“Belgiuuuum… What the hell is a Belgium?”
“A country in Europe.”
“Oh! It’s that little place in France, right!”
And that’s generally how the conversation goes when I say I lived in Belgium for a year. Once they remember Belgian waffles and chocolate it normally gets better from there.
Now, Belgium is (so far) my favourite country in the whole world, though I may be a little biased. But why? Why have I been there now three times? Why do I keep returning? And why the hell are French Fries not called Belgian Fries?!
Because Belgium is the quirkiest, cutest, most badass little country that has ever made me gain an undisclosed amount of weight, ever. I don’t want to talk about it.
First of all, let’s talk about the food.
Fries. Waffles. Beer. Chocolate. Need I say more? Yes!
Belgium produces more than 1,000 different kinds of beer each year. That’s a lot. Especially when we generally only get two in Canada: Stella Artois and Leffe. Gag. The rest of them are pretty amazing (not that I’ve got
ten to try all of them.. Yet.) There is actually a really really REALLY little bar in Antwerpen that carries most of them, but they won’t give you your beer without it being in the corresponding glass. It once took me 20 minutes to get my beer because they couldn’t find the right one. Tasted amazing though!
Everyone, of course, has had Belgian chocolate
, and waffles (although it’s a dessert in Belgium) and instantly fallen in love. No need to go there.
There are some other pretty interesting foods, such as Gegratineerde witloof, which is an endive wrapped in ham and covered in cheese sauce. Witloof definitely has an acquired taste, but together with the cheese and the ham it’s quite delicious. Stoofvles. This is amazing. It’s a meaty sauce that covers your French fries, and is absolutely delicious! Note: a tip to finding the best French fries – Go to a Frituur (French fry place) and make sure they are deep fried twice. So bad for you, but OMG so delicious.
Obviously, Belgium is not the place to go if you’re trying to lose weight. But every pound is worth it!
So this is where the quirkiness comes in. I’m going to give you a couple cool monuments and landmarks, and you can decide for yourself whether or not Belgium is a little much for you.
So yes. This is a little boy peeing. And yes, they do dress him up in little outfits. And yes, they do have a couple hundred outfits. And yes, you can get Manneken Pis in the shape of a chocolate. I actually think it’s cute!
There are many legends as why this statue exists, but I like this one the best
.: In the 14th century, Brussels was under siege by a foreign power. Belgium, being awesome, held its ground for a good amount of time, so the attackers started to put explosive charges at the city walls. A little boy named Julianske happened to be spying on them as they set it up, and he ends up urinating on the burning fuse, and thus, saving the city. So they erected a statue in his honour.
For some unbeknownst reason there is also a statue of a little girl peeing in the city, and of a dog peeing too. To each their own.
This… Is a very large metal atom. Very large. Pretty cool though – you can walk all along inside of it and there is a very expensive fine-dining restaurant at the top. It was built for the Expo 58, Brussels World Fair in 1958.
CNN has named it Europe‘s most bizarre building.
This is a very large statue of a man holding the severed hand of a giant high in the air, as the giant lies in unbearable pain.
Actually, this is my favourite statue because I love the story behind it, and Antwerpen is my favourite city. So here is the tale
There was a giant
, called Druon Antigoon, who lived on the river Scheldt, and who demanded money from the people who wished to cross the bridge. If the people didn’t want to, or couldn’t pay, he would cut of their hands and throw them into the river. Brabo killed the giant, and because of this, also cut off and threw the giant‘s hand into the river.
Actually, that’s also why the city is named Antwerpen. “Ant“, as in hand in Dutch (without the H) and “Werpen”, as in to throw. Kinda cool, if not a little morbid.
So, while I was living in Belgium, they didn’t have a government. That’s right. For 589 days they had no prime minister and no government. They actually beat the record for longest government-free country. And guess what? Nothing burned to the ground. Belgium is such a nice, polite, passive aggressive country. I love it!
So that was a thing.
Also, you can get across the country in any direction in about 3 and a half hours. And they still manage to squish three languages into that: Flemish, French and German. I’m not going to get into the Flemish-French divide; that would take too long. (See infographic above.)
So Belgium is pretty interesting, and definitely worth a visit if you’re staying in Europe. Not only is it in the very center of Europe, but it’s super cheap and really quick to get almost anywhere else via train or plane. (Except for Paris. But that’s Paris.)