This way to adventure!

Hi there!

I’m Emily. I’m a writer living an unexpected expat life fueled by coffee and adventure. Home is where my art is.

(Currently: Brussels)

Flowers fit for a king.

Flowers fit for a king.

In some ways the past few weeks have been unremarkable, settling back into routine after traveling quite a bit in early Spring. In other ways, they’ve been big.

{Related post: Episode 109.}

I’ve been trying to be gentle with myself but didn’t really appreciate how much my soul tank needed a good filling until I was in the middle of a day devoted to just that. Funny how that works sometimes, isn’t it?

I was glad when a friend from last semester’s French class suggested the other day that we visit the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken. They’re only open 3 weeks a year and they’ll be closed again after Friday. I’d been meaning to get over to see them but with a calendar that keeps populating itself and a to-do list that never feels fully to-done, it’s been entirely too easy to push off a field trip. Plus, I couldn’t get myself terribly excited for an hour long tram ride across town.

I’m not sure why my friend’s suggestion was just what I needed but it was. I find that’s often the case — a plan to rendezvous with another person gets me outside of my routine and out of the house (where it’s entirely too easy to find a day gone before it’s barely started).

I’m so glad she nudged. We spent the most delightful few hours in the shelter of the enormous buildings while rain gently pitter pattered down on the glass panes above our heads.


Neither of us were entirely sure what to expect but a €2,50 admission fee (donated to the Queen’s charity) and sitting in traffic for a while seemed a reasonable bet to place that we might see something cool. It paid off and then some.

The grounds the greenhouses sit on are impressive. (The site is, of course, a royal palace.) But the real spectacle starts when you’ve twisted your way around the back of the complex and finally get to enter the greenhouses themselves.

Corridor after corridor was filled with explosions of pink and magenta and red. The way was a bit crowded at times but hallways branching off from the arterial walking path had been roped off, leaving opportunities for photos without people “sullying” the shot. In a time before digital cameras, this could have easily been a 4 roll stroll. And that’s before getting to the majestic winter garden. (My friend joked that she had taken at least 300 photos and I’m pretty sure she came close.)

It’s hard to convey the grandeur of Laeken. And it’s easy to imagine how a novice gardener might get turned around in the never-ending gardens under the glass. It’s even easier to see how I got lost in their beauty.

If you go: Opening of the Royal Greenhouses
* The greenhouses are only open to the public 3 weeks a year. In 2019, they’re open through 10 May.
* Prepare for crowds, especially if you’re driving. There are parking spots (free!) available across the road from the main gate of the palace, but patience and good parking skills will be required. (In retrospect, taking the tram might have been easier/more convenient.)
* Admission is €2,50 (under 18 are admitted gratis) and a guide (NL/FR/EN) is available for €1. Get the guide, it’ll help with context.
* Plan for 2-3 hours, particularly if you geek out on plants or taking photos of plants. (Bring your macro lens if you really geek out on taking photos of plants.)
* Be prepared for crowds. It wasn’t completely mobbed when we visited but we arrived early on a rainy weekday.

Plan B.

Plan B.

Episode 109.

Episode 109.