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My winter break

Hi guys

I had a relaxed- not traveling vacation for the past weeks and some of you asked be about tips to do during these non-traveling times. So in this post, I'll share with you guys what I've been up to during the holidays.

First, I need to explain our current lockdown rules, because these rules are the main reason for me not to travel, obviously!

Here in Belgium we currently can only meet with 4 adults outside. Not more. Inside, we can only see meet with the other inhabitants family that liveunder the same roof plus one person extra. So for the holidays, we weren't able to celebrate it with our friends or families. This was not so much fun as you can tell. When you want to get together with people, you'll have to do it outside, with social distance ofcourse.

At my place, we only invited the boyfriends of my sisters. Since we can only have one person at a time inside, they had to come over at different days...

We also have a curfew at midnight here in Flanders. In Brussels the curfew is even at 10 pm.

All our restaurants and bars are closed. All sportive activities inside are also cancelled (so no ballet for me, except online or private lessons). Half december, our government decided to re-open museums. Important here is that a lot of the museums and castles still remain closed. You also need to reservate at a certain time. Since we don't have a lot of interesting museums in Belgium, a lot of the museums were fully booked for the holidays...

We have to wear masks at all indoor places and at city centers outside...

We can travel outside Belgium, but after traveling we have to do two tests and we have to go in quarantine for over a week. I had to work after the vacation so I couldn't do the quaratine.. so no traveling for me!

The holidays itself were super tranquil. For christmas eve, we had dinner at night and opened our presents. We had a looot of food and a looooot of presents so we didn't do anything else besides opening presents and eating.

For the New Year, we also ate a lot and played some boardgames in between. I'm not a fan of that but what else can you do, right? Especially when you have to spend and entire evening untill midnight, alone and inside.

The rest of my two week holiday I did a lot of small daytrips. I visited some museums and went a couple of times to the High Fens. This is the highest area in Belgium with mountains up till 700m high. There was a lot of snow so the views were gorgeous. After a while, a lot of other Belgian inhabitants, discovered this place as well, so they had to close the mountains as well, since there "were too many people"...

But let's talk about all the things I did. I'm still grateful that we were able to at least to these couple of trips...

I went to a lot of museums, ofcourse 'cause I'm an geek and I love it!

I went to Antwerp, to visit the Antwerp diamonds museum called DIVA and the museum "De Reede", a private art collection.

I also went to Ypres one day, to discover the museums about Ypres. We went to the Ypres museum and the cloth halls museum called "In Flanders Fields". That last one is about the first world war here in Belgium. Ypres was completely destroyed by the war and they had to rebuild it from scratch.

Another day we took a trip to Brussels. We visited the museum of the army and war there. There were a lot of tanks, planes, weapons,... it's actually a huge hangar! You can easily wander there for at least 3 hours. After that we went to the car museum, to discover the history of cars!

I also visited Malines. A city not far away from my home but I've never actually visited it. I went to the old palace of Margret from Austria, which is now a museum called "Hof van Busleyden". The picture here is the palace, gorgeous, right?

After the museum, I discovered the city itself, with all it's old medieval streets and buildings!

These cute little colored houses are ath the "haverwerf". You can walk next to the Dijle or 'Thyle' river, to discover these houses... There's actually a path right on the water, through the center of Malines. It's super cosy, especially at dawn with the cute little christmas lights.

I also visited the palace of plants in Brussels, with it's gorgeous castle on the domain. You can spot more photos of that on my instagram, if you like.

Our mission "Building a sustainable future through discovery, research and conservation of plants." Steven Dessein, CEO

A Botanic Garden with a rich history… The history of the Botanic Garden dates back to 1796. This way, the institution is older than the kingdom of Belgium, and therefore we have an experience with plants of more than two centuries. The Botanic Garden comprises 92 hectares with a lot of historic buildings, including a castle with a tower from the 12th century.

After the nerdy museum days, I also went to Cap Gris and Blanc Nez in France, twice! it's in Nothern France at the sea, about 2 hours from Antwerp. With good weather, you can spot the UK there, since it's at the most narrow place of the English Channel. I even had British cell phone reception there!

The most impressive place of the two places is the Cap Blanc Nez. It's the highest rock of both of them. It's 140m above sea level. I love it there because on the beach you can go searching for some history! Both of the world wars took place there so there's a lot of history to discover. You can find old bunkers, bomb craters and even some old weapons or landed boats from the war.

The other important history to discover goes back to the Cretaceous Period. You can spot some fossils there! Ofcourse, I didn't want to go home without any fossile so I went on a fossile hunt on the beach there.

I did find some massive ammonites, from about 70 cm tall. They were too big to bring home, as you can tell, so instead I took some pictures of it.

Did you know that ammonites are actually not related to nautiluses, even though they really look alike? They're the ancestors of octopuses and squid. Cool, right? They're about 200 million years old. Can you imaging walking on a beach and finding something that old?

The other days I went to the mountains in Belgium, to find some snow. On Christmas day, I wanted the white christmas experience so I went to the High Fens for a day. It was the most magical Christmas! The other days that we went to the snow, they closed this place down so we went hiking a bit further away.

We drove to Ovifat, to discovered the closed ski slopes and to hike to the "cascade de Bayehon", a cute little waterfall. After hiking, we went to the Reinhardstein castle.

There are a lot of trails to discover on the website of Eastern Belgium with more information so that you can choose the trip you like.

The Reinhardstein castle has been on my bucket list for ages. Each year, at december first (my bday, yay!), they have their magical Christmas opening. The entire castle is decorated and they have special events there. I wanted to visit it on my birthday but it was still closed due to Covid. Mid december, they were allowed to open it so I just had to discover it. I even went there several times, this past vacation. No shame! It's gorgeous!

You can visit it all year around but to me, the Christmas time is the most magical time to visit it. Their decorations are still there untill january the 15th, so be past if you still want to visit it!

The castle is actually a rebuilt castle. It has been destroyed several times... It's orginally from the 14th century but in the beginning of the 20th century is was nothing more than a ruin. A Belgian professor bought this place and totally renovated it. He was a collector of historical items and all the furnitures of the castle are actually his.

Next to the castle you can find the Reinhardstein waterfall. The highest waterfall in Belgium. It's 60 m high... so for people who live outside Belgium, this might sound not too big or impressive... The waterfall itself is also not wide either... but if you visit the castle, and you're already there, you can hike to the waterall if you want. The hike back and forth to the waterfall is only 40 minutes or so, so it might be worth the extra few steps!

These were my daytrips of the past two weeks.

The other days I spend with doing not much. We did a lot of cooking for the holidays and for the rest I did spend my time reading books or bingeing Friends on Netflix.

What did you guys do during the break?

X Steph


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