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Published: August 15th 2009
A GIANT'S HAND
Symbol of Antwerp
So up this morning in plenty of time to enjoy the wonder breakfast buffet and I leave for the train station. Today is one of those all travel days. I get to the Copenhagen station about 45minutes (845AM) prior to boarding just to make sure that I know where I am going. But the station is pretty good and easy to figure out. My first train will take me to Hamburg, Germany. I have done another first on this trip. In the crossing from Denmark to Germany there happens to be a large body of water and I wasn't sure how this was to be crossed in the train. I thought maybe a bridge?? No, 2 train cars were put on the ferry for the crossing. Now I have crossed ferries before but never in a train.
So now I am officially on the Continent of Europe and specifically in Germany. My connection out of Hamburg takes me to Cologne, Germany. But I have another connection to meet and this one is late. This is unusual for the German Trains to run late but once on board we are told that the train will stop at the
next station and we will have to change to a different train because the engine of the present train is having technically difficulties.
So hopefully my last transfer of the day and it's 8:15PM. My destination for the night is Brussels, Belgium. I have made a room reservation for a hotel that is very close to the station and is very cheap only 62.USD for the night—the down side is that the Trip Advisors reviews are really bad. So I hope it won't be too bad. Most of the complaints are about the area and that gangs of young men hanging out there at night. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it won't be that dangerous. I have not encountered any where in my travels that I have considered dangerous, I hope my luck holds out.
When I transfer trains I am sitting in a compartment with an older lady who is visiting her daughter who just moved to Brussels and a 30”s something guy who lives out side of Brussels. He offered to show me around the town tomorrow but I try to be very vague about my plans, and then he offers to walk me
ST. HUBERTS GALLERY
Upscale shopping area
to the hotel. This I am willing to take him up on, but I didn't have the address in my hand as he was walking out of the train station he thought he knew where the hotel was but I knew that he was going in the wrong direction but we were going to a well lighted area, so I didn't stop him.
There seems to be a street carnival going on. So when we reach the area I thank him and let him know that I will be all right from here. It was nice of him to escort me but not if I was in the wrong direction.
I go into the hotel that sits on the corner of the street and there are 3 men sitting around on the computer and talking, I ask for directions and they are very helpful and look up the hotel on the web and give me the address. As we are talking I find out they all 3 are Moroccan and we start to talk about my travels in Morocco and where they're from. I even get a phone number from one of the men. I didn't
MORE OF ST. HUBERT'S GALLERY
Can't remember if this is the King's or Princess or the Queen's... all too expensive for my taste.
ask for it and I won't use it but it was fun to talk with them. Even though the my hotel is a short walk away, one of the men insist that I get a taxi to take me there. They did say that the neighborhood is rough and things do happen. So they call a taxi and I bid my farewells.
What I find out is that my hotel is in the heart of the African district. Most of the area is with Moroccan immigrants along with Middle Eastern and other countries of Africa.
The hotel is OK, it is a little worn and outdated but the rooms are clean and it has a bathtub. Anyone that knows me knows that I love to soak in a hot bath. Since I have been forced to shower for that last 4 months this is a welcomed site. In fact it is the first thing that I do!!!!
I get the brochure on sightseeing and try to decide what I want to do tomorrow. Waterloo is only about 20 minutes away. But nothing like a guided trip goes there.
I have no alarm for
THE SMART CAR SHOWROOM
You know the car that's slightly bigger than Barbie's Pink Safari Jeep.
this morning so I just get up when I'm ready. I go down for breakfast around 8:30 and it's a nice little buffet with the basics. I make plans to take the Brussels City tour this morning that is part walking and part by bus. It shows us various interesting areas.
Brussels is the capital city of the European Union (EU) and the largest urban area in Belgium.
Brussels has grown from a 10th-century fortress town founded by a descendant of Charlemagne into a metropolis of more than one million inhabitants. The official languages are French and Dutch but there is a history of the Flemishin the northern areas of Belgium and a small number still speak the language. My friend, Wim is a Flemish Belgian and my guide in Greece, Yannick is a French Belgian, they have different points of view on the history of Belgium.
Belgium is a country of manufacturing and exporting of finance and government. Only 4% of the nation is agricultural. There appears to be no recession here, the building explosion is still going on, from buildings to roads to new structures and renovations of old ones. Every where you look there
is a construction crew working on something.
The most famous statue in all of the world is here in Brussels It is called the Manneken Pis sculpture by Jerome Duquesnoy, Year 1388:with the original version;1619 is the current version made of Bronze and is 61cm (24 in.) tall. (Remember size doesn't matter)
The first time I was in Brugge, Belgium in 2004 they had a campaign to keep the city clean and they used posters of this statue to stop public urination and to publicize the 300 euro fine that was associated with getting caught. Now there are about 800 different beers here in Belgium so public urination was a real problem.
I found the poster very funny, now here in Brussels I find that they dress the little boy up like people back home dress those stupid concrete geese. But more than that they have a museum holding over 200 of the outfits. Now that's just not right!
There are many legends about the little pee boy and the one I like the best is the one about Brussels being under siege by a foreign power. The city had held its ground for
some time, so the attackers conceived of a plan to place explosive charges at the city walls. A little boy named Juliaanske happened to be spying on them as they were preparing. He urinated on the burning fuse and thus saved the city. Sounds like a mans solution to a problem.
So check out the pictures for all of the wonderful sites of Brussels.
My afternoon journey to Antwerp was fantastic. In fact my advice to is skip Brussels and just do Brugge and Antwerp. They are the best of Belgium in my opinion.
Antwerp's total population is 472,071. It is located on the right bank of the river Scheldt, which is linked to the North Sea by the estuary Westerschelde.
According to folklore, the city got its name from a legend involving a mythical giant called Antigoon who lived near the river Scheldt. He exacted a toll from those crossing the river, and for those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river Scheldt. Eventually, the giant was slain by a young hero named Brabo, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the
CITY HALL BRUSSELS
Located in the Palace Square
river. Hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen—akin to Old English hand and wearpan (= to throw), that has changed to today's warp.
According to the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the port of Antwerp was the seventeenth largest (by tonnage) port in the world in 2005 and second only to Rotterdam in Europe.
Antwerp's other great mainstay is the diamond trade. The city has four diamond Houses: one for bort(industrial) and three for gem quality goods. Since World War II families of the large Hasidic Jewish community have dominated Antwerp's diamond trading industry, although the last two decades have seen Indian and Armenian traders become increasingly important. Antwerp World Diamond Center, the successor to the Hoge Raad voor Diamant, plays an important role in setting standards, regulating professional ethics, training and promoting the interests of Antwerp as a center of the diamond industry. I took a tour of a diamond cutting shop. Australia provides 22% of the worlds diamond,with Botswana second with 19%. I am sorry to say that they were not giving out any free samples😞
The town is filled with fantastic buildings with sculptures and fountains everywhere. It is a great city
for walking and sight seeing.
We were able to tour the inside of the Cathedral Of Our Lady with four huge paintings of Rebens on display.
Check out the photos!! I really like this town. It is a powerhouse of awesome architecture and culture.
After the tour to Antwert, I was once again back in Brussels and it was getting late around 6:30 and considering my area I wanted to walk back during the daylight. Even during the day, I stood out like a white person in Harlem. It was so much like going back to the Middle East, where only men are in the streets and in the cafes. I felt that everyone was staring at me. Because I really was the only white person on the streets for about 1/4 of a mile. But it was still day light and I felt safe enough but I did not want to venture into any of the local shops for water or a soda. I will just eat dinner at the hotel.
I just keep thinking of the savings of staying here than at another place and it amounts to over 100USD.
I have to
search for an other hotel for the next 2 days so that is my homework for tonight. My travel tomorrow is only a 3 hour journey but it will take me to a different country!!
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