Belgium trips in the past have mostly been day trips or weekend trips, this was the first time we actually did some slow travel and not covered a whole lot of places in one day and decided to stretch out the stay a bit. This trip was also the first with Yeshwin and Deepika for us 🙂 . This trip was somewhat put together after exploring quite a few options on whether or not to take Yeshwin’s car and the possibility of public transport and so on. The trip was planned around Liege, Ghent and Bruges.
Day 1: Eindhoven to Liege
I have passed by Liege before on my way back from Spa and also knew it would be a changeover location for Aywaille towards Remouchamps caves. But I have never considered Liege as city to explore on its own.
We started off from Eindhoven by taking a train towards Maastricht and then switching over towards Liege from Maastricht. The entire journey went off quite smooth and without a hitch while we managed to get some shut-eye as we had risen quite early to make it to the trains and at Liege, we got on to the bus for the caves. The Liege station is actually remarkable and is absolutely a delightful design to look like a mountain itself a single peak.
The bus went through a very scenic route which wold be fantastic to explore on the bike but in the bus, it was like being in a surrealistic movie. After nearly an hour’s ride, we arrived in Remouchamps caves, only to find out that the tour was only going to be an hour later. We took the time to grab a bite of chapati with Chutney powder made by Deepika.
The tour inside the caves began with the tour guide announcing that the language would be in Dutch or French and we decided to stick with the Dutch crowd as that was what we understood better. The trip through the caves took us along the stalactites and stalagmites. Compared to the other caves, we had been to, this was significantly smaller but no less interesting. The winding path took us towards the longest underground river in the world where we got on a boat which was manned by the guide. The boat had no engine and moved along a lazy leisurely pace to the rhythm of the river.
After, we came out of the tour, we headed to the bus stop to board the bus which is when we found out we apparently walked in to the middle of a cycling race of the sort of Tour de France. The road was closed off for a few minutes and then came the cavalcade. First, the lead vehicle announcing the arrival of the cyclists, then the lead pack of the cyclists zoomed past. Behind them there was nothing on the roads for a few seconds and then came the chasing pack numbering more than a hundred. And following them was their support teams carrying spare cycles. After the racers and everyone associated passed us, then the slow grind of the vehicles stuck behind started passing by. the bus we had been waiting for, luckily was only delayed a few minutes instead of the harrowing experience I had when i was travelling to and fro from Spa
Back, in the city, we checked in to the Airbnb house and then, we headed out in to the city towards the Montagne de Beuren which is a staircase of 374 steps named after Vincent de Bueren, who defended Liège against an attack by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold in the 15th century. the staircase in itself is not an easy climb but the view from the top is pretty amazing. Swapna and me were able to make it to the top and spent a few minutes admiring the views.
After we got down, we headed towards THB, The Huggy’s Burger where we had managed to secure a reservation at the bar as no table was available. THB pairs a beer with each burger which makes it one of a kind. However, i decided to go for a Kwak beer with my burger as i love the beer and also the glass it is served in. This was followed by La Corne du Bois des Pendus beer which is served in a horn like glass. After enjoying the burgers, we retired back enjoying the scenes of the city along the river.
Pro-tip: Always book a day in advance for THB, the food is awesome and is a nice place for dinner
Day 2: Liege to Ghent to Bruges
We boarded an early train to Ghent as it is a nearly 90 minute journey after having a hearty breakfast of bread, tapenade and humus. At Ghent, we were greeted with a city that is so much like Antwerp, only smaller. the city is very pretty but is not worth spending an entire day as other than having an entire castle bang in the middle of the city, there is little else of acclaim to see for the rest of the day.
We made our way past the pretty yet nearly deserted roads towards Kouter which is a flower market, all the while playing dumb charades. the Flower market is nice with plenty of flower varieties on display. After Kouter, we turned to the numerous cathedrals in the city. After a photo session among all the gardens and cathedrals, we got to witness a Irish band which was playing in the city square, which gathered quite a crowd. During the play, a little girl dressed as the Easter Bunny came by handing out Easter egg chocolates to the kids in the square. We finished the band’s performance and decided to get food at Pizza hut. Belgium has several chains which are not there in Netherlands at all, like Pizza Hut and some lifestyle brand chains which I have forgotten but most glaringly Pizza Hut which i cannot seem to get past. At Pizza hut, we enjoyed a nice hearty meals and after grabbing a hearty ice cream for desert, we headed to Bruges.
The Bruges train ride is only a short 30 minutes one and before we could really notice, we were there. I had been to Bruges once before with Anshuman and that was a crazy trip with hostel stay and late night beer guzzling along with a crazy conversation with an Aussie.
At Bruges we made our way to the BnB to drop off our luggage and freshen up. The house was remarkable as it was a large mansion and was separated into 2 houses for the purpose of renting out. We headed into the city and saw the belfry and the churches. After much deliberation and struggle finding a place to have dinner in, we zeroed in on Nakhon Thai, where we had some really good Thai food without breaking the bank
Our preferred place was Olive Tree but we could not get a place as we have to reserve a day in advance
Day 3: Bruges to Eindhoven
We had a lazy morning as we did not have much to do except the Bruges boat ride and visiting the city ramparts. We got out of the house at 11 and headed to Brouwerij de Halve Maan which is brewery and has a restaurant. the brewery is also unique in that it has a pipeline directly going to the bars and pubs in the city for 2 beers, Brugse Zot Blond and Brugse Zot Dubbel. We were at the restaurant for an early lunch. The restaurant has an amazing ambiance and knowing that the beer is super fresh adds to the setting. The food was great and was certainly too heavy on the stomach. After the meal, we got on to a boat tour of the city.
The Boat tour was fantastic and made its way past a lot of the photo spots we had visited the day before. The tour guide peppered the tour with plenty of humor and lasted about 45 mins. After the tour, we headed to the Windmills on the eastern ramparts of the city. the weather being sunny and warm compared to the days before, allowed us to spend a lot of time in the gardens near the windmills where we had a great time taking photos and videos with the slo-mo.
By this time, it was time to head back to collect our luggage and head back to Eindhoven. We picked up an order of Subway salad and got into the bus to Eindhoven. After a slightly eventful time in Antwerp where the bus driver refused to board 2 passengers without passport, we arrived a few minutes behind schedule in Eindhoven. Overall, one of the most peaceful trips we have been on considering we were for a change without an itinerary and were with friends for company