Tips for exploring the Netherlands

I’ve a little while to wait before Eurostar starts its direct route to Amsterdam – due in 2016 – but it’s already a train journey that’s on my list.

For some reason, I’ve never explored the Netherlands quite as much as I’d like, even when I was living just a two-and-a-half-hour train journey away in Germany. To be fair, I was busy exploring quite a bit of Germany at the time.

netherlands-windmill-tulips-holland-travel

But to give me some more food for thought, as well as tips on a return journey to Amsterdam, I’ve come across a helpful Dutch tourism site, Netherlands-Tourism.com. Continue reading

Autumn fashion: my John Lewis wishlist

All this thought of Christmas markets and the chillier climes of Belgium has also got me thinking about what I’d want to pack in my suitcase for autumn (sunshiney bags notwithstanding).

Right on cue, John Lewis has brought out its Autumn Fashion magazine with collections inspired by winter florals and Game of Thrones – the latter with leather, faux fur and moody colours (so think Ygritte rather than Daenarys, if you’re a fan).

And there are boots galore. I love boots, especially in an unusual colour, texture or plastered with buckles. So when I was asked to pick my five favourites from the store’s edit, it wasn’t a struggle to come up with this wishlist…

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My sunshiney travel-inspired bag

I am constantly doing an impression of a laden donkey these days. If I’m not lugging an enormous changing bag around (and it does seems to need to be huge), I’ve got hand luggage and a buggy to wrangle.

After two years, I feel like I’ve got it down to something of an art. But the thing my travel wardrobe has been lacking, whether that’s for days out or long-haul, is a handy little bag to hold the essentials.

luggage-case-vintage-retro-travel

Something that can be whipped out when I need purse/phone/keys (or just don’t want to leave them on the buggy) but can be stuffed inside easily, and leaves my hands free.
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Eight things to do in Lille with kids

Yesterday it was Brussels’ turn. Today, I’ve had fans of Lille encouraging me to choose that for my discounted Eurostar trip.

And if you’re thinking that Belgium has the edge with frites, waffles and chocolate (and moules for me), this part of northern France is close enough that I wouldn’t go short of those in Lille either – for more reasons to drool over a potential visit, the Lone Gourmet has me severely tempted.

lille-christmas-market-travel-france

For places to stay and more family-friendly places to eat, I came across these recommendations on Kodomo. But apart from the famous Christmas market, perfect for kids, these are the top eight things for children I’ve found in Lille.
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10 things to do in Brussels with kids

So my idle pondering about planning a new trip to cheer myself up provoked a couple of helpful comments. The gist being not to use my Eurostar discount on going back to Paris but exploring somewhere new.

Possible Lille, about which I know almost nothing. Possibly Bruges (which I love, partly for the chocolate). Or Ghent. Or possibly Brussels.

Rue de l'Étuve - Stoofstraat, Bruxelles - Brussel, België

I’ve been to Brussels but remember remarkably little of either visit. So I thought it was time to do some research and find out what all the destinations had to offer for kids. And in the city of the Smurfs and Tintin, these are the top 10 things for children I’ve found.
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