Hello there! Today I’m back with the third recap of my recent trip to Europe! If you missed my first two recaps you can find them here:
I hope you guys are still enjoying reading these because I’m having a lot of fun writing them. Today’s recap is another long one and an alternative title could have been “The Time I Drank All The Beers.” Ready? Here we go!
On Tuesday morning, Fabio and I were up bright and early to make a day trip from Ghent to Brugge! Brugge is only about 30 minutes away from Ghent by train, making it the perfect destination for a day trip. The train tickets are interchangeable throughout the day, so even though we bought a ticket for 10:00 am we could have gotten on the train at any time. I love that we didn’t feel rushed at all!
Once we arrived in Brugge we quickly settled in for some breakfast, which featured waffles of course! #WhenInBelgium
Once we were fueled up, we once again turned to our trusty travel book from Rick Steves and began exploring the beautiful old city. First up was a trip up the bell tower!
It cost us less than 10 euros to climb the tower and although we had to wait in a bit of a line to enter (they only allow about 40 people up the tower at a time) it moved quickly. After just five minutes of waiting, we began our ascent. The steps were super steep and narrow, and it was really hard allowing people to come down as we went up. We really wanted to make it to the top of the bell tower at the top of the hour so we could hear the bells ring, so we took the 350ish stairs pretty quickly. Phew! This was definitely a workout.
Eventually we made it to the top in time to hear the bells toll! It was really, really loud and very cool. I loved it! The views from the top were amazing too.
After climbing back down the bell tower (which was also tricky), our walking tour with Rick took us to some of the other major sights in Brugge including the Burg square…
The old fish market…
…and of course the Church of our Lady with a Michaelangelo sculpture!
Funny side story: While we walked around Brugge we saw a bunch of people following the same walking tour in the Rick Steve’s book. We kept bumping into them everywhere and followed the same people around all day! One of the stops required us to go into the Crowne Plaza Hotel and ask the receptionist if we could see the old ruins in their basement. Apparently the hotel was only allowed to build on that location if they allowed visitors to view the ruins whenever they want. This attraction wasn’t very well publicized at all, and when we got down to the basement we met another couple following Rick’s walking guide. I bet the only people who go down there have Rick’s book! Haha!
Toward the end of our walking tour we arrived at the Brugse Zot brewery, which was on the top of Fabio’s list for must-see Brugge attractions. We quickly booked a tour with the brewery and sat down to wait for our turn.
The tour itself was really cool, and we loved hearing all about how this beer is made right in Brugge. In the old days, they used to deliver bottles of the beer to people in the morning – sort of like milk bottles used to be delivered. I’ll take one overnight order of beer please! 😉
We also got to head up to the roof of the brewery to see where the smoke used to come out when they used to roast the malt themselves. It was another gorgeous view!
After the tour was over we were treated to two of the blonde beers, which were delicious.
Next we tried the double beer, then the triple beer, and then decided our trip wouldn’t be complete without trying their fourth beer, the quadruple, as well. At this point we were pretty tipsy – especially since each beer was stronger than the last – but we were happy that we had tried all the beers made at the brewery. When we told the waiter that we had tried them all he looked at us with something akin to pity and told us that they actually had a fifth beer out for the summer. Ahh! We thought we had tried them all! He was then nice enough to bring us one of the summer beers to share (for free!) so we could really say we tried them all. Phew! #AllTheBeers
We were feeling pretty good at this point (no surprise there) so we finished up our walking tour with a bit of a beer buzz. 🙂 I honestly can’t remember any of the history about this lake or this house, except that it was beautiful and there were swans. Haha!
Our tour ended back at the main square, and Fabio and I enjoyed walking around for a bit longer before we decided to call it a day and head back to Ghent.
What a fun day trip!
Later on in Ghent we enjoyed dinner at a delicious meatball place and then headed to a bar for – drumroll – some more beers. (More! Ah!)
Honestly I was pretty beered out by this point, but the atmosphere of the bar was really fun!
Fabio was on a mission to try all the Belgian Trappist beers (special beers made by monks that have all these specifications) so I had fun trying those with him even though they weren’t beers I would normally enjoy.
We wrapped up our beer-tastic day with a gorgeous stroll around the canals.
Seriously, how pretty is this city?
I think Ghent might have been my favorite place we visited. It was just so unexpectedly beautiful!
On Wednesday morning we headed off to Brussels! It was another quick train ride, so we arrived bright and early and ready to explore. We once again brought Rick Steves along for the trip and followed his walking tour around the city.
After the medieval beauty of Ghent neither one of us were honestly that impressed with Brussels, which felt like it had all the dirt and grime of New York City but without all the charm. It was pretty for sure, but I think we both enjoyed the smaller cities like Ghent and Brugge better when it came to Belgium.
Naturally we had to stop and see the Manneken Pis – Brussels’ famous statue of a peeing boy – but we found it totally underwhelming and weird. Why is this their most famous statue?!?
During our walking tour we got hungry for lunch, so we turned to Rick for a suggestion. Like usual, he didn’t disappoint! We found a cute little walk-up fish bar in the middle of the cute St. Catherine neighborhood.
I have to say that the closer to France we got, the better the food became! Fabio enjoyed some perfectly cooked kibbeling (white fish) and I had some amazing shrimp croquettes. Delish!
This lunch was easily the highlight of our time in Brussels. It was SO good!
Once our walking tour was done we spent the rest of the afternoon meandering around and trying a few different chocolates and waffles.
I wound up getting a plain waffle at the Waffle Factory and it was the best one I ate during the whole trip! Perfectly warm, fresh, and delicious.
I’ll take one of those now, please.
For dinner we went to Fin de Siecle, a traditional Belgian restaurant that was recommended to us by a couple of different friends. The food was delicious and we loved the atmosphere. It was definitely a good dinner spot.
After dinner it was time for – what else – more beers. We headed over to Delirium village, a collection of bars that got recommended to us by every person we know who has ever been to Brussels.
Delirium has the world record for the bar with the most types of beer sold, and I believe it. Just look at this menu!
Fabio started playing a game where he flipped through the book and then placed his finger randomly on a page to decide which beer he wanted. It was a fun game, but we wound up with some pretty gross beers in my opinion. (Cherry beer? No thanks.)
We wound up meeting two girls from Australia who I instantly bonded with, and then we left the bar once they got cozy with two guys from Ireland. The bar was so international!
After two long days of exploring and overloading on beer, I was perfectly happy to head back to our Air BnB rather early. I was also really happy that we were headed to France the next day and didn’t have to drink any more beer! Woohoo!
Final thoughts on Belgium: I really enjoyed the smaller cities in Belgium (Ghent & Brugge) as opposed to the bigger ones (Brussels). I also really liked seeing how the culture changed as we moved south. When we started our trip up in the Netherlands, everyone spoke Dutch and English and had a very easy-going attitude. The culture was also like this in Ghent and Brugge, but in Brussels (which is further south) everyone spoke French and the culture was more similar to the French. Historically, Belgium has had a huge clash between the French and the Dutch, and I thought it was really interesting to see how these differences continue today.
Question of the day: What’s your favorite beer?