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.

15894463_10209866054661681_6459688970674923309_n15895473_10209882669597044_4921963867967505556_o

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).

dsc09964

img_13921

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.

img_1942

img_1523

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!

screen-shot-2017-05-01-at-20-05-40.png

screen-shot-2017-05-01-at-20-05-111.png

screen-shot-2017-05-01-at-20-05-55.png

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.

screen-shot-2017-06-11-at-10-58-57.png

screen-shot-2017-06-11-at-10-57-59

18766796_10211188622445049_7512225371794524035_o

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.

19264692_10211460640805338_5794656127139928599_o

img_20170617_142626

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

Screen Shot 2017-12-24 at 23.52.34.png

Screen Shot 2017-12-24 at 23.54.05.png

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.

dsc01056-copy

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.

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 00.00.33.png

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.

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 00.02.26.png

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.

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 00.08.59.png

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 00.08.46

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.

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 00.11.09.png

See you in the next year? :-)

Love,

Silke

Bolivia – the highlights

After the blogpost I wrote on the best bits of Peru, it’s only fair I should dedicate an equal amount on my blog to the other South American country we spent some time in, Bolivia. Here’s what we enjoyed most…

Copacabana

It sounds like an exotic beach place but really, the beach isn’t that “beachy” nor “exotic”, but nevertheless Copacabana’s water formed a nice change from all the desert landscapes we had driven through. And it made for a nice sunset too. I would also highly recommend hiking up the Calvari mountain. The hike takes approximately 40 minutes and offers stunning views over the coastline and the colourful rooftops of the town. Another one you shouldn’t skip is the cathedral. When we were there, there was a celebration going on where people could have their new car blessed and decorated with flowers – absolutely beautiful!

IMG_2777

IMG_2774

IMG_2791

IMG_2803

IMG_2822 copy

IMG_2874

IMG_2839 copy

IMG_2862 copy

IMG_2829

IMG_2899

IMG_2785

IMG_2892

La Paz

This city that is not the capital definitely has that cosmopolitan, big city-life vibe to it. It’s hard to breathe here, due to the altitude, but more so because of the exhaust fumes all over (that goes for the whole of Bolivia, by the way). Nevertheless, there’s something really fun about this city: whether it is from visiting the Witches Market, a must-see, or finding the most gringo hotspot in town to sitting at the steps of the cathedral and watching the street vendors come by with the weirdest looking foods, there’s something for everyone. Also, don’t skip the Valley of the Moon, a little outside the city centre; it’s like a different world entirely.

IMG_2766 copy

IMG_2402

IMG_2762Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 20.23.02.png

IMG_2278

IMG_2258

Salar de Uyuni

This HUGE salt plain is incredible. I knew I would be amazed by the nothing-ness of the place, but it exceeded expectations. Definitely take sunglasses when you go, because the white of the plain hurts the eyes. We couldn’t help ourselves and took some classic salt plain photos, because if you don’t, have you really actually been there? My favourite part was the Inca Huasi, cactus island. The hike around the island takes about 30-40 minutes.

IMG_2428

IMG_2463

IMG_2508

IMG_2521

IMG_2543

P1050662 copy

On the road

If you’re into wildlife (lama’s, vicuñas, alpacas, etc), look out for them when you’re on the road. Also, the views were always amazing. Here’s some of the best ones.

IMG_1741

IMG_1758

IMG_1764

IMG_1773

IMG_2638 copy

IMG_2653 copyIMG_2732 copy

I hope this inspires you to also visit this wonderful country. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll go back, because there’s definitely plenty more to see.

Happy travels,

Silke

 

Peru – the highlights

Last month, we spent some time travelling, and it was the best thing ever. My boyfriend and I went on a group tour to Peru and Bolivia with Koning Aap for 24 days. We came back enthused and with recharged batteries from another trip of a lifetime. Because people are curious and keep asking me what the best part was, here’s a round-up of the best bits (- warning! there’s a lot!).

IMG_1472
Tip! Take the Lonely Planet guide: it was our go to book for recommendations on nice area’s, markets and places to eat and it’s never disappointed us.

Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa

If you’re ever in Arequipa (2300m), this monastery is a must! This maze of little streets and houses is surprisingly cheerful. With the contrasting colours of blue and orange, this monastery almost made me want to move in. Almost.

IMG_1483

IMG_1513

IMG_1497

IMG_1482

IMG_1548

IMG_1590.jpg

IMG_1565

Ballestas Islands

These islands in the Pisco region just of Paracas are a must for wildlife lovers. The islands are overthrown with guano birds and it’s hard to miss them (or their poop too :) ) when visiting the islands by boat. We also spotted one Humboldt penguin, lots of fur seals and other sea birds. It’s a pretty spectacular sight to see.

IMG_0993.jpg

IMG_1080 copy.jpg

IMG_1057

IMG_0949

Colca Canyon

Besides the obvious highlights of the trip, this was my favourite part. This canyon is one of the deepest in the world (up to 4600 metres in depth) and is therefore mindbogglingly impressive. Highest point of the canyon is 4600 metres and breathtaking (although sometimes literally). Highlight of our days spent in the canyon was a 50 minute hike to the Cruz del Condor, a viewing platform to spot the condors. A good tip is to not necessarily hang around at the spot if you don’t see condors, because they might be a couple of metres the other way. We spotted no less than 14! Needless to say, we praised ourselves incredibly lucky!

IMG_1927

IMG_1934

IMG_1990

IMG_1939

IMG_2031

IMG_2033

IMG_1985

IMG_2016

IMG_1880 copy

IMG_1856

IMG_1973

Huacachina

This oasis in the middle of the dessert is a peculiar sight to see. Because I’d heard the only way to properly view the oasis was from the top of the sand dunes, we didn’t hesitate to book a buggy and sand dune boarding tour. My throat was soar from screaming and I’m still not entirely sure whether it was from excitement or from terror, perhaps a bit of both. The drive was so worth it though, and I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves here.

IMG_1158.jpg

IMG_1154

IMG_1165

IMG_1178

IMG_1175

Nazca lines

Nazca is a very desert-y and rocky area and there wouldn’t be much to see if it weren’t for the huge Nazca lines. These ancient drawings compose the weirdest figures but to see them from a 6 person airplane made them all the more spectacular to me. A must.

IMG_1242 copy

IMG_1352.jpg

IMG_1337

P1050542 copy

Inca Trail and Machu Picchu

Because we wanted to have the first view of Machu Picchu the right way, we decided to walk part of the Inca Trail. We enrolled ourselves for the 2 day trek. Really, it’s only one day of walking, but the 12km took no less than 7 hours and was, well, challenging. Pathways are narrow, uneven and 80% of the time, uphill. Nonetheless, there is a lot to enjoy on the way with amazing views on the way as well as the the Wiñay Wayna and the Inti Punku (Sun Gate). Even though it’s only a day worth of hiking, you can’t help but feel ecstatic when you catch that first glimpse of the impressive Inca site that is Machu Picchu. Let’s just say there’s something magical surrounding the whole site and experience.

IMG_2983

img_3020.jpg

IMG_3080

IMG_3075

IMG_3009

IMG_3135

IMG_3157 copy

IMG_0001

IMG_0033

IMG_0036

IMG_3167

IMG_0019

IMG_0020

Cusco

Out of all the cities or towns we visited in Peru, I think this must’ve been our favourite. There’s a relaxed atmosphere and a decent amount of nice cafés and good restaurants. Don’t forget to go up the San Blas area in the city, it’s got some nice little streets in dreamy blue and white.

IMG_0075

IMG_0052

IMG_0069

IMG_0001

I’ll be posting a blogpost on the best bits of Bolivia soon too! :) Keep an eye out for it.

Until then,

Love,

Silke

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.

IMG_0441.JPG

IMG_0474

IMG_0606

IMG_0451

IMG_0512

IMG_0448

IMG_0455

IMG_0471

IMG_0492

IMG_0495

IMG_0524

IMG_0549

IMG_0600

IMG_0467

IMG_0477

IMG_0534

Zeeland – a weekend getaway

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I took a tiny holiday to our neighbouring country, the Netherlands for some sea, sand and fun in Vlissingen, Zealand. To be honest, we didn’t have any expectations, but we were pleasantly surprised by the friendly people, the nice weather, the relaxed atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. Here’s some of the highlights of our trip for your interest, in case you are planning a trip yourself or if you’re just a nosey little creature like me who likes to know what other people do in their free time :-)

Vlissingen – the city centre

We spent quite some time hanging about in Vlissingen’s city centre. Browsed some of the shops, enjoyed the Dutch pedestrian and bike friendly environment, had a cocktail, looked around the harbour, you name it!

DSC00994 copy

DSC00996 copy

DSC01000 copy

DSC00990 copy

DSC01014 copy

A must-see or do or whatever is the book shop ‘t Spui ! The shop has some great books both in Dutch and English. They even have these surprise books (gift wrapped books that you buy without knowing which book you get) and some great cards to send to family and friends. Even better: the shop leads straight to a florist shop seeing as they are connected indoors by a huge reading table that you are allowed to sit at and read. Coffee, flowers and books: what else does a person need?

DSC01004 copy

DSC01007 copy

DSC01010 copy

Biking

We did a 40 kilometer bike tour through the dunes, Dishoek and part of Middelburg. Because the landscape is so flat in this part of the country, it’s ideal for biking. Really, it’s the best way to see this part of the Netherlands. It’s how we discovered how pretty this coast is.

DSC01029 copy

DSC01026 copy

DSC01033 copy

DSC01021 copy

DSC01043 copy

DSC01038 copy

DSC01056 copy

DSC01072 copy

A day trip to Middelburg 

Whether you go by bike or car, the bigger city of Middelburg is only a short while away. Its historic centre is cozy, and if you’re in for some shopping, this is the place to be around here. Take a channel tour and soak up some of the glorious sun while you see the main sights around. A day well-spent!

DSC01088 copy

DSC01099 copy

DSC01095 copyDSC01112 copy

I don’t think the pictures need any more explaining, they speak for themselves. If you’re in for a short getaway, for a weekend or a couple of days, this hidden gem of a place is ideal!

Let me know what your favourite getaway place is, I’d love to know!

Until more travels,
Love,
Silke

Valencia – top 5 picks

A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days in Valencia, visiting my Uruguayan host sister. Besides seeing her again after 5 years, here’s what I thought were the five main highlights and must-do’s.

            1. Enjoy the green

I had no idea, but it turns out Valencia has a lot of green spots throughout the city, which is something that I really appreciate in a city. With the mellow lifestyle and warm weather, these parks are the perfect place to enjoy an ice cream, read a book in the shade or just catch up with friends.

Jardín del Turia is now a park, but used to be the river bed of the Turia river. You can imagine it’s a huge park, twisting and turning its way through the city.

DSC00948

Another good one are the Jardins del Reial, which has lots of exotic plants and trees (this goes for Valencia in general, which is quite different and enjoyable if you are from the cold cold north, namely Belgium).

             2. Take a stroll through the historic city centre 

There is just so much amazing architecture to look at. From older buildings to new ones, all of the streets look glorious. Don’t forget to climb the Miguelete tower to enjoy the view from the top too! The 209 steps are worth it. Tip: don’t wear a dress, it can get quite windy up there. Unless you want the whole of Valencia to see your bum, then by all means do like I did.

IMG_20170628_161915

IMG_20170630_112800

IMG_20170628_145939

DSC00958

3. Buy some fresh produce at one of the many markets

Valencia is the place for foodies with its bustling markets spread across the city. From fresh fruit and veggies to refreshing juices, spices and different types of meats, cheese and fish, it’s all there for you to enjoy. Mercado de Colòn is a renovated old market, but it’s worth a peek. For more of a real market feel, check out Mercado Central: both the inside and outside are beautiful and you can pretty much find anything here. Since Valencia is known for its oranges, try a freshly squeezed orange juice, or buy the original spices to make your own paella.

IMG_20170629_142356

IMG_20170630_123400

             4. Enjoy the climate and take things slow

Because Valencia can get quite hot in the summer, people live on a completely different daily time schedule. Wake up late, take a siesta in the afternoon, go out for dinner late and stay up till the sun sets over the beautiful city. Take things slow and easy.

IMG_20170629_214018

           5. Don’t skip the main attraction

Although it’s the one thing that I knew Valencia for, and it does sound like quite a tourist trap, the Océanographic and the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències, are both definitely worth a visit, if not for the architecture alone. The pictures don’t lie, it’s a pretty photogenic space… Don’t just skip it!

IMG_20170701_122434

IMG_20170701_152110

IMG_20170701_171530

IMG_20170701_173947

IMG_20170701_174344

IMG_20170701_174335

Hasta la próxima!

Besos

Silke