I started writing this blog on the 3rd day of our Be–Lux trip, on the train to the Luxembourg City (from Brussels), in a compartment full of luggage & filled with young children yelling at each other in disguise, an old man surrounded by these kids and literally near to being pissed off, a woman sitting on the next seat with the weirdest possible look (with anger in her face…not sure of the reason though), a perfect sunny autumn weather outside and current stop being Ottignies! May be not-so good time & place to write down your experiences. Hence, I decided to enjoy the scene and outdoor scenery instead of staring at the laptop!
Our 9 days autumn trip to Belgium & Luxembourg (no Netherlands and that’s why I have named it as Be–Lux) was from 25th Oct till 2nd Nov with cities being covered were: Bruges, Brussels & Dinant in Belgium and Luxembourg City & Ecthernach in Luxembourg. 3 cities out of 5 were obvious choices and two others were result of my research about the countries. We decided Ecthernach mainly from hiking perspective and Dinant -being small town and in order to avoid usual stuff.
We flew out from Copenhagen to Brussels with Brussels Airlines on a morning flight. The flight was comfortable and on time. We had to travel to Bruges from the Brussels Airport. The fastest way was to take a train from the airport to Brussels city and then change to other train at any one of the three important Brussels train stations (east, center or west). We inquired a bit about some cards & passes which we can use in our 7-day trip, but all of them came out to be pricey!
Hopped on to the train to Brussels Nord and from there took the regional train towards Bruges. The whole train journey was quite boring becuase of the heavy fog! But as soon as we entered Bruges, the clouds opened up and there it was – The Sun! And thereafter we had the pleasure to have sunny weather throughout our Bruges trip. We were in Bruges for 2 days and the temperature for those two days was hovering around 15º C. Pretty much good for the autumn times. Took the bus from the Bruges train station to our accommodation. The place was pretty close to old town (10 minutes by walk).
In general Bruges is a very small city to explore. But again within that “small” lies old medieval houses, cobblestone streets, variety of local beers, their local cuisine, canals & bridges, Grote Market, The Belfary and churches and few UNESCO sites. The fun part – to see ladies trying to survive the cobblestones on stilts 🙂
We started off our Bruges exploration by taking some snaps along side canal and walking down towards Gorte Market from our apartment.
Before we entered the Gorte Market area, we decided to re-fuel ourselves. Found a pastry salon close to the market ‘Van Mullem Servaas Patisserie Salon‘. Everything we ordered were really good.
After that continued our towards Market, Steenstraat and various other surrounding streets, had Steffan Henrik beer at De Halve Mann brewery & visited the lake of love aka The Minnewater. By then, it was already sunset time.
For the dinner, we founded one traditional restaurant near our apartment – ‘t Gezelleke. They had the different dishes for each day. The owner itself was the attender and were very welcoming and friendly. Deepa had shrimp croquettes and I ordered myself some sort of fish soup (completely forgot the name!) along with that we had couple of local beers. The food tasted really good and had the real Belgium taste.
After the dinner we decided to walk towards the other side of the city, the windmill region. It was great! There was merely no one out their, which meant that we had the place to ourselves and nearly-no-wind and dim lighting was making it a perfect autumn-night walk!
Next day started with a decision to have breakfast in one of the Cafe in front of the Belfry. The food was pricey and didn’t look good. Got over with that quickly and queued up to enter Belfry to grab some bird eye’s view of the city. We had to wait at least 45 minutes in the line to get into, but it was worth waiting for! The views from the top were just spectacular.
Once down, it was the time for some Belgian fries from one of the stalls from the ‘Battle of the Fries’ corner & waffels from one of the mobile shops, they were really good….
Next task was to find the hidden frog in the bronze statue. Since not many people knew about the frog kissing story, the crowd was watching us in anticipation and finding out what-the-hell are we doing! I left it to them to figure that out 😉
Happy after kissing the frog, continued towards Ten Wijngaerde Beguinage, a UNESCO world heritage site and later on towards Kruispoort and Dampoort city gates to visit the windmills. I got the chance to hop onto top of the windmill. Though climbing on that was a bit adventurous becuase of some pretty old, small & broken stairs, the view to other side of the city was really beautiful.
Had the dinner at the Cambrinus which was very near to Gorte Market. They had some really nice collection of their in-house beers, with alcohol percentage of around 10-11% ….. o..O
Ended the day & the Bruges trip with a Belgian Oliebol.
Bruges is also known as ‘Venice of the north’ and once you visit the city, it would be clear why it has been given that name. It’s a great city with lovely people. The locals were happy to greet us, were very welcoming and had a helping attitude.
I referred the map from Use-it for the complete Bruges Trip. They really have some nice recommendations and thoughts along with some great local tips. I would definitely recommend to use them. They have the same for a lot of other cities as well.