The French accent I’m listening to has a bit of a sharp edge to it as I approach the train station. Two hours from Cologne and I’m in an entirely new country, new language, new culture.
I’m not so familiar with the Northeast France accent but I wonder, does it sound like the Belgian French I’m hearing? This teenage girl rattles off what sounds like irritation, complaints, or loud instructions to the person on the other end of the line. There’s a sharpness to her tone. Like the R’s are rolling more then normal, almost Arabic sounding. There is clear pronunciation but not like the hotel clerks in France or the French I’ve met.
My first step off the train onto “Belgian ground” was in Place des Guillemins in Liège, Belgium. The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is also responsible for the Oriente Metro station in Lisbon. This serves as a grand welcome to further explore the small town of Liège, which has an old royal palace, opera house and winding alleys with small shops full of European charm.
Man. These are some attractive Belgians. Something in the range of the first thought that popped into my head arriving at the train station.
Are they all going somewhere important?
Yes they are. Outside their house is the appropriate time to wear nice clothing. Even the people who clearly weren’t “well off” were nicely put together.
Getting lost was easy in Belgium and every time a corner was turned, you want to photograph everything. The buildings and walkways were like art or a fine meal. Then out pops a fountain or some regal building. Then you’re eating fresh fries and mayonnaise. A Belgian beer finds its way into your belly. Chocolates in windows call out your name.
Let’s not forget the authentic Belgian Waffle.
A most memorable snack.
Large sugar granules cooked right into the dough crunch as you bite into the toasted, sweet and warm crunch. Devouring the whole thing without whipped cream, strawberries or syrup confirms, this is a true Belgian Waffle.
No waffle may ever be the same again.
That is, until you’re back in Belgium, of course.
Stunning and memorable as it was, my visit to Liège was unfortunately very short. Sometimes this is all you need to look at a place and think: Yes. This is some place.