Where to stay
I stayed at Urban City Centre Hostel in Brussels (If you book using this link I get a small commission at no extra cost to you)
Top things to do in Brussels
Eat moules and frites at Chez Leon
Visit the Mannequin Piss
Check out the Grand Place and the Palais Royale
Do a self guided tour of the comic strip decorated walls
Eat some Belgian waffles
When I first decided to leave my host family early I knew I wanted to see as many places as possible in Europe before I left. On my list were Prague, Vienna and Budapest. But when trying to find flights from Porto to Prague there were absolutely no direct flights and most had a stopover in Brussels. So instead of a two-hour stopover, I decided to extend my stopover to two nights. I had said goodbye to Jodi in Porto and would only be meeting up with my friend Amy in Prague two days later so this would be the first time alone in a month. Very weird to suddenly not have a friend around all the time but also nice to just catch up with myself.
I arrived in Brussels around midday and set off to try fit in as much as possible. I walked around hunting for a restaurant, Chez Leon, which apparently had the best moules and frites in Brussels. I eventually found it and enjoyed the traditional dish.
That afternoon I went about checking out all the sights that Brussels had to offer including the tiny Mannequin Piss, the Grand Place, Palais Royale and some comic strip decorated walls. I must say that Brussels definitely didn’t blow me away and to be honest left me a little disappointed.
I had completely forgotten that they spoke French here and so had a quick unexpected french practice session.
The next day I started with a bang getting two absolutely divine Belgian waffles. One with caramel and the other with speculoos. Trying to consume as much delicious Belgian food as possible in two days is no easy feat but I tried my best. Breakfast: two Belgian waffles, lunch: frites, supper; Belgian chocolate and an orange #balanced. I promise the health kick will start the second I touch down in Cape Town, but for now: let the fatty life continue!
Top things to do in Bruges
Admire the colourful houses in the Markt
Wander along the peaceful canals and lakes
Eat some Belgian chocolate
I decided to spend the next day exploring another part of Belgium and so took the hour train to Bruges. I was astounded by how within a short one hour train ride I’d covered an extensive part of this small country and changed languages in the process. Here the most common spoken language is Flemish which is so similar to Afrikaans, it’s ridiculous. The written language is almost identical, it’s just the accent that is quite different. I found it so weird though that my two second languages which I speak pretty fluently: French and Afrikaans, were being spoken in the same country. My language brain kinda freaked out a bit getting the two muddled, but it was interesting to see.
I fell in love with Bruges from the get go and getting lost in the little side streets just stole my heart. I just loved the quaint little doll houses with streets filled with bicycles and oh so pretty canals. It reminded me so much of Amsterdam! I spent the day walking through the town visiting the Markt which was a big square lined with opulent buildings and filled with horse-drawn carriages.
Bruges is a city of canals and so I spent some beautiful, peaceful time walking along their banks and admiring the beauty of the nature that surrounded me. Luscious parks, tranquil canals and white swans.
I absolutely adored Bruges and it really redeemed Belgium for me! For anyone planning on visiting Belgium I recommend you stop over in Bruges and don’t even bother with Brussels.
It was a lovely little interlude before I set off for Prague to meet up with Amy!
If you’re planning on visiting Belgium then you may be wanting to visit the Netherlands as well. Be sure to read my blog posts on Amsterdam: Canal Cruise, Van Gogh Museum And Vondel Park and Canals, Pancakes And The Anne Frank House.