I’m Gretel. I live with my family in the East side of Belgium, in the Flemish region. Next to my dear family and friends I have two big passions: travel and photography. In this blog I am sharing my impressions from my wanderings close to home and a bit further away.
Born in the 70’s in Belgium, during the notorious world wide oil crisis. My parents were born during World War II, and their parents grew up during World War I. One way or the other this has influenced my upbringing and the way I look at “life”: trying to enjoy the little things, taking control on what I can control in my life and enjoying every day as if it could be my last.
I still live in the region I was born and grew up in. I never left. I always refused to move… for my studies in Brussels… for my work in Brussels, Antwerp, and later on other European cities. Why? Why am I so attached to this region? Of course, there are the obvious reasons of having my family and friends close by, the sound of the local dialects and the people around me having the same nice accent versus the rest of Flanders, the childhood memories, getting around without the need for a GPS, … Recently, I discovered a large part of my ancestors lived in this region for hundreds of years. I think I got it now: this was, is and always be home. Luckily my husband was fine with settling down here aswell, especially after comparing the real estate prices here vs more centrally in Belgium.
During my upbringing, we didn’t have the opportunity to travel the world and actually not many of my friends did. Only when I started to work with a large international company, the world opened up for me. Back in the 90’s, at age 23 and being employed for 2 weeks I was sent on a 3-week training in the US. I never saw a plane from up close up to that moment! What an experience! The US was so similar and yet so different. I liked this… I was getting curious: if the US was so different from Europe, what would the rest of the world then be like? I needed to know, and took every opportunity to explore since.
I like everything about travel, identifying where to go, researching, planning, creating buy in from my travel companions if any, calculating, comparing, booking, the travel itself, trying to take beautiful pictures, making the picture books and enjoying it again and again.
I also like visual stuff, beauty in nature, colors, patterns, compositions, pictures that tell stories, facial expressions, … Growing up, drawing was a big hobby of mine and later on photography came along, as a means to a goal: capturing this beauty and telling a story. This is for me still one of the main goals of my travels: capturing the beauty and telling a story. I am finishing of a series of photography classes to further develop and find my own style.
With having kids and becoming a mum, my travel approach also changed and keeps evolving. At least for the travel I do with my family. I was and still am determined to teach my kids to enjoy and embrace travel. I have planned several family vacations which we thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t like to book a vacation with an agency. I want to research and find the best I can get for our precious time off. I want to hand pick it, compare options and feel the power of choosing myself.
I travel a lot for work. I refuse to become one of many business travelers who only see the inside of airports, hotels, taxi’s and offices. Everywhere I go, I need at least a few hours off to explore. And if I am lucky – ie plan well – I can add a few days to really live it.
And after and in between all those travels, I deeply enjoy my home base.
In 2015 I was diagnosed with a rare illness. My world fell into pieces. It is under control now and I am rebuilding my life step by step. I started this blog to help me in this process and to continue to have a positive outlook on life.
On those moments you make a balance of your life: How did I do? How do I want to continue? The answer in my case was …. KEEP GOING with what you are doing and CONTINUE TO ENJOY!
Hope you enjoy the posts!