a visit to the royal greenhouses

A friend of my mother’s had given her a tip to visit the royal greenhouses at Laeken, in a suburb of Brussels. Unfortunately, my mom’s springtime visit did not coincide with the opening of the greenhouses to the public, which only happens for three weeks each year. However, I did follow the recommendation and made sure that I went when they were!

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I took the metro then walked through a lovely park before arriving at the royal palace in Laeken. I was surprised to note a massive line across the street from the gates and was not pleased to learn that I would have to wait in it before I could go inside. I had the bad luck of arriving just as a few tour busses were unloading their passengers, so it ended up taking me over an hour to get inside, partly due to the heavy security screening visitors need to go through. However, it was a beautiful day (it would not have been fun to wait in the rain!), I brought my Kindle, and I really had nothing better to do… so wait, I did.

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The greenhouses themselves are gorgeous and the visitors’ route takes you out through the orangery, then around the greenhouses to start at the far end and walk back to the orangery through them. Because it was such a beautiful day, I loved seeing the vast grounds full of flowering and budding trees, with a lovely view of Brussels in the distance. That being said, had it been a rainy day (and those are far too common here), I don’t think the visit would have been quite as nice.

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I’m already looking forward to revisiting them next year!

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hallerbos, the magical bluebell forest

After the long, gray days of winter, spring in Belgium is a welcome reprieve. In fact, the flowers here are absolutely incredible! I had read about Hallerbos, a forest that becomes carpeted in bluebells each spring. Depending on the weather, the best time to visit the forest for the bluebells can be anywhere from the end of March to the beginning of May. However, the flowers don’t stay blue for more than a few weeks, so there’s a short window to see them.

We took a trip there at the very beginning of April, but the flowers were only just beginning to peek through the forest floor, more white than blue. The forest itself is gorgeous so the drive from Brussels (20 minutes or so) was well worth it, but it did mean we had to go back again: we did, and it was definitely worth it!

I felt like we were walking in a fairytale; unfortunately, the pictures don’t do it justice!

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