“There is plenty to see in North America.”Unknown
Countless are the times that we have heard these quotes and while we don’t disagree that there is near unparalleled natural beauty in North America it is the culture that offers the seasoning for the meal that is travel. The cultural diversity in other parts of the world is what really makes it worthwhile for us.
Culture can show up in various ways, either through local customs, food, music and language. Here are some examples that I am intimately familiar with having grown up in Belgium:
This Santa lookalike is based on the figure of Saint-Nicolas. Depending on the region this figure lived in either Spain or Turkey. He is celebrated each December 6th for which he happens to be the patron saint. Main differences are that he rides a horse and visits the Netherlands and northern Belgium on a boat rather than being led by reindeer.
This is the kids’ most important date as it’s the day when Sinterklaas decides to give presents to the kids that were good and punishes the kids that were bad by whipping them with the ‘roe’ and sometimes even putting them in a burlap bag.
Indoor track cycling
All over Western Europe we have annual winter meets where both road and track cyclists compete in various events. The track in Gent, Belgium is world famous as it is the shortest distance track on the circuit which means steep turns and a spectacular event with fans (the venue holds barely 6000 people) right on top of the athletes.
Racers compete for 6 straight evenings, my personal favorite event is the so called ‘ploegkoers’ or ‘team race’ if you were to translate it literally (official English term is Madison). During this hour long race teams of two try to score points either through sprints or by lapping the opponents.
Just imagine riding a bike at 40mph for an hour straight, single speed, no brakes in a relay with a team mate you have to ‘launch’ every lap or two.
Picture courtesy of wielerflits.nl
As we develop our website further, you can expect many more of these cultural highlights both from our past and future travels. Let us take you on a journey across the world from the comforts of your home!