Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fall in Love with Belgium; from Its Coastline to Castles, Cute Cobbled Streets to Chocolates, Nadia Balame-Price Hits the Road and Discovers This Oft-Overlooked Country Really Is Cool

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fall in Love with Belgium; from Its Coastline to Castles, Cute Cobbled Streets to Chocolates, Nadia Balame-Price Hits the Road and Discovers This Oft-Overlooked Country Really Is Cool

Article excerpt

Byline: Nadia Balame-Price

Belgium gets a bit of an unfair rep not considered as cool as neighbouring France, Germany or the Netherlands, it can get easily overlooked. And yet, Bruges has been on our must-visit list for a long time. And once we realised that Belgium is so small, we could tick off three cities in one trip, we knew we had to go.

My husband, Matt, and I decided to spend two nights in Bruges before heading to Brussels via Ghent. Only an hour and a half from Calais by car, beautiful Bruges is a straightforward drive but we wanted to make the most of having the car, so took a detour via the coastal city of Ostend.

Our trip to the seaside didn't add too much on to our journey, and less than 40 minutes later via very flat, easy roads Bruges felt like a world away. A chocolate box town, it's small and easy to navigate and is instantly welcoming.

We decided that the best way to really get to know Bruges was through its cuisine, so we ate and drank, seeking out little winding streets with foodie recommendations, safe in the knowledge that we would walk it all off sightseeing the next day. After all, once you're in Bruges everywhere is walkable. We wandered through the main square to a local food market that had been recommended to us.

After a breakfast of waffles, naturally, we tackled the 366 steps to the top of the iconic Belfry tower, where we were rewarded with a view stretching out as far as the eye could see. We finished the day with a walk to the edge of the city to discover the only four remaining windmills, before a customary Belgian Blonde beer.

It was onwards to Brussels for our next stop. Our route took us via Ghent, where we were charmed by the architecture, art and historic Gravensteen castle. After a lunch by the Leie River we said goodbye to Ghent and made the 35-mile drive to Brussels. The Belgian capital is best known for moules (right), chocolate and the European Parliament all things we checked out. We opted for a bike tour, and despite the cobbled streets and steep hills, saw the sights and managed a frites stop in three hours. …

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