9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!

Mussels for Everyone!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium?

Last week I told you that The Tall Young Gentleman and I went to Bruges.

And.

Horror of horrors.

We flew with Ryanair.

But it was pretty alright!

Bruges, otherwise known as Brugge (Dutch) or Bruges (French), is the capital and largest city of  West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium!

The Golden Statue of Saint Michel – at the Cathedral of St. Michael & St. Gudula in Brussels – Belgium

Belgium, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe, unlike Croatia which is in the Balkans, Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!

It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg.

It’s a very small country and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!

Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking (59%), French-speaking (40%), and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking (1%) too!

The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish and live in a region called the Flanders, the French-speakers are Walloon, and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders of Belgium close to Germany!

Belgium is, like Switzerland, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French, and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Northern France, West Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.

So let’s have a look at Belgian food shall we?

9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Now because of this marvellous mix of cultures and languages, Belgian food is an eclectic mix of Flemish, French & German cuisine. However, outside of the country itself, Belgium is famously known for its mussels, chocolate, waffles, chips or fries.

And beer!

“Belgian food,” otherwise known as dishes of Belgian origin, or thought of as “typically Belgian,” uses items such as potatoes, leeks, white asparagus, Belgian endives, otherwise known as witloof or witlof (Dutch) or chicory!

And of course, staples such as meat, cheese, butter, and beer!

1.  MUSSELS:

In my opinion, the biggest traditional dish that you can ever have in Belgium is Moules-frites, moules et frites or mosselen-friet (Dutch), but known to you and me, as mussels and chips (fries)!

You can practically see the ingredients jumping out of the pot of mussels!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Fresh mussels caught from the sea.

OMG!

Not only are mussels a most popular traditional dish, but they’re also considered to be the national dish of Belgium!

Mussels or moules are usually cooked or steamed as:

  • Moules natures: Mussels, celery, leeks and butter, steamed in a pot
  • Moules marinière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of white wine
  • Moules à la crème: Mussels in a pot of white wine stock, thickened with flour and cream
  • Moules parquées: Raw mussels on half a shell, served with a lemon-mustard sauce (very common in Brussels)
  • Moules à la bière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of beer!
  • Moules à l’ail: Mussels in a pot of sliced or minced garlic
  • Mosselsaus: Mussels in a pot of mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar!
  • Mussels in a pot of espelette pepper, Pernod liquor, or tomato sauce
Mussels served with a huge bowl of frites, chips or fries!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

and served with a huge bowl of frites, also known as chips or fries!

As well as Belgium, mussels can be found in Northern France and in Jersey (one of the Channels Islands) linking the UK to France.

In fact, the last time I went to Brittany, I took the ferry on a day trip to Jersey where the locals speak both French and English, and you can use either pounds or Euros.

It’s a very nice island!

But I digress.

Did you know that mussels and chips were invented in Belgium?

We went to this nice restaurant on the riverside next to the fish market called Old Bruges.

I was actually looking for the number eight (8) best seafood restaurant in Bruges called De Gouden Karpel, Vismarkt, but because it was low season, it was closed!

On looking around, I found this one!

Mussels for Everyone!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Old Bruges looked pretty alright to me, and most importantly, it was the only restaurant at the fishmarket that was actually opened!

I don’t tend to use TripAdvisor for food recommendations as taste vary, but if you do, keep an open mind as the reviews are terrible. Having said that, we went there and the food and service was pretty alright!

We had the Moules natures and the Moules marinière served with a huge bowl of frites, also known as chips or fries!

We were so stuffed that we couldn’t order dessert or another glass of something else!

Yum!

Cost: €24.00

2.  BOTERHAMMEN / TARTINES:

Boterhammen or Tartine is not really a meal per se, but more of a butterbröt snack!

This Boterhammen or Tartine is not really a meal per se, but more of a snack. It’s a type of butterbröt and a meal that you would find in many European countries.

Traditionally, it’s a slice of rustic bread served on a wooden board, with a dollop of some sort of ingredient spread all over it such as butter, jam, peanut butter, cream cheese, smoked salmon, anchovies, cold cuts with radishes, pickles, tomatoes, and mustard or mayonnaise, as well as slices of boiled egg topped with caviar, and of course, pâté!

Some people think that a boterhammen is equivalent to a sandwich, but it isn’t!

A sandwich has two pieces of bread and something in the middle put together. A boterhammen is a single slice of open bread often served with a glass of Gueuze – a fermented Belgian champagne beer – usually found in Brussels!

We had decided not to include breakfast at our beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal, ‘cos the breakfast buffet cost a whopping €22.00, and this wasn’t that type of holiday!

Boterhammen or tartine with pâté served with pickles & a dollop of mayonnaise!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

As such, we were pretty famished by lunch-time and saw Der Vier Winden just off the Market Square!

From the outside, the restaurant looked really touristy, and it was. So we ordered the lunch menu!

Our starter was the boterhammen or tartine with pâté.

Our pâté was served with pickles, and a side salad with a dollop of mayonnaise!

Yum!

3.  EEL IN THE GREEN:

Paling in ‘t groen / Anguilles au vert, otherwise known as Eel in the Green!
© Takeaway Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0
Raw eels at the fishmongers. Just add your herbs & you’ve got Paling in ‘t groen / Anguilles au vert!

Paling in ‘t groen or Anguilles au vert is a traditional Flemish seafood dish, otherwise known as Eel in the Green!

It’s what it says on the tin – freshwater eel made in a green herb sauce of chervil, parsley, sage, ginger mint, oregano, thyme, watercress, tarragon, chives, basil, and stinging nettles.

The eels are made into a type of stew and served with bread or a bowl of frites, and a cold glass of beer!

You can usually find this dish at fishmongers, in market stalls, or even ready-made!

 

4. FRITES:

You can’t get better chips than fries from the Frites Museum in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

There’s no point beating about the bush here, everyone loves chips, otherwise known as fries!

Of course, in Belgium it’s called frites!

I’m not a fan of frites covered with sauces especially mayo and tartare, unless I can dip it in myself...

However, at the Friet Museum / Fries Museum, we learnt all about the history of the Belgian chip. As well as sampling it too!

Frites or friets plays an important role in Belgian culture and cuisine.

The secret of the Belgian chip is :

Who doesn’t like fish n’ chips in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018
  • The type of potato used – Preferably a bintje potato
  • The fat or oil used – Unrefined beef tallow or blanc de boeuf
  • Freshly cooked potatoes, rather than raw
  • High temperatures – 190 °C  or 374 °F
  • And the importance of double-frying!

None of your low-fat-low-starch content here!

Cost: €1.40

Sauces: €0.60

5.  WATERZOOI:

Waterzooi, otherwise known as Gentse Waterzooi!

Waterzooi, otherwise known as Gentse Waterzooi, is a dish of stew that was invented in the Belgian town of Ghent!

Waterzooi is traditionally a stew made from freshwater fish, otherwise known as Viszooitje.

However, due to the scarcity of burbot and over-fishing, waterzooi or Kippenwaterzooi, is commonly made from a combination of boiled chicken, vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots, onions, swede, leeks, cream and eggs, instead!

6.  WAFFLES:

Traditional Bergische waffles or Belgian waffles!
9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!

A waffle is a dish made from leavened batter or dough that is cooked between two plates, and patterned to give a characteristic size, shape, and surface impression.

Waffles are eaten all over the world, but one of the most important types of waffle is known as the Belgian waffle or Brussels waffles, which was actually invented in Ghent (1839)!

It became world-famous when the restaurateur Maurice Vermersch, sold his Brussels waffles in America under the name “Bel-Gem Waffles” in 1964, and thus, the American Belgian waffle was born!

Waffle is derived from the Dutch word wafel, or wafele, but was first heard as the French word walfre, as far back as 1185, meaning honeycomb or cake!

There are a variety of waffles such as:

Liège Waffles – The most popular waffle in Belgium!
9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!
  • Traditional Bergische waffles
  • Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande
  • Liège waffles
  • Brussels waffles
  • Stroopwafel
  • Galettes campinoises
  • Belgian waffles
  • American waffles

In Belgium, waffles are street food and can be eaten plain, with powdered sugar, whipped cream, strawberries, cherries, soft berries, syrup, or chocolate (American style)!

7.  RABBIT STEW:

If you’re a vegetarian, turn away now ‘cos in our in our household, a fluffy rabbit is called pork!

Being that it’s a Belgian dish, the traditional name of rabbit stew is Konijn in geuze or Lapin à la gueuze, which basically means rabbit stewed in Gueuze, a fermented Belgian champagne beer, usually found in Brussels!

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m very reluctant to eat fluffy animals, so in our household, we call rabbit – “pork!”

8.  CHOCOLATE:

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Don’t get me started.

You all know how I detest chocolate...

However, for the integrity of this article, chocolate had to be added.

Belgian chocolate, otherwise known as chocolat belge or Belgische chocolade is chocolate produced in the country of Belgium!

Belgian chocolate goes as far back as 1635! In fact, by the mid-18th century, chocolate had become so popular among the aristocracy, that hot chocolate became de rigueur as to who could actually drink it!

Chocolate plays an important part in the Belgian economy, and there are over 2,000 chocolatiers in the country, with 172,000 tonnes produced each year, exported all over the world and shaped like sea shells, fish, diamonds and artistic creations that can be bought at town centres, market stands, and pretty much every village shop in Belgium!

When in Belgium, you ought to get yourself some chocolate truffles!

If you’re a fan, you know what to do, so don’t let me stop you from visiting the Choco-Story / Chocolate Museum, and of course, you ought to get yourself some chocolate truffles.

I bought a packet of organic milk chocolate Belgian thins. With almonds and toasted coconut chips (Yuk!) for my husband. Cost: €5.90

That’s all I have to say!

9.  BELGIAN BEER:

Belgian beer isn’t taken seriously, but it’s alright!

OK. Belgian beer!

I live in Germany, so Belgian beer isn’t taken seriously!

Belgian beer spans from a variety of pale lagers to lambic beers and Flanders or Flemish red-brown ales! There are about 180  breweries in Belgium, and microbeers are a pretty big scene!

As in most parts of Northern, Eastern and Central Europe, beer culture isn’t just downing the cheap stuff as quickly as possible, and getting pissed, it’s a way of life!

Belgians drink up to 84 litres of beer a year, and are bought or served in bottles, and uniquely shaped beer glasses!

Belgian beer in Bruges – Brugse Zot!

While we were at the Old Bruges restaurant, I ordered a Belgian beer called Brugse Zot! Belgium isn’t Croatia or Slovenia, so things cost a little more. In this case, €6.00!

On the other hand, when we went to Der Vier Winden, my Stella beer cost a mere €3.50!

Son had an iced-tea. Cost: €3.75

He also had a Canada Dry. Cost €:4.00!

WHERE DID WE STAY?

Our 4 star hotel – Martin’s Relais – Oud Huis Amsterdam in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

We stayed at the beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal.

In fact, it’s historical name is Oud Huis Amsterdam – and between you and me, the view is very much like being in Holland!

Without the seedy bits!

I booked the Comfort Twin Room for character, as it featured high ceilings, a garden, a walk-in closet, river views, lots of space and free WiFi!

I thought it was a brilliant choice.

Cost: €97.62 per night. For two people, easily €48.81 a pop!

You can book Martin’s Relais here or in the banner link below!

Laters!

9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!

Bacon Pie in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the delightful mussels and frites we devoured, are my very own!

I’ve got fantastic news. Find out more, next week!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!

Last week, I travelled to my 65th country and a new destination.

Can you guess where it was?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re craaaazy!

Spring’s finally here!

That’s it for now.

We had a great time in Belgium.

See you next week!

Victoria in Bruges by the waterside – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Have you ever had Belgian food? Do you like mussels and chips, or would you prefer waffles? Can you guess which new country I went to? Let me know in your comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

Have a hot chocolate on me!
Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

It’s April!

Omigosh!

Now just because it’s April, doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to snow!

In Europe, we’re getting all kinds of weather.

One minute it’s a sunny Spring morning.

The next, it’s freezing!

In fact, as I write this piece, it’s snowing.

Again!

Winter in Berlin. Again!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – March 2018

Where have you been?

Ah well!

If you’re just joining, here’s really what you missed:

JANUARY:

Don’t even think of asking me!

FEBRUARY:

Hamburg: An Introduction to a Port City!

MARCH:

Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

Wow!

How to get German citizenship if you’re British – How to be a German via Double Nationality!

What an exciting first quarter of the year I’ve had!

As you know, The British Berliner is not only a British – German in name, but on paper too.

Yep! Victoria now has Dual Nationality.

Yay!

I’ve written a fantastic post (even if I say so myself) on what you need to do if you’re British, and looking to obtain EU nationality too.

I’m still British of course, but I’m German too.

And isn’t that something!

The Tall Young Gentleman and the Boy Scouts of America – Troop 46 – Berlin. Having German, British, American & French dual citizenships / double nationalities, works just fine!

One of the merits of living in Germany, is the ease in which one can travel through the Continent.

My favourite mode of travel is by train, and sometimes even by coach-bus.

And one of those ways is by flying!

Myself looking glum at the airport. Leaving Vienna!
Photograph ©Frank Böster

Every January, The Tall Young Gentleman and I, spend some quality time together either visiting some dubious destination, or skiing!

This time around, I decided to take him to Bruges.

In Belgium.

But did I tell you that I flew there.

Via a budget airline.

And not just any airline mind you.

But Ryanair!

Gulp!

BELGIUM!

At the Atomium in Brussels – Belgium

Right!

Where to start?

Belgium, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe, unlike Croatia which is in the Balkans, Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!

It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg.

It’s a very small country and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!

Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking (59%), French-speaking (40%), and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking (1%) too!

The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish and live in a region called the Flanders, the French-speakers are Walloon, and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders of Belgium close to Germany!

Belgium is, like Switzerland, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French, and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Northern France, West Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.

The European Union – otherwise known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving now, twenty-seven (27) European countries!

Belgium is a most important nation as it’s one of the six (6) founding countries of the European Union (EU), hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country’s capital, Brussels.

Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area.

Belgium has had trouble with terrorism in the last few years, as have many other European countries, but it’s a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy, very high standards of living, friendly locals, interesting food, and is relatively safe and peaceful!

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY…

The Gravensteen medieval castle in Ghent – Belgium

Belgium was a Roman province known as Gallia Belgica and was a prosperous centre of business, commerce, trade and culture from the Middle Ages, right up to the 17th century. During this period, Belgium became prosperous, and participated in the colonization of the African continent.

During the Belgian Revolution in 1830, Belgium spilt away from Holland, and became independent in its own right. However, Belgium also became the “Battlefield of Europe, ” was occupied by Germany in WWI and WWII, as well as 20th century tensions between the Dutch and French-speaking parts of Belgium, leading to a sort of federal state, controversial language laws, and a distinct type of separatism around the Flemish region.

Having said that, Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had great influence on European art and culture, with architecture and paintings being especially astounding, and historically relevant.

One of those places is Bruges.

BRUGES

Sunday morning in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Bruges, otherwise known as Brugge (Dutch) or Bruges (French), is the capital and largest city of  West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium!

Bruges has a mass of roughly 13,840 hectares and 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge, otherwise known as Brugge aan zee or “Bruges by the Sea.”

It has a population of 117,073, of which about 20,000 people live in the city centre.

The beautiful historic city centre is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and is roughly 430 hectares in size.

Bruges was first mentioned as Bruggas, Brvggas, and Brvccia (in 840–875), then as Bruciam, Bruociam (in 892), Brutgis uico (at the end of the 9th century), Bruggensi (1010), Bruggis (1012), Bricge (1037, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle), Brugensis (1046), Brycge (1049–1052), Brugias (1072), Bruges (1080–1085), Bruggas (1084), Brugis (1089), and Brugge (1116)!

Bruges is derived from the Old Dutch word for bridge – brugga. But some experts say it could also be from Middle Dutch – brucge, brugge, brugghe, brigghe, bregghe, brogghe, Southern Dutch –  brugghe. Perhaps even from the Anglo-Saxon word –  brugjō – which later became known as the word bridge!

One of the many bridges that you can find in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner

WHY BRUGES?

Bruges is a city that has a river running through it!
Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

Because I love to spend all my time rambling!

You know how much I love strolling along cobbled stones of yore, and poking my nose into every nook and cranny.

Belgium does that for you.

Bruges is also a city that has a river running through it ‘cos my love for waterside destinations, and rivers, brooks and lakes, is well known!

Our 4-star hotel – Martin_s Relais – Oud Huis Amsterdam in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, Bruges is sometimes referred to as The Venice of the North.

Our beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais was right next to the canal. In fact, it’s historical name is Oud Huis Amsterdam – and between you and me, the view is very much like being in Holland!

Without the seedy bits!

Outside the Groeningemusem Brugge in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

I take visiting museums quite seriously, and was delighted to be able to work in partnership with Musea Brugge, who very kindly gave us complimentary museum passes.

Thank you so much!

So without further ado, here are the museums and galleries that I recommend:

  • The Groeningemuseum: We both absolutely loved this museum of 16th century Flemish paintings. In fact, it was one of our favourites!
  • The Arenthuis: We only had time to sprint through the collections of prints and drawings, but if you have a ticket for the Groeningemuseum, you can visit the Arenthuis for free!
  • The Friet Museum / Fries Museum: We very much enjoyed discovering and learning all about the history of the Belgian chip. As well as sampling it too!
  • The Belfort: The Belfry Tower is over 83 metres tall and will give you fantastic views over the city
  • The Hisotrium Brugge: An interactive virtual reality tour of medieval Bruges. We didn’t have enough time to do this. It’s a bit pricey, but kids will love it!
  • The Choco-Story / Chocolate Museum : I don’t like chocolate, but I was almost tempted to go on a Choco-Story tour of Bruges. Almost, but not quite! However, if you’re a fan of chocolate, don’t let me stop you!
  • The Stadhuis / City Hall: The Bruges’ City Hall is one of the oldest in the country and has been around for more than 600 years!
  • The Volkskundemuseum / Museum of Folk Life: This museum has a collection of eight (8) 17th century buildings depicting the way Flemish people used to live, as well as a collection of puppets. I really wanted to visit this museum as I love museums of ethnology, but I forgot!
  • The Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Ter-Potterie (O.L.V.-Ter-Potterie) / Our Lady of the Pottery: This museum is a baroque church as well as a historical hospital dating back from the 13th – 17th century! If you’re into exquisite silver collections, tapestries and stained-glass windows, then this is the place for you!

OTHER MUSEUMS & GALLERIES:

Sint-Janshospitaal / Saint John’s Hospital in Bruges – Belgium

Having said that, most of the Bruges museum collection is interesting, historical, and at the same time, perfectly contemporary!

Bruges is a city of history and culture, and since I like Old Art and architectural treasures very much my type of city.

I know!

Laters!

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO BRUGES. IN BELGIUM!

Victoria in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

This article isn’t sponsored, and even though we received complimentary museum passes from Musea Brugge, absolutely all opinions, and the great time that we had, are my very own!

I went to Belgium. Find out more, next week!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!

In a few weeks, I’ll be on the road again to my 65th country and a new destination.

Can you guess which one it’ll be?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re going to miss all the fun!

April is going to be blooming!

See you next week!

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

Have you ever been to Belgium? Would you go to Bruges? Let me know in your comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

It’s 2018 and it’s January.

At the beginning of every new year, it’s the norm to think about what you did last year, and what you’re going to do this year.

Last year, I travelled to 8 counties.

8 wonderful countries!

However did I do that?

Have you ever been to Split in Croatia – Bring out the dragons!

I’m not a multi-millionaire. Neither is my husband!

I didn’t win the lottery.

I didn’t quit my job.

I didn’t change my lifestyle.

I didn’t throw my one and only child into boarding school.

I didn’t re-locate to a warmer (cheaper) climate.

I didn’t sell my stuff!

The Tall Young Gentleman & The Music Producer, looking very sorry for themselves at Valhalla – Blackpool

So how did I do it?

Well, if you look at my about me page, you will see that I am married, I have a son, and I have a corporate job in Berlin, as well as this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!

What I mean to say is that I live a normal life. Just like you.

I’m married, in a relationship with someone, or have been single. Just like you.

I have family responsibilities. Just like you.

I have a full-time job. Just like you.

And by god.

I have a daily budget.

Absolutely.

Just like you.

Book your hotel here!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” taking to the sails in Mardorf.

And yet.

And yet…..

There was something that I did differently that might have been slightly the opposite of you.

I wanted to travel to more destinations last year, and I did.

I wanted to get on that plane and go to Vienna. I wanted to take that train to Amsterdam.

OMG! I was so broke at the beginning of last year but I was desperate to go to Sweden, so I took a long-distance-inter-country-coach-bus, to Stockholm.

From Berlin!

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Travel through Europe via FlixBus!

Ha! Ha! Ha!

It was crazy, and I vowed never to do it again.

But only two weeks later, I did exactly the the same thing!

I’m totally mad!

But I did it anyway LOL!

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to do anything drastic if you want to afford a life of travel.

You don’t have to choose between having it all and having nothing at all, and you definitely don’t have to quit your lifestyle!

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Myself with ski leaders in Rokytnice nad Jizerou – Czech Republic

I’m living proof of that.

Oh yes, I’ve done my GAP year, and my backpacking era.

I’ve slept in a casino, I’ve been in a hostel where not 1 but 2 complete strangers, were sleeping on my €2 /$3 per night bed!

I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared. Completely!

I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the names (thankfully I remembered where I first saw it. In the New York Times)!

Heck. I even missed my flight to Qatar, and had to go to Korea instead!

I’ve adjusted my travelling style over time according to my circumstances, who I was travelling with, and my mood!

And let me tell you. I’m not 20 anymore so those fleapit hostels, motels, cheap-I-don’t-wanna-know-who-slept-here-previously are definitely now gone!

Yes, I’m going to keep an eye on my hard-working money, but No, I’m no longer going to be sharing a room with 20 people, 10 people or even 5 other people!

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Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.
Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.

Nope!

Those days were fun, but they’re over.

Absolutely.

I think!!

In short, I’m enormously happy to go to hostels and we went to quite a few in the last couple of years, but we paid that little bit extra for a private room (since my child is a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We’ve also been to fancy hotel resorts and even rented a whole house for two weeks in Bali.

So, how can you have it all?

If you’re under 25 years old, you don’t need it all, and that’s the darn truth!

Book your budget hotel here!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.

Get yourself a backpack, work for a couple of months in a local shop, pub, or business.

Take a gap year before university or after university, in the summer, in the winter, or whatever, and whenever, have about €1,000 / $1,000 or £1,000 at the initial stage, and you’re good to go.

I’m not talking about an around-the-world trip here or flight costs, just the old let’s-see-how-far-this-money-will-take me scenario. Grab an old car, grab a few friends, and off you go.

If you’re in Europe, stay on the continent and do a road trip. Ditto the Americas. If you’re in Asia, you’re gonna have a thrilling great time.

When it’s over, it’s over!

You come back, buckle down, save up, and then do it again.

Properly!

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Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

Now for those of you over 25 years old with jobs, families, responsibilities, and crossroads in front of you, do what I do.

I live life to the full, I work hard at my office and on my blog, and I get creative.

Yes, creative.

There is plenty to do in Lucerne so “The Tall Young Gentleman” & I made our own independent walking tour instead!
  • Our son is 15 years old which means I can’t travel in the low season. Just like you.

What do I do?

I book ahead. Far ahead!

In 2012, we went on a 3 week trip to Tuscany. In August!

I know. I know. I forgot it was going to be boiling.

Don’t judge me!

Anyway, I took out a map, pinned the places that we wanted to go to, and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles.

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel in Italy!

Yes, castles!

And the most we paid for our Royal Victoria300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-riverside was €52.00 per day! For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us LOL!

We started planning in 2011.

In 2014, we went to four (4) destinations outside Europe where we live. We went to Thailand, Qatar, Indonesia, and Korea. We started planning it in 2012.

In 2015, we went to the Baltic regions of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. Actually, we took a ferry to Helsinki, but still! Anyway, we took a bus-coach. The journey took us 26 hours, and we were knackered and exhausted, but we didn’t die!

We started planning it in 2014.

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Paella in Spain is just all you need!

In 2016, I went back to Asia, but our family trips were firmly based in Europe. Brexit or not! We went to Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and other parts of Germany.

We started planning it in 2015.

In 2017, all our of family trips were in Europe, regardless of the countless terror acts throughout the continent. We went to expensive Sweden, Austria and England, dependable Holland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, as well as new and exotic parts of Eastern Europe – Croatia and Slovenia.

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A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

Again, planning started in 2016, and all were in consideration of the school holidays!

So book your hotel sooner, rather than later.

Right here!

You have to take action to get it!!

If you live in Europe, you get a minimum of 24 holidays per year, and between 11-15 public holidays on top of that. That makes 35 days. Many get more!

If you start your holidays on Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’ve got the weekends too. When I went to India, I went for 4 weeks but on paper, I actually went for 17 working days or 2.5 weeks.

And how did I do this?

Over Easter and May Day weekend!

And depending on the year, if the public holiday is in the middle of the week (like Xmas 2018), you can just take the Thursday and Friday off, and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 11 days off, (including weekends),  but using just 2 days booked off your holiday space!

Boom!!

Taking a taxi in Lisbon.

If you live in Europe, everywhere is so close. Poland is 1.5 hours away from Berlin. Denmark about 4-5 hours. By car.

England is 1.5 hours away by plane. France. Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece are about 2 hours. Turkey, Morocco, Egypt about 3-4 hours.

By train, the sky is the European limit. As for coaches or buses, Linda from Expat Eye on Germany travelled all the way from Latvia (not far from Russia) for all of €50!

We did it for even less!

In short, distance isn’t an issue.

You can fly, take the car, train, bus, sail, or even cycle! Europe is great for the bicycle.

If cash is short, camping is available all over Europe, as well as bunkhouses, hostels, and couchsurfing, for absolutely free!

Or book your hostel or apartment here!

Under the waterfall in Yosemite, USA.
Under the waterfall in Yosemite, USA.
  • We’re comfortable.  And we’re middle-class. Just like you.

What do we do?

We save, budget, and plan how much we can reasonably spend.

It took us 2 years and so our budget in Asia was €100 per day.

I went to Korea, but I should have been in Qatar!

We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150 flying around in Asia itself each, rather than taking the rickety all night train, and we spent between €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Thailand, and €70 per night for a complete house in Bali!

We were there for a month.

Book ahead.

Far ahead!

Catching a fish on the Polish Baltic Sea.

And as for Poland, I paid €26 per night for the lovely floor-heated-free-WIFI-on-the Baltic-Sea double room!

If the budget is “reasonable” then book B&B’s, pensions, and small or “budget” hotels.

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Between you and me, Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle, are very much a Berlin fit! –
©Alexi Lubomirski

If you’ve got the cash. Go for it.

There are plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!

Cool Britannia!
Cool Britannia!
  • We keep our eyes open and go on various mailing lists. Just like you.

Register with airlines and transport corporations that you like, and as many as you like.

Register with hotel and hostel brands that you like. They always have special deals and discount offers for their members. I once flew to Krakow with Easyjet for free! And why?

Because I was on their mailing list and it was a new destination.

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Or simply, sing for your supper. Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!
  • Be creative with flexibility!

We have school and jobs. Just like you.

Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible.

If you’re looking for an adventure. Use skycanner and go for “anywhere” within your budget.

Go to Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe.

Go to South America instead of North America.

Go to Wales instead of England.

Or not.

Don’t choose. Go where you want to go.

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Don’t choose. Go where you want to go – Live a life of style and travel!

If you live in North America, I know that it’s more complicated.

However, if you’ve worked hard, don’t feel guilty. TAKE your holidays and USE them for your own pleasure.

Don’t paint the porch. The porch can wait.

Go to that place that you’ve always wanted to go to.

Do the road trip.

Or fly to Argentina.

Whatever.

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If you’re American, and you only feel comfortable visiting other American cities, that’s alright too!

If you feel more comfortable staying in North America, then stay in North America. North America is an amazing destination and so beautiful.

I’m not here to guilt trip you. It’s your holiday.

If you feel more comfortable, going on a package tour. Go for it.

If you feel more comfortable travelling with the whole family. It’s your call.

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Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
  • Don’t forget to ask. We love a bargain. Just like you.

Ask for discounts.

Ask for a bigger room.

Ask for an included breakfast.

Ask for WIFI.

Ask for an extra bed.

Ask for free parking.

Ask about children prices, student prices, senior citizen / retiree prices, corporate prices, even regional or local prices.

If you’re from “there” let them know. You never know. If you don’t ask, they can’t help you, or reduce the prices.

Ask, and ask again.

It doesn’t matter if it’s “only” 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 days. Just know that you can afford to travel.

You can have it all.

Book your hotel here!

Don’t even think of asking me!

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…..Where am I going in 2018?

Drum roll pleeeeease!

Travel plans this year are:

Romania

Romania

Belgium

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Czech Republic

Norway

Norway

Poland

India

India

And of course, Germany! Ho! Ho! Ho!

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BMW Munich – Summer in Germany – Simply the Best!

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure.

I live in Germany, which many consider to be an expensive Western nation. I can afford a life of travel and a comfortable Berlin lifestyle.

I choose to have it all.

HOW I CAN AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL. DON’T CHOOSE: LIVE A LIFE OF STYLE AND TRAVEL!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

This article is not sponsored, and the exciting countries that I plan to visit in 2018, all my very own!

In January, I’ll be making an announcement that will probably surprise you. Find out throughout January!

I went on a press trip to Hamburg. Watch out for the details!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK later in the month!

In a few weeks, I’ll be visiting Belgium!

I’ll be at the British Shorts Film Festival taking place between 11th – 17th January. If you’re an aspiring film-maker submission is free of charge, so hurry!

I’ll be at the most famous burlesque-fantastic Berlin operetta – Frau Luna – Operette in zwei Akten, taking place at TIPI AM KANZLERAMT, between 11th January – 11th March. Everyone’s most excited!

I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week taking place between 16th – 18th January.

I’ll be at the 33rd British Council Literature Seminar – #BritLitBerlin taking place between 25th – 27th January, 2018. If you want to attend or join in, registration is now open!

Save the Date!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in January, then where the hell are you?

January is going to be splendid!

See you next week!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

What do you choose to do with your holiday/vacation time? Where are you going in 2018? Have you been to any of the countries above? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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