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Old March 24th, 2009, 04:45 PM   #1
HARTride 2012
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My trip to Belgium, Paris

I just returned from a weeklong trip in Belgium and France. I visited my father and his wife who reside in Aalst, just outside of Brussels. I had a wonderful time during my vacation and took lots of photos, many of which I will share here.

Now due to the large quantity of photos, I will separate my postings into the following sections.
  • Day 1 - Part 1: Aalst and Gent
  • Day 1 - Part 2: Brugge and Middlekerke
  • Day 1 - Part 3: Diksmuide and Ieper
  • Day 2 - Part 1: The Ardens
  • Day 2 - Part 2: Leuven
  • Day 3 - Downtown Brussels
  • Day 4 - Antwerp
  • Day 5 - Part 1: More of Aalst
  • Day 5 - Part 2: Staden, Roeselare, and Kortrijk
  • Day 6 - The Atonium, other sights around Brussels
  • Day 7 - Part 1: Paris: The Eiffel Tower & Louve
  • Day 7 - Part 2: Paris: Downtown sights
  • Day 8 - Part 1: Versailles
  • Day 8 - Part 2: Other Downtown Paris sights
  • Day 9 - Going home
  • SPECIAL SECTION - Mass Transit
  • SPECIAL SECTION - The Arts

    Please be patient, I have tons of photos, so they will take a while to upload. I'm hoping to have the first section posted by this afternoon.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 04:53 PM   #2
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Damn, you tease, I was expecting to see photos already!!

Diksmuide is twinned with a little market town near me on the England/Wales border where some of my relatives live so it will be interesting to see if they are similar.

Now get uploading!!
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Old March 24th, 2009, 06:56 PM   #3
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can't wait to see all your pics, I hope you liked it in Belgium & France...
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Old March 24th, 2009, 08:10 PM   #4
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I waiting too for those photos sounds interesting
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Old March 24th, 2009, 08:53 PM   #5
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DEPARTURE

Okay ya'll, just a little more story before I post the photos.

I left Tampa, FL at around 10am on Friday the 13th. I connected to Charlotte-Douglas Airport and then on to D.C./Dulles Airport. The weather around Charlotte was completely miserable, nothing but rain. Washington D.C. was about the same. Then it was a long six hours to Brussels.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 09:12 PM   #6
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Day 1 - Part 1: Aalst and Gent

Okay, so once I got to Brussels Airport, I went through customs and immigration, then picked up my bags. My father and stepmother greeted me at the baggage claim and took me to their townhome in Aalst, a town just outside of Brussels for those of you who don't know. After getting settled, we went to check out the Saturday market in Aalst, a stark contrast to what we call "markets" in Tampa and Sarasota.

Welcome to Aalst!




Storefront...


Walking to the town square


Town hall


For those of you in Florida, yes that's a stingray.


More of the town square


I love how each town has a church in the center. Many towns also have tall belfrys.


More of the market














H&M wasn't open yet...
























After a while of looking around the market, my dad and I dropped off my stepmom at work and drove to Gent. This was the scene along the way.








For my Florida viewers, as well as others who may not be familiar with European freeways; there are service centers alongside the freeways in which people can gas up and grab a quick bite to eat. For those of you in Florida, think of it as the Florida's Turnpike.


A pedestrian bridge. My dad told me the municipality spent tons of money on it and yet, it remains unused.


The countryside




As we entered Gent, I noticed this electric trolley.


It was fun trying to find a place to park near the city center...














I think we found the city center....


....yippee!












City Hall




The bellfry




Wonderful interior of the church. Too bad it was under renovation, which is why you don't see the whole room (hint: look at the wall).














Time to go...




Back on the freeway....




.....and on to Brugge.


I hoped you've enjoyed this first photoset. I'll try uploading the next set on Thursday.
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Old March 24th, 2009, 09:33 PM   #7
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Thank you for your impressions. Keep going!
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Old March 25th, 2009, 12:09 AM   #8
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Nice pictures! I was wondering what's so special about: "there are service centers alongside the freeways in which people can gas up and grab a quick bite to eat". I've never been outside of Europe, so for me it's normal. And what's wrong with the market of Aalst?

Interesting to look at Europe through the eyes of a non-European person .
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Old March 25th, 2009, 05:15 AM   #9
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Very nice photos, thx for sharing!

Roll on PARIS!!
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Old March 25th, 2009, 05:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ErwinFCG View Post
Nice pictures! I was wondering what's so special about: "there are service centers alongside the freeways in which people can gas up and grab a quick bite to eat". I've never been outside of Europe, so for me it's normal. And what's wrong with the market of Aalst?

Interesting to look at Europe through the eyes of a non-European person .
The thing is, you don't technically leave the freeway. Over here in the US, I've only seen a couple toll roads have this feature. Otherwise, its very rare. You have to exit the freeway in order to gas up in most cases here.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 06:50 PM   #11
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Day 1 - Part 2: Brugge and Middlekerke

Okay everyone, I'm keeping my promise that I would have this next set of photos uploaded by today. After spending some time in Gent, my dad and I went over to Brugge. Just like Gent, I saw so many wonderful surroundings. Afterward, it was off to the seaside town of Middlekerke, where we checked out the waterfront casino. No, the casino was nowhere near the scale of the larger counterparts elsewhere, but it was still pretty neat to see it.

So first, let's head over to Brugge. I forgot to point out that this was really the only day during my stay that the weather was dreary.

Again, finding a place to park was fun. We eventually found a garage underground to park at.


Once above ground again, I was greeted to this fountain and the nearby market.




Does anyone know what this building is? I find it sort of odd looking.


Leaving the market, we began walking through the various streets...


...and towards one of the churches.


Your's truly....




Then, we started to search for city hall...


...which was not far.




Wonderful looking belfry.






Haha, the bus follows the horse carriage.


It pissed me off that they charge a lot for a horseride in Belgium. When I was in the Phillippines, the cost was not even that high.


I love these town squares...




Neat antique car...




Darn, I keep forgetting the name of this church. It was closed unfortunately.






Another storefront


Okay, next stop...the riverside...




Another church, this one was packed full of tourists.




Found the river...






Wished I could go on that...






Music time...


Me posing with the musicians


Over the river...


..and NOT through the woods, we find a church under renovation.










A modern looking building pretty well blended in with its older surroundings.






Not long after, we found the square where the market was and proceeded to drive out of Brugge.


Some tall windmills of the modern kind


Going through a small town on our was to Middlekerke


Nice....road work....I guess its a money saver to have a signal rather than a human being channeling through the traffic.


The beautiful countryside


Approaching Middlekerke


This may not be Clearwater Beach, Florida, but it sure is long.


If only the weather were sunny.....








After this, we went into the casino. I didn't want to take pictures because I didn't want to get in trouble. However, it was not all that elaborate and nothing on the scale of the larger casinos. On the flipside, there were a lot of people selling products there. There was even a canopy set up just outside the front entrance.


I hope you've enjoyed this photoset. Tomorrow, I will upload Part 3 of the series, Diksmuide and Ieper.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 07:07 PM   #12
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great pics!
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Old March 26th, 2009, 07:15 PM   #13
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So you didn't go for a swim in the tropical North Sea in March? What a wuss!!

Brugge especially is a beautiful town, I've never been to the Belgian coast though, interesting to see it.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 07:26 PM   #14
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Middelkerke almost (but not really) looks like a coastal town in Northern Spain with many times less sun It's interesting how even in the North Sea multi-story buildings with large windows will stack up to get beachfront views as if in the Mediterranean or some other sunny coast.

Looks like you were very close to Lille, France, right next to the border with Belgium. Lille is one of the most underrated of France's major cities. It's full of colorful semi-Flemish architecture unique to Lille and that region of France. Brick is also very abundant there in Lille (like Belgium, Netherlands and England) which is also not so common in France. Maybe next time you visit there. Meanwhile, you can visit Lille on www.maps.google.com with the yellow man street tour icon.
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Old March 26th, 2009, 07:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edubejar View Post
Middelkerke almost (but not really) looks like a coastal town in Northern Spain with many times less sun It's interesting how even in the North Sea multi-story buildings with large windows will stack up to get beachfront views as if in the Mediterranean or some other sunny coast.
Not every day is so cloudy in Northern Europe

It's nice to be able to look at the sea and the ships from your window imo even if it isn't hot and sunny, people like to walk their dogs, ride horses, go for a jog etc along the beaches of Northern Europe all year round and in the summer you can often sunbathe and swim just as you can in warmer climates.
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Old March 29th, 2009, 03:35 PM   #16
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Day 1 - Part 3: Diksmuide and Ieper

After visiting Middlekerke, my dad and I drove to Diksmuide, where we visited a WWI memorial. Then it was off to Ieper, where we went through the town square and visited another memorial.

Going through the town


The memorial...I keep forgetting what they call this place. Maybe some of you can help me out....




















The view from the observation floor






















Its a shame I didn't take photos of the inside. Each floor had a exhibit about the world wars. After taking the elevator up to the observation deck, you would take the stairs down to the ground floor, going through each exhibit as you went. Its like no other museum I've been in, pretty neat.

In Ieper, they had a carnaval/midway in the square.












Wonderful belfry




Driving through the streets






At the memorial...
















I realized that I should have taken more photos of some of the landmarks I came across. In the next photoset, you'll be able to see the various towns I went to in the northeastern countryside. I hope you've enjoyed this photoset
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Old March 30th, 2009, 08:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HARTride 2012 View Post
Does anyone know what this building is? I find it sort of odd looking.
That's the new concert hall. It was build when Bruges was the european capital of culture a couple of years ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HARTride 2012 View Post
Another church, this one was packed full of tourists.
not to nitpick but that's actually the medieval market hall, you can find buildings like this in most of the old trade cities in Belgium. You can also see the ones in Ghent and Ypres in some of your pictures. This is where the flemish cloth was sold back then.

The closed church in Bruges and the WWI memorial are the Basilica of the holy blood and the ijzertoren respectively.
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 06:21 PM   #18
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Day 2 - Part 1: The Ardens

I apologize for the long delay. School stuff got in the way and I nearly forgot about the thread. So here we go, Day 2....


I also must apologize that I've forgotten some of the names of the towns that we passed through.







































































































Battle of the Bulge/WWII Memorial


























































Back on the road...












Uh oh...detour...






Another town stop...






































Ice cream shop


Mmmmmmmmm ice cream....




















































A cat joined us for lunch






Leaving the town


Stopping by the B&B my dad & stepmom stayed at a couple years ago










My dad almost got us lost...




...but we eventually found our way back to the main road.


Now on to Louven...
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 09:40 PM   #19
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Thanks for the great tour. It's very nice to read your comments. I noticed there are things we consider very normal here in Europe (like the highway gas stations), but are not seen in the USA. I can't wait to see the rest of the pics.
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 10:46 PM   #20
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The first two cities of your latest post are Namur (capital of the Walloon region) and Dinant. The last city is Durbuy.

Thanks for sharing your pics
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