Our taste of Belgium was just that. A taste, a preview. A longer visit to Belgium will come. The reason why we even stopped in Belgium was to complete the Benelux triad: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and instead of visiting Brussels, the capital, we visited Bruges, a northern Flanders town noted for its architecture, food, and canals. We will visit Brussels later in a separate, longer trip.
We parked our car, and because we were a little hungry, we decided to try some Belgian food: Waffles and fries would suffice. The restaurant we visited was in the center of the city: Market Square. It was definitely an unconventional square, with similar architecture to both Szczecin, Poland and the Netherlands. I really understood the historical Dutch influence on Flanders, and saw how Flemish and Dutch cultures were so interconnected. We went to one of the restaurants since we were very hungry by then. My thoughts on the food? The waffles were exemplary, and I thought their quality was spectacular. What really topped it off was the fruit and icing on top, which enhanced the flavor. We also ate fries, which also were different when compared to the average McDonalds, just not as great as the waffles.
There was one more thing about the square that I neglected to mention: the Bruges Belfry (belfry means clock tower). An absolutely enormous building. Imagine the Big Ben (Palace of Westminster). Now shrink it, and add the top of a crown to it. Then make it darker, and you are left with the Bruges Belfry.
We then walked around the streets, and we even sampled some Belgian chocolate. We saved some for the ride to the Netherlands, too. The chocolate was good. Not great, just good, but perhaps I thought that because I had just tasted Swiss chocolate. No matter the quality, I was happy to eat some.
After that, we took a canal tour. Bruges has many canals, and we wanted to explore some of them. We got to see some similar architecture to the architecture in the Markt (Market Square). We definitely had longer and more notable trips, but the Dutch architecture was mesmerizing.
After that, we visited the Burg Square, an even larger square. It is more grand, and whitewashed, the buildings completely in unison, while the Market Square felt like the life of the city, where commerce used to flow. The Burg Square used to house the Saint Donatian’s Cathedral, which was the largest cathedral in Bruges, but it was destroyed after the French Revolution.
We still had some time, so we visited the Bruges Historium, a museum about Bruges history, which was rather informative. Jan van Eyck, a famous renaissance painter who lived and died in Bruges, so there was some info about him. We then continued on our drive to our Airbnb, a farm in the rural Netherlands, but our visit to Bruges gave us a preview of what Dutch cities had to offer.
- Visiting Belgium: You could visit Belgium all at once, but you could also visit Brussels in one trip, and the rest of Belgium in another.