by popular demand because Sam asked me to help out with another blog.
We checked out Belgium for about a week – splitting our time between Brussels and Bruges.
I went to Brussels when I backpacked through Europe with my college roommate Jared and it was one of my favorite places. (Speaking of… Jared, do you even read these? Probably not…Some friend you are. Unless you do, of course, then thanks for the support man, love you!)
So needless to say, I was excited to go back and show Sam why I loved it so much.
We stayed in an Airbnb right near the Grand Place, so we had a great location to take on the city by foot.
There were really only a few things on our agenda for Belgium as a whole… and those were beer, waffles and chocolate.
And boy were we successful.
Our first waffle experience came at the hands of Maison Dandoy and they were outstanding. They were about twice the price of any of the other waffles you can get in Brussels, so I’m telling myself they were also twice as good. You can get a few toppings of your choice (note: maple syrup is not one of them) and they’re traditionally thought of as “street food”. We opted for chocolate sauce, strawberries, and powdered sugared… ‘cause duh.
After our waffle appetizer, we ventured to Delirium Cafe thats famous for having over 2,000 beers on tap. Yes, you heard it right, 2,000. We snagged a spot outside in the alley happily sipping our Delirium Tremens and watching the very interesting clientele that this bar attracted.
Next on our non-existent agenda was to find some dinner. We settled into a French restaurant called Chez Jacques right before the kitchen closed to take down some mussels.
After dinner, we hunted for some Belgian fries to top off our day.
FUN FACT: French fries actually originated in Belgium. After WWI, US soldiers were in Belgium and experienced these fries for the first time. As it turns out, people in this part of Belgium happened to speak French. And in true American Ignorance, they were dubbed “French Fries” (kinda makes the whole “freedom fry” campaign sound even dumber, huh?).
Now, I could go on and on about how many fries and waffles we ate, but I’ll spare you all the details because the bottom line is they’re all delicious. Instead, here is a list of some of our other favorite spots in Brussels:
1. View of the Grand Palace from Mont des Arts
2. Hanging out at the Grand Place- it’s a huge square surrounded by opulent buildings that make it feel very regal.
3. Wandering through Brussels Park
Also on our agenda in Brussels was to visit the must-see yet rather underwhelming “Mannekin Pis”. It’s a statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain. And that’s all I have to say about that.
On that same day, Beligum was playing in the World Cup. And the scene was incredible. The bar scene in Brussels is always cool, as people file inside and outside of bars and restaurants – creating a fun buzz throughout the city.
But with the World Cup, it was especially cool. I sat at bar waiting for Sam and there were flags flying, drummers drumming, and crowds chanting. Every miss, slide tackle, or goal the crowd went wild. If you ever have a chance to visit Europe during the World Cup – go. Even the most passionate Pats fan can’t rival Europeans and their futbol.
I’d say one of the reasons why I like Brussels so much is because it’s one of those cities where it’s not bursting with tons of tourists since there aren’t many iconic sites to see. Instead it has a very livable feel. I could totally live here. Sam, thoughts?
So, I’m not sure Brussels earned it’s spot into one of Sam’s favorite cities like it has mine – but our next stop sure did. Onto Bruges!
Bruges actually looks like a fairy tail come to life. All the buildings are colorful and have the triangle rooftops that make them all look like real life gingerbread houses.
There are rivers and canals and bridges that put Venice to shame.
And of course, there is more beer, waffles and chocolate.
One of my favorite meals of the entire trip occurred in Bruges – and it didn’t have anything to do with Belgian delicacies. We went to this tiny 5 table restaurant that looked like it could be somebody’s home called Cafe t’Stokershuis. The owner spoke to us in Flemish (similar to Dutch), which we understood not one word. We were told to order the homemade lasagna, and so we did.
And it was bomb. You could tell it was homemade because it actually took like 45 minutes to make – but it was worth every minute. SO GOOD.
Hi, it’s Sam. Andy requested that I finish the blog since I LOVED Bruges so much, so here I am.
Quick side story. Andy and I played a little game before we got to Europe in May and each picked 3 cities that we thought would end up being our favorite. Bruges was on my top 3 list and now that we’re done traveling full time, I can reveal that it is still at the top for me.
It was better than I even imagined it to be.
Cobblestone streets, canals zig zagging through them, quaint neighborhoods with the best parks tucked away within them. Our Airbnb was a loft that was at the top of an old “gingerbread style” home. It had a great view of the park and we were lucky enough to have the best seat in the house for 2 live concerts. There was one local Belgian artist, bless her heart, but she had the worst voice we have ever heard. She went on stage at about 10PM and finished her last song at 12AM. If only our cute loft had soundproof windows.
We spent our days in Bruges gallivanting around, in and out of shops, sampling different foods and lounging in the gorgeous parks. I’m pretty sure Bruges was the destination where we both realized we preferred small cities in Europe. Not hating on the big cities like Paris, Rome, London, etc but damn, those small cities have a magical charm that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Question. Did you know that Godiva is headquartered in Belgium and the chocolate is manufactured there? I had no idea. Because there are Godiva’s located in malls across America I’ve always associated the brand with food courts. Little did I know that this brand is highly coveted in Europe and we were indulging in some of the best chocolate in the world, with a side of strawberries of course.
If you find yourself in Belgium, make sure to stop in Bruges for a few days. That little kid inside you, no matter how old you are, will feel like you’re stepping into a land filled with princes & princesses, and you will thank me. I’m sure of it.
I can confidently say it was in Bruges where we realized that fairytale lands really do exist.