When we visited Belgium, there were five things we were very excited about: beer, waffles, mussels, chocolate, and fries. After all, what better way to experience a different culture than to dive right into the food? So that’s exactly what we did! The cool part was that we indulged in all of it from major cultural hotspots in the country. Overall, I think we visited some of the best places to go in Belgium!
1. Brussels: There’s More than One Way to Make a Waffle
Jon loved the strong Belgian beers, and I was extremely happy that every meal consisted of a pot of mussels. Waffle stands were around every corner! Although there were a number of ways to spruce up a Belgian waffle (chocolate, Nutella, whipped cream, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, or all of the above combined), we decided that we thoroughly enjoyed the plain version, which had some caramelized sugar on it, providing a welcomed light crunchiness.
We spent Friday walking around the main area of Brussels. Here, we saw the Grand Place, a beautiful central market square where you’ll find most people admiring the extraordinary buildings or relaxing on a terrace with a beer or waffle. We also saw “Manneken Pis,” a 1618 bronze sculpture of a naked little boy urinating into a fountain.
2. Old-World Charm in Bruges
On Saturday we took the train to Bruges, a very popular destination that looks and feels like it’s suspended in the medieval time period. Horse drawn carriages, whitewashed cottages, and smooth canals speckle the city, as well as small restaurants and shops to lure tourists in.
We climbed 366 steps of the belfry, a bell tower in the historical center, and had gorgeous views of Bruges. We also walked through the begijnhof, which are small cottages established in the 13th century as homes for a Catholic order of single and widowed women. Now they are homes to Benedictine nuns.
3. Views in Ghent
From Bruges, we took the train to Ghent and enjoyed the old time buildings. We also climbed the belfry in Ghent and once again were able to see beautiful views of the city and of the cathedral. On a stroll, we stopped at the Waffle Factory where the first waffles were made! Yes, we enjoyed a couple of our own.
We returned to Brussels for dinner and of course had some mussels and fries. Later on, we went to a bar where people singing along to typical American party songs.
After midnight it got a little… weird. People started to dance on the tables, including a guy wearing bunny ears and a pink inner tube. Naturally, Jon and I had to join in and dance to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” since we were the only ones still on the ground. Good times.
4. History and Culture in Antwerp
Antwerp was on our agenda for Sunday. The weather was poor, but we spent the time walking around the city. We checked out the cathedral, the water, and the old buildings in the historic center. We had to catch our plane, so after a quick fry stop (where I was yelled at by the mean Dutch fry lady for spilling ketchup on the counter.. she made me cry!) and a train ride, and we were back in Brussels.
While we enjoyed our time in Belgium, it’s the first time we don’t have a strong urge to return. Despite this, the country provided us with fun experiences, delicious food, and an insight to another culture that we appreciated and will always remember!