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Third world Belgium

1 Oct
You thought Belgium was in Europe?

You thought Belgium was in Europe?

Big sigh,… I have my moments of fighting the system… Sometimes Belgium just looks as if it were a ‘third world’ (developing) country. When travelling through Asia, I saw many things more developed than in Brussels…

Some examples:
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A little month in Portugal

21 Jul
Yep, that's me, in Coimbra, PT, and black hair

Yep, that's me, in Coimbra, PT, and black hair

So I decided just to go on with my travel blog – since I’m still traveling ;-) As they say – the only thing that never changes is change… Portugal is a little less exotic than Asia, but there’s quite some differences (from Belgium) and similarities (with Asia ;-)

How old is not young?

20 Jul
A thirty something guy

A thirty something guy

What age does the midlife crisis kick in normally? Maybe it is happening to me as we speak… I already wrote some posts about getting old(er) and now again one. I can feel the time ticking: I feel it in my bones, I notice it in the strength of my glasses (they’re gonna be back soon ;-( and I definitely don’t belong in a dance party anymore.

  • Maybe part of becoming old(er) is also complaining about getting old(er) ?

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Holidays and holidays are Two

19 Jul
Civilisation - or complication in Oporto

Civilisation - or complication in Oporto

After roaming around the Portuguese countryside with the Belgian friends, we had deserved a bit of leisure and luxury in the city, and the closest city around was Oporto. So up North we went, stopping for some sparkling wine-tasting on the way there, and we arrived in a super-modern apartment located in the centre of the city – for almost the same price as the B&B where we stayed at the river. So that made me think about different approaches to holidays…

  • What are your minimum requirements for sleeping? A mattress on the floor or 4 stars in your room?
  • What do you (not) eat? Eat as the locals do or eating pizza and McDonalds?
  • How do you find your way around? Ask the people or take on the challenge of map-reading?
  • What to visit? Get a taste of the atmosphere or does something need to be happening? Visiting people or places?

Whatever it be, going on holidays with friends or partner is the best way to get to know them (and either get into big fights or have a lovely time).

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Make your own Champaign

16 Jul
Explosive RED sparkling wine

Explosive RED sparkling wine

My sister and her family live in the Dao wine region in the interior of Portugal. I’m normally not a red wine person, but still I got the hang of a good glass of Dao with a (fatty) Portuguese meal. So I thought it would be nice’n’cultural to go and visit some Dao vineyards and cellars

Hm, Portugal is not France, the only place to find wine in Portugal seems to be in the supermarket. But I didn’t want to give up on the idea and did the impossible (despite the fact that the municipal internet service had categorized all websites about wine as ‘Drugs’, and thus blocked access to them): we found a family winery that was willing to welcome us. It wasn’t Dao, but lovely sparkling RED wine (never had that before) and they even explained us how to make it: (see also Wikipedia)

Here it goes:
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Back to the stone age in Piodao

16 Jul
Schist and slate everywhere

Schist and slate everywhere

Piódão is a quaint little village stuck to a mountain slope. The houses are all made of black schist stones (slate) which gives the village a dark but picturesque and coherent look except the white church in the middle of it (always the same that can get away with exceptions in urban planning…). I thought the village was simply wow and should be put on the Unesco World Heritage list, whereas my friends and my mum said: “but there’s nothing there”… Tastes differ.

  • Lots of pictures below

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Portugal hopping with Friends

14 Jul
The 3 musketeers attacking the portuguese mountains

The 3 musketeers attacking the portuguese mountains

One would think that you’d learn from experience but it doesn’t seem to work for me. After having raced around 3-4 cities in Thailand in only 5-6 days I solemnly promised myself never to rush anymore on holidays. The proof was 3 weeks in the tent of the garage of my niece’s house on the green edge of a little village in the middle of the Portuguese countryside, where there was little else to do than to ‘be’ (read here) and to venture out on the dangerous paths of babysitting.

But then it all went wrong when 2 friends arrived from Brussels, visiting me and Portugal – virtually the whole of it – in less than a week! The Portuguese setting was relaxed and laid-back, but the speed was super-sonic: discovering down-to-earth Tabua, architectural Viseu, quaint Santa-Comba Dao, slate village Piodao, university town of Coimbra, tasting wine in Anadia (make your own Champaign) and back to civilization in Oporto (separate post here).

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