EN: Withthe year 2016 insightand, as far as I’m concerned, 2015 wentway toofastitwould be funto lookback aboutwhat2015 hastaught us. In short, what have youlearnedin2015?The most important things I havelearnedare: • To lower my expectations of people, because with high expectations you will often bedisappointed. Imust tell you thatit’stough to do so if you have been brought up with high expectations but itlives alot more relaxed.
• I havemorerespect for natureaftermyexperiencewith watchingturtleslaying eggson the beach inCostaRica. Turtles that comeevery year over againonto the same beach they were born onbetween a particular season and time to lay their eggsis one of natures true wonders!
• Patienceis a virtueand I tryto liveconsciously withpatience.
• My best friends really are my best friends.
• Live more for the moment.
•Trying to be more thankful for what I already have.
•Being more open-minded.
Feel free to leave comments about your own experiences and life lessons in 2015!
NL: Met het jaar 2016 in zicht en 2015 veels te snel ging voor mijn gevoel, lijkt het me leuk om eens terug te blikken over wat 2015 ons bijgebracht heeft, kortom wat heb jij geleerd in 2015? De belangrijkste dingen die ik geleerd heb zijn:
Minder verwachtingen van mensen hebben, want je wordt vaak toch door die verwachtingen teleurgesteld. Ik moet je zeggen dat het pittig is om zo te zijn als het in je zo bent opgebracht maar het leeft wel een stuk relaxter.
Ik heb meer respect voor de natuur gekregen na mijn ervaring met schildpadden die eitjes op het strand leggen in Costa Rica. Dat de schildpadden elk jaar weer op 1 bepaald strand komen tussen een bepaalde periode en tijd is een wonder.
Geduld is een schone zaak en ik probeer bewust geduldiger te leven.
Dat mijn beste vrienden ook echt mijn beste vrienden zijn.
Ik probeer in het moment te leven.
Meer dankbaarder te zijn voor de dingen die ik al heb.
Nog ruimdenker zijn.
Laat gerust leuk commentaar achter over de dingen die jij geleerd hebt in 2015!
My girl and I saw an interesting offer for our 3 year anniversary; 3 nights in a guesthouse with breakfast and dinner included for only €100,- p.p. (and good reviews) in a little town called Züschen in a rural, hilly area called Sauerland in Germany. Closeby is the well known wintersport destination called Winterberg. On our way to the guesthouse we visited the lovely city Düsseldorf:
On day 2 we went on a little hike in the nature nearby the guesthouse:
Day 3 Frankfurt:
On our way back to the guesthouse we passed the university town Marburg, well-known for The Brothers Grimm:
Day 4 Cologne:
Before I went on my trip I thought Germany was a little outdated and old fashioned, but I was pleasantly surprised by the green surroundings and cities, and the cosiness of most places we went to. From my experience the overal German people were nice. I must admit that I fell a little bit in love with the country.
Sorry I haven’t posted something new for so long. The busy life, you know
After days of hard working in the hotel I thought it was time to travel, meet up with some friends and have a good time. Amsterdam is then always a good answer for me. I love that city! Although I have visited Amsterdam many many times before, I never get bored. I already wrote another blog post about Amsterdam over here.
Unfortunately a few months ago I crashed my car, total loss. Luckily I wasn’t driving fast so I had no injuries. Nowadays when we want to travel long distance we need to go by train. Crossing the Belgian/Dutch border by train is so expensive that it’s better to drive a car. Therefore, we rented a car for a cheap price from a friend of ours.
When you have a car you should take advantage of it and do as much grocery shopping as possible, and so we did. We visited a supermarket, Jumbo Food Market, in the north of Amsterdam who claims they have the largest food selection of the Netherlands. They have their own corner where you can make your own yogurt with toppings, create your own sushi and a wood oven pizza island, a large vegetable section, bakery and so on. We saw and bought the strangest things like this:
Recipes we still need to find but we are always up to try new food!
We parked our car nearby the central station in the Oosterdok Parking which is the cheapest parking I could find for 12 euros for 24 hours. From there on we travelled further by tram to our next destination to meet up with my friend Sonja. She is my friend for a few years now and we met each other online through the Facebook page of Dutch singer Caro Emerald. Caro is an international star now and performs all over the world. Her music is a mix of different styles in combination with a dj. Check out her website here.
My friend Sonja is also becoming booming as she told me that her Instagram recently has reached over 10.000 followers! Mainly because she wears stylish vintage clothing and also makes clothing herself. Check out her blog and follow her on social media: Retro Sonja.
Our appointment was at Kattencafé Kopjes, a cosy lounge café with 7 friendly cats selected from 2 different animal shelters walking around.
As you can see, the café is totally designed to make the cats as comfortable as possible and in between there is a space for 20 persons to have a drink and a small thing to eat. The place is very clean and not stinky at all! I noticed that each person who enters the café smiles from ear to ear. Pets just give you such a pleasant and warm feeling! Highly recommended! Do you also want to have this unique experience? Check out their website Kattencafé Kopjes and make a reservation!
As I knew that in the shopping street Kalverstraat was a Sketchers shoe store, I wanted to pay it a visit because I was looking for new black shoes for work and many of their shoes have a memory foam inner sole. It’s like you’re walking on clouds! I ended up not buying anything because they were not totally my style.
Tip: If you need to go to toilet while you’re shopping in Kalverstraat the Mac Donalds at Kalverstraat has clean toilets, you have to pay 50 cent though but get a voucher for a free small drink worth 2 euros. Totally worth it!
In the evening we had an appointment for diner with Zhu, a trainee who just finished her training at my work where I was her mentor. It was nice to hear she wanted to continue to work in the hotel industry and has a job now in a hotel in Amsterdam. We met up in Downtown Burger, an American diner style restaurant. Actually its was very small, only 3 tables, bar and a big terrace. The ice tea drink tasted weird but the burgers were good.
I don’t know why but for the last couple of days I thought every day of pancakes so we decided to hunt for pancakes in Amsterdam. Luckily that was not as difficult as we thought! On the opposite side of the central station we found them in a luxury snackbar. My pancake was with strawberries, nutella, whipped cream and strawberry sauce. I never tasted something so sweet in my life! I couldn’t even finish it, nobody could. After 5 bites I started to feel sick. But my wish had come true!
To top off such a great day I received a surprise message from my best friend Linda. She asked me if I want to be her witness on her wedding next year in June. Ofcourse my answer was YES!
Hi all! On Thursday we went for a day trip to the lovely city of Bruges. It is such a beautiful, romantic and historical city! You feel like you’re walking in an open air museum. The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO. Enjoy the photo’s!
After I’ve been constantly busy in my new house, I felt the need to do something outside the house for a day, so I went to Rotterdam in Holland with my friend Nienke. She is also Dutch and we met each other in 2011 in a hotel where we worked together.
Rotterdam even came in 10th place of The New York Times 52 places to go. I’ve been to Rotterdam many times before and I love it! The city is only one hour by car from Antwerp and time flew by because Nienke and I talked the whole ride through.
First we had lunch at the world famous Hotel New York. The mix of old and new, the location and cosiness are very appealing to me.
While we had lunch I discovered that Nienke has never been to Primark before! WHAT??!! So next thing on our to-do-list was Primark in Rotterdam Alexandrium. Nienke found a nice pair of shoes there but she thought she had enough shoes. As I thought they were very nice, I tried them on and I fell in love. There was no price tag and it was the last pair. To make it easier for the cashier to scan, I brought a similar pair of shoes which were 15 euro. The cashier typed a code in her computer and she said “those are only 5 euro!” WHOOP WHOOP! Those shoes were officially the cheapest shoes I bought in my 28 year old life. Nienke thought she was so stupid to leave them for me offcourse! This are the shoes I’m writing about:
Then it was time to shop in Rotterdam city. We parked the car underneath “De Markthal” which is located nearby the shops at “De Koopgoot”
Other then my Primark shoes I haven’t bought anything else. I really enjoyed Nienke’s company. She mentioned that it was a long time ago she had Dutch pancakes and she was so up for that! I know that Amsterdam has a pancake boat so maybe Rotterdam had one too. So I walked into a McDonalds to use the wifi and yes! There is a pancake boat in Rotterdam with all you can eat pancakes and a boat trip of 1,5 hours. Let’s do that! We had a hard time to find “De Pannekoekenboot” because roads were blocked. Two minutes before the boat was supposed to leave we arrived out of breath. You can choose between 3 types of pancakes; apple, bacon or naturel and at the buffet you can choose for sweet and savory toppings.
This city has a modern vibe with a lot of architecture. Shopping in Rotterdam is so nice because there are so many shops in all categories close to each other. The employees I met in the shops and restaurants are also very customer friendly. Restaurants all around. I highly recommend for a citytrip, shopping and dining!
Day 3 As every morning we had breakfast at Pret A Manger. This fast food chain has many shops in London. The menu includes fresh sandwiches, baguettes, desserts, drinks, bakery items, salads, soups, cakes and everything is yummy!
What you really should do when in London is shopping! So that’s what we were planning to do on day 3. We started off at Primark on Oxford Street where we hung around for a couple of hours. We bought 2 bathroom mats, curtains, make up tools, Bio Oil, clothes and shoes. Then we had lunch in a pub with my dad who discovered a huge record store at the end of Oxford Street. Top Shop was the next stop. We ended up with nothing, only a bubble tea which they sell in the middle of the store.
We really loved the ambiance and the shops in Camden Town on day 2 so we decided to go back there as we didn’t get to see it all.
In the evening we had an appointment to go out for diner with one of Tessa’s old friends and her girlfriend who are living in London.
Tessa and her friend Chantal, haven’t seen each other for 10 years. We went to a Italian restaurant and after we went to a nightclub in Soho.
Day 4 After our breakfast, we planned to go to the Old Spitalfields Market. The market was not so big but on Fridays there is an additional record market which was great for my music loving father. Tessa and I went shopping in the shops around the market place. I loved the Inspitalfields and the Oliver Bonas shop. They both sell interior, jewelry and gadgets.
Another popular district for tourists is the Covent Garden area. Here are several markets and shops. I bought another case for my Samsung Note telephone on the Jubilee market. After we went to have lunch in the sun on the terrace of Brasserie Blanc:
If you are in London you have to go to Piccadilly Circus. It’s like “the Times Square of London” and it is always a busy point. I think it must be great to visit it at night too.
We still had some time left before we had to catch our train back to Belgium so we decided to get lost for half an hour in the luxury shopping mall Harrods. You name it and Harrods has it! You can easily spend a whole day in here. We saw the newest electronic washing machine and there is even a souvenir shop with Harrods goodies! The mall is owned by the father of Dodi Fayed, the man who had a relationship with Princess Diana and died together in a car accident. Therefore he made a memorial in the mall and you can even see the glass with lipstick stains the Princess was drinking from on the evening of the accident:
After this cool experience it was time for us to go home.
We left our luggage in lockers in the King’s Cross/St Pancras station, and we would never do this again because it is so expensive! You pay per luggage item 15 euro! So if your hotel has an opportunity to store your luggage you should definitively do that!
London is a lot of fun and I love it! I would not recommend it if you’re looking for a peaceful getaway because this is such a busy city, but if you’re looking for a modern city with lots of history, sights and things to do you definitely should go to LONDON!! We will be going back!
The last 4 days I was in London for a city trip with my dad and girlfriend. We had a blast!
London is always lively and the people are very friendly. As soon as they notice that you’re a foreigner they will always ask where you’re from and what you’re about to do in London. And if you don’t know the way you can easily ask a local. If you are lucky they will even give you some extra tips about other things you can see.
We took the Eurostar train from Brussels South-Midi station in Belgium to St Pancras-King’s Cross station in London. The duration of the trip is only 2 hours. We booked 2 apartments in the Marchmont Apartments complex nearby the station.
Our stay was actually not so good because of a lack of professionalism of the staff, missing toiletries and the apartments could use a renovation. The good thing about it is the location as the complex is located nearby the Eurostar station, subway and sights.
Day 1 Each day one of us three had the choice what we were going to do that day. The first day was “it’s my daddy’s choice day”.
We had a nice breakfast and coffee at one of the nearby lunchrooms:
One of the ‘try before you die’ wishes of my dad was to walk the pedestrian crossing at Abbey Road as he is a Beatles fan. At the moment we arrived, there was a group of Asian tourists and an older couple. Abbey Road is a busy road so almost every time you cross, traffic needs to stop for you. I felt a little awkward while walking this particular pedestrian crossing for like 15 times to take good photos but it is also a lot of fun 😉
While we were there we also made pictures in front of the Abbey Road Studio’s where many well known artists recorded their songs.
From Maida Vale metro station we went to Portobello Road to see the Portobello Road market and the various shops. The market was not so interesting and it was not so big because a local told me that the market was bigger and booming in the weekends. Most of the market stalls offer jewelry and they ask high prices for it. The shops were more interesting. The only thing I bought and needed was a vintage Coca Cola box at gift shop The Blue Door. The box has the perfect size to fit my biscuits in and I love the vintage look.
On the end of Portobello Road we made a pit stop for lunch where we sat down for almost 3 hours. Then we went to the subway towards High Kensington Road to go to Sticky Fingers Restaurant owned by legendary Rolling Stones rocker Bill Wyman. The menu offers mostly grilled dishes, hamburgers and salads and the ambiance is rock and roll style chic.
Day 2 Today was Tessa’s birthday so of course today was her day! In the morning we went to Borough Market to see, taste and smell the food. It all looked very yummy and high quality but the market is definitely not cheap for anyone used to the euro currency
As the London Bridge was nearby we made some pictures from there of the Tower Bridge and buildings along the River Thames and then we started our own walking tour through Southwark.
First we went to have a tasteful coffee in a traditional pub The Old Thameside Inn which was once a old spice warehouse. Very nice ambiance over there.
On our to-do-list was the Clink Prison museum in Clink Street. This prison dates back from 1144 and makes it one of England’s oldest prisons. Visitors will learn all about this scandalous truth of Old Bankside through a hands-on educational experience, with the opportunity to view archaeological artefacts, handle torture devices, and to view and hear all about the tales of torment and many misfortunes of the inmates of this infamous prison. It’s a unique, somewhat spooky experience.
Not far from the museum is the Shakespeare Globe Theatre.
At the moment we were there, an educational play was going on for students so unfortunately it was not possible to have a peek inside the theatre, but I was already very impressed by the souvenir shop! They sell merchandising from each Shakespeare show so you can imagine how big the souvenir shop is. We will definitely come back and watch a show there!
Continuing our walk we past Gabriel’s Warf which is home to a mix of independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. Also on our way was the National Theatre and the Tate Modern museum, but as Tessa and I have visited it already, we were not going in. On our way to the Waterloo subway station, we could make some nice pictures of the London Eye ferris wheel with the Big Ben in the background.
Because it was Tessa’s birthday I made a reservation in London’s biggest South African restaurant called Shaka Zulu in Camden Town. This restaurant is already an experience on itself. The whole place has a trendy South African atmosphere with happy African music. Even in the toilet area lies a statue of a leopard! The menu offers African animals like zebra, springbok, ostrich and even crocodile. Tessa ordered the last one and of course I had to taste it too. To me it tasted like braised meat and I liked it! I ordered a chicken skewer with apricots and peach chutney, and my dad ordered a vegetable dish called a “potjie”. And of course the birthday girl got a firework crème brulee as a dessert.
My birthday present for Tessa still needed to come namely a front row seat at the musical The Lion King. We all know the Lion King story, right? The costumes, decors and the way they combine singing with dancing, acting and playing an animal character are great although I thought that the Dutch Simba in the play in Holland was better. The musical is a big spectacular, that’s why I would not recommend to book the front row seats anymore because sometimes you have a limited overview.
The theatre was nearby the Thames River and it was nice to take pictures by night.
My biggest issue with my curls is that they are sooooo frizzy and dry, which is off course a characteristic for curly hair, but sometimes it even made me insecure about the way I look.
I’ve tried so many products, but still I was not 100% satisfied with the results. I don’t like my hair getting hard with a mousse or getting too greasy with pure coconut oil. Also important is that the product should be parabens, sulfate and alcohol free.
After all the years I’ve been living on Planet Earth I think I finally found my ultimate hair product for my curly hair: Palmer’s Curl Condition Hair Pudding:
The texture feels like a creamy, whipped emulsion and you have to apply it on damp hair. After a shower I dried my hair a bit with a towel and scrunched the pudding in my hair. My hair felt moisturized all day long and my curls turned out very curly! I’ve received compliments from colleagues who couldn’t even recognize me from a distance with my ‘new’ hair.
The main ingredients are: coconut oil, keratin protein, vitamin E, Palmer’s cocoa butter, jojoba seed oil, macadamia seed oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, shea butter and aloe.
The pudding has a pleasant scent of cocoa butter.
The next day my hair was still looking great although I felt the need to put some oil in my hair for a more shiny look.
Before using Palmer’s Curl Condition Hair Pudding:
After using Palmer’s Curl Condition Hair Pudding:
Did you know there are different types of curls? And that you can buy products especially for your curl type?
My curl type is a 2C on top and 3A at the lower parts.
Palmer’s sells their products in the regular drugstores, but in Belgium and The Netherlands I was not able to find the Curl Condition Hair Butter in there. I bought my ‘miracle in a jar’ in hair and beauty shop GT World in Antwerp specialized in products for curls and afro hair.
My ultimate dream job is the job Floortje Dessing has; to see the world for a travel program, but for the moment I’m a satisfied hotel receptionist who would miss “home” too much. Instead I have chosen to travel a lot in life. At a young age I visited a lot of country’s. My parents never owned a car so we could save money for nice holidays. Therefore it was no accident that I went to study tourism and recreation.
In November 2013 Tessa and I went on a holiday to The Gambia. We were looking for a sunny country, not too expensive and in the African continent because I have never been there. The Gambia was the answer.
We stayed in The Kombo Beach hotel. The hotel is located in a town called Kotu which I recommend if you are planning to go to at The Gambia. The hotel offers 7 restaurants and bars with direct access onto Kotu beach. While your laying on the beach, you can order fresh fruit from the many fruit ladies. This is a must do!
The Gambian people are very friendly and would do a lot for a bit of money as The Gambia is a poor country and is not yet discovered by many tourists.
The locals will offer to show you The Gambia and make a tour plan together with them. This is a very good and cheap opportunity to discover the country in a unique and less touristic way.
We went to visit some local shops and markets in the capital, Banjul. Most of the shops and market stalls offer fruits, vegetables, electronics and second hand clothes. It was interesting to walk around and get a good image of the culture.
The two locals who guided us through The Gambia brought us to a village where a lot of children live. There are shops where you can buy candy and footballs for them. It was a highlight of my holiday to give goods to the children, because it gave me such a satisfied feeling to make those children happy. They even wanted our empty water bottles to play with! TIP: take clothes, toys, shoes or other stuff from your own country and bring it to Gambian family’s. They are happy with everything!
The Gambia also offers a pleasant wildlife and various nature parks. In the Abuko Nature Reserve you can feed the monkeys while you’re walking around in the park. TIP: Buy the peanuts before hand. The monkeys will even come and sit on you and they are not aggressive at all. We loved this experience!
A must do when in The Gambia is to go to the fisherman’s village, Tanji, in the late afternoon when the fishing boats are arriving on the sea shore with their boats full of fresh fish to sell.
Goods you can buy for a bargain in The Gambia are wooden sculptures, medicines, souvenirs and African paintings.
Would I advise people to go on a holiday here? Yes, if you would like to see authentic Africa and have a sunny and cheap holiday. Avoid The Gambia if you are a female without a male friend or partner and you don’t want men chasing after you. We experienced this as a disturbing and annoying factor during our holiday. Apart from that we enjoyed our holiday thoroughly.