Travel Tuesday: BELGIUM

Hi friends! Sorry for the delay, I was out of town for the long weekend with no internet access. Now I’m back in Manila and ready to post for another Travel Tuesday (on a Wednesday??? Well, it’s still Tuesday in the other parts of the world…so technically, pasok pa rin! Aha!!!) Today, my kiddies, I shall take you to the land of Chocolates!!! BELGIUM!!!:) For chocoholics like me, there are only 3 places to go to: Belgium, Switzerland, and surprisingly Japan (they have the cleanest, creamiest chocolates there!)! But the Belgians take their chocolate industry more seriously, it’s like a medieval Willy Wonka town with chocolate shops EVERYWHERE. And don’t forget their yummy belgian waffles!!! Hahahahahayyy 🙂 Of course, Belgium is much more than a foodie’s paradise, it’s a charming little country with it’s own culture and flair 🙂 My last first 2 visits to Belgium as a young gerbil were all in transit, so my third trip in ’07  was much more meaningful because we really explored Antwerp and Brussels on our own.

Even the New York Times agrees – Antwerp (Antwerpen in Flemish, Anvers in French) is Europe’s place to be. Appreciated by mode moguls, club queens, art lovers and diamond dealers, Belgium’s capital of cool and the country’s second-biggest city once again revels in fame and fortune.

Antwerp has a rollcall of drawing cards. Start with its manageable size and timeless quality. The old city centre, built around the country’s most impressive cathedral, is as beautiful and intimate as it was centuries ago. Tucked away in cobbled lanes and backstreets are thousands of restaurants and bars, antique shops, art galleries, exclusive chocolate out­lets, designer boutiques and diamond shops where Antwerpenaars enjoy spending money.

The whole city is something of an architectural museum, from the medieval riverside fortress to modern waterfront creations and the famous Cogels-Osylei, where architects ran riot. Most distinctive is its Gothic and Flemish baroque architecture; it was the home of Pieter Paul Rubens, northern Europe’s greatest baroque artist. A visit to his home and studio in the city centre gives fabulous insight into the painter’s personal life, after which you can track down some of his most acclaimed works in churches and museums dotted around the city.
Antwerp’s role as a celebrated fashion hub means it’s a magnet for shoppers. For a city of its size, it boasts an astonishing number of world-acclaimed fashion designers and many have set up boutiques here. Designer-led stores buzz with shoppers looking for the latest in hip clothing and accessories.

Brussels is a city of fine food,café culture, Art Nouveau architecture and the surreal. Pull up a chair and join laissez-faire locals who value the city’s casual atmosphere. Watch money go down on swish Ave Louise or buy dried caterpillars just blocks away in Matonge, the capital’s African quarter. Some of the world’s most enduring images of surrealist art were created in the nondescript northern suburb of Jette. And the architecture ranges from monumental edifices such as the Grand Place to organic Art Nouveau façades and the EU’s real-life Gotham City. 

Constant among all this is the quality of everyday life – the shopping’s great, the restaurants fab, the chocolate shops sublime and the pub scene extraordinary. For a long time Brussels didn’t go out of its way to impress, but its stint as Cultural Capital of Europe in 2000 saw the city dusted and polished in a flurry that brought renewed life to historic buildings and decaying streets. A new spirit, just short of cockiness, emerged, flaming outside interest and inner-city regeneration. Nearly a decade on, Brussels is looking better than ever.

Trip Duration: You can easily explore Antwerp and Belgium in 3-4 days. But you can always choose to extend for a week if you’d like to immerse yourself further and explore the rest of Belgium.
When to go: Belgium is actually very pretty in the winter. You can always buy some hot choco in the street to keep you warm!
How to get there: Belgium is a small country right in the middle of Germany, France and the Netherlands. It’s usually a “transit country” for people who go on European tours, the tiny country is easily accessible by bus or car from any of these three countries. From Amsterdam, it’s easy to book a day tour to Brussels or Antwerp. Tours by Viator cost less than 3,000 pesos with transfers and a tour guide.
Visa required: YEP YEP. Again, you will need to apply for a Schengen visa from the Embassy. Allot at least 3-4 weeks to process your tourist visa. You must set your appointment beforehand. 
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Makati City – Manila
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What to Wear: If I had more money to shop, I’d definitely spruce up my winter wardrobe. My winter clothes are all pretty dull, I usually stick to the heavy duty bomber jacket and plain winter boots. But given the chance to revamp my snowflake worthy look, I’d definitely go for something more chic like these celebs! 

6 Responses to Travel Tuesday: BELGIUM

  1. Great entry! 🙂

    This is a very interesting place for World War II (even the First) history buffs as well, given its historical significance in both wars (perhaps because of its central location in Europe)…

  2. I didn’t know Japan was one of the best places for chocolates! Thanks for sharing patty! I hope I can travel often like you. Keep posting travel Tuesday=)

  3. Weeeh, I’m so happy that you’ve decided to post your travel blogs in an organized way. Yung may mga How To Get There sections talaga. Yaaay! I just have one tiny tiny request. I wish you’d post the financial side of each trip. Like how a ticket costs and where to get the cheapest rates, how much money to allot for visa processing, those kinds of things. I will love you forever if you could do that? Or is that too much na? Hehehe, Anyway, thank you pa rin, Ate Patty! (Chos! First name basis? Feeling close! Hahahaha!)

  4. Thanks so much for your comments!

    K, Im afraid I cannot give much details about the costs as the rates for hotels, flights, tours change all the might be difficult for me to give you detailed price ranges since I am not a professional travel agent 🙂 And you have to remember that some of my trips happened years and years mahirap magtancha kung ano na yung mga presyo ngayon 🙂 But thanks so much for that tip!