Delft, NL πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

The week before I had to head home, Coen and I were trying to decide where to visit that was within an hour or so drive from his house. We narrowed it down to a few places (I can’t remember which ones now) and I chose Delft. I wasn’t disappointed!

We found parking easily and made our way towards Markt Delft, the main square. As we approached it we came along the cutest little bridge. Now in most cases if I saw green who knows what covering water I would be disgusted but I actually thought it was pretty this time!

There was also a little side street that I thought was adorable.

The Markt itself was crazy busy as the various clubs from the University were setting up for their “Club Day” type thing. We weaved around students carrying all kinds of things into the square. The Nieuwe Kerk was nice to look at from the exterior (we opted not to pay to inside.)

But it was nothing compared to City Hall. Oh my goodness. What a stunning building.

There were also plenty of restaurants and shops to check out. I could smell Subway as soon as we got there haha. We ended up eating a few hours later outside at Willem van Oranje Grand Cafe. I had a delicious pulled pork sandwich but I was NOT happy with the amount of wasps buzzing around.

We spent most of the day just wandering around. We came across the Oude Kerk and plenty of pretty canals and interesting buildings.

Our final stop was at Royal Delft. According to their website it’s the only Delft manufacturer of Delft Blue since the 17th century. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go on a tour. I want to do that another time. The gift shop was full of pretty things; some of which were VERY expensive😍

Delft is great for a day trip. It’s super pretty and there is a lot to see!πŸ’œ

Bruges, BelgiumπŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺ

On our way home from Lille we decided to stop off in Bruges for a couple hours. We managed to find the same parkade we parked in when we went in 2016! As we walked towards the centre we stopped at a little bridge we had someone take our picture on last time and asked a couple to take a picture again. Here we are in 2016 and 2019!

Bruges is such a pretty city. The canals are beautiful and the buildings are lovely. It was way busier than during our previous visit. There were a few times when you really had no choice but to walk on the street because you couldn’t get by people standing on the sidewalk. Crazy.

As we wandered down some of the streets and through the centre we stopped to take a few pictures. I remembered some areas from 2016 but not all.

My top priority (other than keeping an eye out for my friend from home who was also there) was to return to Chez Albert for another of the best waffle I’ve ever had! I had a couple waffles when we were in Ghent and Brussels over Christmas but they never had milk chocolate. I had to settle for dark and white. Anyway we found Chez Albert easily with a little help from Google maps and stood in the line. I could smell the freshly baked waffles and chocolate as I got closer! I ordered the same waffle as before, milk chocolate with strawberries and Coen had the same. It was just as amazing as I remembered it being in 2016!

Coen had to work the next day so we had to hit the road after that. As we walked back to the car we talked about spending a night there next time we visit. Even though we’ve been there twice together (and Coen has been without me) we think there is much more to enjoy!πŸ’œ

Lille, France πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

Our last stop in France was Lille. It’s close to the Belgian border which makes it a manageable distance for a short weekend trip from the Netherlands. We stayed at the Best Western Premier WHY Hotel. It was in a fantastic location, just a few minutes walk away from the centre of the city. The room was spacious and nicely decorated and we had requested a room on the top floor so had a bit of a view.

We arrived in the evening so once we checked in we wandered around for a little bit and tried to find something to eat. There were plenty of restaurants to choose from but we ended up at McDonald’s, go figure! We’d tried going to another restaurant but left after sitting down and being ignored as other’s around us were being served. It was nice to see some of the city at night and get an idea of where we would head in the morning.

After breakfast at our hotel (I booked us a Best Western Rewards rate that included breakfast at a discounted rate) we headed out to explore for a bit – and to find Starbucks so I could add to my mug collection! Being a Sunday, most of the stores were closed but I suppose that was good as we didn’t have a ton of time to explore anyway. I enjoyed wandering the streets and admiring the buildings.

“Eldorado” is on until December 1st which features art exhibits in public places. I especially liked the colourful statues sprinkled around!

We went into a couple churches for a quick look. The first was the Saint Maurice Catholic Church.

The second was the Bascilica of Notre Dame de la Treille (Lille Cathedral) which is a Roman Catholic church. It was interesting because behind the modern facade (completed in 1999) is an interior of Gothic Revival architecture.

Something that really surprised me was the number of homeless people I saw as we walked around. Every once in awhile we would get a wiff of urine which was pretty unpleasant. I know homelessness is a problem worldwide, we’ve got a huge population in Vancouver, but it really stood out to me compared to the other cities I’ve visited this summer. Saying that, I enjoyed our time in Lille. It was a short visit so we’ll just have to go back! And perhaps not on a Sunday so I can check out some shops.πŸ’œ

Museum Dunkerque 1940 Operation Dynamo & Malo-Les-Bains πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

The second stop on our whirlwind weekend trip to France was Dunkirk (Dunkerque in French.) We started with a visit to Museum Dunkerque: 1940 Operation Dynamo. The museum is housed in the casemates of Bastion 32 which was where the French and British forces were based out of during the Battle of Dunkirk and Operation Dynamo. I loved that I could explore this piece of history in a real structure from the battle and evacuation. It costs €15 for a couple (€8 for a single adult, €5 for ages 10-18 & free for under 10) and is worth every penny. There’s free parking too!

For those of you who aren’t familiar, or need a little refresher on your history, Operation Dynamo was the name of the miraculous evacuation of more than 330,000 Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk over 9 days.

On a side note, if you haven’t seen the movie Dunkirk, I highly recommend it. It’s not your typical movie in that while it shows the events from a few different persectives, there isn’t really any character development. There is minimal dialogue but the movie protrays the events of the evacuation so well. It really draws you in.

Anyway, back to the museum. There is a 15 minute video about the evacuation playing on a loop alternating in English and French. There are subtitles as well so it doesn’t really matter which version you catch unless you’re totally opposed to reading subtitles. The rest of the museum is comprised of tons of artifacts including weapons and uniforms. There are lots of pictures and maps as well. I loved that there were so many boards with information about the actual events. I know I could just read a book, but for me, when I’m in a WWII Museum of any sort (they are my favourite), I want to delve into the “story” a little bit while I’m there rather than just look at the artifacts and read the sign saying what it was.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and think you would too! If you’re interested in World War II at least.

Before we headed to our hotel for the night, we visited the Malo-Les-Bains, a beautiful beach a short walk from the museum. There is a memorial for the French and Allied forces.

The beach itself is beautiful! It was insanely windy so the walk to the water wasn’t very pleasant. It did have me laughing and screaming at the same time though. It hurt when the sand hit my bare skin and I had to cover my eyes to prevent sand from getting in!

It was definitely a history-packed day!πŸ’œ

Batterie Todt: Museum of the Atlantic Wall, Audinghen, France πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

Last weekend I totally got my WWII geek on (thank you, Mr. Lepore for instilling a love of history in me waaaay back in grade 11 social studies and history 12), starting off with a visit to Batterie Todt.

Initially called Batterie Siegfried, Batterie Todt was built by the German’s during WWII as part of their coastal defence. There are actually four casemates but one is open to the public, housing the Museum of the Atlantic Wall.

The area surrounding the concrete structure is littered with various weapons, machinery and other wartime materials.

Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside the bunker. Although the signs were only in the first part so maybe they were allowed elsewhere. Nobody had their cameras out so we followed suit. There are three levels in the bunker which are organized into different rooms displaying artifacts from WWII. We saw many different types of guns, uniforms and other wartime memorabilia. I got excited any time something was Canadian! There were plenty of descriptions of the materials, in English, French, German and Dutch which was certainly appreciated.

One of the most fascinating facts, for me at least, is that the walls of the bunker are 3.5m thick!

All in all, Batterie Todt is absolutely worth a visit. It’s pretty spectacular to have a chance to visit a structure that was actually used during the Second World War.πŸ’œ

Alkmaar, NL πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

Alkmaar was my destination when I finally decided I was ready to attempt taking the train. Full disclosure: I’ve still only taken it once because big stations scare me – there are SO many platforms! Thank you, anxietyπŸ™„

It was a bit of a walk from Alkmaar Station to the Centrum but I enjoyed the walk. I didn’t really bother to look at a map to see where I was going. I just went the same direction as most people did when they got off the train. I did end up seeing a sign pointing to the Centrum so I knew I was going the right way. As I got closer to all the action it was noticeably busier with what appeared to be both locals and tourists.

One of my favourite buildings I came across fairly quickly was this one:

I loved the white railing! When I arrived at the town centre I think I fell a little bit in love.

The Cheese Museum is in a gorgeous building and it’s right on a canal. The streets are lined with shops and restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating – I love that! I didn’t go to the Cheese Museum because I didn’t realize it closes at 4pm. So early!

I noticed people lined up for a canal tour and figured since the weather was so nice I would check it out. I’m so glad I did! It was lovely to see Alkmaar from a boat and the tour guide spoke in Dutch, German and English. It was a nice change from tours that require you to wear earbuds to listen in English. We saw some beautiful buildings and sites that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

We had to watch our heads when going under the bridges! One of them in particular was only 1m above the water. We really had to duck! I’m so glad I did this tour.

After the tour I peeked into a few stores. I finally got to Primark which I love for cheap tshirts!

There is a Cheese Market on Tuesday nights during the summer so Coen met me after work. We grabbed dinner at CafΓ© Castel which was tasty. We started with buns served with olives, garlic butter and garlic aioli. I had schnitzel with mushroom sauce and Coen had steak. They were served with fries and mayo to share.

After dinner we went to the Cheese Market – what a neat experience! I won’t go into the history but you can read more about it here.

Seeing all that cheese is a dream come true for a cheese lover like me! There were also stalls of people selling things.

I had a great day in Alkmaar and totally recommend it! I’ll be back – I’ve got to get to that Cheese Museum!πŸ’œ

Clear the Lists Campaign

Currently trending on social media platforms is #clearthelists. An American woman named Courtney Jones created the Support a Teacher movement in which teachers are sharing their Amazon Classroom Wishlists. Individuals and companies are clearing teachers wishlists which is amazing to see.

This movement seems to be just getting started in Canada where teachers also spend hundreds of dollars on resources and teaching materials.
I’m a grade 1/2 teacher in British Columbia, Canada. I am passionate about my job and strive to create a caring and inclusive environment for all my students. If you’re interested in checking out my wishlist, you can find it HERE.

If you search hashtags like #clearthelists #clearthelistscanada #supportateacher you’ll find plenty of teachers to support!

I’m confident that I can speak for the majority of teachers when I say we are grateful for any support received!πŸ’œ