International Internet Friends: Brussels & Holland Edition

So much of our trip’s success relied on the kindness of Internet friends!

First, sweet Katherine in Brussels offered to let us stay at her home outside of Brussels for a few nights before we headed in to Bruges to start our trip.  Imagine our car-centric surprise when she arrived with a bicycle and two adorable children to carry our luggage to her house!


** Jordan’s not in the Army. But, he’s using my mom’s old US Army duffle which I used to use to travel all over the world. After this trip, we are so not going to travel with it overseas. Oy.

Can I tell you that these kids are the greatest?!? Like Linus, they liked Jordan better than me. He managed to do two different arts and crafts projects with them at the same time. Katherine and I were busy talking sewing machines.

IMGP0254Also, when you speak to these cuties in English, they respond in French. IT WAS SO STINKING CUTE. We’d say, ‘I don’t speak French. Anglais? Anglais?’ and they’d look at us like we were simpletons, sigh politely and and say like three words in English. Their mom speaks to them in English, but she understands their French when they respond.   You know how they say ‘Hello, Kitty’? ‘Hallo Keeety!” I wanted to die of cute overload.


Katherine also took some time to show me how to make vegetarian dolsot bibimbap from Korea. Mmmmm. We’ve been talking about this for years!

From Katherine’s, we headed to Bruges to start our week of biking and barging from Belgium into Holland. At some point I may get myself together to actually talk about the non sewing related parts of the trip!


After our week of biking, our clothes were so so terribly smelly. And, being American, we expected the laundromat in Amsterdam to be open all night long. Not only did the laundromat by our rented flat in close at 3:00 pm on Saturday, it wasn’t even open on Sunday. Jordan was literally out of clothes (I was washing mine as we went along. He… wasn’t). I emailed Valerie who lived in the neighborhood for suggestions of other places to try. Since we were staying in her neighborhood,  she cheerfully suggested we do it at her house. First, she saved us like 25 Euros. But, second, we got to drink wine while the laundry was running and talk to she and her husband all about Amsterdam, the neighborhood, the politics of the city and country. We’re policy geeks so loved getting to hear the un PC version of what was going on in Holland.


The next day, she also escorted us to meet up with Hilde (on the left and Valerie on the right) and tour the Monday fabric market in Amsterdam. Did you hear that? OUT DOOR FABRIC MARKET.

Hilde came bearing gifts: A men’s issue of Knip Mode and some beautiful lace in her stash for lingerie sewing! (I thought I took a photo…)  Do you see Jordan stretching a little to improve his height? He spent a lot of trip noting women he could look in the eye and men he had to look up to. The Dutch are tall!

After touching all the fabric at the market (and buying something I didn’t take a photo of), Hilde came along with us to Rotterdam where Marta was there to give us an insiders tour. Rotterdam is a Baltimore’s Sister City. But, the city is also known for it’s modern architecture and I thought Jordan would get a kick out of it. Can you believe Marta took time off work to show us around??


Marta was an excellent guide. She showed us all her favorite spots and sites that Rotterdam is known for.


I think Jordan’s finally gotten used to meeting my ‘internet friends’ when we travel. I’m just really glad we had enough time and people were so generous with theirs! To be honest, I totally added an extra day to our trip just to make sure I could get my fix.





  1. I think you are single-handedly sewing the whole world together! Thank you for adding to our faith in humanity.

  2. Such an encouraging story. It is so awesome to meet others you converse with online in person finally. It certainly does open our little sewing room up to a whole new level. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Ah this is such a lovely post! I’m currently travelling and meeting up with as many stitchers as I can and it makes my heart grow 3 sizes every time. Plus I love seeing your holiday snaps 🙂

  4. So lovely! Thanks for sharing. I remember Katharine from Pattern Review. Even though neither of us has posted anything there for a while, she is still listed as one of my favourite reviewers.

    • Thanks Sandra! I remember you too and your lovely photos. I also have you as a fave reviewer 🙂

  5. Your trip sounds so awesome, and the hospitality you received is amazing. Can’t wait to see some of your new creations with your new purchases.

  6. This is my preferred method of travel. Stay in a friend’s place. Drink wine while blitzing the laundry. Me and hotels do not get along as well as staying in a home.
    There ought to be a site for couch sewing/surfing.
    I’d sign up in a minute if I knew the people staying in my home liked to collect fabric.

    • YESSSSS!!!! I pretty much feel like any sewist traveling can stay on my sofa if they’ll talk machines with me.

      On Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 2:02 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:


      • Cidell is gracious enough to not mention that she sang for her supper and gave me a private blindstitch machine class 🙂

    • Wow! What an awesome experience! You are a genuine sewing ambassador! If only everyone in the world could extend such kindness, what a wonderful world it could be (in my Louis Armstrong voice!)

  7. I hope I can attend a baltimore meet-up of your internet friends… i’m not overseas, but i like to talk about sewing…

  8. Oh I agree. Internet sewing friends are awesome and a meet up makes a trip. I had a great time with the Berkeley sewists just last month. Lovely memories and reaffirmed faith in humanity.

  9. Gurl, you know how to travel! You & Jordan couldn’t help but have a good time. Love the laundry story!

  10. Your trip sounds fantastic and connecting with locals makes it so much more enjoyable. It is one of the most beautiful thing people do… connect, trust, and let people into their homes. I love travel! I have friends who helped my then boyfriend and I out with a night in their house and I have been friends with them since… that was 1992 and every year or two at the most we connect up somewhere in the world.

  11. Aren’t the outdoor markets amazing?! Such a treat to see and shop for fabric outside. It is so bizarre how early things close in the Netherlands. I asked my co-workers when I was there how they got things done when they work all day and they just took time out of work or did shopping on Saturday or like 95% of the guys said, my wife does it. I’m so glad you have friends that helped you with laundry. Hooray! Clean clothes are so wonderful.

  12. You have such a knack for making friends with the greatest people. No small feat, that! Thanks for letting us tag along on your honeymoon!

  13. Sounds like you had a well deserved fantastic trip. And what a nice way to spend a honeymoon – introducing your husband to friends from afar! Thank you for sharing it with us. Rachel 🙂

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