Hey Friends. I skipped yesterday and figured I’d combine it with today, today. We’ve been having an amazing time. But I think the walking and running and enjoying Belgium is catching up with me a bit. So today was about resting a bit. But, before that, yesterday was our tour of Brussels and it was amazing.
It started off with a two mile walk to the train station. For the record, when you book your hotel, being by a train station is always a nice perk. A lot of this trip we’ve been able to use our rental car, which has made us not need the train as much.
We took the train to Brussels because there weren’t good parking options (in Bruges, it only cost 3.50 in Euros to park for the whole day). And it was a pretty quick and smooth ride. We arrived hungry, so found a nice place called Super Bowls and had a big chicken salad and a nice slice of quiche.
And then we set out to take a nice tour of Brussels.
Our first stop was the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Belgium. It was only 10 Euro to get in and the museum featured some great works by Bruegel, some modern art by Wim Delvoye and had many other beautiful paintings. I told Jeremy that this one reminded me of myself, walking the kids over for Hangtime.
The museum was incredibly informative and I learned a lot about this painting “Portrait of the Van Campen Family” by Frans Hals. He was basically a Dutch family portrait artist and the story behind the painting below is that it was cut up and separated for about 200 years before being reunited at this museum. The museum also had other interactive displays where I learned a lot about Bruegel and overall it was a very beautiful museum and an enjoyable experience.
After the museum, we had a waffle, because, well, they are glorious. Also I recognize that I will probably never eat waffles again anywhere else, so I may as well get my share in.
Later on, we also had more frites. These were from a random street shop and they were also the most delicious.
After the treats, we walked to the Grand Place, which is the main city square of Brussels. It’s also by far the most beautiful city square I’ve seen, and thanks to our other travels, we’ve seen a lot.
Before we left, I had made a rock for Andrew Rocks (check it out on Facebook). It’s a group that shares and hides rocks all over the world in honor of Andrew McMorris who is the Manorville boy scout who was tragically killed by a drunk driver last year. We made rocks in our Moms Group and I decided to leave my rock in an amazing place in Brussels, which is exactly what I did.
We wandered the streets a bit after checking out the square. Well, at least we tried to. On an obvious note, cities are not places where you should go if you’re claustrophobic.
On our walk, we stumbled upon this fountain of a Boy relieving himself and it was quite popular to everyone else, so we figured it must be something of interest.
We walked down through the Passage du Nord, and it was basically a beautiful indoor mall filled with the most high end chocolatiers I’ve ever seen. These stores were fancy like jewelry stores, but most of them were selling chocolates instead of jewels.
We stopped in one store, and I picked out a few special ones. I do have to be honest though… we have bought chocolates from a variety of shops since we’ve been in Belgium and honestly I can’t really tell the difference between expensive chocolates or cheaper ones because they are all delicious.
When looking for dinner, we did something we’ve never done. We let ourselves be talked into checking out a restaurant from a man who was in the street, talking people into checking out his restaurant. Usually we are pretty good at avoiding eye contact with these kinds of people but this guy was super good, and turns out his restaurant’s food was super good as well.
After dinner, we stopped by a specialty shop for their homemade speculoos. I tried the cheap store version of them after seeing them around a lot of stores and in a lot of chocolates. They were tasty and they reminded me of the windmill cookies my Grandma always kept in a tin at her house. After Googling around, I realized that windmill cookies are the American version of speculoos. That being said, these handmade speculoos had windmills on them and so we got a small bag and enjoyed every bite.
Everything about our tour of Brussels was fantastic, till we tried heading home and ended up on a train headed towards France instead of Ghent. We found out twenty minutes in when the train attendant who was taking our tickets realized our mistake. She was incredibly helpful though, and gave us a super ticket and dropped us off at the nearest station to catch the next train back. Besides it being a little scary (it was pretty late and dark) and cold, everything worked out fine and we made it back safe and sound.
This morning Jeremy headed out to bike the hills of Flanders again and I found a little local adventure of my own. Yesterday I looked up Belgian thrift stores and was thrilled to learn that there was one only a third of a mile away and it had gotten great reviews.
I was a tiny bit nervous because it was away from all the touristy things, but I found my confidence and just acted like I knew what I was doing and everything was fine.
I have to admit, it was delightful! Not only as it fun to treasure hunt, the prices were absolutely incredible. Most clothing items (which were mainly all high end European brands) were 2-5 euros and everything else was quite reasonable as well. I found a cycling jersey for Jeremy, a few vintage glasses and this cool reusable bag that I bought to carry everything in was only .25 cents.
My best find of the day though, was this cute leather crossbody purse. After looking at the tag and doing a little research when I got back, I learned it retails for around 130 euros and I got it for 4. It was in great condition (a little worn, but leather can do that well) and the perfect size for traveling. Because I use smaller bags even when I’m home, I think I’ll get a lot of use out of it.
When Jeremy got back we send the rest of the day walking around Ghent. We got food and another waffle, and checked out Graffiti Street where we saw this great reminder.
And that sums up our past two days in Belgium. Tomorrow we head over to northern France for a few more days of adventures before we head home to our kids.