Antwerp, Belgium – December 2013
When we initially arrived in Brussels (via the Brussels City Shuttle) we were dropped off at Gare du Midi, and immediately bought individual 10-journey metro tickets, and a shared 10-journey train ticket. We used the metro tickets to get around Brussels – where we were staying, and the train ticket to go to Bruges first, then Antwerp later. Antwerp is another hour train ride from Brussels, and we enjoyed a quiet early Sunday morning ride north the day we went.
Belgium just continued to wow. When we flew in, the sun was just rising over the country blanketed in fog, and on our first day in Brussels the tops of the tall buildings were shrouded in a light fog, almost concealed at times. Picturesque, romantic. Taking the trains to different cities obviously gives one a peek at more than just the ‘Grote Markt‘, and it was lovely to see a bit of the countryside, some smaller towns, different train stations, and (as we try to do) blend in a bit. During our day in Antwerp, the sun was out and the city just killed it. So amazingly beautiful with its shinning sun. I swear the entire day was “magic hour” and walking around, every building glimmered and glowed.
Sidenote: leaving Brussels, on the way up to Antwerp, also gave me a view of the first “red-light district” I’ve ever seen, quite the surprise when I’m zoning out a little, trying to imagine what it’s like to live in different parts of the city that I’m seeing. “I wonder what it’s like to live here… Wow, there’s a lot of men out right now for so early on a Sunday. Is that a lingerie store? Are those mannequins moving? Is that another? Wait…What am I looking at? ” Needless to say, I figured it out quickly. I found it interesting when passing the same thing on the way back, later that night, a little girl (who had stared at Porter the entire train ride) was looking out the window when we passed the same spot and was talking to her father (in French) about what she saw. She just seemed curious, and her father didn’t seem to make a big deal about it, and watching/listening was interesting to me. She was an adorable little city girl whose Pappa allowed her her own sense of independence (from further observation). Little tidbits of observed parenting that I hope to adopt myself, maybe.
Belgium was such a treat to visit. I think Matt and I both needed to get out of Sweden for a bit, and it’s nice to be reminded that not all of Europe is Linköping (not all of Sweden is Linköping, either, of course). It was refreshing, as always, to see people who were individuals (and not so uniform, like we see daily), and it was nice to have people smile or just speak to us because they were curious about the baby. It was nice to be back in a place where people had some hustle to their walking, and who were cognizant of others walking around them (like moving out of the way! Linköping, you killllll me sometimes). It was awesome to understand another language (who knew I remembered so much French?!) and be able to try to speak back and have people appreciate the effort.
It’s really nice to get out of the bubble of daily life. Travel is a luxury, and that is certainly not lost on me, so I am especially grateful for these opportunities (especially over the Thanksgiving weekend!). I’m grateful to live here in Sweden, I’m grateful that we can explore Europe together on the cheap, and I’m happy to quietly observe how others live. Belgium made me fall in love.
See more of our Belgium trip: