Posts tagged “belgium

Return to Paris – Happy Birthday, Rich


Happy Birthday, Rich!!


Having a glass of champagne at the Grand Hotel


Today we left Tielt in the morning and got back to Paris around noon.  Marie led us directly to the hotel without a hitch but the traffic was tough.  Driving in central Paris is a nightmare with all of the pedestrians, motorcycles, crazy cars, taxis….. yikes!!  We did, however, make it back without a problem.  Of course, we had to ditch Marie…. c’est dommage….. she’ll soon be helping others find there way…. tournez a gauche!

We spent the afternoon checking out different – and then some of the same – areas of Paris.  Here are just a few shots I took today:


Palais de Justice


Notre Dame and the Seine


Notice the crowds at Notre Dame


We had a great dinner tonight at a Venetian restaurant – excellent food and a very nice location.


Attached below are a few of the pictures I took while in Tielt, Belgium with my family.  We had a great time, ate a lot, drank a lot, and laughed a lot.  It was truly a great time.  I’ll close with the pictures and hope to have the final entry of our trip tomorrow night.  Adieu.
















A Beautiful Day in Antwerp

After all of the rain yesterday, it couldn’t have been a more perfect day today.  The skies were blue, puffy clouds everywhere, and relatively warm.  Just between you and me, I think this will be our last day like this….. whatever!  Here are a few pictures I took again of the familiar sites but with spectacular color:

The cathedral


The cathedral


Glistening buildings on the square


Town Hall


Carriage in the square

The hotel had told us about a new museum not far from the center of the city so we decided to head out that way.  The museum is called “MAS”, Museum aan de Stroom” (Museum on the River).  The museum was great and a real architectural wonder.  It just opened last year and is a 9 story dedication to the city of Antwerp and other international cultures.  The museum has escalators that take you to the very top for some outstanding panoramic views of the city.  In addition, each level of the museum has a theme of displays including the history of the city, foreign cultures and some very unusual displays around life and death.  The building itself is incredible.


View of the museum


Entrance to the museum


Museum aan de Stroom


Cool view taking the escalator up


Panoramic view of the cathedral from the top of the museum




Top level of the museum


Panorama view of the old harbor


Panorama view of the Schelde River


We spent the rest of the day exploring different parts of the city and ended up back at the hotel.  We had discovered a new wine bar near the hotel and made reservations for dinner there.  When we got there at 8pm, not many people were in the bar.  We had a great evening there and ordered a flight of champagne, Spanish wine, and Iberico ham with bread and olives – it doesn’t seem like a lot but it was tasty and relatively light.


Glass of Bollinger Champagne


Iberico Pata Negra


The bar/restaurant is called Vigneto and we ended up having a glass of wine with the owner and talking to him for quite a while.  It was a great ending to our stay in Antwerp… very personal and engaging.  The Spanish wine was great and we ended with a Banyuls Grand Cru dating back to 1982 – this was a free token of the owner’s appreciation…. his name is Gino.

So…. tomorrow we’re off to Tielt (about one hour and half from here) and spending a few days with my family.  It will be great to see my cousins and other relatives over the weekend.  In addition, we’ll attend a baptism on Sunday with plenty of partying to accompany the event.  I’m not sure how much I’ll have to put on the blog but we’ll see.  Until then, good night from Antwerp…. a very friendly and beautiful city.





Rainy Day in Antwerp

Rainy day in Antwerp doesn’t even begin to describe the rain we experienced today…. wow, it was something else.

We started the day with breakfast at the hotel – it was excellent…. almost like having your own maid cook you breakfast.  We were the only ones having breakfast this morning and were treated like royalty… everything was freshly made and presented.

We were off to go shopping…. looking for a new shirt or something like that.  We wandered off into different parts of the city and never really found what we were looking for.  Instead, I caught a few good pictures.


Look at that sky – beautiful now


Sint Joris Church


Entrance to Sint Joris



Interior of Sint Joris


Interior of Sint Joris


Interior of Sint Joris


We then walked back to the main square after getting very lost and turned around.  Anyway, we made it back just it time for me to get these close ups of the gold statues on the buildings – they’re really very beautiful.


The gold shimmers in the sunlight


Another building


Close up of the Town Hall


Time for a couple of beers and just in time…. all of a sudden the skies got very dark and opened up.  It was a downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning for about 2 hours.  We thought we’d have to have a dozen more beers but we lucked out and made it back to the hotel without having to use our umbrellas.  The downpour really caught a lot of people off guard and it was amazing to see just how much water came down.


There was a temporary stage set up in the main square… you may have seen it in some of my shots yesterday.  Today was a special Flanders Festival where food was offered, drinks were available, and live music starting about 7:30pm.  It was great and the square was filled with people.  Just a few shots of the activities:


One of the food areas


Preparing the stage


Flanders Festival


The show and the audience


Backdrop to the stage


Crowds in front of the Town Hall


Final nighttime shot of the cathedral


The forecast for tomorrow seems OK but it looks like Friday is going to be a very rainy day.  We’ll see…. we’re always prepared with umbrellas and there’s always a cafe close by 😉





We left Maastricht early this morning after having our typical Dutch breakfast at one of the cafes.  Those of you on Facebook already saw this picture but I wanted to include it in the blog.


When we left Maastricht, we had no problems getting out of the city and immediately into Belgium – it’s very close.  Of course, the rain started as soon as we hit the main highway…. at times, extremely hard.  We made a slight detour because I wanted to drive by Bobbejaanland – it’s now a major theme park like Knott’s Berry Farm but when I graduated from college, I worked here for several months.  That was before it became a theme park.  When I worked there, I waited on tables and had a great time.


We drove directly to our hotel in Antwerp – well, not necessarily directly because I missed the first cue that Marie gave me and as a result, we had to drive right through the middle of the city.  It’s a tough city to drive in because of the numerous tram tracks and the number of one way streets.   The hotel is wonderful.  It’s a small boutique hotel right in the middle of Antwerp and it’s where we stayed 10 years ago.  It’s called De Witte Lelie (the white lily).  Here are a few pictures of the room and the hotel in general.

De Witte Lelie


The Lobby


Staircase leading to our room – Yikes!


Extra room


Main Room


Garden view from our room


Fresh white lilies in the room

We spent the rest of the afternoon cafe hopping and enjoying the sites.  We were lucky because the rain had stopped but the sky was gloomy most of the afternoon.  Here are some of the sites:

The trams I mentioned earlier


Distant view of the Town Hall


The tops of many of the buildings are beautiful and topped with gold


The top of the cathedral


Town Hall


Another church

I should tell you that even though we had a hearty breakfast this morning, we still had lunch when we arrived in Antwerp.  I had mussels with french fries and Rich had a croque monsieur – a couple of beers with them naturally.  You can see that we haven’t necessarily stayed on any healthy diets while on vacation.  We’ll have to deal with that when we get home.  Meanwhile, we went back to the hotel, rested, and got ready for dinner.  Rich wanted Italian so the hotel recommended a great Italian restaurant that was extremely busy and noisy – a lot of fun.  Again, the languages were all screwed up.  For some reason, there was French mixed with Flemish mixed with Italian.  I’m not really sure what language I ordered in but it was all part of the fun.  We had to wait a long time to order, to get our food, and wait between courses.  But, Faisal, you would have been happy because we had plenty of bread, olive oil, and red wine to keep us content.  Here’s what we had:

Tuna salad starter for me


Beef carpaccio for Rich


We shared the gnocchi


Veal Milanese for me


Veal piccata for Rich


After all that food it was time to take a little walk – we finished dinner at 10pm and then walked around the city and back to the hotel.  Here are some nighttime shots of Antwerp:


The cathedral with a beautiful night sky


The Town Hall


Some of the buildings around the square


Anette – we had to dump our Peugeot and they gave us this one. Ha ha!


That’s it for tonight.  We had a great first day in Antwerp and are looking forward to our experiences tomorrow.  Let’s hope we don’t eat as much as we did today!