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A Quick Jaunt to Ghent

Everybody raves about the food scene in Brussels and writes rapturous reviews about the Art Nouveau buildings, focusing on the movement’s founder Victor Horta, but what about Ghent? Only a 35 minute ride on the fast trains from Brussels (2 to 3 hours on the local slower trains and If you drive, it takes close to an hour), Ghent is the largest Flemish city in Belgium with a surprising younger population flocking there, hipsters maybe disillusioned with the urban decay of Antwerp and Brussels. It’s place that hugs a cosmopolitan feel with it’s historical past. During the Middle Ages, it was once the most powerful and richest cities in Europe. A few friends urged me to visit Bruges, a stunning example of a well preserved medieval provincial town but word on the street is Ghent offers the same in a less contrived atmosphere. I sadly only spent an afternoon there peeping around the castle, but enough to ask again, what about Ghent? […]

By |September 29th, 2014|Belgium, Culture, Ghent|25 Comments

Brussels: Where I Slept & What I Ate

Where I Slept Alone. I sleep alone right now and it’s best that way. I snort loudly sometimes, often hogging the covers. My left hand has the tendency to curl up into a ball and stay in that state until I rouse. Weird, I know. In case you were thinking of dating me, isn’t it best to be honest now? When it came to sleeping in Brussels the emergence of theme hotels is at an all time high. I certainly don’t mean a gaudy, monstrous slab of architecture à la Las Vegas style, but something inherently European. Eating was another matter, I ate food interlaced with a strong history. Some of it wild and wholly unexpected, others a pure pleasure to familiarize myself with. […]

By |July 15th, 2014|Belgium, Brussels, Travel Tips|23 Comments

This is Brussels

Brussels is kind of dingy. That’s what a few people told me before I went. This happens to me frequently. People find out what I do and then insert (sometimes without me even asking) their point of view about a city or country. I’ve become a pregnant woman. Pregnant women are often given unsolicited advice on what they should or shouldn’t do with their fetus and this continues well after the child is born. It must be worse with the onset of social media. A well meaning baby photo posted on Facebook becomes an advice column for the mommy critics. Travelers love to talk about their travels with others, which is cool. They also become heady with tips. Do this. Go here. I hated that.  What people constantly forget is a destination is very much opinion. It depends on who you were with. How long you stayed. What you chose to see. Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union, has three official languages — Dutch, German and French, and is home to the waffle. But it’s so much more than that. Belguim marked a return to Europe since my running with the bulls experience in 2012. It’s been 2 years since I’ve seen medieval or gothic buildings, tasted cuisine that didn’t have chillies or loads of garlic, had to make sure my right ankle didn’t wrench on a cobblestoned street. Travel is both personal and mainstream. I say mainstream because inevitably, we all gravitate to famous landmarks that teem with crowds and touts, but how we process them is intimate. Why we go is sometimes private. Often my travels revolve around people and Brussels was about connecting with my friend Alison Cornford-Matheson, the blogging queen of CheeseWeb, the source for all things Belgium. We spent a few days together and enjoyed some sights, conversations and tasty food. […]

By |July 7th, 2014|Belgium|43 Comments