After my first week touring around the Netherlands, I decided to hop on a train and make my into Belgium.
First Stop: Bruges.
When I arrived in Bruges, it was already dark. The sun was gone and there was an eerie fog hanging over the entire city. I walked out of the train station into this unknown city, not knowing what a wondrous place I was about to witness.
There is something about Bruges that is almost indescribable. You walk down cobblestone streets and you almost feel as if nothing has changed in hundreds of years. The buildings seem to hold onto the past. My first night I walked around in the fog, not really knowing where I was going. I found myself in Burg Square with this haunting haze over head.
I arrived fairly late and after a short walk around I headed back to my hostel for a pint and some sleep.
The next day I found my way back to the main square where I climbed up the Belfry Tower and found this amazing view. Fog was still hanging in the air but the view was amazing, nonetheless.
After climbing the tower and walking around some more, I learnt that there is a chapel in the city that is said to house a vial of Jesus Christ’s blood.
I am not a religious man, but this was something I had to see for myself. I had to sit through a brief sermon and then one by one, tourists and locals alike, after dropping a small donations into a box, are aloud to walk up onto the altar and say a prayer over a vial of strange looking, clumpy, coagulated blood in a hidden in a glass case. It wasn’t nearly as impressive as I thought.
I spent a few more hours looking around and imagining what it would have been like to live in Bruges a thousand years ago and then made my way back to the station and hopped on a train to my next destination.
Second Stop: Ghent
Ghent is an interesting city. It has a medieval feel to it but still has a lot of modern amenities. My first day in Ghent I walked around the main square and gazed at old churches and streets crowded with tourists taking selfies with their Ipads.
There is a really old and impressive castle in Ghent and was by far my favorite part of the city.
I spent the night with a local who was nice enough to host me and teach me about his city and some general knowledge of his country. I arrived at his place fairly late and unfortunately, we didn’t have all that much time to tour around together.
The next day I woke up and after a nice hot shower made my way to the train station to continue my adventure through Belgium.
Third Stop: Brussels
I didn’t like Brussels nearly as much as Ghent or Bruges. It is too modern. Bustling with people and the fact that they have soldiers walking down the street with assault rifles in their hands makes it even less appealing. I spent the day walking up and down the main streets and didn’t see very much that I really like.
There are a lot of nice streets but they are all overcrowded with vendors selling their wares or prostitutes standing in windows begging for your attention. There also seemed to be a lot of graffiti everywhere. I love street art. But only when done tastefully and what I found certainly had no taste.
I also had a bad experience at my hostel in Brussels as the guy sleeping in the bed next to mine wouldn’t stop coughing and moving and I am about 99.9% certain he was getting busy with his own hand…THE ENTIRE NIGHT!
Needless to say, I was glad when I got on the train and made my way to my final stop in Belgium.
End Of The Line: Bastogne
I made the mistake of not really knowing why I was going to Bastogne. It is a small town in the southern part of the country and when I say small, I mean small.
You can quite literally walk across the town in less than half an hour and there isn’t all that much to see. Bastogne was a town that was liberated by American soldiers during WWII and there are a few museums around if you are interested in that sort of history.
But for the most part, I wouldn’t really recommend visiting Bastogne. The best part if the memorial army tanks that appear everywhere around the town.
I was hosted in Bastogne by a fellow couchsurfer. It was nice to have someone in such a small place to be able to talk to and spend some time with. The next day, she was nice enough to drive me through the countryside to Luxembourg where I hopped on a train and gracefully made my exit into Germany.
All in all, Belgium is a beautiful country. There is antiquity and modernity all mixed into one. There are old churches and castles as well as bustling city centers. There are fields and countryside that were great to see.
I recommend visiting Belgium, but make sure to do your research and know where you’re going.