Tim likes to travel. Follow his adventures as he explores the world.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

16 Super Cool Things This American Did While Living in Belgium

Now that I have had some time to think about it, and now that I have a pretty good rhythm going here in Spain and I could sit down and focus, I have finally come up with my list of some of my favorites things I did during the four and a half years that I lived in Belgium. I tried to pick things that were specific to Belgium, and though going to the theaters to see movies in French is cool, I opted for more rare activities for this post. Here are 16 of the hundreds of memorable moments I experienced in Belgium, in chronological order.



1. Moved four times in four years

To some this may sound like a negative thing, but for me, each place I stayed offered a new set of adventures. I also had the pleasure/pain of eight different roommates. And I didn't really move very far, but rather a few kilometers each time, all in the greater Brussels area.


Moving again
Moving again


2. Played (semi)-pro basketball

My definition of "professional athlete" is someone who can support themselves only by playing a sport. Stephanie disagrees with that definition, and says "anyone who is financially compensated for playing a sport" is a professional athlete. By the second definition, I was a professional basketball player in Belgium for three seasons.


Steph got a great shot of me dunking
Steph got a great shot of me





3. Worked at NATO

The largest peace-keeping organization in the world, and I had the opportunity to work at it's headquarters. I had the chance to meet many wonderful people and learn quite a bit about parts of the world I'd otherwise know nothing about.


Kelli and I at the Death Star, aka NATO Compass
Kelli and I at the Death Star, aka NATO Compass


4. Started Couchsurfing

I started hosting couchsurfers in September 2011. My first time surfing was in Lisbon, Portugal. I've had some great experiences, and twice I have shared my city with someone who shared their city with me. My most recent surfing was last week in Córdoba, Spain.


January 2012 with surfers from France
January 2012 with surfers from France
And in November 2015 the host became the surfer
And in November 2015 the host became the surfer


5. Started CrossFit and TRX

Before working at NATO, I had actually never heard of CrossFit or TRX. A colleague invited me to CrossFit and I was hooked after the first class. I ended up trying TRX due to a back injury that kept me away from weights for awhile. I heavily rely on both in my current training regimen. CrossFit is also where I picked up the moniker "TMax".


We were machines, the fashionable kind
We were machines, the fashionable kind



One of my first classes
One of my first classes
I even got to coach TRX
I even got to coach TRX


6. Biked the coast of Belgium

Weekend trip with Staša to the coast of Belgium, where we decided to bike over 40km along the coastline. My butt still hurts.


It's a long coastline on a bike
It's a long coastline on a bike
This is probably not safe, or legal
This is probably not safe, or legal


7. Toured the Battlegrounds of Waterloo

Napoleon's historic Battle of Waterloo was in Belgium. I'm sure all but three of you had no idea that this pivotal battle took place here (I didn't know either).


Mount of the lion, from which you can see the battlegrounds
Mount of the lion, from which you can see the battlegrounds



8. Relayed for life

Although this is an American fundraiser, doing it with the Belgians, Germans, and French, was a memorable experience and offered a new spin on a hometown activity.


Team America setup
Team America walking
Team America walking

9. Brussels Summer Music Festival

So concerts are not specific to Belgium, but at this concert I got to see my favorite French rap group, Sexion D'Assaut, perform live, and because I was invited by some nice people, I got to see it all for free.


Outdoor concerts are rarely successful in Belgium. How lucky we were!
Outdoor concerts are rarely successful in Belgium. How lucky we were!

10. Kook Eet

Similar to the Semana Del Pincho but all in one day. The 50 best restaurants in and around Bruges, gathered and served a scaled-down version of their best dishes for a fraction of the cost.


Good food AND good weather
Good food AND good weather
So many people enjoying the experience
So many people enjoying the experience







11. Ketogenic diet

So, I'm not usually one to diet, but in an attempt to help some friends lose weight, and after they all bailed on the diet that I decided to do to support them, I concluded the experiment and saw that it revealed quite amazing results. I base my current diet off what I learned from this experiment. (see the entire experiment or just look at the final pics)


Everyone gathered for the first party where we introduced new recipes


12. Brussels Ice Magic

Inside a giant freezer, ice sculptors created classic works of art based on the Belgian pastime of comics. Everything inside is made of ice, and afterward, you can buy hot chocolate and a cookie.


The coldest headstand I've ever done
The coldest headstand I've ever done


13. Museum Night Fever

Brussels offered free entry and free public transportation to all of its' museums for one night only.


Belgium's museum of old cars, aka the parking lot at Bingo
Belgium's museum of old cars, aka the parking lot at Bingo
Underground history museum about the middle ages
Underground history museum about the middle ages


14. Retrorama

At the expo center, all the coolest clothes, toys, gadgets, and not-so-long-ago relics from as far back as the 50's, were on display to experience, and if you were really feeling nostalgic, you could purchase them.


If you remember one of these...
If you remember one of these...


15. Royal Gardens

Belgium is a kingdom and for a few weeks every year, the royal gardens are opened to the public so we can pretend to be royalty, or at least wait in long lines to see flowers... like royalty?


The royal waiting party
The royal waiting party
So beautiful. Oh, and the flowers were nice too



Good ol' Belgian weather



16. Braderie

Each of the neighborhoods in Brussels took turns every week during the summer to host a neighborhood-wide yard sale, with food, live music, and bouncy castles.

Found balkan food and listened to live Scottish music at the Belgian yard sale


What do you think? 

So, I planned to do this post like 4 months ago, but I met this guy named Procrastination, and he has been taking up all of my time! For the Belgians, what do you think of my list? Have you done some/all of these things, and what did you think of them? For the non-Belgians, what were your best experiences in Belgium?

Thanks for reading! To follow my new life in Spain, check out VEN con TMax.

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Location: Brussels, Belgium

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