Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Gezelligheid" in Antwerp, Belgium

Downtown Antwerp, Belgium
Back in December I took a business trip to Antwerp, which is in the Dutch-speaking or Flemish part of Belgium, not far from the border with the Netherlands. It was great being in such an old-fashioned town. We stayed in a hotel in the very center of town, across the street from the Cathedral. Because of the time constraints, I had to get my touring in the very first day while people were arriving. We were also fortunate that a Christmas village was being set up during our stay.

I noticed a few things that were different for me. First, the sun didn't come up until after 7:30 AM, which I wasn't used to. Second, the buildings in the old part of town were very close together as would be typical of a European town built before cars were commonplace. Third, the quaint feeling of being in that part of town didn't diminish even with modern conveniences available. It definitely produced the feeling of being in a comfortable atmosphere, which is known in Dutch as "gezelligheid."

My trip provided me with a great opportunity to try Belgian chocolates, Dutch style pancakes and especially true Belgian waffles, and shop for Christmas ornaments. I also enjoyed being able to practice Dutch phrases in some of the stores, but it was good that I could fall back on English if I needed to.

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