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In Travel: Rock Werchter, Couleur Café, and the sights of Flanders, Belgium

on July 11, 2012, 12:30pm
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photo 4 e1341862239947 In Travel: Rock Werchter, Couleur Café, and the sights of Flanders, Belgium
Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

As you do when you break free from the tethers of email, I left an auto-away message on my Gmail that read, “I am in Belgium of all places.” When I arrived in Belgium, I met with Tom Pieters who was organizing my stay through Tourism Flanders. “I noticed your auto-reply message. Why did you say ‘of all places’?” It was hard to convey to him what was both a little joke and my thoughts on Belgium pre-visit.

As I type this, I’m on a train back from Bruges, passing through farm fields with scattered cows and small brick cottages with stucco roofing. Since I first arrived in Belgium, I’ve felt the country and my home state of Wisconsin have a lot in common; they’re both most stereotypically known for beer and food that’s horrible for you (cheese and waffles, respectively). And while I begrudgingly take pride in my squeaky-ass cheese curds, there’s always a sense of “Hey there’s more to Wisco than cheese.” In my time here, that’s generally the subtext of Belgium and I suppose anywhere you travel: look beyond the brochure.

Another reason I’m here is to experience Flanders (the Northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, and Leuven) as a Festival. Just the northern part of Belgium plays host to more than 280 festivals throughout the summer. Some are smaller, local festivals in small towns, while others include Rock Werchter drawing over 85,000 people a day. After almost a week here, walking around by myself, drinking some of the best beers I’ve ever had, talking to some mall punks while Rise Against is playing, being in the middle of a Skrillex pit, watching Patti Smith at an amphitheater in the woods, I haven’t seen a brochure that accurately captures the quiet and the loud of Flanders (it’s like a Pixies song!). Even if this little recap of my time serves as a new brochure, look beyond and go and see for yourself.

–Jeremy D. Larson
Managing Editor

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8 comments
JR Ãlvaro González
July 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Hey Jeremy,

It was a pleasure for me to share some moments of the Flanders Festivals.
I hope we can see us another time.
Cheers!!

Jeremy D. Larson
July 12, 2012 at 8:47 am

The pleasure was all mine!

Reno
July 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm

No matter how much tourism flanders would like you to believe it, Brussels is in no way part if Flanders!

Reno
July 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Brussels is in no way part of Flanders, now matter how much Tourism Flanders tries to convince people it is. Could you please correct your article ?
thanks!

Anja
July 12, 2012 at 2:21 am

Great story, Nice pictures and I note you loved our own Selah Sue THE most ! :-) One question : what is your favourite Belgian beer since your stay ???

Nathalie Dumon
July 12, 2012 at 7:37 am

Ah Jeremy you should have stayed in Ghent fot the Ghent Festival (10 days baby! 10 days!)

Dan Fratoni
August 26, 2012 at 2:27 pm

To see Selah Sue in her home country would be unreal. I hope her fall dates in the US are just as good! Recently picked up the debut album, brilliant.
http://bit.ly/SiAVwm.

Dan Fratoni
August 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm

To see Selah Sue in her home country would be unreal. I’m hoping her Fall dates in the US are just as good! Recently picked up the debut album, brilliant.

http://bit.ly/SiAVwm.