Train Travel in Europe

 

Europe Map Annotated

We just completed a trip to Europe where we spent 77 nights in 16 different locations and we used trains as our primary means of travel.  We rented a car for 9 days in Germany and took a flight from Barcelona to Geneva.  Otherwise, we used trains to get from place to place.  The trains were fast and reliable. Continue reading

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Brussels, Belgium

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The official founding of Brussels is usually considered to be 979.  The town grew rapidly and extended towards the upper town (higher ground) where there is a smaller risk of floods.  In 1225 work began on the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.  The Grand Place was where Brussels traditionally conducted its business.  In 1407, they began construction of the City Hall at this location and eventually, the square was filled with a variety of Guild Halls representing all of the trades.

Grand Place

In 1695, during the Nine Years’ War, French King Louis XIV sent troops to bombard Brussels with artillery.  Together with the resulting fire, it was the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels.  Most of the Grand Place was destroyed (with the exception of the City Hall) along with 4,000 buildings.  The Guild Halls were all rebuilt within five years, an impressive accomplishment. Continue reading

Brussels Murals

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Belgium is known for its comics or cartoons, which are an integral part of Belgian culture.  Comics are strongly rooted in reality and in people’s imagination.  Some of the most well known characters are Tintin and the cowboy Lucky Luke.

Brussels Mural

On buildings around Brussels, artists have painted large murals depicting many of the favorite comic characters.  There are over 50 of these murals that have been cataloged. It’s a little bit of a scavenger hunt to find them.  Sadly, in some cases, “street artists” have felt the need to add their own stupid graffiti, but most of them are unaltered.

Bruges, Belgium

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While visiting the city of Brussels, we took a day tour to the city of Bruges, located west of Brussels near the coast of the North Sea.  Bruges is considered to be one of the best preserved medieval towns in the world and due to its canals, is referred to as the “Venice of the North.”  Bruges is in the Flanders section of Belgium where Dutch is the primary language.

Bruges Canals Continue reading