Weekend in Belgium: the Highlights

“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 ParisPourquoi 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:

Terrace weather

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!

Weekend in Belgium

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.)

Belgian beer

Achel, a trappist beer, was my favorite drink of the trip

Belgian beer

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.

Belgian beer

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.

Weekend in Belgium

This elevator, which connected different levels of the city, made walking by foot a breeze

Weekend in Belgium

Wide avenues and green spaces

Weekend in Belgium

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.

Belgian chocolate

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!

Weekend in Belgium

A few colorful mosaics dotted the center

Brussels car

Not a common sight in Madrid…

Weekend in Belgium

This ChampsÉlysées had much less traffic than its Parisian counterpart

Small-town strolling

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.

Bruges

Bruges

Bruges

If you’ve been to Belgium, what were the highlights of your trip? And if you haven’t been, what would be on your wish list for a weekend in Belgium?

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6 Comments

  1. we enjoyed the heck outta that afternoon in the sun with you two! did I mention you’re adorable? I’m so glad we made it happen! aaand I’m so happy you made it to Bruges! you got in your travel day trip 😉 isn’t flipping adorable?! ps. we finally found out how to say cheers in Flemish! op uw gezondheid…which is honestly why we never learned it in the first place! I’m only writing it for you because I can’t pronounce it, although I have a feeling you might find it a breeze! 😉

    • Cassandra

      Thanks! We enjoyed it too–afterwards I kept marveling and saying things like, “I can’t believe that Annie has also been to Riverfest!” And, yes, we did take your advice on Bruges. Totally worth it.

      We picked up some Belgian beers this weekend, so rest assured the Flemish phrase will be put to good use 🙂

      Last but not least–Have fun on your trip this weekend!

  2. Ahh, all your pictures are so cool and I’m totally jealous that you and Annie got to meet up! Looks like an awesome weekend!

    • Cassandra

      Yes, it was great to meet other bloggers! Will you meet any on your South/Central American travels?

  3. It looks like you had a wonderful time in Brussels! I can’t wait to check it out.. and I think you picked a great weekend. I definitely want to go with good terrace weather as well!

    So.. what would be on my list? The beer and chocolate! Especially that organic honey beer you mentioned.. how was it? Or the local brew.. I love trying local beers!

    • Cassandra

      Brussels definitely treated us well, I have fond memories of the trip already.

      As or the honey beer–it didn’t taste very much like honey, actually! I would say it tasted like a typical wheat beer.

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