I wouldn’t call myself anywhere near an expert on Amsterdam – in my opinion you can’t be an expert on a city, if you’ve only been there as a tourist yourself – but I have picked up a few nice places while I was there and it’s always nice to put them down somewhere in case I ever wanna go back, or maybe someone else would like to try some of them on their next trip to Amsterdam. So here’s where we ate:
I can definitely recommend you to have breakfast at Vinnies. The location was super cozy and it reminded me of France, meaning it was a very lovely place. They have a great variety of food on their menu and one of the best things was the homemade cookies they served with the coffee.
Another breakfast or coffee place that I wouldn’t want to miss when in Amsterdam. It’s a beautiful location, I loved the decent flowers on their tables, the cake was fabulous, the coffee amazing, the staff super friendly and welcoming.
Best pho I’ve ever had. They even serve you beer and let you sit and wait on a bench inside the restaurant since you can’t book a table. Maybe not the best dinner though in case you plan on going out after.
We came across this place by accident. The front yard/ garden was so inviting that we decided to stop for coffee and cake. Even though it’s in a very touristy area, the atmosphere was very lovely and I could see myself go there even as a local, especially in the summer.
This place has probably saved my day after a long night out. Make sure to get there early, breakfast places get super busy in Amsterdam and even though they have a good waiting system, some of them won’t allow you to book a table. Bakers & Roasters really has everything on their menu, there’s nothing more to add.
We came across this place on our first night trying to look for some other place, but we were already starving, so we ended up going for burgers, which we didn’t regret. They serve local beer with their food and I can definitely recommend you to get the Brouwerij’tij Ijwit, a very good white beer. There’s an ostrich on the bottle, just saying.
Price: € Sun – Thu: 11:30 – 21:30, Fri& Sat: 11:30 – 22:30 Van Woustraat 15
1074 AA Amsterdam
It was on a cold weekend in May when L and I went to Amsterdam. Three months later, I am finally ready to tell our story. See, about five months ago, I had never set a single foot to the Netherlands before. Living in Belgium has made it impossible for me not to enter the dutch territory and it was about time. So clean and friendly, bikes everywhere, no to very little litter on the floor, well-organized, gorgeous tall men, breakfast culture, this was my place to be. I had no chance but to say yes to Amsterdam when L asked me out on a girls weekend away in May (which turned out not to be as much a girls weekend as we had expected, since my two fella friends F&F also decided to explore Amsterdam on the same weekend, yay!
Amsterdam is only a very beautiful bus ride away from Brussels with lots of windmills along the way. I was secretly convinced that their windmills were just a myth, like us Austrians living in the mountains, wearing dirndls all day long and knowing how to yodel, well my bus ride proved me wrong! L and I took a gorgeous airbnb in a rather new neighbourhood a bit outside the city centre, as housing in Amsterdam is freaking expensive. We could have taken bikes to the centre, but it was honestly too cold for my taste, as I eventually got sick during our trip. My voice (when I still had one) was about as attractive as a chain smoker’s, some of my friends even begged me to keep that voice! I guess going out the night before and drinking shots didn’t really add much good to it, so all my suffering the next day (yes, the entire day) was well-deserved.
Meeting the boys in Amsterdam was so natural that at some point I had totally forgotten that we’d only known each other for a few months. We got some fabulous takeaway pizza, sat on a bench along the canal and watched ‘Haubi’, the Great Crested Grebe – which was actually a coot, but I guess we don’t know our birds as well as we thought we did – build a nest for him and his future familiy. Haubi eventually got in a fight with another coot, but managed to successfully defend his little boat after all. Weirdly, these birds have followed my every single trip while living in Belgium. It’s become a thing of our friendship with the boys and I’m starting to think that we should all get matching tattoos? I’m joking of course! Sitting at the canal eating pizza was surely a very memorable moment, especially because my pizza basically ended up everywhere since I’m not the most talented person when it comes to eating. A big thank you to Haubi for taking away the attention, so I could eat peacefully without being laughed at for once and for even sending me a text message while I was sound asleep: Hello it’s me, Haubi.
Amsterdam is such a photogenic city, I probably could have stopped in front of every house to take a snapshot. It’s also an unbelievably green city with beautiful flowers and inviting benches in front of people’s homes. I’ve been wondering why we haven’t introduced this friendly culture yet in Vienna. Actually, it reminded me of my childhood. In my neighbourhood it’s very common to have a bench and pretty flowers outside your house. Having a perfect house and garden isn’t only a suburb cliché, it’s also a countryside reality. My grandpa used to sit there all the time, have a smoke and a cold beer on a mild summer’s eve. My grandpa was very much liked in our neighbourhood – which by the way exists of four houses – so almost every night, my neighbours came along with a beer and sat with him on that bench to chat. For us kids, this was something special because it meant that we could stay up late. It became some sort of tradition that is slowly dying out with the growing age of my neighbours and with us kids growing up and moving away from home. Sometimes it really doesn’t take much for a city to make you feel just like home, Amsterdam definitely hit a spot.
L and I managed to avoid the most touristy places for the first couple of days, which is something I realised on our last day when we finally decided to explore the Red Light District since it’s a must do when in Amsterdam. As we tried to find a nice place to have breakfast at, we wandered through the narrow streets of the old city, when all of a sudden a huge drop of liquid landed on my head, hand and camera. I don’t even think I can describe how I felt that moment, but yes, somebody spat right on me from the window. Maybe my red jacket was too provocative? No honestly, I’ have no idea whether I’d become a target, or whether I was just really unlucky to be in that place at that very second. I wasn’t quite sure what to do and started laughing for a bit because of the absurdity of the moment, but then went to the closest bar possible to use their loo to get rid of this disgusting and ridiculous spit. All three bartenders were overtly friendly and helpful and handed me over their soap and disinfection spray and made an effort in cheering me up with some disgusting fun stories they had experienced in the last few days as a bartender in Amsterdam. After some exceptionally weird moments, I still very much enjoyed Amsterdam and would go back any time! An article with recommendations on where to eat will follow. Until then, take care!
Me being a fan of the city of Vienna is not necessarily a secret. Ever since I was a teenage girl, I’ve wanted to move to the capital, live the big city life. Moving away on different occasions has made me realise once again how great this city is and how much it has to offer. It’s definitely not a coincidence that it’s been selected most liveable city in the world for the past nine years and it even beat Melbourne in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index a few days ago! There is so much culture, art, history, cuisine, architecture to discover that there is no way that a weekend in this city will ever be enough. And what better place to discover the history and people of Vienna than the Wien Museum? I only discovered the Vienna Museum a year ago when I moved near Karlsplatz and my tram station always advertises for their exhibitions. That’s when I started to do a bit of research on it and discovered that on every first Sunday of the month, the museums of the city of Vienna can be entered free of charge! So what are you waiting for?
So it happened that I spent four hours in the museum on a Sunday and if I hadn’t been too cold already from the air conditioning, I probably would have even extended my stay because I really loved their exhibitions. Currently, they have three great ones, each of them very different, but equally good, I reckon. On the top level – apart from the permanent exhibition – you can find a very touching one called ‘What Remains: Traces of Refugees’. There are personal belongings such as a train ticket, or a kids’ jacket displayed and next to it, you will find boards with the story of each belonging on them. It is a very important exhibition as it takes the whole migration debate to a more personal level. The topic of migration has been extremely present in our lives, be it in the media, politics, our local communities and especially for me, having worked on migration topics at the Council of the European Union, it is nice to see it from a different angle. In my personal view, the Vienna Museum always manages to address important current issues, like they did with ‘traces of refugees’.
‘Traces of refugees’ is not the only current exhibition that they have. Marking the 100th anniversary of Otto Wagner’s death in 1918, Wien Museum prepared an exhibition telling the Austrian architect’s life story, career path and displays his designs and drafts that he participated in competitions with and some of which were never realised. Having lived in Vienna for a few years, I am well aware of some of his achievements like the Otto Wagner Pavillon at Karlsplatz, but I had no idea how important he really was in the past (and present) and what a big contribution he’s made to the city of Vienna as it is today. If you take a walk through the city with your eyes wide open, you will discover the many buildings that he designed and recognise the exquisite style that he is known for. At that time, Otto Wagner got many contracts from the Habsburg monarchy and he was considered a forerunner in modern architecture, not that I know anything about architecture, but I still find it very fascinating! Modernising architecture was very important to him, which did not please everyone, particularly not the monarchy. He was a teacher at university and managed to get his ideas spread all over the world. Looking at one prominent Viennese architect and his achievements has allowed me to look at the history of Vienna from a different point of view and has made me realise how much influence one person has had on how a city is built and what is left of it today.
On the ground floor you will find an exhibition called ‘Skin Deep. Hair dressers, barbers, beauticians’. It’s quite fun to see where some of our beauty idols come from and how our perception has changed over time. Be it on pop culture or photography, Wien Museum’s exhibitions are always inspiring and informative. Check out their website for more information on any upcoming exhibitions. Apparently, in October, they have an exhibition telling the story of the transformation of the Monarchy to the First Republic of Austria in photographs. I guess I’ll see you there then in October?
The Wien Museum is open for you from:
Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
24 December and 31 December: closed
Closed: 1 January, 1 May, 25 December
General admission is EUR 10,-
Discounts for senior citizens, students up to 27 years of age, persons with disabilities, Vienna Card, groups of 10 or more EUR 5,-
Do you remember the times when the grown ups used to tell you how time flies? And now you’re one of them, wondering what happened? Well, today is my one month anniversary of being back in Vienna, meaning that yesterday six months ago, I was on a plane to a new adventure. Today six months ago one of my biggest dreams that I had almost given up on finally came true. Today one month ago, it was all over and oh how many times have I complained about Brussels and yet, my friends were right: it grew on me, in a weird way, but still.
As most of you know, I was a trainee at the Council of the European Union for the past few months. It all started on a cold December afternoon, when I received an email from the Bureau de Stage (Traineeship Office) inviting me to a phone interview for a traineeship. I was in a really bad place back then and desperately needed some good news. Having just come back from my graduation ceremony in Strasbourg (France), where I did my masters, I automatically assumed – although very confused as I almost tripped on the escalator at H&M where I was headed – it was my Uni sending me that email. I didn’t quite understand why they were sending me another email, especially because I already had my final certificate, and even less so the part where I got invited to an interview for a traineeship that I didn’t recall applying for.
After an unsuccessful half hour at H&M Home, I finally realized who the email was really from: the Bureau de Stage of the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union (so obvious, right?). All of a sudden, it all made sense and I remembered applying for the Department of Foreign Affairs last summer, clearly without high hopes. Knowing that I had nothing to lose helped me remain calm during the interview and all my last minute preparations paid off when I got my traineeship offer the next day. Although very undecided at first, I accepted the position and off I went to Brussels to start my new adventure at the Council of the European Union.
Now here’s a bit of explanation for those who are not very familiar with the European Union. For those of you who are familiar with it, I am terribly sorry, but please bare with me, or skip a few lines: The Council of the European Union is one of the main EU institutions, which – together with the European Commission and European Parliament – is responsible for EU legislation. It’s where the Member States are represented and the so-called ‘Council Meetings’ take place, I’m sure you’ve heard of them on the news or elsewhere. The ‘Council’ is perhaps the least known institution, which is why I am even more grateful to have interned in this institution. Very often, we believe that the Council only meets several times a year, but we tend to forget that representatives, diplomats and experts from our countries meet in the Council on a daily basis to prepare the work of the Council Meetings and to negotiate and discuss EU laws and the texts that are being adopted at the end of a summit, the so-called ‘Council Conclusions’. Those experts, diplomats and representatives get instructions from our various capitals, so don’t trust anyone who says it was ‘Brussels’ who decided on a law because our national governments have a hell lot to say in the EU that people clearly are not aware of, which I find problematic.
I, personally, worked in the Development Unit of the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU. The General Secretariat is an institution that many people not working in EU politics don’t know exists. It is mainly supporting the work of the Council, particularly its EU-Presidency, as well as the European External Action Service with carrying out their agendas. Every six months, another EU Member State is holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union. The presidency’s role mainly is to push forward the agenda and to mediate between the Member States and find consensus on EU legislation. Since 1 July Austria is holding the EU presidency. As you can imagine, with 28 Member States, a country doesn’t hold the presidency very often. This is why it is essential to have the General Secretariat, as it supports Member States with expertise on procedures and mechanisms and advises/assists them throughout the presidency, but also prepares them before they take over the lead.
The General Secretariat is also responsible for – hold on and now it gets confusing – the European Council. Now what is that? The European Council is another EU institution bringing together all 28 Heads of State or Government and the President of the European Commission (currently Jean-Claude Juncker) and is chaired by the President of the European Council, currently Donald Tusk. The European Council usually meets four times a year to ‘define the general political direction and priorities of the European Union’.
Now what was I doing there? As a trainee, I particularly worked on EU-Africa relations, as well as on UN-related issues and migration in the broader context. For me, it was the first time to actually work in the development context and to see how policy in this field is made. My daily tasks included following the Africa Working Party, attending weekly (preparatory) meetings and conferences, writing reports, carrying out research and of course some administrative tasks. I was one of the few people who got to work both with the EU-presidency, as well as the EEAS who chairs some of the geographical working parties in the field of external relations. It was a good way for me to experience yet another EU institution and to get a better idea of what the General Secretariat does.
Following a geographical working party meant that I wasn’t an expert in one specific field or country, but we basically discussed the political and economic situation of countries of a whole continent (although Subsahara Africa). So every week we discussed another three to five country situations. We got updates on elections for example, or from the EU Delegations on the ground. Sometimes, when the situation in a country is very volatile, the Member States adopt ‘Council Conclusions’ at the Council Meetings. For example, we had Council Conclusions on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in May this year. DRC is discussed in the Africa Working Party, which is part of the Department for Foreign Affairs, chaired by the EEAS. Council Conclusions on DRC would therefore be prepared within the framework of the Africa Working Party, which usually entails very long discussions, as Member States decide on them unanimously. They then go up to a higher political level until they end at the Foreign Affairs Council, where they are adopted. This was of course very interesting to follow, even though it was exhausting in some way to discuss different countries every week, as you feel like you start over every week and don’t get a specific expertise in a certain country.
I consider myself as very lucky, as I was able to attend the Foreign Affairs Council (in the General Secretariat’s listening room) – a meeting of all 28 Foreign Ministers chaired by the High Representative of the European Union (Federica Mogherini) – that adopted the Council Conclusions on DRC. I had then completed the whole circle. I also got to go to both study trips (more on that below), was able to volunteer at the European Council in June and participate in many interesting meetings and conferences and managed to see very high-level politicians and diplomats. I am so grateful for having been selected for this very competitive traineeship and am aware of how privileged I am to have had the opportunity to collect all these experiences and participate in events that always seem impossible to attend because they are. I know how many people apply each year for very few positions, but I hope that by sharing my impressions, you can at least be part of my adventure for a little bit and profit from my experiences.
Here are some of my highlights:
1.Volunteering at the European Council – Hello Mr. Chancellor
As a trainee at the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, we also get to experience the European Council, as already explained above why that is. Volunteering at the European Council was probably the highlight of my time as a trainee. Maybe you’ve seen my stories on Instagram with French President, Emmanuel Macron, almost shaking my hand, or Germany’s Federal Chancellor, Angela Merkel, giving her press conference, but even if you haven’t seen my instastories, I am certain that you have heard some sort of news of the ‘migration summit’, as it was simply impossible to avoid. Truth is, it wasn’t all JUST about migration, a lot of other important issues were discussed, as well but it was very interesting for me to see how the media works and how they portray and report about such a huge event.
Of course, I wasn’t actually inside the room, where they discussed the topics, as nobody is allowed inside. But I was in the same position as a journalist these two days and veeery long nights. Mainly, we went to press conferences, or arrival/ exit doorsteps, which is when the leaders enter or exit the building and speak to the press, which you can also watch on a live stream, and reported on what the leaders said. It all sounds super fun, which it was, but it also included a lot of waiting, waiting for someone to come out of the meeting to give briefings to the journalists, waiting for the leaders to finally agree on a text, which wasn’t an easy one.
Most of the volunteers had already gone home at around midnight, as a lot of leaders don’t actually give press conferences on the first day, but some of us stayed, or even fell asleep on the couches and at around 5 in the morning, when they finally reached an agreement, we all had to type real fast and concentrate one last time before we could head home to get a bit of rest for the next day. Nobody forced us to stay of course, but as it was my first and only opportunity to volunteer at the summit – something that no other regular staff member of the Council gets to do by the way – I wanted to experience the whole thing. Unlike most people, I was one of the few who actually worked on both days, so you can only imagine how tired I was by the end of the summit.
After three nice hours of sleep (I had constructions right outside my window and a heat wave had hit Brussels that week, so sleeping was very difficult anyways), I found my way back to the Council, covering arrival doorsteps and finally going to press conferences, which was the most exciting part of the summit to actually see the politicians in action. In case you’re wondering: I saw Sebastian Kurz (Austria), Angela Merkel (Germany) and Emmanuel Macron (France)’s press conference. After I’d sent my last notes, I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to leave the Council building and get some sleep (which of course I didn’t).
2. Study Trips to Strasbourg and Luxembourg
Within the framework of our traineeship, the Traineeship Office organised two study trips: one to Strasbourg and another one to Luxembourg. I might spare you the details right now, as the post is already very long, but I might share some more experiences of the trips in separate entries, in case you are interested. This is yet another privilege that we enjoyed as trainees, as most of my colleagues told me they’ve neither been to Luxembourg nor to Strasbourg. On our trips we visited other EU institutions, such as the European Parliament, which has its official seat in Strasbourg, or the European Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg. Most of what we saw in Strasbourg wasn’t all that new to me, after having lived there for almost two years, but Luxembourg was a completely new territory for me and I really enjoyed both trips. It’s always nice to get away and visit new places, but I also have the feeling that I learned a lot about some of the institutions that I wasn’t that aware of, like the European Investment Bank.
3. EU – Open Day
On the occasion of Europe Day, the Public Affairs Team of the Council annually organizes the open day, where all EU institutions are open to the public, including the Council. Us trainees volunteered to actually make this day happen. Should you ever be in Brussels around that time (5 May), make sure to visit at least one or two institutions, as it is usually not that easy to get in the buildings. On the open day you get to see the conference rooms where the leaders of our countries meet, work and take very important decisions that may affect our lives. I was giving guided tours in German for the day, showing people different conference rooms, telling them about the role of the Council of the EU, the European Council and its General Secretariat. Even though I’m not a big fan of public speaking, it was fun showing people around and I saw it as a bit of a challenge. I even discovered my picture on the banner of the traineeship stand, my little moment of fame!
4. Trainees Projects – Story Tellers of the Council
A fellow trainee, actually succeeded in getting his own project realized. It’s about folk stories and mythology in Europe and the things they have in common. He shot videos of people from different Member States, telling a folk story in their own language. I of course covered Austria as the only Austrian trainee and I had real trouble finding an Austrian folk story with a good ending. I ended up telling the Blondel Saga. Check out the Council of the EU’s Instagram to watch the stories.
5. Photo session with Donald Tusk – President of the European Council
Almost at the end of our traineeship, we all got the chance to meet the big boss for a group photo. Our conversation was rather brief (Hi! How are you? Bye! pretty much sums it up), but I did have a bonding moment with him when we all waved at the camera man for a nice photo and I made a reference to the queen who usually waves like this. He must have found my comment funny as he laughed and replied with a ‘oh yes, that’s true’ (like I said: very brief conversations!). Even though it was only a very short moment that we got to spend with him, it was really nice of him to take the time to meet us. It was a gesture of appreciation which I am sincerely thankful for.
Copyright: Council of the European Union
A big thank you to the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union for having me! I had an unforgettable five months that I will never forget!
P.S.: All thoughts are my own. Some of the photos are bad quality, as they are snapshots that I took with my phone.
If I had to choose a favourite city in Belgium, it would be Ghent without hesitation. Even though our first visit was rather wet, T and I knew we’d have to come back, it was a feeling we had since the very beginning. I’d done a lot of research before our trip – what a surprise – and I found quite a few cool cafés and restaurants, mostly vegetarian, that I wanted to try, but unfortunately, we were there on a public holiday, so most of those restaurants were closed. However, we managed to find a couple of very interesting markets and places that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. Generally, Ghent is a very chilled city with many cute local (interior) shops and bars along the river. Ghent was the first city in Flanders (the Dutch speaking part of Belgium) that I visited and it is crazy how you can see and feel the Dutch influence there. From what I’ve heard, Ghent resembles Bruges a lot in terms of architecture, but is the hipper, less touristy version, which is probably why Ghent is my favourite.
1. CRU – indoor food market
We discovered CRU by accident, but were very happy with our discovery, as they have lots of delicious organic food with tasters and the best part was the wine vending machine. We tried two different red wines – one younger, one older – and I’m still not sure, whether the wine was actually this tasty, or whether we were too blown away by the fact that we got served wine by a machine. The machines, however, allow you to choose the quantity of your wine, so it’s perfect, in case you would like to try different ones before you choose a bottle you really want to buy. You actually get a little scanner that you scan the price with and pay at the exit. CRU’s wine machines surely gave a great start to a fantastic day trip, although it’s perhaps not the best place to do your grocery shopping, if you’re short on money.
CRU is open for you from Monday to Sunday from 10.00-18.30. You can find it at Kouter 177 – 178, 9000 Gent.
2. Sunday Flower Market at Kouter Square
One thing that impressed me the most in Ghent was the amount of people that were carrying a bouquet of flowers. Those of you who know me are aware of my addiction with flowers. I think it’s something that is being passed on generation by generation in my family. We regularly send each other flower and pant updates on our family whatsapp chat, no kidding. Truth is, flowers are such an easy way to brighten up your apartment and mood. They make everything look better effortlessly. Usually, I try to buy a bouquet myself, but unfortunately, I haven’t really had the opportunity to continue my flower tradition in Brussels, due to the lack of vases. Also, flowers are quite expensive in Brussels and I didn’t really spend much time at home during those past five months anyways. However, when T and I started our traineeship, we immediately agreed on getting some nice plants for our office to give it a personal touch and make it more comfortable. So the Sunday Flower Market was the perfect location for us to buy two cute little cacti for a very cheap price. It’s impressive how a plant can change the whole atmosphere in a room, particularly an office. I especially think it’s very important to feel comfortable at work, as you spend a lot of time there. And here I am already thinking of how to decorate my new office desk.
3. Chillin by the canal
Living in Brussels has made me realise how much I love having water near me. You may now ask yourself ‘why Brussels?’ since there is absolutely no water in this city and the little canal doesn’t really count. Although I do admit that the area around the canal looks quite impressive in Brussels too. Anyways, Ghent, is the complete opposite of Brussels, as there is lots and lots of water that you can walk along, sit next to, or take a boat ride on! I loved spotting all the (s)coots in the water, building houses for their families, which is the cutest thing ever. T and I just spent all day walking along the canal, looking at beautiful picturesque houses and enjoyed the culinary of the city.
When in Ghent you should make sure to try at least one cuberdon, also known as Gentse neus (Ghent nose), as it is a specialty from the region. You can buy them pretty much anywhere in the city centre, particularly near Groetenmarkt, where they sell them on little wagons. They come in different flavours and colours, but the original is the purple one which tastes like raspberry. From what I’ve heard, you can’t really buy them anywhere else, or in supermarkets, as they make them fresh and don’t last very long, at least this way you can assume that it’s good quality.
5. Holy Food Market
Something that I hadn’t come across before is a chapel that was turned into a food market, aka the holy food market. I admit it’s quite a touristy thing to do, but I think it’s worth a visit, particularly when you’re there for the first time like I was (and the weather is freezing). I chose to eat an Italian Pizza which was amazing, T had Ramen that she enjoyed as well, but was a bit overpriced for a vegetarian soup. Even if you’re not hungry, at least go and quickly check it out.
You can find the Holy Food Market from Monday – Friday from 11.00 – 22.00, and from Saturday – Sunday from 11.00 – 23.00 at Beverhoutplein 15, 9000 Gent.
Additional advice on traveling to and around Ghent:
Get a -50% reduction on your train ticket from SNCB on weekends and public holidays.
Try not to go there on a public holiday, or a Sunday, as most cute restaurants and cafés will be closed, as we found out sur place and made us feel obliged to go back another time.
Take a tram to the city centre (stops are right in front of the central station), the train station is quite far away. However, the walk to the center is also nice and you may come across some graffiti.
A few weeks back, it was adventure time when my two buddies F & F for some reason decided to go sailing at sea. You see, F & F are two inseparable best friends who always have silly things on their minds, which is perhaps why they are so dear to me because they are always a lot of fun to be with. Traveling with these two always turns into epic moments. Also, you perhaps have heard of my passion for pirates – yes, somebody has binge watched Pirates of the Caribbean and yes, I was able to talk along the movie – so of course, I would tag along despite the cold Belgian-type temperatures in June. To be honest, my brain automatically equals ‘sea and beach’ with warm weather, so I had enough reasons to come along the trip, even though I was clearly wrong about the beach weather part.
Anyhow, I hopped on the train to meet up with F & F at the beach in Knokke – it already sounds like a very piratey town, don’t you think? – but when I arrived, it hit me seeing all these people wear winter coats outside, while I was dressed in shorts and t-shirt. Luckily, having lived in Belgium for a while, I’d come prepared because I knew F & F had been enjoying my constant complaints about the weather in Belgium, so I’ve decided to get changed instead and not to let them win.
So when I started approaching the beach, I was once again reminded of pirates, as all the houses and streets were grey and empty, as if a group of pirates had plundered the city and laid a curse on it, but let’s not get carried away. When I finally got to the beach after a nice 15 minute walk, the boys welcomed me with uncountable precious treasures they had found at the beach, or at least they were treasures to some people, particularly to F, as he was clearly very happy to have an old sting ray egg in his hair.
I was actually thinking, you know how Pirates of the Caribbean has an evil monkey? Well, we clearly came across an evil seagull during our picknick. So other F has this thing for soft balls, which he keeps bringing along and loses eventually. As we were sitting in the sand, innocently eating humus, bread and some chocolate cookies, a seagull was watching us. I instantly knew it was hate love at first sight, as F tried to scare it away, but the seagull managed to come close enough to steal F’s soft ball and flew off into the sky with the ball in its beak, very ironic, I know. Clearly not a very successful day for three professional pirates, but nevertheless a historical and hilarious moment being robbed by a seagull.
But pirates never give up, so F & F finally decided to go back to what they thought they could do best, threw on some wetsuits and tried to tame the sea with some (sailing) boat, and man, have they fought hard with the water! For a second, I wished I was a seagull so I could watch them fight from above, but sitting at the shore was enough to see what was really happening and how much they struggled. To be fair, the wind and waves were pretty rough that day. When my eyes couldn’t stand watching them fail any longer, I fought my way back to the train station climbing some dunes and coming across some posh houses that would have been perfect to plunderrr.
Finally, when my train arrived, the earth started shaking – or well, that’s not really what happened, but that’s what would have happened, if this were a real pirate movie – I turned around and saw two pirates running towards the train station. It was F & F! You wonder why they were running and what really happened with that boat? Well, a real pirate never tells, but to be honest, I only found out on the train myself. What I can say is that F & F didn’t disappoint me with their piratey behaviour and even proved their commitment to the pirate community.
Since we couldn’t let this day end like this, we stopped in Ghent on the way back for some nice drinks along the canal and some ice cream. It was not exactly the beach experience I was prepared and hoping for, but it turned out to be quite an adventurous and fun day. My conclusion for the day: check the weather forecast before going to the beach, it is not worth going to Knokke, unless high temperatures and sunshine!
je mehr ich über diese Stadt nachdenke und je mehr die Sonne ihr Gesicht zeigt, umso mehr fällt mir auf, dass Brüssel zwar bestimmt nicht zur wunderhübschesten Stadt werden wird in meinen Augen (sorry, aber mit Wien kann man einfach schwer mithalten), aber dass sie dann doch einiges zu bieten hat, wenn man sie nur lässt. Wie ihr ja wisst, bin ich eine unglaubliche Frühstückstante. Am liebsten würde ich Frühstück auch zum Mittag- und Abendessen essen. Als ich dann aber in meinem Marco Polo Guide (ja sorry, ich brauch das einfach als Vorbereitung) gelesen habe, dass die Brusseleirs ja nicht unbedingt FrühstücksliebhaberInnen sind, da war meine erste Enttäuschung schon vollbracht. Dabei hast du dich da aber, lieber Marco, ganz schön getäuscht, denn ich jedenfalls hab doch in meinen ersten zwei Monaten schon einige sehr sehr leckere Frühstücks- und Brunchlokale entdeckt, die ich so gern hab, dass ich sie sogar mit euch teilen möchte. Einer der vielen Nachteile an Brüssel ist halt leider das teure Leben, sprich: das teure Essen. Aber ich bin der Meinung, dass man sich hin und wieder mal was Gutes gönnen kann, auch wenn ich Brunch hier zu meiner Sonntagstradition gemacht und einige Leute damit angesteckt hab und mein hin und wieder eher zu einer wöchentlichen Angelegenheit geworden ist. Anyways, hier sind meine bisherigen Favourites:
Mein absoluter Favourite ist das Fabrique en Ville bei der Metro Station Louise. Es ist ein bisschen versteckt in einem Park, was für eine unglaublich angenehme Atmosphäre sorgt, da man nicht das Gefühl hat, mitten in der Stadt zu sein. Im Gegenteil, es hat, finde ich, etwas von einem Vorstadtgefühl, wenn man das so sagen kann. Es gibt eine große Terrasse, wo Kinder und Hunde rumlaufen und spielen können. In die Einrichtung, Deko und das Menü bin ich absolut verliebt. Für mich ist das die perfekte Sonntagsbrunch Location, an der man Stunden mit FreundInnen und Familie verbringen kann. Unter der Woche gibt es leckeres und sehr leistbares Frühstück (Eierspeise mit Salat und Brot, wer will, kann auch extra Bacon oder Lachs dazuhaben; hausgemachtes Granola mit Früchten, belgische Waffeln mit Früchten, etc. alles zwischen ca. 6-9€) und am Wochenende gibts ein Brunch Buffet, das zwar etwas teurer ist (ca. 30€), aber dafür kann man dann auch so viel Essen, wie man möchte. Den Brunch hab ich selber noch nicht ausprobiert – nur das Frühstück – er steht aber definitiv noch auf meiner To-Do Liste. Außerdem kann man seinen Kaffee hier auch mit Soja- oder Kokosmilch bestellen, für all diejenigen, die keine Milch trinken. Ich freu mich jedenfalls schon drauf, die Terrasse auszuprobieren, wenn das Wetter hoffentlich doch mal besser wird.
Ein sehr minimalistisch, modern eingerichtetes Lokal, mit studentischer Atmosphäre, immerhin befindet sich das Lokal auch im Universitätsviertel. Die Karte ist sehr übersichtlich und die Auswahl nicht zu groß, was sehr praktisch ist für einen Menschen wie mich, der sich nur schwer entscheiden kann. Ein definitiver Pluspunkt sind die tollen Kombinationen aus süßem und deftigem Essen inklusive frisch gepresstem Saft und Heißgetränk eurer Wahl (17€). Der Preis ist gut, insbesondere, wenn man die Preise in Brüssel schon etwas besser kennt und die Qualität des Essens stimmt! Das Avocadobrot mit pochiertem Ei war richtig lecker, aber auch die Acai-Bowl kann ich sehr empfehlen!
Preis: € Mo – Fr: 7.30 – 18.00; Sa – So: 10 – 15.00
Boulevard Général Jacques 124-126, Ixelles, 1050
Bitte unbedingt früh hingehen! Man kann hier am Wochenende leider keine Tische reservieren und der Name lautet nicht umsonst ‘petit’. Falls ihr es doch erst etwas später hinschafften solltet, das Warten zahlt sich aus! Es gibt dort vorallem viele Ei-Varianten (Spiegelei, pochiert, oder gerührt), die man mit unterschiedlichen Sides kombinieren kann. Ich hab damals das Gemüse des Tages genommen, was in meinem Fall ein super leckerer Kürbis war mit Schweizer Käse, Brot, Butter und Salat (ca. 15€). Außerdem gibt es dort leckere frisch gepresste Säfte und auch Detox Säfte, die ich sehr empfehlen kann.
“Fühl dich wie Zuhause” würd ich sagen ist das Motto im ‘Les Filles’, wo sehr viel Wert auf die Qualität der Produkte und das Wohlfühlen gelegt wird. Man fühlt sich einfach wie im Wohnzimmer. Es erwarten Dich wahnsinnig leckere Salate, frisches Obst, Joghurt, richtig gutes Brot, hausgemachte Butter, Bananenbrot, Chiasamenpudding und noch vieles mehr und das alles zubereitet aus lokalen biologischen Produkten. Das Les Filles ist für mich irgendwie ein spezieller Ort, an dem ich nicht einfach so am Wochenende hingehen würde, sondern eher zu einem besonderen Anlass, da das Essen doch eher teuer ist und man das daher einkalkulieren sollte, aber zu einem besonderen Anlass kann man sich das schon mal gönnen.
Preis: €€ Mo-Fr: 12.00-14.00; 18.00-21.00; Sa/So/Feiertag (Brunch): 10.00-16.00
4 Rue Jean Chapelié, Ixelles, 1050
Im Chyl gibt es Brunch, das nach Regionen bzw. Ländern spezialisiert ist. Zum Beispiel gibts ein orientalisches Frühstück mit Humus und Pitabrot, meines war ein Power Frühstück mit Avocado- und Rote Beete Brot, Acai Bowl und dann gabs noch eine Power Überraschung, von der ich ehrlich gesagt nicht zuordnen kann, was es war, haha, aber es hat gut geschmeckt. Den Kaffee kann ich dort nicht unbedingt empfehlen, aber dabei gibt es dort leckeres Detox Wasser (was im endeffekt nur Wasser mit Minze und Gurkenscheiben, oder Wasser mit Orangenscheiben ist). Das Chyl hat seinen Namen auch nicht umsonst verdient, also bitte nicht dort hin gehen, wenn Ihr es stressig habt, wie ich schon bemerkt habe, sind belgische KellnerInnen nicht unbedingt die schnellsten, wenn man überhaupt bedient wird. Das Essen im Chyl ist hübsch und lecker – es gibt auch einen Food Store beim Eingang – aber ich find den Preis für das Essen sehr hoch. Also man kann es gerne mal ausprobieren, aber ich würd bestimmt nicht jedes Wochenende hinspazieren.
Preis: €€ Mo-Sa: 9.00-20.00; So: 10.00-19.00
Rue de Belle-Vue 62, Bruxelles, 1000
Ich hatte diesen Sommer die Ehre nach Tallinn, Estland zu fliegen, um bei der Hochzeit von zwei sehr lieben Freunden von mir dabei zu sein. Zum ersten Mal bin ich in eine Stadt geflogen, ohne vorher einen einzigen Reiseführer durchgeblättert zu haben. Okay, ich geb zu, ich hab ein bisschen auf Instagram gestöbert, aber eher um mir ein Bild von der Stadt zu machen, als mir Tipps einzuholen. Ich durfte das Wochenende bei der Familie vom Bräutigam verbringen, wo ich mich ein wenig in meine Austauschzeit in Australien zurückversetzt gefühlt hab. Anfangs war ich etwas nervös, ich kannte auf der Hochzeit kaum Leute und musste mir mein Zimmer mit einem Mädl teilen, die ich seit der ersten Minute in mein Herz geschlossen hab. Es war das erste Mal, dass Freunde geheiratet haben und irgendwie war das ein großer Moment für mich. Eine Hochzeit, davon war ich (und bin ich noch immer) weit entfernt und es ist doch ein sehr großes Versprechen “bis ans Ende eures Lebens”, wenn man unsere heutige Lebenserwartung in Betracht zieht. Es hat mich auf jeden Fall zum Nachdenken gebracht und ich hab großen Respekt vor so einer großen Lebensentscheidung. Aber eigentlich soll das kein Heiratsgschichtn Beitrag werden, sondern ein paar Eindrücke von Tallinn vermitteln. Vor meiner Reise hatte ich bereits viel über Estland gehört, M hat regelrecht davon geschwärmt und es als schönstes Land der Welt verkauft. Meine Erwartungen waren also – trotz der nicht vorhandenen Vorstellungen, wie das Land tatsächlich aussehen soll – unfassbar hoch, aber ich muss zugeben, M hat sein Land gut vermarktet.
Tallinn ist so eine unglaublich schöne Stadt, die mich sehr mit ihren Pastellfarben und hübschen Türchen verzaubert hat. Am liebsten wäre ich noch länger geblieben und hätte ein paar mehr Dinge entdeckt und überhaupt wäre ich noch gerne nach Helsinki gefahren, das nur eine Bootsfahrt entfernt liegt. In letzter Zeit liebe ich es generell, Städte zu entdecken, die nicht so gehyped sind, da man einfach kein Bild und daher keine Erwartungen von der Stadt hat. Oke gut, Estland mag momentan vielleicht auch gehyped sein, aber das liegt wohl eher an der vergangenen EU-Ratspräsidentschaft. Es ist eine entzückende Kleinstadt, die ihre mittelalterlichen, historischen Ecken, aber auch ihre modernen Businessviertel hat. Die Altstadt erinnert mich ehrlich gesagt ein wenig an meine Heimatstadt Freistadt, die sich auch mit mittelalterlicher Architektur schmückt. In der Innenstadt gibt es traditionelle Restaurants, in denen man regelrecht ins Mittelalter zurückversetzt wird. Ich war leider so mit der Hochzeit beschäftigt, dass ich es nicht dorthin geschafft habe. Dafür hab ich am Sonntag vor meiner Abreise noch ein sehr tolles (ja, Hipster) Lokal entdeckt – das Pegasus – in dem es das leckerste Brot gab, das ich je gegessen hab und das ich sehr empfehlen kann. Ich hab mir gleich einen Laib mitgenommen, um ehrlich zu sein.
Tallinn hat so eine praktische Größe, dass man ohne großem Plan in der Stadt herumspazieren kann und trotzdem alles sehen kann. Ein absolutes MUSS sind die Aussichtsplattformen. Davon gibt es soweit ich weiß drei und die eine ist schöner als die andere. Manchmal muss man sich richtig seinen Platz erkämpfen, um ein schönes Foto zu schießen, da es – zumindest im Sommer – nur so wimmelt von Touristen, aber es ist dennoch die Mühe wert. Wir sind bestimmt eine halbe Stunde dort gesessen und haben den traumhaften Ausblick genossen. Außerdem kann man dabei richtig gut Leute beobachten, wie sie sich für Fotos in Szene setzen und den einen oder anderen Faux-Pas belächeln.
Unbedingt empfehlen kann ich auch einen Spaziergang entlang des Meeres, wobei man sich ab und zu vielleicht die Nase zuhalten sollte, da es durchaus mal unangenehm riechen kann, aber der Blick über die ‘Skyline’ Tallinns macht das alles wieder gut. Außerdem würde ich unbedingt einen Abstecher ins Kaufhaus Solaris Keskus machen und rauf zur Dachterrasse schauen. Nicht nur gibt es dort ein tolles Lokal, sondern der Ausblick auf die Altstadt ist wunderschön und wie mir scheint ein kleiner Geheimtipp zu sein, da wir dort kaum Touristen gesehen haben. Außerdem gibt es in dem Kaufhaus einen Boost, meine große australische Liebe für gesunde frozen yoghurt smoothies. Es war für mich ein sehr kurzes, aber dennoch intensives Wochenende in Tallinn und ich freue mich schon aufs nächste Mal, denn ich bin mir sicher, das war nicht mein letzter Besuch in Estland!
Ach Brüssel, Hauptstadt Europas, es müssen wohl die Müllsäcke vor deiner Haustür sein, die dich den Gründungsvätern Europas so wahnsinnig interessant erscheinen haben lassen. Oder war es doch die ausgesprochen gute Trinkwasserqualität?! Schwer zu sagen.
Ich jedenfalls liebe es, wenn ich Samstag morgens um 11:00 mit Freunden zum Brunchen verabredet bin und mir auf dem Weg die zerquetschten Tomatenscheiben und übrig gebliebenen Kartoffelschalen vom Vorabend auf der Straße entgegen kugeln und man den Spuren der Bierdosen und dem Hundekot (man hoffe, es sei HUNDEkot) im Zickzack aus dem Weg gehen muss. Was wäre denn ein morgendlicher Spaziergang ohne Hindernisse auf der Straße? Man muss zugeben, du hast schon deinen eigenen, ganz besonderen Charme!
Ach und dabei bleiben mir deine Baustellen wohl ein Rätsel. Manchmal frag ich mich ja, ob sie einfach das ‘Achtung, Baustelle! Betreten verboten!’ Schild einfach vergessen haben, zumindest an so manchen U-Bahnstation, aber das gehört wohl auch einfach zu deinem ganz besonderen Charme. Letztens, am Weg in den Waschsalon (ja sowas gibt es noch und nein, hier haben die Wenigsten Waschmaschinen in ihren Häusern), bin ich doch ernsthaft mitten in der Stadt, durch Sand gestapft, am Gehsteig. Wo kam denn bitte der Sand her hab ich mich gefragt und rede mir noch bis heute ein, dass es bloß ein gescheiterter Versuch eines hippen City-Beaches war, aber für ihre Strände sind die Belgier ja wohl auch nicht so bekannt, aber das kann ja noch werden!
Brüssel ist außerdem furchtbar toll für Menschen mit einer kleinen Blase wie mich. Als wäre es nicht schon angenehm genug, wenn man dringend pinkeln und Schlange stehen muss. Nein. Davon abgesehen, dass sich die meisten Toiletten in einem kleinen dunklen Keller befinden (da sollte ich mich als Österreicherin ja eigentlich wohl fühlen), darf man zusätzlich sogar noch jedes Mal 50 Cent bezahlen. Da fühlt man sich glatt wie auf Durchreise auf einer Raststation, nur dass man dort wenigstens das Geld in Form eines Gutscheins wiederbekommt, den man im Tankstellenshop einlösen kann und hier, hm wie soll ich sagen, das exklusive Gefühl des ‘Rastens’ erleben darf?
Es ist ja kaum ein Wunder, dass Brüssel angeblich eine der grünsten Städte Europas sein soll, wenn man bedenkt, dass Dank des tollen Müllsystems hier vor zwei Jahren rund um das Justus Lipsius Gebäude (dem Rat der Europäischen Union) noch Füchse gesichtet wurden. Naja, als kleines Füchslein würd ich mir das gratis Futter auch nicht entgehen lassen, wenn man es mir schon vor die Haustür stellt. Das Zusammenleben zwischen Mensch und Natur funktioniert also doch! Brüssel ist der Beweis! Und daher wird es für mich, je länger ich hier wohne, umso normaler, dass ausgerechnet Robert Menasse von mysteriösen Schweinchen in der Stadt spricht. Wenn es hier Füchse gibt, warum nicht auch Schweine, right?
Nach beinahe zwei Monaten in Brüssel – oh Gott wie schnell doch die Zeit vergeht – bin ich, wie man wohl bemerkt, noch immer unsicher, was ich von der Stadt halten soll. Man sagt, es gibt zwei verschiedene Arten von Menschen: diejenigen, die Brüssel absolut lieben und diejenigen, die Brüssel hassen. Naja und da ich ja generell ein Mensch bin, der eher versucht, das Positive zu sehen, was mich wahrscheinlich ab und zu zu einem naiven Menschen macht, und ‘hassen’ dann doch ein sehr hartes Wort ist, mit dem ich nicht gerne umschmeiße, bleibt mir nicht mehr viel übrig außer zu sagen: ich überlegs mir noch. Bekanntlich soll Brüssel aber im Frühling und Sommer seine bessere Seite zeigen. Ich warte gespannt drauf, denn immerhin sagen alle: the city will grow on you. Ich hoffe, sie haben recht!
P.S.: Ich entschuldige mich für den Sarkasmus und werde beim nächsten Mal nur über hübsche Dinge berichten. So wie Frühstück. In Brüssel. Promise.
Erstmals einen wunderschönen guten Morgen euch allen! Die Sonne scheint und ich kanns kaum erwarten, endlich rauszugehen und an die Donau zu fahren. Die Badesaison ist wohl eröffnet, yay. Ich war gestern bei Freunden zum Grillen eingeladen und da irgendwie schon für alles gesorgt war und ich trotzdem nicht mit leeren Händen auftauchen wollte, hab ich noch mein tolles Bananenbrot gebacken. Das Rezept ist richtig einfach und man kann das auch so ganz ohne Zucker machen, denn ich hab Oma’s selbstgemachten Löwenzahnhonig genommen statt dem Zucker. Anyways, probiert es doch aus und sagt mir Bescheid, was ihr davon haltet. Ich hab das Rezept von einer Kollegin aus Australien bekommen, also der Credit gehört nicht mir. Das Bananenbrot ist auch wahnsinnig lecker zum Frühstück. Einfach toasten, oder so essen. Mit Butter oder ohne. Ich ess auch manchmal Joghurt mit Beeren dazu.
So und jetzt ab an den Ofen äh Sonne meinte ich.
Was du dafür brauchst:
3 reife Bananen
2 Esslöffel Ahornsirup oder eben Löwenzahnsirup (ich hab 3 EL vom Sirup genommen und den Zucker weggelassen)
½ Becher Zucker
1 Becher Mehl
ein wenig Backpulver
Backform (am besten mit Backpapier)
Wie du es zubereitest:
Den Ofen auf 180°C vorheizen. Die Bananen mit der Gabel in einer Schüssel zerdrücken. Die anderen Zutaten hinzufügen und mit dem Schneebesen gut verrühren. Die Backform mit Backpapier auslegen und den Teig vorsichtig reingeben. Nach etwa 15-20 Minuten im Ofen, die gehobelten Mandeln oben draufstreuen und dann nochmals 15-20 Minuten backen lassen bis das Brot schön golden glänzt. Um sicher zu gehen, dass das Bananenbrot auch wirklich durch ist, kannst du mit einem Zahnstocher in den Kuchen reinstechen und wenn nichts drauf kleben bleibt, sollte es fertig sein. Einfach abkühlen lassen und genießen.
First of all, good morning to you all. The sun is out and I am desperately waiting to go outside and chill at the Danube River. I guess the bathing season has officially started, yay! Yesterday, I was invited for a barbecue at a friend’s house and as everything had already been taken care of but I still didn’t wanna show up empty handed, I baked a lovely banana bread. The recipe is really simple and you can even make it without any sugar, as I replaced it with my grandma’s homemade dandelion honey. Anyways, just try for yourself and let me know what you think. I got the recipe from a colleague in Australia, so the credit’s not mine. The banana bread is also super yummy for breakfast. You can toast it, or not. Eat it with butter or without. I sometimes eat mine with yoghurt and berries but it’s actually really variable.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!
Here’s what you’ll need :
3 ripe bananas
2 tablespoons golden syrup or dandelion syrup if you have any (I used 3 Tbs of the syrup and added no sugar)
½ cup sugar
1 cup flour
a bit of baking powder
backing tin (with baking parchment)
Here’s how you prepare it :
Preheat oven to 180°C. Smash bananas with a fork in a bowl. Add other ingredients and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Put backing parchment in your backing tin and carefully add in your mixture. After about 15-20 minutes in the oven, add sliced almonds on top and let it bake for another 15-20 minutes until the bread is golden. To be sure that the cake is done, you can us a tooth pick. Just put it in the cake and slowly remove it, if nothing stays on it, the cake is done. Let it cool off, or eat it while it’s still warm and enjoy!