Thorn – the white village in the south of the Netherlands

The historical white houses

Thorn – the pretty small white town

The charming meager white village Thorn is located in the south of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg, it is well-known for tourist attraction and it has a well-heeled history dating back in the 9th to 10th-century. The historic town of Thorn is well-guarded. The site is also known for its grand monumental white houses that include cobbled streets and the ( Abbey Church ) now a museum, it is also the municipal museum “Het Land van Thorn”, in Dutch – and that draws the town with countless visitors every year.

The Thorn History

The village
The old houses
List of the Abbey
The view from the church

Over the period Thorn progresses with scaled-down cloister and ruled by prioress and archduchess by patrician creation it had its arbitration and its moola; however, it came to an end at the beginning of the 18th-century upon the arrival of the French. After the 20 noble ladies fled the town to evade by the French, a large number of underprivileged people move to live in the village. The French strong-willed to imposed taxes based on the size of the windows of the houses. Nonetheless, the locals were poor living into a lavish style of living that once belong to the rich people but couldn’t pay taxes. So to reduce the amount of tax, they have to pay, most of the homeowners bricked up their windows and painted into white to hide the brickwork. And that how the village came to white until this day.

Things to do and see in Thorn

The municipal museum of Thorn

If you are in Thorn, you don’t want to miss the Abdijkerk – Abbey church. It is the small town that came into existence. The theatrical was constructed a few times over the centuries, and the in the 10th century it came to life. It was dated the interior in the 18th century; with time the Abbey was revamped at the end of 19th-century by Pierre Cuypers, the architect of Amsterdam central station and the Rijksmuseum.

The church, now a museum

Besides, you can also visit the municipal town museum of Thorn. In here you can find historical objects from the village and more ancient history – and aside from that, you can usher a walk with an audio system.

The restaurants

However, when you feel like starving, there are plenty of choices to choose from the restaurant, cafe, bistros, snack shop. International cuisines are also available, such as Japanese, Greek, Italian, and Chinese, to name a few. There are many fast-foods preferences too. To end with – you can also choose between meals, ice cream, pancake and pizza.

An engaging way to visit Thorn on weekends and from (April to September), or daily from July to August.

Thank you for reading!

© Leonie M.

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Heppeneert it is Worth a Visit, Limburg, Belgium

There is a sense of anticipation searching for a place to find peace and relaxation, whether you are religious or not; in this article, it tells something about the solemnity of being around this place called Heppeneert.

Saint Getrudis Church, Heppeneert

Heppeneert is located in the Belgian town of Maaseik in the northeast province of Limburg. A friendly village with less than a hundred inhabitants. This village was recognized because of the Parish Saint Gertrudis Church, which was built in 1883, and in here the Blessed Virgin Mary is worshiped as “Our Lady of Rest.”. Moreover, in that same year, Father Aloysius Froyen made the devotion to Our Lady of Rest widely known, e.g. the Parish park has since grown into a place of meditation and equanimity. This suburb it is also a self-governed parish church that has become a busy pilgrimage site this time, because of the group of volunteers in the neighbourhood, who had been active to put their best hoof in front for the church visitors. The pilgrims come to Heppeneert to pray and seek for help to the Blessed Virgin Mary to help them pray to the Holy Father for their mental illness, fear and ferocious issues in life, to yield wisdom into decisions making, and to ask forgiveness for their sins.

I visit the site regularly because of its areas serenity, for me being there it gives the feeling of calmness and to unwind. I strolled around and wandered to the Maria park and have noticed and seen the (Liturgical Description), ” the seven sorrows and seven joys.”. Maria Park, i.e. laid its foundation in the year 1926 by Father Aloysius Froyen, who made the devotion widely known to this day. A place for placidity and rumination. There is a candle chapel too, where you can buy and lit a candle and say your own personal prayer.

Maria Park
Candle chapel

The list of the seven sorrows and seven joys:

  • Jesus committed to God
  • Jesus finds refuge in Egypt
  • Jesus found in the temple
  • Jesus carries the cross of the people
  • Jesus on the cross
  • Jesus was taken from the cross
  • Jesus in the grave
Jesus in the grave – description

The suburb area has a population of less than a hundred as mention above. However, this place has many things that can offer to its visitors, although it’s such a small village. There is a cafe, restaurant, bar, and shop where you can drink coffee, have lunch and dinner, drink beer or wine and can purchase souvenirs, and are located on the one side of the road. On the other hand, there is a weir wall and dyke built by the former volunteers after the floods in the place in 1926, to protect the people from flooding.

The Restaurant in the village
The Our Lady of Rest shop

Considering that this place, the increasing number of visitors were kept coming back in the area, believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary miraculously healed the sick people who come for worship. Virgin Mary’s intercession is mighty in this church; this is why the church is sacred to many adherents. I also noticed that many devotees come from different nationalities.

It is also a place to wander and lull by viewing the nature of the rural area since it is a neighborhood of agriculture.

The village agriculture area

The Church and Candle Chapel Opening Hours:
From November 1 to March 31
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM
From April 1 to October 31 – 7:30 AM to 7 PM
Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 7:30 AM until after the evening celebration.

How to Get There: It is easy to reach by car, foot, bicycle and motorbike from the round road of Maaseik, where the Heppeneert situated – 1.5 km the church is at the right side. Take note that you ride on the one side of the road.

 ©  Leonie M.

Five Best Towns to Visit in the Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve is the hidden gem situated in the South of Portugal, and it is the most popular holiday destination and the best-visited region in the country. It is also rich in culture and graced with offbeat a hundred beaches garnering more than four million visitors each year and offering good ambiance to its visitors, like the golden beaches, sea caves scalloped bays, soaring cliffs and the sandy peninsula. This region is surrounded on two sides by the Atlantic. It is wonderland to everyone who first seen the place, and most for the surfers, particularly along with the vitality undeveloped west coast.

This region offers a large tourist hots pots aggregation of holiday villas, hotels and impetuous resorts that filled with loaded activities from water parks to water sport and energetic nightlife, beach bars to blistering nightclubs. The Natural gems include bird-filled lagoons and reef of the protected Park National of Ria Formosa from the West of the capital Faro.

Up to the greenish hills – the historical castle town and ruins of some villages rolled countryside covered in rocks, olive trees, almond trees, and citrus orchards, including farmhouses.

So if you have to think for a place for the gateway, you might consider Algarve as your destination to spend with your family and friends.

Here are the five best towns to visit in the Algarve:
  • Albufeira
  • Lagos
  • Loulé
  • Tavira
  • Portimão
Praia do Pescadores ( Fisherman beach ), Abufeira
Praia do Evaristo, Albufeira
1. Albufeira

It is one of the cities of the Algarve, and it was known as a small fishing village. The town is divided into two parts – ‘ The Old town and the New Town.’ Moreover, The Old Town is four times the size for the Strip or the New Town. The Old Town is situated at the seafront principally a pedestrian area. In here there are vast choices of restaurant bars, and shops. Many bars always have a live band every night, and the most known is the Rock Cafe on the central square. The place is trendy for young people.

Things to Do: Albufeira has many various beaches, one whose close to the town is ‘ Praia dos Pescadores.’ ( Fisherman Beach ) also, in this place you can find a boulevard with lots of restaurants that you can choose from, and many traditional Portuguese cuisines, an example: is the cataplana styled dishes with mixed of fresh plates of seafood in it. Adding to their traditional dish is the (Frango con Piri-Piri ) roasted chicken with spicy sauce, and much more depending on your choice, also including to their menu an international meal.

If you want to stay in a quiet place away from the crowded area, there are many deserted places like the beach Praia da Evaristo, in here you will find a massive formation of rocks and a small natural basin where the children can enjoy playing in the island.

For divest the day away from the beach for the kids go to “Krazy World Zoo.” It is 16 kilometres northwest of Albufeira. In here, kids can play with pony rides, petting farms with goats, deers and a lot more.

How to Get There: You can access Albufeira by cars, buses and trains. From Faro airport to Albufeira can take 37 minutes rides by car. It is not advisable to take a train almost always because it’s stop in the middle of nowhere and it is 7 kilometres from the tourist centre.

Tips: It is a lot better to rent a car because public transportation in the Algarve is so slow. However, if you are not in a rush, you can always take any public transport.

Things not to Forget to Bring:It is essential to bring with you a sun cream, and towel. Sun cream you need when the heat of the sun strike you need to apply first to protect your skin from UV.

Praia do Camilo, Lagos
Praia da Ponta Piedade, Lagos
2. Lagos

Lagos is one of the tourist town attraction in the Algarve with its remarkable discovery, lies along the bank of the Ribeira de Bensafrim. The old town is beautiful, the cobbled lanes, quaint churches and squares are confined predominantly in the fourteen century to 16th-century walls. Apart from the walls is a prevailing but not overly repugnant ramble and some authentically spectacular beaches. The Praia Ponta da Piedade, and Praia da Camilo, with its climatic chunk of the foreland with writhe, flecked sandstone ledge and fortress, integrated with incandescence lights. Surely it is a breathtaking place.

Things to Do: If you do love shopping there are many shopping malls in the town, and it is open from 10:00-21:00 daily except on a Sunday. Also, boat trips run along the coast all year round while personal side trip in inland to Lagos zoo.

How to Get There: You can reach Lagos with cars, trains and buses. But it is much easier to rent a car from Faro Airport to Lagos. If you go by car, it can take a 1-hour drive. Trains and buses are slow and not on time, but it can bring you to where you need to be.

Loulé Market
3. Loulé

Loulé is the largest backland of the Algarve, it is 16 kilometres northwest from the capital Faro. This town is the Arabic inspired tight market upon which they are selling local produce fresh fish. Surround the market it is also busy shopping streets and every Saturday the town is bustling due to both gypsy and farmers market day and loads of tourists. It is also known for its artisan traditions works up to this present time, artisans make copperworks, wicker baskets, and quilting in hole-in-hole wall workshops about towns. This town should not consider a beach holiday because the nearest one is 10 kilometres away.

Things to Do: When you love to go to the local market, then this town is best for you, combined with exploring the whole market place with its old museums and the cobblestones streets.

How to Get There: Loulé can be reached by cars, trains and buses. From Faro airport to the centre of Loule is 16 kilometres drive by car.

Costa do Acantilado, the capital town of Tavira

4. Tavira

Tavira is considered as the charming town of the Algarve. The ruin of the old castle and old Roman bridge and a Gothic-Renaissance church are among its historical attractions, an appealing combination of guesthouses and an impressive restaurants make an attractive base to explore the eastern richness of the Algarve. Digging the prodigious archaeological remains that found on the ( Castelo ) castle dated back from the 8th-century BC through the 8th-century AD, and the exhume has brought to light the part of Phoenician wall circa on 800 BC an ox-tongue partisan altar in the 9th century BC.

It is also quintessential for strolling the street with its beautiful gardens and the shaded square, and it includes stunning beaches too.

Things to Do: Discover the beautiful architecture archaeology of the town and the boat tour. Discover the lagoons and its bird in the Ria Formosa Tavira. In there you can explore and have close contact with nature.

How to Get There: You can access Tavira by cars, buses and trains. Faro airport to the centre of Tavira is 28 kilometres. It is advisable to rent a car.

Praia da Rocha, Portimão
5. Portimão

Portimão it is the second biggest city in the Algarve; sited on the broad of the Rio Arade. Made its living from fishing since the Roman times but around these times it is the most paramount urbanised in the west Algarve. Known for its small airfield and small harbour. And famous for its fresh fish restaurants, grilled sardines is the city’s unique dish. Praia da Rocha beach is one of the best tourist natural attraction in town. To get to Praia da Rocha is 30 minutes walking from the centre.

Things to Do: There are a lot of shopping in the centre of the town if you do love shopping – with any kind examples are decorative objects, jewellery, pottery and many more.

How to Get There: Portimão has a small airport field but not scheduled or regularly feature domestic flights. You can reach the town by trains, cars and buses. Faro airport to Portimão is 71 kilometres away.
Tips: It would be Ideal to rent a car i.e. because as always the bus and train are not on time.


© Leonie M.

The Pros and Cons of living in Belgium

The European Commission in Brussels, Belgium

Have you ever thought of moving to another country? Do you ever consider to move and stay for a more extended period to live in Belgium? Then this article is for you it tells the importance of the pros and cons of living in Belgium.

Pros of living in Belgium
Housing

There is no such difficulty in buying a house in Belgium; it involved awareness, and it is crucial that you have adequate information before going to purchase a home. You will presumably need to take out a mortgage. After signing the notarial deed you own the property officially; on the other hand, you will pay the annual property tax, and you need to pay home insurance too.

Renting an apartment or a house in Belgium it is easy provided that both parties are agreed with the agreement requires. The necessary requirement is a ‘lease of contract’ that should be settled with writing. There must be at least three copies of the ( lease of contract ), one print for the tenant, one for the lessor, and one for the registry office.

Another thing that the Belgium government option is social housing, it is for people or families with a limited income. Social housing is the responsibility of the regions; the conditions in this matter vary from one area to another. There is a specific procedure to follow on this matter, you need to go to the (Openbaar Centrum voor Maatschappelijk Welzijn) OCMW in short for registration purposes, you are being asked to bring a copy from your bank statement and your work contract from your employer to understand your standard of living. After that, you wait for them to call you; they do their best possible way to help those who are in need.



Child Benefits

The Belgium government offers great money to parents in any household; two months before the child is due to be born the mother will receive the amount in the earliest time as a start paying for the child benefits. You can obtain a maximum of six children at the same time as a help for their need until they reach 18 years old. On the other hand, when your child is studying, the following apprenticeship or seeking for work until the age of 25 you are still receiving a child benefits… This child benefits it doesn’t just apply to parents biological children but also for adopted children, stepchildren, foster children and children that are being raised as a parent own. In the case of handicap children, they are entitled to higher payment until they reach 21 years old. The amount of the child benefit will be made every month.

Another instances, if your child is born outside the European Economic Area ( EEA ), your child is entitled to child benefits from the first day of the month of the birth. And if not already entitled to child benefits in another country in accordance to a parents employment with an international institution such as the United Nations; your child receives maintenance in a country with which Belgium has a concluded deal for child benefits. Currently, Belgium has an agreement for child benefits with the following countries: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia; which are not part of the European Union ( EU ). If your child is raised in one of those countries you receive the child benefit from Belgium for a maximum of four children. This is an extra great help to everyone who raises a child for their needs.

Freedom

There is much freedom in Belgium, – freedom of speech is comprehensively exercised by the politician who voices out almost anything that they allowed to say everything. Then there is a right for protesting. When a large group is not satisfied with something, they exercise their rights and start to complain. However, the police officers typically are around to make sure that nobody will get harm when things turn out of control. Usually, when there is a riot, it doesn’t go out of hand.

Also, regardless, of religion, everyone has the right to exercise their own belief with no hassle. The right to be who you are as a person is an expression that you’re free in almost anything.

Infrastructure

The road in Belgium is built on high condition. There are no potholes, half-finished or dangerous roadways. The government has a lot of funds to fix the pavement whenever it seems impossible to drive through it.

Public Transportation

There is much public transportation in Belgium. Trams, trains, metros and buses. Granted that trains and buses are sometimes delayed however they will get you to where you need to be. The prices of public transportation are reasonable, and everybody has a chance to go where they want to be.

Cons of living in Belgium
Language

Belgium has three official languages, namely: Dutch, French and German; the Flemish region all speak Dutch 55% – making the most widely spoken language in the country, followed by the French community, the part of Wallonia 40 %. The least is German spoken official native word. These three languages are difficult to learn and it is very challenging too. Unfortunately, most Belgian communicate in English, so it is easy to be understood.

Racism

However, there is still a lot ( hidden ) racism in Belgium. When you’re particularly at school or on the streets; you might not get an attack, or they may not wail at you, but the racism is there… Racism often happens during job interviews discussing blackface character, Black Pete, short people and so on.

Taxes

Taxes are high in Belgium, it is considered as the world number one highest income tax rate with 42%. The Belgian needs to pay over a lot of taxes.


© Leonie M.

An Ancient Church That Turns To Different Function, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Saint Dominicanen Church it is used to be a place of worship to honouring God, but now it turns to be a bookstore; at first glance, it was sceptical to what I saw outside the church people are keep coming and going. Also, many questions hover in into my head: What are people doing in this generation changing things inappropriate way? So why they are doing this kind of things especially the house of God? Some sort of question that only I can answer. Our world is changing rapidly nowadays and even a church we are using as a dense of a marketplace — a place whereby sacred within the eyes of many believers for Catholic people alike. However, please don’t get me wrong. Well, it is just my perception of what I see around this church.

Saint Dominicanen Bookstore

To give you a short history of the Selexyz Dominicanen Church in Maastricht the Netherlands. Built-in was dating back on 1294 in the heart of Maastricht. It had have changed immensely of use since the time of Napoleon when they invaded his group out of the country in 1794. Since then, it has succinctly used as a parish church, a warehouse, an archive, and a considerable bicycles parking stone shed, and undeniably now into a bookstore. The building consists of 1,200 square meters and shopping floor space of 750 square meters.

Merkx + Girod designed the construction and renovated the church, with the new establishment lofty three-story black steel book heap highlighted up to the stone cellar. The uppermost shelves are attainable by a lift or stationary stairs within the gleam. Plus the structure interior had have won the prize in the year 2007.

Photos of the church now a bookstore

The beautiful ceiling of the bookstore
The third floor of the bookstore
The nave of the bookstore
The children’s book corner
The customers of the bookstore
The magazines area
It used to be an Altar now coffee corner

Upon entering the church, I am in great surprised that I did not expect to see such a massive selection of books. I have visited many places of bookstores but none like this, it is different, and it was utterly amusing. My view had changed as I went farther inside the Dominican bookstore. A few thoughts that have lingered into my mind again answering my questions; I have so much respect to the people who come up to an idea of turning the church into a bookstore though it had have served into various functions in the past.

The entrance of the bookstore at the left side corner you will find choices of selected postcards the arrangement that was organised well while at the right corner you will see the magazine and newspapers section.

I walked around to have a vivid look at every shelf which on display are books lay on it. I noticed that it has a sizeable selection of books across all subjects and a wide selection in Languages. To think of is not just books but also magazines, newspapers and postcards which are available to purchase. I love the scenery of the surrounding inside it inevitability lead you the insight you have been searching.

At the back of the church where the Altar used to be, they installed a cross shape learning table at the centre and a few numbers of chairs along with a contoured bench in it also with a small round table and a stool. While, on the left side, it is used to be a choir area now coffee stand section wherein you can sit on a chair and flip a book while reading, and at the same time having a cup of coffee or tea. I find this area very alluring and eye-catching.

I noticed that most of the customers are a tourist who comes from different places including myself. This place is an exciting place to indulge oneself in learning what the bookstores can offer to all its visitors around the world since it is quite a few numbers of people who keep coming and going and it’s non-stop. I wandered a long time inside the bookstore scrutinizes each shelf in every corner. All books categorized into its distinct use. Impressively well organize.

The bookstore is open every day on Monday at 10:00 am-6:00 pm. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9:00 am-6: 00 pm. Thursday 9:00 am- 9:00 pm and on Sunday noon – 6:00 pm.


© Leonie M.