Hi there,

My name is Christian and I’m from Norway. As one of the team members of World-Cams I’m the kind of guy that likes to travel a lot (but really a lot). And I would like to tell you about my latest vacation which took place in Belgium.

My journey began on Friday 13th. I arrived at 12h30 on Brussels Airport in Zaventem, nearby Brussels. As we all know Brussels is the capital of Europe and because of this quite some important institutions are located in Belgiums capital city. But after sightseeing some of these buildings I immediately went to the historical hearth of the city, the Grand Place. The square is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels according to wikipedia. The Grand Place is also called the Grote Markt by the Dutch minority in Brussels. Brussels has two official languages: Dutch and French although I must say I heard more people speaking French than the other way around. Most Dutch speaking Belgians live in the north (Flanders) and most French speaking Belgian live in the south (Wallonia). And there are even some German speaking regions on the east side of the country. Belgium officially has 3 languages.

I stayed in Brussels for a few days but afterwards I rented a car and traveled around a bit. I went to Oudenaarde, one of Belgiums 589 municipalities, situated in Flanders and with great historical value. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, the city was one of the staunchest supporters of the Counts of Flanders, defending them against insurrections from the South, and even from Ghent, where I also went during my hollidays. From the 15th to the 18th century, but especially in the 16th century, Oudenaarde was a world-known centre of tapestry production. Oudenaarde means “old field” and still lingers on in “outnal”, an obsolete English term for a kind of brown linen thread.

I went to Diksmuide the day after. Although it’s origin is medieval most people know the town because of the Yser tower. It was a monument built to remember the horrors of the First World War but was destroyed during the second one. But the Belgians rebuilt it afterwards. I spoke with some Belgians while visiting the impressive Yser tower and to them this tower has quite some importance. He told me the Battle of the Yser started in 1914 and the Belgians, although outnumbered by the Germans were able to stop them thanks to the water. At the end of October 1914 the Belgians had opened the gates of the Yser river and flooded the area. As a result, the river became a front line throughout the First World War where Belgian, English and French soldiers fought a war against the Germans with far too many casualties on both sides.  

During most of my vacations I want at least one day that serves just to relax. And that’s why I visited Oostende, the biggest city at the Belgian shore. Oostende is famous for its sea-side esplanade, pier, and fine-sand beaches. Just a bummer that it started raining quite soon so I didn’t really get the chance to lay down on the beach. But it was only like 20°C anyway (normal weather in Belgium during the month of July). Oh and by the way, I visited Oostende on July 21st, the Belgian national holiday. So unfortunately, most shops were closed.

The time had come to travel towards my final destination in Belgium (Except for Zaventem to get back to Norway), Ghent! It was July 22nd and the weather wasn’t that great but Ghent is very nice to visit, even on a rainy day. First some background: Ghent is a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium The city started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys and in the Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe. Today it is a busy city with a port and a university.

Gent Skyline

Much of the city's medieval architecture remains intact and is remarkably well preserved and restored. Its centre is the largest carfree area in Belgium. Interesting highlights are the Saint Bavo Cathedral with the Ghent Altarpiece, the belfry, the Gravensteen castle, and the splendid architecture along the old Graslei harbour. Ghent established a nice blend between comfort of living and history – it is not a city-museum. The city of Ghent houses also three béguinages and numerous churches, among which the Saint-Jacob's church, the Saint-Nicolas' church and the Michael's church are the most beautiful examples.

During my stay in Ghent the Gentse Feesten (Ghent Festival) were taking place. The Gentse Feesten is a music and theatre festival. Besides stage events there are random small street acts such as mimickers, buskers, etc. The festival starts on the Saturday before July 21 (Belgium's national holiday) and lasts ten days. The last day (always a Monday) is known as de dag van de lege portemonnees (the day of the empty wallets) alluding to the fact that many people have spent their last penny at the festival. The Gentse Feesten were really great. Each day there were tons of things to do and in the evening (and during the night) there were great parties everywhere. I really enjoyed myself with my girlfriend.

I didn’t introduce Aesa (my girlfriend) yet right? Anyway, she is the love of my life and endures traveling around with me for over 5 years now. She enjoyed Belgium quite a bit, just like me. Even though it’s a small country it has an enormously rich culture and tons of historical places to visit. We personally enjoyed our stay in Ghent the most as it is a really impressive city (and voted as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe!) and there was so much to do. But if you're into historical buildings, Belgium won't disappoint you. Oh and if you like festivals, Belgian fries, chocolate or Belgian waffles they will not disappoint you either!

So, that's it... I hope this post may inspire some of you to visit Belgium some day, because it’s really worth it. Be sure to share your thoughts on this post with me underneath!