Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Dry Spring Day.

A spring day with no rain and this on a weekend! We had to make use of it and have an excursion or as they say here “een wandel maken”.
We caught the bus to Stads Park just off Antwerp Central and it’s shopping street, Meir. Stads Park is quite large and I didn’t see a small sliver of it. The buildings encircling the park are a mixture of old and new. The police station was a beautiful old building.

 We may not have been having rain but it was still a bit nippy out. Speculoos’ Nederlands is coming on beautifully. All she kept saying was “Eend, eend!” (eend is a duck). It’s amazing how well she’s adapting being so young.

The play equipment in the park is fantastic. There are quite a few interactive things to do there for the kiddies and Speculoos loved playing on the equipment and using the jugs and buckets provided to pour sand everywhere!

After a good play session, it was time to go and find some lunch. All the shops in Antwerp are closed on a Sunday, I love those old world values, but there’s a market that runs near Rubens’ House so we headed there. It still fascinates me that I live in such a beautiful place.

We had “Bradworst” rolls for lunch from a vendor at the market. Bradworst is a sausage in a roll much like a very thick hotdog sausage but the Belgians serve it with a sauce (mustard being the most complimentary although you have a choice of ketchup and some others) and some sauerkraut. I really like them with the sauerkraut but Mrs Awesome prefers them as they were serving them during the Christmas season with onion instead of sauerkraut.

On our “wandel” we saw this pretty catholic piece on the side of this building. Many of the buildings have little religious icons on them, usually above the door. This one was a little exceptional.

We went past the KBC building which was the first skyscraper in Europe. By today’s standards not really that high, but I think it’s a very pretty time period piece. The friezes on its façade are really beautiful and bear witness to a time when art, form and beauty were as important as structural integrity.
The KBC building.

Soon we were upon the Cathedral at a place called Groenplaats and the bells were chiming the time. Every quarter hour is such a special moment when the air is alive with the sweet chiming sounds.
The cathedral from a nearby market plein.
Ciao for now.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Sentimental Appliances

Breakfast in Belgium isn’t a cereal affair. Belgians believe that Kellogg’s has it all wrong because cereal isn’t a substantial enough breakfast. How on earth can cornflakes sustain you through a morning?

For Belgians, breakfast means pastries or bread. Those are the things that feed you and keep you going until lunch. I however do like my cereal but do indulge in a Belgian breakfast on the weekends.

There’s a weird, special place in my heart for the appliances in the picture here. I think it’s because of what they symbolize. When I wake up in the morning and use them, it means my family and I are in Belgium and the hazy dreams and vague thoughts we had so long ago are now real. I can have a breakfast of toast and coffee knowing that we’re safe and sound in Belgium, far from the concerns and life we used to be stuck in.
My loved appliances: the NY cab yellow toaster and the coffee machine.

In that way they’re more than appliances because they represent a complete shift in life, attitude and outlook!

The variety of breads here is something to behold. It comes in all different shapes, sizes and consistencies. We finally found a lovely “normal” brown bread which my daughter and I will be having for breakfast. Her favorite is “cheesy on toast” while mine is liver pate on toast followed with a dessert slice of toast with Speculoos spread.

The liver pate is something I picked up at our local market held on Saturday mornings a few blocks from our place. It's gorgeous and creamy, served by a man with the biggest fingers and forearms I've ever seen (he looks like a butcher should) and with the nicest disposition.
Ever heard of speculoos? It’s in everything here. Originally it’s a combination of warm spices that was put in cookies here for the wintery Christmas season. It comforts and sooths the soul through those dark, cold winter nights and makes life luxurious. In modern times (where we currently live) it’s crept into everything and is pretty much the national flavour.
The Speculoos cult.

If you’ve been to Belgium, chances are there’s traces of speculoos on everything and in everything you had with you – including you!

The days are getting longer here again and the temperatures are improving significantly. Spring, I think, is making it’s entrance. I’m going to miss winter but I will not lie, I am looking forward to summer.
Later, we plan to go to Antwerp "om een wandel te maken" - to take a walk around, if the weather permits of course.

Ciao for now.