Canada Comes to Brussels

By - September 15, 2009 (Updated: November 25, 2014)

Amy and Michelle in Brussels

Amy and Michelle in Brussels

I’ve just spent the past week doing a bit of travelling with two of my favourite girls from Canada. Last week, Amy and Michelle arrived in Brussels for three weeks of touring the continent.

Amsterdam, Kinderdijk and Apenheul

We began our travels with a trip to the Netherlands. We had a beautiful blue sky overhead as we visited the windmills of Kinderdijk. This is the first time I have seen the UNESCO site when it wasn’t bitingly cold and windy. The sun and gentle breeze made the trip much more enjoyable than my previous February visits.

A traditional windmill at the Kinderdijk UNESCO site in the Netherlands.

A traditional windmill at the Kinderdijk UNESCO site in the Netherlands.

After the windmills it was time to visit the monkeys. Ok, so monkeys aren’t very Dutch but Apenheul Monkey Park in Apeldoorn is one of our favourite spots. Despite a brief downpour, the majority of the monkeys were outside enjoying the weather.

Our evening destination was Amsterdam and of course, supper at Los Pilones. There was plenty of Mexican goodness and perhaps a mojito or two to end the night.

The next morning we said goodbye to Andrew, who was headed back to Brussels, and found some Dutch pancakes for breakfast. Over the next two days, we wandered the canals, visited the Van Gogh museum, took a boat ride and ate some noodles, bagels and Dutch cheese, (not all at once). We hopped on the train for Brussels on Monday evening and got ready for the next adventure.

Tuesday, with laundry in the wash, we did a bit of sightseeing in Brussels. The requisite waffles and frites were eaten (again, not all at once) and the major sights were seen – Manneken Pis, Atomium and Grand Place, check!

The castle over-looking Doolin on the west coast of Ireland.

The castle over-looking Doolin on the west coast of Ireland.

Doolin and Dublin

Wednesday we were up before the sun for our flight to Dublin. The girls had rented a car and booked a B & B on the west coast of Ireland in a town called Doolin. The first few moments in the car were a bit hair-raising, especially for one poor man who thought we were going to run him down, but Michelle quickly mastered driving on the other side of the road and we made it to Doolin without any mishaps. When we arrived we hit the pub for some Irish food and music.

The next morning we explored the pier at Doolin and then headed for the cliffs of Moher, with a few castle photo stops along the way. The cliffs were striking and we had an amazingly clear view of the Aran Islands. After a hot hike up one side of the cliffs and then the other, we jumped back in the car to return to Dublin, where our hotel was located conveniently next door to another pub.

Friday we explored Dublin by bus and had a tour of the Guinness brewery. We wandered through Temple Bar and took in some more music and pub food. We were up before the sun again on Saturday for our flight home.

Now the girls are off on the next leg of their European Adventure and I can’t wait to hear the stories of the rest of their travels.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
- 1 day ago


  1. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler September 15, 2009 at 15:40

    Wow – the photos are amazing. This sounds exactly what I imagine my next trip to be like…. plan plan plan… And this time of year too.

    Again amazing photos and hints to make me smile.
    .-= expatraveler´s last blog ..Electric =-.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison September 15, 2009 at 17:31

      Thanks! Planning is key but don’t be afraid to go with the flow a bit too 🙂 Let me know if you need any tips for Belgium or any of the other places we’ve been and I’ll do my best to help 🙂

  2. Pingback: 2009 Holiday Recap | CheeseWeb

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