So exciting to see Beyoncé now a third time! First in Antwerp, Belgium, second time in Düsseldorf, Germany and now a third time with Jay-Z in Amsterdam, Netherlands for their On the Run II Tour! And for all three times I was with my sister-in-law Barbara ❤
While in Normandy, we used Courseulles-sur-Mer as our base for traveling. It’s a small town on the coast famous for its oysters (25% of oysters in France come from Courseulles-sur-Mer) and June Beach (one of the 5 D-Day beaches).
The town is very lovely and relaxing. When I researched Courseulles-sur-Mer before booking, I read it’s mostly a resort town with the houses owned by Parisians. I wish we had planned more time to enjoy the city – so beautiful and the seafood and fish are outstanding!
Because Versailles is closed on Mondays and I already booked the French Open for Tuesday, we needed to find something to do inbetween. We’re lucky enough to have all been to Paris before, so I did some research for possible day trips and found out that Giverny is not too far away (1 hour).
Giverny is a beautiful town in Normandy most famous for being home to the impressionist painter Claude Monet. I was so excited about seeing the water lilies and green bridge in person! May was such a perfect month to visit because all of the flowers were in blossom. I cannot recommend enough!
Nicole and Adam were in Antwerp for Easter weekend. So for Easter day we prepared a delicious brunch with fresh fruit, fresh baked bread and pastries, and poached eggs with Hollandaise. Yum! We needed the energy for our walk through Antwerp in the afternoon.
For our first dinner with Nicole and Adam, we chose the restaurant Graanmarkt 13. The food is seasonal, with a weekly menu based on what vegetables are in season. From the site: “Graanmarkt 13 offers a daily varying choice of fish or meat along with various vegetarian tapas-style dishes to share with your company.” Chef Seppe Nobels won the prize “Best Vegetable restaurant 2015 of Flanders” by Gault Millau. So this was the perfect place to take our guests!
You never know who you’ll meet – while on the Trans-Siberian Express, the 5 days from Moscow to Irkutsk, we met another couple who’ve turned into good friends. Nicole and Adam had a similar planning to ours and throughout our 3 week trip we met up in Russia, Mongolia, and China. So why not add Belgium to the list?
In the winter, the days are short in Stockholm. I absolutely love it. The city lights up with a warm glow and you can’t help but feel cozy. After visiting the Vasa Museum, we headed to the Grand Hotel to eat at Matbaren by the chef Mathias Dahlgren. Matbaren was recommened by a Swedish colleague of mine. She told me it’s her favorite restaurant, so of course we had to try it!
I don’t think I can describe fika better than the official Swedish website:
“Swedes prefer not to translate the word fika. They don’t want it to lose significance and become a mere coffee break. It is one of the first words you will learn when visiting Sweden, right after tack (thank you) and hej (hello).
Fika is much more than having a coffee. It is a social phenomenon, a legitimate reason to set aside a moment for quality time. Fika can happen at any time, morning as well as evening. It can be savoured at home, at work or in a café. It can be with colleagues, family, friends, or someone you are trying to get to know. It is a tradition observed frequently, preferably several times a day.
Accompanying sweets are crucial. Cinnamon buns, cakes, cookies, even open-faced sandwiches pass as acceptable fika fare. It comes as no surprise that Swedes are among the top consumers of coffee and sweets in the world – or that Swedes appreciate the good things in life.”
For Christmas, we gave Dook and Els a 3 day trip to London in February. I really love London and have been lucky enough to go quite often over the years, so I volunteered to create the itinerary. Not everyone had been in London before, so I created a 3 day introduction to London planning!
For Koen’s birthday we held a second edition of the Chili Cookoff! In 2016 Koen placed in 2nd, so now after two years he was ready to compete again!
The rules: everyone invited brings a chili to be evaluated with the winners announced at the end of the evening. The prizes: 3 hot sauces. The world’s hottest chili for the winner, 2nd hottest chili for the 2nd place, and 3rd hottest chili for 3rd place.