The fifth country I’ve visited this year outside of the UK. Most people I had spoken to had said Belgium was just another European country, and Brussels just another European city. So expectations were fairly low/normal as we made the two hour journey across the Channel. Arrived at about 11:30pm local time and was met by our Airbnb host. She was very dedicated to explaining everything including recommendations etc. even on a late Friday night. Had a restful sleep then woke up the next day for our walking tour. Of course, we arrived early in the Grote Markt and explored before the tour began. The square was unbelievably pretty - the non-symmetrical city hall was surrounded by guild houses with gold-highlighted facades. The morning was quiet before the rush of tourists later on. The tour was lovely apart from it raining halfway through. Enjoyed a hearty Belgian lunch which included Orval beer. Stronger than we thought resulting in a bit of stumbling on the dangerous cobblestones of Brussels. Decided to hunt round for street art which turned out to be a marvellous way of seeing Brussels. I became obsessed turning around every corner trying to spot the next piece of comic art. Returned to the apartment for a lie-down, then decided on dinner at a place that sounded like not good enough (Nuetnigenough). Tried Westmalle which had 9.5% alcoholic content and again, it hit me unexpectedly, despite my delicious Carbonnades (Belgian stew) with frites. Wondering around after dinner consisted of a group of guys on a Buck’s night that insisted on us putting lipstick and kissing a blown up you-know-what object/suit that the soon-to-be married man was wearing, checking out the square in its nighttime glory and eating waffles!
The next day we daytripped to the Dutch-speaking Flanders region of Belgium. Tickets were cheap - about 15EUR return. Weather was temperamental, but overall we got sunshine and we were happy. The walking tour started at 12pm outside a hostel so we waited. And waited. And waited some more. The “guide” was 45 mins late, clearly hungover or still drunk, and was not apologetic. By introducing himself as “Dustin” and saying that it was going to be a “politically incorrect” tour because he said “shit” all the time, we knew this was going to be a tough two hours. And so it was, as we realised Dustin was basically making stuff up or didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. You really didn’t know if what he was saying had any truth in it. The group kept staring at each other and looked stunned. So basically another Canadian girl and ourselves decided to sneak away and leave the group. We hung out for the rest of the afternoon and decided to take a canal tour, something Bruges is famous for. We all agreed that we learnt more on the boat than on land. Lunch was moules-frites and I ate all of it, feeling quite sick and bloated thereafter. Of course, I had a Jupiler beer to go with it. Jupiler was a lot lighter than the other Belgian beers and tasted quite refreshing. Basically after that, I could not eat anything more. We left Bruges at about 6pm. It was a success and definitely one of the most prettiest towns I’ve seen! Quaint with all its little alleyways and canals.
The final day was spent getting our chocolate on! Visited Grand Sablon which was quite underwhelming. The double storied Pierre Marcolini building was a marvel and we enjoyed popping into Wittamer, Galler, Leonidas, Godiva, Elisabeth etc. After a while, all the food just made me sick. We found the shopping strip of Brussels and bought a few clothes. Fish and chips for lunch was a bad idea. Spent the late afternoon very much in a reclined position without moving. Recovered in time to take the train back home even though Eurostar said it was 35mins late.
All in all, another surprisingly great getaway for the weekend! Those beers….