Home>Travel inspiration

Featured Traveler: Alison Cornford-Matheson

share this article

Article continues below advertisement

share this article

Being an expat in any city isn’t always smooth sailing. But we would move to Belgium just because Alison Cornford-Matheson is there to make life easy. Her website, CheeseWeb.eu, doesn’t just cover dairy (though there’s plenty of good dairy to be had). It’s a full-fledged resource for expats living in Belgium. But you don’t have to be an expat in Belgium to benefit from her expertise! Her Highlights and Wanderlists should be your first stop in planning a trip.

shrimp fishing on horseback, belgium

See all of Alison’s Highlights and Wanderlists.

Right now I’m in Brussels, Belgium.

Though I would much prefer to be in Croatia, eating oysters just pulled out of the bay at Ston and washing them down with a big glass of Croatian red wine.

Occupation: Travel photographer, writer and editor of CheeseWeb.eu, a website about great things to see, do and eat in Belgium.

My next trip is to Hong Kong and Borneo.

First international trip: Growing up in Saint John, New Brunswick, an hour from the US border, I had traveled all over the United States by the time I was 13. My first overseas trip was a whirlwind tour of Europe, in 2001. I had no idea then I’d be living here permanently, only a few years later.

My photos are my most treasured travel souvenirs.

Article continues below advertisement

Favorite hotel: It’s hard to pick just one, so here are two totally different experiences: The Vivanta by Taj is an incredible resort in Kerala, India and Holling Grange is a cozy set of self-catering cottages in Herefordshire England. The food and scenery at both is to die for. You can find them in my Highlights.

Favorite restaurant: I’m such a foodie, so again, it’s an impossible choice. The food is one of the best things about living in Belgium so for my top picks, check out my Belgium for Foodies Wanderlist.

Favorite local style/most stylish place: I love the flare and colour of Amsterdam and Antwerp has an incredible fashion scene, as well.

If you’re in Belgium, particularly in the summer, don’t miss attending one of the hundreds of festivals. They cover everything from food, to culture, to music, to utter quirkiness, like the Dinant Bathtub Races or the Ypres Cat Parade.

Preparation: guidebook, online research, or seat of your pants? A little bit of everything, as I’m a travel-porn junkie. I love local knowledge though so blogs and websites like AFAR are my first go-to sites.

Three travel apps you can’t live without: AFAR, Trip Advisor and Google Maps.

What’s the one hometown place you miss most while traveling? As an expat, home is always hard to define. In Canada, I miss the Bay of Fundy and fresh lobster. When I’m away from Brussels, I miss our cozy hangouts like Britxos.

Where do you always take out-of-town friends? The Dandoy Tea Room for waffles.

Article continues below advertisement

Fly solo or travel with family/friends/tour group? I love travelling with loved ones, whether that’s my husband, Andrew, my family or friends. For me, travel is better when you can share the experience.

If I had a whole month to travel, I would go to Eastern Europe, particularly Romania and Bulgaria.

If I had a whole year to travel, I would go to India and Southeast Asia.

Favorite foreign word or phrase: I love the German word for asparagus, spargle. I’m sure spargles use ‘jazz-hands’ often. 

Favorite foreign tradition: I love the care and attention to detail given to food in Belgium: every beer is served in its own special glass, coffee is always served with a chocolate, diners linger over meals and aren’t encouraged to leave so restaurants can turn over tables faster.

Travel has taught me you can plan as much as you like but you will always encounter something unexpected.

more from afar