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Belgium Trip May 2019

Here are some notes from our recent trip to Belgium. Hopefully this may help someone in their trip planning.
We flew into Brussels and stayed three days there. Note : We found that the hotels we looked at in Brussels were much cheaper on the weekend than during the week. We stayed Fri , Sat , Sun and the rooms were considerably less than Monday - Thursday.
We really enjoyed Brussels. Great food , Museums , Cafes , People , sights.
The upper town is easy to walk to from the lower town. No need to use public transportation in my opinion.
We explored the lower town on day one , the upper town on day two , and day three went out to Dilbeek and Itterbeek to combine the Breugel walk and the Tour De Geuze ( Lambic brewery open houses that occur every other year for a weekend. ) For bicyclists there is a longer Breugel cycle route as well. We took an Uber to Sint Anna Pede , Where the Breugel walk starts.
Our hotel in Brussels was the Marriott Grand Place. Great location right by the Bourse. I would stay there again.
Ghent : We chose Ghent as our next destination and the hub for the rest of our trip. We could not have been happier. If you take the train to Ghent you will probably get of at St Peters station. To get to the old town you can easily take the tram. They run every few minutes and were reasonable in price, I think 3 Euro or you can get a pass that may work better for your situation.
I really enjoyed Ghent. Beautiful town , great atmosphere . Oh Yeah , the fine art museum is nearer to the Train Station than the old town, so if you are going there, keep that in mind. We stayed at a house in the old town , and picked up stuff at he market for breakfasts.
Antwerp : I thought that the Cathedral was awesome. Currently , the fine art museum there is closed , so some of the art is spread out over different places. There is a good amount of it in the cathedral , so that was kind of cool. (Not to mention all of the regular masterpieces that are there all the time anyway.)
There seemed to be a lot of construction going on all over Antwerp right now. There was scaffolding all over the Town Hall with a big cover/facade over it. The cover had a big picture of the town hall so you could get the idea of what it looks like. Also scaffolding on the castle, but you could still see the castle.
I still enjoyed Antwerp, and would recommend it. Especially the Cathedral. The Rubens House was cool too.
Special Note: Train fron Ghent to Antwerp - Our journey got interrupted due to a train incident between the two cities. The transportation authority got everyone off of the train and onto buses, then bypassed where the incident was and put us back on the train. Our return trip had to be re routed through brussels so it took a bit longer. I have to say that I thought the transportation people were all very helpful , professional, and polite.
Brugges : Very beautiful with some great sights. Also very touristy. We went on a Saturday and the market was going so that was nice.
We also got to see the vial of Christ's blood and say a prayer standing over it at he Basilica of the Holy Blood. I do not know if that is a normal thing there , so if that is something that appeals to you , you may want to look into it. I believe Rick talks about it in his book and it is not an everyday thing. I think we just got lucky.
All in all , I very much liked Belgium and all of the places we visited. Great food , Art , Beer , People and sights. I don't think you could go wrong choosing Brussels , Ghent , or Brugges as your home base. For us , Ghent worked really well. If you have any questions I will try to answer them.

Posted by
7825 posts

Yep. Belgium is under rated. Check out Dinant and the St Bernadus brewery bed and breakfast in Watou next time.

Posted by
15802 posts

Nice report, John. :O)

A fan of Belgium here as well! We enjoyed Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp very much - as you reported, great food, art, beer and architecture - and would like to explore more of the country next time. Very friendly people!

Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges: the faithful can worship its storied relic, "Daily after mass, from 11.30 am to noon (also on Mondays) and in the afternoon from 2 pm to 4 pm."

Posted by
195 posts

Thank you for the trip report! We will be visiting Brussels and Bruges in August. Do you have any good restaurant tips, or food-related tips in general (favorite fries, chocolates, waffles, etc.)?

Posted by
14 posts

Kathy: thank you for the update on the Basilica.
Adrienne: in my opinion , the following were highlights :
Fries : best I had were Frites Atelier in Ghent.
Waffles: Madison Dandoy in Brussels. Try both styles - Brussels and Liege.
Cafes : (more for beer and atmosphere)
A La Mort Subite Brussels
La Becasse Brussels
Toone in Brussels. ( The one down the little alley off of Rue de Boucher’s
Dulle Griet. In Ghent
Bierhuis het Waterhuis Ghent
Restaurants: Aux Arms Du Bruxelles (mussels in the cream broth was amazing )
Kelderke ( The cellar part) was surprisingly good. I had the blood sausage .
Fun Fe Siecle. ( Brussels) excellent
Pakhuis Ghent
Foods : Carbonade , Waterzooi , moules frites,
Endive warped in ham cooked in cream and cheese , fries, waffles, chocolate.
Beer : Trappist Ales , Kwak, Hoegarden, St. Bernardus abbey ales, Lambics ( acquired taste , possibly start with Timmermans Blanche Lambicus and go from there )
Judy : have a great trip

Posted by
105 posts

I do love Belgium. Lucky enough to have a friend who lived in Brussels for a few years, and it was a great place to use as a base.

I really enjoyed the Antwerp Cathedral for the - what did they call it - reunifcation (?) of all of the art pieces that formed the chapels of all the Guilds. Plus that Jan Fabre piece "The Man Who Bears the Cross". Stunning.

Posted by
14 posts

Edit of my earlier post:
For waffles the place I liked was Maison Dandoy , not Madison Dandoy. Apple spell check got me on That.
Also , Restaurant Fin De Siecle in Brussels ( Mentioned in my earlier post) doesn’t take reservations but is well worth the wait.


Posted by
15802 posts

I don't believe I had less-than-delicious wafels or frites anywhere in Belgium. If not for all all the walking, I would have had to buy bigger pants!

I do recall a killer carbonade/stoofvlees at De 7 Schaken in Antwerp. Yum.