If you look up in the dictionary, Belgium is the country where one eats chocolate waffles for breakfast and mussels & fries for dinner.
Some of us know it with Manneken Pis a.k.a. famous pissing boy, some with waffle, some with chocolate, some with icecream, some with mussels, some with fries. Western Europe’s delicious and Middle-Age smelling country Belgium is a must-see!
Belgium’s top 2 cities are Brussels and Bruges. Country’s waffle smelling capital Brussels is where the tables are written both in Dutch and French. Bruges on the other hand is the iconic city which hasn’t lost its Middle-Age spirit. For those who don’t know it, I would first like to introduce Use-It which help us find our way in both of these cities. Use-It maps are drawn by local people and include those locals’ notes and recommendations on everything from tourist attractions to vintage shops. It’s too bad they are only available for a small amount of European cities.
This time, I’m travelling around with my classmate who also happens to be my colleague and flatmate for the summer. Thanks to Use-It, we know that best waffles of the town are served at Oyya! As soon as we get off the train, we grab white-chocolate&banana waffles and Café au Lait from Oyya, and head to the St-Salvatorskerkhof’s stairs. From the train station to the legendary cafe we pass by Minnewater, smell beer yeast at Wijngaardbrug, watch the white swans and breath in the medieval town. In Flanders, the feminism dates back around 1200. A group of conservative women call themselves “beguines” and wish to marry Jesus Christ. 26 of those women still live in Beguinage where the doors are shot at 18:30 and only women can be guests. We take pictures as if we live in these stone buildings-not that we wish. Next, it’s time to see Madonna and the Child at Church of Our Lady. We light our candles and make wishes-of course they’re about coming back here.
Bruges is described as the Venice of the north, so what better way is there to visit the city than boats? We take the touristic boats to travel the canals from one end to another. Unfortunately, we cannot find anything at the second-hand store Think Twice and dig a little more at Twee Meisjes. We know that the city itself is picturesque, but we convince each other that Grauwwekersstraat is different in its own way and move on to the city theatre Stadsschouwburg. Then, we find the main square; iconic little Belgian building on two sides, famous Belfry on one side and Historium on last one. Belfry is what Manneken Pis is to Brussels, in fact because of it, the city is also called the City of Bells. After going up 366 stairs, we overlook the gorgeous city. On our way up, we witness the history with the crates where the treasures and official documents were carried in the medieval times and imagine how it would be like to live in those times when the bells were all they used to inform the public from the working shifts to the enemy attacks… There are numerous restaurants for fries, mussels, waffles and chocolates in Grand Place. Before getting into all that, we want to go to the places we already saw by boat, this time by foot. We follow the canal to the north and find the baroque St. Walburga Church. Of course, we don’t miss the Vismarkt also known as Fish Market on the way.
I would like to do the honours of closing up by naming couple of restaurants based on our experiences and Use-It. As I’ve mentioned in the beginning, the waffles, mussels and fries can be found literally everywhere. Other than those; Ganzespel, Cafe Vlissinghe, Pas Partout, Lion Belge, Frituur Royal(for vegetarian fries), Bocca(for pasta), Da Vinci(for ice cream) are the most recommended places…
Lastly, with 50+ chocolate boutiques in the centre, Bruges is probably the most chocolate dense city of the world. So, don’t leave before your blood sugar level skyrockets!