Belgium

Antwerp / Antwerpen - Click on any image for a larger picture

Apt Hotel St Jacob - Antwerp Contact Paul Tabe

We took a day trip by train from Paris to Antwerp, Belgium to visit Gail's friend, Paul from college. Antwerp is located in the northeast portion of Belgium, near the Dutch and German borders. Paul lives in Antwerp and manages an apartment building that he rents out to tourists. Antwerp is a very charming and vivacious town lined with many restaurants and fashionable shops. It is the world's center of polished diamonds. The town is compacted together and easy to get from place to place. Modern buildings stand side-by-side with those dating back from medieval times. Unlike French-speaking Brussels, the prevalent languages are Flemish and English. Most of the people spoke English. Flemish, a dialect of Dutch, has many similarities to English. Inside a department store, I looked at some sokken, Flemish word for "socks."

The center of town bustled with people and activity when we visited on a Saturday. The main street was closed off to pedestrians only. When we took photos, Belgian people passing by would said "Chee--se" to us. This happened several times. They may have picked up the custom from American tourists.

Antwerp has been recently designated as the "Cultural Capital of Europe". In order to claim this illustrious title, a city must demonstrate that they foster artistic, musical, and theatrical exhibits and events throughout the year.

Bruges / Brugge

My friend Ginny and I visited Bruges on an earlier trip. It is a very quaint and picturesque city and the capital of the province of West Flanders. It's filled with canals, cobblestone roads and well-preserved medieval architecture. The people were very friendly even though we didn't speak their language. A native gave us a sneak preview of the elaborate Octoberfest costumes. Although the Octoberfest is in Germany, people from every country participate. We toured this lovely town on bicycles.

I'll never forget the time in a pub when Ginny rose to go to the restroom. She accidentally knocked over a fellow's beer on the next table that was very close to ours. He tried to steal a kiss from her when she apologized. She desperately tried to get away from him. A Belgium lady started speaking to Ginny in rapid Flemish. She didn't understand a word and scurried into the restroom. When she went in, she understood what the woman was trying to tell her. Ginny had walked into the men's restroom.


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