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My Belgium & Amsterdam Adventure: Day 1

By Thursday, July 11, 2013 , , , , ,

We started the first day of our Beligium and Amsterdam trip, by flying from Hamburg to Cologne airport where we met up with a friend of my husband and took a quit trip to check out the Cologne Dom. Luckily for us, Friend was able to borrow a car and since Cologne was on his way from near Nuremberg to our first stop in Belgium it was a great meeting place. Plus, he had never seen the cathedral:

From there we cross into the Netherlands and then into Belgium, all the way to Antwerp. We optimized our trip for money rather than minimum time spent driving, which is why we went to Antwerp first instead of Brussels. Originally we weren't sure if Antwerp was going to make it onto the itinerary, but I'm so glad it did!

For dinner that night we stopped at a fry stand to try some of the famous Belgium Fries, but I guess I was expecting a bit much, as the fries were pretty mediocre and the mayonnaise wasn't very exciting either. (I'd heard Belgium fry mayonnaise was different than regular mayonnaise, but it tasted like normal American mayonnaise, which is less eggy than the mayo we get here in Germany).

In the middle of the town square there is a strange fountain of a man holding a severed hand. Just as we were walking around the fountain an English tour showed up and we got a free explanation about the macabre fountain. Legend has it a giant was collecting tolls on the river before he would let anyone cross. One day Julius Caeser and his troops happened to want to cross the river and when the giant demanded his toll they refused. No amount of name dropping and threats would make the giant budge, so eventually one of Caeser's men had to confront the giant, cut off his hand and then his head. The young man then through the hand into the river Scheldt which the statue commemorates. The legend continues that Antwerp was named after the old Dutch words 'hand werpen', which mean thrown hand.
There's a stream of water squirting out of the hand, and around the other side of the statues there's the giants body with more water flowing out where there would normally be blood. Morbid, but memorable.

Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal -Cathedral of our Lady. The cathedral was originally supposed to have two towers, but the second was damaged in a fire before it was very tall and never finished.

One of the highlights of the trip was being able to try many kinds of Belgium beer. People tend to think Germany is the Mecca for beer drinkers, but while there certainly is a beer culture here, there is very little variation in style amongst the more widely distributed beers (mostly lager with a heavy emphasis on Pilsners). Imported beer even from neighboring countries is often surprisingly expensive in order to promote German beer, so a trip to a beer bar in Belgium was a treat, especially for my husband and his friend.

't Antwaerps Bierhuiske -  with dried hops hanging from the ceiling

Afterwards we walked through the little castle Het Steen and wandered along the river.

 To end the night, we stopped by the bar Kulminator, a strange place with narrow rooms and a few cats scurrying through. As we were browsing g the menu the couple next to us suggested we do the beer tour and sample the beers on tap - including a 17.5 % Millkeller Black from Denmark.

Later a couple from Sweden joined us as the rest if their friends had left for the night and they had just ordered a final drink. We talked about beer, traveling and cats until the bar closed, and then made our way back to the hotel. Funnily enough, we ran into the American couple again in Brussels!

The next day we packed up our things, checked out and drove away to Ghent.

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  1. This is great! I just got back from my honeymoon in Bruges. And have lots of beer-shots with our travel mascot, George-Bailey Penguin.

    We too were told that the fries were amazing, but not so much, we thought. Except in the Frites Museum.

  2. Just came across your blog from SITSSharefest and pleased I did! Sounds like you had a great time and looking through all the places you've been too, I cannot help but be jealous.
    Amsterdam is on my to go list - a few friends have recommended I go explore, hire a bike and enjoy the sites!


    1. I would definitely rent a bike! I though Hamburg (where I live) was a bike friendly city until I visited Amsterdam. Often it was harder to cross the bike lanes than the streets on foot.

  3. Great photos ... we were just in Amsterdam and Bruges and Holland ...loved it!! Enjoy ...stopping by from SITSS

  4. Amazing pictures. I have never been there - so it is great to see it through your eyes. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

  5. I love your pictures! And I LOVE fries from Europe. So good.

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