Côte d’Opale

A few weekends ago, my boyfriend and I took a little trip to the Opal coast in the Northern part of France, as a way to change up our yearly seaside trip. We usually go to the Belgian coast (Ostend) but decided on Boulogne-Sur-Mer. What a picturesque town, really! I didn’t have any expectations, but I was wrong. Especially the fortified old town is worth a visit with its smaller streets, cute houses and historic buildings. The city also houses the biggest aquarium in Europe, Nausicää. Gorgeous!

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We spent one day cruising along the coast all the way up to the Cap Blanc Nez and the Cap Gris Nez. We took advantage of having a car to drive to all the best viewpoints. It made for some amazing walks and even better vistas. On the way we also made a quick stopover at Wimereux, a quaint village that seemed deserted. Loved it!

 

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img_20180826_112042.jpgIt’s amazing how different the coast can be only an hour drive from Belgium! I’m pretty sure we’ll be back to discover some other parts of the French coast. Can’t wait.

If you have any tips on where to go next, let me know!

Slow living in the Ardennes

This summer, after our big trip to NYC, which you can read about here , we decided to switch things up and go on a holiday in our own country for a change to unwind and relax to the fullest. So, I booked a tiny house in the Ardennes, the most foresty area in Belgium, without a wifi connection. It was delightful! We slowed down, we read (lots), we  cooked, we hung around, we went for walks, we watched dvd’s, we did all the things that disappear too easily from daily life because a to do-list gets in the way.

The place we spent these 5 days at, was perfect for it. I booked with two very friendly people called Chantal and Salva, who have converted this trailer into a proper tiny house for two. They paid attention to every small detail and almost everything is made out of wood. Cozy for sure, comfortable , yes, that too! The trailer is located in a small village called Trou de Bra, which is part of Lierneux. Not too far away you can find Spa, Trois Ponts and Coo. Although close to the renters, we were surrounded by nature. The garden that they created is perfectly suitable to enjoy these surroundings too: there’s a hammock, a barbecue, picknick table, etc. There was also a cute wood stove in the house which we didn’t use (30°C was plenty, thanks) but who knows, we might go back in winter to do it all again. In case you’re interested, the place is called Coeur de Roulotte and you can find more info about booking here.

Despite the small digital detox (I did log in once or twice when visiting the cities), I did take lots of photos because it’s what I love doing. An impression of our stay is what follows. Hope you enjoy! :-)

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Norway – the best of

A week ago, we came back from the cold north that is Norway and were blown away by the astonishing landscapes and dreamy, wintery views. We will definitely be going back in summertime someday to see the great contrast. Because I’m all about spreading the joy, I thought I’d share my favourite bits and pieces, including photos, of our trip. We stayed in Oslo for four days and took the Oslo-Bergen railway to, you guessed it, Bergen, where we spent another 3 days before heading home.

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Things you shouldn’t miss

  • Oslo Operahus. It’s undeniably one of the city’s architectural masterpieces. Impressive in winter, with the frozen harbour, I can only imagine the grandiosity it must radiate in summer, when the roof is the best place to catch some of that sparse soleil.
  • Korketrekkeren. This translates to the English equivalent of “The Corkscrew”. It used to be a winter sport practice course, but is now open to everyone for… sledding! And it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done in the snow for sure. You simply take Metro line 1 up till  Frognerseterveien, where you rent a sledge and helmet and off you go! And what’s even better is that you can take the metro back up at Midstuen and go again. Easy peasy.
  • Norsk Folkemuseum.  Although a bit chilly and slippery in winter, the peace and quiet of the outdoor museum and the colourful old houses make up for it. If you plan to go, try going on the weekends, when they have lots of activities going on, even in winter. We did some banana and chocolate grilling on the campfire.
  • Det Kongelige Slottet. The royal palace is located on a bit of a hill and offers a fantastic view over the main shopping streets and a beautiful park.

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Things you can skip

  • Vikingskipmuseet. Although the viking ships are impressive, you’ve pretty much seen everything the museum has to offer on their website. 100 NOK felt a little bit much for the size of the museum. A tourist trap, if you ask me.
  • Nasjonalmuseet. The museum itself is relatively big and provided me with an okay indoor visit, but you won’t be missing out much if you skip it.

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Places to eat

  • Gryn. A concept restaurant that specialises in porridge with typically Norwegian ingredients like brunost (brown cheese) as well as waffles (savoury and sweet). Great place for a quick lunch!
  • Munchies. With two places in Oslo, they are the best burger places. Quick, easy, delicious. Try the sweet potato fries.
  • Rent Mel. Although expensive, this pizza place next to a hotel, had a-ma-zing pizza’s. The best.
  • Taco Republica. This place has delicious taco options. You can mix and match to your liking. Make sure to book a table, though.
  • Retrolykke Kaffebar. The best place to try waffles with jelly and cream. The entire interior reminds of the 50s and 60s. I love the mismatched cutlery, cups and plates.
  • Liebling. A good place for lunch or coffee. Cozy and homey with plenty of space. Great pie. They also have a variety of colourful lattes.

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To shop

  • Norway Design. The best place for design. Also a stationary lover’s dream.
  • Ting. Cute little gadgets that you don’t need but desperately want anyways.
  • Glasmagasinet. Basically, you could’ve just left me here to live and I would’ve been perfectly happy. It’s like a dream for any design lover. They also have a fabulous Kicks department which is perfect for any make-up or skincare lover.

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Oslo – Bergen railway

A highlight of our trip was definitely the Oslo-Bergen railway. We had booked tickets 2 months in advance, which was the perfect time because that’s when you get the “minipris”, which is cheap tickets. You get to choose your seats and there is no hassle of checking in, just hop on. Bring plenty of snacks and reading or listening material because you are settling in for a 6 hour train ride. Things never get boring because after every tunnel, a new and magical scenery appears. Sit back, relax and enjoy (it’s easy).

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Bergen

Things you shouldn’t miss

  • Bryggen. The row of old Hanse houses is one colourful sight to say the least. If you’re lucky the sun will come out and the harbour view will be one to never forget. (Or very lucky, because apparently there’s 320 days of rain in Bergen!)
  • Fjord tour. You can simply not leave Bergen without exploring the fjords a bit more. Even in winter, there’s tours running. Although I’m pretty sure the Norway in a Nutshell tour is better (but our budget didn’t allow for it), we did the Mostraumen fjord tour. Nonetheless spectacular! We booked ours through Fjord Tours.
  • Fløibanen. Take up the funicular (with a 26 degree slope!) to Fløyen and you will be rewarded with an amazing view over the city and the harbour as well as the surrounding mountains. It’s when you realise why Bergen is called Bergen! If possible, go for a hike or a ski. We got stuck knee-deep in the snow, but had an enjoyable walk nonetheless. And the hot chocolate afterwards with that view is just the best.
  • Audhild Viken. An all-year-round Christmas shop. I didn’t know it was a thing, but I am so glad that it is! You’ll come out cheery, singing “Jingle Bells” in no time.

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Places to eat

  • Pingvinen. The best restaurant we went to for the entirety of the trip! Also very popular with the locals, which says a lot. They have daily specials, of which we tried the Plukkfisk and the Raspeballer. Typical Norwegian flavours assured.
  • Blom. If you’re looking for a strong, specialty coffee, Blom is the place to be. Clean, crisp, cozy.
  • Alléhjørnet Thai. Also very popular with the locals, we had some delicious pad thai at this place. Can’t go wrong.

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Where to sleep

  • Citybox Oslo. A very easy and new concept hotel. You do everything yourself: from check-in, payment to luggage storage and check-out. If you really need help or more towels, you can go to the management office, but we loved this hassle-free and easy stay. Also very close to the train station and the city centre!

 

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Next up…? I’ll leave that to be a surprise! :)

 

The Ardennes

Last weekend, I spent some quality time with my three best girlfriends in the Ardennes, the most well-known forested area in Belgium. To reminisce over the wonderful memories we made, I thought it’d be a cool idea to make a photo report. Here are some photos that made it to the family album. The pictures are a combination of three locations: Spa, Lierneux and La-Roche-en-Ardenne.

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Hallerbos

When the weather is nice (read: when it’s not raining), we like to spend most of our time outdoors. Today we spent the morning at the Hallerbos, the Blue Forest. Around this time of year (next week actually), the forest becomes enchanting with the blooming of the blue, purple bluebells covering and colouring the surface. To beat the crowds, we went a little bit “too early” with some of the bluebells still closed. Nevertheless, a ‘would recommend’ forest. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

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