WARNING: Nylons and short skirts are back in style over here (coming soon to North America), Canada Goose jackets are more popular here than in Canada, jogging is a huge deal over here, bikes and biking paths rocks and yes you can eat too many croissants. Cleansing tomorrow!
Monday, November 4th.
5 hours of driving, broken into two parts.
2 bags of cookies.
2 bags of Whey Thin protein crackers.
1 bottle of water.
All used as sustenance for this day of transition.
From France to Belgium.
From past to present.
From past dreams to present-day dreams.
We left our cozy, sweet sixth floor Paris hotel room on Monday, November 4th to start out European road trip after picking up this sexy station wagon:
We had two special places we want to show our boys: Vimy Ridge and Harnes, France (which will be furthermore known as the Armpit)
First, Vimy Ridge. A place to remember. A place to learn. A perfect place to be in November (or any time of year!) We went through the tunnel and the trenches, soaked up the information in the new museum and had a private tour of the monument. God even gave us a rainbow, like He did on the top of the Eiffel Tower.
When we lived in Harnes for one year, I used to come running on this land, given to Canadians from the French because of the significance of this Ridge during World War One. Being back in this place as a mother, I was touched by the Mother Canada statue at the front of the monument and all the mothers that have been affected by war. I am grateful for our country. 🇨🇦
After Vimy Ridge, we made a quick tour of the town where Steve and I spend our first year of marriage. Steve was playing professional volleyball for Harnes and I played a bit and coached ten year old boys volleyball. We found the gym with the cement floor and our old apartment across from the canal and coal excrement hill. I wish we had a video running as we drove into the village. At the time, we were surrounded by great teammates and didn’t realize what an armpit that we were living in. No train station. A little rough around the edges, a bit smelly and really in the middle of nowhere. An armpit.
We arrived in Brussels around 6:00pm. With time to checkin to our uber cool, mostly young person’s Meininger hotel/hostel and wander through Brussels and find an awesome Italian restaurant. We closed down the place!
Bonne Nuit sweet friends from room #401. (Every room number is an individual work of art here!)
10,396 steps walk
A quieter day at our hostel hotel.
Buffet breakfast (9.50 Euros for each adult and 4.95 Euros each for the boys)!
Yes, we did have Belgian Waffles. The boys were very surprised there wasn’t any maple syrup.
We had a morning of math and writing in the common area then zipped to our old favourite discount grocery store, Lidl, to pickup food so that we could make lunch and dinner ourselves today.
The arcade games behind us have been a huge hit. Old school driving games and some pinball too.
From living three years over in Europe, we knew that concrete ping pong tables are at every school and almost every park. I tucked four paddles and some ping pong balls into our suitcase. We plan on many days of playing. We had this ping pong table one block away.
Today was CC’s turn to plan an activity and he researched and chose the chocolate store, Leonida’s.
CC didn’t find any chocolate that he liked!
These chocolates looked like a white mushroom with a chocolate, caramel filling. Wow!
We then walked and visited the famous Mannequin Pis. I hesitate to even post a picture because the surprise we received when we visited the statue….hmmm… maybe I won’t post a picture. Nah, I think I will leave the Mannequin Pis as a surprise for all of you.
After visiting the statue it was time for dessert before dinner – more Belgium waffles and some ice cream too!
We finished off the time in the city with a few handstands in the City Hall square and listening to some beautiful accordion music.
Evening was spent cooking together with four other multicultural groups and talking about a hilarious reality tv cooking show in a hostel where no one speaks the same language and there aren’t enough pots, plates or cups to go around. Plus, you are so tall that you keep bonking your head on the vent and one burner on the stove keeps randomly going on. After the hilarious and hot kitchen, dinner tasted good.
Goodnight from Brussels. What a spectacular view our room has looking across the canal towards the city and the lit up Ferris wheel.
Our last full day in Brussels, Belgium involved wandering, waffles and a wonderful adventure to pickup our superfood nutrition from a friend of a friend who we had it delivered to. More room in our suitcases for presents for friends.
After saying “au revoir” to Daddy who will be working in Berlin and Düsseldorf for the next two days, we decided to try and find the Ferris wheel that we have been watching out our window in the evenings. We found the Ferris wheel plus stairs and concrete barriers to do parkour on, a construction site to watch and eat more Leonida’s chocolate at, a skateboard park, and many poles to “kong”. (To think I didn’t even know what konging was a week ago!)
It was CC’s choice for our meal today and he chose a waffle place. Imagine waffles with anything you want on them or in them. Our oldest had a smushed waffle sandwich with hamburger and cheese plus one with caramel for dessert, the other two had ham and cheese and then one with whipped cream for dessert. It was a memory making meal and a favourite for our boys. If you are travelling in Belgium or France with kids, Waffle Factory would be a safe bet for the family (as long as you aren’t looking for any fruits or vegetables!)
After our waffle meal, we went on a cross city journey to retrieve our super food box. This beautiful soul below received our package and allowed us to pick it up at her house. We are looking for partners in Belgium if you know anyone who lives there and is into helping people get healthy and wealthy!
We finished this day off with a hallway workout and a few more races on those old school video games in the common area.
Oh and I have to show you one of the bikes that captured my heart. I love this country for their biking culture: the trails, the bike shops, and the bike themselves.
Gooood morning from Brussels and goodnight from Frankfurt, Germany.
3 hour and 58 minute drive.
18 minutes in the Netherlands.
1 stop at the awesome “rest stops” on the side of the Autobahn. 50 cents for the toilet.
Side note: I was surprised at how many Burger King’s, Starbucks and McDonald’s are now available at these Autobahn rest stops. Twenty years ago, these rest stops were a highlight because of their uniqueness and you never knew what you were going to get.
We did get yelled at for not knowing that the ketchup dispenser had a foot pedal, so that kept things real for us.
Oh ya, on our way out of town, we had CC’s last choice for activity: Driving to a RC Car store, apparently the last RC car store in Belgium. The owner, Bernard, was THE BEST! We were able to hear stories about his story, his family, his businesses and all the trophies that lined the entire store. It was a blast. The boys were super happy and CC was pumped to walk away with a race car he can fix up.
After enjoying the RC car store and our Autobahn experience as well as seeing many churches in the distance, we arrived in Frankfurt!
We are pumped to be staying at Monopol hotel across from the Hauptbahnhof with a breakfast buffet, free mini bar, a bathtub and a hotel that has a door that swings out. (It’s the little things that these boys are finding interesting!!)
After checking in, we took a cruise across the street to the train station to have our first German pretzel and see what a train station looks like. It was as spectacular as I remembered. The book and magazine store was delicious. I loved watching people bustling around and the whooosh as the trains pulled into the station.
Guten Nacht sweet friends. We love you ♥️ and if you have made it to the end of this entire blog post air hug 🤗 and high five!! Leave me a comment so I can send them to you!
14 thoughts on “Be on a Radical Sabbatical from Vimy Ridge to the Armpit of France to Brussels, Belgium”
Luving your sharing; the food, memories made and newness for your boys. Yeah, for handstands!
Thank you lovely Linda! Not soon til you can do handstands on the beach!!!
The Hauptbahnhof in Frankfurt was my first one in Germany too, remind me to tell you about my train journey to Baden after a bit too much German beer…
Cannot wait to hear the story. Not the area I would stay in again but always interesting.
I loved seeing all your pics and hearing of your adventures. Wow this is something none of you will ever forget! I so appreciate you sharing with us.
Thank you Allyson! I so appreciate being able to share in this format. It’s pretty interesting watching this trip unfolds through the boys eyes – playgrounds, food, medieval stuff, what does the new hotel room look like… and lots of laughter.
What an awesome experience for the whole family and for you to share some of your earlier life’s experience in France. Traveling and experiencing new cultures is a super education in itself. I admire your courage and commitment to share Europe with your boys! Keep the posts coming! Thanks. Tom
Thanks for reading and for your kind encouraging words Tom. Air hugs from us to you! (Also I saw your like in the fb coaching group… I had forgotten Nicole had added you in there! So fun to see you popping up!).
So special to be able to visit these places all together, and it especially warms my heart that you were at Vimy Ridge this close to our Remembrance Day. I absolutely love that you are all getting a day to choose an activity and you’ve given the boys the responsibility to research what to do. So much more memorable for them.
It’s been so much fun. Wait til you see the latest post. We ended up a strange apartment building. Hahah.
Have a beautiful long weekend with your family. Hugs to you all. Thanks for being a part of the journey and for your words.
I love reading about your fantastic adventures as a family. I can see, feel and almost smell, taste and touch the excitement! I am immersed in your descriptions of foods, flavours, architecture, places and amazing people…travel is a wonderful education 😊
Continue sharing and writing your ‘radical sabbatical adventures’! Enjoy it all Cann clan…
Thank you Debbie!!! We are having THE BEST time. Huge hugs from us.