Travel reflections: Belgium

4 11 2010

Here’s the sum total of what Katie and I knew about Belgium before we traveled there:

chocolate + beer = Belgium

Actually, that’s not totally accurate. I also knew Belgium was a hotbed for cycling. And prior to departing, we did watch the Colin Farrell movie In Bruges to get a glimpse of what we might see.

What we discovered after we got off the train at Saint Pieter station in Ghent was so much more:

really good chocolate + 780 brands of beer + crazy, passionate cycling fans = Belgium

Plus throw in some steak and frites, tumultuous history involving torture, nooses and sweet, gelatinous purple noses. The towns we saw were compact with expansive central squares, the homes small, surrounded by tidy lawns and gardens. The people we met were warm and welcoming.

So many beers, so little time...

It’s also a country with it’s own cultural and language divisions between the Dutch speaking Flanders and the French Walloonia, not unlike the divide between English and French Canada.

And it seems we’re not the only ones to have been charmed by Belgium, and in particular, Ghent. The city was just named as one of Lonely Planet’s top ten world cities to visit in 2011.

Click on the photo to discover some Belgian delights, including chocolate and beer!


Composer Gustavo Santaolalla poses in the back seat of our cousin's old car.

(Incidentally, the music in the presentation is by Gustavo Santaolalla, one of the composers featured at the World Soundtrack Awards, which conclude the annual Ghent International Film Festival; the track is from the film Babel, and was also used in Michael Mann’s film, The Insider. Santaolalla was also one of the composers featured in a series of photos by Belgian photographer, Kris Dewitte, who shot a number of film composers in the old car owned by our cousin, Filip.)



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