Leiden, Netherlands πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

Gorgeous. Beautiful. Stunning. Three possible words to describe Leiden. I loved this city. It reminded me of a smaller Amsterdam with its canals, old buildings and cobblestone streets.

We started off with a delicious lunch at Pannekoekenhuis De Schaapsbel. I had a pannekoeken with bacon, mushrooms and cheese. It was huge and tasty!

We wandered the streets as we headed towards Burcht van Leiden which is an old shell keep that was constructed in the 11th century! It’s at the top of a hill and if you climb the stairs to the top and walk around you have 360 degree views of the city.

We headed towards Hooglands Kerk but it was closed when we arrived which I thought was interesting. I just looked at the website and it appears it’s only open to the public on certain days. Nevertheless, it was a nice building to look at.

We headed to Morspoort, the old city gate next. The current gate was constructed in 1669.

It’s a beautiful sight with the bridge leading up to it too.

On our way back to the car we had a look at De Valk, which is a windmill with a museum inside. We didn’t visit the museum but I still get a little giddy when I see windmills!

Our last stop before heading back to the car was to look at the building Coen’s great-grandfather owned. He had a butchershop in the front.

My first visit to Leiden was lovely and I definitely want to spend more time there.πŸ’œ

Advertisements

Trier, Germany πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ

Coen has always wanted to visit Trier to see Porta Nigra, a Roman city gate that dates back to 170 AD. When he realized how close it was to Luxembourg we decided to take a little detour on the way home. It was absolutely worth a visit and is on our list to return to spend more time there.

Porta Nigra was pretty cool. You can go inside but we were on a time crunch so we just looked at the exterior.

The City Centre caught my eye so we wandered a little bit afterwards. There were tons of shops and places to eat and there were a few stands set up with people selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

We also saw Trier Saint Peter’s Cathedral. Coen went inside but I checked out some shops and people watched instead.

I picked up a few treats for us on our way back to the car. This cherry danishesque (is that a word?) pastry was delicious!

There were several streets in this area that I didn’t check out. I love places that havea bustling city centre and I can’t wait to explore more another time.πŸ’œ

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg πŸ‡±πŸ‡Ί

A little over 4 hours from Coen’s is Luxembourg City. Neither of us had been there so we decided to take a little trip to check it out.

When we arrived we walked towards Place Guillaume II, the town square. The first thing that was cool for me to see was an all English bookstore! At least I would be able to find something to read there!

We came across the Grand Ducal Palace next. It’s the town residence of the Duke and although it’s open to visitors in the summer, we were there a couple days too early!

We wandered around for a little bit afterwards and had lunch at a restaurant in the square. I had spaghetti carbonara which was delicious! It had little cheese crisps on top that were so tasty.

After lunch we headed towards an area called the Grund which is in a valley. We didn’t go down but it looked pretty – lots of greenery!

We headed to Casemates du Bock (Bock Casemates) which are underground tunnels dating back to 1644. They were pretty cool and definitely worth a visit.

It was a long day of driving an exploring so we headed back to the car after this.

We were staying at theVan Der Valk Hotel Luxembourg-Arlon which is actually in Belgium. It was only a 20 minute drive so nice and close. When we made our reservation I added that we were celebrating an anniversary (it will be three years dating next month.) I really wasn’t expecting anything but when we got to our room this was waiting for us!

How thoughtful! This hotel gets an excellent rating and I’ll be reviewing it on Trip Advisor soon. I would definitely stay there again and would also look at staying at a Van Der Valk hotel elsewhere.

In the morning we set off to find me a Starbucks mug – I know, I know, I’m a little crazy. After some confusion we finally discovered the one we headed to was inside a mall. The mall looked very new and it was by far the most beautiful mall I have ever been in. I mean just look at the “food court” – Bubbles Bar, tables set with wine glasses. You don’t see that at Coquitlam Centre haha.

After buying my mug (17,50€ ahhh) we actually headed to Trier, Germany. But our last stop before heading home was to Vianden, Luxembourg to see the castle. It’s up on a hill overlooking the little city and was restored in 1977. We didn’t actually check it out but have decided we would like to go back another time.

Happy traveling!πŸ’œ

Texel Island, Netherlands πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

Today was my first day exploring somewhere new in the Netherlands. The weather was supposed to be decent today (no rain) so we decided it would be a good day to visit Texel Island. We drove about 45 minutes to Den Helder, where you catch the ferry to Texel Island. We took the car but you can also walk on. After grabbing a cup of coffee we headed outside to take in the view and some fresh ocean air! It was super windy and the seagulls were flying super low!

It was a super quick trip – only about 20 minutes. When we got off the ferry we headed to one of the beach areas. I can’t remember what it’s called but it was beautiful. The sand was stunning – no pebbles like at home. Just pure, fine sand that felt so good between my toes!

It was super pretty! We went for a little walk and I dipped my toes into the ocean. It was chilly but felt great.

Our next stop was to check out the island’s lighthouse. After a bit of a parking problem (the machine wasn’t working so after a phone call we got free parking) we decided to grab a drink and a bite to eat at Faro2, a restaurant on the beach. Grilled cheese and bitterballen hit the spot!

Afterwards, we walked up to the lighthouse. We didn’t climb to the top but it was cool to see it up close.

Our next stop was to share some fish and chips from Veronica, a place Coen’s family likes to visit. It was delicious!

When we finished it was a mad rush to get back to the ferry. It left at 4pm and we loaded at 3:58:10. Just cut it a little close haha. We went on the outside deck to watch the ferry come into Den Helder. It wasn’t as windy or as busy as in the morning but we were at the back this time which made a difference.

It was a great day and I would definitely return one day. As we were driving I noticed some cute little towns with shops and restaurants that might be worth checking out at some point.πŸ’œ

Exploring Downtown Langley

I’ve let going on local adventures fall to the wayside lately. The rain washed much of the snow away and the sun was shining today so what better time to get out and explore?

I didn’t want to go too far so I tried to narrow down my options. At first I thought about going somewhere I had already been, like Golden Ears Cheesecrafters or Krause Berry Farms (check out my post here) but while I do love visiting these places, I felt like going somewhere new to me.

I’m a huge fan of places that have that whole small-town kind of feel with little stores and coffee shops. I thought about nearby cities that might have what I was looking for. The first place that popped into my mind was Langley. I’ve driven through their downtown area but with the exception of visiting Cascades Casino which is in the area I’ve never checked anything out. So, off to Langley I went!

I parked at the corner of Fraser Highway and 204th Street and walked between there and 206th Street.

There were a lot of shops along this strip but unfortunately not a lot piqued my interest. I probably wouldn’t go back just to walk around but there were a few places I would pop into again:

This is It! Gifts – tons of cool gifts! There were quite a few things I could have easily brought if I wasn’t trying to save money.

Lucy Clothing – nice collection of plus-sized clothing, some from lower mainland designers.

Ten Thousand Villages – so many fair trade gifts and goodies.

I was hoping I would find a cute coffee shop or something where I could grab some lunch but nothing really interested me. I was craving a sandwich and after a Google search for the “best sandwich in Langley” I decided to check out Lemon Bakery.

What an excellent decision! Their menu had a wide variety of sandwiches, wraps, soup, salad and baked goods. After deliberating for a few minutes I decided on a Roasted Garlic Chicken Sandwich on whole wheat bread and a Lemon Crinkle Cookie for dessert.

The sandwich was delicious. I was happy to see it was REAL chicken rather than deli meat and the bread was amazing. It was so fresh and I loved the sesame seeds on the crust. Truth be told I haven’t eaten the cookie yet but it smells and looks fantastic. Seeing that I arrived only a little over an hour before they closed, they were out of some of their baked goods. I’ll definitely return as I’m after one of their Lemon Bars!

I wonder where my next adventure will take me. If you’ve got any suggestions for somewhere within driving distance of Vancouver drop a comment below!πŸ’œ

Christmas in Europe

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 KΓΆln 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 DΓΌsseldorf 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!?πŸ’œ

72ish Hours in the Okanagan: Vernon

We left Kamloops (click here to see my blog about Kamloops) and headed to Vernon to visit my Grandma, Aunt, Uncle and Cousins.

It was the first time Coen met this part of my family. We had a nice visit with my grandma then went to my cousin and her husband’s house. They cooked us a delicious dinner! My aunt, uncle and another cousin came over for dessert and a visit. I had taken a pie from my favourite orchard in Vernon! I visit Davison Orchards every time I’m in Vernon. We went back the next day to pick up a few things to bring home with us.

I just love it there. I adore the market with all its fresh produce, jams, syrups and all kinds of other tasty treats, gifts and baked goods. The fresh pressed apple juice is to die for as is the PEACH PIE! It’s my absolute favourite pie…ever!

Before that second visit to Davison Orchards and heading on to Kelowna, we went to Silverstar Mountain Resort. I hadn’t been since I was a kid (also in the summer) so thought we would check it out. It’s super easy to get to and since it was summer we we had no problems finding a parking spot in the first lot. The resort is small but there were a few places to grab a bite to eat and tons of trails for hikers and cyclists. They also have a gondola that you can take up the mountain. Visibility was limited because of forest fire smoke so we didn’t go on it.

We went on a bit of a hike – nothing too strenuous before the bugs really started driving us crazy. We’ll remember to pack bugspray next time!

We decided to grab some lunch before heading back into town. We popped into the Bulldog Grand Cafe.

We didn’t realize it but it’s an extension of the Bulldog Amsterdam! Very fitting. We ended up ordering Bitterballen to start – how could we not!?!

We enjoyed our lunch and our couple of days in Vernon! πŸ’œ