Off the Beaten Path: Belgium

It has been two years since I last visited Belgium and I have been to other places since, it’s still one of the most charming countries I have ever had the privilege of seeing.

Summer time in Europe is as magical as one can only imagine: the Sun doesn’t set until (almost) 10pm, you can enjoy the delightful warm breeze during the day (which means you can wear your prettiest sun dress) and cold breeze during the night, people are much friendlier in summer than during winter (for obvious reasons), perfect lighting for taking snaps  and the time for walkabouts are just longer!


Brussels


Brussels was only a quick stopover since me and my girl friend were headed to Ghent for a three-day folk music festival with my Belgian friend, B. It was captivating, nevertheless.

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Grote Markt (Brussels Central Square)

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Ghent


After Dranouter (the three-day festival of new traditions) where we spent our days in the festival area listening to home-grown folk music, sitting on the grass drinking La Chouffe or Leffe Brune, playing games, drinking some more Irish Coffee (unfortunately, I don’t have photos to prove all these as I  used to have an aversion to taking snaps in public. I used to find it too touristy, now I regret it), it was time to explore Ghent.

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Ghent has a sublime charm that speaks to a traveler’s heart. When in Europe, take the road less travelled and head straight to Ghent, I promise you won’t regret it.

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Whenever I travel, I usually make it a point not to strictly follow my itineraries especially if I have enough time. It’s just not my style. So instead, I hang out at bars to meet new people and ask about great places to check out. Luckily, I didn’t have to do that during my stay in Belgium because my old friend, Birger, who I met in the Philippines back in 2011, was foolish enough to deal with my crazy and drive me around.

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Gravensteen Castle

Gravensteen Castle or ‘The Castle of the Counts’ was the highlight of my Belgium trip brought by my childhood fascination with all things medieval. Weapons, armors, Knights of the Templar, Holy Grail, crusades, gothic structures, art of chivalry are just few of the many interesting things about the medieval ages.  By the looks of its sinister torture chambers and its collection of torture devices, Gravensteen has a lot of spooky bedtime stories to tell.

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View from the Gravensteen Castle

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I was promised a day of beer tasting because, why the heck not?! This was Belgium, where there were 800 famed beers waiting to be uncapped (although it has been argued that Belgium has way more than that, I will stick to the standard count of 800)!

Sorry, there were no photos. I was too buzzed take my phone out for a quick snap of my chosen poisonsss.

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Bruges


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Capped off the day in Bruges where we grabbed some famed Belgian ale.

After a lovely day, came the lively night. Got to meet more awesome people who got me to dance to folk music!

Beer

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Most of the travellers would ask themselves this question: would I go back here? Answer: Big fat YES.

FAST FACTS

  1. There are more castles per square kilometre in Belgium than in any other country.
  2. It offers over 1.000 different beers from 150 breweries acclaimed for their variety, flavour and character.
  3. Most beers have their own glass in which only that beer may be served.
  4. It produces 220,000 tons of chocolate per year, which is about 22kg of chocolate per Belgian.
  5. It legalised euthanasia in 2002 and gay marriage in 2003.
  6. The world’s main diamond center and second largest petrochemical center is in Belgium. Almost 90% of raw diamonds in the world are negotiated, polished, and distributed in Antwerp, Belgium.
  7. Belgium has 3 official languages. Majority of the people speak Flemish, which is a local dialect of Dutch, then French and finally a small percent of Belgians speak German.
  8. The Royal Palace of Brussels is50% longer than Buckingham Palace.
  9. Belgians claim to have invented chips (French fries), and indeed about all towns and villages have their own friterie/frituur(chips seller).
  10. There are 3 main sorts of Belgian waffles : Liege waffles (the most common), Brussels waffles (bigger, lighter, rectangular, and eaten with toppings such as strawberries or ice cream), and galettes (thinner, softer, and typically eaten for breakfast, sometimes with jam – nothing to do with French galettes from Little Brittany, which are a kind of pancake).

Find out more:

(Sources: http://www.eupedia.com/belgium/trivia.shtml & http://www.weekendnotes.com/interesting-facts-about-belgium/ )

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Hi, I’m Sofia! A restless soul traipsing through life one (mis)adventure at a time or sometimes… well, multiple.

1 Comment

  • I was looking forward seeing your photos from the music festival. Waaaaaaaa! Sayang! ?

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