Travel Diaries: Antwerp II

Here are more of my thoughts from my recent trip to tropical Antwerp, Belgium.

I had heard so much about the large "Belgian waffles" that I was somewhat surprised and saddened when the waitress delivered this to my table. (This is the complete thing in its original form; I hadn't yet taken a bite from it.)

I'm not sure where the legend of Belgian waffles came from, but I suspect that either the story grew in proportions over the years or that the people that started it were quite small, or not very hungry.

Antwerp, Belgium, has long been known for its natural beauty. In fact, that's why I travel there so often, to experience the lush green that is encouraged by the pleasant year-long weather.

More importantly, the city encourages nature well into the interior of the city itself, where other cities have simply given up the fight to endless buildings and pavement. Here, you can see one of the many parks in the city, meandering between the walkway and the surrounding buildings in a way that is a pleasure to experience.

Here we see a typical waterfront property of Antwerp. Observe the open-air design, with the screened-in front porch that takes advantage of the natural beauty and warmth that this North Sea climate provides.

I've remarked previously on the natural beauty of the city with the many parks that it provides; you can see in this organic architecture how the inhabitants take advantage of their surroundings to get close to nature.

One of the great advancements in society is being made in Belgium, where it is common to see restrooms like this where you have the opportunity to pay to pee.

On the surface, it's an effective way of ensuring a clean restroom environment, since there is usually an attendant who will not only collect your fee, but will also tidy up the restroom (leading to those fun awkward moments where they're cleaning up while you're Standing. Right. There.)

But there's a larger societal impact here that's quite amazing. This system of pay-as-you-go has encouraged an entire cottage (or outhouse) industry of people that can simply hold it for long periods of time. These individuals are raking in huge profits, as they are saving .35 Euros every time they don't have to use the restroom. At the end of the day, that amounts to pure profit of 3, 4, even 5+ Euros (depending on how much coffee and beer they've had). This money can then be put toward useful items, such as diapers and kidney exams.

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