Category Archives: Belgium

Botanical Garden – Leuven

The botanical garden in Leuven, Flemish Brabant, Belgium. The city also has the oldest catholic university still in existence.

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Part of the heritage of convents are their gardens, medicinal herbs falling in the cadre of the monks.

as did drinks..

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for the absinth

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and hobs for the beer. Stella Artois is from Leuven and the second large export product together with the university.

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Taxus is not only used for hedges, but a product for chemotherapy is also made from it.

At the TU Delft (Technical University) the garden has to earn its keep (being in the Netherlands 😉 ) One of the brains there realized one day that during a thunder storm you can smell fir trees. He then thought to use electricity to milk the Taxus in stead of having to cut them down to get the substance. You need tonnes of wood to get only milliliters.

And it worked. You put a gardening fork in the ground to earth the wire and put stream on the tree. A fine spray comes out of the leaves which contains the substance you’re after.

The tree is unharmed and can be milked again after a time.

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Madam seems satisfied 🙂

Shelter for exotic plants.

And some trees dressed in autumn colours.

Perhaps the best, and certainly one of the most charming of the botanical gardens I have seen.

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Antwerp

A few photos of Antwerp. If you arrive by train this will be your first view of the city as you take the escalator up out of the station.

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Cool isn’t it, looks like you are inside a giant clock.

If you walk a way along the road, you will find this totally random camel on the roof. I thought the Belgians were in central Africa not so much in the desert. Perhaps in the second world war.

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I was a real tourist in Antwerp, only stayed one night so I really cannot claim to know the city, except to say that it was summer.

When I arrived it was one of those beautiful days when you stroll down a new street and can smile with strangers about the way the wind plays with your dress and eat MacDonalds with the rest of the plebs.

Sometimes one seems to share joy more easily with passing strangers.

The cathedral of our lady is just behind the Grote Markt (market square).

At the cathedral there is a modern statue that I didn’t get, it looked somehow dark. Sometimes the puritan streak in this part of the world is rather strong.

On the Grote Markt is the Stadhuis (City Hall) and another extraordinary statue.

You can find good food on the square. Mussels and Chips (a Flemish idea) and off course the famous chocolate. Sinds 1908 (since) English being a germanic language some words are scarily the same.

Antwerp is a harbour city along the river Schelde. If memory serves the Dutch made an agreement with the Belgians  well over a hundred years ago not to close this river so that the harbour could remain open.

The entire Dutch water system, which is immense, is planned around this agreement. No Dutch rivers flow into the sea, all water in pumped out. The entire country being a river delta and mostly below sea level, which explains the excellent soil.

Perhaps keeping your word is still the most distinguishing caracteristic of civilization. Not the way you comb your hair or your outward manners.

Sometimes I get the idea people see it as a great achievement to keep their word until this afternoon, never mind next century.

Antwerp is the second biggest harbour in Europe after Rotterdam. As a result they have things like the Norse seamen’s church and the like for the Finnish and Swedish.

The French Huegenots fled toward the protestant north and I seem to recall quite a few of them took ships here to South Africa and a new life there. Some of their descendants sent back a few diamonds and the Jewish community mostly cut them. After New York (previously Nieue Amsterdam) Antwerp was the biggest community of Hassidic Jews outside of Israel.

Also along the river is an old castle, Het Steen (The Rock), with a rather modern and rather blue carpet rolled out.

And after a long day in the city nothing beats visiting the park at sundown.

This is the end my friend. Leave us a comment why don’t you! It’s up top below the title.