My Weekend in Brussels 

Hi, friends! As you can see from my pictures on my social media accounts, I spent my weekend in Brussels about a month ago! It was a wild little ride and a lovely solo trip after a long week. After a bus and an adventure to my next station in Paris, I was finally on my way to Belgium!

I got in at around 11:00pm on Friday night, and, luckily, was only a short one-minute walk down the street from the station to my hostel. I checked in quickly and was ready for bed in a jiffy!

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I woke up and was ready to get going. I walked the thirty minutes into the center of the city – the hostel might have been a short walk from the bus, but it was much further from the real attractions. Happily, this gave me a great chance to take in the stunning architecture along the way. I met for the start of the walking tour at the Great Market. Our delightful guide brought us all around the city, and challenged me to a game where everyone wins. He found me a beer. It was wonderful. It was a delicious cherry beer that tasted exactly like sour patch kids. Overall it was such a fantastic way to see the city, so thank you Sandman’s!

After the fun tour where I learned about the city and its history, I headed to go find fries. As potatoes are one of my favorite foods and God’s gift to humanity, this mission was of utmost importance to me. I made my way to Fritland and hopped in the long line to my destiny, only to find out that they only accepted cash and that yours truly did not have cash. So I went on a hunt around the block to find an ATM: mission accomplished. And those kind pals at Fritland let me cut to the front of the line. I then indulged in a huge pile of fries stacked on top of a baguette covered in house made tartar sauce. It was so disgustingly delicious that I don’t even know how to describe it. Not to mention, it was gigantic and I couldn’t finish it. After chowing down, it was time to walk off all of those calories. So of course I went straight to the chocolate museum.

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I had a fun hour walking around and learning about the production and marketing of chocolate…oh yeah, and the demonstration and tasting at the end. We ate truffles and even biscuits covered in chocolate from a chocolate fountain. Bonus: they even have a student discount! After munching on my chocolate, I headed to a Starbucks and got to work on writing a paper for school. My life is pretty exciting, huh?

So after, a fun, relaxing, informative, and delicious day, I headed back to the hostel where I promptly found that I lost my key. So after some panicking, I paid the 10 euros and got a new key. Then I went to sleep just about immediately.

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The next morning, I headed down to the cathedral to sit in on a service. It was an amazing experience and it was translated into French and Dutch! After enjoying that for a while, I went to spend the rest of my time split between the large beautiful park (before I got harassed by some dude who wanted to know my life story) and sitting on the steps overlooking the city. When it was time to head out, I began to walk towards the bus station, about a 20-minute walk. Not, of course, before grabbing a waffle for the road. Then I got lost. Of course. I wandered and panicked and couldn’t find my way around. I asked so many different people for directions, all of who were so kind and helpful. I was apparently just too dumb to follow directions that day and couldn’t find a cab.

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Well, I was in luck because after enough anxiety I called a cab and he rushed as fast as he could, weaving through markets and Sunday afternoon traffic, to get to the station. Where I found out I didn’t have any cash on me except for Canadian cash… But he took it, so we’re good? Oh well, on the bright side, I made it to the bus station, back to Paris, and back home to Caen. What a crazy weekend!

Leah

Food in Budapest

I will not claim to be an expert of food in Budapest as I did not have many meals here. That being said, I do have a few must-try places that you should add to your list! So without further ado, here is a short list of restaurants and bars that no itinerary would be complete without!

 1. Fanki Donuts

A chocolate lover’s heaven!


What better way to start your day or rest your tired feet than with donuts? Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with donuts (and treats in general…). And, if you need any further convincing, just look at these pictures! Basically a chocolate lover’s heaven. The hot chocolate was very different as well with a very intense cocoa flavor.

2. Nagyi Palacsintázója

Delicious pancakes and potatoes with dill and ewe cheese!


This delicious pancake place is exactly what you need after a long day of walking in Budapest. It was recommended to us by the sweet woman who worked at our hostel. When she was younger, she and her friends used to go here on late nights out as it is open 24 hours a day. I recommend both sweet and salty pancakes…and those delicious potatoes!

3. Ice Bar Budapest


Admittedly this is a bit of a tourist trap, but it was so fun (and cool, badum-tiss) that it deserves a mention. When you walk in you are immediately handed a menu and you can choose from an array of alcoholic or non alcoholic beverages. Then, you don on your giant poncho and head into the ice chamber! It is full of beautiful ice sculptures and everything is made of ice-including the glasses.

4. Ruin Bar


And finally, one more bar. The Simpla Bar is absolutely a must see. Think of Ariel’s treasure trove from The Little Mermaid as you walk in. It is filled with the most quirky and random items, surely you’ll be charmed-and maybe a bit confused- by this 2 story bar. It also has many bars that serve alcohol and non alcoholic beverages alike, hookah and food!

Thanks for tuning in! Where would you like to go? Anything you would add to the list?

10 Things to do in Brussels 

So you’re heading to Belgium for the weekend or a layover and need to know how to spend your precious time? Well, I am here to help! Thanks to a lot of searching and talking to guides, I have a lovely little guide for you to use and adapt to your needs!

1. Get a Guide

 The city is small and the must-see tourist attractions are in easy walking distance of each other. Brussels is a city full of history and this is a great way to learn about them! Click here for the company I used-I LOVED the tour and highly recommend it! 

2. Food and Drink 

This is easy: drink one of the many Belgian beers, eat a waffle, and chow down on those fries!

Sampling Cherry Beer


3. Chocolate Museum 

If you have an extra 45 minutes to an hour to kill then please go here. I had a blast learning about the history and production of chocolate. Oh, and tasting it along the way! The tour ends with a demonstration, and a tasting. What more could we ask for? Bonus: 6€ for adults and only 5€ for students!

4. Les Galleries Royales

Personally, I couldn’t spend too much time here, but it’s worth a mention because it is so. beautiful. It is also a shopping center, but don’t get too distracted by the many chocolatiers!


5. Manneken Pis

Probably the most disappointing tourist attraction ever – other than the Mona Lisa, sorry- but when in Brussels. Fun fact: they have no idea how it got there and anyone who tells you differently is lying. 

6. Mont des Arts

This is simply a gorgeous view of the city. It is near the park and the Place Royal, and an easy way back into the city. It is also great to check out during the day and around sunset. 


7. Brussels Park

This park is so large and beautiful. It is a great space to relax in the sun! There are paths, sculptures, benches so you can enjoy the nature in any way you’d like!

8. Grand Market

This is arguably the most beautiful place in Brussels. The magnificent buildings resemble nothing of its namesake as a past market. Not to mention, one of Victor Hugo’s homes is here to see. Another fun fact: the city hall isn’t symmetrical because they made it up as they went along. #Inspiration 


9. Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula

This beautiful cathedral is in honor of the city’s two patron saints- St. Michael and St. Gudula. The second has such a lovely story of service. As the story goes, each morning she went out with a lantern before sunrise and each morning the devil blew out her candle, but she always relit the candle and dedicated her life to service. Well, at least she got to share the name of a beautiful church? 

10. Royal Place of Brussels 

Just on the opposite side of the park is the Royal Place. While you cannot go inside, the architecture is simply stunning, and it is definitely worth a visit!
What would you add to the list?

Leah 

Holidazzle and a Holly Jolly Christmas 

Coming home from college a few days ago finally got me into the Christmas spirit. The end of finals and school stress has allowed me to let go and start baking to my heart’s content. This fine Christmas weekend has gotten me in the best mood and I want to share that with all of you and most importantly: give you the scoop for Holidazzle, an annual festival in Minneapolis. 

Christmas at college-so cute!


Anyone who knows me at all knows I love treats. I also love baking. Pretty sweet combination! So, of course, I started my baking Thursday (Christmas Eve Eve) with some yummy Oreo truffles! The baking didn’t continue until Friday morning with lots of cookies, cupcakes, and other treats! Eventually I moved on to decorating the tree and putting the finishing touches on the gifts. Oof. Sometimes being the only festive one in the house is a lot of work! So now on the the real fun…

HOLIDAZZLE 

First a few things to know:

  • It’s free! Unless you want to buy food or products, live events such as fireworks, meeting Santa, live music, and outdoor films are all free!
  • It’s cold. Look, it’s Minnesota and it’s outside, we know it’s cold. Just bundle up, okay?
  • This is for people of all religious beliefs! While it does run up until Christmas most years and have many Christmas connections (like Santa), Holidazzle is for anyone who loves being surrounded by cheer.

    So we were definitely a little nervous about the incoming blizzard. Thanks a lot, Midwest weather. But thankfully, the universe was on our side and the roads were just fine and dandy (oh yeah, and free parking in the parking garage)! My sister and I jammed to Christmas carols and 80’s pop while our brother sang alone in the backseat. It was a beautiful sibling moment!

    You can even make the wolf howl!


    We awkwardly walked down the street and subtly stalked a family wearing Santa hats because they looked like they knew where they were going. We were right, so it wasn’t weird. Holidazzle lived up to its name and we were dazzled by the lights as we walked in an saw many large interactive sculptures and cutout images to take pictures in. 

    We had lots of photo-ops: pictures with and without Santa, in the trees, and more! 

    All I want for Christmas is someone to pay my student loans…


    Among the many activities, there were stalls with representation of many local businesses selling dog treats, Love Your Melon hats, and even a stall from My Sister Lives Free (and organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking). We had a great time showing Minnesota some love supporting business and helping out the community. 

    Check out My Sister for more great gear!


    Finally, within 10 minutes I had the most exciting time. We heard a proposal (she said yes)! At the end of this ten minute window, we saw the fireworks over the water. They were absolutely lovely, and worth standing out in the cold for! Finally, the most uncomfortable moment: I definitely walked in on someone in a port a potty who didn’t lock the door. I’m so sorry. 

    Overall, a wonderful evening spent with my siblings and one I would recommend to everyone! 

    Have you been to Holidazzle? Tell me what you thought in the comments below!

    National Donut Day

    Once again, I find myself praising God for the creation of random holidays like National Donut Day. I love donuts. So. Much. I knew when I woke up this morning that donuts were waiting for me somewhere in the world. And, as a donut fanatic, I am overjoyed by the unconventional holiday and having somewhere delicious to celebrate.


    Although I frequent Glam Doll I have never seen it this full of people or donuts. For starters, the line wrapped all throughout the building: people of all kinds were prepared to wait for their fill of delicious donuts. The people working were happy, positive and enthusiastic to help. Even with the overwhelming crowd there were workers flooding the back making donuts and in front taking orders; all laughing, chatting, joking, and even a little dancing (all while looking super cool let’s be real. I don’t know where they find these people, but I want to be their friends.


    Not to mention, they had many sheets of every donut in stock, including all of the vegan donuts. We got a dozen donuts, and those babies are huge! It took us almost three days among five people to finish them. Even my mother, who had never hasher taste buds graced with their donuts bore, decided to lay on the floor of my sister’s apartment with me to aid her maple bacon donut coma. Long story short: I’m as in love with as ever with Glam Doll Donuts.

    Leah

    Cherokee, North Carolina

    From Blue Ridge, Georgia, we took the hour and a half trek to Cherokee, North Carolina. A small reservation town in the Smoky Mountains, it is largely overrun with tourists, but charming nonetheless. We spent a good amount of time at the top of a mountain, among the clouds, taking in the mountainous surroundings. We walked around the delightful town and that was essentially the entirety of our day.

    The stunning views from Smokey Mountains captured our hearts. After spending most of the time at the mountains, we walked through the small shops below. The locals claim they have the best burgers, but, alas, as a vegetarian I cannot confirm. Overall, I’d recommend this for some beautiful views and hikes in North Carolina, but not as the ultimate vacation getaway.

    A Snapshot of Nashville

     Hello friends! After spending a day in Nashville, I’m going to give you a brief run-down of how we spent our few hours in Nashville.

    1. We drove into Nashville on a lovely Friday morning, and immediately we decided we needed to eat. We ate at “The Stiller,” and let me tell you I would eat there every day. We all had classic Southern food including fried chicken, mac & cheese, and sweet tea. The presentation was complete with mason jar and skillets.
    2. We were just a short walk from the Honky Tonk highway. This ultra touristy strip celebrated the country music presence of Nashville, and we had a blast strolling down the bustling street.
    3. After our walk, we took a short drive to the Parthenon. The outside is stunning, but the small fee of $5 was well worth it to read about the history of the building and its erection for the fair. Within the museum also stood other replicas from Greece and an art exhibit.
    4. Our final stop was to 12 Ave neighborhood. Honestly I can say this was my favorite part of my time in Nashville. Walking around the area full of eclectic shops with beautiful marketing. My personal favorites were a popsicle shop called Las Paletas and Amelia’s Flower Truck. It made for a very relaxing afternoon walk before an evening in our AirBNB.

     

    And of course, what’s trip down South without a stop at Waffle House?

    Chipotle Cultivate Minneapolis

    On Saturday, August 25th, everyone’s favorite burrito stop hosted a music and educational event in Minneapolis. Chipotle called on big headliners X Ambassadors and Atlas Genius (and Walk the Moon, but their set was rained out) to play. One thing I have to say for this event is how organized it was! Every line moved quickly, but people learned from it all the same. We started our festival time by heading to where X Ambassadors were about to start playing and made our way towards the middle of the crowd. I will just add briefly that they put on a great show, and I loved jamming out to their music!


    After X Ambassadors, we began to browse the different booths and stations. The encouragement for most people was the promise of a free burrito after visiting three of the four stations. However, as conscientious consumers, we checked out the stations out of true desire to learn. I thought it was laid out so it was easy to understand and no one would lose focus. They were small, but they were to the point. The station about GMO’s was very well done in my opinion, as they discussed environmental and personal factors. I thought that some them actually could have gone in depth more on their information. For example, in talking about factory farming, there were few examples given. Overall though, I feel like it was just enough to expose heavy issues to uninformed people.


    Finally, I got my free chip with guac, a coupon for more chips and guac, and a coupon for a free burrito (you better believe I used them the next day. It was a fun atmosphere to discuss heavier topics, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to have a good time, learn a little, and get free stuff. And, really, who doesn’t love free stuff?


    Did you go to a Cultivate festival in your city? Share your experience in the comments below!

    What’s in Your Waffles?

    Yesterday, my best friend walked into my house and sat down at the table with the rest of my family. After a while of catching up with everyone, I asked her what we were doing today, to which she replied, “We’re getting waffles!” Alright so we got waffles. She’s been talking about this place I’ve never heard of for the last month, and with that, we headed towards Minneapolis, Minnesota, right past the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota. As it turns out, the place I’d never heard of is called Black Coffee and Waffle Bar (go search for them on Instagram, you will not be disappointed) and their waffles are undoubtedly works of waffle art.


    All waffle batter and ingredients are made fresh, onsite, and with homemade recipes. I was told by the man working that the “Naughty Waffle” was the most popular, and I can understand why! I am a huge almond lover and the homeade almond butter added the perfect flavor to the rest of the fruits that topped the waffle. The other waffle we tried, the “Fat Andrew,” was equally delicious, and in my humble opinion, bananas and peanut butter will always be a perfect pair.


    The cafe had great vibes and if I lived closer I would be happy to sit there for hours working on this blog (and my ever-growing pile of homework)! Since we had already made the trek, we had deep conversations about life in between mouthfuls of the incredible waffles. After our waffles, we stayed for a few more hours, lost in conversation, sipping their equally lovely coffee.

    Where is your favorite place to eat in the Twin Cities?

    Red, White, and Smoothie

    Happy 4th of July, America!

    While this day is often full of grilled food and chips, I’m taking a different approach. There’s no reason to give up delicious taste to eat healthy! Here’s my recipe for a clean and patriotic smoothies that’s perfect for a day on the boat or an evening under the fireworks.


    Ingredients:

    • Pineapple Juice
    • 1 Banana
    • Frozen Strawberries
    • Frozen Blueberries
    • Chia Seeds

    In your blender, mix pineapple juice with the frozen blueberries to create your blue base. Put that at the bottom of your mason jar or other clear container. Rinse out your blender and put in the banana with a little pineapple juice (you shouldn’t need much pineapple juice with the banana). Pour this mixture on top of the blueberry smoothie, and give one last quick rinse to your blender. Blend the frozen strawberries with a little more pineapple juice and put it on top of your banana blend. Sprinkle chia seeds between layers or on top as desired. Remember that the more pineapple juice you add, the thinner your smoothie will be. You won’t need to add ice or yogurt to the smoothie because the frozen fruit makes it thick enough as is, but the recipe is easy enough to modify however you’d like!

    Now go take an artsy photo for your Instagram, and have a fun and safe 4th of July!