Wow, we’ve already been on the voyage a month! In some ways, it feels like we’ve been on the ship forever but in other ways, it feels like it’s flying by. It’s a hard feeling to describe.
Belgium and France were considered overland ports. What this means is that we had the option to travel from Belgium to France without the ship and could just meet up before the ship left France. That is why I am grouping these two postings together J
Belgium was really pretty. The architecture is really amazing, it looks like you are in Disney World if I had to compare it to something haha! There are many medieval castles and buildings and they transport you into a different world. During our stay, we ventured to Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp of course (because that is where the ship was docked).
However, the first day we were docked in Belgium, I signed up to visit Friedensdorf International. In English this translates to Peace Village International. We drove through The Netherlands and back into Germany to visit this sanctuary for children who have been involved in war. Some of the children were burn victims while others were missing limbs, whether it is how they were born or if they were lost due to an explosion. They were primarily from the Middle East and north Africa. It was a little difficult to do our crafts and interact with the children because none of us spoke the same language but after warming up to each other, smiles were the best that would do and we still had a lot of fun. I brought a photo album of my life in America to share with the young boys I was with. Some of their favorite pictures were of a man feeding a squirrel in NYC and of the Statue of Liberty – they kept imitating her holding up the torch. Before we left, we went into the courtyard playground area. I had brought a couple of beach balls for when we reach Africa but packed one along for today…and I am so glad I did! After blowing and blowing and blowing up the beach ball (I couldn’t give up with all their little eyes staring at me!!) they ran off with it and were laughing and screaming. It was amazing how well they were able to play games regardless of missing limbs or while on crutches. It was incredible actually!
The next day brought us to Ghent and Bruges. Well, it somehow did not occur to me I would find chocolate and Belgian waffles everywhere!!! Waffles here are more of a dessert than a breakfast food. I had a delicious one with caramel and fresh whipped crème – delish! The Belgians also claim to be the ones that invented French fries or frites. I tried one of my friend’s (just one LOL) and I don’t know why they were really bragging out them, they didn’t taste special or anything haha! We walked around the two cities and there was quite a downpour for part of the day but that didn’t stop us! We just loved the majestic buildings.
The last day in Belgium, I stayed in the port city since we only had half a day before we left for France. Antwerp was cute, it’s just that things didn’t open til 10 AM at the earliest and it was a little tricky to do much of anything when we needed to be back on the ship for noon. Soooo I explored the city streets and window shopped. I did happen upon a vegetarian café and I knew this was a must-go. At 10:30 I had lunch (I guess when I had such an early start and got off the ship early, this was mid-day for me haha) and was beaming the rest of the day. Not only did the café have wif (!!!!!) they offered amazing meals and an incredibly friendly staff. The name of the café was Lombardia. The walls were plastered with screenshots of Tweets and Facebook statuses about this “Ginger Love” tea. The day before I had seen a little paper about it in the grocery store and wondered what the fuss was about. Well, turns out I happened into the place where it was invented! I tried a sample and I was hooked. OMG, it was soooo good!!! It is a ginger tea with citrus mixed in and foam on top. I bought boxes to bring home so some of us can try it together. It was phenomenal. One of the kind workers actually ended up being the creator and he was so nice to talk to and helpful in figuring out my plans for France the next day. Pictures of famous people drinking the tea in his café were everywhere so we took a picture together in case he wants to throw ours up too ;)
The next day, I decided to take a day trip to Paris. Looking back, it was kind of far away (3.5 hours each way) for a day trip, but I’m glad we made it happen. Of course we saw the Eiffel Tower J my friend and I stopped at a café and had some sort of giant piece of bread with vegetables and melted cheese – yummy whatever it was! Since we were on a tour though, there was no time for a cute little picnic with nice bread in front of the Eiffel Tower. Oh well, next time! Because it was a Sunday, most of the stores were closed but just as well since they were Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Rolex haha!
Well I don’t know the name of it but I will call it the Lovers Lock Bridge. This is where you can buy a padlock and put the name of you and your loved one, lock it on the bridge and throw the key overboard into the water so that you’re together forever. I could not believe how many locks there were!!! They were filming a movie on the bridge, we saw a man playing a saw blade instrument he crafted and a man told me Hakuna Matata. So those were the bridge highlights haha
Hope to be in touch soon about my Irish adventures!
|My friends from the Peace Camp|
|typical tourist pic with the Eiffel Tower in the background!|
|Belgium looked like this......unreal!!!|
|Just hanging out at the Lovre|
|Soooooo many locks!!|
|Au revoir Eiffel Tower!|
|Some of the many chocolate displays in Belgium|