Trip Photos Blog #1: Belgium

For the past two weeks, my mother and I have been traveling in Europe.  We first went to Belgium, where she presented a paper at an Anthony Trollope conference in Leuven, a town just east of Brussels.  She spent two days there, and while I attended the session where she did her presentation, I still had a day and a half to wander around the place, and I ended up snapping a bunch of photos, something I would do during the week we spent in England as well, enough, I think, for five blogs.  This, the first one, is of Leuven in general and also the medieval college the conference was held at.

This location was the Irish College, a Catholic institution that has been around since the Middle Ages, which was hosting multiple events.  Some of the buildings dated back to the 15th century, including the dormitory where the two of us were put up.  I snapped several photos out our window, including ones that contrast the darker medieval brick walls with the lighter ones of more recently constructed buildings:

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Also one of the courtyard that led to the dorm:

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At one point the courtyard and the roofs of the building were visited by a stray cat, which of course I had to also photograph:

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There were some impressive courtyards on campus, including one which people used for smoke breaks, and also was surrounded by the contrast of older and newer walls:

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Leuven seemed to be a very Catholic town.  One of the touted landmarks was the great St. Peter’s Church, which stood across from the ornate town hall:

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This was the only photo I took at night.

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The town hall.

But there were churches everywhere, including one very close to the Irish College:

The church across the way.

The church across the way.

Another thing the city was filled with was bikes.  I had read beforehand about Belgium being a nation of cyclists, but you have to see it to fully appreciate it.  The streets had as many bikes as cars, they filled the gutters and the narrows sidewalks, and by any heavily used building, one would typically see a whole mass of them parked:

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Also running water; there were numerous small streams, with the walls of the city often building up on either side of them:

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Over one of them was also placed a statue of Paep Thoon, a famous jester/organist who made himself known as a presence at St. Peter’s during the 15th century:

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Not the only statue I photographed one the streets:

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There was a lot of water that came from the sky as well, at least during the days we were there.  When it rained, in place of the earthworms you see here in North America, snails sometimes appeared on the wet pavement:

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Other animal sightings of our time there included a rooster I spotted in between a pair of houses:

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I visited a couple of parks, and photographed their ponds.  Although in the case of the first, it was less a pond than a stream:

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In the second, however, it was a straight-up pond, complete with a romantic-looking bridge put over it:

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The steps of the bridge are a bit overgrown with the plant life, but if one is willing to brave it, the reward is a very nice view of the pond indeed:

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In fact, at one point in time, it seems, a young couple came up here, leaving behind a lock with their names on it as a symbol of their love, a common custom in some parts of the world, although I don’t know exactly how many people do it in Belgium:

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Also from the bridge I snapped a photo of this random building:

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I also visited the Leuven Botanical Gardens, which will be the subject of my next photo blog.

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7 thoughts on “Trip Photos Blog #1: Belgium

  1. Pingback: A journey back | Under the Sign of Sylvia II

  2. Was it your first time in Belgium, Isobel? There is a blend of very new buildings and older ones as the country was invaded so many times by Spaniards, Germans, French, Flemish. In fact it is a new country, dating only from the 19th century, and it is a martyred one. You captured it very well with your pictures of contemporary buildings joining medieval remains of conventual habitats.
    Leuven is THE great Roman Catholic University in Western Europe, and this part has not been much converted to Luther’s or Calvin’s doctrines. Therefore it is very full of RC churches.
    I have travelled often to Brussels and even lived there: I an assure you that there is some sunshine from time to time but it does rain a lot!!!
    Belgians (as their neighbours from The Netherlands and Scandinavian countries) are very rerespectful of the environment and bicycling is “natural” for them. We try to establish the same awareness and practice in France but we are not always successful.
    Thank you for your blog. It is very interesting and lovely to watch, read and re-read. I am looking forward to the next ones.
    One question though: did you like your travel and your stay in Europe?

  3. From Tyler: I enjoyed reading both blogs. All those beautiful waterways in Belgium – I had no idea. I will have to add it to my bucket list.”

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