Monthly Archives: March 2017

Know More About Belgium Travel Guide

Belgium’s central location in the heart of Europe and its Dutch, Austrian, Spanish, and French political ancestry make it a perfect example of blended European sensibilities—probably why its most famous city, Brussels, is the capital of the European Union. With delicious food and beer and a dense history of influential art and music, Belgium offers a wide range of historical, cultural, and culinary adventures.

Transportation

As Belgium is a member of the Schengen Agreement, it’s easy to access as part of a larger European vacation, whether by air, rail, cruise, or car. As long as you have met the visa requirements for entering one Schengen Zone country, you are generally allowed trips to other countries within the zone, as long as they’re under 90 days. Keep in mind the Schengen Zone and the European Union are not the same thing, and make sure to fully research your visa requirements in advance, as there may be exceptions.

Within Belgium, the train is by far the best way to get around. Belgium is a small country, only 300km at its largest distance, and its train system connects not only its towns but also many of its towns to international train routes. A Go-Pass or Rail Pass booklet is an incredibly cheap way to travel to multiple cities, as it can be used for up to 10 trips per year, including train changes. In the cities, a reliable bus, tram, and metro system is available.

Food & Culture

French and Dutch are the two main languages spoken in Belgium, Dutch in the northern province of Flanders and mostly French in the southern province of Wallonia. Flanders is well known for having produced an amazing number of famous painters, including Peter Paul Rubens, Anna Boch, and the cartoonist Hergé, creator of The Adventures of Tintin. The country still continues to produce a great number of influential artists, musicians, and architects.

Belgians are well known for both their chocolate, so much so that European laws have been passed to protect its reputation! It tastes especially good drizzled on Belgian waffles, which you can find and enjoy as a street food. To drink, you can find hundreds of local, specially-brewed Abbey beers, which carry on the techniques and traditions of brewing them that were developed in the monasteries which have lasted since the middle ages. Definitely choose a local drink over the big names like Stella Artois—you won’t regret the experience.

Sights & Activities

Eat & Drink in Brussels — Brussels has several pubs who offer beer tastings, over thirty chocolatiers, and numerous bars and restaurants. Take a Beer Tour or a Chocolate Tour to get a wide sampling of everything this delicious city has to offer.

Ghentse Festeen — This annual festival in Ghent is a ten-day riverfront party of music, dance, and theater. In actuality, it’s made up of several smaller festivals such as the Ghent Jazz Festival, the Ten Days Off electronic festival, and the International Puppetbuskerfestival for puppeteer enthusiasts.

Cathedral of Our Lady — Probably one of the largest and most impressive cathedrals in Northern Europe, this church is in the downtown historical area of Antwerp and houses a number of Rubens’ famous paintings.

Cellar Restaurants in Antwerp — The cellar restaurants in Antwerp were unlike anything I had ever experienced before. From the medieval menu and beer tastings at De Pelgrom to the authentic Belgian cuisine at Estro Armonico, it’s an experience you shouldn’t miss.

Some Rocomendation Places to Visit in Wales

Pembrokeshire county is full of gorgeous small towns with rich, unique history. It’s also home to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which is Britain’s only coastal national park. I spent a week exploring this area of Wales at the end of March this year and fell in love with many of the stops along the coastline.

All of these places — with the exception of Skomer Island — can be reached by either hiking the coastal path, by car, or by public transportation. The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path was recently voted the second best walk in the world and it’s definitely worth adding to your bucket list. Whether you are hiking or driving, make sure not to miss these eight stops along the Pembrokeshire coast.

8 Places to Visit in Wales

St. Davids

St. Davids is the smallest city in the UK, but it’s more like a small village. Besides the cathedral — with is definitely worth a visit — I highly recommend taking a drive (or walk) out to the Chapel of St. Non where you will also find St. Non’s well. This spot marks the birthplace of St. David and near the ruined chapel sits a gorgeous modern chapel and retreat. This rugged part of the coastal path is also worth a stroll.

While in St. Davids, I recommend booking a dinner reservation at St Davids award-winning restaurant, Cwtch. I stayed just a short walk from the St Davids Cathedral at Penrhiw Hotel — a lovely 19th-century mansion turned boutique hotel. This 7-room hotel is decorated with tasteful modern art and the staff really goes above and beyond for their guests.

Abereiddy

I searched for photos of Wales before my visit and multiple images of the Blue Lagoon kept popping up in my search. Despite its name, this lagoon always has a deep green hue, which is caused by slate in the quarry. In the summertime, you’ll find kayakers and swimmers — and even cliff divers — enjoying the lagoon. You can continue on the coastal path here and following it north will take you to Porthgain — about a forty-minute walk.

Porthgain

Porthgain was once a small commercial harbor used for exporting stone from the nearby quarry, but is now a popular spot for tourists and locals. If you don’t have a car, you can reach Porthgain by taking the Strumble Shuttle coastal bus service. Porthgain has a couple of restaurants, art galleries, and it’s a great spot for launching kayaks.

Tenby

Tenby is a gorgeous medieval city, which has been named the “People’s Favorite Place” in Wales. Even for a popular tourist destination, I didn’t find Tenby to be overcrowded, however, I didn’t visit in summer. Tenby overlooks two islands, the closest of which is St. Catherine’s. This island can be reached by foot at low tide. The harbor, North Beach and South Beach are all worth a visit.

Skomer Island

Skomer Island is a photographer’s paradise and one of the few places in the world where you can get up close to Puffins. During certain times of the year, you can even stay overnight on the island. It’s a great getaway for those looking for some peace and quiet

St. Govan’s Chapel

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to love this place as much as I did. I visited on a windy day in March and I was the only one around for miles. This thirteenth-century chapel was built into the side of a limestone cliff.

I tried to imagine what it must have felt like for Saint Govan to live in a cave where the chapel now sits. As an introvert, I’m intrigued by hermits and wonder if that could have been me in a past life.

Saundersfoot

Saundersfoot, oh how I love thee. Let me count the ways. Colorful buildings, long stretches of sand, harbor boats, Mermaid on the Strand, St. Brides Spa Hotel, and Glen Beach come to mind when I think of this adorable seaside town. I stayed at St. Brides for three nights with a view overlooking the town and I didn’t want to leave.

Solva

I first viewed Solva from the air on my helicopter ride with Fly Heli Wales and it definitely caught my attention. Lime kilns from the medieval period are preserved in the harbor area and can be seen if you look closely toward the upper left of this photo. This harbor village is a great spot to spend the day hiking, shopping, or tasting fresh seafood.

Trip to Norway

Norway is one of those travel destinations where you need to be ready for weather changes in an instant. We took a road trip in the Fjord region in late August and our days would range from sunny and warm temps to snow on the ground while driving from one fjord to another.

Our Norway Travel Details:

 

Time of Year: Late August

Location: Western Fjord Region

Length of Trip: 9 Days

Weather: The weather varied between pouring rain, 75 degrees and sunshine, and snow in the higher elevations.

Temperature: Ranging from 20 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Norway Packing Guide

When visiting destinations with fickle weather, like Norway, it’s always best to bring layers — even when visiting in the summer months. We consulted our Alaska packing guide before this trip, but added a few different items for the days we spent in Bergen and Alesund.

We got so accustomed to clear skies during our visit in late August that we found ourselves unprepared on an extremely long hike to Feigumfossen waterfall in Lusterfjord. At the top of the steep climb, buckets of rain began pouring down on us and we were in for a very wet and extremely muddy shuffle down the mountain. We used the only warmth we had to cover our camera gear because we even forgot our backpack rain cover in the car!

If you plan on doing any intense hiking in the fjords, make sure to be prepared for colder temperatures at the top! I cannot stress this enough. Bring WARM layers and rain gear, even if it means carrying a larger backpack.

Trolltunga, one of the most famous hikes in Norway, is known to be extremely cold at the top. We hiked Molden in Sognefjord and the temperature dropped at least 30 degrees from the bottom to the top of the hike.

Women’s Packing List for Norway

  • Rain Boots (These are great if you are visiting during winter or spring.)
  • Waterproof Hiking Shoes
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • 2 Dresses (Both the red & blue dresses you see in our photos were from Lulu’s.)
  • Down Jacket (Not too bulky for layering.)
  • 2 Thermal Tops
  • 2 Pairs of Fleece Lined Leggings
  • 1 Pair of Slip On Comfortable Shoes or Flip Flops (To go with dresses on the warmer days.)
  • 4 Other Tops
  • 1 or 2 Pairs of Jeans
  • Waterproof Pants (You can layer these with leggings for hiking.)
  • Beanie
  • Scarf
  • Hat
  • Pajamas
  • Bikini
  • Gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Women’s Trail Socks

Men’s Packing List for Norway

  • Waterproof Hiking Boots
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Waterproof Pants (We got ours from e-outdoor.)
  • Hat
  • Beenie
  • Long Underwear
  • Swim Trunks
  • Down Jacket
  • Gloves
  • 6 Short-Sleeved Shirts
  • 5 Long-Sleeved Shirts
  • 3 Pairs of Pants
  • Scarf
  • Wool Socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Pajamas

Norway Camera Gear

Norway is an amazingly photogenic country, which means you don’t want to forget your camera gear. We’ve recently switched to the Sony A7II full-frame mirrorless to cut down on weight when traveling and we absolutely love what this camera can do!

  • Sony A7 or A7II (The best full-frame mirrorless camera. Great for hiking because it’s light!)
  • 16-35mm Wide Angle Lens (You will want a wide angle for landscapes! This is the best wide angle Sony makes.)
  • Compact Tripod
  • Remote
  • GoPro (For kayaking and other shots where you don’t want to bring your DSLR or mirrorless.)
  • Camera Bag (I’m listing the bag we bought after Norway because it comes with a built-in rain cover and it’s a much better bag than our previous one.)
  • Camera Rainsleeve

Other Gear to Bring

  • Headlamp
  • Small Backpack for Hiking – We use this one and it’s the perfect size.
  • Dry Bag (If you want to do any kayaking.)
  • Backpack Rain Cover  (If you don’t have a bag that has one attached, like the camera bag mentioned above.)
  • Insect Repellent (We didn’t have a problem with mosquitos in the areas we visited, but it’s never a bad idea to carry repellent.)
  • Toiletries
  • Solar Chargers (To recharge your phone while hiking.)