We had a slight delay in getting into Belgium.. but we made it.
Our hotel in Antwerp was quite historic. It was all stone with very steep stairwells, and absolutly beautiful not quite what we are used to back in Aus. It was also placed in the centre of old town Antwerp, so perfect location for us.
With only two nights here we set off exploring straight away, with no plans other then wandering the streets and seeing what we stumble across. Being here at Christams time has proven wonderful, each turn we take the streets are lined with lights and decorations, giving the whole city a magical feel, it also means Christmas markets and we have found our fair share of those. Antwerps markets were in full swing, complete with an ice skating rink and a large ferris wheel. We couldnt give up the chance to jump on the ferris wheel and we were greeted with the most amazing view of the city and the xmas market lights.
We accidently stumbled across a huge white marquee while walking around the city. There wasn't a great deal of signage but from what we could gather it was some sort of ice sculpting display. Taking a chance we went on in. What we stumbled upon is an absolute highlight of our trip. A massive, lifesize display of Disney ice sculptures. Buying some tickets and borrowing some extra jackets we walked through the first room, a nice cool -6 degrees. We were handed a shot of schnaps and we needed it to warm up. Every display we walked through was incredible. Life sized Disney princesses carved from ice and placed on ice stair cases, castles and icicle gardens. There was thrones we could sit on and displays we could interact with. The ice was lit up a brilliant colours and there was music playing throughout. Its the first time iv tried to photograph ice and without my tripod, it was really difficult. A fantastic display and would go back in a heart beat.
This little city is full of tiny alleyways, and sneaky little pubs which made it easy to walk, stop, drink, walk, stop, drink. Needless to say, we love Antwerp and it was sad to leave after only 2 days.
So off to Brussels we go, and what a change it is there. Its a slightly more modern city, not as picturesque as Antwerp, but we were happy exploring a new place yet again... by foot of course.
We strolled through more christmas markets (surprise!), probably the largest lot we have seen so far, and very very busy. Stumbling across a Canadian stand that was selling all sorts of Candian goodies which was such a nice change from the European stands. Just seeing the familiar sights of maple syrup made us happy but my favorite was the maple taffy, pure boiled down maple syrup poured straight onto snow so it hardens slightly, add a stick and you have this gooey maple magic. The young French Canadian girl who was serving us was wonderful, we ended up chatting for quite some time about how her and her family sail yachts from Canada to Europe every here with their maple products. What a life. After eating our weight in maple treats we continued through the markets, picking up ourselves some more trinkets and food of course.
Grand place is the name of the city square here in Brussels, and it's a beautiful spot to people watch. Being such a tourist destination, its alot of fun to pick the local. Other than people it's also a great spot to gaze at the amazing architecture, just so different to back home. During the nights there is a light display every hour where they light the xmas tree and the surrounding buildings in coloured light and music. It was a magical sight to watch and we watched it every night we were in Brussels. It was quite hard to take photos of unfortunatly, one of those has to be seen in person moments.
Not usually being one for museums, the place has to be offering a pretty amazing display for me to want to visit and this time, Brussles offered just that. The auto museum of Brussles, Autoworld. Of course Tom has no hesititation about going and we set off on our way. The building and location was huge, perfect landscaped gardens and surprisingly quiet. The display was the largest automotive collection we have ever seen, from the very first race cars to modern day racers. While the auto museum was interesting, I couldnt help but rush through to the Aston martin display which is a travelling display that we were lucky enough to be there for. It was incredible, displaying nearly every single Aston model ever made, we walked through slowly, taking so many photos and imagining driving one ourselves. We both highly recommend visiting here if you are ever in Brussels. About time i dragged Tom around a museum.
Tom went out on his own while I was having a nanna nap. He found a nice little pub he set himself up in. Typical Tom style, he somehow comunticated (kind of) with the French speaking bartender. They chatted all things beer and travel and finally after a few (maybe a few too many) he stumbles home with a gift in hand. The lovely bartender had sent Tom home with a gift pack of Belgium beer, being a massive beer lover, Tom was over the moon with his gift.
We have been learning quite a bit of other languages while we are here to get us by, yes most speak English, but we like to try. I feel like we have been doing well, but i must say coming to Belgium has thrown us off a little, as half the town speaks French while the other Dutch. It's a matter of waiting for the staff to say hi before we know what language they speak. We love that Europeans are so multilingual. Tom is picking up the languages quite quickly, when ever we are at a bar he finds himsekf sitting with a local trying to have a conversation. Thankfully the locals are so friendly and love helping him along.
Our time in Brussles has come to an end, we have enjoyed it, not quite as much as Antwerp but Belgium has been good to us. We will be back, especially Tom even if its just for the beer.
Thanks for your hospitality Belgium.