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.

 

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Spring has sprung!

 

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Our best toy purchase ever!

What a fantastic weekend. 20+ degree weather, sunshine, short sleeves, outdoor play. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Our weekend was off to a good start. The kids and I went to Gulpen Friday morning to pick a child safety harness that I purchased second hand from someone. We’re traveling to Ireland in three weeks and I having these visions of Thibault running away from us and jumping off the Cliffs of Moher. It probably sounds ridiculous and a little bit paranoid, but then I saw a toddler wearing one when Flora and I were in Amsterdam. I wanted to high five the mom. I just can’t keep up with T all the time. He gets away quickly and I need some more security with him at the airport and such. Well— turned out to be a nice little trip. Gulpen has a great bakery! Flora and I each had a Berliner bol and Thibault had this delicious homemade pretzel. We’re going back! I can’t stop thinking about the Berliner bol!

Thibault had a great week. He slept through the night several times! It was a miracle. The miracle has now ended. Back to waking up multiple times a night, but fingers crossed that he is trending in the right direction! I think the good weather and allowing us to play outside for pretty much three days straight also helped. The funny thing is— I was still tired! Probably because he was waking up between 5:00-5:45. Here you can see him playing with our aromatherapy diffuser at 5:30 a.m. He loves this, but loves destroying it most of all. My little man is active, active, active! Good for him. I’m seeing toddlerhood in another light this time around. He’s not afraid of anything, which makes me twice as afraid of everything! I love his adventurous spirit. Sometimes I just want to sit down and cuddle. Thankfully— Flora is still a big snuggler. Happy spring!

Friday Brunch

A few weeks ago, Flora and I had a Friday morning brunch, just the two of us. Thibault was at the creche having missed several days from Carnaval and the girls had some down time. I feel so relaxed when Thibault is not around. That sounds awful, but it’s true. I’m grateful for these peaceful moments where I’m still hanging out with my family, but not struggling. A little moment of zen here at Piece of Cake.

How cute is Flora’s admiration for her hot chocolate? We ate pancakes, scones, and took a stroll through Museum aan het Vrijthof. What a fab morning!

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My day ended on a high note— cocktails with the Mamas! This was supposed to be a Cosmopolitan, but my New York self thought otherwise!

 

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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Weekend Fun: Family walks & Babychinos

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Our weekend was off to a good start! Flora and I enjoyed some coffee and a babychino at Confetti in Maastricht, while Thibault played in the “speelhoek.” We ended with a quick stroll around the Friday market and our morning was complete. Flora was impressed by the market. “Wow. This place is pretty cool. Look at all the different things here!.” It made me realize I should take the kids there more often. There are a lot of cool things to see at the Friday market. She’s also at the stage where she talks loudly about something she sees even if it is about another person. She saw a man at the market and practically shouted, “He’s not wearing a coat! And he’s smoking!” Luckily the guy didn’t even notice and I had a little laugh. So–this is something that we are working on.

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The sun was shining on Saturday and we took advantage of the day. Some outdoor play in the backyard and a nice stroll near Valkenburg. Thibault had some fun at the playground thanks to his new outdoor winter pants! He’s growing up so fast.

Weekend fun: Eijsden castle

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We headed out for a quick walk around Eijsden castle last weekend. Flora loves castles and we had a chatty stroll round the grounds while Jaap tried to give Thibault a nap. I only wish the walk around the castle was a little bit longer. It’s such a beautiful little place. It’s still January and I’m already thinking about spring!