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Tips for driving abroad
Belgium, Blog, Iceland, Travel Tips, United States

Tips for driving abroad

On August 20, my friend Pascale, from the blog Scouich asked me to write a collaborative post with her about driving abroad. Since her blog is in French and mine is in Frenglish English, she wanted to translate it so both our audiences can benefit from our tips. That’s so nice of her! So here’s the edited post, originally published as Conduire à l’étranger: règles de base While she was in Belgium, Pascale had the privilege to have access to a car for free, but she was scared to death to drive in another country. She was even scared to drive her own car through USA and she likes to know exactly where she’s going. For my part, I drove 2000km during a road trip in Iceland and I drove along the Pacific coast highway from San Francisco to L.A. Funny thing : both roads are called Route 1! Fortunately, no left-side driving, but a good exercise of my capacity of adaptation. So here are a few lessons Pascale and I learned from our experience of driving in another country. In black, you can read Pascale’s tips and mines are in green. 1- Learn to drive manual vehicles It would be better to learn […]

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Belgium, Blog

Magritte Museum: my prince charming wore a derby hat

I wanted to meet him since High School. Unfortunately, he died in 1967, which makes the date a little complicated. I had to choose an artist to copy in art class. Yes, you read that right, the teacher asked us to copy for 40% of our finale grade. So, looking in books to find the perfect artist to copy (because I wasn’t enough masochist to choose Monet, yet not lazy enough to choose Pollock), my eyes stopped on a man wearing a derby hat. René Magritte had caught my attention and he kept it since that time. Confusing me by telling a pipe was not a pipe, I couldn’t help but research a little more about this surrealist artist. It turns out that this pipe wasn’t a pipe, because it was only the representation of it. It is only what we see. What a fantastic way of thinking! Then, I wasn’t the teenager people saw, because that was maybe only the representation of me. I was free to be myself. Fast forward more than ten years later, there I was, in Brussels. No need to say that a visit to Magritte Museum was non-negotiable. Visiting the different floors, you’ll discover the painter’s evolution. I highly suggest you take the audio […]

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Story from Antwerpen
Belgium, Blog, Montreal

Paying it forward – Story from Antwerp

« So you’re travelling in Belgium, I mean, only in Belgium? You’re not going to Amsterdam or Paris? », the man asked in French. In the train to Antwerp, this man seemed surprised that we spent our whole vacation in Belgium. Usually, people are just passing through the country going somewhere else. Well, this time, I felt like slow travelling, which means for me to visit a new town everyday, but to stay in a 100km area, and Belgium was the perfect match. Distances in Belgium are ridiculously short when we are used to travelling in Quebec. Crossing the country is the same distance than going from Montreal to Quebec city. I understand better now why Europeans are unable to evaluate travelling time appropriately in America. « Let’s go to Montreal and then New York and then Miami, shall we? » As short as it can be, the train ride from Brussels to Antwerp was enough to travel through travel. Old buildings in Europe have nothing to do with old buildings in Quebec. I always feel like we lie to ourselves when we call something old here in Canada. It’s a bit forced, like a kid calling me Mrs. I don’t know if I can qualify Antwerp of […]

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5 Reasons to visit Ghent, Belgium
Belgium, Blog, Destinations, Europe

5 Reasons to Fall in Love With Ghent

In the shadow of the well-known Bruges, the city of Ghent doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. With more than 30 trains per day from Brussels and only around one hour ride, there’s no reason to exclude Ghent from your next trip to Belgium. Situated in the Flemish part of the country, Ghent is one of the five most populated cities of Belgium. Still small enough to feel authentic, Gent (in Dutch) or Gand (in French) is a well-hidden european city that you don’t want to miss. I can’t thank enough people who recommended me to visit this town. Here’s why you’ll fall in love with Ghent too. ** 1. Avoid tourists herds If you’re like me, you prefer to avoid buses full of tourists travelling by herds. I’ve been to Brugge and it was chaos. Saying this town is not beautiful would be a lie, but the problem is that you cannot really appreciate it since there’s always people rushing you to walk faster and pushing you at touristic sites. Brugge is known to be a place to take great pictures, but you’ll get old waiting for people to let you take the perfect shots. In Ghent, you’ll see […]

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Mons 2015 - European Capital of Culture
Belgium, Blog

Mons – Stopping off in the 2015 European Capital of Culture

Each year since 1985, one or more towns a designated as European Capitals of Culture by the European Union. Countries that will host the Capital of culture are chosen in advance and cities post their candidature. This year, both Belgium and Czech Republic were chosen. In Belgium, Mons and Liege raised their hands to be candidates. So why did Mons win? … because on the due date, Liege didn’t present any project. Did people from Mons know they were alone in the run? No. Thinking they were fighting against a much bigger town, they did their best and work together to find the best ideas to present a program that will blow people’s mind. They decided to open during the same year 1 new concert hall and 5 new museums and to set up 15 urban installations. What did you do in a year? I was probably catching up on Game of Thrones….   What is there to do in Mons? Tons of activities! Museums, music shows, expos, theatre, dance, name it. On my side, I decided to practice my favorite activity and to walk following the path of urban installations. 15 artists put their works in the streets of Mons and […]

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Gent, Flanders, Belgium | Annie Anywhere
Belgium, Blog, Thoughts

How I feel at home abroad

Would you live here? It’s a question I always ask my travel partner after a couple of days in a new destination. Would you deliberately leave all your belongings behind, pack the irreplaceable, choose the most important souvenirs, and let go of everything else? Does this new place here worth it? How do we choose if a place is worthy of us living there? Belgium made me think about it more than any other destinations. My Own Little Chaos I realized that to feel home, I need a place I can find in the same state I left it. Nothing annoyed me much than room attendants making my bed every morning and putting everything in well-organized piles. It kills creativity and personality. I like to create my own little chaos.  I guess that’s a reason why I always choose friend’s apartments and AirBnb over hotel rooms. I cannot recommend any hotels in Brussels, since I had a friend generous enough to host me during my whole trip. Honestly, I felt like I was living in an apartment in Montreal. Same kind of divisions, same kind of decor, everything at the place where I left it. Our Common Conflicts It may sound […]

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Brussels, city of Comic Strips
Belgium, Blog

Treasure hunt in Brussels, capital of comic strips

We landed in Brussels with absolutely nothing planned, except that we would stay at a friend’s apartment near Midi train station. We leaved Montreal at 10pm, landed in Brussels at 11am and took the train to Midi. – Do you think the font on the station signs look like they’re from a comic book?, I asked Claude. – Yeah, maybe a little. – Hum, maybe I think about it just because I know I’m in the Comic Strips Capital. Like many of you, I thought of beers and chocolate at first when planning my trip to Belgium, and it is fun indeed to taste so many different beers and shop in chocolate factory that looks like jewelry. But to have been in Brussels for a week, I noticed there are more than food and drinks standing out in the city. If you look wisely, you’ll see all the characters hidden at every corner, giving the city its unique soul. We then had a goal: to discover the comic strips in Brussels. Comic strip trail The best way to discover a town is by walking down its streets and wander around. In Brussels, the tourism board created a map locating the comic strip frescoes around town, and […]

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Belgium, Blog

My next trip: Belgium!

I announced it on Facebook and Twitter a long time ago so probably a lot of you already know that I’m going to Belgium with my travel partner Claude! Reading my blog, you may have noticed that I sometimes « write with an accent », and if you have read my About Page, you know I’m a French Canadian. It will be my first trip in a French country and I must say that I can’t wait to speak my first language with people there. It will be a short one week trip in Belgium, but I think this country is perfect for this length. Just enough time to explore more than Brussels, and not too much time to gain 10 lbs eating all the chocolate. Ahah! Here’s the list of towns I’ll explore in Belgium: 1. Brussels Brussels will be my base camp since I have a friend who live there and he’s kind enough to let us stay at his apartment in exchange of maple sirop, caramel grenache and Tim Bits. Yeah, that’s what he’s missing from Quebec! So, no need to find accommodations, which is a huge budget relief. Of course, I’ll visit the Grande Place, the Atomium and the Manneken Pis, […]

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