A little road trip in South-Holland

Since I don’t live that far from The Netherlands, a small getaway with a friend at the neighbors sounded like a great idea. 
But we wanted to do something different than another big city, everybody has already seen. We thought it would be a great idea to see a few cities in one single weekend. Not so far from the border of Belgium (the country where I live) there are three interesting cities: The Hague, Leiden and Delft. All three have picturesque canals (which makes the cities even more adorable). Here are the must-sees per city.

The Hague

 You can easily spend a whole day in The Hague. But to give you a handy overview I’ll sum up the highlights for you.

  1. Scheveningen

We started our weekend in Scheveningen, this is the seaside village near The Hague. The beach is mostly known for the lovely pier. Which contains many restaurant and bars here. These are perfect if you are spending a day at the beach. We were there in January, it was cold but sunny. The perfect weather for a walk on the beach. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Scheveningen, since we only had a weekend and still had 3 more cities to visit.

  1. Peace Palace

The Hague is a city mostly known for its international courts, so you might have heard about it before. You can visit the peace palace, this is the where the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the United Nations International Court of Justice, the Hague Academy of International Law, the Peace Palace Library and the Carnegie Foundation are seated.
It’s a really important and quite beautiful building. 

It certainly is worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood.

  1. Mauritshuis museum

You can find the Mauritshuis museum right in the center of the city. This art museum is next to a canal and you can find the works from Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rubens inside.

Mauritshuis museum
  1. The Courtyard

The Courtyard is a parliament meeting place from The Netherlands. And I must say, there are worse places to meet.
It is the oldest parliament building in the world that is still in use, and it’s right in the center of city. If you walk around the building you can admire the great architecture. If you go through the gates you’ll discover the “Hall Of Knights”. 

The courtyard
  1. Palace Noordeind

This palace is one of the three palaces owned by the royal family of the Netherlands. And it has a great design.
It is the palace where king Willem-Alexander still work and it also has a lovely garden, which you can visit. It’s near the major shopping street, so not too hard to find. Across the palace is a majestic statue of Willem Van Oranje

Palace Noordeind
  1. Haagse Passage

This Passage is the oldest shopping mall in The Netherlands that is still open.
It was built in 1885.
There are still all kind of amiable small shops. It’s certainly worth a visit.

The Haagse Passage
  1. Chinatown

Just like most big cities The Hague also has a Chinatown with all kinds of Asian restaurants. This was a really nice neighborhood. 

Where to eat in The Hague

As a vegetarian it’s not always easy to find places to eat. We had a breakfast-buffet in our hotel, so enough options there. 

For lunch we choose Mugs & Mermaids, not only do they have an amazing mermaid themed interior they also have a wide range of vegan, gluten free and sugar free meals. Their breakfasts and lunches look very colorful. They also sell some “mermazing” product.

For diner we went to Chinatown, and found Little V a Vietnamese restaurant. They have a great vegetarian option “Bun Chay”. I thought it was a pity that almost everything else on the menu had meat or fish (even the salads and soups). Little V had a lovely interior as well, with a jungle-themed inside. Guess we went for restaurants with a theme this day. 

Gate in The Hague

The second day we went to Leiden. The Hague and Leiden are only 21km apart. Leiden is a much smaller city, and the weather gods where not so merciful that day. Here are some attractions to filled our day.

Leiden

  1. De Valk Windmill museum

The Netherlands is mostly known for windmills, tulips, cheese and clogs. So if you’re in The Netherlands you ‘ll try to see all these things. 
In Leiden there are two big windmills and the one in this picture is also a museum. The museum offers a great insight on their history (entrance is € 5).

  1. Botanical gardens

Leiden has a great botanical garden. Off course if you visit the city in January like we did, the garden isn’t that spectacular as it is in spring.

  1. Castle of Leiden

If you climb to the top of the castle of Leiden, you’ll have a great panoramic view of the city (the entrance is free). 
It was built in the 11the century and has a spectacular gate, where you can spot the symbol of Leiden (Sint-Pieter’s Key).

You’ll notice this symbol everywhere in the city. 

The castle of Leiden
  1. Churches

The Pieterskerk is the oldest church in Leiden and took more than 150 years to build.
You can also visit the Hooglandse kerk, this one has a Gothic style and is more impressive.
Near the mean shopping street there is also a church, the Harteburgkerk.
My personal favorite of the three, it’s more impressive because of the ionic pillars.

Harteburgkerk
  1. The canals of Leiden

Just like many Dutch cities, Leiden has many canals. You can take a boot tour. Leiden has many small streets with little bridges, not so easy if you visit by car.
The city is just picturesque and pleasant to walk around. 

  1. Windmill De Put

As I said before Leiden has two windmills that are worth a visit, and this is the second one. Windmill De Put is smaller than windmill De Valk. But it’ has a much nicer scenery.

Windmill De Put

Where to eat in Leiden?

Because it was a rainy day, we first decided to have a tea by Lot & the Walvis. At this place you can also have breakfast and lunch. It’s really cozy and near a small harbor. 

For lunch we went to the Yoghurt Barn, for a true yogurt and granola lover like me it was the perfect place.
If you’re not really a yogurt fan, they also have a hummus or avocado toast.
I really liked their concept.

We had our dinner at an old warehouse that they turned into a restaurant, called De Waag. It sure was worth a visit, I can personally recommend the veggie burger (the best I had so far!).

Delft

Before heading home we decided to visit Noordwijk first and Delft. The beach at Noordwijk is perfect if you like to walk through the dunes. A great way to start a Monday morning.

By making this little detour to the beach, we had less time to visit Delft. Because we wanted to leave in time to avoid the traffic jams on our way back home. 

What did we do in Delft?

  1. The Canals

If you haven’t had enough of the canals. Delft has some more and even more delightful canals. 
In the other cities, there are cars parked near the canals. In Delft the streets in the center where even smaller with less cars in them. So, they looked much nicer.

  1. City Hall

City Hall is right in the center of Delft and is definitely worth a visit. You can’t miss it if you are here. The market is really big and has all these old houses around. In this area you’ll finds shops with cheese and blue Delftsware that are painted in Delft (the city is quite famous for it).

City Hall Delft

And in one of the little streets that start here you’ll find this graffiti of blue Delftsware.

  1. The old church

What makes this church especially special is that it is almost completely surrounded by canals. The church was built in 1246, so they are quite right to call it an old church.

The old church in Delft
  1. Museum Prinsenhof

If you are up to visit a museum about Vermeersch, blue Delftsware and some other painters from Delft this is the place to be. But also, the of the building itself is stunning and worth a visit. 

  1. Gemeenlandshuis

In the same street as the museum you can find this house. It has a very worthwhile facade with all kinds of shields. The building was built in 1505 and is now used for meetings of province council. 

Where to eat in Delft 

We had lunch at Kek, a small lunchbar right in the center. Here you find some great vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. 

Hope you liked my blog about my little road trip in South-Holland.

Charis

What about Riga?

A few months ago, I was looking for a new travel destination. I wanted to visit a Christmas market, but something different then all the German markets. Not that I don’t like the German ones, but I thought it would be fun to see something different. 

After strolling the internet, I found these Baltic city’s which I didn’t know much about. But to be honest Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius all looked so charming. After a few words with my travel-partner we choose to go to Riga (Latvia). To be really honest, I never heard of Riga before and didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know anything about the country, the weather, the food, the culture. So, everything was going to be a big surprise. 

Arriving at Riga, I must say, it was like love at first sight. It was much warmer than I expected (it was only 2°C, but it felt the same as 8°C in Belgium). So, I didn’t need my thermal underwear during the trip. As a vegetarian, I was afraid that there would be few options in terms of restaurants. I found on the internet that the Latvian kitchen consisted out of a lot of meat. But there were a lot of different restaurants, we ate at “Lido”. This is a restaurant where you can eat all kinds off traditional foods. The concept looks a little bit like fast food, because you scoop everything on your plate and then pay for it. But the restaurant has cute decorations, the waiters are all dressed up and the food is really good. And don’t worry about the prices, we ate dinner here for €7 pp (with a soft drink and no alcohol). 

What to do in Riga?

The first night we arrived kind of late in the city (in the winter it’s already dark at 2:30PM), so we just went to the Christmas market. 

Christmas Market

It was different than ours in Belgium. Because almost all the decorations are made of wood. At this market you can find a lot of mulled wine and gingerbread but also some lovely gifts as hand-knitted scarfs or mittens, wooden decorations of candles. The biggest Christmas market is at Doma laukums, but there are also small stalls throughout the city. If you walk a bit further, you come at Esplenāde park (here you’ll also find a Christmas market but with a real life “village” populated by real rabbits). Near Eplenāde park is the Radisson Blu hotel which has an amazing Skyline bar. And if you are in this area you can also see the “Riga’s Nativity of Christ Cathedral”, certainly a must see!

The second day we strolled around the city but had a list of “must sees”.

Art Nouveau 

First, we arrived in the Art Nouveau neighborhood, and the neighborhood has really beautiful facades. This is partly due to the many Art Nouveau buildings that Riga is rich off. The city has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. They even have an art nouveau museum if you really like this style (Alberta 12).

The Three Brothers

After that we visited the Three Brothers (Mazā Pils Iela 17), three beautiful houses each built in a different century. And legend has it they had been built by three men of one family. In Tallinn there must be “the three sisters” (can’t wait to see them some day). The oldest building is the white one, build around 1500 and the oldest brick-built house in Riga. 

House of the Black cat

If you walk around in Riga for a few minutes, you’ll notices black cats in every souvenir shop. It’s like the symbol of the city. There is also the Cat House (Meistaru Iela) in Riga, if you look on top of the building, you’ll see two cats. The cats have a curved back and their tails are raised. They say the owner of the house wanted the cats to be placed this way, with the tails turned to the House of the Great Guild. People say he held a grudge against the members of this guild. 

And older version is that some wealthy tradesman places the statues on top of the building, facing the Riga Town Hall (after a dispute with Riga City Council). This Riga Town Hall burned during WWII but was rebuilt in the very same place in 2000. I don’t know which story is true or false, but as a cat person I did love all the cat statues and souvenirs. 

House of the blackheads

House of the blackheads was built in 1334 as a venue for meetings and banquets. Later the building was destroyed during WWII and fully rebuilt in 1999. Towards the end of the 14th century, there was a guild in Riga uniting merchants and craftsman, and they called themselves Blackheads. These members where young and unmarried merchants (mostly Germans).  

The building looks incredibly breathtaking from the outside, but the inside is also worth a visit.

In the upper level are some grand ballrooms, where historically many luxurious events happened (like ceremonies for kings, queens, presidents.). And on the ground floor you’ll find the Historical cabinets, which used to be is the former workspace of the president of Latvia. 

Restaurant 1221

This is a medieval building in the old center (Jauniela 16), and just perfect for a picture of Riga. The restaurant is very small and very busy. And I think they only serve meat. 

Aspara Tearoom

If you do like to visit a cute tearoom in the middle of a park? Apsara tearoom is just what you’re looking for. It is near Elizabetes Iela and in the park “Vērmandārsz”. You can sit upstairs, where you’ll have the best view (and sit in these soft pillows). Just a little heads ups, you can only drink coffee and tea here and they serve only sweats (so no real lunch). 

The Holy Trinity church

My final recommendation is the Holy Trinity church (Maza Iela) which is just outside the center. But I saw some pictures of it on Instagram, and I just had to see it in real life. You can easily take a bus (takes about 15 minutes and then walk like 5 minutes). During the bus ride you’ll cross the bridge (which is also a great view). 

And if you want some pretty pictures, the whole city is just super cute and has these colorful buildings. Which is just picture perfect. 

Hope you’ll visit Riga after reading my blog!

Greets, 

Charis 

Get fit with the Fitbit Inspire

I have an office job, wich means I sit in front of my computer all day, every day.  In the evening I have evening classes, so  again I’m sitting.


 I need to study and write a thesis, so again I’m sitting down.

It’s clear, I need to move more! 

They say it’s healthy to take 10 000 steps a day. It could reduce your risk for diseases and helps you lead a longer, healthier life. So, what are the benefits? 

·      A lower BMI

·      Reduced waist size

·      Increased energy

·      Less risk for Type II diabetes 

·      Less risk for a heart disease 

My new Fitbit Inspire will help me do this! Or at least, it will count the steps, but I ‘ll do them myself. So 10 000 steps, this seems a lot for me on a workday. 

But I guess there are options:

·      A walk during the lunch break

·      Try to take the stairs more, just because it’s healthy. 

·       A short walk as study break (a nice walk also calms the mind and helps you relax)

·      Instead of sending e-mails to your colleagues, you can also walk to them. 

·      Take the toilet downstairs. 

·      Park your car a litlle bit further. 

·      If you travel by bus or metro, try to take the stop before yours 

·      Take just one glass of water to your desk, so you have to walk more times

·      Walk around while taking a call

·      Set goals (set your mind to these 10 000 steps)

These are all tips I’ve been trying out for the last week. 

Now fitbit is a great help. When you’re sitting still for to long, you get a message, like a little remender to move. The watch just vibrate for a seconde so you know you need to move. 

What did fitbit do for me? He made me aware that I don’t take enough steps every day. Sometimes I’m working and don’t realise that I haven’t been moving for hours. Just by looking at my Fitbit on my wrist I’m now more aware and try to move and walk more. 

#FitbitTips #getfitwithfitbit #fitbitnl #fitbit #GiftFit #fitbitbelgium

Miracles By Annelien Coorevits

Last month I was invited to the release of the new spring-summer collection of Miracles by Annelien Coorevits. I was really excited because this was the first time that I was invited to a blogger-day. I went together with a blogger I met trough Instagram. Because, isn’t this the best thing about Instagram? Meeting new people! But about their new collection…

If you’re planning a beachvacation this year, this collection is a total musthave! All the dreamy summerdresses, beautiful beachbags and jewellery for every occasion. Litterly. Jewellery for a classic work day, party jewellery and very colorful jewellery to give that extra statement to your outfit… something for everybody, for every event. 

And where can you find this new collection? Just go to their website  to find a shop near you.

So, thank you Miracles for the invite and the nice afternoon. 

Hope to see you again soon!