I’ve been back for over 2 weeks now. I’ve talked about the other countries that we’ve visited during this trip, but this is the final post about my European vacation 2013 and I wanted to share some pictures about Belgium itself. If you missed the previous articles, I’ve already talked about my 20 km run in Brussels, our quick visit to Cologne, Germany, the beautiful countryside in Luxembourg, historically rich Bruges and finally The Netherlands.
Funny enough, Belgium is usually not on people’s list. You know, the list of countries they want to visit. Even while we were over there, when talking to locals, they’d always look at me with a weird look on their faces when I’d say I was there on vacation, and they’d ask “On vacation? in Belgium? That’s odd.” haha. Although having many beautiful parts in the country, no, Belgium was not on my list either. It’s usually a place where people just briefly stop, or drive-through, on their way to another neighbouring country. From what I’ve seen, I think Belgians actually like it that way. I don’t think they’re interested much in a booming tourist economy (they certainly don’t make it easy to travel around). But you know what? That’s ok too. Although I love to travel, I don’t agree with the “Americanized” way of traveling. I don’t like loud tourists, people who think that because they’re visiting they should be treated like royalty. I don’t like tourists flashing their cameras every 10 seconds or disturbing the everyday lives of people. I always try to be very respectful of others when I travel, and I can understand some culture not being interested in tourism.
Having said that, I still think you should make a few stops in Belgium if you have the chance, and not just in Bruges. If anything, I think you should plan it on purpose not to go visit the most tourist locations and go off the beaten path. That’s usually where you’ll find the best a place has to offer.
These were just extra places I got to visit, since the trip was, after all, based on the fact that I ran my 2nd half marathon (well, ok, it was only 20.1 km instead of a traditional 21.1 km, but oh well, it still counts, right?!).
Here are some pictures of various places in Belgium, taken along the way, visiting cute villages or some right behind my friend’s place where we were staying, with her super sweet cat named “Doc” (short for doctorate, not doctor). There is a hobby farm right behind, so most days we’d wake up to the sounds of baby goats or sheep crying. Lots of other animals too, ducks, geese, horses (they have some sort of educational program going on for kids. Great idea!). Nice trails around man-made lakes to go for a jog. Lots of food, waffles and chocolate of course (we went to the Neuhaus chocolate factory just outside Brussels, where you can taste before you buy! Sounds like chocolate heaven, but these truffles and chocolates are so rich that after 3 pieces, it’s hard to continue! I had to eat only half of the ones I liked and throw in the garbage the ones I didn’t like because I thought I was going to throw-up from so much chocolate. And I only tasted 8 kinds! haha), organic cafés and bakeries we stumbled upon along the way. I quite enjoyed finding a lot more organic options to eat over there, that’s for sure.
A couple of pictures of the hotel where we stayed for the first 3 nights of our trip, at the Sofitel Brussels Europe, a very nice place which I would recommend if you’re visiting Brussels. It was conveniently located close to the race start/finish line, which made it even better. The service was great and the staff helpful. I did however mention that it would be nice if the cleaning staff wouldn’t slam the doors in the morning when they’re cleaning(that seems to be a general problem in most hotels!).
We also went to visit the Hergé museum (Tintin), which was interesting. I am sharing a few pictures of that visit, although after being told near the end of the tour that I was not allowed to take pictures, I’d like to remind everyone that I do not own any kind of copyrights to these and the pictures are strictly for editorial use only. Just in case someone is wondering. haha Only for your viewing pleasure!
In Brussels, we saw La Grand Place (no, for those of you speaking French, that is not a typo) and the infamous statue of the little boy peeing. haha
On a final note, I had to put a picture of one of the cutest little girls, who was sitting on the plane beside me, with her young mom (I asked her mom’s permission to include this picture). If I remember correctly, the little girl’s name was Tanya and I believe she was around 3 years-old. Clearly her mom is doing a good job raising her because that little girl was very well behaved (especially on a plane), although energetic and entertaining! She was the star of the flight. Well-behaved and cute as a button, I’ve never seen someone get so much attention from staff and passengers. Treats and freshly-baked first class cookies, you name it. It really was cute to watch, so I had to include a picture of her, to finish the story of my Belgium trip. 🙂