I worked out that this is my fifth visit to Belgium, making it my most-visited country in the world outside of the UK. This, however, was my first trip entirely on foot and also my first to the north-eastern part of the country. The first couple of days didn’t really show me much change from the Luxembourgish scenery as I continued to go through teeny (though nice) towns and woods.
The largest town in the region, and my main destination on this little dog-leg, was Liege. I had arranged two couchsurfing hosts, one for each of two nights, but due to changes in arrangements I ended up staying with just one host for my stay. Thank you to Sonia! Thank you also to Clara, Abo and Jacqueline as well as everyone else I met while I was there as well.
Like Turin, the couchsurfing scene here is incredible good with a nice community who go to plenty of trouble to ensure you enjoy your stay. Sonia showed me round one afternoon, I visited some of her friends, and we all had dinner together at Jacqeline’s.
Liege is a very old city with some churches and cathedrals dating back to the 11th century, perhaps earlier. It’s amazing that some of these are still standing and I got some great photographs of them. As ever, I’m not religious at all but to see what people can build for whatever reason never ceases to amaze me. Liege’s buildings aren’t as well-restored as those I saw in the likes of Paris, Metz or Nancy but sometimes an old building looks better with some grime on it and foliage growing up the sides. The interiors are generally a different matter with glowing stained glass windows and bright paintwork.
There is actually a fair amount to do in Liege according to the leaflet I picked up, but I didn’t have time for all the museums and so forth. I settled for being taken out on the Saturday night and forced to drink copious amounts of alcohol by Sonia and some of her work colleagues. Friday is apparently the main night out, but Saturday was hectic enough. There’s a very nice area in the town centre with a main shopping street flanked by a large number of narrow alleys. These alleys hold many pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants and at night it erupts in to a near street-party as people flow from one to the other. Certainly great nightlife here!
There is more – some interesting sculptures dotted around and a scenic view from the war memorial at the top of 111 steps to name only a couple – so that I wish I had more time to spend. It’s a very “comfortable” city to someone from the north of England. It’s the right kind of grimy and the people are friendly! And let’s not forget the fantastic Belgian beer which I sampled far too much of. Only to be polite, you understand.
Next stop, though, would be Germany. My second visit and quite a few cities to get through. Thankfully someone had built them all close together.