“Hey, I found decent tickets to Brussels–do you wanna go?” Andres titled his head back and I flipped through the mental catalog of reasons why we should spend a weekend in Belgium. There was no need to pull out the list; Andres was already nodding and answering in our favorite French phrase that had stuck with us since Paris—Pourquoi pas? And so, with only a few weeks to plan, we booked a hotel, scribbled a wish list of things to do, and boarded our plane. Highlights of the 3-day trip included:
Because the weather was so much nicer than during my last trip, it felt in many ways like I was visiting an entirely new city. We spent as much time as possible outside, on terraces–my coworkers couldn’t believe it when I returned to work a tad sunburned!
People were lazily laying out at allll the terraces in Bruges
Trying new brews
One of the things we were most looking forward to was trying different Belgian beers. In Spain, you don’t order beer by name–you simply request “una cerveza” and take whatever generic bubbly is on tap. Not so in Belgium! We were spoiled for choices and tried around a dozen beers throughout the long weekend. (They included Achel, Duval, Chimay Bleue, Jupiler, cherry Kriek, raspberry Kriek, an organic honey beer, and the local beer from Bruges.)
Achel, a trappist beer, was my favorite drink of the trip
Duvel, a typical Belgian beer, apparently made an impression on Andres
Meeting other adventurous souls
On our second day in Belgium, we meet the duo behind MontgomeryFest! After walking around Brussels for a day, we had several questions about life in the city, and our fellow expats enlightened us with their tales of apartment hunting, navigating the local languages, and how Belgians feel about hosting the EU headquarters. We sat on a sunny terrace, beers in hand, chatting about recent European trips, upcoming adventures, and the hazards of grocery shopping abroad. If you’re planning a trip to Brussels, I highly encourage you to hop over to the MontgomeryFest blog for gorgeous photos and more insights into life in Belgium.
What’s even better than a zippy glass of beer? Sipping it on a terrace and in good company.
Different structure, layout, and feel
It was great to be in two new cities that we weren’t familiar with, and Belgium captivated us from our first stroll along Avenue Louise. We always felt safe, and thus at times abandoned the map, simply setting out in the general direction of our destination. Wandering down inviting streets allowed us to get a feel for the layout and feel of the country, which in turn added to the laid-back atmosphere of the trip.
This elevator, which connected different levels of the city, made walking by foot a breeze
Wide avenues and green spaces
Don’t forget to look up! (Photo from Bruges)
Sweet, sweet chocolate
If I lived in Belgium year-round, would I grow immune to the accessible indulgence that is Belgian chocolate? Would I eventually stop noticing the saccharine assault upon entering a shop filled with these confections? I will most likely never have the answer to this question, so I made sure to enjoy my fill of foil-wrapped discs, lush bonbons, and hazelnut-laced pralines.
Soaking up the exotic details
New country = new photo ops + new languages! I had a blast trying to decode French and Dutch, checking out the different flavors (pickle-flavored chips, anyone?), and simply enjoying a place that is so exciting in its unfamiliarity. Viva exploring!
A few colorful mosaics dotted the center
Not a common sight in Madrid…
This Champs–Élysées had much less traffic than its Parisian counterpart
The last day of our weekend in Belgium was spent in Bruges, a touristy but postcard-worthy town with photo ops at every turn. Ambling over the cobblestone streets of this cute, water-side town was a perfect way to relax after a few days in the Belgian capital.