Why did I go to Belgium, you may ask? Well, to keep it short - my best friend fell in love and moved there to be with her boyfriend in Kontich, a small town near Antwerpen. I miss her. She wanted me to visit. I was more than okay with that. Flights with Easyjet are very cheap and only take an hour from Basel to Brussels - there you go. I flew in Thursday evening and my friend and the BF got me in Brussels with his car. Back in Kontich, we stayed in at their apartment, cooked, and watched the last two episodes of Game of Thrones, season 2. Who doesn't like wildfire and dragons?
Anyway, here's a picture to show you how I basically slept in their library:
Anyway, on Friday, we got up sort-of-early and took the train to Antwerpen. It's a very beautiful city! We did some sightseeing and shopping and later met with a friend of theirs for coffee. It was a lot of fun! There was also a used books store and a comic and manga nerd-store (also English ones!) involved ;) See?
|This life-size spiderman is on the outside wall of the store.|
|They had a bit of everything.|
Here are some more impressions. If I know what the buildings are, I'm adding it to the captions. Click the pics to make them bigger.
|This one and the next 3 pictures are from inside the railway station. It was so beautiful!!|
|Random snapshot from one of the squares|
|This one is from inside what used to be an 18th century ballroom and was now restored in its gilded glory and turned into an upscale mall.|
|Traditional shop front behind the cathedral. There are lots of red brick buidings in Belgium, and I love it! There aren't many of those in Switzerland. It reminded me of England.|
That evening, we were really beat from all the walking, but we still decided to meet up with the boyfriend's friends in the neighboring town of Duffel (not pronounced like the duffel in duffel bag) for the traditional Christmas tree burning. Yup, everyone brings their trees to the town square, where they're lit on fire at night. It was cold, but really fun!
Thankfully, the BF's friends also spoke English. I understand some Dutch (it's like a mixture of English and Swiss German) but not when several people are talking at once and a band is playing. The second cover band was really awesome and played all these songs from the 80s that everyone can just sing along to. It was so much fun! People were friendly and outgoing, we started dancing, and suddenly I found myself in a huge Polognese that trampled all over the square. We went home around midnight, stinking of woodsmoke from the fires.
The next day, we had planned to go to Ghent but the weather wasn't so awesome and we were lazy, so we stayed in. I watched my friends play the Lego Marvel Heroes and Lord of the Rings games on Playstation, read a bit, watched Iron Man... it was nice. We went to bed early-ish because we had to get up early to drive 1.5 hours to Bruges on Sunday morning.
Have you ever seen the movie In Bruges? If not, you should!! It's fun (if you get dark humor), and sad, and just... crazy. It also has the highest frequency of F-bombs (usually at least one per sentence) I've ever heard used in a film, just to warn you if you've got a problem with that. But yeah. It's a lovely medieval town with beautiful buildings, shops, and awesome chocolate! Here are some impressions.
|Yummie chocolates! We call them pralinés here, and they were better than the Swiss ones! For regular chocolate bars, I prefer my native ones though ;)|
|Lots of people took tours of the town with carriages.|
|Many lovely small alleys.|
|If you've seen the movie - yes, this is that tower!|
|The Grote Markt square.|
|I love that there's a compass / clock on top of this building!|
|This sugary colorful cones are a Belgian specialty.|
|Cute waffle shop :)|
|Allegedly, they have Jesus' blood in there. We didn't go in to check.|
|The façade is very beautiful though!|
|They also have Grachten!|
|We thought it was a bit cold for a boat tour...|
|The BFF and me :) I'm on the left, in case you don't know my face ;)|
|I meant to take a picture of the flowers for my dad, but ended up loving the reflection on the water!|
|Bruges is also famous for its lace shops.|
|I love foreign street signs :)|
|The beautiful Queen Astrid Park.|
|And the pavillon there. Again, if you've seen In Bruges, you know the place ;)|
|Lots of houses had the year of their being built written somewhere.|
|I love that spider web window!|
|This tiny Döner kebab shop stood amidst more modern buildings so I just had to take a pic.|
Here's a map so you can see where I was. The first one is of the bigger context (where is Belgium in relation to Switzerland), the second is within Belgium.
|I live in Zurich, flew from Basel, and stayed near Antwerpen.|
|I landed in Brussel, stayed in Kontich near Antwerpen. Bruges is more to the left/east near the coast.|
I hope this was interesting for you guys as well, and that you liked the pictures! If you did, it'd be lovely if you left a comment. I also have pictures from Prague, Florence, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Budapest... but I feel a bit silly sharing them if no one actually cares to see them.
Do you ever take short trips? If so, what do you go see?