A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Though it’s still early in the semester, it’s never too early for a holiday, is it?
And with Belgium just a (rather large) stone’s throw away, it seems like the perfect destination for a weekend break. I recently took part in the ISN trip to Antwerp and it really was amazing! Not that you should need anymore convincing… but, if you do, here are my top 4 reasons to hop over to the Netherland’s neighbour, Belgium:
1) The Buildings, Art and History
Antwerp was the perfect mix of culture and fun – with stunning buildings, crazy myths and the home of Rubens, there’s so much to do and see. I would highly recommend both a cycle tour and a ghost/night tour in order to properly appreciate the history and the architecture. My favourite place however had to be the Grote Markt because, as well as being beautiful and bustling, it also contained lots of opportunities to consume the second reason….
2) The Food
The beautiful country of Belgium, famed for its neutrality, is sometimes overlooked in the food stakes, especially by the larger neighbours it nestles between – with France having the audacity to claim the Belgian frites as their own (or so the Belgians say). However, in this rich and rainy country, the food game is seriously strong – definitely worth a visit just for the food! Thanks to both Dutch and French influences, a trip to Belgium is sure to satisfy every sweet tooth around and, with the Belgian café culture, it is more than worth a visit.
Belgian has CHOCOLATE (in my opinion, humankind’s single greatest invention) – and lots of it. With over 2000 chocolate shops in Belgium, they’ve had more than enough practice and this is really reflected it the taste of the chocolate – Belgians just do it better.
It has WAFFLES – so different from their supermarket equivalent that trying the Belgian originals was somewhat of a revelation. Top them with anything from strawberries to whipped cream, or stick with a classic icing sugar dusting. Perfection. And, best of all, chips/fries/frites are considered a delicacy of sorts – and any place which lets this happen is a place you should want to visit. For Belgians, frites are a lifestyle. A lifestyle that you’ll want to emulate.
3) The Beer
Belgian Beer is on a whole different level. It’s so good that it can even convert non-beer drinkers such as my friend who developed a slightly unhealthy (though justifiable) obsession with the Belgian Raspberry Beer (Framboise). Another Beer to try is a Bolleke de Koninck – an Antwerp special, sometimes considered as an old man’s drink – but in this case, the older are definitely the wiser. With hundreds of varieties to choose from, there’s no way you can get through them all – though there’s no harm in trying, is there?
4) The Café Culture
The Belgians, like the Dutch, love the European café culture – and what’s better than sitting outside on a hot day with a cold drink (or on a cold day with a hot drink) and watching the world go by? Nothing.
See you in Belgium!