First weekend getaway: check!
I spent Valentine’s weekend treating myself to Belgian chocolate and waffles in one of the most intact medieval cities in the world- Bruges, Belgium. Not a bad way to celebrate, I must say.
There were nine of us in our group, four travelled by car while five travelled by train (myself included). Our train left a little after noon on Friday, we first switched trains in Rotterdam, then had a stop in Roosendaal where we spent a few hours exploring waiting for our next train. It can be very inexpensive to take a train throughout The Netherlands if you have a big enough group going, they offer group tickets and the more people who are in the group, the cheaper it is. There also happened to be a discounted weekend train deal in Belgium that we took advantage of, but that left us waiting for three hours in Roosendaal. It was pouring down rain while we roamed around looking for some place to eat. We finally found a place that looked promising, with a menu that didn’t look terribly expensive. The restaurant looked quaint and charming, murals on the walls and lovely architecture. It wasn’t until we raised our eyes to the ceiling did we question where on earth we had stumbled in to. The ceiling was covered in what I can only describe as dollar store circus decorations. Clowns and plastic streamers were plastered all over in a way that you couldn’t see even a speck of the ceiling above them. Decorations aside we got some good food and were ready to tackle the rest of our journey. From Roosendaal we had a short train ride in to Belgium where we had one transfer in Antwerp. I never would have expected the beauty I would lay my eyes on when I stepped out of the train…
I was awe-struck by this train station, what an incredible sight. Our group was so impressed by the inside we had to check see the outside
We only had about 40 minutes between trains so we weren’t able to see much, but I was impressed by what little I was able to see!
From Antwerp we got lucky and wound up with a private corridor on the train all to ourselves. We utilized that time to play the card game President which made the time fly by. After over 10 hours of travelling we were finally able to say we were “In Bruges”!
(Brugge and Bruges are one in the same, Brugge is the Dutch spelling whereas Bruges is the French)
Bruges is stunning by night- quiet, peaceful, and lovely.
Saturday was for exploring, we spent all day walking around taking in the medieval beauty. We took a canal tour through the city which was wonderful. Explored the Choco-Story Chocolate Museum and enjoyed a demonstration that ended with a complementary Praline (truffle). I must say, I don’t believe I have ever had a more delicious piece of chocolate. Hot chocolate is a different experience in Belgium. They steam milk then attach a few pieces of chocolate on the end of a stick that you stir into the hot milk. Incredible, that’s all I have to say. Belgian waffles were a must, they aren’t kidding around when the Belgians claim authority on waffles. They weren’t hard to come by either; whether in a tea room, restaurant, or on the side of the street being served out of a VW van, waffles were not in short supply. Fun fact: It was actually Belgium that created fries, not France. Why they are called French fries is beyond me, but we got some authentic frites in the city center.
Our hostel turned out very nicely, it was very inexpensive at 14 Euro a night, breakfast and linens included. It was clean, well-kept, and secure. Saturday night we had a small world moment when we started talking to a group of people who were sitting in the common room. Turned out we were all exchange students studying in The Netherlands, travelling to Belgium for the weekend. Four people were studying in Utrecht, two in Amsterdam, then the nine of us in Groningen. All stretches of The Netherlands represented, what are the odds!
Sunday it was time to head back home. We spent the morning doing a little bit more exploring, then hopped on the train. We decided that morning to take a detour in Brussels for a few hours. What a great decision that turned out to be! Brussels is STUNNING. I didn’t get to see much of it, but what I did see had me in awe.
This is the world-famous, world-renowned, admired and adored – Manneken Pis. Although truly incredible to see in person with my own eyes, I got a kick out of how tiny it is. Even more entertaining is how chocolate sculptures replicating this famous little sculpture are 10 times the size of it in actuality.
Overall it was a truly lovely and enjoyable weekend. Belgium is now officially the third country in the world I have been to, keep them coming Europe!
“My favorite thing to do is to go where I’ve never been.” -Diane Arbus