Rotterdam – a shopping guide

Between Christmas and New Years, my boyfriend and I took a little getaway to Rotterdam. We took things slow and explored some of the great architectural constructions like the Markthal, saw some art at the Kunsthal and wandered the city’s streets. There were definitely too many nice looking shops and cozy cafés, but we managed to squeeze in quite a few! I’m giving you an overview below so you can enjoy some of the best ones. The shopping must go on!

PLEK – concept store

Where? 

What? This concept store is a design lover’s dream. From clothes to homeware, this place has everything in its own style, from Scandi chic to German retro. They also have a great selection of fragrances. My favourite – the Bon Parfumeur in the scent 301 – a woody scent with sandalwood, amber and cardamom. It was love at first smell.

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STEK – de stadstuinwinkel

Where? Nieuwe Binnenweg 195B

What? It’s the urban jungle lover’s dream. You walk into the shop and immediately get that jungle vibe: there’s literally plants everywhere! If your love of plants exceeds the plants itself, like me, you  will also like the botanical greeting cards and lovely ceramic pots as decoration. The shop owner is also really helpful! Basically, I could live in this store and be perfectly happy.

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HAY

Where? Haagseveer 99

What?  Anyone that knows me, knows I absolutely love this brand. It’s a Danish design brand that distinguishes itself from others by using unique shapes and colours. Regular scissors, clothing hooks and towels become objects of marvel. Time and time again, I end up buying nothing at all because I want everything and my budget just doesn’t allow for that to happen.

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VOORLOPIG

Where? Nieuwe Binnenweg 165

What? Everything you didn’t know you needed. There’s not really anything you couldn’t live without at this store, but there’s A LOT of things that you don’t feel like you want to live without. It’s got a wide selection of greeting cards, children’s books and posters. And I mean, who doesn’t love a store that makes a Christmas tree out of books! Out of books! Right.

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Hutspot

Where? Karel Doormanstraat 317

What? Really cool and edgy clothes and accessories that are comparably very affordable. From basic items to some pieces to stand out with.  I especially liked their jewellery collection, which as on point. You can kind of get the vibe of the store by looking at their website.

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Markthal

Where? Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298

What? Only the most amazing architectural construction in Rotterdam, with a combination of apartments and a huge glass market hall. This really is the place to be for food lovers. If you’re not already hungry by the thought of the market hall, you will definitely get some cravings when you see al the glorious food stands. A must if you’re ever in Rotterdam!

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GROOS

Where? Achterklooster 13

What? A really basic but artsy store that is enjoyable by the way it’s been set up alone. It’s kind of like a mix between a warehouse and an art or design gallery. We bought some local beer (with lime) there and socks with an unbearably cute print. It’s a great place to get a gift for the ungiftable person.

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KEET

Where? Oppert 2a

What? A gift store that doubles up as a café. The perfect place to go snoop around when the weather isn’t that great. They have a great selection of ceramics and jewellery. Again, you’ll need nothing but end up wanting everything.

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Coffeelicious

Where? Nieuwe Binnenweg 174

What? After all the shopping, it’s nice to bop in somewhere to grab a cup of coffee or tea. This place’s interior looks like Alice in Wonderland had a baby with a Scandinavian designer (not my favourite combo) but the cake here was the bomb.com and all was forgiven quickly. Try the carrot cake!

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This is only a grasp of the many, many more shops and cool places in Rotterdam and I’m pretty sure I’ll have to go back in summer one day, but I feel like these are a solid list to get your started. If you’re into one of a kind shops and laid back wandering around the city, Rotterdam is definitely the place for you.

Please be sure to let me know if you have any questions or comments! I’d love to tell you more about it.

Until the next shopping spree! :-)

Lilith

If you’re ever in Rotterdam and just like me, you are a huge fan of going out for breakfast, Lilith might just be the place for you. It’s an old bar with lots of hipster elements but a bit of a rockery vibe. I mean, the water we asked for came in a skull-shaped bottle and the music they play is mostly hard rock (in a non-disturbing kind of way!). Not to mention the food is delicious: there’s lots of options for everyone, from the bacon and eggs indulging lover (Gillian) to the vegan fruit and yoghurt bowl favourite (Me). One tip: go early! Right after we got there, the place was full and there’s a waiting line. I can understand why… :-)

When? Monday-Wednesday from 8am till 7pm, Thursdays from 8am till 9pm, Friday-Saturday from 8am till 10pm and Sundays from 8am till 9pm.

Where? Nieuwe Binnenweg 125H, Rotterdam

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5 tips to increase your productivity

  1. Clean house, clean mind

I believe that a clean and well organised house can give you not only more living space but space to think and be creative. Whether that is literally or figuratively speaking. For example, I swear by making the bed each morning, because it gives me a sense of peace. It marks the start of the day and it marks the end, when I get to dive into the cozy sheets of the neatly made bed. It’s only one of the examples of how a visual manifestation of neatness eases the mind. Trust me, it works. If you are not thinking about not having made the bed or some other household task, you will have room to think about something else, something more productive.

2. Breathe

Whether it’s a breakfast with a cup of tea or with a 5 minute meditation session (Calm is a really good app for this) on the train or during break at work, it’s important to breathe… It sounds straightforward, but it’s easier to forget than you’d think and it has a great influence on lots of other things, like your productivity.

3. Take a break

We all know the importance of a break to increase productivity, whether it’s from studying or work, but I’m mentioning it anyways to stress the importance of actually taking a break during your break. Not just for food, not just by being on your phone for a couple of minutes. Talk to someone, go for lunch with someone that isn’t from work, read a book, take a walk, do some sports, listen to some music,… the options are endless. Sometimes it’s better to take 5 minutes extra and get going afterwards than to stay at your desk and do half of what you could’ve done. Simple, right?

4. Get the overview

As a professional list-maker and organisation enthusiast, this one is easy for me. I like the colour-coding, the to do lists, the post-it notes and ticking off boxes. It’s doesn’t have to be that complicated though, just jotting down your thoughts can be a simple way to get some perspective. It’s easier to discern priorities if they’re put to paper and not floating around in your brain somewhere.

5. Make it fun

Whether it’s a grumpy cat notebook or photos from your family on your desk, it’s important to make the space you work in feel a little bit homey. You’ll be a lot more creative if you actually enjoy your working space.

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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.

Bloesems à volonté

Het is nog even wachten op de officiële lente, maar ik moet zeggen, bij mij begint het toch al wat te kriebelen. Mijn zonnebril heb ik al opgeduikt van onder het stof, mijn zonnecrème staat klaar en de eerste mojito’s zijn al gedronken. Binnenkort ruil ik, hopelijk, mijn moddervoetjes dan ook in voor zomersproetjes.

Zoals je wel kan horen, ben ik een echt lentepersoon. Iedereen is goedgezind, alles mag al eens iets meer op het gemak en de wereld krijgt stilaan weer een beetje meer kleur. Zo ook in het Hageland, waar de komst van de lente maar één ding kan betekenen: een ware bloesemzee bedekt de heuvels van dit prachtige gebied in Vlaams-Brabant. Om er zeker van te zijn dat iedereen kan genieten en dit prachtige, doch kortstondige, fenomeen niet hoeft te missen, organiseert Toerisme Vlaams-Brabant in samenwerking met 11 Hagelandse bloesemgemeenten en andere partners een waar lentefeest: drie weekends lang staat de regio in het teken van dit adembenemende bloeifenomeen.

Het eerste weekend vindt plaats op 14 en 15 april en staat in het teken van “Vuurmagie”. Tijdens één van de nocturnewandelingen, geniet je in combinatie met sprankelende vertellingen van talrijke vuurkunstwerken die de weg verlichten doorheen de fruitboomgaarden. De avonden mogen dan nog fris zijn, bij het zien van de draaiende vuurcirkels krijg je het sowieso onmiddellijk warm.  Op vrijdag 14 april gaat deze vurige wandeling door in Landen, doorheen het natuurdomein de Beemden. Op zaterdag 15 april slaat de vonk over naar Zoutleeuw, waar wie niet genoeg krijgt van het spektakel kan blijven voor een exclusief nachtje tussen de bloesems. Stond toevallig op mijn bucket list! En nu ook in mijn agenda dus. Klik op de afbeelding voor meer info!

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Het tweede weekend is all about “Picknickpret” en vindt plaats op 22 en 23 april. Met een resem aan activiteiten zoals een dauwwandeling, huifkartocht, bloesemwandelingen, zoektochten en, uiteraard, picknicken, stel je je dag samen zoals jij het zelf wil. Een gezellige lentedag verzekerd. Bij Fruit Vanhellemont in Meensel-Kiezegem zal een sprekend picknickkleed (ja, het bestaat!) je doen wegdromen met verhalen over het romantische Hageland. En als madame daar niet in slaagt, doet de overheerlijke picknickmand (op bestelling) of de omgeving dat zeker wel. Voor mij klinkt dit alvast als een mooie balans tussen actief genieten en luilekkeren; wie vindt mij op het picknickkleed of tussen de bloesems? Als je dit zelf ook niet wil missen, meer info krijg je door op onderstaande foto te klikken.

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Last but certainly not least, is er het derde weekend dat dan weer in een culinair kleedje is gestoken. Proeven van het  “Culinair Op Pad” weekend kan op 29 en 30 april. In verschillende gemeentes zullen er fruitige activiteiten mee te pikken zijn. Of je nu met de fiets of te voet bent, bloesems zijn er à volonté. Wie slim is fietst de bloesemsnelweg langs knooppunten 356, 45, 192, 50, 58 en 59 om zo het onderste uit deze toch wel lekker gevulde kan te halen. In Tienen zet je even je fiets aan te kant en kruip je even dichter bij je geliefde op het romantische bloesemterras bij fruitbedrijf Reynaerts. Op en top genieten en heerlijk samenzijn. Zijn je voetjes moe van het wandelen, geniet dan van een verwarmd voetbad in Linter. Bloesemwelness klinkt mij alvast als muziek in de oren. Afsluiten doe je in de bloesemlounge in Geetbets. Eens neergeploft in één van de kleurrijke bean bags, geniet je van een smaakvol streekbiertje of -hapje. Dat is nu eens echt genieten van de lente! Meer info nogmaals door op de foto te klikken.

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Ikzelf kijk alvast heel erg uit naar deze mooie activiteiten. En stralend weer heb ik besteld. Nu hoop ik alleen nog op jullie gezelschap…

Tot dan?

Silke