Tuesday, February 22, 2011

VoM2: Belgian Week In Review

I’ve had a pretty mild first week in Europe, one that I can probably best describe as “Browsing Belgium.” I only spent two days in Antwerp after arriving there on the freighter. It’s a nice little city, but a bit more commercial than I like.

The highlight of my visit was meeting for lunch with my friend Paulina. Those of you who followed me on Voyage 1.0 — and who have very good memories! — may recall that I met Paulina in Tapachula, Mexico, where she was working at the place I stayed and was very helpful to me in making travel arrangement on the infamous Tica Bus. We have stayed in touch over the years since then, and I was delighted to find her living in Antwerp with her son, Andre, and husband Simon. We had a grand time catching up and laughing about where in the world we might cross paths again!

I spent some time wandering around the old part of Antwerp, of course, and dutifully checked out the markets, etc. The only other real highlight was being back in a typically glorious European train station!

From there I went to Brugge, simply because everyone says you have to visit Brugge. It is a charming, old little city and I enjoyed my two days there. I think I might have enjoyed it more in better weather than the cold, overcast and rain that I got. Maybe next time!

Next, I hopped a train to Brussels for another two-day browsing. The weather was still pretty cold and grim, but I got out for some good long walks. Brussels is a big city and I can’t say I found it particularly interesting, attractive or easy to be in. Frankly, if you’re going to visit a big city in Europe you might as well make it Paris!

So… I’m in Paris now, delighted to be in this city that I like a lot more than I ever thought I would (or wanted to). I’ll be meeting my niece Christine for dinner in just a little while. She is doing a semester of school here and I’m looking forward to hanging around for a week and seeing what kind of trouble we can get into together. (When she’s not in class or doing homework, of course!)

Stay tuned!

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