48 hours in Belgium

by - 3:00 PM


Every now and then I need to get away from life in the Rotterdam area. I need to get away, explore a new place and experience as many new things as possible. Now I hadn't really gone anywhere since August, so by December I felt like the walls were closing in on me. That's when I got in touch with Ella from Ella Was Here, bought some train tickets and went to visit her in Belgium the day after Christmas. 48 hours and a lot of pictures later I was back home. I had a clear mind and lots of stories to tell. So why not join me as I recount the tales of two bloggers, who went out with their cameras in hand to bring you the best Belgium has to offer?

To be honest, Belgium is often overlooked by Dutch people, myself included. We make dumb excuses like: 'It's so close to home, it barely feels like you're on a break'. Dumb, I know, because that close proximity actually makes it a perfect destination for a short city break. Especially if you're under 26, because the Belgians have this amazing thing called the Go Pass 1: a ticket for just €7,90 from a train station of choice just across the border in the Netherlands to any Belgian city you'd like. Or if you're in Belgium, you can get a return ticket for €12,40 from any Belgian train station of your choice to any other place in Belgium you'd like to see.


With my Go Pass in hand I got on the train on the 27th of December. About three hours later I got off in the city of Leuven, met up with Ella at Starbucks and then rushed to find a bathroom because I absolutely refuse to use the (usually disgusting) restrooms on trains. Good way to start a blogger meet-up, I know.
After my return and proper real life introductions, Ella and I walked to the city centre of Leuven. It was a short walk on which Ella told me a bit about the history of her city. A lot of it was destroyed in the First World War, but it was beautifully restored as well. Soon we arrived at the city all, which was still covered in ivy-shaped fairy lights and had a huge Christmas tree next to it. We could have looked at the city hall for hours. The masonry has so many details that you can literally get dizzy from staring at it for too long (I speak from experience). 
While the city centre is stunning with its small streets and classic architecture, we didn't spend too much time taking pictures and being bloggers, because we were too hungry. Now you can't go to Belgium without eating some Belgian fries. Not French fries, Belgian fries. Sadly our search for fries ended in front of closed doors, so we had Italian crepes instead.

After I'd devoured a crepe with white chocolate, Ella and I continued exploring Leuven. If you've ever read Ella's blog you know she's good at finding interesting places and knowing all about them. She also had the home advantage here.
Our first stop was the Sint-Donatuspark. Leuven is one of the least green cities I've seen in a while, so if you want to hug some trees this park is the place to go. You can also see the remnants of the old city walls here, look at a little bit of street art if you keep your eyes open or takes pictures at a huge gazebo with the most butt-ugly painting of a whale on the back wall that I've ever seen. We really wanted to do the latter to keep on top of our Instagram game, but two big packages of sauce and salad left on the banister took all the focus away from the more aesthetically pleasing aspects of the place. I decided to solve this problem by ninja-kicking them off the banister, which resulted in an ugly mess when the packages bit the ground and exploded. We quickly left not too long after that little incident.


Our next stop was a place called Groot Begijnhof ('groot' meaning big, no relation to Guardians of the Galaxy here). It's one of those places where nuns used to live. The houses are centuries old, the history of the place goes as far back as the earl 1300s. Nowadays I think it's the most Instagrammable place in Leuven. The cobblestones make walking the streets a bit more difficult, but it also feels like walking back through time. The whole place breathes history and looks amazing. I personally liked it a lot because the small doorways made me feel like a giant. Apart from that the doors are often painted in unusual colors. With holly still hanging on some of these front doors, walking thought the Begijnhof was like walking through a Christmas story from the 1800s.


About 70 pictures later, and I'm not even exaggerating on that number, we walked back to the city centre and discussed life, love, loss, blogging and everything else over brownies. No matter how beautiful a place is, a trip is not complete without good company, good conversation and good food. Luckily Ella and I had all three. We ended the day with pizza - as close the a perfect day as you can get in my opinion.

As Leuven is pretty small, let's say just big enough for a day trip, Ella had the idea to visit Liège the next day. Now I'm always up for a new adventure in a new place, so I immediately said yes to that plan. We quickly looked some information on food and sightseeing in Liège up (i.e Ella looked information up while I sat next to her, making my way through her manga collection) and the next morning we bought ourselves a Go Pass to Liège Guillemins. I almost fell asleep on the train, but my sleepiness was gone the minute we arrived in Liège. It was almost freezing, both inside and outside the futuristic train station. By the time we were done taking pictures I didn't feel my fingers and toes anymore. Struggles of being a blogger, you know. With the help of Google Map we walked to the centre of Liège as fast as we could so we could defrost over a good meal at Get Your Mug.


Get Your Mug is one of those cute little places where the food looks and tastes amazing. My high school French was just about enough to decipher the menu. I ordered a bagel with chicken, honey, mustard and rocket salad. Then I realized I had no idea how to eat a bagel, so I ate it like a barbarian: with rocket salad falling off and honey dripping down my hands. Worth it though.
By the time we'd finished our bagels and hot drinks we had enough feeling in our hands and feet again to go out and brave the cold. Ella decided to buy some gloves, but I, stubborn Dutch girl that I am, kept walking around with uncovered hands. This was no problem while we were walking around the Christmas market on the Place Saint-Lambert and the Espace Tivoli, but when I decided to climb the gigantic staircase that is  the Montagne de Bueren I soon noticed the complete lack of feeling in my hands. The view on top of this stair case was well worth it though. The sun broke through the clouds and reflected on the water of the river Meuse. Liège was beautiful, even though it's streets were killing me.


By the time I was down on level ground again it had gotten even colder and we decided to make our way back to the train station. This happened with a lot of 'Damn it, why is it so cold here?!' from my side. I think the summer in Southeast Asia ruined me for colder climates.
At 4pm we took the train back to Leuven, where Ella and I quickly said goodbye as both her bus and my train were about to depart. Then I got on the wrong train that ended up at the right destination anyway. At Antwerp Central Station I boarded a Dutch train (which I probably wasn't allowed to do with my Belgian Go Pass) and soon I was back home. It had been a perfect two-day Belgian break.


x Envy

You May Also Like

8 Fellow Ramblers

  1. That is so cheap for the train tickets! I can't even get the bus from my town to the next for that price.
    Begijnhof looks so pretty. There's something about cobbles that just makes a place feel like it has A Story.
    It sounds like you had a fantastic time. And I also have no idea how to eat a bagel, I just stuff my face haha.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really cheap. I do have to pay to get to that station on the border, but I get 40% off which still makes it a cheap trip for me.
      I'm pretty sure the Begijnhof has some stories, I just haven't heard them yet. I was too busy taking pictures, hahaha. It was awesome to be there with another blogger.
      I'll keep on stuffing bagels in my face, because it ended in disaster when I did try to eat it like a normal human being.

      Delete
  2. It looks like a wonderful trip. Loved seeing all your pictures! I'm so glad you were able to go. I definitely want to travel more and I will have to put Belgium on my list.
    peridotcove.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have to put Belgium on your list! It's so small and it's so easy to get around. And with all it's beautiful architecture you literally can't go wrong when it comes to photography!

      Delete
  3. The 'Go Pass' sounds like a great ecuse to travel more often!! It's lovely that there are systems in place to let you see more of your won and neighbouring countries!

    Looks like a great trip, E!

    Steph
    Social Spying

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was an awesome trip!
      I wish we had a Go Pass in the Netherlands, it's just perfect for anyone who wants to get around and explore their own country or take short daytrips while visiting another country. I bet the Dutch railways would make a ton of money.

      Delete
  4. What a fun (and cheap!) trip! Sounds like you had a lot of fun exploring and getting some great pics! I've never been to Belgium (or anywhere in Europe for that matter) but it looks like a great place to explore.

    -Amanda A Good Hue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to be honest: this was probably my cheapest trip ever! You should definitely go to Belgium if you get to visit Europe, it's such an easy country to get around and most people speak English really well.

      Delete

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good! Wait, no, I mean: I solemnly swear that I will answer each and every comment ;)