It has been so long since I’ve written! I’m having a lazy Saturday so there’s no time like the present to start writing.
Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. Lights. Trees. Giving. Family. Friends.
This year, Christmas was a little different for me. Okay, not just a little but a lot. The day after school finished for winter break I hopped on a plane at YVR and headed to Amsterdam to spend the holidays with Coen.
Meeting Coen’s family was lovely. Everyone was so kind and they made me feel like I belonged. We shared lots of laughter during our time together. They included me in some of their Christmas and New Year traditions like their family portrait and making Oliebollen!
Coen and I had a chance to check out some Christmas markets which I absolutely loved! I was happy that so many run until New Years and even after that. Between Christmas and New Years we went to Maastricht. It was all so pretty. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw all the twinkling lights!
That night we stayed at Abidj Rolduc, a converted abbey from the 12th century! It was wonderful. I told Coen that should be “our place”, a place we keep coming back to. The price was super reasonable, our room was clean and just what we needed and it’s super close to the German border which was convenient because we headed there next.
We stopped in Köln for a few hours so I could visit Dunkin Donuts (I know, I’m weird) and do a little shopping. Poor Coen. He was such a trouper. It was a total zoo but I picked up a few things and tried Currywurst, which Coen’s dad told me to try. It was so good!
From there we headed to Düsseldorf for another Christmas market. It didn’t disappoint!
We tried Kartoffelpuffer (German Potato Pancakes) that you dip in applesauce – AMAZING! I also had the most delicious Schnitzel Hollandaise for dinner!
That night we stayed at Novum Hotels Excelsior. This hotel was incredibly reasonable price-wise. The walls were a little thin (we turned our TV up loud to block out talking from the room next door) but it had character. I would stay there again.
On our way home we stopped at Drielandenpunt. For those of you who have seen A Walk to Remember and then wanted to be in two places at once (I did that straddling the border between Nevada and Utah), here is where you can be three places at once! The borders of The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany all meet here. Pretty cool.
You can also visit the highest point in the Netherlands while there! A whopping 323 metres above sea level!
After New Years we headed to Belgium. We started off in Gent which I absolutely love. It was summer when I was there before and we didn’t spend a ton of time exploring. I was happy to be back at Christmas time! Gent is stunningly beautiful. Their Christmas market was still on and I loved checking that out.
While we were there it was important to eat waffles and fries! They certainly did not disappoint.
The fries were from Frituur Tartaar. I really liked this place. It was super busy when we arrived but thankfully we were able to grab a table as people left. It took awhile to get our order but it was worth the wait. Luckily we decided to share because they absolutely loaded up the pile!
We stayed at Hotel de Flandre which Coen’s parent’s recommended. It was in a perfect location and we had the cutest loft room with a view.
This would definitely be my go-to hotel in Gent.
On our way home we stopped in Brussels. Neither of us had been there and the Christmas Market was still open. We stuck to the area around the Grand-Place de Bruxelles and the Christmas Market. I loved all the little chocolate shops! I hope I’ll be able to spend more time there one day.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect being away from home at Christmas. Did I miss my family? Of course I did, but it was such an adventure! I’m grateful I had the opportunity to explore both new and familiar places with Coen and to spend time getting to know his family. I tell him next year it will be his turn to experience Canadian Christmas. But there’s only one problem – what do we do about the family portait!?💜