Today I’m starting a new travel series here on Gadling. While Alex explores Far Europe, I’m checking out Near Europe. I’m spending the next ten days seeing the sights and sampling the cuisine of the Low Countries. My first stop is Antwerp, Belgium, and from there I’ll head to Amsterdam and the Hague in The Netherlands.
There’s a lot to explore and I have a full schedule. I’ll be seeing castles, a German bunker from World War Two, beautiful historic buildings and cutting-edge modern architecture, and oddball attractions such as Amsterdam’s Tattoo Museum and its collection of preserved human skin. I’ll also be striking out into the Dutch countryside.
I won’t forget the culinary side to my journey, a mixture of fine Belgian cuisine and down-home Dutch cooking. Belgium is famous for its chocolate, and I’m under strict instructions from my chocoholic wife and mother-in-law to make a thorough investigation. In Amsterdam I’ll sample some of Holland’s excellent cheese.
Sadly this journey will include only two out of the three Low Countries. I won’t have time for Luxembourg. Gadling blogger Andrew Evans has already walked across the country so I’m not sure how I’d top that anyway!
I’m writing this from the Hotel Julien in the heart of the historic downtown. After my first few hours in Antwerp and I must say I have a good first impression. Winding little streets pass by lovely old houses that look similar to Amsterdam canal houses but with a bit of their own style. In one little square I found the beautiful 17th century church of Saint Carolus Borromeus with some elegant woodwork as you see here. After that I walked around the shopping district along and around Koepoort Straat, with an eclectic mix of antique shops, bookshops, metalhead music stores, and vintage clothing stores. Stay tuned tomorrow for a more detailed overview of the important and fascinating city.