Plane Flying Travel

Why I Travel

When I was 15, I left the US for the second time and traveled to Lima, Peru. I remember before I left, I was terrified. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and that it would completely change my life.

Ocean Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru

From the moment I stepped off the plane, I fell head over heels in love with travel. I could never have guessed that this passion would lead me to visit over 20 countries, across six continents, including living long term in multiple places abroad. When my other friends in high school were discussing their next soccer tournament or football game, I was dreaming up my next international trip.

I guess you could say that not a lot has changed. I find myself sitting here, writing this blog entry, while looking out my window on my new home in Germany. I think the biggest difference in my travel addiction is that I moved my focus from short-term trips to long-term living.

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building leuven belgium

Top 5 Things to Do in Leuven, Belgium

My parents were here last month to visit. If you are an expat and are close with your family, you know how exciting this is! It was the first time they were able to experience the area where C and I live. I loved getting to show them around and take them to my favorite local places.

Of course we also had to do some traveling. We went to Belgium for a week and I can safely say I’ve had enough fries and beer to last me until next year. We saw a few cities, but for me the best part of the trip was our day in Leuven, Belgium.

leuven belgium top five

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Leuven, as I had never really heard about it as a tourist destination. I only saw a handful of other tourist during the whole day, which for me was a huge bonus. I love just being surrounding by the locals. As the day went on, I was more and more impressed by the city. There was so much history, architecture, and as always, beer. I would highly recommend stopping in Leuven, even if it’s just for a day trip. Here are five of my favorite things in Leuven:

Groot Bengijnhof

Groot Begijnhof Leuven Belgium

Groot Begijnhof

Groot Bengijnhof, known as the Grand Béguinage in English, was by far my favorite area of Leuven. It is a historical area of the city dating back to the early 13th century and has been well preserved. Originally, it served as a community of semi-religious women. Now, it feels like a tiny town inside the city. It was so peaceful and I felt fully transported back in time as I wandered around the cobblestone streets.

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genval belgium lake

Dinant, Genval, and Lovain-la-Neuve, Belgium

On my recent trip, I got to check out a few Belgian small towns that aren’t necessarily at the top of everyone’s Belgium bucket list. It was fun to see some areas that showed me what life is like in a tiny Belgian town. I love to travel, but sometimes rather than seeing the top tourist destinations, I like to experience normal life. Maybe it’s a little strange, but I enjoy walking into a grocery store or observing a local neighborhood. I always picture what my life would be like if I lived there. I’ve written a little about each city and included my must-see places & restaurants.

Dinant

Dinant Belgium Citadel

Dinant, Belgium

Out of these three towns, you may have heard of Dinant. I found it on a few “Most Beautiful Destinations in Belgium” lists. It’s not too far outside of Brussels, so it’s perfect for a day trip. And I would recommend just doing a day trip there. While I fully enjoyed the gorgeous view of Dinant, from what I observed there isn’t too much to do in the city apart from the main tourist attractions.

Church Dinant Belgium

Notre Dame de Dinant

The church in the photo is the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant, which dates back to 1277. The inside is beautiful and worth a look. The Citadel of Dinant, located at the top of the hill, is also available for touring. I sadly made it there after it closed. I will be honest and say that I only spent about two hours in Dinant. Totally worth it for the view, but not a lot of options in terms of restaurants or shopping.

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