Saturday, January 23, 2016


Continued from here..

With a heavy heart and a semi heavy luggage(thanks to some super shopping at their department store, HEMA!), we left Amsterdam to Antwerp. The Antwerp Central Station is super pretty! The architecture is brillant, it has a nice ancient cum modern twist to it! It has 4 levels and is super busy. In fact, I could add Antwerp to my itinerary just to go and sit in the station & people watch  ;-)

We stayed at Hotel Eden, which was again a good choice as it a mere stone's throw from this beautiful station. Now since we had such a tight schedule, K and I had to be a little picky on what we wanted to see. We had exactly 24 hours in this cute city, so the same evening we took a walk to the Grote Market Square which was wonderfully lit up ! I got some pretty cool shots on my phone.
The next day we headed to the gorgeous Our Lady's Cathedral. Man. It was simply mind blowing. I couldn't bring myself out of it. So peaceful, calm and quiet. Lit a candle and just sat down while K took pictures. Total state of bliss! Antwerp had a few more really cute cathedrals which we were lucky to check out. And the best bit about Belgium has to be their fries or Frites as they are called in local parlance. They are delicious! And you can pick from options such as Ketchup, Mayo, Ketchup mayo mixed and so forth. Slurrp.
And oh. I became one Instagram paithyam * on this trip. Europe has such interesting and pretty sights that I had to keep uploading pics endlessly. Sigh. Below is my piccollage of Antwerp -

*paithyam = mental in Tamil

Around 4 pm local time, we caught a train from the Antwerp Centraal to head to Bruges. This part of the trip was what I was most expecting! 2 reasons -
1. K had been to this ultra cute town way back in 2010 and he had told me tales and tales of how cute it is
2. I had to sorta believe him when I saw the movie PK. Yep. The initial scenes where Anushka Sharma is cycling were shot in this town.
So I was really looking forward to this.
Bruges is filled with cobble stones. And our hotel Bla Bla(I swear that is what it is called!) was like super far! At least it felt like that because we literally had to drag our luggage and keep walking.
But as soon I stepped into the town, every word which K said was true. Quaint, pretty, lovely weather, hardly any people or noise... it was a dream place!
Even our hotel was like that. Adorable!
We had already planned on renting bikes and riding around town the next day. Each bike comes with a little basket which you can use to keep any stuff that you buy. Plus we carried an umbrella each because it rains on and off. We kept going and it was so much fun! The weather was perfect and thankfully we had the brains to carry a light jacket since the wind just kept blowing. We kept going and going through until we came to an even smaller countryside with a little cafe/dessert bar. We tucked into some delicious hot chocolate.. Ahh. Now is probably a good time to tell you that Belgian chocolates are indeed yummylicious and worth all that hype. Also, their waffles.
Bruges also has a lovely landmark, the Church of our Lady. This particular church happens to house the famous work of Michelangelo's The Madonna and Child. Bruges also has a very Amsterdamish feel to it as it is full of canals and trees. My happy face below sums it up -
And oh. Please do visit the Minnewater Lake also known as the Lake of Love! Now I'm not a romantic and all that.. but this place is worth visiting! It oozed charm! Legend has it that the girl Minna who was in love with a warrior, escaped from her father and died in this park. That too in the arms of her beloved. Sigh. It has little lakes, a castle, trees that look stunning in all the Fall colors, horse carriages that ferry people around, little cafes that sell frites, chocolates and waffles, tourists taking a zillion selfies (yup. I was one too!).. It is perfect.
Please plan a trip to Bruges, a must visit :))

The next morning we took a train to another not so famous town in Belgium, Ghent. To be honest, I've not heard anything about this place. Ghent also has a cute small town feel but very different from Bruges. It is more like a University town..kinda like Springfield, Missouri :)) 

The best bit about Ghent was the St.Michael's bridge. I absolutely loved just standing there and watching the hordes of people/tourists walk by and take pictures. The nights were especially beautiful - it was all lit up and we got some fantastic shots. 

If you think that the Michael's bridge is only pretty by night, you'd be surprised to see how pretty it looks during a normal day. Just look at this beautiful capture from K's fancy pansy camera! 

And oh. Belgium has some really cool graffiti all over town! Zombies, flowers, super heroes.. you name it, you'll find it! Street art at its best! 

And then finally(much to our dismay), our much awaited trip was drawing to a close. Well almost. The last place we had to visit was the capital city of Brussels. The only reason I was looking forward to Brussels was the TinTin museum. Yup. I'm a hugeee fan of TinTin and I've read all the comics a zillion times. I remember when my cousin Ashwin and I were young, we would take turns reading them and have a good laugh! I posted this picture on my Facebook page - The middle picture is, believe it or not, street art! Isn't that amazing? And oh. Check out my new denim jacket.. I'm loving it! More on it at the end.. 

We had about 3 days in Brussels and that was enough time to visit the limited sights - the museum, Mannekin Pis(this is practically the statue of a little boy who pees into a fountain!). On certain days, he is dressed up. For example, Halloween, Belgium's national days etc. I really didn't see what the hype about this kid was but there were like 1000's of tourists thronging this area. 
We instead enjoyed visiting the Grand Market place which is much more lively and colorful. We saw loads of tourists, we saw locals performing live music, there were school kids dancing and singing, little food vendors selling frites, waffles etc. 

I honestly didn't have too much time shopping in this trip. So I decided to use the last day to walk around a few malls and make a few last minute shopping. We picked some really cute souvenirs(our fridge is getting full!), we picked gifts for friends & family and for ourselves, we went crazy in this store called Primark. It had amazing deals especially on makeup. I also picked up shoes and a denim jacket at H and M(yup that is the one I'm wearing),  some hair care products, shower gels, clothes for some friends' kids and so forth. Also, our final night in Europe, we had some delicious Punjabi food! 
All in all, a great way to end the trip =) 

I didn't particularly care for Brussels too much. I'd probably be happy to skip it next time around. I found Bruges and Ghent much prettier, calmer and cleaner. So if you plan a trip to Belgium, do keep these two places in your "must visit" list ! 
But on second thoughts, look at this picture below.. This is Brussels on a cool, breezy evening... How pretty! So maybe it can be a "one time" visit kinda place? ;-)