Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Apple picking at Steinsel

One good thing about Luxembourg (among others) is the proximity of nature. You do not have to drive far to already be in a forest, near a lake or river. Another place to go in the autumn is the gardens in Steinsel. (google: Les vergers de Steinsel). For three weekends a year (usually in October) the gardens are open and you can go and pick apples, plus or pears. You pay by the kg you pick. If you forget your bags you can buy a carton box there for your apples. 

They usually have also jams, honey, apple juice, cakes, chips, pumpkins, liquors, etc for sale on site. Take cash! 

Enjoy! A lovely day out enjoyed by both old and young! 

 Over 25,000 trees

Carts are available to lug your apples and little ones around

12 different varieties of apples


Monday, October 3, 2016

Fiskebar in Antwerpen

In 2012 in November (c.4 years ago as I am writing this) we did a small road trip in Belgium to Bruges and Antwerpen. I did not find any places to rave about in Bruges but I did enjoy a very nice dinner in a restaurant in Antwerpen called Fiskebar. I have checked the more recent reviews now and as they are still good, I figured I would jot down our experience quickly too. 

Marnixplaats 11
2000 Antwerpent
tel: 032571357

We like lively venues and this was just that. It also got livelier as the night went on, which was absolutely lovely. The ambiance was of a wine bar/ cosy restaurant. Rather dark but not too much. Not too fancy. Relaxing. The staff was great! 

We started with a plate of oysters and some nice white wine. 

Then we got guessed it! Fish! 

It was not revolutionary but it was well prepared and cooked and the flavours worked together. We loved the restaurant! 

would love to go back to see how it is now. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hrifunes guesthouse

We spent several days in South Iceland this June and before going we were thinking of hotel hopping or staying in one place. Our limitations were a) time and b) travelling with young kids.

One location that I definitely wanted to visit was Jökulsárlón. So we decided that this would be our furthest point during our travels. Even though it was February and we were travelling in June, we soon found out there was another major limitation - availability. With prices sky high (according to my standards) there were still no rooms available. Especially for families. When we finally found a family room at Hrifunes guesthouse we decided to make the guesthouse our 'home' base to explore south Iceland.

I think the outside does not give due credit to the feeling you get when you are inside. The living room has a nice furnace and is very well decorated. As is the kitchen area. The common areas make you feel very much at home. People hung out there quite a lot having tea or a glass of wine and chatting. There are several books about Iceland and also photo books as the husband is a photographer and also does photography tours in Iceland. The guesthouse was very child friendly and the owner also brought out a suitcase of toys for our kids. We were in heaven. Every evening we were looking forward to getting back 'home'.

We were also lucky - the owner, Hedda, happened to be there during the time of our visit. The regular manager of the guesthouse was on holidays. And Hedda was very lovely. And patient (with our kids).

We arrived after a long drive and were shown to our room. It would have been nice to have our own bathroom but we ended up sharing (to have a cheaper room) and it turned out to be no problem. For me the price was steep - 250EUR for a room without a private bathroom. But the prices are what they are and everything was fully booked. The main house of the guesthouse had 4 rooms and 2 bathrooms so there was never any queue. The guesthouse also has another house (The darker house behind the red house on the photo) where all rooms have their own bathrooms.

Coffee/ tea area for breakfast

Our room had a double bed and bunk bed for kids. We were also provided towels. I think the towels were washed once during our 4 night stay there. I cannot recall to be honest. As it was rather chilly even for June it is nice to have fresh towels.

We fit very well. The room was not huge but it was quite enough for us.

It was possible to use the laundry machine for a small extra.

The guesthouse also provided dinner for extra cost of c.50 EUR per person. Again, it seemed a lot of money in the beginning but after eating out 1 evening we realised what a gem our guesthouse was. The cooking was excellent and the price fair considering Icelandic standards. Our kids, 2 and 6 ended up getting a heavy discount. We also got specially prepared meals when e.g. there was alcohol used in the dessert.

the owner with a girl who was helping out - sorry for the out of focus photo

The dinners were absolutely delicious. There was always a starter and then a small buffet with a selection of foods and after that dessert. Wine and beer were available for extra cost or you could have brought your own. We ate there the first night and then tried a restaurant and after that ate there again for 2 more nights. Perfection. I was very much looking forward to dinnertime.


Table set for dinner

Everything was cooked fresh

our family at dinnertime

The view from the guesthouse was phenomenal. We had this view from our bedroom. One morning I took a walk with my son down to the beach. We had to climb a fence but made it down. It was lovely. The location is so picturesque.

Would I stay there again if I had a chance? Yes. For the accommodation and food. I also would recommend booking dinner (you need to book 24 h before) even if you do not stay at the guesthouse. They might be full (during one weekend day we were 16 having dinner) but then again, there might be space and then you are in for a treat.

I perhaps would not use this as my home base for south Iceland trips. It was great to go to Jökusarlon (c.2h drive) but the rest of the sights we wanted to see were on the other side and we ended up driving back and forth a lot. But I think this guesthouse should be on anyone's list for at least 1 night, if not 2.

More info on sights in later posts....

Doha/ Hamad International Airport - kids play areas

From the series: Travelling with kids.

Airports. They can be a joy or a headache. We transferred through Doha (Qatar) for the first time last June (2016) and the airport was a dream! It looked liked from a movie from the future. Everything worked and was clean and efficient. The best part? When travelling with kids - the play areas! And this airport has been the most amazing one we have travelled through so far.

You can get more info on their website as to the locations of the play areas, family toilets and family rooms here:

And here is a taster as to what you can expect when travelling to Doha International Airport:

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Iceland: Westman Islands - Vestmannaeyjar

Last time I was in Iceland was 9 years ago. It was December, very dark, cold and rainy. This time we came in June, and while it was still rather chilly, it was bright and beautiful. In fact, it never ever got dark. Which is a joy for a travelling photographer :)

We travelled as a family of 4 - our kids are 2,5 and 6. During our trip I did not see many people travelling in Iceland with kids. At least not with young kids. In fact, you do need to keep a very close eye on your little ones as while the nature is amazing, it is a also dangerous.

I hope to write a few more reviews but I'll start with our favourite daytrip, which was to Westman Islands. I had promised my volcano obsessed son a volcano. There are many volcanos in Iceland but not so many that are easily accessible with young kids. The one on Westman Islands is perfect.

We stayed at a guesthouse about 1,5h drive from the harbour. The boats to Westman islands leave from the south of Iceland.

 If you want to take a car over, make sure you prebook your tickets online. We booked the day before and there were no car places available. We still decided to go and conquer the island on foot. It was nice but with a car it would have been easier to see more of the island. Luckily our kids are very good walkers and we saw a lot without the car too.

At the port there is a small playground that was nice for the time we waited for the boat.

The ferry

The ferry itself has a couple of cafes and places to sit inside and outside. It took around 30min to get to the islands. We had a beautiful calm day and the ferry ride was a breeze.

We first went for lunch after arriving. There is a very nice small place called Fiskibarinn (1,Bárustígur). I had an amazing lobster soup while the kids loved the fish and chips and my husband got a local pan baked fish dish with potatoes. All excellent. I highly recommend. 

After this we started to climb up the volcano. There are several routes on the maps that you can get from tourist information (very close to Fiskibarinn) but we still managed to go somehow different and it ended up being quite a steep climb as opposed to the smooth walk how it is advertised on some travel blogs. It was amazing though.

The route starts off with some stairs on Kirkjuvegur street and then you are already on the lava field. We tried to follow the signs... with little luck. When you take the car you get closer but then you lose out on a beautiful hike. It took us about 50min to reach the top. 

Here you can see signs for where the houses used to be. This house is 15m under the lava.
Our destination. The top of the red mountain - Elfell volcano that erupted in 1973 covering half the town under lava and increasing the size of the island.

A bit more to go

Almost at the top.

The view was phenomenal. You can see here the volcano crater, then further back the lava fields which reach to the border of the town. On the left hand side where there are houses is where the lava stopped. The lava is around 15m high.

Here is the border of the lava field towards the sea .

The ground is still hot. When we were at the top we dug a little hole with our hands and put a piece of cholocate inside. The chocolate melted immediately.

We took the normal path back down. Much smoother. :)

At the bottom there is a volcano museum describing the events of 1973. I loved the place! The built the museum around a house that was excavated from under the lava. 

There was explanation about volcanoes, wildlife, etc. And a cafe with a very nice view. 

If you have a car then you should drive to the other side of the island (opposite to where the port is) to see puffins. They are best seen at the southern tip. We did not have time to walk there and so we did not manage to see them. The puffins are the other thing Westman Islands are famous for. 

We decided to just walk around a bit in the town and then took the last ferry back. 
You can see Eldfell volcano in the background

We went with a 12 o'clock ferry and returned with a 18 o'clock one. In this time we managed to have lunch, climb the volcano, visit the museum, look around in the town and have a glass of wine at the port. 

It is a perfect day out, especially with kids (and even more if your kids are into volcanoes).