My study abroad semester has been pretty limited travel wise, while other students here have booked last minute trips to exciting places such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Madrid etc. I have pretty much just stayed around Cologne and explored the area. This was not quite what I had in mind for my weekends, but when I factored in the time and money these last minute trips required I found it was best to just plan a trip for certain destinations another time.
I did get restless though and wanted to visit another area to see the differences in culture and people. I looked online to see what places my city connected to my choices were Paris (soon to come), Brussels, Amsterdam, Liege,London and some other nearby German cities. After some consideration I chose Liege in Belgium because of how affordable the ticket was and how close it was to me. Leaving me a lot of time to explore the city, but close enough for me to return back to my cozy little room in Cologne.
My train left around 8 a.m. in the morning and arrived at my destination around an hour later. Upon my arrival I discovered I was in the French speaking part of Belgium. (Obviously, I didn’t do much research before I picked my destination.) I spent the next hour or so researching some basic French phrases on the internet, so I could better communicate with the citizens of Liege. I then spent sometime in a cafe inside the train station, where I was offered a cup of coffee and and a sweet apple pastry. My meal was also served with a Belgium chocolate, marking an item off my list of things Belgium is known for. After that I had to learn to navigate the transportation system and to figure out what exactly there was to see and do in a city like Liege. I made my way to the location within the train station that had info on the public transit and tourist information. After that I was ready to begin my adventure into the city.
The lady at the tourist information counter recommended that I make my way to the city center, which holds many of the historical aspects of the city. The bus I took stopped at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, a cathedral that is truly a sight to see from the inside. I have been to two other well known cathedrals on my trip such as the Dom and Notre Dame and I must say that the interior of Saint Paul might surpass them both.
After my exploration of the church I went out to explore the city of Liege to see the other historic sights and to also see what differences there were between French Belgium and Cologne, Germany. One thing I noticed is that there is a very old time European feel to Liege. In Cologne I do all my grocery shopping in supermarkets such as Lidl and Rewe, places not all that different from the grocery stores I shopped at back home. In Liege I found there were little stores that specialized in selling just produce, meat, dairy, and of course baked goods.
The city of Liege is pretty easy to navigate through and I was able to make my way through the main sights in just a few hours. I realized that there was no need to take a bus back to the train station due to how easy the city is to navigate and how close the station actually was to my location. On my way back I made sure to check out a local cafe/bar called La Pot Au Lait. The place has an awesome bohemian feel to it and the place is like an indy art gallery in itself. I understand why it is so highly recommended. I also made sure to stop by a waffle place to check off waffles on my list of Belgium things. They were delicious and filled with chocolate. The woman making the waffles was amused when I pulled out my French cheat sheet to order. (I am sure me trying to pronounce anything in French is the equivalent of Brad Pitt trying to speak Italian in the film Inglorious Bastards.)
After that I made my way down to a beautiful a park that was filled with various statues. Someone has managed to climb up to some of the statues in the park and wrap silk scarves around their necks. This of course made them look about ten times more fabulous. The park area also held a beautiful rose garden and small lake that reminded me of a Monet painting.
My day was coming to an end, so I made my way to a place nearby to eat. I found a burger joint called the Coyote.(It was interestingly enough by a DVD rental place. I guess Netflix hasn’t taken over Belgium yet.) It was there that I had a Belgium beer brand called Jupiter. Then it was time to head to the train station where I had one more Belgium waffle and bid Liege goodbye.
Things I recommend that I didn’t get to the explore: I was of course in the city for a very short time and missed out on some of the wonderful aspects the city has to offer such as the La Batte, a Sunday market that happens on the left bank of the Meuse river. The stores in liege are honestly not all that unique and will be closed on Sundays, but I am told the Sunday market is something to see. I also might add it is supposedly the biggest market of its kind in Belgium.
I have also been told catching a show at the Royal Opera of Willonia, the Churchill Cinema, or the Cinema Sauveniere is also highly recommended.
Carre District is a place to explore that is filled with all different types of trendy cafes, bars, and restaurants.