Sorry it’s been a while since I last posted on here. I haven’t even got round to writing an update for November, so I’ll just leave it for this month. It’s not long until 2018 so you’ll see an overall update looking back at what I got up to in 2017.
I recently went on a mini interrailing trip around Belgium which was so much fun! One of my friends went to Ghent for a conference and asked if I wanted to join her and a friend for a pre-Christmas tour around Belgium. I immediately said yes, as I had always wanted to go to Belgium, plus I wanted to give interrailing a go. My parents have said many great things about Belgium, especially Bruges. So after many Skype calls, booking and planning, we travelled around Ghent, Bruges and Brussels for 5 nights/6 days.
After a very early start travelling on three different trains and a tram last Friday, I arrived in the heart of Ghent. I spent the rest of the day and the following day with my friends exploring this magnificent city. A Christmas market surrounded the stunning churches in the centre of Ghent and the city with buzzing with tourists and locals. The atmosphere of Ghent was electric and the history was very interesting, especially the castle known as Gravensteen. We also visited MIAT, a textile museum and I really enjoyed a boat tour around the canals of Ghent. We also saw the famous Ghent altar piece known as The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, which was pretty awesome to see!
After a busy day exploring the rest of Ghent, we caught the train to Bruges in the evening. I went on my first ever walking tour the following morning which was a fantastic experience. The tour guide was so enthusiastic and took us on a 3 1/2 hour walking tour around Bruges. We covered a lot of the beautiful city seeing the truly outstanding architecture and learning so much history from the tour guide. He also gave us recommendations on where to buy popular tourist goods, including beer and chocolate. After the tour we relaxed with a well-deserved hot chocolate at one of the best tea rooms for a hot chocolate in Bruges. I had a ‘Death by Chocolate’, which was so tasty but also an overload of chocolate!
As with Ghent there were Christmas markets dotted around Bruges, with the main ones in the centre near the Belfort Tower. We climbed up the steps of the Belfort on Monday morning where we were treated to stunning views of Bruges. Despite the sweetness overload from the hot chocolate, we visited the Choco-Story, a chocolate museum near the centre of Bruges. We could help ourselves to as much chocolate as we desired during the tour while learning about the history of the sweet delicious substance. After another day of exploring Bruges, we then caught the train in the evening to our final stop, Brussels.
Out of all the cities we visited, Brussels was definitely the busiest and buzzing with excitement and life. We went on a walking tour around the centre of Brussels, looking at the main sights including the famous Manneken Pis (which was a lot smaller than I was expecting!), the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of Saint Michel. We also managed to visit EU Parliament on the same day! It was really cool going inside the hemicycle where the main talks and debates happen, and a museum dedicated to the history and the countries which make up the EU. We then looked around the Christmas markets around Brussels- there were so many of them dotted around the city!
On our final day we visited the comic book museum. It was really cool to see artists’ original first drafts of their work compared to the final piece. I also learnt about the birth of the Smurfs and Tintin, and the architecture of the museum was stunning. After a final look around the city and some essential shopping for beer and chocolate, we caught the Eurostar back to London and made our way back home.
I loved all of the cities we visited in Belgium. Each once had its own unique characteristics with stunning architecture. Out of all of the places, I really want to go back to Brussels. We only really skimmed the surface as Brussels is so big compared to Bruges and Ghent. I also enjoyed the experience of interrailing. Travelling by train is so much cheaper on mainland Europe than it is in the UK, and we stayed in hostels which made the trip more fun and affordable. Another thing that fascinated me about Belgium was the bilingual aspect. All three cities spoke different languages, so I tried out my French in Brussels as that is the dominant language there.
Happy reading and blogging!
Clare Bear 🙂