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Belgium: Last stop, Bruges then Ghent

After three days in Antwerp we hopped on the train again.

If you haven’t seen the first two instalments of our Belgium adventure, take a look at them here.

The last stops on our Belgium trip were Bruges and Ghent. We decided to just stop in Bruges for the day as it’s only small, then head back to Ghent for the night. Unfortunately we chose to visit Bruges on a day when it rained. All day. Luckily Bruges is so super pretty that it still looked fabulous on a dreary day.

The main square was full of horses ready to take you around Bruges

Every street was lined with beautiful buildings full of intricate details.

Literally every street is full of stunning buildings

As well as the classic Dutch style buildings, there’s a fabulous cathedral. The inside was lovely and light and had the most wonderful stained glass windows.

The whole town is surrounded by a maze of canals which gives the buildings a stunning backdrop. Even on a gloomy day the canals were looking lovely.

After spending six hours strolling around Bruges, we were completely sodden through but well and truly wowed by the beautiful town.

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to the Belgium trains company. We used several trains and they were all super nice, so reasonably priced and on time! (If you’re reading this outside the UK and you’re wondering why I was excited by that, trains in the UK are pretty rubbish.)

The final stop

Our next and final stop of our Belgium adventure was Ghent. I didn’t know much about the city before visiting but a quick google search before going revealed it was going to be a stunner.

We were really lucky to be staying in a hotel right in the centre by the cathedral so we could walk straight out of the door and start sightseeing. It’s the perfect size for walking around but there’s also a small electric minibus that takes you around the city for free. Similar to Bruges, Ghent has gorgeous canals running through the streets. The weather was much kinder to us here so the reflection of the buildings on the water was stunning.

About every two minutes I had to stop to take a photo because everywhere is so photogenic!

Sorry to keep repeating myself here, but honestly the buildings everywhere were just so beautiful!

A happy place to be

What I loved most about Ghent was the atmosphere. Bruges was lovely but it very much felt like a touristy place, whereas Ghent felt like a real city. It’s got such history to it and has overcome so much in the past and you can somehow feel that in the air.

If you’re interested in medieval history, the castle has lots of stories to tell.

The inside of the buildings are just as stunning. The cathedral interior is designed in the classic Flemish style which can be seen all over Belgium.

They had some lovely old shops in some of the buildings too. This cute building housed a fabulous sweet shop selling traditional Belgian treats. Sadly it was closed when we visited but the window display was great.

As well as all the historic architecture, there’s a contemporary edge to the city. The university city has some brilliant independent artist shops and this famous graffiti alley which will be different every time you visit.

Ghent really is such a wonderful place. If you visit anywhere in Belgium, make it Ghent! It has a slight hidden gem vibe about it so it’s not completely overrun with tourists yet.

After two days in Ghent it was back to the UK for us. If you’re thinking “But wait, what about the food you had when you were away?”, don’t worry! The food was so fabulous in Belgium I’ve decided to dedicate a whole blog post to the subject. Stay tuned for the final Belgium post all about food coming soon…

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Belgium: First stop, Brussels

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Belgium.

It’s a country I’d never been to before but I had wanted to visit for a long time. We flew out from Manchester to Charleroi airport and our first stop on the tour was Brussels.

The first thing that struck me about Brussels was how beautiful the architecture was! I had always thought of Brussels as a business city but of course there is an old town with incredible buildings. The main square is a great place to start; you could even do a tour in a horse and carriage.

One of the main icons of the city is this peeing statue. There seem to be many stories as to how it became such a famous landmark, but whatever the reason is, he’s a very popular guy. You’ll see the crowd of people as you walk up the street so you can’t miss him. We were lucky to catch him in a special outfit which was really fun to see.
There’s even a huge street art shrine to him just around the corner…

Speaking of street art, this fab Tintin mural is hidden in plain sight on the main route through the old town.

Step in to a museum

Just up from the statue is the fashion and lace museum. This is well worth a visit if you’re at all interested in fashion. While we were there they had an exhibition on about the back of garments which was an interesting take on fashion that I hadn’t seen before. It was great that you could get up so close to the designer clothes and see the progression through history.

This exhibition is a temporary collection but the main lace exhibition is also fascinating. You would not believe how many different types of lace there are! Most of the exhibits have an English explanation if you’re French isn’t up to much and there are loads of examples to see.

Moving on from the museum, there’s so much to explore in the older part of town. Belgium has some amazing churches and cathedrals with stunning stained glass windows. The colours are so bold and bright.

Another place that I would recommend visiting is the museum of musical instruments. This is a fascinating place if you’re in to your music, or even if you only have a vague interest in music. The place is chockablock full of instruments from all over the world, going back years. Just resist the urge to play any of them!

If nothing else, it’s worth visiting for the view over Brussels. Even on a cloudy day it was great!

After two days of walking our feet off, it was on to Antwerp next. Stay tuned for the Antwerp blog post coming soon!