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Liège


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Good music, Peket and strange customs

Published by Dănilă Adriana — 4 years ago

One of the first cities I saw in Belgium was Liège. Located in the province of Liège, it is known as the economical capital of Wallonia (Belgium being divided into three districts: Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels Capital Region) and as the French speaking region. It has close borders with Netherlands and Germany, one could get there just using the train. So the advantages are double, first you can see Liège and after you can make a trip to its neighbors.

But enough with the geographical aspects of the city, it is time to paint in images what I say and did there.

The streets were narrow, but you could feel the joy in the air. Laughter spread through the ether like snow during winter. Liège was celebrating the special event done once a year and called ”Foire d’ Octobre”, meaning “The Celebration of October”.

Toy cars, toy games, shooting the ball towards a football gate, becoming a sniper, riding the spinning wheel, riding the death train, visiting the houses of horror, flying like the astronauts did on the Moon, facing imminent demise in the cube of metal that rotates over and over in the air making you brains “hit” the floor, drinking beer till your beck can’t stand the taste anymore, screaming with fear and being terrified, laughing and eating cotton candy, running down on the slide or simply participating in the game of collecting ducks from small ponds of water in order to win special prizes for your dear ones... all of this and more is possible at the “Foire d’ Octobre”.

This kind of holiday has a long tradition and from what I understood, it’s been happening from the year 1594, thus being the most ancient event of this sort. To assure that everything will go well, the city hall from Liège gives a lot of space for the carnival people to settle in, and I mean a lot. The entire festival occupies more than two kilometers, I called them the “Two kilometers of never ending fun”:)). You can spend a hole day and not get bored, but to do that you must also have money in your pocket. The prices aren’t high, but if you want to ride as much as possible all the entertainment machines presented there, you should have some cash. For example a ride on the toy cars is between 3-4 euros, this scale of price being applied everywhere.

I was quite lucky that I got to see the festival. I was in Belgium, last week from the 9thof November till the 12th. I caught the last days of the celebration and I am truly grateful for that, I had a great time. Most of all I loved the way I felt being around all that joy and laughter. That atmosphere was magical, with that jukebox music, people dressed in costumes, kids running around, lots of shouting and screaming from the more “dangerous” means of fun, I felt like a child again. Like when I was little and I loved doing crazy things, latter on having to give no explication for my wrong behavior. Growing up is hard when you acknowledge that you can’t pretend that you aren’t responsible for your own actions. But off to happier lands.

The architecture of the city is different, in the sense that you can see the German influence upon the buildings. The streets are big, but the sidewalks are small. You can see, like everywhere, all the famous brands in the shops. The people speak only French so do not try to talk to them in English. My friend that is studying in Liège told me that, Belgians may know a bit of English, but they prefer not to use it. From this I got the conclusion that they are pretty nationalists and proud of their country and origins.

What else? Aaa…what I am about to say next will shock you a bit. Do not be alarmed, being different isn’t a crime.

As we were walking on the streets heading to the “Foire d’Octobre” guess what I saw? :D

Anyone? No, you did not guess, trust me. Not one, but three guys pissing in the bus stop in the middle of the day. My face was about to fall off :))). Why was this strange for me?

First of all because it was still day and you could see what they were doing, secondly because they were with a group of friends, some had their girlfriends with them (I presume that because there was this girl that was waiting for one guy to finish :D) and thirdly, because people were passing by without saying anything or being bothered by that. I asked my friend what’s the deal with this kind of behavior and she plainly answer “this is what they do”. Ok, I guess, some things should not be understood, only accepted.

Moving on, I must confess that I did not like the mess that I saw in the streets of Liège. The city is a bit dirty, you could see papers and plastic all over the corners of the streets, but I guess that is normal if I take into consideration, that Liège has the biggest population of students from all the cities in Belgium.

The mixture of nationalities is impressive, students from all over the world come here, not so much to study, but to have fun. I must add that I saw the University from Liège, it is situated in the center part of the city, but it looks, not awful, but definitely not good, on the outside. I saw only the exterior of the building, in front of it there were a lot of construction materials and special machines, so I guess they will fix the appearance problem soon. I asked my friend about the interior, how does it look? She told me that they have technology, but that some of the studying classes have bad or better said uncomfortable furniture (desks and chairs).

Walking in the city you could see beautiful castles and churches. In fact, there is this church (I do not remember the name :D, I’m sorry for that, I will update the post as soon as I remember :D) where the people who used to reign over the city were burned alive. Why? Well, the legend says that they were asking the population to give more and more food and money to them, so the people rebelled.

I also like the numerous bridges that I saw, at night they are colored in different shades of blue, red, yellow, as if the bridges were alive. From all of the statues that I saw, I enjoyed the most, the one representing Georges Simenon, the international recognized author of one of the most sold bestsellers of the world, respectively the “Inspector Maigret” – Detective Maigret and his adventures that ravished the mind of reader from all over the Globe. I was glad to find out that Georges Simenon had Belgian roots, I did not know that before.

Moreover, can you try to imagine how did I find the statue? Well, let’s just say I was having a great time inside a club/ restaurant called “ Masion du Peket” – The house of Peket and after exiting I found the statue. Just like the detective always being the middle of the crowd in the center of all commotion. But since I mentioned Peket, what is it?

It’s the local version of gin, a glass of Peket is between 3-5 euros and they come in color, you can drink it in blue, yellow, green and white, they have around 40% alcohol, so after four shots you will be extremely happy J).

I almost forgot, on the streets of Liège you can see old cars, antics I may say, but in great condition, that I think are really expensive today. And yes, how could I forget, clubs, lots and lots of places where you can spend your money and dance your brains out. In the center of Liège, the pubs are door in door, that’s how many they are. I visited many of them :D, but I liked best the one named “Far West”. The music was really good, my favorite, rock and the beer was good, just 1, 3 euros a glass.

If you want to go there, do it, you won’t regret it! To see more of the city I will leave you this link: http://www.iode2011.be/Documents/MUST-SEES_MUST-DO_S_IN_LIEGE.pdf . So, have fun traveling!

(Pictures made by my dear friend, Giorgiana Astefanei)

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The magic of Christmas in Liege, Belgium

Translated by Michael Benn — 2 months ago

Original text by Laurie Lambert

With the festive season approaching, we say 'goodbye' to the Liege Fair and 'hello' to the Christmas market. The Liege Christmas market is more precisely a Christmas village. It is divided into several sections since there is a Christmas market on the cathedral's square, with a mini skating rink; one section on Saint Lambert's Square and the village, fenced off by wooden barriers between Saint Lambert's Square and the square with the market.

By the cathedral, there is a skating rink, surrounded by about 20 stalls. They sell mostly food, there are no handmade objects here. You can find white wines there, Christmas foods, cocktail bars, mulled wine, beers... If you continue towards the opera house, there are other small stands selling sausages and warm Christmas clothing (coats, hats, scarves, gloves... ).

Then you get to Fnac, C&A and Quick near Saint Lambert's Square (so you are crossing the Square of the French Republic). There you will find other stalls and another part of the Christmas market. There are more handmade decorations here. You'll find candles, winter clothing, various items for decoration such as lamps etc. They also sell chocolate bells and churros.

Next you come to the Christmas village between Saint Lambert's Square and the Market Square. On the left, before you go in, there is a slide that you can go down either on a toboggan or without one. You have to pay and it's one of the attractions of the Christmas market, with the big wheel situated in the Christmas market itself, right next to the entrance.

The magic of Christmas in Liege, Belgium

As I have already mentioned, the village is based on stalls. They have one for every taste, they generally sell food but there are nonetheless a few stalls selling decorations or winter clothing. But it is the food here which is the real selling point; traditional dishes from Liege or Belgium among other foreign foods. Upon entry, you'll find Dutch doughnuts as well as Lacquemant, Liege and Brussels waffles. On the right is the famous Galler stall (a chocolatier) where you can taste a good hot chocolate and the famous Galler waffles. They are crispy on the outside with Galler chocolate fondue on the inside and they're delicious! You can see them in this photo. They're expensive, but the price is relative to the quality (2. 40 euros for a mini waffle, but it melts in your mouth! ).

The magic of Christmas in Liege, Belgium

Besides this you have the ravioli stand. It's a little too expensive for my liking since they are very small and it's more like a tasting sample. However this is more of a general observation for all the stalls. You can also immerse yourself in the world of Canada by trying a poutine; a dish with fries, small, semi-melted pieces of cheese and a sauce which is unique to Canada. It's just as easy to find one of Greece or Turkey's famous kebabs.

To conclude, you can usually find something to fit any budget, but you won't always be able to fill your stomach as much as you'd like. Above all the market is there so you can drink a glass of wine and nibble on something, whether you go before or after eating a meal.

One piece of advice: Share a tartiflette with a friend, it's the best thing to fill you up without paying too much (seven euros for a plate).

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