Travel With Ysabel: Belgium

Classes just started last week and my co-DLSU exchange students and I already planned out our first trip! We first went to the nearest to France which was Belgium. Prior to that, a weekend before our trip, my parents and I visited Brussels for a day as well. 1 country, 3 cities in 2.5 days? It’s an amazing race!

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BRUGES is a small city in Northern Belgium that has a population of only 117,000 as of January 2014.  Located in the northwest of the country, it is also the part of Belgium where much of the residents speak Flemish or Dutch (other languages are either French or German). It’s considered to be one of the few European cities with beautiful canals that’s why it is sometimes referred to as “Venice of the North”.

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My friends and I went on the canal tour where we saw pretty much of what Brugge had to offer. Not much activities, but just beautiful and picture-worthy views, particularly the canals. It was my first time to see swans and I didn’t know how lovely they look. What more if they transform to beautiful maidens? 😉

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The BELFRY TOWER symbolises power. Its former purposes were to see fire and other sorts of danger. The clock rings almost every hour with 47 chiming wonderful tunes. In Bruges, we were able to explore two churches but were not allowed to take photos inside. 17 churches and 420 popes exist in this city.

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Somewhere in Brug Square stands a statue and a little bronze frog behind it. Legend has it if 100,000 people kiss this frog, it will turn into a handsome prince or princess who will “carry your backpack for the rest of your life for free”. Travellers would benefit from this advantage so me being one and to join in the fun, I kissed it anyway (with some sanitary cleaning before and after of course!)

I also got the chance to try the authentic Belgian beer! I sipped 5 kinds and I was not able to take photos. Sigh.

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Also included in the Flemish region of Belgium is GHENT. You see, this city is what I’d like to think of as the European San Francisco for its uphill, downhill and tram-filled roads! Bigger than Bruges, Ghent is ranked as the 4th most populous city in Belgium. Ghent also claims to be the Veggie Capital of Europe! We basically just went around and even got the chance to catch some snowflakes! The castle  Gravensteen was built in the middle ages. Some parts are under construction but the fact of seeing a real castle made me a fairytale believer (teehee) happy already.

My parents and I had the entire day to explore BRUSSELS.

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The Brussels Stock Exchange is considered one of the most important squares in Brussels. Inside, a ‘Giants of the Earth’ is being held but is only open occasionally. Passer-by’s love to have their photos taken here or just simply rest on the stairs from their strolls.

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BRUSSELS is the capital of Belgium. It’s relatively the biggest city of the three that I visited. This country is pre-dominantly Catholic, but their past history tells that there’s been a conflict going on with church and the government (politics).

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Located in the heart of Brussels is the Grand Place (Square).  It is the most memorable landmark in Brussels and most visited spot for tourists, most probably because of the beautiful architecture of the guildhalls surrounding the square. One of the buildings that stand out there is the Town Hall where statues of Brussel’s past mayors from the 15th to 18th century stand in decoration. The square was bombed back in 1696 for the French wanted to conquer Brussels.

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My parents and I went on a carriage tour that went around the central part of the city. The Sunday market tents are in red and green to represent the country’s national colors. The smallest house in Brussels went up for auction with a couple finally purchasing it for 2 million Euros (beside the Casher Kebab). Because Belgium has two sides – the ‘Flemish’ and the ‘French’, street signs are indicated in both languages. Of course, I enjoyed the carriage tour munching on their authentic Belgian waffles. Yum!

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Meanwhile, the origin of the Mannekin Pis, has many legends that support it. The “little man pee”, is a well-known figure in Brussels. One of them includes a terrified boy afraid of a bomb that he saw in the field; he thought that it would blow so to prevent that, he peed on it. Another tale tells that a woman lost her son while shopping in the city that out of panic, the whole city including the mayor ended up looking for the boy who turned out to be peeing in the corner of a small street.  The girl version of the Mannekin Pis is the Jeanneke Pis located in a hidden street in Brussels.

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It is believed that when you touch the Everard t’Serclaes statue and you make a wish, it would come true. This man was assasinated for standing up for the city’s rights against the lord of Gaasbeek.

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Godiva’s chocolate was HEAVEN. I tried it dipped in strawberries and I ate it slowly to savour the sweet taste.

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90’s cartoons The Adventures of Tintin and The Smurfs originated in Belgium so childhood memories of watching these shows in Cartoon network were restored!

The following week, my friends and I went to Brussels too but due to the lack of time from our departure delay from Gent (we got lost in the train LOL) we ended up taking videos and enjoying the park and the castle in the city.

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Check out our short video here!!!!