Though our recent Swiss break was mainly used to recharge those inner batteries and we mostly stayed close to our base of operations and relaxation for the week, Lenk, we did squeeze in a trip to nearby Spiez to get some rivièra vibes!
Spiez is ideally located at the magnificent lake Thun in Bernese Oberland and offers a wide variety of activities and highlights. It is dominated by its medieval castle and the romanesque church that must have been built somewhere in 8th century.
After exploring the castle, the gardens and admiring the outstanding view a walking trail leads to the surrounding vineyards…
S for Spiez, Sylvaner wine, Steep Slopes???
Of course the locals always know the best spots!
Morning walks and breathtaking views makes hungry, so heading down again for a lakeside lunch, which really means ‘lakeside’ and guarantees you a marvellous view at Hotel-Restaurant Riviera by Elio…
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The ferry services and cruises on Lake Thun are a fun means of transport to discover neighbouring lake villages or the larger cities like Thun and Interlaken where you can connect onto lake Brienz for even more water cruising fun. We hopped off at the next village and used the walking path to make our way back to Spiez.
Pyramid shaped house mountain Niessen
the old man and the sea…
Wooden sculptures along the lakeside walking path
may look like rivièra, but we’re still in Switzerland!
Next time more on our little hike to Wallbachschlucht in Lenk and the Simme Waterfall, hope this post gave you a lovely view on versatile Switzerland, land of mountains and glaciers, yes of course…but do not forget to catch some rivièra vibes!
Weekend approaching fast and some fun intermezzo is allowed, right?! Those of you who read my previous post already know we spent a lovely week in beautiful sunny Simmental, Switzerland. During our usual daily and evening walks one sound always accompanied us, being close or somewhere remote in the distance: the Swiss cow bells…oh, and do not mistake, when close-by, these beautifully manufactured bells make decibel metres explode and your ears pop! No cow bells without cows and must say some were pretty anxious to hit the spotlights!
“Holy cow, is she taking pictures? I want in, I want in…”
“Ok, switching positions now…”
“I want to be on cover this issue…no, I want to be…noooo, I want to be…move over”
“Strike a pose?! Can’t you see we’re naturals!”
Enjoy the weekend!
Next time will take you around wineslopes of Spiez at stunning Thunersee, so stay tuned!
As much as I like to travel, in mind and in actual distance, I always like returning home, bringing back a heart and mind full of memories…but what if the place you travel to feels like coming home? No destressing or acclimatisation needed…I just need to open, in this case, the car door, breathe in the fresh mountain air and rest my eyes on ‘our’ mountain to know we’re home again…Leaving this place again, and the people we know there, until our next visit always leaves me in a bit of melancholic state of mind and heavy hearted. For us, that ‘second home’ is Lenk in Simmental region, part of Swiss Bernese Oberland.
My husband used to visit this picturesque little village every year in his childhood years, this tradition must have started somewhere early seventies. His siblings and him, having their own families, kept tradition going and still visit with their own children, though not every year. We ourselves went about eight times, usually end of May and this was the first time just the two of us, son Nick guarding the house, feeding our cat and a probably very limited amount of studying.
In the posts still coming up in the following weeks I’ll take you along on some of the excursions we made, today’s post however is all about getting that fresh Swiss mountain air vibe, filling your head with Spring alpine flower meadows, cow bells replacing the alarm clock and the welcome sound and refreshing touch of the Simme stream, always close companion on our walks to town or up to the Waterfall.
So just sit back, relax and welcome to Lenk!
Our home during our Swiss breaks lies in one of Lenk’s quieter hamlets called ‘Oberried’ giving clear mountain view and direct access to walking trail path up to the waterfall and town. Weather gods have always been kind to us when choosing end of May as holiday period and this time was no exception, by far thé best weather we ever had!
Lenk is a popular health and spa facility destination and known in Winter as top ski destination, making a link with the Adelboden region and facilities, however not being a fan of snow and cold we ourselves prefer the Spring up to Autumn season. The village lies 1068 metres above sea level at the foot of the Wildstrubel massif.
Curious where ‘Lenk’ got its name? It’s composed of two German words meaning ‘long nook’, and that’s exactly the shape and function the town has at the top of the long, Simme River valley. Nestled up against the might of the Wilstrubel’s steep face, the locals simply state that they are ‘in the nook’ (an der Lenk)!
More next time on our strolls through Lenk and surroundings!
To continue my previous post, after a wonderful night’s rest and relaxing stay in The Pier Suites, we decided to leave early to make the most of our day ahead in the Hague. Next to being the political and royal heart of the Netherlands and city where the International Court of Justice houses, the Hague keeps it’s relaxed city vibe offering a wide range of highlights and attractions, on every level whether you are a lover of architecture, culture, food, history, nature, shopping, this city seems to have it all! Time to discover!
You can not go exploring on an empty stomach, so we stepped into indoor shopping mall De Passage and had a quick boost of energy in Du Passage, perfect place for a quick or slow breakfast, lunch or anything in between. The Mall is Hollands oldest indoor shopping mall and the interior deco is stunning, think grandeur, spotless clean and a variety of exclusive and worth-discovering shops.
Our eye fell, what can I say, once a foodie, always a foodie, on the gigantic Dok Cookware store…it’s the real thing, I could have spent the whole day there exploring and spending those euros!
de Passage mall, Dok cookware store
Paëlla, anyone?! Dok Cookware store
Dok cookware store, de Passage
Time to step into the historic centre…the so called ‘Binnenhof’ or Inner Court is the centre of Dutch Politics and also houses the House of Representatives and the office of the Prime Minister. There are tours to follow, however the Inner Court is freely accessible, as is the adjacent pond.
hofvijver, Binnenhof, pond Inner Court
Binnenhof, Inner Court
We also enjoyed the walk along the ‘Lange Voorhout’ a beautiful tree-lined lane leading you to the iconic historic Hotel des Indes…celebreties, royals, when in the Hague, this is where they stay!
Do not skip the Heulstraat with the wonderful interior and deco-shop Il Regalo and Denneweg, one of the city’s oldest streets and a must if you are into lifestyle, deco, fashion and food…just go there that means!
These colourful boots are made for walking
statue Louis Couperus, Lange Voorhout
Did you know the Hague had its own Chinatown? Both entrances are marked with a gate, the area was originally a Jewish quarter, however after the Second World War it became more and more abandoned and in the 1970s the area became increasingly inhabited by the Chinese.
Are you in for some culture? 2017 marks the centenary of the founding of the Dutch art movement called De Stijl (the Style), which is known for its bold horizontal and vertical lines encasing blocks of primary colours. Best-known artist is Mondrian. This whole year is dedicated as tribute and special activities indoors and outside are planned…even if you are not a museum lover, the city will treat you no-charge on colour and art as with the world’s largest Mondrian painting replica on the city hall. And for those who are into musea and art, do not forget Vermeer’s famous Girl with the pearl earring is waiting for you in the ‘Mauritshuis’.
All roads lead of course to royal Palace Noordeinde, the Kings working palace, if the royal flags flies above the palace…the King is in the House! The gardens and stables are located behind the residence and gardens are open for visits accept during state or royal visits etc…the classy Noordeinde district is where you will find various stylish, exclusive shops.
All this city exploring make’s you hungry, right?!
We had lunch at ’t Goude Hooft, the Hague’s oldest inn, right in the vibrant city centre and went for a sweet treat at Lapsang, breakfast, lunch and winebar.
sweet treat, arretjescake and cheesecake
Conclusion, a must visit! Like I started this post, this city has it all and we haven’t even explored half of what it has to offer during this short visit, we’ll be back!
We, that is the husband and myself, were beyond thrilled winning an exclusive stay at the newly openend Pier Suites in Scheveningen, hurray…a trip to always inspiring and relaxing Holland! As at a stone’s throw, we combined this trip with a visit to royal The Hague…A weekend to indulge ourselves in luxury, relaxed beach vibes, city exploring, shopping, fun, food and fascination, with special thanks to Linda Magazine that held the contest!
Let’s check in first…the Pier Suites‘ website promises an unforgettable experience, located at the very end of the Pier Boulevard…not hard to understand we were extremely curious to check out our very own suite and view!
suite 2, The Pier Suites, Scheveningen
seeing all that water gets you thirsty!
bubbles with a view
Just the two of us
Sea through see through
The room has all comfort you’d expect from a suite and offers full free use of the minibar filled with bubbles, beers, white wine, water…if you are the sober type, red wine…there are coffee and tea facilities, etc…however the star attraction of the room is the enormous private terrace to enjoy the spectacular view on and above the North Sea! As the water rustles gently under your room, you feel embraced by the sea, such an indescribable feeling!
The Pierboulevard offers a variety of shops and ‘food truck-style’ eating facilities…had a total crush when I noticed the Spicy Scarves Amsterdam boutique, where lovely enthousiastic owner Waheeda translates her creative passion into stunning handmade layered scarves. Keep this brand on your radar as they often attend the Swan Markets held all over Holland and Belgium and they do of course have a webshop too.
Seeking some thrill? The pier has a zipline installed, I heard a lot of woohoo’s and wow’s, so if that’s your thing, zip away! The large ferris wheel is another main attraction and was rather looking forward to a ride, however on the day of our visit it was closed for maintenance. The hotel however did supply me with a voucher, so now have an excellent excuse to return, right?!
Foodwise, no problem here, there’s the foodboulevard on the pier, and on the beach you can find any style or cuisine food bar, lounge club or restaurant you prefer…
colourful resto and lounge bars
art meets sea, must eat fish!
Kurhaus Hotel Scheveningen
For those into culture and colour, Scheveningen of course joins The Hague in celebrating 100 years De Stijl and artist Mondriaan. No worries if you are normally not a museum visitor or lover, the city will remind you on the festivities and treat you for free just strolling through the streets!
Got a final golden local tip that the best restaurants dinner-wise are situated at the harbour area…definitely going to check those out next time, however we decided to enjoy our ‘room with a view’ as much as possible, so after some small local snacks and bites in one of the beach bars, and a nice walk we headed back to our own private world above the sea, with the company of bubbles, jacuzzi-wise and prosecco-wise and more than enough wine…when night arrives, a starry sky ceiling feature accompagnies sweet dreams…royal city the Hague awaits…to be continued next post!
The so called Swan Markets, regularly held in the Netherlands and Belgium offer starting entrepreneurs a platform and chance to showcase their craftsmanship and creative skills on a larger scale as it usually attracts a very large crowd. As was also the case last Sunday in Antwerp where the ‘Grote Markt’ and sunny weather formed an excellent décor for this lively market.
Handmade jewels, fashion accessories, home deco and lifestyle items, modern or vintage…whatever your preference or style, there’s something to be found for every person and budget. Letting my eyes wander over the colourful, detailed pieces and products created with passion made my heart jump! And then I didn’t even mention the extremely tempting smells coming from the different food trucks, taking you on a world journey with oriental flavours, U.K. Fudge, American style BBQ, oysters, pancakes,…
Enough written, some impressions…
I must admit I have a terrible weakness for scarves…luckily Spicy Scarves Amsterdam has just the cure! Double or three layered and all handmade! Depending on your mood or the season you can go for the colourful ones or more toned down, sportive or sophisticated, believe me, very hard to choose! I met Waheeda, the lovely lady in the photo and creative brain behind the brand, during our trip to The Hague last week where she has a shop at the pier in Scheveningen,…if a trip to Holland is not scheduled in your near future travel plans, do re-consider, or just visit their webshop of course!
Buying a This is Liger t-shirt will guarantee you a very unique piece of garment. Each year six visual artists are asked to team up with the brand, each artist designs a limited edition of only 360 pieces. You can find the unique number on the shirt, the designs are all very cool, couldn’t resist so bought one for our son.
Plants and flowers run through Stefanie’s veins, not only hers but also her family’s and this for already four generations and going. With her plant caravan she brings all that is lively and green to you or to markets like this one.
oh, and never ever throw away again your old toilet 😉
With the colourful scarves of ‘Sjaal met Verhaal’ you do not only end up with a quality scarf, as the name suggests, there is a bigger and warm story behind it: buying here means supporting women entrepreneurs and projects in Nepal and Thailand, securing a job and an income for several locals. Do check out their website, support their project and get yourself a lovely handmade scarf!
Who doesn’t like candy?! However, over the years the word has gotten such a bad connotation…Tante Toos to the rescue, all sweets are pure fruit, pure flavour, all paleo and often vegan and raw too…no obscure additives, these fruit ‘mats’ only contain pure fruit and some herbs and are then rolled like a yoga mat…they come in different flavours: raspberry, strawberry, applepie, mango and forest fruit. Store them in a closed container up to six months,…though I doubt you’ll have them that long! I tasted the raspberry and applepie and oh my, though as thin as a slice of paper it is truly a full explosion of freshly baken homemade applepie! Fun and original way too to finish off or decorate a homemade dessert…
Looking back on last week, what a rollercoaster that was, pain attacks were already at peak level for some weeks, add to that the pain clinic treatment, some bad side-effects to it and a rollercoaster of emotions and you have the perfect cocktail that would knock out any normal sane person…whish it had, than at least I would have slept and could have recharged some batteries…How did it all start, well, long ago of course, with the scoliosis, the fusion, the bad luck of having an infection, six more surgeries, since then chronic and acute pain attacks linked to back and radiating pains and a whole truck load of other severe and some less severe conditions as a result of the back issue, you name it, I have it!
However, that is not what had me upset on the emotional level last week…let me explain…A random conversation, about ten years ago in pain clinic: “if we can take away 10% of your pain, that is already a success, that’s why we do it”. Last week’s conversation, when having my treatment (three times a year): “if the treatment is only giving you relief 2 or 3 months out of four ( in my book that is a lot more than 10% and it is what keeps me going) maybe we should stop it, many of my colleagues wouldn’t treat you anymore.” I had discussed this with her many times, the final month the effect is declining raplidly, facing more attacks, elevating the oral pain meds, more stomach problems, etc but they never search for an alternative or solution on how to cope with that last month…so, again, I ask her what the alternative is, she replies “I don’t have any’ and again points out that it would be more advisable to stop!?! In who’s favor is that? Certainly not in mine, I accept two or three months out of four with open arms. That doesn’t mean I am pain-free in those months, far from it, but it is somehow manageable…
I started crying, I have never felt that alone, that angry, so helpless in my whole life…there was no further communication with doctor, she left…I didn’t see or hear her anymore, thank God for the two caring and understanding nurses. I got a report home for my general physician in which doctor wrote she discussed psychological pain coping sessions with me!?! First of all she didn’t discuss anything with me as she just left the treatment room without saying another word to me or goodbye or best of luck or whatever, and secondly, well, I have been coping with pain since 13 years old, that is 32 years now, think I pretty much know how it works and if anyone can give sessions I can relate and understand so much better therefore stand in front of the classroom myself!
It’s just a ride, it’s just a ride No need to run, no need to hide It’ll take you round and round Sometimes you’re up Sometimes you’re down
(lyrics ‘It’s just a ride (Jem)
I try not to hide away in a corner, even in my pain filled days, I never stay in bed, try to keep my head up, I read, blog, enjoy nature, photograph, dream, have a caring husband and son, family and friends, what I still haven’t learnt coping with is having to defend myself to my doctor who is supposed to understand, to help, to listen, to look for alternatives, to transfer me to a colleague if she doesn’t know the answer, not write me off!
The pain treatment when already having pains at peak level is no fun and I know from experience I can expect a major attack that same evening and night, however in general, when I can manage to catch just a little sleep, I can recharge my batteries and bit by bit there’s progress soon…well that was definitely not the case last week…have only had one or two other pain attacks falling under the category ‘mother of all attacks’ where husband had to rush me to er and this time was pretty close too. Had doctor on call over twice and finally after two days, finally, finally there was this sparkle of light and hope again! Am better now, chronic pain stays however, can deal with that, the acute attacks are gone for the moment, as they appear irregular, unfortunately, but I still feel tired and mentally a bit exhausted, though force myself to hold on to all the positive things!
As for the utmost patient-unfriendly treatment, have already made an appointment in another nearby hospital to see if they can take over my case and treatments, hope to be able to close that door and chapter soon and hopefully onwards to an approach where they do listen and are wiling to search for solutions or alternatives!
Sorry, hope I didn’t bore anyone, this is part of me too and can’t all be posts on yummy foods and relaxing trips, but hang in there, am resting, nose in the garden and have my batteries in the charger and feet up rest of this week week as a trip planned to The Hague next weekend!
The second day of our Namur weekend break was reserved to breathe in nature and fresh air and discover some of the surrounding tiny villages, part of ‘Les Plus Beaux Villages de Wallonië’
First stop on our route was Thon-Samson, the drive up there coming from Namur is great, following the banks of the meandering river Meuse, you can admire the lovely bordering mansions and the crown on it all: view on Marche-les-Dames, marvelous rock formation where Belgian army troups have their training facilities. To us, Belgians, Marche-les-Dames will forever hold a place in history books as it is the place where king Albert the first, though an experienced climber, found his tragic death.
Back to our destination, Thon-Samson, with Samson referring to the little river running through the picturesque town. A perfect spot to stretch the legs, breathe in that fresh morning air and admire the limestone buildings and view on the valley and surrounding green hills.
Next stop, Mozet, again most houses in limestone and rooftops often in slate. Up on the hill, the church serves as an excellent viewpoint on the area. The Royer farm with its protected Romanesque tower can not be missed and walking further down the same path leads you to the originally 11th century castle now property of the local scouting organisation and serving as holiday and meeting centre.
Heading back north we slowly were making our way back home, however decided to take some smaller backroads as we noticed some road works and a traffic jam earlier and didn’t want to be caught in them. Now that was a smart move, as it lead us to the tiny village of Balâtre, tiny indeed, as no larger than the town square and a few streets, but we discovered a great restaurant/hotel there called ‘La Fourchette à droite’…only had to take one look at the menu to decide we were really hungry all of a sudden and yes, they do things with a little twist here, the fork is on the right-hand side!
What a perfect way to end this weekend! We have had it all, great weather and food for body and soul with Namur and its lovely surroundings as great hosts and companions, we’ll be back!
Our city break last week, brought us to Wallonia’s capital Namur, in the previous post you could follow in our footsteps along la Merveuilleuse, hiking up the citadel. In this post, time to explore the city itself, however, no hastiness, just follow the rhythm of the city and the stream as do les Namurois.
we arrived at Namur late morning, enough time for a first exploring stroll…
Tourist season hadn’t begun yet last week, usually that starts around the 1st of April, and that showed. Namur sure plans on doing things right, we spotted a lot of constructions sites near the river, a city so it seems that keeps reinventing itself, however, when getting closer to the inner heart, keeps traditions and culture intact.
La fresque des Wallons can be found in the small garden of the city hall, the facade-high mural refers to about 250 persons and events marking a stamp on Walloon identity, may that be important historic figures, artists, scientists, regional produce,…
Time for lunch…our eye fell on Le Pâtanthrope, I remembered it was highly recommended in ‘Le Petit Deborsu’ written by local and fully-declared Namur lover Christophe Deborsu. Gastronomy on the plate without showing astromic prices on the bill, now that’s the way we like it! Wondering were the name comes from? It’s a mix of pâte, which means pasta and philanthrope and their you go! I had scallops as entree, my husband had tartare of green asparagus, baked foie gras and ravioli. As a main, we had beef Rossini on a gallette de rigatoni and I chose stuffed squid with chorizo and ravioli. Desserts brought us moeulleux au chocolat and a delice framboises with macarons. Needless to say we sat more than two hours in the restaurant…and still needed to climb the citadel! However, all dishes were airy and light, as was the bill!
Time to move on, after the restaurant, we first explored the citadel, more on that here Weekend Namur…the citadel part and returned later for a quiet stroll through the car-free streets. A lot of them situated around the St-Loup church, Jesuit order, founded by St-Ignatius. Baroque-style church, same architect had also built the Barrolus Borremeus church in Antwerp and it shows. It is the church where famous poet Charles Baudelaire had a massive stroke, leaving him in semi-paralyzed-state before his death. Struck by beauty? By overwhelming emotions? If only time to visit one church in Namur, St-Loup is definitely the one to go to, the church often acts as decor for concerts and events too and volunteers are availabe on site if you want a tour.
‘In can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no melancholy’ (Charles Baudelaire)
Marché de légumes is thé square in Namur for people watching, we were there just around the hour schools had finished…the square was packed with young and little less young, enjoying the sun and their regained freedom after a day at school and/or work. Enough bars to choose from, though when the weather is fine, no-one to spot inside: everyone sits, stands, hangs in the middle of the square.
and all this under the watchful eye and shadow of St-Jean church, the oldest church in town, though the tower was only added later, as the first one was hit by lightning. Story goes the workmen at that time, 1616, spent more time in the local pub, leaving the bell tower not perfectly straight as was the intention.
At the river border you will find the Walloon Parliament, no worries, hardly to miss, the colour pop’s out! The walk upto the citadel starts right after the corner.
We made this little trip discovering Namur winning a contest organised by Pays du Vallées. Our package included an overnight stay in b&b La Noiseraie, a 10′ drive from centre Namur. the b&b is located in a commerical zone with factories, however when going evenings and weekends like we did, these are all abandoned and all is peace and quiet. The domain itself is large enough, green and besides the b&b activities it is a walnut oil producer, hence the name, la Noiseraie. Would recommend to visist in autumn, to get the most out of that experience!
Another post, discovering some of the surrounding villages will follow shortly, stay tuned!
When visiting Namur, the local citadel is a must-see, strategically located on a hill at the confluence of rivers Sambre and Meuse, the fortress offers great views. It finds its origins in the Roman era but was rebuilt several times. The route leading to the top is called ‘la Merveilleuse’, offering a combination of steep, but manageable, walks, great views, a mix of culture and nature, a Visitor Centre and guided tours for those in need for some more historic background and tales and a tourist train for those with kids or for those just out of breath…
The walk upto the top offers great viewpoints on the surrounding area as well as the city centre and its churches, on the above photo, from left to right, église St-Jean Baptiste, beautiful baroque église St-Loup and cathedral St-Aubain.
For the Facing Time exposition in 2015 the ‘Searching for Utopia’ turtle, or at least one of the copies of the original, of artist Jan Fabre, was placed on the citadel. After the exposition Namur’s inhabitants felt so connected to the turtle they decided to buy the artpiece, through crowdfunding, linking it forever to the city and the citadel. Les Namurois embrace the slow life, they have a snail as city symbol and mascotte and, well, a turtle fits the slow profile perfectly, funny detail however, the copy in Namur was far more expensive than its original in Nieuwpoort which was bought twelve years earlier.
There is someting with a city by the water, be that the sea or a river: it adds life, motion though at the same time brings peace, slows you and your senses down, exactly the way of life in Namur.
A new cable car station is being built, linking the city centre to the citadel top and the 2015 Belgian pavillion at the Milan Expo was bought to be installed at the esplanade and stade at the top…old and new…forever in harmony, forever in motion, facing time,…