31 August 2014

VIDEO: a trip to the Veluwe


Click here if you can't see the video.

As I wrote in yesterday's post, I went on another short trip to the Netherlands. This time, my mom, my dad, my brother and I went on a two-day trip to the Veluwe. This video is a little less informative, but I think it captured the atmosphere really well. So enjoy! :)

30 August 2014

De Veluwe

So I went on another short trip to the Netherlands. This time, it was not just me, my mom and my brother, but my dad also joined us. We went to the Veluwe, which is a region in the Netherlands close to the German border where there's a lot of nature. It's just a two-hour drive, so it was perfect for a short getaway. Since I enjoyed writing about Amsterdam so much, here's another travel diary!


In the beginning of the week, it seemed like the entire North Sea was raining down on our house, but when we woke up on Wednesday, the clouds were gone and the sun was shining. We drove to a place called Renkum and we went for a hike in the woods. With the cold, rainy weather in mind, I had brought a sweater and a raincoat, but it was so warm I could just wear my T-shirt. It was nice to feel some sun on my skin after spending all that time inside this summer.





The woods kind of looked like a magical forest. The sun was shining through the trees so beautifully, there was a lot of moss, some mushrooms, there were little brooks and so many different kinds of trees and plants. At some points, the route led through an open field, which looked a little bit more tropical to me. At one point, I even saw a deer running through the field! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a real deer in my whole life, except when I was in a zoo. The hike we were doing was some sort of art themed route and while following this route you could see twelve sculptures of local artists. I didn’t care for the sculptures that much, but they were a nice little extra.



If you want to know more about the art route, you can go to this website (although it’s only available in Dutch). It’s still open until the 14th of September, but I’m sure you can still go for a walk there after that.


On Thursday, we went to the National Park of De Hoge Veluwe. There were white bikes in the park that you could use for free, so we went for a cycle tour. Just like the ones we rented when we were on the island of Ven in Sweden last summer, these bikes had back pedal brakes (which is kind of dangerous for me, because I’m used to hand brakes) and a child seat, which was a good place for my backpack. The difference, however, was that Ven was a tiny island (about 7,5 square km), and this was a very large park (about 50 square km), so the roads in the park were a lot less overcrowded that the ones on Ven.



The weather was lovely, and it was super nice to bike through the woods and the fields, and I was surprised by how diverse the nature in the park was. There were woods, but also heathland and drift sands.





I think we cycled for about ten or fifteen kilometres before heading to the museum that was in the middle of the park, the Kröller-Müller museum. There were lots of paintings and sculptures, most of them from the second half of the 19th century. One of the galleries was entirely dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh, with 91 paintings (like the Terrace of a café at night and the Potato Eaters) and 180 drawings. I think his paintings are really beautiful, I love how they’re not too realistic but still very balanced, and I also like the yellow colours in a lot of his paintings. At the introduction hall there was a computer where you could make a copy of a fragment of a famous painting, and my brother and I had a lot of fun with that. I chose to do a piece of the Composition in colour A by Mondrian, and my brother was a little more ambitious and he painted a fragment of the Potato Eaters by Van Gogh.



On our way back, we cycled by this plain of drift sand, and all of a sudden it felt like we were in Africa (not that I've ever been in Africa, but I would imagine it to look sort of like this). Besides that, we passed by the same kind of woods and fields as in the morning. The sun was setting already, but the temperature was still very pleasant, and we talked about how lucky we were we didn't get one drop of rain on this entire trip. 

So that was my trip to the Veluwe. It's a good thing to discover that you don't have to travel that far to see beautiful things like this. So if you live in the Netherlands (or Belgium or Germany) and you're looking for a short getaway, this is definitely something I recommend! What's your favourite place to go for a short trip?

25 August 2014

VIDEO: Things I got in Amsterdam


Click here if you can't see the video.

So I went to Amsterdam for two days, and while I was there I passed by some of the nice stores that we don't have in Antwerp, like Monki, Weekday and Episode. Watch the video to see what I got! :)

23 August 2014

Two days in Amsterdam



This week, my mom, my brother and I decided to go on a little trip to Amsterdam. I had been there two times before, but only very shortly, and it seemed like a nice idea to go there again and explore the city a little more. I love how easy it is to do these kinds of things when you live in Europe. I've never been in North America, but I can imagine that things are very different there. A train ride from Antwerp to Amsterdam only takes three hours, and it's not even that expensive. Anyway, I decided to write a little travel diary for you, along with some tips for nice places to go to if you're in Amsterdam.



So we woke up at six in the morning and hopped on an early train to Amsterdam. When we were riding through the green landscapes in Northern Belgium, we were blinded by the sun shining through the trees. It seems like every time I go on a trip, I get hungry the second I'm on the road, even if I just had a large breakfast.

When we arrived in the city, it was still too early to check in to our hotel, so we took the tram to the museum square. The tram was super crowded, and in Belgium that would mean that the tram driver would shout things like "move on, please", but instead, this tram driver said "ladies and gentleman, it's very crowded, so if you could just move your divine bodies a little bit further into the tram". I thought it was hilarious.



After a nice cup of hot chocolate at the Cobra Café, we went to the Rijksmuseum, where you can see lots of paintings and other kinds of art by Dutch artists, from the 16th till the 20th century. There were lots of people, especially at the Nachtwacht ("the Night Watch"), which is the most famous painting of the museum. I thought it was a bit annoying, because you could just tell that most of the people just came there because their travel guide told them to. I literally saw people coming into a room, taking a picture of a painting and then moving on to the next room, without even taking a proper look at the paintings. But besides that, it was a nice museum.

I thought it was interesting to see how all of the paintings (except some of the ones from the 20th century), were just normal, figurative paintings, but you could clearly see how much the style changed through the ages. It was also nice to see some paintings I already knew, like Winterlandschap met schaatsers ("Winter Landscape with Skaters") by Hendrick Avercamp, which used to be my desktop image a few years ago, and Het zieke kind ("The sick child") by Gabriël Metsu, which played an important role in one of my favourite children's books.






When we were done at the museum, we checked in at our hotel. It was a very small place near a canal, and I liked it. We had lunch at a place called Soup en Zo (I'm not sure how to translate the "en zo", but you could say it's something like "and stuff"). I had a delicious North African pea soup, and then I got a cookie at the shop on the other side of the street, which was called Stach.


It was amazing how many bicycles there were. I always thought it was more or less the same as in Belgium, but boy was I wrong! Parked bicycles everywhere, and tons of cyclists, who didn't seem to care about the pedestrians or the cars the least bit. When I'm riding my bike in Leuven, I often get sucked into crowds of walking people, and usually the only thing I can do then is to get of my bike and walk. In Amsterdam, it's pretty much the other way around.


In the afternoon, we did some shopping in the centre of the city. We went to all the nice stores we don't have in Antwerp, like Episode, Monki and Weekday, and I found some pretty nice things! For some reason, my feet started to hurt like crazy (I was wearing my Dr. Martens, but I don't get how they could be so uncomfortable all of a sudden, because I had worn them on city trips before), so we decided to go for dinner at an Italian restaurant, which wasn't that special, but the food was okay.



The girl at the cash register at Weekday had told us about the EYE, which is a film museum and cinema located on the other side of the IJ river. They were playing Magic in the Moonlight, so we thought it would be nice to go there in the evening. We took ferry to the other side of the river, but as it turned out the film was already sold out. So we just sat at the outdoor café for a while with some tea, and then we went back to the hotel to get some sleep.


When I woke up the next day, my feet were still hurting. After a nice breakfast at the hotel, it was time to go exploring again. We passed by a shoe shop and got some insoles to put in my shoes, and my feet were happy.




Next, we went to a small museum called het Kattenkabinet ("the Cat Cabinet"), where there were tons of posters, pictures and paintings of cats. I loved it! If you're a cat lover, you should definitely go there.


When we got out of the museum, it had started raining and we went to a clothing store called Zipper, where they have both second hand and new clothes made from older clothes. I got a pair of sunglasses. We had lunch at a place called Lef. It was really tiny in there, and you had to take some pretty steep stairs to get to the second floor, but it was super cosy and the sandwiches tasted well.


After lunch, it had started to thunder as well, and we decided to go to the shopping street, so at least we could be inside for a little while. I went into this big department store called de Bijenkorf ("the Beehive"), and I discovered they had Topshop there! I had been looking for a pair of perfect black skinnies since forever, and Estée was always talking about how much she liked the Jamie jeans from Topshop, so I went in there to try them, and I instantly fell in love. Talking about #theessiebuttoneffect!


Since we had to get our bags at the hotel before five, we went back there and brought them to the train station, and then went back to the Museum Square. I saw this family and I thought it was the sweetest thing. It seemed like a nice idea to go to the Van Gogh museum, but it turned out it was a one and a half hour wait and we thought that was crazy.


So we went to the Vondelpark for a little while, and then it was time to head back home.


We heard there were some problems with one of the train lines, so we were a little worried we wouldn't get home, but luckily they were solved in time.




















And then we were back in pretty, pretty Belgium, with sore feet, a bag of new clothes and some new memories.

31 July 2014

Cold-brewed iced tea



I have a new love and it's called cold-brewed iced tea. Well actually, it's not that new, it's just the improved version of the mint and lemon water I talked about a few weeks ago. Having something refreshing to drink is especially nice when it's 30°C outside and you have to stay inside to work on your thesis (which is what I've been doing most of July). I've been making this for a few weeks now, so I think it's about time I share this recipe with you.

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

Your favourite kind of tea! You can use teabags, but loose tea or fresh herbs are good too. These are the ones I like:
  • mint and green tea
  • jasmin and green tea
  • fresh mint, basil and loose green tea
  • a mix of loose tea that I bought called 'fresh breeze' (with elder blossom and nana mint)
One liter of water

HOW TO MAKE IT:

Fill a jug or a bottle with cold water, add your tea, and leave it in the fridge overnight. If you like, you can make it sweeter by using sugar syrup, honey, or whatever you like (I would use something liquid though, because plain sugar won't dissolve that well in cold water).

Since you don't boil the tea, it won't taste as bitter as usual (which is something that happens sometimes with green tea or jasmin tea), and because you let it steep for so many hours, it will still have enough taste. And it's just a lot easier to make.

Happy sipping :)