Time spent: 2 nights and 2 days
Places Visited: Bruges and Brussels
Friday: Hoping to spend as much time as possible in Belgium we set off on the Eurostar on Friday night from London St. Pancras. With French border control in a pleasant mood I was able to obtain a brand new stamp in the passport. Begging is required.
We arrived promptly in Brussels Midi Station. Feeling tired and ready for bed we headed straight for the metro. A short ride later we were in Louise, and (overestimating my map reading skills) headed down the Long main road towards the hotel… Or so I thought.
Louise by night was a pleasant walk. Charming street lamps, modest nightlife, and high end shops made the walk bearable.
45 minutes of walking later it was clear that I had made a mistake. What should have been a 5 minute walk had taken us 2 miles in the wrong direction. With help from a couple of friendly local women we were put back on track and finally arrived at our hotel – Beau Site.
The man on the reception desk was entirely helpful and welcoming, just what we needed after having dragged our bags around the city. We jumped in the lift, went in the room, took one look at the beds and crashed.
Saturday morning: Rising early we sat down to a big breakfast before setting out on foot to explore Brussels.
Taking our bags with us to save having to go back to the hotel, we grabbed the tram to go and see the Royal Palace of Brussels and it’s gardens.
With the temperature soaring we lingered just long enough to take in the scenery, some selfies, and sun rays. We then crossed the road and began exploring the surrounding gardens. The gardens were lovely. The statues were interesting, the ducks were swimming in the ponds, and the trees offered shade in the sweltering heat. Approaching the Government Office we made a left and headed for St Michael’s cathedral.
St. Michael’s Cathedral is free to enter with the option to make a donation if you would like to. The interior architecture is a beaut. Walking around you can see why it has taken a decade to renovate. The stain glass windows, statues, and gothic style walls are well worth heading inside for.
If you prefer to observe from the outside take a seat on one of the benches in the park opposite and take in its immense size.
By the afternoon Brussels had become rather busy and London-esque, we decided to walk to the Central Station just 3 minutes away and head to Bruges.
With trains departing regularly to Bruges there is never any rush to make the next train. We grabbed a quick snack for the journey and hopped aboard the 50 minute train.
Arriving in Bruges it was clear that we had two options. Taxi or bus. Not wanting a repeat of Louise we opted for a taxi to our hotel ‘Hotel de Pauw’ for 14 euros.
The hotel stands opposite a small church which made navigating there was easy. We checked in, dumped our bags, and started exploring.
Strolling down the river we came across a giant blue whale made from recycled plastic by fluke. The whale is a sad yet true poignant reminder of how our oceans are being destroyed by plastic pollution.
We found ourselves sitting and staring at the whale for a good twenty minutes before continuing on our way towards the market town.
The market square is the perfect place to spend a half day shopping, eating, and exploring. The road leading to the tower are full of restaurants and so we sat down to an early dinner/late lunch.
Feeling full we continued down the road towards the market square where we were greeted with an impressive view of the tower.
We spent to rest of the evening looking around. Walking under the tower gives you an insight into just why Bruges has its UNESCO status. The history museum (the pictured building on the left with the flags) is great for all ages. We even discovered a virtual reality gaming room if you walk straight through the museum to the other side.
After buying some souvenirs we continued to explore the surrounding streets until we needed up in another square. During the summer months free concerts are held in Bruges. Luckily today was one of those days so we grabbed a bench, enjoyed the music, and soaked in the wonderful buildings surrounding the stage. Eventually the heat got the better of us and we headed back towards the river to chill out and then onto the hotel for a well earned sleep. As we walked through the town there was a notable quietness. It seems that everyone hangs around the main square. This wasn’t a problem, but it was eerily silent.
With an early check-out time we rose early and filled up on yet another continental breakfast. With no solid plans for the day I nabbed a couple of bread rolls to feed to the ducks on the river on the way through.
We checked out, took one last look at our church across the road, and went to wake up a little more by the river.
With the swans and ducks of Bruges fed, we decided to head back to Brussels. The quick bus ride back to the station gave just enough time to plan what we were to do in Brussels until our 8pm departure back to England.
We finalised our plans on the train to Brussels. We were going to see the Royal Palace.
After the quietness of Brugge the centre of Brussels was a shock to the system with people flying everywhere. Not wanting to hang around in crowds we marched out of the station and followed the signs for the palace.
There it was! A ten minute walk from the station. Whilst you can go into the palace we opted to admire it from the outside instead picking a nearby restaurant for lunch.
Despite being an obvious trap for tourists we were pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices and large portions. Belgians sure do make an excellent club sandwich!
With our time short we used our last hours people watching, art scanning, and statue observing., before heading back to Midi-Station to await the Eurostar home…
And of course, I asked for a passport stamp!
I hope your time here is equally as lovely.
Bruges:What is it good for?
- Quite strolls down the river
- Leisurely bike rides
- Chocolate shops
- Beer experiences
- Chilled town vibes
Brussels: what is it good for?
- Busy city vibes
- History tours
- People watching
- Chocolate shops