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Brussels, Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

Day 9

with such an early flight, we reached Brussels ard 9.45am. this is where we start feeling the language barrier, almost everything is in French or Dutch. we only make things/directions out from the little diagram beside d words.

anyway, after 45min of waiting for our luggage, we head for the bus station, following instructions given by our host in Brussels, Bertrand. we need to change to a tram at one of d stops and we had to ask for directions. she started to direct us where to go and which directions to take for the tram, in French and at d same time with lotsa pointing and signing! we didnt understand what she was saying but we understood her directions. it was a rather funny sight i have to say!

we managed to follow d lady's instructions and reached our destination without much trouble. after a short rest at our host's nice home on the 4th floor, we took a tram just to see a bit of d town. we ended up near the Atomium! nice surprise! This Eiffel Tower of Belgium apparently went thru some major cleanup and is now shiny n Bright!

we tried to have an early night but we werent very sucessful at all! we spent the night cooking n chatting with our host over dinner.

Day 10

d weather wasnt much better than yesterday but we started on our walking tour anyway. we walked thru the 'posh' street where all d big brands are (obviously we didnt do any shopping there!). our 1st stop is Palais de Justice. d building is HUGE n really old n wasnt maintained. so it wasnt very nice. but d building was on a higher ground n we managed to get a good view of Brussels city from d back of d building.

we then took a long walk to the Royal Palais de Belgium. apparantly there's 2 palaces, 1 is in d city and d other just outside. or cos we werent allowed in to neither of them so we only took photos outside it.

we went into the Brussels Park across d palace n had ice cream there! yes we were freezing but eating ice cream! it was cool! d ice cream doesnt melts easily cos of d weather so u can really enjoy it slowly!! there are many statues in d park but none of them were well maintained. some were covered with algae n other slime. d fountains were either dried or really dirty. so it was quite a pity that the beautiful park was not very pretty.

on our way to d Grand Place/ Grote Markt, we pass by this nice little garden Place du Petit Sablon where there's lotsa statues of important people who helps bring prosperity to Brussels. what i cant understand is that ALL d statues has huge calf muscles! every single one of them!

we walked thru the shopping areas where we had a late lunch... fries! our host had told us earlier that d fries here are excellent n we must really try it! so we did that. they were indeed nice! more chunky n tasty n they dont turn soggy when they're cold! yum!!! after lunch, we actually visited some chocolate shops and of cos we have to buy some chocolate... how can i walked into a Belgian Chocolate shop without buying chocolate!??!?!?? we went into 3 stores n bought something from each shop (all were dark chocolate, my fave!!!). we decided to stop entering chocolate shops cos we knew we will be tempted to buy more...

just going to these few places in d city already took us like 3-4 hrs! the city is not as small as our host told us!! we decided to wait for nightfall so we can see d Grand Place/Grote Markt at night with all d lights. we picked a not so crowded restaurant just behind the main square and ordered mussels. a huge pot was served shortly, with fries (a little toooo much fries in 4 hours). it was really nice to have a piping hot pot of mussels in a cold weather like this! d mussels were really good n fresh and we cleaned d pot out without much effort! guess what we have for dessert?...... yes! waffles!! i ordered 1 with chocolate sauce... very very yummy but a tad bit overloaded with sugar.. ahahahah...

by d time d sun went down around 9pm, i was pretty happy cos i think i won't be able to stuff myself anymore than i did! saw d nicely lit Grand Place/Grote Markt. it was very very beautiful indeed! we were clicking our cameras away like there's no tomorrow! i think we might have taken tooo many... hahah...

we walked to the infamous monument of Belgium which is very nearby. it is a very small statue actually... lotsa tourist were exclaiming about how small it is! of cos as a tourist, i need to take a photo of it...

we headed home after that... it's been a fruitful day in terms of camera and food! hehehe......

permalink written by  wangyng on April 4, 2008 from Brussels, Belgium
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Brussels and Belgium

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Brugge, Belgium

Brugge is a small historic town full of medieval buildings. we reached d train station ard 6pm and our host for Brugge, Anouchka picked us up at d train station.

she told us d walk to her place is about 20min. on a normal day, that would be fine. but with more than 20kg worth of bags on each of us, that is tooo long! we took more than 30 mins cos we were walking so slowly fr d bags. we are however, glad to know she lives in a small house (we dont have to climb any stairs to get in!!). our couch is an air mattress in a separate room on d 1st floor (which is level 2 for us). 1 of us can also slp in d living room couch on d ground floor if we prefer. i took d room upstairs. eve wants to take d living rm (so she can be close to d computer n tv n avoid d stairs! haha). d stairs is a bit hazardous. it's small n steep steps can be rather dangerous esp in d night.

we had a quick n simple dinner of toasted ham n cheese sandwich courtesy of our kind host. after dinner, we took a quick walk and to see d town at night. it's really quiet as all shops/attractions closed by 5 or 6pm but the yellow/orange lights really compliments the old Stone buildings/structures. we went back, looking forward to see the town in daylight.

permalink written by  wangyng on April 6, 2008 from Brugge, Belgium
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Belgium and Brugge

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Brugge to Antwerp

Antwerp, Belgium

since we r taking an evening train to Antwerp, we made good use of our last day in Brugge. my butt hurts so much from the cycling! all the roads in Brugge are brick roads. so u can imagine the bumpy ride the whole time in Brugge. i think all the people in Brugge who cycle regularly have butts of steel!!!

we still have our bikes til 5pm so we went around on it as much as we didnt. but it's much faster and saves us a lot of time. anyway, there's a market every wednesday at d Grote Markt so it was nice to be able to catch that b4 we leave. it's a fresh food n flowers market so it smells really good there! i bought a nice roast chicken leg for dinner... was sooo happy! i love roast chicken n havent had a chance to eat that since i got to Europe. so i was extremely happy n so looking forward to dinner!

we then head to Groeninge Museum, where it's full of Flemish paintings. d paintings are nice to look at but i think i would appreciate it a lot more if i do fine arts.

then it's off to Church of Our Lady which is just nearby to see d infamous 'Madonna & Child' sculpture/statue done by d great Michelangelo. d precious statue is surrounded by glass panels to protect it. we couldnt really get a close look at it cos there was like 2 metres of space from where we can stand and d statue. but i guess that is enough?

we ran off quickly to Heilig-Bloedbasiliek, where d blood of Jesus Christ (Holy Blood) was left in a scroll/capsule like thing. d Holy Blood is only on display each day from 2-3pm. a priest will hold the blood in his hand n every1 who wants to can go touch d scroll/capsule n be blessed.

we return the bikes (finally!!!! no more bumpy ride n painful butts!!) and head to the Grote Markt area once again for a mussels lunch. hmmm.... i like d mussels in Brussels better. maybe we picked a bad restaurant.

after lunch, we walked around a bit more before heading home. we passed by this big ice cream shop with long queues so we decided to join d queue! d ice cream is really yummy n d wafer cone taste so fresh n nice! happy n satisfied, we head home to pack n get ready for Antwerp.

[fast forward]
after about 1.5 hrs on d train, we got to Antwerp. our host Yuri met us at d train station. he lives 5 min walk away from the Centraal station n on d top floor of d 5-storey building. he is really into Asian stuff so we had lots to chat about. he has been practising Taichi for 6 yrs so i can ask him almost everything about it! he also likes Asian films n had watched quite a number. we feel like we're in Asia! we spent d night talking about films n drinking tea n talking about what we do (did) for work. feels like a great start for Antwerp!

permalink written by  wangyng on April 9, 2008 from Antwerp, Belgium
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Belgium, Brugge and Antwerp

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Brugge part 2

Brugge, Belgium

it's day 13 on d trip.

both of us didnt slp well cos it was soooo cold! d heater went off automatically and we didnt know how to switch it on. so we had to endure d cold for d night.

after breakfast, we head to d Belfort. we each got a Cyclo3 ticket which gets us into 3 museums (including d Belfort), 1 day of bicycle n a free drink at 1 of d museum. there's 366 steps to get to d top of Belfort where we can get a paranoma view of d town. d steps were narrow and steep and it goes round a pole. as we gets closer to d top, d stairsway gets narrower.

i thot i was gonna pass out n die many times during d climb (yes i need to exercise a lot more than i did)! having ppl going up n down d narrow stairs makes it even more challenging than it already is!

when i finally reached d top (yeah! i actually did it without passing out!!), d view makes it all worth it! it's d highest point in d city and u can really see d whole town from there. did i 4get to mention that there's 16 bells of different sizes (for different tones) at d top of d belfort which make musical chimes each hour. it was playing when i was near d top. i can actually see d mechanics that makes d bells work. pretty impressive that the bells have produced music since d a few centuries ago.

we didnt do very much as it was already pretty late and we were quite tired from d climbing (weak, i know!!). so we just went to check up on trains to Antwerp, went to d supermarket, had a very cheap dinner coffee + soup n bread, then head back. we chatted with Anouchka and watched her favourite show, the Australian "Home & Away", with her. i cant believe i'm watching Australian soap in Belgium!! i dont even watch it in Australia! we went to bed, after finding out how to switch on the heater. so no more cold night! yippie!!!!!!

permalink written by  wangyng on April 7, 2008 from Brugge, Belgium
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Belgium and Brugge

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Brugge - Day trip to Damme

Brugge, Belgium

day 14

it's a beautiful day today so we made use of our Cyclo3 ticket and took a bike out. we cycled to Damme, a small little town next to Brugge. it should take just over an hour to cycle there as it was pretty easy route. we just need to follow d canal n d cycle path. d road was pretty flat most of d time so it wasnt so tiring cycling there.

d road to Damme was beautiful! u can see trees, grass, wild flowers, n little houses along d canal n of cos beautiful reflections of d clear blue sky!! the ride was mostly enjoyable, except for d swarm of flies on n off annoying me.

Damme's known for their pancakes so how could we miss out on that!! we started looking for a nice cafe/restaurant to have pancakes once we got there (ard 2pm). as we were looking at d menu at 1 of d cafes, this cute boy came out n started speaking to us in English. we decided on this restaurant n sat outside d patio so we can be in d sun (unbelievable i know! in Singapore we usually run away from d sun!!). d young boy say he will inform us when he is making d pancake so we can see how he makes it. we decided to move indoor as some roadwork was going on n it was quite noisy. we went in just in time to see him making d pancakes. his quick moves tells us that he is an old hand at that. i ordered a pancake with ice cream n some kind of sweet alcohol. d ice cream was wrapped in d pancake and with alcohol poured on it. d pancake was flaming when it's served so it looked really cool! it tasted really yummy too!

we headed off after d pancake cos we wanted to try to visit a museum b4 it closes at 5pm. we didnt manage to make it to any museum cos we were distracted along d way by sceneries n other stuff. we ended up doing a canal tour instead. we were d 1st to board the boat but it filled up really quickly. at 1 point i was thinking if more ppl came on board we would sink!! we didnt of cos... (that was juz my drama queen moment).

d canal cruise is a really nice way to see d little town. with explanation of buildings n people, it made u appreciated the history of d town more. of cos by now i couldnt remember much except that in the earlier centuries (13th - 15th), u know how rich a family is by the windows of their houses. they had something called Window Tax. the more windows a house has, d more tax to pay. n if the owner has no money to pay d taxes, the government will seal up a window. that is why some of these old houses have windows that's sealed up. another i remembered is that Belgium has more than 250 different beers. to a non beer-drinker like me, there's only 2 kinds: d nice 1 and d not nice 1... i'm sure a true beer drinker will say otherwise...

that aside, d canal cruise was really nice. we went to Begijnhof after the cruise. d Begijnhof is a quiet area where d Benedictine Sisters stay. d compound has a huge daffodil garden, which makes Begijnhof a hot romantic spot. i really enjoyed d peace n quiet there. we went into d church n d Sisters were all there doing their prayers. we left d church pretty quickly and d prayers were over shortly after. we saw all all of them walking off to a particular house. there's isn't many of them now, about a dozen n they r really old. they smiled at us as they walked pass us. they look like very nice grand mothers u want to have.

before we head home, we had dinner at this Italian restaurant near where we stay. d restaurant seems to be run by true italians. most of them have a tummy and look like they came off the Godfather movies! d pizza is really nice! thin crust n generous amount of toppings!! that's what i call a good pizza!

permalink written by  wangyng on April 8, 2008 from Brugge, Belgium
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Belgium, Brugge and Damme

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Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp is probably more known for as a fashion city than for its sights. True enough, the fashion sense here is more interesting than the sights it can offer. only d Steen Castle and St Paul Church leaves an impression on me.

d apartments along d river bank are really nice thou! i was walking along the river n thinking "i wanna stay in that apartment" many times!

nevertheless, i had a gd time in Antwerp becos of my host Yuri. he is probably more Asian than a lot of the Asian i know! he like Asian food, is into Asian films, and has been practicing Taichi for 6 years! we spent so much time talking about Taichi cos i have been interested but didnt really get into joining a school. we also discussed about films we like and would like to watch.

Yuri also loves to cook so he cooked us a nice vegetarian lasagna (he's really into organic food and is 90% vegetarian). yummy!!

but the highlight of our trip has to be d Taichi class. Yuri's master was unable to make it and since he is d eldest disciple in Antwerp, he is taking over d class! he actually lets us join d class for free! we did some breathing and warm up exercise and d class did the form, which we only did a very small part. then he was teaching us Pushing Hands, which is pretty fun but difficult! d session ended with him practicing his broad sword. very cool!

after d Taichi session, we head back to his place to have dinner. Yuri was invited to spin at his friend's pub/club later that night. oh, i 4got to mention he also DJs for fun (he has a full set of gear!).

his friend, Izzy, owns d club/pub. it does private parties more cos of its small n cosy size. Izzy mixed a drink for each of us and boy were they stroong! eve was always trying to add more ice n soda to her drinks so it's like her glass is always full!!

we met another CS host at d club who took us to another pub/restaurant for drinks. we had planned to leave pretty early d next day but we didnt think that was gonna happen cos we only left d place around 3am!

we need a good sleep and i know we will have it thanks to d alcohol n d long day! guess we wont be leaving in the morning now....

permalink written by  wangyng on April 11, 2008 from Antwerp, Belgium
from the travel blog: Hello Europe!!
tagged Belgium and Antwerp

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Belgium.... Brussels and down to Liege!!!

Liege, Belgium

James here....
Ok current status of things. We have internet, it's wireless, but I can only use it in the lobby. Soooo as usual I or Amanda will do a much better update later. However I gotta share how things have gone since this morning. We had to get up at the butt crack of dawn. 3:20 AM which wasn't a big deal since there was so much party time happening at the hostel sleep wasn't really happening for me anyways. We get our gear and start walking to the bus stop and realize we don't have any of our travel info, boarding passes and instructions on how to get to Liege, Belgium. We forgot them at the internet cafe yesterday and have no way to get that info at this time of the morning. Luckily we at least remembered what airline we were on and that crisis was overted. BTW none of these things are being taken as a real issue, we're just grinning and going on with it. :) So, flights go well enough we make it to Brussels and find out that english is in no way shape or form a standard language here. I can't understand anyone and most everything is written in something other than english. No worries we'll get through it. So made it to baggage claim... and waited and waited and then it stopped turning and no bags. Yeah to our bags as of this moment are MIA. They don't know where they are and if all goes well we should have them back in 2-3 up to 5 days. Funny cause we'll be in Spain in 3 days... So unsure what we're going to do about this just yet but no worries. We have our ATM card and can get some spare cloths. The airlines gave us both an overnight toiletries bag so we can wash our butts. Included in said kits are XX large tshirts. Not so bad for me, but it's like a tent for Amanda to wear. So we used them as towels instead!!! Ok next plan is to get to Liege from Brussels... which is a challenge and if not for my friend Steph who I am going to meet tomorrow, we'd be lost in Belgium somewhere. This is due to the fact the train splits apart on the way to Liege. And being as we can't read or speak the language here, we wouldn't have known that part and clearly not been in the right train car for it. This was a challenge though since we had left those printouts back at the cafe in Scotland. Luckily there was an internet cafe at the airport to print new ones.
So ok we finally make it to the Hostel after a VERY high speed cab ride. Again no one speaks the english so that was fun... Hostel, room... which is just the 2 of us. YAH alone time at last. We get brave, go find local food and yeah I can't read anything of it. But luckily the guy there spoke some english and helped us order a great meal. Get back to that on a later blog. After going back and napping a bit we must find ATM for some money. After a short adventure we find the local ATM wont take our card and can't find another one anywhere near by. So broke, foreign and unab le to understand most ppl we used our last bits of change to enjoy a really strong irish coffee in the town centre and laughed about our wonderful day. Eat your hearts out!!!!

Love you all!!!


permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on July 6, 2008 from Liege, Belgium
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Funny, Belgium and Liege

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Brussels, Belgium

Baggage has been found! It will hopefully arrive at our hotel tonight, so yeah minor crisis averted.

Yesterday we spent walking around Liege, Belgium with the bestest tour guide evar. The whole reason we went to Liege was to pick up a ring Steph had made for James. He saw it online and sent her an e-mail asking about it...a few months and few thousand miles later he has a new ring and we have a new friend.

The coolest part about walking around with Steph yesterday was the conversation, talking about world politics, the history of the region, religion, you name it we covered it.

Though, i have to admit, I think there's a little sadist hiding inside her because she suggested we go up these stairs...and then we did.

I kid, we went up those stairs for this view :)

So James and I have been taking note of the graffiti we encountered on this trip and so far our analysis is this....

Ireland blows, Scotland had none to speak of, and Belgium takes the gold.

In Ireland the graffiti was just single line name scribbles, no talent whatsoever. Here, its just stunning. I have a love hate relationship with graffiti too, it makes me sick when people deface beautiful or historically significant buildings. Ugly blank city walls on the other hand..spray away.

So this counts more as a mural...but seems like a fitting testament to the caliber of street art here.

Art in general seems huge here. Walking in Liege and even today here in Brussels its just gallery after gallery, and world class stuff too. Everything from modern to ancient art is on display here. And oooh man the ancient art....Steph suggested we go into this 'antique' store. I think that word has a whole different connotation here then it does back home. If i had a i million dollars I'd still be walking out of there with a lot less then i wanted to.

Egyptian idols, fertility statues from god knows where, classic red and black roman vases, swords from the roman legion, old oil lamps, and masks to name of a minute part of this guys collection. I'd have brought some masks home for ya Neal but yeah I'm missing that aristocratic heir to some foreign throne in my family tree.

So next up for us is Spain. This wasn't a planned thing but we were blowing through money way to fast in Europe and honestly we don't feel like we were getting what we wanted outa of this trip hopping around tourist areas so much. It's time to dig in a bit and really get to experience a different culture. And start collecting recipes...I haven't done nearly enough of that yet on this trip but i think i need to compile a little cookbook when we get home of foods from around the world shrug

YAAAAAAY our luggage just found us....damn i have to lug that heavy pack around again.

Ok been babbling long enough...next update will be from Spain!!

Keep up the comments...we check for them often and giggle over them all missing you less with every word /cheeseoff

Love and hugs and kisses and all that fun stuff!

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on July 8, 2008 from Brussels, Belgium
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged LostBags, Brussels, Belgium and Liege

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Oostende, Belgium

I don't remember ever having been more ready for anything in my life.
My feet itch, my mind itches, my heart itches. I need to go, I need to fly out, see the world! Live every day as a new day, breathe every breath as a new breath, feel every moment.
It's time to intensely live again, really live, every moment. No numbness, no automatic control, time to wake up and be.

In a little over a week I'll be flying to New York, step 1. I'll guide a trip, show the city I love. The city you don't visit, but actually are for a while. Blend into it. Walking in its streets, being part of its veins, its pulse, its soul. I've missed New York City, once you felt it and were part of it even for just a fraction of time, impossible to ever really let go again.

This blog is both meant for me as a way to remember my thoughts and adventures, and for my dear friends I'll take with me in my heart. There's no such thing as distance.

I have no set plan. Only dreams. There's only now.
But I can't wait for April 5th.

permalink written by  Marie-Line on March 27, 2010 from Oostende, Belgium
from the travel blog: Marie-Line's Travel Blog
tagged Start, Belgium and Ready

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