Belgium
Flemish Brabant Province

Here you’ll find travel reports about Flemish Brabant Province. Discover travel destinations in Belgium of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

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  • Day472

    Aarschot

    October 11, 2017 in Belgium

    We wanted to get near Brussels for when Beth and Richard arrived in a few days time, so we travelled quite a long way in a north westerly direction today. The motorway cut through expanses of forest and its viaducts gave us a bird's eye view of the milticoloured tree tops far below.

    After a while the woodland was replaced by a string of towns and industrial complexes. Quite suddenly the language of signs changed from French to Dutch. We'd read that unlike in easy going multilingual Luxembourg, we needed to be careful what language we used in Belgium. Wallonia, the region we first entered speaks French, Flanders in the North speaks Flemish, there are enclaves in the East that speak German and Brussels speaks a mix of Dutch and French. According to the guidebook, what language a Belgian speaks is strongly linked to their cultural identity and it would be considered insensitive to try to talk to someone from Flanders in French. Apparently English is widley spoken and considered quite neautral.

    As we travelled through a suburb of the sprawling metropolis of St Truidans we entered a highstreet that will be remembered as the highstreet from hell. The windows of a number of shops were bare apart from a chair or two. These shops displayed a sign that translated as 'Service on Demand'. We passed another similar window with a mannequin wearing a short two tone leather dress and appeared to be reading something on a high round table. It is curious how our minds try to normalise what we see. It was only when we passed another and saw a woman in just her bra and knickers that the penny dropped. There were no mannequins. The shops were selling the women. There were literally dozens of windows lining this otherwise normal highstreet, where one or two women sat or stood in skimpy dresses or underwear, advertising themselves. It shocked and upset us. Organised prostitution is illegal in Belgium but according to Wikipedia, there are some areas in which it is tolerated. We have heard the arguements about women being free to do what they want with their bodies and that prostitution out in the open is a lot safer than when it is driven underground. We just couldn't get away from our emotional reaction that these women were being taken advantage of, objectified in the worst possible way, reduced to the number of euros someone would pay for them, perhaps being forced into it by sick minded criminals who held some threat over them. When you can go shopping for women, it changes the way women are viewed and therefore their potential as individuals. Feeling powerless to do anything about it, we just wanted to get away from there as quickly as we could.

    We continued with other stressed drivers, along run-down urban corridors, past casinos and seemingly relentless advertising billboards. Needing food, we pulled up at a supermarket. It looked like a warehouse from the outside and was disconcerting when we entered because it was layed out more like a Booker or Macro wholesalers than a conventional supermarket. It had a dingy air and sets of plastic steps were scattered here and there for you to access the items on the high shelves. The prostitute shops had cast a dark cloud over us and Vicky's anxiety was running high. She returned to the van but was soon followed by Will who had got to the checkout and noticed he didn't have his wallet. After a highly stressed 5 minutes of searching and thinking he'd dropped it in the shop, Vicky found that Poppy was hiding the missing wallet underneath her. It must have slipped between the front seats when Will was trying to put it in his bag. Oh the relief!

    On the bright side the shop had an excellent range of quality products and the cashier spoke good English. On the down side the machine didn't accept Will's credit card. Luckily we were able to pay with cash and get on with trying to find somewhere to stay. We'd seen loads of fritteries and frituurs since arriving in Belgium but the ones we'd been able to access had all been closed. Will was gasping for a taste of this famous Belgian food so when we saw a shop with nearby parking we pulled over and he had his fill of takeaway frites, exclaiming they were the best he'd ever tasted!

    We think wildcamping is allowed in Belgium but aren't yet sure so we stuck to the safe side and stayed at an official Aire in Aarschot at one end of an 800 place car park. It wasn't a scenic spot, looking onto a brick built swimming pool and near a busy highway, but it was free, had emptying facilities, free electricity. There was grass around it and it backed on to a riverside walk.

    The town centre wasn't far away and Will went to explore that afternoon, finding a number of useful shops and a Pop-up FairTrade café. In the morning Vicky walked along the bank of the slow moving river at sunrise. Thankfully on the opposite side to the large school into which hundreds of bicycles amd scooters were zipping. Later, we discovered not one, but two large markets in town, selling a whole range of delectable foods that the stall holders were happy for us to try. We filled our bag with olives, crystalised ginger, camomile and ewe's cheese. Many stalls sold non food items too and Vicky picked up some golden yarn she'd been looking out for, in preparation for Christmas.

    Later Will took the tandem along the river towpath and Vicky caught up with her 'to do' list. Thanks to the facility to get away along the waterside and the friendly market buzz we were feeling altogether a lot better about our stay in Belgium than had done when we arrived.
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  • Day7

    Europa im Schnelldurchlauf

    September 16 in Belgium

    Ein Tagesabstecher durch Europa und Brüssel im Miniaturformat. Das gibt es nur in der belgischen Hauptstadt Brüssel, die gleichzeitig Hauptstadt Europas ist.
    Ein cooler Ausflug mit vielen neuen Inspirationen für kommende Reiseziele.

  • Day26

    Lunch with Family

    July 20 in Belgium

    Today we have been invited to have lunch at Gui and Geertje’s. We were due there at 12.30 pm but unfortunately, due to a big car accident, we again had to divert and take a different way to their place. My aunt Paulette and their daughter Lisa also attended, which was lovely. We had drinks out in the garden with nibbles, and then a Nigella Lawson pasta for lunch. We then had a traditional Belgian dessert - Cheese Tart - which was delicious. It was lovely to catch up with Gui and Geertje, as this was the only opportunity as they head off on holidays tomorrow. Lisa said she might be interested in travelling to Australia, so hopefully she will come in the next couple of years. Lisa has recently returned from 7 months in South America, so I think she has the travel bug like her younger brother Rob. We had a lovely afternoon, but it was all over too quickly - it was so nice to catch up with family.Read more

  • Day171

    Day 172: Leuven

    August 5, 2017 in Belgium

    Day trip outside of Brussels today. Leuven is a small-ish university city about half an hour's train ride to the east. It's also home to two UNESCO sites, so after a quick breakfast of pastries and coffee we hopped on a train and headed out!

    Arrived around 12pm and walked into the city centre from the train station. It's quite an attractive city, with some lovely old buildings and interesting alleyways to explore. Lots of young people around as well, despite it being summer holidays.

    First stop was the first UNESCO site, another of the belfries. This was attached to a church, but was mostly in ruins these days. It was originally planned to be a colossal 180 metres tall, basically unthinkable in the 15th century, and would've comfortably been the world's tallest building until skyscrapers in New York and Chicago started breaking the 200m barrier in the early 20th century.

    But they never finished it, and after a few fires and wars it's now basically the same height as the church it's attached to. Still nice to look at though!

    Next stop was the beguinage, another multi-site WH list entry that's unique to the area. A beguinage is basically a community of religious single women who wanted to retreat from public life. They weren't nuns, they took no vows, they didn't collect alms and they were free to leave at any time to marry or return home. But otherwise it was just a simple, quiet community of religious women (usually landless nobles, widows, second daughters and so on).

    There's 12 beguinages on the list, but this was one of the largest so it was good to explore. And it was very peaceful, set off to the side of the city in a walled compound. Lots of small houses, narrow streets, canals running through of course, and a few parks plus the obligatory church. A very nice environment, and as with a lot of places in Belgium, well off the tourist radar so we had it mostly to ourselves (aside from the students who live there now, of course).

    Headed back into the main part of town where we ummed and ahhed about what to do next. We had a quick lunch in a chain health food place called Exki, then debated having a drink outside and doing some people watching. In the end, the weather decided for us, as an enormous downpour forced us to take cover in a small portico along with a lot of other people! It absolutely bucketed down for about 10 minutes before stopping.

    Since everything was now wet and we didn't feel like sitting inside, we just headed back to the train station and grabbed the next train back to Brussels.

    By the time we got back, it had fined up a bit again, so we walked from the station back to our hotel - about 30 minutes worth. Strolled through a nice park and past the royal palace as well, which was good to see, though we were too late to go inside (and I have a feeling dogs wouldn't be permitted!).

    Back to the hotel where we settled in for the evening to work and plan. I briefly ventured outside for some takeaway kebabs from the store across the road, but that was pretty much it! It's surprising how common kebabs are here in Belgium (and Netherlands and France too, for that matter). Though they're different from Australian-style kebabs with meat, salad and sauce - these tend to just have meat, sauce and cheese. No hummus or tabouli either!
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  • Day42

    Etappe 1 Rotterdam-Aarschot 138km

    July 13, 2017 in Belgium

    Vandaag dan eindelijk de atart gemaakt..Vanmorgen bleek al snel dat we wel heeeeel veel bagage hadden en dat allemaal passend in de wagen van Jos.?niet helemaal... dus de reservefiets maar thuisgelaten.
    Daarna kwam Lucas ons escorteren met zijn motot..imposant hoor en Ferdie erachter met de auto gingen we via de Coolsingel en Erasmusbrug naar de Kuip en natuurlijk daar nog een foto. gemaakt.onderweg werden we ook met de Go Pro gefilmd ! ..Inmiddels was t al 10.30 uur en begonnen we echt met fietsen naar Moerdijk..Het ging prima en heerlijk fietsweer en na 1.5 uur bij Moerdijk stond Ferdie en lucas ons al op te wachten en hebben we koffie en taart gegeten.Daarna onze weg vervolgt door brabant en de Bike map route was echt prachtig..rustige landwegen en soms door de bossen..echt mooi
    Gestopt in Belgie na 90 km.voor de lunch en Ferdie kwam erbij gezellig.Weer verder en na de 100 km ging de gang er wel een beetje uit en verlangden we naar een Belgisch biertje..Na 138km en rond 18.00 uur kwamen we bij ons hotel in Aarschot.Prachtig hoor een hele oude watermolen verbouwd tot hotel.maar met oude muren om ons heen.Echt een toplocatie en eindelijk dan de Leffe em Brune gedronken en daarna eten in t centrum
    Lekker stoofvlees en pasteitjes..Al met al een goede dag gehad..de moraal is hoog en we gaan ervoor.Morgen krijgen we de Ardennen erbij..eens zien hoe dat gaat...Dus nu 23.00 uur lekker pitten.
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  • Day1

    Saisonstart 2018 - Belgien

    February 8 in Belgium

    Heute ist Leuven angesagt, eine Studentenstadt kurz vor Brüssel. Stellplätze gibt es keine, der Parkplatz am Rande eines Parks in Kessel-Lo tut es aber für eine Nacht. Von hier geht es mit dem Linienbus in 25 Minuten ins Zentrum von Leuven

  • Day3

    1e Etappe Rotterdam naar Aarschot

    July 13, 2017 in Belgium

    Een geweldig leuke dag gehad. Nadat we alle deelnemers opgehaald hadden bleek de hoeveelheid mee te nemen bagage toch wel erg veel te zijn. Besloten de reserve fiets en de koelbox en de senseo toch maar thuis te laten.
    We hebben eerst een stukje Rotterdam gezien natuurlijk, de Erasmus brug en het Feijenoord stadion.
    Na flink wat door elkaar gerammeld te zijn op de slechte Belgische fietswegen zijn we nu in Aarschot.
    Rustiek hotel in een oude watermolen. De rivier loopt nog onder het hotel door.
    De eerste etappe was 135 km, dus we lopen voor op het schema (120 per dag). Maar zien hoe het morgen gaat.
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  • Day1

    Zaventem

    November 29, 2015 in Belgium

    29 november 2015. Maanden, dagen, uren hebben we naar dit moment uitgekeken. Het moment waarop we eindelijk in de luchthaven staan, klaar om het avontuur aan te vatten. Het lijkt bijna onwezenlijk dat het zo ver is. Met kriebels in de buik en een brede lach op ons gezicht stappen we naar de incheckbalie. Yaaay, here we go!

    Onze eerste vlucht naar Londen heeft vertraging, maar dat kan de pret niet drukken. We krijgen nog tal van berichtjes en telefoontjes van familie en vrienden die aan ons denken en ons een goeie reis wensen. Hartverwarmend, dat doet zo’n deugd! We zijn al vaker op reis geweest, maar dit voelt toch anders. De afscheidsknuffels waren net iets intenser en de berichtjes net iets warmer en talrijker. 3 maanden weg van huis lijkt natuurlijk wel lang, maar volgens mij is die periode ook in no time voorbij. Maar het is ontzettend fijn om te merken dat zo veel mensen met ons meeleven!

    Bijzonder nipt halen we onze aansluiting naar Sydney. De cabin crew stond net op het punt om onze naam in de luchthaven af te roepen. Stel je voor. Hoe zouden onze (bijzonder Belgische) namen daar weerklinken? In België lukt het sommigen nog niet om Cédric zijn naam uit te spreken, laat staan in het Brits Engels?

    Eenmaal aan boord zijn we gigantisch onder de indruk van het vliegtuig dat ons van Londen naar Sydney zal brengen. Blijkbaar zou dit het grootste vliegtuig ter wereld zijn. Het heeft 2 (!) verdiepen en zelfs een jacuzzi en gigantische lounge. Niet daar we daar iets van gezien hebben hoor, vanuit onze economy seats. Maar toch… wat een gevoel van ruimte, wat een mooie zetels, wat een luxe. We hebben een perfect werkend tv-tje met een ruim aanbod aan films en series (yes!), een uitstekende service en we krijgen het lekkerste eten dat ik ooit al op een vliegtuig heb gegeten. En alsof dat nog niet genoeg is, komt er niemand naast me zitten (hallo extra beenruimte!). Die komende 24u in de lucht worden een makkie.

    Na een tussenstop in Dubai besef ik toch ineens hoelang die vlucht wel niet duurt. 24u op een vliegtuig, jezusmina. De vermoeidheid begint door te wegen en ook de uurverschillen voelen heel vreemd aan. In Dubai is het ochtend, maar zodra we op het vliegtuig zitten krijgen we geen ontbijt maar een diner voorgeschoteld. Daarna worden de lichten gedimd en gaat het vliegtuig in nachtmodus. Mijn bioritme is volledig in de war. Mijn maag ook. Gelukkig kan ik de slaap goed vatten en vliegen de uren voorbij. Cedric rijgt daarentegen de ene film na de andere aan elkaar.

    1 december. Compleet groggy stappen we van het vliegtuig in Sydney. Het is 6u30 ’s morgens en we moeten nog zeker 6u wachten tot we op het vliegtuig naar Cairns kunnen stappen. Maar zodra we ons hoofd buiten het vliegtuig steken, komt het besef dat we op Australische bodem staan. Yihaaa! Ons mottig jetlaggevoel maakt meteen plaats voor euforie. De zon (!) priemt al door de gigantische ramen van de luchthaven. We krijgen een instant zomergevoel, terwijl we in de Belgische regen zijn vertrokken. Heerlijk! De jetlag krijgt ons niet klein, want we hebben meer dan zin om erin te vliegen! Laat dat avontuur maar beginnen...
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Provincie Vlaams-Brabant, Provinz Flämisch-Brabant, Flemish Brabant Province, Brabante Flamenco, Brabant-Flamand, Brabante Flamengo

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