Hello once again! We have finally come to the last post of my trip through Europe! Everyone say ‘awwww,’ then say ‘hooray!’ The final week of my trip was split between Belgium and the Netherlands. In the first half, I stayed in a university town called Leuven (don’t ask me why, there was no real logic in the end), and used the last few days of my rail pass to jaunt all over the two countries; on the final day of the pass I took myself over to Brussels for a few days, and finally on the 3rd of August took the very lengthy bus ride up to Edinburgh. Here we goooooo!
So it’s been a long-time ambition of mine to visit the International Criminal Court, since learning about it in year 12 politics. I finally got the chance to go there on this day. It was rather a long walk from the train station, but it was fine weather and I was armed with some podcasts and lots of energy, so I remained unperturbed. I was glad to see a group of schoolchildren entering, confirming that it was in fact open to the public. I went straight up to the door. Apparently I’m not the public. But here’s a photo of the outside, before all my hopes and dreams had been shattered.
An historic university town, where Scots had gone to study for hundreds of years when Oxford and Cambridge were the only universities in the British Isles, and after that when there were some Scottish ones but all they taught was theology. The Scots came here for medicine and law, and took that knowledge back, leading to Edinburgh becoming a world leader in medicine over the next few hundred years!
A brief interlude to the town for which the New York neighbourhood is named the following day left me once again dismayed by opening times, on this occasion my inopportune arrival directly between the only two daily tours of the Corrie Ten Boom house, where a group of Jewish people were hidden during the Holocaust (it’s an amazing story, which I read about as a kid). Having no other way to get in, and this being my only chance to go to Amsterdam, I took a photo of the house, had a quick wander round, and then hightailed it out of there once again.
On my penultimate day of train ticketiness, I first took a stroll around the town that I was staying in. There are a number of things I was (as usual) pretty bewildered by. Enjoy!
…Until I realised that I could probably go around the city I was literally in later, after everything was closed everywhere else, so instead I hopped on a train out to Antwerp. I’d been travelling through this city on the way to everything else, so I had seen the splendour of the train station, and was keep to scope out the rest. Antwerp (or Anvers, or Antwerpen) is best known as the diamond capital of the world (80% of the world’s rough diamonds come through it), the third-largest port in the world, and the cradle of my favourite art style, Dutch Golden Age. Excellent. Also, a whole lot of things were free on the last Wednesday of the month, which is what this was!
Cliché and very busy, but genuinely pretty good.
Ghent has been recommended as the thinking man’s alternative to Bruges – equally historical but far less touristy, and with a lot of students. Always a good recipe.
Now, finally, my train pass, two months long, had come to an end. I took a train to Brussels and spent my last two days in Europe there.