Exploring Movie Locations – Château d’Antoing

The Movie

To be honest, until about 3 years ago, we had never heard about The Devil’s Nightmare, although I do know a thing or two about horror movies. But our good friend – and part – time collaborator – Vanessa Morgan had and moreover, she also discovered that we could actually visit the castle where it had been made.

The Devil’s Nightmare (1971) is a Belgian/Italian horror movie, with a quite simple plot: 7 travelers – on a bus tour somewhere in Europe – get stranded in a castle, where a helper from Satan himself starts killing them off. The movie is known under a handful of other titles and has an intriguingly spooky atmosphere. On my movie website, I will shortly write a more detailed review about it.

For quite some time, you could find the complete movie on YouTube – which is how I actually watched it (!) – but when I did the research for The Devil’s Nightmare, I could not find it anymore on their website. However, the trailer will give you some idea:


The Château d’Antoing is located in the small town of Antoing, in the province of Hainaut. Although Lars and I had been travelling extensively in Belgium for 8 – 9 years – and pretty much the rest of Europe, for that matter, we had somehow ignored this southwestern part of Belgium. In other words, thanks to a horror movie, Lars and I could see a part of my country that was relatively unknown to us.

The Exterior

About a dozen of us followed the guide a sunny Sunday afternoon in July 2017. The first thing she pointed out to us was that on the domain there used to be a Jesuit school; one of its most famous students was Charles de Gaulle, who attended college from 1907 to 1908. During the first World War, the building was used as a German hospital.

Although most of the castle was constructed between the 13th and 15th century, the oldest parts date from the 10th century. The fortifications around the castle were very impressive.

The castle was then redesigned in the 19th century in the Neo – Gothic style.

Next, we visited a small chapel on the grounds. You can briefly see it towards the end of the movie.

A final look at the grounds and then we entered the castle.

The Château d’Antoing has been in the hands of 3 families: Antoing, Melun, and Ligne. The Prince de Ligne, who belongs to one of the oldest families in Belgium, is its current inhabitant.

The parts of the castle where the current family lives, are – as you can imagine – not open to the public. Nevertheless, we did recognise parts of the interior from the movie.

I certainly recognised this spot, because one of the characters in the movie is murdered here.

You can only visit the Château d’Antoing with a guided tour, which takes about 2 hours and is only in French. Find out more about it here.

As you can imagine, I took dozens of pictures during our visit. Later this week, I will publish more of them on our sister website, The Cosy Traveler. Coming up on this website in the next days is the least tourist region of Belgium.


In the Company of Rats – The Sewer Museum

Want to see Brussels from a (literally) completely different angle? And you are not afraid of occasionally running into a rat? Then why don’t you pay a visit to the Sewer Museum and learn everything about the history and infrastructure of the sewage system of the Belgian capital!

Brussels has actually had a sewage system since the 17th century. But in the beginning it was far from perfect; the network was incomplete and inhabitants of the city kept on throwing garbage into the river Senne. As you can imagine, this led to a lot of pollution and in the 19th century drastic measures had to be taken: the vaulting of the Senne in the centre of Brussels. This explains why you can’t see any river (anymore) in the heart of the Belgian capital.

The museum also pays a lot of attention to the infrastructure of the sewers in Brussels. Building this system must not have been an easy task, given the presence of traffic tunnels and the metro and pre-metro system. In the 19th century, the sewer network was about 45 kilometres long, nowadays it’s more than 350 kilometres! In the museum, you can also learn everything about the installations such as the pumps, pumping stations, siphons and so on.

The Sewer Museum is not located in the heart of Brussels. The exact address is:

Pavilions d’Octroi – Porte d’Anderlecht
1000 Brussels

You can come here by public transport: take tram 51 or 82 or bus 46 and get off at the stop Porte d’Anderlecht. You can also come by car, of course, because there is parking space in the area. Just a word of warning: this is not exactly the fanciest neighbourhood of Brussels, so be really careful with your valuables. Anyway, at your arrival at the Porte d’Anderlecht, you will see 2 pavilions: one is the entrance and the other one is the exit of the museum. Finally, if you want to know all about the entrance fees, the guided tours, activities for children and the like, better check the official website of the Sewer Museum.

The part of the museum that I liked the most was the small fraction of the sewer system that you can visit. It’s like being in a completely different world. The personnel in the museum is very friendly and most of them know French, Dutch and English. Another fun part of the Sewer Museum is the gift shop; don’t hurry or you will miss the hilarious collection of rat dolls. All in all, my visit to this museum was a very pleasant one. Moreover, according to some other visitors, the Sewer Museum in Brussels is more interesting and more fun than the one in Paris.

A Walk in a Paradise of Plants

First of all, we wish you all a Happy 2020! And if you like traveling as much as we do: Happy Travels!

It has always been our goal to fulfill at least one travel dream every year and even though we did not travel a lot in 2017, we succeeded in visiting some places that had been on our bucket list for quite a long time. The bear refuge in the Black Forest was one of them and a visit to the Meise Botanic Garden another.

Meise is a small town to the north of Brussels, in the province of Flemish Brabant. It’s actually quite incomprehensible that it took us such a long time to get there – Lars and I have been traveling together since 2010, given its short distance to the Belgian capital. But in the summer of 2017, we made it our priority. And we – finally! – succeeded in visiting it!

What we didn’t know before our visit, was that this is actually one of the biggest botanic gardens in the world. The domain is about 92ha big (that is 227ac for our American readers), it has 18.000 plant species and a herbarium with more than 3 million specimens. Impressive numbers, to say the least!

Meise Botanic Garden organises various events and exhibitions throughout the whole year, by the way. And you don’t need to worry either when you are hungry and/or thirsty during your visit. Check out their official website for more information.

By the way, Meise Botanic Garden was established at the end of the 18th century. Its first location was actually in Brussels itself; the move to Meise took place shortly before World War II.

Lars and I spent half a day in Meise, which is barely enough. It’s a huge domain and there are at least a dozen of greenhouses. If you can only spare a couple of hours, you will have to make a selection. Fortunately, at the entrance of the botanic garden, you will receive a brochure with a detailed map. At certain times, there is also a small train that brings you from one spot to another.

We also made a short video of our visit. Check it out and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

If you are a nature lover, we really recommend a visit to the Meise Botanic Garden! Again, have a look at their website and… take your time for your visit.

Important announcement… We dedicate this website to our best and most beautiful travel experiences. From now on, we will publish all the pictures that don’t make it here to our “sister” website The Cosy Traveler, which you can find here and also here.

ZOO Antwerp – Let There Be Light!

One of the Belgian cities that I miss the most – even after having lived 18 months in sunny Spain, is Antwerp. It has a completely different vibe though from Brussels where I used to live, which is probably one of the reasons I like it. And some of my best friends live there! Anyway, did you know that Antwerp is home to the oldest zoo of Belgium and one of the oldest in the world? Some facts and numbers:

  • Established in 1843.
  • More than 7000 animals of more than 900 species.
  • More than one million visitors a year.
  • One of the venues of the 1920 Summer Olympics.

As you can imagine, in winter when days are sombre, short, wet and cold, it tends to attract fewer visitors. But since a couple of years, ZOO Antwerp organises a special event during about 6 weeks in winter that does bring in more people. And it’s called China Light Zoo (at least the first four editions).

Simply put, all over the zoo, you can see light installations depicting various elements, characters and events of Chinese culture and history. And animals, since we are in a zoo! The artists who set up these installations actually come all the way from China. Anyway, I have been lucky enough to see 2 editions of this event: 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 (the last one before I left Belgium).

I put a lot of pictures of the first edition (that I visited) on my other travel website; if you are interested, have a look here. As you can guess, here I will feature pictures of the other edition (2017-2018). I took dozens of photographs during that cold December evening, but I took my time to find the best ones.

A little bit more pictures than usual, but then I had more than 150 of them to choose from! Anyway, if you are interested in this event, the edition of this year has a different theme and hence another name: Jungle Book Light Festival. For more information, check out this link.

How to Experience the Christmas Atmosphere in the South of Spain

Let’s face it: in Belgium, it was always easy to experience the Christmas atmosphere every year… Winters there are cold, dark, wet and/or windy, sometimes there is even snow and then you just automatically long for those festive days filled with warmth and light. And, of course, there were Christmas markets everywhere! Indeed, with a lot of fondness, I think back at the many happy hours we passed at the Christmas market of Brussels, soaking up the atmosphere and drinking Glühwein. And eating!

But here in the south of Spain, the weather circumstances are – of course – quite different… Last year, when we were still in Torrox (Costa del Sol), temperatures were very mild (around 22 degrees, that’s 71,6 Fahrenheit), so it felt more like summer than winter. And what we were not aware of either, was that the sun goes down here later than in Belgium; it only gets dark between 17.30 and 18.00. So, dark and cold, no…

Thanks to the Internet, I luckily discovered that there are Christmas markets in Spain as well, and certainly at the Costa del Sol and in the bigger cities, where there are lots of tourists and ex-pats. Imagine our joy when we found out that there was even such a market in Torrox Costa! So, at the beginning of December 2018, we took the bus to the coast and got into the Christmas atmosphere.

Granted, it does feel a lot surreal in the beginning: a Christmas market right next to the blue sea and under lots of sunshine. The Spanish seemed to feel cold though, wearing sweaters and jackets, but most of the ex-pats and tourists – Lars and I included – were walking around in T-shirts and summer dresses. And then suddenly, you hear Mariah Carey singing and the Christmas atmosphere kicks in.

According to the Internet, the Christmas market of Torrox Costa is the biggest one at the Costa del Sol. In reality, the version of 2018 was quite small… There were a dozen stalls or so selling Christmas decorations and all kinds of artisanal products.

There was also entertainment for big and small.

And… food! Let’s face it, it’s one of the main reasons why you go to a Christmas market. And what would a Spanish one be without tapas! But, to our great joy, there was Glühwein as well.

Maybe it wasn’t as big as Lars and I had imagined, but we still enjoyed this Christmas market a lot. We spent a couple of very agreeable hours there and it certainly got us into a festive atmosphere. By the way, we had plans to go back this year, but at the last minute, we had to cancel our plans. Anyway, if you want to visit this Christmarket market yourself next year – and you happen to be in the south of Spain, it takes place during the first week of December.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Taking Care of Bears in the Black Forest

In the summer of 2017, Lars and I came up with the idea of spending a short holiday in Luxembourg (the country, not the Belgian province). At that time, we had driven through this tiny country and apart from visiting the wine region, we had never really explored the rest of it. Unfortunately, after one day, we had to change our plans completely, mainly because it was raining the whole time and the weather forecast looked even gloomier. After a short deliberation, we drove south and ended up in Freiburg (Germany).

Not only was the weather a lot better there, I quickly discovered, after some nosing around on the Internet and careful consultation of some maps, that this location would allow us to fulfil a dream we had been cherishing for quite some years: a visit to the Alternative Wolf and Bear Park Black Forest. It would mean having to drive about 90 kilometres to the north, but then we could make a nice day trip out of it. Which is exactly what we did.

The Alternative Wolf and Bear Park Black Forest is not a nature or animal park and certainly not a zoo. It is a sanctuary that takes care of bears that have had a miserable life in circuses, zoos, nature parks or with private owners. It also houses a group of wolves and a couple of lynxes.

Around the sanctuary is a hiking path which you have to follow, allowing you to have a good look at its inhabitants. The first animals that Lars and I saw were some very playful bear cubs.

You could ask yourself why these bears are simply not released in the wild. The answer is that this is impossible. The first reason is that most of these animals have become used to the presence of humans; moreover, because of their past, these bears haven’t developed the necessary skills to cope with the challenges of a natural environment. In other words, releasing them in the wild can have devastating consequences.

Keep on following the path and you will soon see the adult bears, which are really magnificent creatures! At the entry, you can pick up a brochure with detailed information about each of them and pictures, allowing you to recognize them. Take your time and you will also be able to make some beautiful close-ups.

Although the sanctuary takes really good care of its animals, some of them don’t survive a long time. One of the bears that Lars and I could observe sadly passed away a couple of months later.

I was extremely lucky when photographing some of the wolves, simply because they were very close to the fence when I passed there!

With the lynxes, on the other hand, I was far less lucky. We could hardly observe them, let alone photograph them. Lars and I waited for a long time and eventually gave up…

Anyway, after your visit, it is possible to have a drink and a snack at reasonable prices.

The Alternative Wolf and Bear Park Black Forest is not the only one of its kind in Germany. There is another one in the Harz region, which was, by the way, established earlier. Luckily for you, I have visited that sanctuary as well and will feature it later on this website.

Interested? Have a look here then. This is the exact address:

Alternativer Wolf- und Bärenpark Schwarzwald
Rippoldsauer Strasse 36/1
77776 Bad Rippoldsau-Schapbach

Where Magritte Found His Inspiration

Even if you are not an art aficionado, you must have heard about René Magritte, Belgium’s most famous Surrealist painter. In the Belgian capital, you can visit two museums dedicated to the artist and his work. The biggest one is located in Brussels itself, near the Royal Palace and has become one of the main tourist attractions there. A smaller one is in the house in Jette where he used to live.

But there is a place elsewhere in Belgium, in the province of Hainaut, that has a very special link with Magritte, something not so many people know about. It’s the old cemetery in Soignies (Zinnik in Dutch), located not so far from the church. It was first mentioned around 1320 and lost its function as the main cemetery at the end of the 19th century. Nowadays it’s used as a park: a lot of tombstones have been relentlessly taken over by nature.

Anyway, as a child, Magritte used to come to Soignies on holidays. There, he liked to play at the old cemetery with one of his friends. And then one day, something caught his attention: a painter quietly working at the cemetery. At exactly that moment, a young Magritte knew that he wanted to become an artist as well. As an adult, he always thought fondly back of that precise time.

To be honest, I wasn’t aware of this information until I saw it in a tv program. And then I immediately knew I had to see this place for myself, especially since I have always been of Magritte and his work. So on a beautiful sunny autumn day in 2017, Lars and I drove to Soignies. As luck would have it we could park our car right next to the old cemetery.

With the golden sunlight piercing through the leaves of the trees, the whole scene looked so tranquil, almost fairytale-like,…

From the main entrance of the cemetery, you have a good look at the chapel, in the center. Unfortunately, it was closed.

Near Soignies is located the spring of the Senne, the river that runs through Brussels – although underground for the main part. Lars and I drove around for an hour in order to find it but failed miserably…

I will add more pictures of the old cemetery of Soignies shortly on our Instagram feed!

Soaking up Some Sun at the Balcon de Europa

About 18 months ago Lars and I left Belgium and moved to Spain. Both of us had dreamed of living in the south of Europe for a long time. And since neither of us is getting any younger and since I felt that on a professional level I had nothing to offer to Belgium anymore, we decided that it was time to go.

For the first 6 months, we called Torrox in the Costa del Sol our home. Lars and I quickly felt at home in our small house with the enormous roof terrace, where we spent the evenings grilling meat and fish on the BBQ and watching the sun go down. Life was perfect.

As soon as Lars got a car again, we started exploring the beautiful region where we lived, which is the province of Malaga. We could spend hours driving on the N-340, the coastal road connecting the towns and cities that attract so many tourists every year. One of these is Nerja, situated 50 kilometres to the east of Malaga.

In the beginning, though, we never stopped at Nerja. We blatantly misjudged it as another coastal town that had nothing special to offer and kept on passing it in favour of smaller places at the sea. It was only when we had moved to Churriana de la Vega (near Granada) and accidentally became stranded in Nerja (of all places!) that we took time to explore this town.

More than 20.000 people call Nerja their home, a third of which are ex-pats. You can hardly blame them… Sure, there are some high-rise buildings, but Nerja has been able to keep most of its charm. And the centre of the old town is right next to the sea. If you don’t have much time, make sure to explore those narrow streets and eat some tapas.

Moreover, follow the locals and the tourists and end up at the magnificent Balcon de Europa, a viewpoint located on a high cliff…

Balcon de Europa
Balcon de Europa
Balcon de Europa

I took these pictures in the first half of April when it was about 23 degrees. You could easily distinguish the tourists from the locals, even when you could not hear them talking. Tourists were clad in T-shirts whereas the local population were still wearing winter clothes…

Balcon de Europa
Balcon de Europa

If you want to see more pictures of Nerja, check out our Instagram feed!

%d bloggers like this: