Sunday, 11 November 2012

More from Belgium - Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent & Liege

As well as wwoofing, I spent a bit of time visiting the towns and cities of Belgium.  First stop was Brussels but, unusually for me, I didn't take a single photo and not because it wasn't photogenic.  It was surprisingly so but I was only there for a night and a day and in between sampling the beer and the chocolate (separately, not together) I just didn't get around to clicking pics.

Bruges however was a different story.  It is just as pretty as everyone tells you it will be and even with rain and more rain, I found lots of places & things to photograph.

For starters, there are the shops bursting with more kinds of chocolate than you would ever have thought possible

as well as some sensible chocolate related t-shirt advice.

I also found this pretty and original way to use up all those lace doilies you might have cluttering up the back of your drawers.

But it wasn't all shops and clothes.  There are of course canals

flowers along the canals

and tourists taking boat trips on the canals.

There are even horses that look as if they have been dusted in chocolate 

and neatly trimmed for the tourists

but they look a lot happier at the end of the day after they've left the tourists behind and are on their way home

Lots of the streets in Bruges look like this

with houses like this

and even the plainest houses manage to look quaint

In Antwerp I spent some time at the fashion museum looking at frocks

and admiring the architecture

which is such a contrast to much of the rest of the city.  For example, this is their railway station

the main square

and the castle down near the docks.

The river Antwerp is built on is still a busy water way

although it was a bit dismal the day I visited.

As I have so often found travelling about, off season is a good time for road works or just generally digging up and fixing things.  This was around the corner from where I was staying and I am sure they had the jackhammers blasting away before 7 most mornings.

Thankfully, however, most of the city looks more like this

with streets and streets of magnificently detailed buildings

and even a few hidden, vine-clad courtyards

In fact, I don't think I've ever seen so many vine-clad walls anywhere

If in doubt, just add vines and maybe a funny face too.

The other gem in Belgium is Ghent, a city almost unknown to tourists (so don't tell anyone about it, okay?)  Just as in the other cities, there are plenty of medieval buildings still standing and still in use.

This one's for sale

and this one's the police station.

Right in the middle of town, they are just putting the finishing touches on this and although it's certainly eye catching, no one seems to know yet what it's for.

Ghent also a nice smattering of art nouveau and art deco treasures,

not all of which are in the best condition but which hopefully are about to be fixed (not demolished)

There's also a great contemporary art gallery, SMAK, with some interesting works both outside (yes, they are torsos on the wall)

and inside

 and nearby I came across this tattered poster with a message that quite appealed

As in Bruges, there are canals here too

and, a bit like Venice, crumbling buildings lining the canals

with plenty of rising damp by the look of things

One of the prettiest shops I saw was this one, selling second hand clothes and jewellery and lace.

The curtains are made from not quite completed lace, bobbins still attached

and inside, the whole lace making kit is ready and waiting someone's nimble hands and perfect eye sight.

This was my very favourite cafe.  They had thoughtfully wrapped up the chairs to keep out the cold with big woolly blankets that just happened to match my own lovely warm scarf.  How clever!

My very last lot of pics from Belgium are these, taken at the near-new railway station in Liege which was designed by one Santiago Calatrava.

Yes, and I thought Melbourne's Southern Cross station was snazzy ...

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