We had to bid London a fond farewell for the next chapter of our travels. Day 3 was a bit of a chaotic one: waking up at 6am, beating the rush of Londoners queuing for trains, patiently wait in customs, and catching the EuroStar to Brussels. We’ve been fortunate with timing thus far, so let’s keep it that way!
To train from London to Brussels takes approximately two hours. We didn’t realize that the seats we had reserved online gave us a lovely view of the carriage wall. (Pro tip: Avoid reserving seats in Carriage 17, seats 51 to 54).
Parts of Brussels remain a very eclectic city. Every step you take on the cobblestone roads is history preserved at its finest. Our hotel was a stone’s throw away from the Royal Palace of Brussels – a stroll we took several times. It is symbolically the home of the Belgian monarchy (yes, they have a King and Queen, too), but it is not used as a residence. The gates and streets of the Royal Palace were virtually empty – a stark contrast to the mass crowds that gather outside Buckingham Palace.
Our primary destination in Brussles was the Grand Place (Grote Markt in Dutch). It is Brussels’ central square and a major hub for tourists and locals alike! One can find everything from acclaimed Belgian chocolates, to beers, waffles, and Vivian’s favourite: Belgian fries (or frites). Asides from food, there’s also supermarkets, post offices, the city hall, and museums. For me, however, it was the buildings that really caught my attention. Pictures alone don’t do them any justice! Standing in the middle of the square, you can’t help but marvel at the detailed architecture and take in the sounds of Belgium.
I ought to mention that it was at the Grand Place where I had the best fries in my entire life. Complimented by a generous serving of mayonnaise, the Belgian fries (briefly seen in the video below) literally melted in my mouth. Not sure how it’s even possible, but I don’t think I can go back to eating normal fries in Vancouver anymore. “Anything less will be uncivilized”, I decree!
On the second day of our visit to Belgium, we took a day trip out to the medieval town of Bruges. If you’ve seen the movie “In Bruges” starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Ralph Fiennes, you’re probably inclined to jokingly ask me, “What’s there to do in f*cking Brugge?!” Lots, I can assure you. Lots. I’ll elaborate in another post, but I can easily assert that my visit was much more enjoyable and appreciated than Ray’s! (the name of Colin Farrell’s character.)
Much like Brussels, Bruges left me awestruck. This little town met just about every fairy tale criteria found in old Disney movies. Several buildings date back to the 17th century, bridges reach over canals around nearly every corner, streets are paved with cobblestone and brick, all the cathedrals house remarkable stained glass windows, and the toll of bells can be heard ever so often. Admittedly, it was extremely difficult for me to rest my camera in Bruges!
Keeping track of time was another challenge I found in this gorgeous town. With so many shops, cathedrals and museums that fill the streets, one can’t help but visit all of them. However, it might seem like you’ve spent hours in these destinations only to realize that it’s only been a few minutes. I never thought I’d be saying this, but it felt like I was trapped in time! Finding food to eat was another hurdle, but we knew we couldn’t go wrong with crepes and another serving of frites.
Training back to Brussels from Bruges was only about an hour long, but having spent the entire day on our feet walking about, any mode of transport was a luxury. I’ll be signing off here and resume updates at my new destination: Paris, France.
I’ll leave you wanderers with a Belgian teaser vlog video made by Vivian. I hope you enjoy it!
(WARNING: Delicious Belgian waffle co-stars in the video).
Don’t forget to check back to catch future summaries of our EuroTrip (time and WiFi connection permitting, of course). Meanwhile, we welcome you to ‘follow’ us on Twitter and ‘like’ us on Facebook. Our updates on either of those channels are more frequent!