CYCLING, TOYS AND GRAFFITI: 7 REASONS TO VISIT BELGIUM
Europe has too much to offer. And that’s why when it comes to limited days of leaves (bartered for kidney with the reluctant boss), and even more limited funds one obviously gets strayed towards planning to visit Rome, Paris, Prague, Vienna and Amsterdam, of course. But I think you should take a day or two for Belgium too.
Why, you ask? Well, here are my reasons:
1. Cycling On The Highway | Antwerp
My last memory of cycling goes back to 7th grade or something. But when we reached Antwerp, a small town of Belgium located an hour away from Brussels, we had only a few hours to see all we could. Which automatically ruled out walking. Uber taxis haven’t been on our list since we came to this side of the world. And understanding the local transportation system for less than a day didn’t seem worth it. Hence, cycling.
While I unwillingly agreed to get on one, I am super glad I did. And that’s entirely because Antwerp has methodically made cycling paths alongside the main road that goes through and through the city. With all sorts of super fancy cars zipping past our paddling selves, was a pure joy. I mean how else would I have pulled off 20 km of cycling in about 2 hours.
2. Did Someone Say Shopping? | Antwerp
Antwerp is called the fashion District of Belgium because it offers a variety of shopping experiences interspersed with local feels. Located inside really old architecture are modern stores of H&M and Armani, lining the Meir (pronounced my-er) street which is fully pedestrianized. And on a Saturday, it sure was buzzing almost making us believe that the entire Antwerp is out shopping.
3. Name-An-Animal-And-Find-It Zoo | Antwerp
Antwerp’s main station shares its wall with the city zoo. And if, like me, you’re fond of visiting zoos, then you HAVE to visit this one. We literally had only 45 minutes to see everything that normally requires three odd hours, but we went in because the map said they have penguins! And they weren’t lying. And not just that, they have hopping kangaroos, farting hippos, lazing apes, DGAF seals, and some really creepy reptiles including a python and a Comodo dragon. I mean…you get the point!
4. One Thing At A Time | Brussels
If multitasking is not your thing, Brussels is the right place for you. Café La Victoire was a bar that only serves alcohol, and let’s you play professional darts. And then there were stores only selling waffles. One eatery only had fish and chips on the menu. And another place had a huge line only for fries. Whatte streamlined sense of business.
FUN FACT: While randomly walking the streets, we heard this one tour guide shout at the top of her voice: “I never want to hear any of you call fries French again. Fries are NOT French, Fries are Belgian.” And I was like whoa! So, it’s not just Kolkata and Orissa killing each other to own Rosogulla. Belgium and France seem to be in a similar bout too.
5. They Love To Pis | Brussels
Manneken Pis meaning Little Pisser, is a small bronze statue of a naked boy who happily has his wee-wee doing the pee-pee in the fountain. Surprisingly, or not, this is considered a symbol of the people of Brussels. We obviously wondered why. While Google and the locals had their own theory, Prakhar and I had our own—have you seen the amount of beer these guys chug? What else are they supposed to do/think/talk about, but pissing. And then they have a girl version of it, called Jeanneke Pis, and then a dog version called the Het Zinneke. Great photography spots.
6. Drove Us Up The Walls | Antwerp & Brussels
Belgium, at least Brussels and Antwerp, is really high on graffiti. And they have owned Tintin and Smurfs like no other. Wherever you walk, you will find high AF walls all covered with bright colourful drawings, making every nook and cranny worth a click.
7. Keeping The Child In Me Alive | Brussels
And the reason I will most probably be returning to Brussels for is their obsession with pop culture merch. Stores after stores are selling action figures from Marvel, DC, Disney, other official stuff from Smurfs, Tintin, and their local comics, and a whole lot of Harry Potter goodies. This place is definitely going to get me broke.
BONUS: Diamond District | Antwerp
Antwerp is known for being the top-rated city for diamonds. They say that one out of every two polished diamonds would have gone through Antwerp at some or the other stage. I am personally not into diamonds at all, but we heard it’s quite a great place to visit. We’d surely make room for it next time around.