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?