📸 —Antwerp & Brussels, Belgium

The land of waffles, chocolate, fries, gold and beer! Oli had the chance to visit Brussels for the first time 4 years ago, so this time he had a list of things lined up to check out, and of course eat.

As we were planning a friend of Olivier from school was also going to be in Brussels the same time as us. They hadn’t seen each other in a couple years and an afternoon of catching up was in order.

One thing that really sticks out in the two cities we visited was the city centre or grand place is so shiny and covered in gold. Beautiful buildings that stand out from the rest.

With a week to visit, we were well fed and relaxed as we toured around.

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Central Station
Belgian bull dogs!
Antwerp has an adorable square of restaurants and clock towers.

Over the past year, it is crazy how many buildings and landmarks have been under restoration. Most major spots across Europe have been in a similar state. 2018 is the year of rebuilding!

Looking at the buildings on one side of the square in Antwerp
Then the other side was stormy. The clouds were crazy and it looked like all hell would break loose!
We walked around for a bit in between two rainfalls.
Lunch at a place called Gollem. All the Belgium beers were finally easy to find and at a reasonable price. We befriended the owner and Oli got nerdy talking about craft beer.
This is the coldest weather we’ve had thus far this year. 19 degrees and sun! ❤

This is a bar where an old couple lives. They pioneered the craft beer scene in Europe offering all styles of experimental and traditional beer, and organized the first festivals. You can visit their house, where you will find old trinkets and things and of course, a ridiculous list of beer.

Oli ordered a bottle to share with a new friend we made from Boston. And the poor old man had to run across the street to their other cellar to get the beer for us since they have so much stored!

Brussels Central Station.
Brussels had a totally different vibe than Antwerp. Antwerp was a tiny students town, not much to doo, but Brussels had a lot going on.
We stayed at a super central Airbnb which was great, and it was so peaceful and comfortable until Saturday night when a huge party happened on the street, and kept us awake until 5am. The joys of central living!
Frites belges!
The royal gallery a nice upscale shopping place with great waffles.

There are two types of waffles you can try — the Brussels waffles, or Liège waffles. Belgian is lighter and rectangular shaped. The other is more doughy, fluffy and irregular. Both with sugar, or whipped cream, or fruit, or chocolate is a winner!

Pano of the Grand Place.

Like many places in Europe, you can drink a beer on the street. You have to be careful in the Grand Place, it is pickpocket and selfie central! :P

We walked to dinner at a very old restaurant famous for their mussels. The saying mussels in Brussels NEVER gets old!

The American— a tartar type dish and a garlic and parmesan mussels dish

There is a strip of bars called the Delirium and a block long, all have their own theme / drink style you can enjoy. We stopped by the and had a glass of Absinthe, the first time Maeghan had ever had it! This is her trying to melt the sugar cube with water into the glass.

We did a walking tour on our second day and our tour guide Fraser from Scotland has lived in Brussels for the last 7 years and started the Sandeman’s tours in the area. He was so awesome and loves this city. We really enjoyed his jokes, stories and insights for the city.
Belgium like the Netherlands has a King and a government appointed. This is the King’s palace in Brussels.

Brussels is also the home of the European Union offices, and 188,000~ people work at these offices… which means that almost 10% of the entire city population of Brussels works at the EU!

This is the royal park — not much grass at all in the city, but the trees turning yellow and the sun beaming at 24 degrees was the best afternoon weather!
Brussels is really into comics. Famous ones include Tintin, Asterix & Obelix, Spirou, Lucky Luke.

You can walk through the city and enjoy the art works mostly in comic type form across the walls. The above picture is in the gay village. It shows how happy and inclusive the city is.

Manneken Pis. The 8th wonder of the world.

Just kidding… but it is a hot spot for tourists. The translation of Manneken Pis is “little boy peeing” and this was the area of town that the poor people of Brussels would sell their urine that was used for dying leather.

This is also where the saying “piss poor” comes from!

Also, Manneken Pis has over 1000 different outfits and every day you walk by, you can see him dressed differently. There is even a museum of all his outfits

Here are two of the outfits we saw. Crazy selfieing asians included.
Next was the long awaited trip to Cantillon. Oli booked a tour of the brewery (that hilariously was also under construction) and got to enjoy some great beer.

When we were in Amsterdam, Oli had to make a choice if he wanted to participate in the Cantillon yearly release of the Zwanze beer, or go to a concert by The Pineapple Thief. We picked the concert which was a lot of fun.. and the best lucky occurred, when we got to the brewery we had the chance to taste the Zwanze beer a week after its release (You can’t find this stuff anywhere but the brewery!) Best of both worlds.

Something old and something new.

On Saturday, our new Belgian friend Clara spent the day with us walking around and talking about the city. We learned lots about Brussels.

Belgium is a country cut in half when it comes to Language: they speak mostly Flemish (Dutch) and French. The South speaks french and the North speaks Flemish, but the city capital is in the middle of the Dutch speaking zone, and speaks majority of French! Phew, how’s that for a complex situation.

University is cheap and well recognized across the EU there, so many French students come to get their degrees. And they have two of the biggest offices in Europe, the European Union HQ and United Nations HQ.

There is over 180 different cultures or nationalities that live in Brussels making it one of the most unique places when it comes to hearing so many different languages in one spot at one time.

We walked around this large flea market that had so many random things.
This tiny ID card had a love note inside and was for sale for just a few cents. I’m sure it has such a beautiful story behind it.
Fall is happening!

Little things you notice when you have free time :) But in the air, there are dozens of cloud streams from planes. In Canada, you are lucky to see one or two stand alone jet streams but in Europe, especially in Amsterdam and Brussels, there are dozens streaming at all points of the day.

Looking cool with Clara.
Last waffle before we go back to The Netherlands!
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