NAME: Eef Vicca (34)
BORN IN: Aarschot, Vlaams-Brabant (lived in Antwerp for 10 years)
CURRENTLY LIVING IN: New York CityEef: “It was love that first pushed me to go and live abroad. After almost 4 years of being in a long distance relationship, my boyfriend from Valencia and I both moved to Mallorca, Spain, to be together. We’ve had an absolutely amazing time on the Mediterranean island, but after 3,5 years of baking in the sun over the weekends the time was right to take our careers up a notch. So we moved to another island: Manhattan! I’m currently the Fashion Director at Factory PR, a big communications and PR agency. It’s such an interesting world to be in, with so many cool people you meet along the way although it’s VERY hard work. I don’t get out of the office before 9pm on a good day and it gets even worse during Fashion Week. It’s hard to keep up with this rhythm but it’s what keeps me going!”
What do you miss most about Belgium?
It’s a bit of a contradiction because I think the weather is horrible in Belgium. But when in summer the sun is out and temperatures start to rise, Belgians enjoy it to the fullest. No matter what day of the week it is or how important your early am meeting might be, terraces are packed till late at night with people having a good time, enjoying the tropical temperatures because we never know when it ends. In NYC for example people are spoiled with warm weather throughout the whole summer and we have less of an urge to make the best of it. So with that being said: I miss the typical Belgian terraces. And the bread and definitely the waffles. And most of all: my family. I miss them tremendously.
What’s the first thing you do on your visits back to Belgium?
Eating a ‘broodje‘ (sandwich) with a chocolate croissant and a Diet Coke. That’s literally the first thing I do when I get home. Belgians have a thing for sandwiches. Panos is my favorite place to eat them, followed by Delifrance and Exki. I also love our waffles and salads. Belgians really do make the best salads if you aks me, not that crappy lettuce from a bag with some random balsamic dressing on top…
The top 3 things to see or do in Belgium in your opinion?
First up is the fashion museum in Antwerp. It’s a hard place to promote in tourist guides because obviously not everybody is into fashion, but it’s such an important part of Antwerp’s culture with a crazy amount of talent in our country. Besides, the building is beautiful and the Dries Van Noten store below is just as pretty. Secondly, I would suggest to go to Bruges. So many people visit the city and why wouldn’t they, it really is the Venice of the North. And while you’re there, why not squeeze in a visit to Ghent as well. It’s close to Bruges and it’s stunning. I think Leuven is such a great place to visit as well.
When all bars are closed in Antwerp but you just want to have a final shot and spend some time with the locals, go to Het Chauffeureke, a tiny bar that smells like beer and dishwashing soap
Favorite cafe in Belgium?
When all bars are closed in Antwerp but you just want to have a final shot and spend some time with the locals, go to Het Chauffeureke. It’s a tiny bar that smells like beer and dishwashing soap. The 60-year-old DJ will take any song request you have and don’t be surprised if you end up dancing to the most silly but oh so funny Flemish hits. What else? I also like to go to De Muze in Antwerp, a gorgeous bar with lots of cozy details, wooden floors and separate corners, a great ambiance and excellent for jazz lovers.
Favorite Belgian restaurant?
It’s a classic, but Belga Queen in Brussels tops my list.
Favorite outdoor areas?
All terraces and open spaces are so amazing in Belgium. I love the Kloosterstraat in Antwerp to walk through and the Linkeroever district in Antwerp is pretty amazing too to unwind. Then there’s the Marnix square located on a beautiful roundabout with a few cosy terraces (like the Lucy Chang one), the Leopold de Waelplaats and the Conscience square, a small but beautiful square dedicated to the memory of Hendrik Conscience, an important 19th century Flemish writer. I’m also fan of the Oude Markt in Leuven, a true landmark.
Your favorite Belgian tradition?
Festival season. There are fairly big festivals every day/week in the whole country throughout the summer. I have no idea of how much you would spend on just the admission fee if you were to do every single Belgian festival, but I doubt 2.000 euros will suffice.
Your favorite Belgian expression?
De kat uit de boom kijken. How would you start translating that? It’s s bit like ‘playing by ear’, with the difference that you actually wait how the situation will eventually play out, as if it bodes a bit bad news. The literally translation would be ‘watching the cat out of the tree’. So funny!
What advice would you give to anyone visiting or moving to Belgium?
To tourists: buy an umbrella…
To foreign residents: try to catch up on the language asap, it will be rewarding.
“I’d like to share my 15 minutes of fame with… Little Sweaties”
I recently discovered the cutest brand called Little Sweaties, a collection of sweaters and longsweaters in the funniest prints, all developed in Belgium. Think Bambi next to a giant mushroom and small hidden details. The cool thing is that they come for both kids and adults so you can dress like your mini me, or the other way around of course.