April 11, 2014

EXPAT LIFE: WHAT I LOVE ABOUT BELGIUM

BRUGES 2012
So while being an expat is adventurous and exciting, it is also refreshing and inevitable that you start seeing your home country from a different perspective. You're away from all the things you're used to (and all the things that used to annoy you) and somehow by being away you're feeling closer to your home than ever because it's something you carry with you wherever you go. So what's so great about Belgium? I sometimes think of what I miss about home or what I would recommend to people who are planning a trip to Belgium and then I decided to write it down. Let's just pretend I'm your new spokeswoman for that other tiny country next to Luxembourg:
  1. The Cities
    Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Liege: tiny Belgium is filled with great cities with a relatively small city center which makes it perfect for a day trip. My all time favourite is of course the city of diamonds also known as Antwerp. I grew up near Antwerp so I've learnt to appreciate even its lesser sides but I still think it is one of the most glorious cities in Belgium.

  2. The Bakeries
    Belgians are bread eaters and usually have bread for lunch every day (some people have it for breakfast and for lunch). So since there's such a large audience for it, I guess the bakers decided to branch out. Pastries, pies, pralines, step into a genuine Belgian bakery and you'll have to restrain yourself. I think next time I visit will be disastrous for my diet, but why worry about carbs and sugar when on vacation?

  3. Public Transport 
    It's true that relying on it every day can drive a man insane but it is nice to have the option. Especially if you're just being a tourist, you can just hop on a train (that is if they're not on strike that one day you're visiting) and get to the next city on your list.

  4. The Proximity
    Belgium is practically the heart of (Western) Europe! By train, plane or bus you can get almost anywhere in Europe in no time. Amsterdam, Paris, London or Berlin are all within a day's (and usually less) reach.

  5. The Chocolate
    Godiva, Guylian, Cote d'Or or Callebaut are all big names with delicious chocolate. Often even local bakeries (like the one close to where I lived) have pretty darn good chocolate. For pralines there's only one option: Leonidas.

  6. The Seasons
    I miss the seasons sometimes; that first frost in the morning when you have to bundle up, the last days of summer in September, the first days of spring after a long winter or the weeks and weeks of rain in between... The changes can be sudden and swift but they are usually beautiful.

  7. The Fries
    Don't let anyone talk you out of this, Belgian fries are a specialty. Make sure you are outside the normal tourist area and I promise you'll have the best fries you've ever tasted (I'm getting hungry just thinking about it right now). Go to a local 'frituur' for delicious Belgian fries with the obligatory dollop of mayonnaise.

  8. Sinterklaas
    On the eve of the 6th of December kids can't wait to go to bed and get up as early as possible because that is when Sinterklaas will ride his white horse called 'Slecht Weer Vandaag' (literally Bad Weather Today) and deliver presents to every house in the country along with his little helper (who sparked quite some controversy last year). Children put their shoes filled with carrots for the horse near the chimney and write a letter to Sinterklaas and sometimes even provide a beer for Zwarte Piet (or maybe that was just me). It's a feast of chocolate, speculoos and marzipan. 

  9. The Music
    Even though I'm highly biased I do think Belgium has an incredible music scene for such a small country. Some of my favourites are Goose, The Hickey Underworld, Broken Glass Heroes, dEUS, Kapitan Korsakov, Selah Sue and The Black Box Revelation. During the summer there are numerous music festivals throughout the country (so not only Tomorrowland) and they're all really worth it!


  10. The Beer
    Whatever your preference might be, you'll find it here. Dark beers, light beers and my personal favourite: fruit beers. After a long day of discovering the city you can relax on a terrace of a local cafe and sip your ice cold beer, doesn't that sound great? That is if the weather doesn't ruin it of course.
Have you ever been to Belgium? 

4 comments :

  1. Ohh, I loved reading this! So many good memories :)

    I really enjoyed daytriping in Belgium, it was so easy and cheap (with the go-pass). In Belgium I experienced the change of seasons for the first time - in Tenerife we have a sort of endless spring - and it was something magical, I love it when the tree leaves fall, when it sometimes snows in winter and when everything blooms in spring.

    And oh, the fries! So delicious and yes, the best in the world! I liked mine with andalouse saus and a kriek was always a nice drink :)

    Have a great weekend x

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    1. The go-pass is such a great way to travel for young people, cause it can definitely add up if you take a longer train ride! For me it's the exact opposite haha, it's the first time I have experienced no change of seasons (or not in my opinion at least) and I do miss it sometimes... Especially those crazy storms in summer after a sudden heatwave ;)

      Ooh I could have some fries and kriek right now! Andalouse was always a bit too spicy for me because I'm a wuss. I should probably give it another go after being used to all the mexican spices here ;)

      Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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  2. I did a day trip to Bruges for the day and loved it. Such a charming town. I went to Brussels about 6 years ago, but was there for only a night so I would love to go back again! Loved this list :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Sammy, Bruges is really beautiful. Can you believe I only went there for the first time 2 years ago? I need to be a tourist in my own country more often!

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