Belgium is not what you think. It’s not all about waffles, beer and chocolates.
Wait a minute! What the hell am I saying?!
Belgium is exactly all about waffles, beer and chocolates! I won’t lie, these are MY specific reasons to visit Belgium. But mind you, the list doesn’t end there.
I would love nothing but to explore Belgian Christmas markets while bundled up for the chilly winter in December. But I visited the country in summer. Green meadows and multi hued flowers make it a picture-perfect European destination. It was the peak of tourist season but oh what the hell!
We boarded the super speedy Eurostar one morning from London and reached Brussels in no time. When I say speedy, I mean a whopping 266 kmph! I officially love bullet trains!
If I was in Paris or somewhere in the Netherlands, I would drive all around Belgium and have a fun road trip. Flying to Brussels would easily be the smartest option if I was anywhere else in the world.
Have you ever wondered what language the Belgians speak? I know there’s no language called “Belgian” but when I was little, that’s what I assumed they spoke. Silly me!
French, Flemish and English are commonly spoken languages here. I realized how common French was when I tried to ask directions to the nearest ATM and received a response “Ce n’est pas très loin ” or “It’s not too far”. Everything was easily accessible in the major cities, like popular banks, their ATMs. Withdrawing cash was no hassle.
On that note, I would like to mention that all stores – pharmacies, malls, grocery shops – close early. We circled few blocks to find an open or 24-hour pharmacy one day after 8pm but no luck. I would advise first timers to stock up in advance.
I can’t recommend Airbnb enough. It’s the best thing for me. Ever since I started booking stays through Airbnb, I’ve never looked back. Connecting with the locals, listening to their stories, sharing some of yours. Brussels and Antwerp have some fantastic listings. Our hosts in Brussels and Antwerp were kind and helpful. They made sure our stay was comfortable, they gave use directions to wherever we wanted to go and advised us on few unusual yet cool spots. How can hotel hospitality supersede that!
At first I thought the Belgians were big on drinking beer. Right from breakfast hours I noticed people sipping bottle after bottle of the good stuff. Later I realized, they were all tourists making the most of their vacation.
We found public transportation pretty cheap and hassle free. Taxis are easily available to and from airport. We opted to commute by train/subway which wasn’t too shabby. Day passes at major cities made our life much easier, that way we didn’t have to worry about buying tickets every time we wanted to board the subway. Internal roads are mostly single lanes with adjacent bike lanes and pedestrian paths. Bikes are a fun way to explore the cities and rentals are not more than 15 Euros per day. We decided to explore most of the cities on foot solely for immersing ourselves in every minute detail of this country. We covered miles walking from one corner to the other, crossing streets and lanes, turn after turn, discovering new parts of the cities like they were a whole other world.
After walking that much, we hogged like pigs. Like I said earlier, the country is all about my favorite food – waffles, beer and chocolates! Lots of it! It’s a well known fact that French Fries originated in Belgium. Rest assured that every place from chain restaurants to fine dining cafes to hole-in-the-wall joints serve French Fries or “chips”. They’re ubiquitous. Now thats my kind of heaven. Apart from that you can definitely find most other popular cuisines throughout. Especially, pizza, pasta and sandwiches.
Next post will be about things to do in Brussels and Antwerp! Can’t wait to tell you all about it. Till then, happy travels!