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The Best of Belgium - Its Cultural Diversity, the People and Places to Stay
Geeting the 'feel' with Belgium
Aside from my early knowledge about Belgium history during my Social studies subject in elementary grades, I just grasped the moniker "The Land of Flemings and Walloons" referring to one of the groups of inhabitants to associate it with this country that once tagged as 'Low Places' in Europe, including Netherlands and Luxembourg. In high school, I was starstruck with Jean-Claude Van Damme (Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg in real life), a famous Hollywood martial arts actor who's origin is from Brussels. Aside from that, who will not like the beers and the chocolate (pralines, dark or bitter chocolates with brands like Godiva) being produced there? I'm sure you'll never forget the famous Belgian waffle and the french fries (french means cut into slivers) that actually originated in the said country.
Belgium is a trilingual country, with Dutch as the official language and French and German, the other two dominant dialects due to the presence of this three races. The country has more than 10 million population, considered to be the most dense or populated country in Europe.
It was on May 20th, 2009 when our vessel docked at the commercial port of Antwerp to discharge our cargo. Eager to explore the city, personnel of the local seaman's club invited us to go there. So right after our dinner (usually 5 pm), my fellow cook, electrician and I walked the service road of the port down to the bus stop then rode unto the downtown of Antwerp. My chief cook was a veteran in the area, so, we didn't find it hard to rekindle friendship with the locals there, especially Filipino immigrants who own some 'watering holes' or karaoke-beer garden in the city.
Rekindling friendship with fellow Filipinos and discovering important places in the area are my goals whenever I go ashore.
Note: Please check my YouTube video (my account: MrMusicman1971)about our stay in Antwerp for a week (May 21-26,2009)
Antwerp...What a Place!(Music: Honky Tonk Angel-Whitey Morgan & The 78s ) c/o MrMusicman1971
Visiting Antwerp: Best for Night Clubbing
A world trading center for centuries, Antwerp is now the world diamond capital and a well-known international port. It is also famous for fashion designers and had been marked on the map due to its historical sites.
I took a photo of the Notre-Dame Cathedral (I was nearly hit by a cab), the largest monument in Belgium for a souvenir then went along with my two companions.
We stopped at the first karaoke-bar-restaurant owned by a Filipina who migrated there. My chief cook inquire something about his old flame, then we proceeded to another club where we stayed until 12 in the morning. We drank some bottles of beer, then some karaoke songs but mainly passed the time with lovely jokes and conversations about life in the city and life back in the Philippines.
The next day was as fruitful as the first. We dropped by the Angels Bar, also owned by a Filipina, who frequented our ship. As usual, we had a long conversation with them, exchanging jokes about life, did some karaoke and some drinks. We even visited a Moroccan disco pub where his friend is currently working.
Local merchants went onboard the ship selling perfumes, chocolates, especially electronic gadgets (cameras, laptop computers, etc.) .
Last but not the least to be mentioned were religious missionaries (of different affiliations) giving us audio and visual materials, including the Holy Bible copies.
It was in Antwerp that the Philippine consul team visited our ship, conducted registration on absentee voting.
Three famous cities in Belgium
World Diamond Capital...Notre Dame Cathedral plus Ruben's House, zoos, museum with multi-cultural cuisines ranging from Belgian, Asian and Morrocan.
This is where martial arts expert and Hollywood actor Jean Claude Van Damme came and the famous Brussels sprouts plus five-star hotels in the city.
Home to the oldest Catholic university in Europe and center of music around the world due to its Lemmens Institute-the famed Conservatory of Music