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!
I don’t get to see my parents so often – only once or twice a year, so when they planned their trip to Belgium in May, Koen and I wanted to take them on a special trip to France. Specifically the highlight is the French Open in Paris! But first things first, the Château de Versailles. Everyone in my family has visited Versailles with the exception of my mother, so of course we set out to change this!
Because I’m now working in Brussels, I thought it’d be fun to spend an afternoon exploring the city with my parents and seeing where I work. My dad was too sleepy due to jetlag, so my mom and I headed to Brussels! We didn’t have too much on the agenda – just wanted to walk around and enjoy a nice lunch at cowfish restaurant. cowfish is located right off of the luxury shopping street, the Boulevard de Waterloo, so it was the perfect location for us!
Every couple of months Koen and his friends have a Boys’ Weekend. This time Koen was the host, so I was very happy to escape the boys and stay with Hannah in Leuven for the weekend. We had beautiful, sunny weather and decided to explore the Belgian vineyards of Hageland.
We visited the heart of the Hagelandse wines – Wezemaal (Rotselaaar). They have a visitors center in a 19th century neo-gothic building where you can learn about the Hagelandse landscape and watch a video of the winemakers themselves sharing their passion. We didn’t realized you needed to make an appointment and were lucky we were able to join another group!
I pass the Bozar every morning on my way to work, and couldn’t help but notice the colorful posters for the Fernand Léger, Beauty is Everywhere exhibition. I really love modern art and have seen many of his works in other museum, but never in a retrospective setting.
Koen recently purchased a book on foraging, so we were ready to go on our first adventure! When we looked up possibilities in our area, we decided on oysters in Zeeland! Koen was especially excited to see that Colijnsplaat is a good place to go foraging. His grandparents had a house here when he was growing up, so it was very special being able to see the place Koen spent his summers.
Museum Plantin-Moretus is one of my favorites in Antwerp. I always recommend to visitors that if they only have time for one museum to go here. You get a little bit of everything when it comes to Antwerp’s history. The museum is the former house and printing press of the family Plantin and Moretus. By walking through the building you’re able to see their relationship with Peter Paul Rubens and art-loving mayor Nicolaas Rockox, as well as discover how they lived and worked in the 17th century.
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?