The Easter Trip Part II: Belgium

We left Wageningen on a Thursday afternoon the minute Brian was finished with his conference. Traveling to Bruges by train would have been a long and complicated journey (6-7 hours with something like 6 changes and a ferry!), so we decided to rent a car and drive, cutting our travel time down to 3 hours and our cost in half. The drive was beautiful. Beautiful Highway Driving Unfortunately, this part of our trip was marred by a little accident. We didn’t realize until we dropped the car off in Bruges that Brian had left both his passport and his drivers’ license at the rental place in Arnhem! Quelle horreur! Luckily, the lady at Ace Rent a Car was veeeery nice and helped us contact the guy who rented us the car (and failed to return the documents), who promised to overnight the two document to our next and last hotel in Brussels. So off we went with lighter hearts to discover Bruges. And discover it we did.

Starting with beer in crazy shaped glasses

Starting with beer in crazy shaped glasses

Then we ate *some* chocolate (ahem, ALL the chocolate)

Then we ate *some* chocolate (ahem, ALL the chocolate)

And we basically wondered around among the other tourists and looked at all the cool architecture. Bruges is just as cute and quaint as everyone says it is. I don’t care if it is nothing but tourists, I think it’s definitely worth a visit. Plus, these aren’t like the crazy party tourists in Amsterdam. These are the romantic weekend or family tourists. Much calmer.

So we walked around Bruges for one afternoon/evening and the next morning/early afternoon and took a 3pm train to Brussels, our last stop.

Brussels was….well, let’s just say it wasn’t our favorite stop on the trip. I’m not really sure why that is. We could have been getting tired of traveling and wishing for our own bed. We could have stayed in the wrong part of town. We were right by the main downtown touristy area, right off the pedestrian shopping streets, a short walk from the Grand Place, their big square. And we never really were able to find a cute little neighborhood off the beaten path, which is our secret to happy traveling. So we just rubbed shoulders with THOUSANDS of tourists the whole time we were there. It was hectic. While Brussels does have some good museums and attractions, but overall it just felt like a big, gritty city. We found ourselves missing neat, orderly Denmark.

But we did see some really cool stuff while we were there. I’m a huge Art Nouveau and Alphonse Mucha fan, and Brussels is like the capital of Art Nouveau. So we got to see some cool architecture and even an entire museum exhibit dedicated to one of my favorite eras in painting, the end of the 19th century.

We also went to the Musical Instrument Museum, which is just what it sounds like. But the cool part is they send you in with a little listening device that’s activated by RFID tags in front of some of the instruments, and it lets you listen to a song featuring the instrument you’re standing in front of. How cool is that!

Our favorite part was visiting the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, the King’s royal greenhouses. These are only open to the public for 2-3 weeks every spring, and we happened to be there at the right time. They’re HUGE art nouveau glass structures filled to bursting with blooms and blossoms of every kind.

And that is our trip. We flew out the day after visiting the greenhouses. That was kind of a nightmare. We didn’t get back home until midnight. But we made it and gladly fell into our own bed. Poor Brian had to get up and go to work the next day, but I slept in and “recovered” from our strenuous traveling 🙂

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3 thoughts on “The Easter Trip Part II: Belgium

  1. Definitely with you on the whole “big city experience” feeling; a couple days and I’m ready to head for the green (and quiet) of nature. But I’d love to visit the Musical Instrument Museum!

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    • Oh it was so cool! It had everything from harpsichords to african drums to bagpipes to ocarinas. Brian’s really musical, so he was pretty much in heaven.

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  2. We have a couple of those Kwak glasses that we brought back from Belgium a few years ago. You have to be careful when you get to the end of your drink, when there is some liquid trapped in the “bulb” part of the glass. When you tip your head back to get the last of the liquid, you have to be careful or else your beer will come fast and splash you in the face. Did you have this experience too? And you have to be careful not to accidently set down your glass!

    It’s true that Bruges is really touristy, but you have to see it at least once I would say. At least you went now and not in July. I really like the city of Ghent, less tourists and picturesque all the same.

    I hate those party tourists in Amsterdam. There, I said it. And I don’t care who gets on my back for having said it. These tourists ruin Amsterdam and they never realise that the real Netherlands is not what they think it is like. If they just went outside of Amsterdam and visited a small town, they would realise that the Dutch are actually not as tolerant and open-minded as they may think. I’m not saying that the Dutch people are not tolerant and open-minded, but that certain tourists in Amsterdam have this idea that they are these total party animals that smoke weed, drink Heineken and have sex all day. The Dutch people can actually be quite reserved. They just realised that prostitution and people smoking weed was going to happen no matter what punishments they handed out to people, and decided to pass laws to protect people rather than try and stop these things from happening. And then word got around about their “party, sex, drinking and smoking ways.”

    Ok, rant over. I’m glad that you had a great time visiting Belgium and the Netherlands. It’s always nice to go home, isn’t it? I love my first few hours home after a long trip.

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