Part 2 of our Europe Trip! If you missed Part 1: Amsterdam you can check it out here!
After 2 full days in Holland we left for Brussels and arrived just in time for lunch. After dropping off our luggage at our Airbnb we headed out to explore and grab some lunch. Since I made it my personal mission to eat as many waffles per day as possible (so I could try every ones and declare a winner) I had a waffle appetizer en route. SPOILER: This was the favorite from our entire stay in Brussels- it was from the Waffle Factory. (Note: ALWAYS get the liege waffle, never the Belgium. Liege waffles are made from a dough instead of a batter which is why they are far superior).
After exploring a bit we grabbed lunch at Chez Leon (recommend by our Airbnb host). I ordered mussels au gratin (also our hosts recommendation) and Pat ordered mussels! We thought we ordered the classic white garlic sauce one but we accidently ordered the curry- but they were fantastic, best mussels the whole time in Belgium. Pat also ordered the tomato crevette which is a tomato stuffed with tiny prawns.
Post lunch we did a little more exploring and headed to Pat’s main objective on the trip Cantillon Brewery. Belgium is obviously famous for their beers and this particular brewery is extremely well regarded in the craft beer world, well known for its sours. We only had time for 1 beer since they did last call early (boo) but we ended up stumbling upon a bar that was featuring 20 of Cantillons beers. (Pat was basically in heaven). We had a couple more beers here before heading back to change and relax before dinner.
For dinner we started out walking around aimlessly (trying to avoid any tourist traps) for about 30 minutes before stumbling upon Schletema which was known for its seafood specialties. Pat had more mussels and I had grilled sole and white butter with tarragon which I actually think was the best fish dish of the entire trip.
Dinner went quick (by European standards) and then we headed next door to Delerium Village to indulge in some more Belgian beers. This is an epic bar- completely massive and home to over 3000 beers, the menu is thicker than a magazine. It was super crowded and hot but had such a fun atmosphere. We each had a beer and then headed off to bed.
The next morning we had planned to take a day trip to visit Bruges and Ghent which are 1 hour and ½ hour respectively from Brussels. We had heard both these small cities/towns were gorgeous and couldn’t decide between to the two so we decided to split our day and spend a few hours in each, starting with Bruges. Bruges was quaint and small with adorable buildings and a bell tower. We had originally planned to go up in the tower but when we saw the line we decided to just spend our time walking around exploring instead. (In hindsight we didn’t have the best gameplan for exploring Bruges- we felt like our time was limited- it would have made more sense to pick either Bruges or Ghent and spend the full day there. Pat and I hit up some photo ops and relaxed at a café instead of doing any activities in Bruges before heading out to Ghent.
Ghent was gorgeous! I loved the medieval style architecture. The first order of business was to find lunch… shockingly Pat ordered mussels and I tried a croque madam (ham and cheese panini with fried eggs on top). We had a better game plan for this city and decided to walk through the town and take some pictures before checking out the Gravensteen castle.
The castle is from the Middle Ages and while it is not super special or large it was my first time in a castle so I thought it was pretty cool. The tour was self-guided at your own pace (and not crowded) which was nice. I was really interested in the torture room which showed all the devices they used to use back in the day in punish people. Pat and I made our way through the castle and to the top to enjoy the views of Ghent below. We were definitely most impressed with Ghent out of the cities we visited in Belgium.
After a short train ride back to Brussels we checked out this city’s most famous landmark- the Mannequin Pis statue. Yes- their most famous statue really is of a little boy peeing. Yes, I also find this slightly disturbing. For our last meal in Belgium we wanted to find traditional Belgium food. Pat’s research indicated that La Fin de Siecle was the place to go for authentic cuisine. Even though we arrived less than an hour after it opened (no reservations available here) the line was out the door. Luckily it’s sister restaurant, 9 et Voisins was also highly regarded and was across the street with no line!
The Belgian-inspired food on the menu was mostly generous portions of meat stewed in beer sauces with potatoes and veggies. We shared the rabbit and the beef in beer stew. I’ve had rabbit a couple times before and it was tasty (as someone who isn’t a huge meat eater) but that beef and mashed potatoes dish was fantastic- the sauce was gravy like and tasted so good I could’ve drank it with a straw. I don’t normally eat much beef and generally dislike potatoes but I kept going back for more.
We topped the night off with some Belgian chocolate sampling/buying and of course another waffle or two. The mussels, waffles, and Belgian beers definitely made this trip fun for this craft beer loving foodie. One of the coolest things was that EVERY SINGLE Belgian beer is served in it’s own unique glass with is own logo. The shapes of the glasses depended on the beer but I was really impressed that every bar had such a variety of glassware, haha. Stayed tuned for the second half of the trip- exploring Paris and then heading to Munich for Oktoberfest!