I was really excited to make my first trip to Belgium this summer. I was fortunate to be presenting at the third World Journalism Education Congress, which was held in Mechelen. (I was part of the WJEC-3 Ignite panel.)
I arrived after a very long day (and overnight) of flying from Amarillo to Denver to Montreal to Brussels. Then I hopped a train that took about 20 minutes to get to Mechelen. I had pre-booked a small, single room at Tavern-Hotel Muske Pitter — two twin beds, a closet, a desk and a private bathroom. It suited my needs wonderfully.
Breakfast was included, the proprietors were very friendly, and they provided terrific food and service. The tavern is also located within walking distance of all of the shopping and tourism sights you might like to visit. I spent four nights here and had a fantastic stay. Here’s a photo of their street late one night. During July, it doesn’t really get dark until well past 10 o’clock.
From my second floor window, I could see the Basilica of Our Lady of Hanswijk directly across the street. (Note: I like to provide web links to pages that feature or explain places I’ve visited. I don’t like any of the pages I’ve found about the Basilica, so I’m not linking to them.) It was built in the baroque style, and construction began in the 1660’s. My photos are a bit blurry, but here are a few pics, anyway.
Mechelen’s town square was a relatively short walk away, and it just happened that a summertime carnival was in full swing there. In my experience, the location doesn’t matter much. Whether it’s in a cow pasture in rural Alabama or in a centuries-old square in Europe, a carnival is a carnival.
The Dijle (also Dyle) River winds through Mechelen, and the city built a walkway on it that offers great views of some of the city’s riverside apartments. You can also take a river cruise.
Mechelen has streets full of shopping, as you can see in the second photo below, and it also has numerous small side streets and cut-throughs (for lack of a better term) that serve as wonderful spots for outside dining. With the exception of one rainy day, the weather was wonderful, even if a bit cooler than normal (I was told).
And here’s one last photo from Mechelen. There’s a park located very near where I stayed, and it was the site of a free summer concert. The place was packed with folks enjoying what I call fair food (burgers and brats and such), beer and live music. There are few better ways to feel like a local than spending a weeknight enjoying food and music with them.
After my stay in Mechelen was done, I made my way to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I’ll start sharing those experiences in the next post.