Thursday, 2 September 2010

A Belgian Adventure

The other month I made a trip to Belgium by Eurostar! I was envisaging an exciting trip on the Eurostar train (in my head it resembled the Orient Express) but alas, it was just a train, and a very unglamorous one at that. Here's a little account of the trip anyway!

Day 1
I arrived into the capital, Brussels, in the evening, and met up with my friend who was working out there for the summer at the European Parliament. We headed out into the city to soak up the cafe culture - well, the lager culture! - even the tiniest cafes had a huge menu of beers, and each one had its own branded glass. I got to practice my French a little, but I was very rusty and couldn't get the accent right without feeling I was in an episode of 'Allo 'Allo and getting the giggles!

Day 2
A trip to Antwerp! In the North of Belgium, Antwerp is closer to The Netherlands than France and has much more of a Dutch feel to it in the architecture, as well as the population speaking more Dutch than French. So after having tried out my French the previous night, I then had to try and remember what few words of Dutch I could! Very confusing!

The first thing that struck us on our arrival there was the absolutely stunning Art Nouveau railway station, it was beautiful.

Wandering around the city, we browsed through a few markets (not much vintage!) and I got to try out a Belgian waffle on a stick. High on the sugar rush, we then went to the artist Ruben's house, a 16th Century house that he turned into an elegant Renaissance-Baroque home. Some homes of this age can feel quite dark and stuffy but this house had some wonderful windows that let in a lot of light from the courtyard and garden beyond, and the art collection on display was worth the entrance fee alone.

Some more scenes from Antwerp:

In the evening we were back in Brussels, and headed to 'The Beach', a riverside area full of food stalls and cocktail bars, and even a stretch of sand!

Day 3
Also known as the day my camera died, alas! The most exciting day, and the most interesting for you readers, is therefore not documented in pictures. But we did have a rather lovely time in which we visited chocolate boutiques, Art Nouveau buildings, vintage and antique shops and French cafes. We also saw the 'Mannequin Pis', which is a small statue that the Belgians take delight in dressing up in costumes. Very odd that a country with such fictional figures as Tin Tin and Hercule Poirot chooses to revere instead a small statue of a boy peeing!

So, I'll leave you with one more snaps of Brussels at night (Art Nouveau arcade), and leave you to imagine the amazing chocolate shops, which are done out like high-end jewellery stores with glass counters, marble floors and very thin assistants in black (obviously they don't eat the products..).

Have a good weekend all, I'm off to a wedding by the seaside!

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