Brussels, Belgium & Antwerp, Netherlands. – Europe Road Trip

Day 3 – Brussels

This morning we were up, utilised the facilities in the campsite, Jack cleaned out the poop deck, and off we went to Brussels. It’s still raining, so it was all a bit miserable, plus because it was Sunday it was all a bit deserted! It did mean we got free parking, so we left the van up by the Atomium and headed into the centre of Brussels on the metro. After walking around the palace, we discussed the option of owning our own stately home, holding weddings and renting out rooms. Think it’s quite a way off but hey, we can still dream and I would quite like to be a Duchess. We then wandered up to the European Parliament, it was still raining, to see what it would be like to be a Politician. It was quite impressive with all the flags, and worth the walk in the rain. It was then time to pop by DelHaize, pick up some bread and peppers for dinner and breakfast and trudge back to the metro.

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Overall, I recommend you don’t go to Brussels on a Sunday and especially not on a Sunday in the rain.

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After we’d dried off and warmed up, it was then on to Antwerp, to a secret location where there’s free parking. We got lost again, but the view we’ve ended up with for the night is so worth the drive. Now for morning, when hopefully it will have stopped raining, and we can explore Antwerp.

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Day 4 – Antwerp

Making breakfast to the view of the Cathedral was fun. As we were parked in the residential park of the city, it meant we could take the tunnel underneath the canal to get to the main city. The guy in the tourist information shop was very impressed. Apparently the tunnel has been voted the 4th best tunnel to ride your bike through in the world. We walked through, but that’s close enough.SAM_0187SAM_0186

Antwerp has a very different younger vibe than Bruges, and we’re now in the Dutch speaking part of the country. It still has some incredible architecture, including a castle which they chopped in half in order to make the canal straight. Very strange! We walked through the main square to see the cathedral that we could had admired from our van. It was stunning close up and the bells rang out playing jolly tunes for about an hour. It turns out that you shouldn’t visit Antwerp on a Monday as all of the museums are closed, this didn’t bother us as we hadn’t planned to visit any so it just meant for us it wasn’t particularly busy or full of other tourists. Perfect!

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We headed up to the train station, which is rated #1 place to visit in Rotterdam on Trip Advisor. We could see why it rated highly as it was beautiful.

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We then headed into the diamond district to the really originally named Diamond Land, which promised a 15 minute informative talk about the diamond industry which ended up in the gift shop. Obviously. Here’s some fun facts about Antwerp and Diamonds that you can’t learn from Snatch:

  1. Antwerp is known as the diamond capital
  2. 80% of the world’s diamonds are traded through Antwerp
  3. 50% of the world’s diamonds are cut in Antwerp
  4. Apparently due to this, Antwerp is one of the cheapest places to buy diamonds in the world
  5. Antwerp’s diamond business turnover was over $53 billion in 2013.

On our way back through town we stopped at some of the chocolate shops, including the one in the old palace; I’ve never seen a chocolate shop so grand.

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We then jumped back into the van and headed for Rotterdam, crossing our third country boundary and passing our second Ikea. We arrived at our overnight stop, right on the canal with a windmill. Very Dutch.

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