Friday, November 1, 2013

Antwerp, Gent and Brussels, Oh My!

When my sister asked me to tag along with her to Belgium, how could I have refused such an offer?

My birthday was yesterday. Yep, a Halloween baby. As a birthday present, my dear sister let me come along while she worked and I played. Och, aye, and I played hard.

We stayed in Antwerp (Atwerpen/Dutch) and I toured everything I could.

From the beautiful cathedral:

To the fun markets:

To the beautiful churches:

I could have lived there in a heartbeat. The rich history and architecture was simply breathtaking. To be honest, the pictures didn't do the country justice. My mouth dropped repeatedly at the sights.

My sister decided to take me to Gent for one day. Apparently, there was a castle there she wanted me to see. Oh, boy. A castle indeed. This was the castle they used in the TV show The White Queen. This awe-inspiring structure was built in 1100. You read that right. 1100. Needless to say, I was in heaven and didn't want to leave. Could you imagine the inspiration to be had? Even if I do have a Scottish fetish, a castle is a castle.

I learned a lot of things from my trip and thought to share.

1. Americans eat like crap. Seriously, we do. Everything is so fresh over there. No preservatives. The Belgium people cook everything according to what's available that season.

2. I'll never look at Olive Garden the same way again. With Italy being so close, this was the first time I had authentic Italian spaghetti. Enough said.

3. With all that Belgium chocolate one would think there would be a weight problem. Nope. Men, women and children all ride bikes and/or walk everywhere. The country is entirely flat for an added bonus. Let's not mention the fact that I stowed 20 pounds of chocolate in my luggage on the way home. I gained 20 pounds just looking at it.

4. The typical Belgium woman: skirt above the knee or mid-thigh, black tights, ankle or boots to the knee, nice top, jacket and a scarf. Men and women alike dress up their attire with scarves. Scarves, scarves, scarves, everywhere you look. The motto is even "Antwerp...It's all about the fashion."

5. Belgium people would never survive Pittsburgh in the dead of winter. While I was in Antwerp, we had 65-70 degree weather. I was the ONLY one in short sleeves. Seriously. I looked. The Antwerpians had winter coats on for goodness sake. The temperature there was killer for this western PA girl because every store, hotel, museum and restaurant kept the thermostat 75 degrees or higher. I swear the outside cafe's were a blessing. One hostess actually asked me if I wanted to sit closer to the heat lamp. Are you KIDDING me?

This was definitely the trip of a lifetime, and I'm so thankful to have shared the experience with my sister. I can't think of anything better than spending a girls-only week away with your closest friend. Castles, cathedrals, history and chocolate. What could be better than that?

She Always Wanted to be One of the Boys...
Sybella would do anything to prove she's just as valuable to the MacKenzie clan as her brother is. She'd go on any hunt, take any dare. But her father has a different sort of mission in mind: marriage. It's simple, he explains. All she has to do is marry Alexander MacDonell and report back on his family's secrets. It will be easy, he says, as long as she doesn't do anything fall in love.
Until She Got a Man...
As laird of the McDonell's, Alex has a duty to produce an heir. It's a duty he won't mind with the lovely Ella as his wife—even if she is one of the dreaded MacKenzies. He's wooed and won many ladies, but Ella is a challenge like no other. He can tell she's holding something back. But not for long. Because inch by inch, he plans to expose everything she's been hiding and claim the ultimate prize: her heart.


  1. Oh that sounds so much fun! And as a Northern Idaho girl, I think I'd love their climate!

  2. Belgium is a beautiful country. I miss Antwerp (and the chocolate!)

  3. Drooling over the pictures...what a trip! Thank you so much for sharing. I'll adopt you if you will consider me your cousin, sister or even mama and take me along next time you go! AND Happy Birthday plus a day!

  4. You're too funny, Carolyn. It was definitely a fun trip, especially sharing it with my sister.

  5. Way cool, Victoria! Yet another stop added to my bucket list!

  6. Love it! That sounds like a fabulous trip. I feel sort of Belgian at the moment. It's 65 here and I'm thinking of turning the heat on.

  7. Shana, Shana, Shana, I have my windows cracked.

  8. Loved your comments and laughing over no. 5 from another Pittsburgher. They are like when you visit Florida - they think that weather is cold too. And Americans do eat like crap lol. Happy belated birthday.

  9. What fun, Victoria! My sister used to be a travel agent and she earned tickets for a "familiarizaton" cruise. Her husband doesn't like ships so she took me with her to Nassau. We had a wonderful time, but both agreed it's not so much fun to walk the decks in the moonlight with your sister!

  10. Ha! I know what you mean, Mia. There were young lovers everywhere. Missed my husband...