2017 was spent in cozy corners with good company and great food, the way life should be. We enjoyed the warmth and comfort of our home and created our own bit of hygge.

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See you in the next year? :-)

Love,

Silke

December ’17

Quite unbelievable that this blog post is already the last one of this year in the monthly favourites category. Warning for this one: there’s a lot of Christmas related photos. :-)

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Doing the Christmas shopping together
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Sinterklaas making an unsuspected stop at our house
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Visiting the Christmas Market in Leuven
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Scoring these 5 books for the mere price of 5 euros at the travel book sale at work
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Soaking in the wintery atmosphere all around the city
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Decorating the Christmas tree with some holiday cheers in the background
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Admiring the result from the couch next to the makeshift fireplace
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Wearing ridiculous hats at the British Shop
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Drinking tea on a Sunday evening in my favourite mug
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Playing laser tag with the extended friends crew
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Not needing anything from IKEA but ending up needing everything from IKEA
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Pulling out the ugly Christmas sweaters and loving it
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Baking gingerbread cookies
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Admiring the Christmas light show at the Grand Place in Brussels
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Spending another Christmas in the company of good friends and crazy family with way too much food

Love,

Silke

Brussels from A to Z

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If there’s one place I had to pick when it comes to music, it’d definitely be the Ancienne Belgique. They constantly host some of my favourite bands and singers but are also not afraid to invite newcomers. Its location, right next-door to the famous and impressive Stock Exchange called De Beurs or La Bourse, is right in the city centre and on sunny days, this traffic free area is the place to see or be seen.

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As the palace for fine arts, Bozar is one of my favourite museums when it comes to modern art. They constantly switch up their collection and always have some temporary exhibitions going on. It’s where art is life and life is art.

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C  – Place Saint Catherine is the place to be on a sunny day when people flock to the restaurants and bars on the cozy square with the impressive church. This lively area also has lots of seafood restaurants.

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The so called hipster neighbourhood is the Dansaertstraat, where you can spot Dansaertvlamingen (Flemish speaking people that live in Brussels but don’t see themselves as Flemish but rather as from Brussels – let’s say it’s complicated). In any case, it’s where all the cool kids shop till they need a latte.

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In 1935 Brussels hosted the World Expo and for that, our infamous balls of steel, aka the Atomium were built. Now the Heizel still has some gigantic halls left over and to date this is still the place to be for huge events and enormous shows or exhibitions.

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Place Flagey is just one of those places that everyone knows: this oasis of space contains a mixture of cultures and architectural styles and is therefore an unexpected discovery where creative spirits meet. Yet another great place to people watch and soak up the sun.

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If you’re looking for the #1 attraction for tourists, it’s definitely the Grote Markt or Grand Place. This place is the most central in Brussels and it’s where all the historic guild houses as well as the Town hall are located. Try some chocolate on your way there in one of the many praline shops.

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H is definitely for Horta, one of the most famous art nouveau architects ever.  Lots of houses and buildings in Brussels still carry his signature and his style is what makes me look up in awe from time to time. If you’re looking for another gem of an architectural creation, check out the Sint-Hubertusgalerijen, not by Horta, but nonetheless magnificent. Especially around Christmas time, with the lights covering the ceiling.

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Brussels is basically one big international food market. You can try anything here: from Italian to Moroccan, from Lebanese to Chinese, from Japanese to Indian, from French to Scandinavian, from Turkish to Mexican: it’s all here!

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We all know Manneke Pis, right? The peeing statue that is disappointingly small (“That’s it ?!”). If you’re looking for a different approach, check out Jeanneke Pis, the lesser known female version.

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The Kruidtuin, also known as the Botanique, is one of the gardens worth a visit in the city. The garden is located right next to the famous concert hall with the same name.

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If you’re looking for a place to spoil yourself with some expensive shopping, the Louizalaan is the place to be. This super duper fancy shopping streets leads to the Gulden Vlieslaan, where some of the big shops like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Furstenberg, Gucci – to name a few – are located. A girl can dream (and window-shop), right?

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One of my favourite places is definitely the Mont des Arts or Kunstberg. Besides being the hotspot for all the cool museums, this hill offers a unique viewpoint over Brussels. The perfect place to sit on the stairs and watch the world go by until the sun sets.

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The Museum of Natural Sciences or Natuurwetenschappen Museum is just one of those museums that are cool to see. Have a browse through the stuffed animals or pretend to be a dinosaur. So many options.

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For the opera lovers out there, the place to be is the Munt or La Monnaie. Besides the opera, the Muntplein is a lively place with more often than not, lots of activities going on.

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I love a good cityscape view, which is exactly what the Poelaertplein or Place Poelaert offers. It’s located right next to the Justitiepaleis. If you look closely, you might be able to spot the word “Hollywood”. Let me know if you find it!

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As the capital of Europe, it speaks for itself that there is a Quartier Européen. It’s where the big buildings are with all the European organisations. There’s some nice places to eat or have a coffee there too!

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The main shopping street is called the Rue Neuve or Nieuwstraat. It’s where the mainstream shops are. It’s located between the Munt and Rogier.

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Another one of my favourite area is Sint Gillis, which I like to think of as Hipster Central. It’s where you can find edgy beer shops, second hand stores, cool coffee bars. It’s a nice place to hang around on a sunny day and just discover.

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My favourite green area is definitely Ter Kamerenbos or Bois de la Chambre. We drive through it often, but more enjoyable is the walking and biking. It’s quite big, but that’s what makes it so nice to venture out there: there’s always a quiet spot somewhere to soak up the green. Whether it be summer, winter, autumn or spring – it always draws me in.

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As most big cities, Brussels is also a university city, with the ULB and VUB on the edge of the city. It’s pretty cool to see how the students just blend in with the inhabitants.

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If you take the elevator at Place Poelaert, it will lead you to the Marollen, a place for strolling past the second hand shops or browse the brocante market at the Vossenplein or Place du Jeu de balle, after which you can have a beer in the sun. An afternoon well spent.

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Another day, another park – The Warandepark, or more often called plainly, the Park, is the park across the Royal Palace. It makes for a nice place for a stroll and perhaps a Liege waffle?

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It seemed impossible to find something with an X until I realised what was right in front of me (e)Xpats – okay I cheated a little bit. One of the reasons I love it here so much is hearing the different languages from all over the world and hearing about people’s experiences with Belgium as a country.

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Yzer is located in the northern part of Brussels. It’s the area with Tour& Taxis, one of the biggest sites and buildings that regularly hosts events or festivals. Besides that, there is also the Kaaitheater with innovative and surprising performances. Near the water, the Kaai, in the summer there is Brussel bad – a makeshift beach with cocktail bars and Latin-American music.

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The Zavel or Sablon is located in the heart of Brussels. It’s got a market on weekends and houses COCO donuts – the best donut place in Brussels (so far). Park Egmont offers another green oasis in the busy centre.

September ’17

I’ve been so busy! And although we’re already halfway through October, I couldn’t keep the best parts of September from any of you. Here’s my favourite snippets.

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Reading this new, touching book
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Baking vegan blueberry muffins
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Sunny mornings on an empty train platform
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Posting another outfit post, the second one this year
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Spending the day in Ghent
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Visitation rights to the cat
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Breakfast in bed
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Having brunch at Huset
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Getting dressed up for a wedding
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Street art in Lier
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Discovering more green parks in Brussels
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Spending the afternoon at one of the vineyards of Hageland
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Assembling my own perfect bouquet of flowers
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Feeling like a master chef after making veganese spring rolls
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Evenings in the city
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Selling stuff second hand at a flea market
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Running. So far I’ve been keeping up going once a week.
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The Art on Paper exhibition in Bozar 

Can’t wait to show you what I’ve been up to these past few weeks in October already.

Until then,

Love,

Silke

A fall breeze swept away more than I anticipated

It’s funny how you don’t see the falling of the leaves

but the barrenness of the trees surprises

It’s funny how you don’t see the light slipping away

but yet you notice the darkness of the hour

It’s funny how you don’t observe the days getting shorter

but evenings have never felt so long

It’s funny how you don’t notice the first moment you put on a scarf

until you feel the sudden chill creeping up your spine

It’s funny, the way the colours evolve,

the seasons change,

and time slipping away,

slowly

It’s funny, how life catches up with you

While you are doing dishes and deciding what to have for dinner

While making lunch boxes and booking summer holidays

While riding trains and making ways through crowds

While folding laundry and putting memories in boxes

It’s funny, this whole ticking of the time

The way life just

happens

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Alle tijd is kostbaar

De regen tikt op de ruit, terwijl ik knus en gezellig binnen zit. Warm. Huiselijk. Tussen mij en het glas zit een wereld van verschil. Ik zie de mensen voorbij wandelen. Sommigen gehaast om de regen te ontwijken en hun kapsel niet in de war te brengen. Anderen kan het niets schelen, een attitude die ik wel kan hebben. Een bliksemschicht voert mij naar een andere realiteit. Twee verdiepingen hoger zit een oud vrouwtje op dezelfde plek als ik naar buiten te kijken. Ze ziet dezelfde mensen ook. Zijzelf  is niet gehaast, ze heeft tijd, iets waar ik soms zo ademloos naar snak. En toch, ik benijd haar niet. Ik bedenk dan dat ik nog uren, dagen, ja-ren tijd heb. De mevrouw van het derde waarschijnlijk niet.

Soms troost ik mij aan de gedachte dat zij nu ook ziet wat ik zie. De mensen op straat, de regendruppels, het haasten, het leven van anderen. Ik stel me voor dat zij dan een nipje van haar theetje neemt. Dat ze het ook warm heeft, en knus en gezellig in een zeteltje voor haar venster zit. Dat ze wijselijk glimlacht om de onwetendheid en naïviteit van ieder die jonger is dan zijzelf. Dat ze zucht, niet van opluchting of vermoeidheid of ergernis, maar van geluk. Zij heeft het allemaal gezien, gedaan, beleef, geleefd. In mijn verbeelding knipoog ik naar haar. Alsof we een soort van geheime verbintenis hebben. Zij weet het.

We nippen gelijktijding aan onze tas thee. Nu, nu delen we tijd.

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