Tag Archives: House Hunters International

Dreaming of chocolate and cheese

And waffles. Big honking Belgian waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream.


Okay, so I remember the show that this woman was on! This comes from Helene’s blog, www.heleneinbetween.com. (Helene added the drinking game element – which cracks me up.)

As you know, I am a House Hunters International junkie. I’m flying with my buddy Ginny to Brussels this weekend, so I was excited to find an episode in my cache of recorded shows about a young family searching for a home in Belgium’s capital city.

(I automatically record every episode of this program so I can vicariously experience looking for a place to live in Amsterdam or Puerto Vallarta or whatever exotic location appeals to me at the moment.)

My son says I’m delusional. I don’t care.

So, on this show the husband and wife took a little break from inspecting houses and apartments to stroll up to a waffle truck in Brussels. These plate-sized confections look too amazing to simply be called waffles. It looked like the husband may have ordered his with chocolate or Nutella drizzled under the fluffy mound of cream. Whatever the topping, you can bet that I will be gobbling down one of my very own on Saturday afternoon. I also plan to taste-test a few of the Belgian chocolates on display in shops of acclaimed local chocolatiers. Perhaps we’ll finish the day in a cafe sampling pommes frites and a light Belgian ale. It’s a good thing we’ll be doing lots of walking that day.

On Sunday Ginny and I will pick up our rental car and drive to the Airbnb apartment we’re renting in Dordrecht.  Located about halfway between Brussels and Amsterdam (roughly an hour’s drive in either direction), Dordrecht claims to be the oldest city in the Netherlands and will be our home base while exploring a bit of both beautiful countries.

We have requested a GPS in the car to help us get around. I am hoping that it won’t yell at us in Dutch or German.

Holland and Belgium 229

This is how they treat an order for a cup of coffee in Middleburg, Netherlands. So pretty, right?

Next Thursday we’re going to drive to Gouda for the weekly cheese market. Look for photos of that when we get back, for sure. I hope at some point we’ll also find a place to enjoy poffertjes – puffy little Dutch pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar and a choice of other toppings. Missed that the last time I was in Amsterdam with my friend, Sue.

Now that I’ve gotten the food porn out of my system, in truth, there are so many fascinating places to see in these lowland countries. My first river cruise years ago (try Viking’s Tulip Time cruise – fabulous!) took us to many of the places I want to visit again next week – Antwerp, Bruges, Holland’s Keukenhopf Gardens, Delft, charming Gouda, etc. A great thing about these compact countries is that the area is so small, it’s easy to jump in the car and explore many places without having to drive for hours.

Holland and Belgium 297

I didn’t know so many varieties of tulips even existed before visiting the amazing Keukenhopf Gardens in 2009.

When you go on vacation, do you like to experience a new destination each time? Or do you most enjoy returning to one treasured spot year after year? The argument for either choice is impossible to refute. It seems to me, in a perfect world with plenty of time and money, at least two vacations a year might fit the bill. Perhaps a week every summer at your favorite beach retreat, plus a spring or fall exploration of new territory. Wouldn’t that be nice?

I’m looking forward to enjoying a combination of old and new places in the days ahead. Best of all, I’ll be sharing this time laughing and creating memories with a dear friend.

On another note . . .

looking for Chris

My killer dogs, guarding the door.

I would not necessarily recommend announcing travel plans online before you go on vacation.  I feel safe doing so today because in my case, the house will be occupied with some big, burly people I’ve hired to dog-sit The Boys. Not only are the sitters armed and certified in numerous martial arts, but they will be training Mick and Rich to take down intruders and bite them until they cry for their mothers. Fair warning.

If you are still contemplating burgling my home, I’ll just tell you now that the reward will not match the risk. I don’t have nice jewelry or cash hidden anywhere. My TV is big-ish, but you can get the same one new in Walmart for less than $400 these days. The laptop needs to be replaced soon and isn’t even an apple. But if you take my dogs, I will hunt you down and kill you with my bare hands. Again – fair warning.

So, bye for now – see you when I get home.

Crazy about color

Okay, so my favorite show is “House Hunters International.” One of my favorites, anyway. I DVR every episode in Europe and while I thought I’d seen them all by now, I was thrilled to my toes to discover one in Paris that I’d missed.


An American woman working as an attorney in Paris decided to stop renting and buy an apartment in the heart of the city. With her $500,000 US budget, the realtor was showing her one-bedroom, 400 square foot apartments in the Marais, a happening arrondissement, or district, of Paris. Yes. That’s what you get for half a mil in Paris.

She ended up buying the smallest one because it had good bones (you can’t watch as much HGTV as I do without picking up the lingo, guys) and was on a lovely, quiet street, just steps from shops and cafes. Sigh.

The last bit on every episode takes you back to the home buyer’s place a few months after the purchase. In this case, in about four months the woman had completely renovated the tiny flat (spending an additional $135,000) and it was a knock out.

Not everyone would agree, I’m sure – but the decor was so appealing to me. I already have white kitchen cabinets, but the rest of the kitchen is a boring beige. Cheap beige counter top, cheap beige linoleum and white walls with no back-splash. I haven’t done anything other than the cupboards since I moved in 11 years ago. I tend to spend what money I have on TRIPS to places like Paris, rather than on the home decor I also, admittedly, covet.

Anyway, here are photos I took from the TV of the tiles in her kitchen.

"How do you like my tiles, Pierre?" she asked coquettishly.

“How do you like my tiles, Pierre?” she asked coquettishly.

"C'est magnifique!" Pierre enthused.

“C’est magnifique!” Pierre enthused.

I want those tiles. I want my kitchen to look JUST LIKE THAT.

"See how pretty they are up close?" she pointed out.

“See how pretty they are up close?” she pointed out.

I also want to have a pied a terre in Paris, a villa on the Amalfi Coast and a thatch-roofed cottage in Ireland. Since I don’t buy lottery tickets, I don’t see any of this happening. Even if I did buy lottery tickets, it would be equally unlikely.

"Why, those tiles would even work in my Irish cottage," I added.

“Why, those tiles would even work in my Irish cottage,” I added.

But maybe I can put colorful tiles in my kitchen at home. Mais, oui! What do you think?