When I first arrived in Belgium ... I met Kitten. I wasn't too sure at first but once I had a chance to get over my jet lag, we became best buddies.
Now let me tell you about Belgium. The Kingdom of Belgium is a state in Western Europe. It has a northern border with The Netherlands; in the east it has a border with Germany. Luxembourg can be found in the south east and France will be found south. The North Sea is west of Belgium. The capital is Brussels. It has a federal state system that exists of Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels.
The first weekend the weather was spectacular and we went sailing along the Belgian coast. I was scared at first but I was tied down very well so that I wouldn't end up in the water. At one stage though, I thought they were going to make me walk the plank and practice their "men over board" maneuver - I was not amused.
In the end the sailing was a big success I even had fun doing my Titanic moment and a chance to see the Belgian coast from the water.
The Belgians appear to be very proud of their 66 km coast line and use up almost every inch. We started off in Blankenberge and made our way to Zeebrugge checking out the crescent shaped mole and stopping for some famous seafood.
My favorite was Knokke-Heist, the St Tropez of Northern Europe. It was a collection of five villages that line the northeastern end of the Belgian coast. We even took the Coastal Cruise! The next weeks I spent in Antwerp. Antwerp is the capital of the province of Antwerpen in Flanders, northeast Belgium (Western Europe). The city is on the right bank of the river Scheldt (Flemish Schelde, French Escaut) and the port of Antwerp is the second largest seaport in Europe.
We went on a pub crawl. I am not a big drinker, despite what the photos show! However, I don't remember how I ended up, upside down in the bag! Maybe the fact that Belgium contains thousands of cafés that offer a wide selection of beer, ranging from 10 in a small local café, to over 1000 in a specialist Café, had something to do with it.
During my stay I had tons of famous Belgian chocolate. It had a pure cocoa flavor because no vegetable shortening is used. Most tourists know that Belgium is a chocolate paradise. Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate per year in over 2,130 chocolate shops!
I had fun riding a bike and checking out Antwerp. Diamonds District begins on Pelikaanstraat on the west side of the Central Station. It spreads out along the Vestingstraat, Rijfstraat and Hoveniersstraat. Within an area of less than one square kilometre you can find around 1,500 diamond companies and four diamond exchanges.
Then we went to the Town Square. There are so many beautiful buildings to see - it is surrounded by guild houses and 16th century Stadhuis (City Hall). In the center of the Grote Market is the symbol of the city – a statue of Salvus Brabo - a legendary fighter of giants and founder of the city.
I even have a picture or two sitting on the statue next to the dragon. Just off the square you can see the Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal (Our Lady’s Cathedral). I recognized the gothic structure immediately, it’s impossible to miss. I have been told that it’s a Top 10 and a ‘must see’ for any visitor to Antwerp.
One of my favorite places was the Antwerp Central Station which is often referred to as the Rail Road Cathedral of Antwerp. It was a grand neoclassical building with post-modern details influenced by neo baroque - Or let's just say eclectic style. We had soooo much fun taking the pictures. Do check them out!
Thank you to Agnes and her friends. I had a wonderful time.