Frites and chocolate – Tour de Belgium

We are on another trip to Belgium: Gent, Bruges, Brussels. This time with my parents.

20.06. Its a catholic holiday in Northrhine Westphalia. We take an early train to Cologne, from there to Brussels and onward to Gent. With some smallndelays due to a broken train, we arrive at Gent around 11am.

We meet my parents, who arrived by car from Antwerpen, downtown. We take a stroll along the habor and past the beautiful entrance gate of the old fishmarket. Its a bit cloudy and colder than expected.

We visit the Castle Gravenstein – together with a large number of school kids.

After the visit, we have lunch at the Holy Market. All shops but the portuguese place are closed. So tapas it is.

its time to check into our appartment, the Hof van Spanje at Kammerstraat 16. Its a private appartment above a restaurant and an antique book shop. While the ground floor is spacious, the appartment features a maisonette with a terrace overlooking Sint Jacobskerken.

However, we cannot stay. Too much sightseeing left. First, we take a boat tour along the canals.

Then, we visit Sint Baafskathedraal and climb the Belfry. The clouds and the city below look spectacular.

We have dinner at the Parkguis and end the evening with wine on the roof terrace.

21.06. We take a morning train to Bruges. Luckily, we beat the crowds an have at least some quiet time at Bonifacius Bridge.

Breakfast at Julien’s is delicious and gives us energy to dive into the crowds. We walk around the central market area and hop on a boat for a tour of the canals.

Fed up with the crowds, we walk around the more quiet parts of town.

Around 1pm, the line at the Belfort tower is short enough for us to take a shoot. The view from the top is nice but not es spectacular as Gent.

On the way to the train station, we visit Onze Lieve Vrouw Kathedraal and see Michelangelos statue Virgin Mary with Child.

Inspired by this visit, we want to see the Gent Altar piece on our return. But we are a bit too late. Instead of culture, we have burgers at the harbor and watch the people sit and celebrate. Again, we enjoy drinks on the balkony.

After a late sunset, we walk the iluminated streets of Gent, watching the sights and the crowds.

22.06. We “sleep in” and finally get to see the Gent Altar piece in St. Baafs.

Around 10.30, we say goodbye to our appartment and make our way to Brussels.

Our first stop is the Atomium. Its our second visit, its crowded, but its still a great sight. 1958, a golden age of particle physics and science in general.

With some difficulty, we reach our hotel, the Metropol Hotel. This aging 5star hotel is the only hotel from the 19th century (1895) still in operations totay. It has hosted the Solvay Conference, Steven Hawking, Sophie Marceau and many others.

Entering the hotel feels like entering a movie. The hotel has no place to stop a car at the entrance. While my dad sits in the car blocking traffic, I try to find somebody to help us and als valet par the car. A friendly man from the hotel staff – after some persuasion, decides to help. But first, he needs to get his phone from the concierges desk, where he meets some friends feom the staff team. News have to be shared – which takes longer because of my constant interuptions. Finaly, the chats are over and we move to the entrance gate. There, the concierge stand needs to be sorted. Finally, he turns to me, standing right in front of our car: “Where is your car?”. As our rooms are not ready (checkin is at 15.00 sharp, not at 14:15, as this is not a place of babarians) we get to enjoy the cafe, where we try to communicate our order while the waiter zips by from left to eight, right to left, cleaning tables taking several orders simultaneously.

While the hotel is dated, the rooms are nice. We take a short break before we head out to explore the city. Past the stock amrket, we walk to the Grand Place. We spend some time to admire the architecture and the athmosphere.

Next stop is Manneken Pis. By now, we have heard three theories: 1. Its a patron of leather makers who would get their amonium from the morning pis of young boys. 2. Its a symbol of fire fighting as a duke heroically but out a fire by peeing on it. 3. The son of a duke took a pis during a battle. This was considered brave and honored by a statue. Anyway,…

We stroll around the downtown area and have some drinks at the Grand Place before we make our way to the restaurant Alexandre for my mothers belated 70s birthday celebration. We have a beautiful evening with great food and good talks.

On our way home, we, again, stop at the Grand Place for a few more drinks, enjoying the athmosphere.

23.06. After a not so great breakfast, we visit the Comic Museum.

Afterwards, we walk to the uptown, in particular the Parc de Bruxelles, the Palace and Place Royalle Bruxelles.

From there, we walk back to the Great Place for lunch. We buy some sweets, have a final coffee at the hotel rrstaurant. Then its time for Michi and me to leave. We take a flixbus from Gare Nord. The bus constantly drips AC water from the clock (!), but we make it.