Stepping outside of Spain: A weekend in Belgium

It’s been about a month since landing in Spain so a friend in my program and I decided to venture outside of Spain, and to Belgium we went. Sevilla has spoiled me already with its great weather, I quickly realized as flurries fell to the ground as I got off the plane in Belgium. That was the only snow we saw but it was much cooler and a bit rainy. Nonetheless, we had a great little adventure. We stayed in Brussels. On the first day we went on a tour of the Belgian cities of Bruges and Ghent. I’m so glad we did this because it was a great tour, our guide explained a good amount about each of the three cities: Brussels, Ghent, and Bruges.

We realized when we entered Brussels the night prior that the street names were all in two languages. Our tour guide explained that Dutch is spoken in the north of Belgium, while French is spoken in the south. Therefore, in Brussels people typically speak either Dutch, French, or both so the streets are always marked in both languages. He also said Brussels is a very multilingual city in general. He himself knew five languages: Dutch, German, French, English, Spanish (and here I am just trying to understand a bit more of Spanish). Pretty impressive.

I’m so glad we got to see these other two towns too because they were so enchanting.

The first stop was Ghent; architecture in both Belgium and The Netherlands includes many pointed roof lines and large windows, and is also influenced by Gothic and Baroque architecture. IMG_4616DSC_0635
The town hall in Gent where they were preparing for a wedding ceremony. DSC_0621DSC_0601IMG_4639IMG_4617DSC_0577
There are numerous canals in both Bruges and Ghent, which were used to import goods. Bruges was the center for trade in Belgium at one time.IMG_4621DSC_0781IMG_4626IMG_4630IMG_4642
One of the many things I enjoy about Europe so far, is that you can come across a castle while simply walking around.IMG_4631
If you aren’t already thinking Belgian chocolate, you know I was. Each street seemed to have several chocolate stores, making choices very difficult for a chocoholic like myself. IMG_4684IMG_4696
The stores were so quaint, selling everything from various salts to any Christmas decoration you could think of. IMG_4675IMG_4688
These triangular-shaped sweets are called Cuberdons and tasted like a gumdrop with a slightly liquid filling. Vendors sold them on the street as well. IMG_4695IMG_4664
These trees are planted to have horizontal branches, used for decoration all over Belgium.IMG_4659
The Lake of Love in Bruges, lovely indeed.DSC_0642
The town center in Bruges. IMG_4719DSC_0869DSC_0874DSC_0850
The belfry of Bruges, dating back to the 1200s, rebuilt after fire damage in the 1400s.IMG_4750IMG_4747IMG_4752IMG_4731
Belgium is so well known for their chocolate because it is so pure. They use both the cocoa powder and cocoa butter; the portion which is replaced by cheaper oils in most chocolates today. IMG_4740DSC_0657IMG_4779DSC_0661
Canal views of the medieval city of Bruges. DSC_0761DSC_0757
I get amazed by all of the detail put into the architecture in Europe, most especially in churches. So beautiful.DSC_0898DSC_0900DSC_0793
Back in Brussels where the town place, Grotemarkt as it’s called, is full of gold accents and Gothic architecture. IMG_4874IMG_4873DSC_0922DSC_0931DSC_0934
I learned that Brussels is home to the most comic artists per capita, so while walking along the streets you will easily find commissioned street murals. Some comic art that has come from Brussels you may have heard of includes The Smurfs or The Adventures of Tintin, amongst many others. IMG_4959
Infamous Mannequin Pis statue, and yes it is exactly that, even our tour guide could not explain the exact reason for such a statue. Nonetheless, this cute little peeing boy has a group that takes care of him and dresses him in various outfits, he changed twice in one day while we there. IMG_4860IMG_4879IMG_4881
Had to stop by the well known Delirium bar, since Belgium is known for its beer too after all. This bar is well known for its extensive beer list of over 3000 brews.IMG_4950
Grotemarkt looking just as ravishing in the evening against the rain washed cobblestone.IMG_4946
Outfit change!IMG_4910IMG_4898IMG_4890
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