Iceland

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A small snapshot of our recent trip to Iceland… Geysir, Gullfoss Waterfall and Blesi. Iceland is one of the most stunning places I have ever been… full of breathtaking scenery and unexpected delights!

Bruges

Apparently I visited Bruges as a child although I don’t recall the experience, in fact I knew very little about it prior to our trip. We had one rainy the afternoon to explore this beautiful place and in a panic about being short on time, made a dash for the tourist information. I did have a mental checklist that went something like this…

Chocolate, Beer, Waffles, Chips, fridge magnet!

…also high on the agenda was entertainment for the kids, the tourist info was situated inside a visitor attraction called the ‘Historium’, we decided (as it was still raining) to purchase a family ticket and take a look around. The Historium takes you back to medieval Bruges (15th century) and tells the story of an artists’ apprentice in a fully immersive experience using an audio guide. This really engaged the children and offered an insight into the history of the place. Once the tour is finished there is a museum to look around and a brilliant outdoor viewing terrace where you can look over the square. The boys purchased Belgian chocolate in the gift shop and my wonderful husband surprised me with a fridge magnet so that was two ticks for the checklist!

Outside in the square the sun was shining and the rain holding off so we set off on a wander around the streets of Bruges.

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It wasn’t long before we were enticed inside some fabulous shops, chocolatiers, lace makers and Christmas decorations (in August) at Kathe Wolfhart all captured our interest, out on the cobbled streets were horse drawn carriages, the children were amused ashen they spotted that the horses were wearing ‘nappies’ in order to keep the streets clean. We spent a couple of hours meandering up and down the cobbles, along the edge of the canals, stopping off here and there for a drink, to look in a shop or take photographs. There was so much to look at, we discovered a courtyard with some interesting sculptures…

Cuckoo clocksHorse and carriageimage

Feeling that time was getting on we sat down at a small cafe next to the church to order chips and salad, beer and lemonade… Unbelievable! I’m not sure whether all the walking around and the fact we had worked up an appetite that contributed to the flavour but they were literally the best chips I have ever tasted.

Re energised after our refreshments, we carried on walking, it was mid evening by now and I still had waffles to tick off my list. We approached a sweet smell in the air and joined the back of  the queue for our pudding… Waffles with strawberries, chocolate and ice cream. Sitting in the square, enjoying our waffles as the sun set was the perfect way to end our short visit to this magical place.

fountain in the centre of place saint catherine, Brussels

Brussels… part 2 – Place Saint Catherine

After checking in to our hotel, we drove in to the centre of Brussels and parked up just next to the Église Sainte-Catherine. We wandered around Place Sainte Catherine taking in the atmosphere, there were street performers entertaining the crowds and evening diners (paying a premium to dine overlooking the square).

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fountain in the centre of place saint catherine, Brussels

The fountain in the centre of place saint Catherine

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graffiti around the square

Some unusual graffiti that we spotted around the square…

Our initial plan was to have dinner in Brussels which is what we did… after wandering around and gazing at several menus we spotted a convenience store and purchased a feast for four, we enjoyed our picnic right in the centre of place Saint Catherine with a view of the church which was the perfect end to the evening.

This was the second half of a one day trip to Brussels (1st half ‘The Atomium’) if we return in the future, the European houses of parliament would be a must see (we attempted to drive past the next morning when we were leaving but, after much circling and sat nav confusion, admitted defeat and continued the journey. I have also heard about graffiti tours in Brussels which sound interesting.

Please comment with your own Brussels experiences, must see places and things to do, we are always on the search for fresh ideas and inspiration.

Brussels Atomium from the street view

Road Trip… Brussels part 1 – The Atomium

Last summer we took a holiday in France followed by a road trip through Belgium, up to Germany and back… Brussels featured somewhere in the middle but I decided to use our experience there as a starting point for this blog, mainly because after an hour spent trying to recover ‘lost’ photos then finding that I had already backed them up (thank you dropbox!) these are the pictures I came to first.

After a google search, the Brussels family attractions that we liked the look of were;

  • The Atomium (Brussels’ answer to the Eiffel Tower) and…
  • Mini Europe (Europe’s main attractions in miniature)

We  were on a tight schedule/budget so decided that we would go for the Atomium (we enjoyed a miniature lego version of Europe a couple of years ago at Legoland).

The hotel we had booked for that night was on the outskirts of the city so we decided to visit the Atomium first, grab some lunch, check in then go and explore the city centre.

Brussels Atomium from the street view

This is the view we were greeted with as we parked the car at the Atomium.

As we drove and the giant landmark came in to view, excitement began to build in the car. There is a definite wow factor from ground level, the vision of the huge reflective spheres against the sky is absolutely mesmerising!

a close up of the atomium

light display inside the atomium

This is a light display inside one of the spheres, it is part of a story about a computer battling with a virus and questioning whether it should destroy itself in order to destroy the virus.

view of cars and street from the top of the Atomium

Don’t look down!

view of mini europe from the atomium

View of mini Europe from the Atomium

We returned to the ground floor via escalator and joined the queue for the lift to the top. The 360′ view through the windows in the top sphere made the wait worth it, we could even see some of the mini Europe attraction on one side (it’s right next to the Atomium).

I have never seen anything like this before and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the lights and escalator tunnels inside evoke a retro spaceship feel which appealed to the boys and to my husband (secret star trek fan) we all loved the view from the top.

Back at ground level we, somehow, made it through the gift shop without spending a fortune.

Feeling the need to cool off after leaving the crowds of the  Atomium, we headed over the road to a pretty impressive park for a leisurely walk (or in the boys case an energetic run) through the shaded trees while we planned our afternoon…

The 1st post…

I’m Holly, mum of two (boys 11 & 10) and wife of one (husband 32) I have a degree in graphic design which comes in very handy in my job as a barista :-/ (haha) I have a long list of New Year’s resolutions*…This blog being one of them. My objective is to document our family travels (both UK and abroad), share our experiences with others and gather inspiration for our never ending list of places we would love to go!
So here it is… One holiday at a time’.

*other resolutions include…
Go to the gym (standard)
Eat healthy (as above)
Complete dry January (so far so good)
Be more active as a family (currently getting our bikes health checked, then we are good to go)
Learn to play poker (a bit more unusual)
Start learning French again (this is a recurring resolution)