A day trip to Cap Blanc Nez France

 

This year I have vacation in November and December, because we are building a house and it is just just me, myself and I, we didn’t book a vacation. At least not yet. So instead of a big trip I have been planning all kinds of day trips. Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Gris Nez was one of those day trips. And let me tell you they didn’t disappoint as a day trip.

The past two years I have been taking photography classes and together with two other ladies from my photography class we headed to France. Cap Blanc Nez is only a two  hour drive from where I live, so we left early in the morning to head to the Caps.

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The first thing we did when we got to France was have a breakfast at a little B&B. The breakfast ofcourse included a fresh baguettes and lots of French cheeses. I aboslutely love goat´s cheese, so that is what I had on a fresh baguette.

After breakfast we  headed to the Cliffs at Cap Blanc Nez. We were Lucky, since we could see across the Canal. From Cap Blanc Nez we had a beautiful view of the white Cliffs of Dover in the United Kingdom. The view of these Cliffs sparked the idea to head out to England for a day to!

We parked the car at the top of Cap Blanc Nez, where we walked around the top. There are a lot of hiking trails in this area, which you can easily start from the parking lot at Cap Blanc Nez. The hiking trails will take you in all directions. One of the trails will lead you from the top to the beach, but you can also take the car and park the car at the beach.

If you want to do both Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Gris  Nez in one day you can also hike from Cap Blanc Nez to Cap Gris Nez, which is 16 kilometers to the south. It is a 32 kilometers round trip. You can hike there along the beach and back over the Cliffs.
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The view from the top of Cap Blanc Nez was incredible. The top lays at 134 meters above sea level. In the surrounding hills you will find craters, whic hare caused by bombs in the Second World War.

After the top we headed to the beach. The Caps have a tide and when the tide is high you can´t go onto the beach, because the water will come up to the Cliffs. So make sure to check the tide before you head out there. While you are on the beach during low tide also keep an eye out on the tide, because you don´t want to get closed in by the tide.

We spent most of the morning photographing at the beack. The Cliffs towering over you are really impressive and there are so many photography opportunities.

In the afternoon we headed out for lunch. When you head out for lunch in France make sure you get there before 2 in the afternoon, because restaurants will be closed beween 2 and dinner time. I enjoyed the catch of the day at lunch, since we were so close to the sea it is impossible to not eat fish. You will find a lot of sea food restaurants in the surrounding villages, where you can get all kinds of fish, even crab.

After lunch we headed to Cap Gris Nez for the sunset, but more on that in a next blog.

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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

In 2007 I was an exchange student in Ohio for a year. After that year I did go back quite a bit, but I had never been back to properly introduce my boyfriend. So in 2014 we decided it was time for me to go home and introduce him.

Ofcourse we couldn’t do this 5 week trip without taking a roadtrip in the States. So we decided to fly into Washington DC, where we stayed a couple of days before we would drive the entire Blue Ridge Parkway.

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The Blue Ridge Parkway is 754,8km long or 469 miles and crosses the Appalachian mountains. We planned 2 days to drive the parkway. It was sure worth the 35 mile/hour drive the entire way. Everywhere there are vantage points and hiking trails to explore, so we took it easy and made sure to enjoy the views and the environment as much as we could.

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At milepost 176 you will find Mabry Mill. This was one of our stops on the Parkway. We grabbed some coffee at the Restaurant and wandered around Mabry Mill. It is one of those sights you will always remember.

For me the most special moment of this trip was right before the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is a vantage point that looks out over the Smokey Mountains and it had just rained when we pulled into the parking lot. When we got out of the car the sun came out and made the mountains look even more magical than they already did.

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It is one of those things you should do once in your lifetime. For me it was a roadtrip to tick off my bucket list. The list which unfortunately never gets shorter, but longer as time passes.

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway at the beginning of september put it back on my bucket list to visit it during fall, because this road must look incredible during fall.

Have you ever visited the Blue Ridge Parkway?

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Bruges by night

On a Friday night in October I went to Bruges to photograph this beautiful city by night. I have been to Bruges during the day a hundred times, but I had never been to the city by night and I can tell you it was incredible.

During the day you will have to fight the crowds in this beautiful city. At night it is a completely different story, even though you won’t be alone roaming the streets at night. You will have these amazing places almost to yourself, there will only be a handful of people.

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We just wandered around all the narrow streets in the old city centre. If you love night time photography you will love this city, because there is something to photograph around every corner.

Ofcourse  a night in this beautiful city isn’t complete without enjoying a beer in this city and if you drink a beer here, you should definitely try a “Brugse Zot”.

So if you ever get a change to visit the city of Bruges make sure you stay at least one night, so you can enjoy the beauty of this city by night as well and one of the many amazing restaurants.

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The Veluwe

I can’t believe October has come to an end already and I haven’t posted all month. So it is time to catch up. The last weekend of september we spend the weekend at the Veluwe, a national park in the Netherlands. And to be a bit more specific in the beautiful area of the Speulderbos. Sorry for all the Dutch names of the places, but there is never a good way to translate.

We stayed in a hotel for the weekend, just something different for a change. And I took a photography workshop there, which I will tell you more about in my next blog.

We have been to the Veluwe last year for the first time. Last year we stayed in the beautiful village Otterlo, which is situated right next to one of the entrances of the National Park. So we could just walk to the Park from our hotel.

The Veluwe is the biggest National Park based in the Netherlands, and it has a big variety of landscapes. It is also one of the places you will find deer among other animals.

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One thing the national park is famous for is the white bikes, which you will find at all three entrances and scattered throughout the park. You can just pick one up and use it all day, or just to get you from one pick up point to the next and continue by foot.

Last year we did a tour of the park by bike, because we were only there for a day. We wanted to see as much of the Veluwe as possible, so we rode the bikes. Lucky for us we had the place practicly to ourselves since we were there on a monday and summer break was already over.

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We rode past areas of sand, forests, heather. Around every corner the landscape was even more beautiful then the one before. The Veluwe truly amased me with all its differsity.

On the Veluwe you will also find the Kroller-Muller musuem, when we were there it was closed so we didn’t go in, but we did admire the sculptures outside.

We did however visit the Museonder, which is situated in the central area of the parc where you will also find a place to eat. The Museonder will tell you about how the Veluwe came to be and will tell you more about the nature and wildlife you can find in the park. It is a free interactive museum and a great place to take your kids.

You can easily spend an entire day here or even multiple days if you want to hike in the Park. There is something from everyone, art, museum, bike paths, hiking routes, and ofcourse some amazing nature.

If you visit the Netherlands you can’t skip this place. In my next blog I will tell you more about our adventures in the Speulderbos!

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A day in Donostia/San Sebastian

San Sebastian, which is named Donostia in Basque, is absolutely one of my favorite cities. It has the most relaxing atmosphere, where it almost feels like you are not even in a city at all.

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So today I want to share with you three things I absolutely loved to do in Donostia:

1. Pinxtos

Eat Pinxtos in the old town.
In the old town, Parte Viejo, the streets are bustling with life. You will find Pinxtos bars at every corner, where you can get the best food you can imagine. I seriously could have stayed here all day and eat all day long.

In the old town you will also find some amazing architecture, like the Basilica of St Mary de Chorus. You will also find the Plaza de la constition in the old town. At the plaza the numbers of the balconies will take you back in time to where this plaza was used as a bull ring.

2. Mount Igeldo

After you have eaten your way through the old town, I would suggest you put on your walking shoes and walk along the beach of Concha bay to mount Igeldo. The Concha bay is incredible, I can tell you that. At mount Igeldo you can take the funicular railway up to the top, where you have amazing views of the city Donostia.

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There is also a restaurant and a little amusement park at the top.

We hiked around here during our visits and we just took in the amazing views of the city, which were just incredible.

After you come back down, I can’t imagine ever getting tired of those views though. You can visit the Peine del Viento, the sculpture at the end of Concha bay, which is a beautiful piece of art. We absolutely loved it.

3. Enjoy one of the beaches or go shopping
Last but not least I would suggest to relax at one of the beaches Donostia has to offer or go shopping, but keep in mind that the stores are closed until four in the afteroon!

We decided to do both and first we had some drinks at one of the terraces along the bay, enjoying the beach view.

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Tell me what was your favorite place in Donostia or San Sebastian?

I know one thing for sure and that is that we will be back, because I fell head over heels in love with this amazing city, if you ever get the chance to visit, you have to!

Camping on a budget in Europe

We absolutely love to go camping, but during summer prices for a camping pitch go up to around 40-50 euros per night. So here are some tips on how we get the most nights out of our budget.

1. Go camping during off season
One thing we do to stretch our budget as much as possible is travel during the off season. Prices are always way better and the tourist attractions are way less crowded too. This year we had a enormous parking lot at Rocamadour, France, all to ourselves in May. Especially if you travel down south the weather will be good too, in Italy and Spain temperatures most likely will be somewhere in the lower 20 degree Celsius.

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2. Use a camping card, like ACSI
We get an ACSI card every single year and we use it to go camping in the off season, sometimes you do have to pay full price though on holidays, but prices will mostly drop back down right after. With ACSI you will be pay 11/13/15/17/19 euros per night for two people, electricity, a dog, and hot showers, depending on the campsite you picked. They have campsites in all different categories, from big campsites to smaller campsites.

In Holland we also use ‘Het Groene Boekje’ which you will need if you want to go camping at smaller nature campsites.

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3. Bring a stove and cook your own dinner
This really is an easy one, just bring a stove, a pan and a kettle and you can cook your own meals and brew your own coffee. While you are at it, I would recommend going to the local markets and pick up some fresh and local produce.

Especially when we take Milow, we really don’t want to go through the hastle of going somewhere to eat. He likes other dogs a bit too much sometimes, unfortunately.

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4. Drink tapwater if possible
In a lot of European countries it is really safe to drink tapwater, so I would suggest bringing a couple of reusable water bottles and fill those up every day.

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5. Go hiking!
Hiking is always free, and you will see so much of the enviroment if you go hiking. It is our favorite activity to do when we go camping! We always find campsite where there are trails close by, and they get extra points if they have trails starting from the campsite.

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What are your favorite tips for camping on a budget?