The central train station, waffles and walking tours in Antwerp, Belgium

My friend, Shelley Edwards studies in Antwerp, Belgium. Here she lets us in on her day to day life and gives us some helpful tips:

1. City: Antwerp, Belgium

2. In which area should you stay?

In the heart of the city! But this would of course depend on your budget. The public transport system within Belgium is very good, so even if you stay in the outskirts of Antwerp and travel into the city centre, you can be guaranteed of a means of transport.

3. You simply must see…

The Central Train Station. It has been voted as one of the most beautiful train stations in the world, and not surprisingly so. Also, I would recommend taking a tour around Antwerp with a guide, because the history of the first printing press in the world, of the first stock market in the world and the history of fashion in Antwerp is fascinating.

4. You simply must do…

A walk-a-bout and view the cathedrals. Not only are the structures of the churches beautiful, with immensely intricate sculptures dotted along the walls, but many of the larger cathedrals house story-high artworks, which defy the imagination.
Also the Antwerp zoo is worth a visit, but it may take you a few hours to wonder around; it is huge!

5. You simply must eat…

Belgium is known for “frites”, or fried chips, chocolate and of course waffles. Also, Belgium beers are famous throughout the world. Within Antwerp, a small distillery makes a liqueur from 30 different herbs, called “Elixir d’Anvers”, which is a wonderful digestive after a big meal. Jenever is also a popular local liqueur, with over 200 different varieties.

6. Are the people friendly/ helpful?

As a tourist, you will find Antwerp people very friendly and helpful, with many people able to speak English. I have not had a communication problem here yet, and in the few short months that I have been here, I have made a number of great friends.

7. How many days do you need in the city?

In order to experience the centre of Antwerp fully, I would set aside about 3 days. But I would also extend my stay within Antwerp a bit longer and travel to surrounding cities (like Ghent and Brugge), which are short train rides away. Antwerp accommodation is cheaper compared to e.g. Brussels, so using Antwerp as a base to explore Belgium is a great idea.

8. Any fun facts?

Antwerp has a rich history of firsts: first printing press in the world, first stock market exchange in the world. As I said, it’s really worth a walking tour of the city (about 3 hours) with a tour guide.

Post via Travelstart

10 things you have to eat in Paris

Visiting Paris anytime soon? Here are some delicious eats you should consider trying:

For breakfast

choc

Nothing beats a Pain au Chocolat early in the morning. This is a delicious pastry filled with chocolate. Yum!

The Chausson aux Pommes is also great. This one is filled with apple.

For lunch or dinner

Onion SoupYummy beef broth with lots and lots of onions cooked to perfection. Scrumptious!

Croque Monsieur or Madame: One of my favourites! Definitely packed with calories, this is the French version of a grilled cheese. Yet, it also has ham. An egg is added on top of the ‘madame’.

Escargots: If not here, where are you ever going to eat snails? Ready give them a go, they are served with some delicious buttery sauce.

Boeuf Bourguignon: If you love Burgundy wine, then you’ll love this beefy stew. Its hearty goodness will make you feel right at home.

Coq au VinAnother boozy favourite, this chicken is slow-cooked in white wine.

French steaks are known to be very good, so why not try their steak tartare? Yes, that means finely chopped raw beef. It might be raw, but it is very flavourful – only in Paris.

For dessert

Crepes: Super thin pancakes – often served as street food – filled with the most delicious whipped cream/chocolate or even apples. A must try for any first-timer.

Hot ChocolateThe Parisians sure know their hot chocolate. It’s not watered down, but thick and creamy. It’s nothing short of a pudding.

Macarons: You’ll find the best ones at Laduree in Paris. They are egg white perfection!

Via Travelstart

Redemption, Cape Town burgers and beer at its best

The Old Biscuit Mill, revered for its Saturday epicurean delights, will soon be known for more than its market. Redemption, a burger joint with a twist, has arrived – find it right next to the lift heading up to The Pot Luck Club.

The space boasts cool urban decor with a hint of retro flair ­– the vinyl player is a nice touch as they only play records for background music.  Sit on low chairs at colourful tables as you take in the cosy, yet vibrant setting. The owners and manager are as hospitable as they come, always encouraging you to ‘crush’ another CBC, Darling Slow or Bone Crusher craft beer.

Now lets get down to the food.

Choose from veggie, chicken, beef or ostrich (this changes from time to time). I tried The Low Flyer chicken burger. Moist, succulent, grilled organic Cajun Chicken breast with creamy mozzarella, Peppadew, basil pesto and homemade pineapple chutney. Enjoy it with French fries and garlic and basil-pesto mayo paired with a CBC Amber Weiss – at R90, it’s a steal.

Next time, I’ll be trying The Homegrown veggie burger – a lemon and herb mushroom creation served on a bed of rocket, balsamic reduction, homemade roasted tomato relish, grilled halloumi cheese and a rustic olive tapenade.

Are you drooling yet?

Details

375 Albert Road, The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock, 7935 Cape Town, Western Cape; 084-737-9586

Kitchen opens at 7h30 am (breakfast burgers!) and close at 10pm. Open Tuesday – Saturday.

Facebook

Twitter: @Twirly_Stache

Instagram: @Redemption_Burgers

Via Marie Claire

Nada Fight Festival in Himeji, Japan

Have you ever heard or seen images of the Nada Fight Festival held in Himeji, Japan annually? Neither have I. Yet, the images really drew me in. It translates as the festival of the fight or “Nada no Kenka Matsuri”. Yet it is perhaps best known as ‘Kenka Matsuri’. Held on the 14th and 15th of October every year, this is undoubtedly a feast for the eyes – one of the most interesting in Japan. What does the festival entail? Basically male participants are divided into three teams by age. Red (under 26), yellow (26-35) and lastly the white team (over 35 years old). Given to each of these teams is a portable shrine or temple (known as a mikoshi) – they are incredibly heavy. Each team uses this temple to taunt and tease the other teams. According to tradition, the gods are apparently happy when these portable temples bump into one another – so everyone makes sure this happens quite regularly. See the arena below: Truly magnificent, isn’t it? Thousands of spectators turn out every year to watch this unique battle of the ages. Enthusiastic spectators even go to all the trouble to hand-craft these colourful pom-poms (below) to show their team support. For some rather unexplained reason men choose to don diaper-like loincloths to cover their privates and bum area. After the battle has ended, everyone heads to the ocean and partake in a ritual washing. Thereafter an epic bonfire is made, where everyone dries themselves off. Here they also remove their loinclothes and get dresses. Sounds fabulous! Images via Flickr Originally posted on Travelstart

Villa weekend living at Villa Blu, Hermanus

From the moment you set your foot inside the grounds of the lovely, four star bed and breakfast, Villa Blu, expect to feel completely removed form the humdrum of daily life. A serene weekend getaway spot, it offers you a quiet and unique stay. The two-storey white villa, with pops of blue hues, features just six inviting and luxurious double bedrooms that add to its exclusivity. Rooms are spacious, beautifully decorated and fitted with all essential amenities.

Space is important at Villa Blu. There is a lawn filled with beautiful flowers and greenery, a relaxed inner courtyard, a whale watching deck and various lounges to kick back in, as well as a clear swimming pool that’s situated on the front grounds. Take a dip and unwind with drink in hand or enjoy a leisurely braai to make the most of the b&b’s home-away-from-home feel.

A few minutes’ walk to Grotto Beach and the main road, Villa Blu is the ideal spot to catch up on some R&R when you require a recharging weekend escape, without feeling isolated.

Indulge in an early morning breakfast of cold meats, cheeses, breads and croissants and more charcuterie delights, along with fruit, muesli and yoghurt. Then, choose from the small, hot-breakfast menu, which features must-try items including fried banana with cinnamon. Delicious!

 Call them on 0283141056 to book.

Find more details on their website here.