Our Barefoot Walk

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A couple weeks ago we went on the Barefoot Walk in Zutendaal, Belgium. I had done it twice before (years ago with work), so I knew Flora would be able to do it. Jaap and I were both shocked that we finished it within the estimated time the park suggested. I was impressed with how much of the trail Thibault was able to walk. He’s a sporty fellow. It was the perfect family activity for one of our last weekends of summer together. We had so much fun. I was so proud of my brave little hikers and nature lovers.

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Snapshots: Girls Weekend in Antwerpen

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Rewind to several weeks ago…girls weekend in Antwerpen! Here are just a few snapshots from my night away with the Mama friends. It was 36+ hours full of girl chat, shopping, coffee, wine & cocktails!!!, and relaxation. I’m so thankful for their friendship, my husband’s ability to watch our kids while I enjoy some “me” time, and for living so close to such beautiful places. I was so impressed by Antwerpen and we didn’t even get to see that much. It’s a very beautiful city. I’m looking forward to exploring it more with the family.

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Dinant, Belgium with Family

 

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Hugging the mermaid saxophone in Dinant

Dinant is the perfect weekend getaway from Maastricht. I have wanted to travel here for a long time. I always thought we would make it a day trip, but with two little ones, it’s too far from Maastricht because there are so many great activities and sights to see.

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So, in no particular order– here are my top 10 favorite memories in Dinant.

1. Saxophones on Charles-de-Gaulle Bridge. 

Flora and I both agreed. The best saxophone on this bridge was the mermaid sax from Denmark. What a unique and modern twist to this city. Very nice to stroll and look at all the saxophones from different countries. And also cool to be in the birthplace of the saxophone.

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2. Dinner by the water on Rue Adolphe Sax

A friend of mine gave us a recommendation for a “cheap and cheerful” pizzeria on the main street next to the water. Yummy eats and rosé wine! We were happy customers and the view was great.

3. Cable car ride up to the Citadel 

Just one of the many reasons I thought this city was child friendly—the cable car. It was a family hit and the views are really stunning. The top of the cathedral is so unique. This was special. It reminded Jaap and I of the Roosevelt Island days in NYC.

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4. Beer & a Speeltuin at the Citadel

We walked around the Citadel a little bit. You have to take a guided tour (which is included in the cable car ride price) to see most of the Citadel, but sometimes when traveling with little tots—the guided tours are just not possible. So we walked around parts of the Citadel, learned a little bit more about Dinant’s history during WWI, and headed to the speeltuin. Of course, this was the highlight. And what better way to enjoy a playground than drinking a beer and watching your kids play. The Leffe Abbey & brewery is right in Dinant, so we were drinking local. 🙂

5. Marsedsous Brewery

Another great place to go with kids. We took a stroll through the church, enjoyed their large playground, sat outside for a bit, and enjoyed dinner and a beer flight at the cafeteria. Ordering our meal was a nightmare (nobody spoke Dutch or English), but we still had a good meal. Another beer and speeltuin recommendation!

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6. Learning about Adolphe Sax

Dinant has a free, one room museum about Adolphe Sax and how he invented a new family of instruments. A museum that only takes 5 minutes to see. Another win for small children!

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7. Côte Sax Tea Room 

This cute little tea room was a great place for us to grab a cup of coffee, some ice cream, and an late afternoon snack. We enjoyed some yummy crêpes and they were very welcoming with children. And everyone was fluent in Dutch and English.

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8. Railbikes in Warnant

This was my favorite part of the trip! This was a huge family hit. We did an 8K route from Warnant, which was only 10 minutes from our house. The weather was perfect, the views were beautiful, and everyone had a great time. After our coffee break at the turn around point, Thibault fell asleep on Mom all the way back. It was hilarious. Cycling there Jaap and I didn’t realize we were on a small incline because on the way back, we pretty much coasted the whole way.

9. Dinant Cathedral

The top of this cathedral is quite unique. Of course, we had to light a candle. 🙂

10. Château de Frëyr and a picnic lunch

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Jaap’s favorite meal of the trip was our lunch at Château de Frëyr. Bread and Nutella is the way to this man’s heart. There is no food on site, but the cashier suggested us making a picnic lunch. Perfect. This was a fun place for us to walk around the grounds. The large hedges were fun to walk through. Another bonus were the rock climbers across the river leading up to the castle. It was fun to try and find them on the rocks.

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Another successful family trip. I absolutely fell in love with this little city and continue to fall more in love with Belgium. What a beautiful and delicious country! I just felt so happy the entire weekend. Maybe it was the beer, being with all my favorite people, I’m not sure. Whatever it was— I will always have great memories of this trip to Dinant.

 

Weekend Fun: Leuven, Belgium

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It’s really winter here! Temperatures have dropped and it’s been pretty cold here the last week. We even got a little bit of snow on Monday morning. Sunday was our family activity day and set off to explore Leuven, Belgium. What cute little university city.

It wasn’t a day full of activities, just walking, coffee and beer drinking, and admiring the old architecture. The gothic city hall in the city center is quite impressive. Very ornate and stunning. Set against that blue sky—ahhhh! We had lunch in a tavern, drank some beer, saw the church, and walked to the Grote Begijnhof. Leuven’s university is the oldest in Belgium (15th century) and has so many beautiful buildings throughout the city.

Panic set in at one point when Flora realized we weren’t going to a playground. This seems to be her definition of fun, whether it be indoors or outdoors. But, she is such a happy little traveler, we knew she would come around and find the fun or beauty in something we were seeing. She can still be redirected with a game of tag or “I Spy”. This seems to be her new favorite walking game. I love it. We both take the time to see the things around us and really look at what is in front of us.

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And a bonus— we scored some free drinks at the university because they were hosting an open day. I’m happy we took a little adventure out of our region. Spring feels so far away. We’ll see how we keep warm this weekend!

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Girls Weekend

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Not a bad view!

I have fallen off the blog bandwagon again. My intentions to consistently blog throughout the holidays did not happen. Life was too much fun, busy, sick, and exhausted to blog! I want to upload a “snapshots” post soon, just so I have the photo memories of our Christmas season somewhere. We had such a great holiday season complete with the cookie baking days, Christmas and NYE with friends, Christmas with the Jansens, a day trip to the Spoorweg Museum in Utrecht with friends, and the flu! Overall, a fantastic holiday! Flora has fallen in love with Christmas and there’s just not much more you can ask for.

Back to normal life and I was lucky that my friends and I had something fun to look forward after the back to work/end of Christmas slump. The Mamas had a weekend getaway planned! We planned a “spa” weekend in the Ardennes (Malmedy) at a house in the countryside complete with a relaxing sauna. 48 hours, no children, no mess to clean up, nobody to take care of in the middle of the night, late dinners, lots of coffee and wine, and hours of girl chat! Not to mention a couple of hours drinking beer in the sauna, hopping in and out of the cold in our towels and reheating again in the sauna. Thank you to my Swedish friends who taught us how to properly “sauna”. I am converted and a big fan now!

It was a fantastic weekend and I have nobody but my amazing husband to thank. Thank you for letting me recharge, regroup, and mostly RELAX! After 48 hours I actually missed my family. That’s a good sign! And I feel grateful for this life. Cheers to friends and family  in 2018!