Our recent trip to Europe was one of the best vacations we’ve ever experienced for a variety of reasons. First, there was the Edelweiss Bike Tour at the Alps Touring Center, which I guess I’ll have to explain eventually. Then there was our visit with the Swiss Family Mac in Switzerland. But perhaps best of all was our visit with Annelies and Yves in Belgium.
Annelies is a co-worker of mine. She and her boyfriend, Yves, came to stay with Hubby and I when they visited the US last year. We all got along fabulously. Those who really know us know that says a lot as Hubby is a bit more picky than I am about folks he deems worthy of calling a “friend.” Their visit was far too short. At the time, he and I had already been discussing this European Edelweiss Bike Tours trip. He was super excited to realize we’d be able to pop in to see Annelies and Yves if we did actually go.
The bike tour of the Alps was motivation enough to get us to Europe, but the prospect of visiting with these two again sweetened the deal even more. The four of us were together non-stop from Tuesday afternoon when they picked us up at the Brussels airport until Saturday when they dropped us off at the same airport. There was not even one moment of contention during that entire time. That says a lot, too. I mean, how many people can you spend that much time with without one or the other being even a little bit annoying?
Annelies greeted us at the airport baggage claim area holding the sign she is shown holding in the picture on the left. ALCs = Assless Leather Chaps, which some of you might remember my explaining in a previous Blog post. (You can see me modeling them, if you dare, HERE.) This gave us all quite a chuckle. And the laughs didn’t stop until we left.
Anyway… another highlight of the trip, which I still kick myself for not photographing, was our Tuesday evening barbecue at their house, which was also attended by three more of my Belgian co-workers: Leo Huybrechts, Bruni Olbrechts and Mohamed El Malt. Yves, who loves to BBQ, did a fabulous job preparing a very wide variety of foods: calamari, rabbit, ribs and some other meat I cannot remember. He also assembled some typical Belgian appetizers of cold (not raw, but pickled or smoked or something) fish, which were lovely. I have to be honest, though, cold fish are not something I’d eat on a regular basis. I think it’s an acquired taste. Annelies also prepared a huge variety of other dishes. Even though it was a work night for Leo, Bruni and Mohamed, they all stayed until after midnight. It was a very nice evening.
The following day, Yves and Annelies took us into the nearby city of Gent for the day.
I have one word for Gent. WOW. (Eloquent, aren’t I?)
Gent is a lovely, lovely Medieval city. It’s full of very cool, interesting buildings, many of which as Hubby kept pointing out, are older than the United States of America. It was built in the 13th century. I cannot possibly describe all the history in detail here, but I have provided loads of links in case you want to read more very fascinating stuff about this city which may actually date back to the Stone Age.
One of the absolute coolest sights we saw and explored was The Gravensteen, a castle that dates back to the Middle Ages. It is believe the first castle erected on the site was done around 1000 A.D. The present castle is believed to have been built in the year 1180. That’s over 800 years ago!
Another old building we saw was St. Bavo’s Cathedral. This cathedral is famous for, among other things, its Adoration of the Lamb painting (commissioned in 1425). Parts of the cathedral date back to the year 1038. Photography is not allowed inside, but if you’d like to see a few images and read about the cathedral’s history, you can visit this Web page.
I have LOTS of snapshots from our day. All of my pictures from our day in Gent can be seen on my Flickr page. There are over 100 images there, but if you have the time, they really ARE worth viewing.
More pics will follow eventually highlighting our visit to Luxembourg City and journey through the Belgian countryside.
If you’d like to see more of Gent, I embedded a nice little tourist video below for your viewing pleasure.