Before beginning the el Camino, I flew to Amsterdam, then on to Brussels, Belgium for a walking tour and bus tour of Belgium. Although the main purpose of my European journey was a walking pilgrimage on the el Camino de Santiago, I added a trip to Belgium because I had missed going there many years ago. For me, traveling is an opportunity to learn and a renewal of positive spirit.
Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a lovely historic city, lively and energetic. It is now the home of the European Commission (the executive body of the European Union), which includes twenty-eight countries. Eight thousand people from those countries work here, and the light blue flag with twelve stars flies on all the new government buildings. The parks and gardens are very inviting.
In the Brussels photo at the top of this blog post, you can see the Atomium from the 1950’s World Fair behind me. I stayed in the city center, within walking distance of the old historic district, with the grand Guild houses and narrow streets filled with shops and fine restaurants. It is a safe, clean and cosmopolitan place with friendly people. Of course there are the stores filled with chocolates and Belgium lace. I couldn’t resist sampling the chocolates as I walked along the old city streets and even saving a few for a sinful snack in my hotel at night.
I took a bus to Antwerp, the second largest port in Europe and a world supplier of diamonds. To view the city, I took many escalators to reach the top of the Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS). It is a bustling scenic city. Many great artists have lived here, including Rubens. It is difficult to imagine that most of this city was evacuated in WWI and that Antwerp was heavily damaged in both World Wars.
Belgium is a small country next to Luxemburg, the Netherlands, and France. The countryside produces farm goods for market. I always enjoy being in the country, with a slower pace and beautiful scenery. My stay in Belgium was short-lived before I took a streamlined train to Paris.
-November 3, 2014