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Belgium; Antwerp and Bruges

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Antwerp was my next destination in my European tour being made up hastily as I went along. After waiting for it to stop raining for a while so I could walk to the train station I eventually decided to just go, got quite wet but managed to get to Antwerp at a reasonable time to still check the city out that day. I met my next csurfer there who was waiting for me and ready to show me around. Antwerp is quite a large city and he took me to several spots I know I wouldn’t have found on my own. This street full of these fantastic art nouveau houses was one such place, nowhere near the centre of town.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau

The cathedral dominates the city skyline and the historic town is awesome and well preserved. The main square is lined with cafes and bars and in the middle there’s a fountain telling the story of how the city got it’s name.

town hall

The Cathedral

The legend apparently goes that when the giant was defeated and killed here, his hand was cut off and thrown into the river. Roughly translated: Antwerpen = Hand throwing. Cool fountain.

fountain in the main square

The next day, I went to Bruges. I was planning on staying there but hadn’t gotten any luck on couchsurfing but my host in Antwerp let me stay another night there. Since Bruges in only an hour away on the train I spent pretty much the whole day there. For anyone who hasn’t heard of Bruges, go watch In Bruges and you will see what a nice place it is. I’d been here before, the first time I toured Europe so I didn’t go up the belfry again and go in all the churches etc, just walked around and soaked it up. I had more important things to do… Here’s a few shots I took.

main square

canal around the old town

the belfry

I essentially spent the day enjoying what Belgium does best. This meant waffle stands, beer bars and chocolate shops. The first beer bar I went to had this sign on the window…

beer bar with 400 kinds of beer

This is the beer menu (and my 1st beer).

beer menu

When I was handed such a menu at first I was in awe, then it quickly became clear that choosing from 400 beers is very hard when you haven’t heard of 90% of them and the ones I haven’t heard of are the ones I want to try while I’m here. That’s where bartenders come in. After a couple there, I went a couple doors down the road to a beer shop (rightly named the Bier Tempel) with walls of bottles and picked out a DIY sixpack to take with me for post Belgium travel. On my way to another beer bar I picked up some chocolates for the road as well.


The next place I went was in an old basement, with cool stone arches throughout and offered a mere 150 beers.

entrance to a basement beer bar

Tried some more beers there and by this point I needed to head back for the train to Antwerp so I grabbed a waffle on the way back. You could say this was one of the most enjoyable days of the trip.