Belgium Planning

I think I need to level the playing field a bit. While I’m obviously excited about going to Paris, the real purpose of the trip is to get to know Belgium, a country I love already without ever having been there just from my millions and millions of visits to Monk’s, a Belgian bar in the city that boasts an encyclopedic array of imported beers, serves authentic pots of mussels and frites served with their housemade spicy mayo, and even has their own Flemish sour ale brewed specifically for them in Ertvelde, Belgium. Also, I love waffles, chocolate, neo-gothic architecture, lambic, and capital cities whose biggest attraction is a whimsical, 700 year old statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain. What, you were unfamilar with the Manekken Pis? Sometimes he is even dressed up in jaunty costumes.

I am beyond thrilled to get to spend so much time exploring the country. We’re staying for two nights in Brussels, two nights in Bruges, a night in Ghent, and a night in the Belgian countryside, hopefully in an old castle. Thankfully, the rail system in Belgium (like most places in Europe) is convenient, fast, and cheap, so getting to and from each city should be a breeze.

For Brussels, just like our hotels in Paris, Boyfriend cashed in some points with Starwood Hotels to land us The Four Points by Sheraton (I’ll try to remember all of this when I complain the next time he goes out of town for work).

Brussels is far less expensive a city than Paris, so even if we hadn’t used points for this hotel, we still could have gotten a great deal on one. I’m already planning which trams to take where, and reading Rick Steves’ book on Brussels & Bruges manically, trying to soak up as much as I can. Just like Paris, Brussels is an extremely walkable city, but unlike Paris, it’s small enough so you can hit the majority of the sights in one day. We have two full days and a morning before we have to leave for the airport.

For our two nights in Bruges, we used airbnb to rent this amazing, furnished apartment in the center of town. I first heard about airbnb through Victoria of SFGirlbyBay, when she wrote about her stay in a beautiful apartment in Le Marais during her trip to Paris last year. Since then I’ve been waiting for an excuse to use the site, and Bruges provided the perfect opportunity. It was cheaper than staying in a hotel, the reviews are absolutely glowing, and Boyfriend is super excited to be able to cook dinner for us. He’s weird, I don’t know. It will be a nice change though, to stay in a house rather than a hotel, and we’ll end up feeling like locals even though we’re only in the city for two days.

There’s still a lot left to do and plan, but a big chunk of stress has been lifted off my shoulders. Once everything is finalized for Ghent and the countryside I’ll let you guys know! Have any of you ever been to Bruges or Brussels before?

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March 15, 2012 / Travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 9

9 comments

  • In my fair city we have a neighborhood called Ghent and a portion of Ghent called the Hague. It’s beautiful here. I’d love to live in *our* Ghent actually because Neel could walk to work and we could walk to the grocery store and shops, etc. Sometimes I feel hemmed in by suburbia. But enough about me. Except, I’d love to go to the real Ghent, not the one that has my Harris Teeter and my hair salon. And brilliant to stay in a furnished apartment! I’m totally going to try that when we get back to Europe.

    I love how minimal European Hotels are too. And the pillows. Oh…the pillows.

  • Very well done, you’re so good at organising! You’d make a great PA. Joking! I mean you would, but you know what I mean.

    I love that terrace, so cute. The flat looks lovely, it’ll be a nice change from hotels. Most of all I like the top of the range massive plasma flat screen tv there on the side. And seriously you’re going to cook??? If you’re not eating in restaurants you should only be allowed du pain, du vin and du boursin. I know it’s belgium but same difference.

    Can’t wait to hear all about it! x

  • Nope never been to Belgium before but may be you can persuade me to visit. You’ve got a great variety of residences here. You know, I’d never have thought of renting an apartment in a city abroad, in my brain it’s reserved for holidaying here in the UK or for longer term abroad. May be it’s that I can’t be arsed to cook when I’m on holiday. I suppose renting somewhere you feel a bit less like a tourist too.

    Getting excited for you x

  • Oh, the apartment looks like the perfect way to go. Don’t get me wrong, you scored another great hotel, but the apartment looks so comfy cozy. You could actually pretend you live there. You may never come back. Can’t wait to see what kind of accommodations you score in Ghent and the countryside.
    PS~The wallpaper in the hotel restaurant is so pretty. Love the red.

  • Exhausted from my very ‘colourful’ day but happy to the rounds and visit the girls:)

    So, I had a belgium boyfriend for many years in my twenties so the novelty has worn off. I can tell you they are a nice, charming and quite lot, with great food and lovely places.

    Airbnb is hit and miss but mostly good and I rather like the apartment you are renting. Boyfriend seems useful so hang on to him! I like renting apartments in Berlin.

    Excitement for you is growing. How will we survive till May?

  • The apartment you are renting is so charming and lovely! I totally heart that spiral staircase. I had never heard of airbnb, but so glad to know about it now. I tell you lady, you are so good at finding great resources…I’m thinking a book should be in your future. Sounds like you are having so much fun planning your trip – can’t wait to hear all about it!

  • Your rental apartment in Bruges looks so cute with the exposed beams. Never made it to Belgium yet but would love to go…The Belgians invented french fries. What’s not to love about that! Great now I’m craving french fries with mayo and it’s only 8am…

  • […] from Ghent! We’re making our way half an hour west to Bruges later, checking in to our rental apartment and trying to locate all the major sites from the movie “In Bruges.” I already have so […]

  • […] in Bruges had any vacancies. We magically landed a night here, literally half a block down from our amazing apartment rental, and it was the best-smelling hotel I’ve ever stayed in.) I sort of wanted to take a train […]