Tag Archives: Belgium

A Walk in Bruges – Part 1

Lars and I had tried to visit Bruges before, but it is quite difficult to reach the centre by car. And it is an even a bigger challenge to get rid of your car. Late in December 2016, we decided to go there by train, because the train station is quite near the city centre.

Upon leaving the station, Lars and I decided to follow the biggest mass of people, assuming everybody would go where we were going. We soon got lost in the cozy cobbled streets.

Then, suddenly Lars and I found ourselves at the Old St. John’s Hospital Site. The Hospital itself dates from the 11th century, whereas the surrounding buildings are from the 19th century. Nowadays the site is home to a museum and is used as a congress and exhibition centre. (Source: Wikipedia)

As soon as we left the site, we stumbled upon a Christmas market. It was a quite small one; I am not sure if this was the one and only market or if it was spread all over the city. Anyway, as you can see on the pictures, it was very crowded.

And then… Lars and I got hungry and thirsty! We also decided to come back another time when Bruges was less crowded. The cab driver who took us back to the station told us that the best time to visit the city is the second half of January. Because of my accident, we had to postpone our second visit. And we will go back as soon as I can walk longer distances again.

A Visit to China Light Zoo Antwerp

First of all, a short explanation for our absence of nearly two months.

On Sunday 22 January, Lars and I went to the canal to take pictures of the sunset and to experiment with filters and long exposures. Everything went well, until I made a nasty fall. Although my foot hurt like hell, we managed to return safely.

At first, I thought I had sprained my ankle and rested for a couple of days. But, when after four days my foot was still swollen and part of it had turned blue, we called the doctor. He sent me immediately to the hospital where after two hours of tests it turned out I had a fractured ankle. Six weeks of rest and half my leg in plaster: thank God for YouTube and Netflix!

But now we are back! At least with blogging. I hope that from next week on I will be able to make some excursions. But I am happy that the worst is over and that I am able to write, to photograph and to edit pictures again.

A week before the accident, a good friend of ours and I paid a visit to China Light Zoo Antwerp. This is what we saw at our arrival at the zoo.

I had bought a combination ticket, which included the train trip and the entrance to the light show for 22 euros. Since Leen already lives in Antwerp, she only had to pay for the entrance, which was about 15 euros. While she bought the ticket, I took a couple of test shots.

Part of the light show was dedicated to Chinese culture, history and events.

Gradually the theme changed and the zoo animals became the stars of the show.

The light installations became bigger and bigger. This was truly an impressive event!

There is no need to rush to the Zoo of Antwerp, because we visited China Light during its last night. A night to remember!

A Not So Successful Day in Dinant

The last Sunday before Christmas, Lars, Vanessa Morgan and I decided to visit Dinant, a beautiful town in the French-speaking part of Belgium. But things didn’t go as planned…

Problem number 1. There is no direct train between Brussels and Dinant. The only solution is a two-hour train-trip with lots of stops, something I wasn’t aware of when I bought the tickets.

Problem number 2. I had skipped breakfast that morning because I wasn’t feeling hungry and I thought we would be in Dinant very quickly, so I would grab a croissant in a bakery. But after the long train-trip I was actually starving.

Problem number 3. When I am very hungry and I can’t eat very soon, I become very grumpy and disagreeable. I am certainly aware of this and I am not proud of it.

Problem number 4. When we finally arrived in Dinant around 11 am, it took us more than half an hour to find a place to eat. Snack-bars were closed and most restaurants apparently serve hot food starting from noon only. I felt my blood-sugar going down and the troll in me was manifesting itself to the fullest.

Problem number 5. When I had finally eaten and had become my old self again, we decided to visit the Christmas market. Very quick visit indeed, since of the 10 (!) stalls, only half of them were open. And not the most interesting ones… Dinant is not actually a small town, so this Christmas market was a huge letdown.

Problem number 6. Miss Morgan wanted to buy the famous “Couque de Dinant” (Cake of Dinant). We had found a bakery who sold them, but Vanessa didm’t like their “Couques”; they were ugly and the wrong shape and size. So, we had to find another shop… And I hate shopping… But we did find them at last!

Problem number 7. It was very misty and the mist simply didn’t want to disappear. The weather conditions turned Dinant to the least photogenic place ever. Going up to the citadel and admiring and photographing the view was out of the question.

Problem number 8. We returned to the station quite frustrated, only to find out that our train to Brussels was limited to Namur, where we had to wait half an hour in the freezing cold for a train to Brussels. Why is every train station in Belgium so bloody cold?!?

Problem number 9. You are never going to be believe this… All the pictures I had taken that day had become corrupt!!!!! Can’t edit them, can’t put them on the website!!!

But…

  1. We can always go back, preferably in Spring or Summer when there is more to do and see in Dinant. So stay tuned!
  2. I do have a video of Lars trying to eat the (in)famous “Couque de Dinant”. They are made with only two ingredients, honey and wheat flour and they are extremely hard. As you can see for yourself in the video…

Winter Wonders in Brussels – Photo Essay

Winter Wonders is the official English name of Brussels’ Christmas market and all its activities. And it happens to be our favourite event of the year!

Muntplein/Place de la Monnaie

This is where Lars and I started our visit. In recent years, this place has become the home for the ice skating ring.

Grote Markt/Grand Place

Does this location need any introduction? Anyway, we absolutely loved the Christmas tree, which originates from Slovakia.

Beurs/Bourse

Where people gather to celebrate… New this year: Impulsion, luminous and sound-animated seesaws!

Sainte-Catherine Church

Origami, an audiovisual show, highlights contemporary and traditional Japan. Stalls sell Japanese specialties.

Sint-Katelijneplein/Place Sainte-Catherine

Lars and I always end our visit to the Christmas market here. We had some pasta and a couple of “jenevers” before we returned home.

Visiting A Farm in The Heart of Brussels

From a distance, the Maximiliaanpark, located in Brussels’ Noordwijk, looks like any other park in Brussels. But come closer and you will see that this place is home to a beautiful children’s farm.

The Maximiliaanpark has not always been a park. In the 19th century, a train station was located here, but its activities stopped in the fifties. Afterwards, the place functioned as a small airport for helicopters and in the eighties it was turned into a park with a children’s farm, which organises cultural and social events.

The park is home to the most common big and small farm animals, like goats, sheep and horses, except for cows. There are a couple of unexpected guests as well, like alpaca and a peacock, who struts his stuff. Some of these animals make an annual appearance in the Christmas stable at the Grand Place.

There is a quiet corner in the park with a small pond surrounded by artworks.

The Maximilaanpark is located right next to the metro-station Ijzer. One more remark: it closes quite early, between 4 and 5pm.

Meeting Mr. Darcy

As soon as I had seen his picture, I knew I wanted to meet him… He looked so handsome and gentlemanlike. I was seduced by his black fur and bright yellow eyes. Well, as you can imagine, I am not referring to the literary character, but to a cute cat!

About a week ago, horror writer Vanessa Morgan, Lars and I went to Ghent, to a cat café called DreamCatchers. The easiest way to reach it is by public transport. Go to the Korenmarkt by tram and then ask for directions to go to the nearby Schepenhuisstraat.

Open the door and you find yourself in a very cosy shop, selling a lot of products for your cat like food and funny cat-related items.

The café is spacious, very light and so inviting. For the decor and items such as plates, the owners worked together with local artists.

Time to order something! You can choose between lots of cold and warm drinks and sweet snacks, although the owners are thinking about including hearty food on the menu as well. All the proceeds go to local cat-shelters.

In the meantime, we met some of the feline companions: Jelske, who likes to pose and shy Jodie.

All the kitties, by the way, are up for adoption and come from local cat-shelters.

Finally, Mr. Darcy made his entrance. After some time, he claimed the hammock as his and took a nap.

There is one area where visitors are not allowed, the relaxation area.

All the cats mentioned in this post have been adopted in the meantime! In total, there have been 16 adoptions in 15 weeks!

Want to visit this charming place as well? Head over to their website and book. And have a look at their Facebook page as well for upcoming activities and events.

Here is the complete address:

DreamCATchers, Schepenhuisstraat 17, 9000 Gent.

All I can say now is: Bye, Mr. Darcy, I hope you have found a loving home!