Overview

Perhaps because it was the first European country in which we really spent time after leaving Africa, Belgium amazed us.  With its idyllic town squares and its many-colored buildings, its delicious beer, its perfect french fries and the feeling we found there of finally being someplace familiar, we could’ve spent much more time here than our schedule allowed.  Given that we’d visited in the high season, some of the most quaint towns, like Bruges and Ghent, were loaded with tourists.  They were, however, still endlessly charming.

Interestingly enough, Belgium itself is currently in the midst of some serious political turmoil; its prime minister recently resigned, which put him at odds with the king, who is still a player in the country’s unwieldy bureaucracy.  Belgium’s two populations, the French and the Flemish, are largely divided; they speak different languages and have their own representatives in government.  Although each group is fiercely proud of its heritage, however, they still get along fairly well.  No matter the political situation, Belgium is a very easy place to travel.  And it’s only the size of Maryland (!?!), so most of its sights are within easy reach.

Blog Entries We Wrote

  • To see all the blog entries we wrote about this country, please click HERE.

Pictures We Took

  • To see some of the pictures we took in this country, please click HERE.

Cities/Areas We Visited

Bruges (June 29-30, 2008)
Ghent (June 30, 2008)

BELGIU-W1 copy_edited-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places We Stayed

  • Hotel Cavalier (June 29-30, 2008): We stumbled upon this place after realizing that a lot of the budget options in Bruges were (1) not really budget, in that they cost at least $200 a night, and (2) full.  At about $100 a night for three of us (Shane, Shanna and Derek), this was much more affordable. Although it was definitely not the nicest place we’ve stayed, it was very centrally located, and the price included breakfast.
Hotel Cavelier - our hotel in BrugesOur hotel - Hotel Cavalier - in Bruges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Places We Ate

Bruges

  • Belgian Waffle Stand: This street-side waffle stand served up a piping-hot, sweet-smelling Belgian waffle, on top of which a mound of Nutella was slowly melting.  Perfect.
delicious Belgian waffle with nutella in Bruges

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • L’Estamint: This was one of the few places that was still open by the time we were ready to eat dinner.  It didn’t have the mussels and fries we’d been hoping for, but Derek and Shane’s lasagna was good, and Shanna’s goat cheese salad, which was the house specialty, was fantastic and definitely large enough to be its own meal.
Where we had a late dinner in BrugesSalad and lasagna in Bruges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Ghent

  • Restaurant De Graslei: Shanna will always remember this riverside cafe as the place where she lost her beloved Nalgene (her water bottle).  In spite of being the site of such a tragedy, the food was pretty good, especially Shanna’s grilled sardines and Derek’s beef stew.  Shane, however, paid about $20 for 3 shrimp, which definitely weren’t worth the price.  If you come here, be prepared to brave hordes of tourists and to wait a looong time for your food. (We waited about an hour.)
Restaurant De Graslei in Ghent (where Shanna lost her Nalgene)SardinesTraditional beef dish - delicious

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Les Frangines Friterie (near Luxembourg border): We will forever talk about this roadside stand as the location in which we had the best fries we’ve ever tasted in our lives.  The delicious American sauce that came with them only added to our happiness.
Amazing fries (with American sauce) at a roadside Friterie in southern BelgiumAmazing fries (with American sauce) at a roadside Friterie in southern BelgiumAmazing fries (with American sauce) at a roadside Friterie in southern Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things We Did

Bruges

  • Walked around the beautiful old town and the Markt (or Market Square), enjoying its ancient buildings and canals
Sights in the old town of BrugesBeautiful buildings and sights of BrugesBrugs at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Climbed the 366 steps to the summit of the Belfry and enjoyed the views over the city with which it rewarded us
Main bell tower in BrugesView from the top of the bell tower in BrugesView from the top of the bell tower in Bruges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghent

  • Walked around the town of Ghent, visiting the massive St. Bavo’s Cathedral
Sights in Ghent, BelgiumSights in Ghent, Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Drove through the windmill-filled countryside and small towns, including the town of Spa
Windmills on the side of the road in Belgium

 

 

 

 

 

 

Country Facts

  • Capital City: Brussels
  • Currency: Euro
  • Exchange Rate: 0.63 Euro to $1 ($1.58 to 1 Euro)