I’ve ticked yet another country off my list! It is… Belgium.. Yes, even though I have lived a maximum 5 hour drive away, I’ve never felt the urge or need to go there. I mean – Belgium? What the hell is there even to see (especially if you also don’t really like the movie “In Bruges”)?
Well, the opportunity came up and I found myself heading west, towards the land of French Fries (shouldn’t it be Belgium Fries then?), waffles, chocolates and beer – although being from Bavaria I cannot really be impressed by any other foreign beer plus I am a wine drinker..
I had learned my first lesson when I parked my car on the street near my B&B in Ghent, ready to pay 3.50 EUR (like 3.80 $) for a 24 hour ticket. Happy with the cheap parking deal I put 4 EUR in the machine and expected it to figure out that I want to purchase the maximum of 24 hours.. that’s how it works in Germany at least. But not so much in Belgium, since it gave me a ticket for 2 and a half more hours. Plus it didn’t give me 50 cents back. Pretty confused I stood there, staring at the Belgian Dutch words (not too hard to read for a German) until I figured out you actually have to press a certain button to get the day ticket, which I did, spent another 4 EUR without it giving me back the change again. And so I started my city trip by being ripped off by a machine…
Anyway, Ghent turned out to be really awesome (just as my co-worker had recommended-Thankyou!). Old historical buildings, spacious churches, nice river walks. Hip cafés, shops, eateries and bars. Actually everybody and everything there was pretty hip. When you travel around and meet Belgians and you wonder if they all are as hip and stylish as the individual in front of you – Yes, they are!
Ghent is a student city, so people just swarmed out, sat by the river in groups, had pic-nics, drank wine and beer… Laughed and chatted.. Shortly said, the atmosphere was vibrant. I joined right in, tried out local foods and drinks and went shopping (and from now on only want to shop there)…
Next day I checked out Europe’s capital city, which reminded me a bit of Madrid. Again, really cool architecture and nice back alleys – just a wee bit colder then Spain :). A good place to walk around and suck in the city’s spirit. Only down side for me – it has been really – really, really – crowded and packed in some areas, not to say, over floated with tourists. Which in the end shows what an awesome place Brussels is and maybe on weekdays things are a little quieter.
We got an amazing hotel deal on HRS – 66 EUR per night in the New Hotel Charlemagne, located in the European quarter. Nice area, two stations away from the city center. Free parking!! Big, stylish rooms. I loved it – good place to stay, which I can highly recommend!
Do I want to explore more of Belgium? Yes, please!