Timothy Junes runs the travel blog Trip by Trip and the LGBT news blog Be Out. Here he shares his favourite locations in Belgium, mostly in and around his home city of Antwerp.
Timothy Junes was born and raised in Antwerp, where he still resides. He had a classical education – Greek and Latin – in high school. This sparked his interest in history and languages. He tried and failed at Law but succeeded at Communication and Journalism at Plantijn Hogeschool, now AP, in Antwerp.
Timothy is a train guard and joined the NMBS / SNCB in early 2012 after a few jobs in communications. He still uses his journalism skills as a hobby, running the LGBT news blog Be Out. He has been involved in the LGBT movement since 1999 and has written for a few gay media outlets. He also ran an ad hoc travel blog narrating his month-long tour of Australia in 2011.
He grew up bilingual in a French-speaking family in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. As his Dad used to run a travel agency, Timothy got to taste a big part of the world from a young age as his parents believed taking their kids along on their travels would be a positive influence in their education and create open-mindedness towards the world. With an uncle living in the USA and a sister moving around the world he has had to travel a lot to visit his family which only enforces his travel virus.
THE BLOG: TRIP BY TRIP
Timothy started Trip By Trip with his friend and colleague Danny as a diary. They share their travel experiences with friends, family and other travel lovers around the world. The blog is not a guidebook. “Sure, we give some ideas, recommendations and what (not) to do’s, but we cannot and will not guarantee our experiences are universal, or guidelines for what you should (not) do on your travels.”
COVID-19 did change the tone and content slightly, as the blog also features updates regarding living with coronavirus countermeasures. Trip By Trip also doesn’t shy away from LGBT topics, but these are not the main themes.
FAVOURITE CITY: ANTWERP
“Antwerpians have the reputation of being dikke nekken – boasters (literally fat necks) – but yes I do love my city. Why? It’s a big village. It has all you want from a metropolis: anonymity, culture, sports, activities, a myriad of bars and restaurants, … Traffic is terrible but hey, you can reach so many areas on foot. And not unimportant: as a single man with an average income I can afford to live in the epicenter of town. Try to do that in London or Melbourne. I mention those because I love those cities.”
FAVOURITE RESTAURANT AND BAR
“I don’t have a favourite restaurant, café or bar as such; a place where everyone knows my name. But I do enjoy going to Café Den Draak at Het Roze Huis on the Draakplaats. It’s an LGBT bar with many straight patrons. It’s cosy and homey, and you can talk without having to yell. But when the sun goes down, it can become a real party place. For restaurants: I try to go to as many different places I can. There are so many restaurants, why stick to just one place?”
“The Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS) is a great building, but its collections feel a bit underwhelming. I’d rather revisit the Museum Plantin-Moretus. And I can’t wait for the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Antwerp to reopen sometime this century. Outside Antwerp? I desperately want to rediscover the War Heritage Institute in Brussels. Also in Brussels the several campuses of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and the House of European History. That one is very well thought-out.”
FAVOURITE GREEN AREA
“The coronavirus countermeasures have forced me to (re)discover green areas in Antwerp. If I have time, I’ll go to the Hobokense Polders or the Rivierenhof. If I have less time, a quick walk to the newish Droogdokkenpark in Antwerp, which offers a great vantage point over the Scheldt river.”
FAVOURITE QUIET AREA
“I love to sit on a bench on the Zuiderterraswandelbrug at the Scheldt. I’ll stay there until my bum hurts as the benches are hard on the rear-end.”
FAVOURITE ROMANTIC HOTSPOT
“Weather permitting: the river. From the Droogdokkenpark to the Zuiderterras or going onto the roof of the Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS). You get wonderful views and these are perfect spots to steal a (first) kiss.”
FAVOURITE TOURIST ATTRACTION
“Rubens House. Rubens put Antwerp on the map so let’s put Rubens on the Antwerp tourist map.” A good starting point is the Rubens House.
FAVOURITE SHOPPING AREA
“Antwerp is a shopping capital. From the Meir as the high street to the more upscale shops of Huidevettterstraat, Schuttershofstraat, De Wilde Zee. There’s something for everyone. I love the Exotische Markt on Saturday at Theaterplein. It’s transforming to a food court, but if you go early you get the real market feeling.”
FAVOURITE SPORTS EVENT
“The only sports I follow are motor sports. I went once to the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. You see it better on television, but as a fan you should see, hear, and smell F1 cars at least once in your lifetime.”
“I focussed on Antwerp as it is my hometown. I don’t have a car so I stick to walking or using public transportation, which limits my movement. If you’re new to Belgium: do Brussels and Bruges. A second time in Belgium? Add Antwerp and Ghent. You come here regularly? Add Lier, Liège, Mechelen and go outside the cities.”