Feeling the need for a mini road trip, Joost and I spontaneously decided to take off to Belgium this weekend (and when I say mini, I mean it, as the Belgium border is about 25 minutes from Breda). When crossing into a different European country, you’ll find it surprising there’s no border patrol, flashing lights or police waiting to check your passports – it’s much like driving state to state in America. Many European countries are about the size of US states (fun fact of the day: Belgium is roughly the size of Maryland), so I guess driving through Europe is comparable to driving through the US, just with obvious differences, such as culture and languages. Speaking of different languages, Belgium has a few of their own. Half of the country speaks a dialect of Dutch called Flems, whereas the other half speak French (and apparently the two sides do not get along, but at least they both make great chocolate and waffles!).
Our road trip took us to the cute, cozy city of Antwerp (shopper’s paradise and second largest city in Belgium). When driving through Antwerp, you can’t help but notice the beautiful church planted in the city center – so it was a given that would be our first stop. The astonishing ‘Cathedral of our Lady’ was built-in 1352, although it’s never been completely finished, and the highest steeple reaches 404 feet high.
While walking along, you can’t miss ‘the building with the flags’ also known as the Town Hall. Many sights of the city were blocked off and set up for a triathlon, so please excuse the random tents and car display. Joost and I will most certainly have to come back when the skies are brighter and no events are in place. On the other side of the square, you’ll notice tall, narrow and intricately decorated buildings, known as the guild houses. These were homes to the most skillful guilds of the 16th and 17th centuries and the beautifully gold crafted decor are symbolic representations of the guilds who lived in each.
As our journey continued, we passed the cutest little cafes and shops – oh how I wish I could have delighted in the chocolates and waffles, but I’m currently watching my carb and sugar intake, so a warm coffee on a rainy day sufficed.
Before the light drizzle turned into a monsoon, we were able to visit the river and even on a rainy day, the sights were beautiful. The Port of Antwerp is actually one of the largest in Europe (believe the Netherlands and Germany are the biggest) and continues to be a solid moneymaker for Belgium. The ships, cobblestone bridge and beautiful views had me at hello.
Hopefully our next visit will include sunny skies and warm weather, as there were so many things we weren’t able to capture through a lens.
Until next time – tot ziens!
XX – Whitney