An Ideal Vacation in Europe: Dinant, Belgium

Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant, Wallonia, Belgium.

Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Dinant, Wallonia, Belgium.

We collect cities. Small cities. Small cities of Europe. It started several years ago when my wife and I were in a position to travel a little bit more than we could before. Simultaneously, this travel blog was born.

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Puilaurens Castle: The Last Cathar Fortress

Ruins of the Cathar castle of Puilaurens, Languedoc, France.

Ruins of Cathar castle of Puilaurens, Languedoc, France.

In the 13th century, the Cathar Crusade of Pope Innocent III against heretics of Languedoc brought to submission many cities in the South of France. To his crusaders, the pope promised all the lands which they would free of Cathars. Of course, landlords of Languedoc didn’t like the idea of their properties being used as a prize. Together with the Cathars, they held the fort in their castles for 10, 20, and, in some cases, 50 years. Most of the castles were located on inaccessible rocks. Today, you will find just their remnants, but some of them have kept their greatness.

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Alkmaar Cheese Market or Donut Hole for Inexperienced Tourists

On the cheese market in Alkmaar, the Netherlands.

On the cheese market in Alkmaar, the Netherlands.

If we talk about Holland, we recall windmills, cheese, and tulips. But do you know the Netherlands is the second-largest producer of cheese in the world? The first one is France. Although my wife and I prefer French cheeses, we couldn’t resist the temptation to visit the Alkmaar cheese market (Kaasmarkt) in Holland, a region on the western coast of the Netherlands.

At the end of our two weeks of travel around Belgium and the Netherlands, when we already finished the investigation of key features of the Holland school of painting, we decided to visit Alkmaar, the Dutch city which is similar to our favorite, Bruges, Belgium, with its architecture and canals. It was Friday, the special day for this city, when usually cozy and quiet Alkmaar turns into a world-famous tourist center.

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