River Cruise Belgium #
A personal report by Hermann Maurer.
This page contains the part of our trip that was in Belgium. The part in the Netherlands is separate.
End of April 2019 my wife and I went on an eight day river- and canal-trip in the Netherlands and Belgium. We had the enormous luck to have cloudless sunshine on all days, making trip and visits to the cities particularly enjoyable.
All pictures are Maurer photos and can be used as you want, as long as Photo: Maurer 2019 and source Austria-Forum.org are quoted.
Day 1, Arrival#We flew Graz - Amsterdam direct. Our luggage had already labels with the correct cabin numbers on MS KLIMT. Thus, after baggage reclaim at the airport our stuff was taken over by porters and we saw it only again in our spacious cabin. The cabin had a "French Balcony" so one could open the window to the floor and step out a few inches. After a welcome drink and some information in the spacious piano-bar (a place open for drinks and small tidbits all day long) we could observe the departure of SM KLIMT from the anchorage in Amsterdam direction North to Medemblik Amsterdam, Medemblik . A welcome-dinner followed in the restaurant, one level below the piano-bar. This is where all main meals would be served. In the evening there was always music in the piano-bar that was also used as meeting-, information-, lecture- and entertainment area, including a dance floor. Both, piano-bar and restaurant are designed for up to 150 guests (when MS KLIMT is fully booked), but in our case there were fewer than 90 persons who for all excursions would be split up in two or three groups with separate guides. Almost half of the tourists came from Graz, most others from Vienna, language on board is German.
Days 2 and 3#Alkmaar, Hoorn, Kinderdijk (Windmühlen), Rotterdam, Den Haag (The Hague), Delft, see Rivercruise Netherlands.
Day 4, morning #During the night the MS KLIMT took us from Rotterdam via a number of canal-seqments and water locks to Ghent, Rotterdam, Gent where we berthed near the city center.
The morning was dedicated to a visit of Bruge. The bus takes us as far as possible to the center of Bruge, then the city is explored on foot Ghent, Bruge .
Bruge is one of the most beautiful cities of Europe, a "Venice of the North". It is always crowded by tourists, but this day (Easter Sunday) also many Belgians visited, so we sometimes were amidst incredible masses of visitors.
- Ewald Judt presents: 25 further pictures of Bruge. Open window fully after click. Closing it brings you back to this spot.
Day 4, afternoon#After a short hop by bus we explore the old part of the city of Ghent on foot Ghent .
The most important church is the catholic St. Bavo cathedral, with its famous altar by the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck. It was seized by the Nazis, transported to Germany, and final stored in a salt-mine in Altaussee] together with thousands of other objects of art to protect it from bombs. However, all of this was to be blown up by command from Hitler just before the war ended. Miners from Altaussee ingored the command (risking their lives) and thus saved thousands of unreplaceable pieces of art.
The St. Bavo cathedral, is surrounded by many buildings except on one side that happened to be under renovation, hence we show a picture from Wikipedia. Despite the renovation a visit of the cathedral would have been worthwhile because of the altar and paintings, e.g. by Rubens. It is one of the few small complaints we have about the tour to skip the interior of the cathedral. (It was possible to rush through by oneself for Euro 15.- but few did this.)
Day 5, morning #During the night the MS Klimt brings us from Ghent to Brussels Gent, Brussels . By bus we first visit Atomium (reminiscent of the 1958 Brussels World's Fair), then we are impressed by the many parks (most created by king Leopold II). We pass a long waiting queue for palace entry, the many administration buildings and centers of power of the European Union, until we finally walk through the world's oldest mall, famous for inventing filled chocolates. On the way to the famous market square we cross the "road of restaurants": a few years ago this was a narrow pathway past outdoor tables of restaurants (heated all year by gas stoves) with lots of tempting food on display. This has all disappeared: In case of a terrorist attack it deemed necessary to have fast access for police cars and ambulances! Our guide comments: "The restaurants are still all here and have remained the same: most with poor food but high prices."
Day 5, afternoon#We visit the former historical capital Mechelen Brussels, Mechelen , with its many monuments and collections of art, many from the times of Margaret of Austria. This small city (population 85.000) is on the banks of the rivers Dijle and Nete.
Day 6, morning#The day starts with a bus tour of Antwerp, starting at the main station that looks like a castle. Of course this building also goes back to king Leopold II (1835-1909): Belgium owes him a lot. However, he was also owner (!) of the "Congo Free State" (1885 - 1908) making tremendous amounts of money through ivory and rubber, in the process exploiting in a most cruel manner local population. He is responsible for the horrible death of millions.
Day 6, afternoon#This is the only afternoon when we do not leave MS KLIMT but also enjoy the scenery on the way to Utrecht, Antwerpen,, Utrecht . We are served coffee and cake, later have a taste of salted herring with a shot of Genever and have a chance to try the whirlpool or the fitness studio. Finally, we are treated to a gala-dinner.
In the evening all crew-members go on stage to sing seamen's songs: We have the lyrics to follow them by reading or by joining the singing. The quality of the music is horrible, but it is fun.
Day 7#Keukenhof (Flowers) and Amsterdam. See the part of the trip in the Netherlands.
Tag 8, Departure #Expertly organized transfer to airport and check-in. In total: The cruise and MS KlIMT can be recommended whole-heartedly.