Updated: Oct 19, 2018
by Nina Sabin - Travel
On this trip we started our tradition of visiting more than one country on a vacation. France is so close to Belgium and Germany, and since we had the emtore Eid holiday to travel - 11 days - we decided those countries needed exploring as well.
We toured France for five days and then took a high speed train (Eurail) from France to Belgium. The high speed train was a very different experience than the train we rode on in Egypt. It was a newer, sheik, and we sat backwards, which was a very unusual sensation. The high-speed rail is a type of rail transport that operates significantly faster than traditional rail traffic, using an integrated system of specialized rolling stock and dedicated tracks.
The train ride took only 90 minutes. As I mentioned in the Exploring France Blog, we visited in cold, wet, snowy January. However, after residing in Florida and Saudi Arabia, the cold weather was a nice change and our girls were so excited to see snow.
Belgium shares borders with France (556 km), Germany (133 km), Luxembourg (130 km) and the Netherlands (478 km). How could we resist a visit to this country?
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and that is where we started our tour of Belgium. We like to walk so we spent our time enjoying the sites. Brussels ('Bruxelles' in French, 'Brussel' in Flemish) is a stylish city of great European architecture, food, and fine arts. This is where we learned that the taste of the country, by trying local foods, leaves a lasting impression about that that country.
The heart of Brussels, Manneken- Pis, a sculpture of a little boy urinating that has become the city's beloved symbol. Tourists love to take pictures with the statue and often you might see the statue dressed up in different fashions. The tradition of dressing up the Manneken-Pis dates back to the 17th century, and he has an incredible 970 outfits. The statue, designed by Hieronimus Duquesnoy the Elder, is seen as a symbol of the sense of humor and independence of the people of Brussels.
Other places we visited in Brussels were: Beersel – Beautiful brick fortress from 14th century surrounded by moats and watchtowers, Rue des Bouchers (Butcher’s Street) near the Grand Place, and the guardhouses and public execution sites in Grand Place Town Hall.
After our day in Brussels, we were ready for our next stop of the tour. We went back on the high speed train to Ghent in the morning and Bruges in the afternoon.
It was only a half hour ride and we were in the next Belgium city on our itinerary, Ghent. Tourists who visit Ghent visit the following sites: Castle of the Counts, climb the Belfort (the town’s belfry), Sint-Michielsburg where can see the towns of Sint Baafskathedrall, the Belfort and Sint Niklasskerk all from there. We also visited Old Ghent where houses date back to 1100AD.
As I mentioned earlier, food is an important part of any trip and a part of experiencing the culture. Therefore, before we went back to the train station to head on to Bruge, we ate lunch at Diavolo restaurant and enjoyed the specialty for Ghent. Waterzooi, a delicious chicken and vegetable stew like dish.
We went back on the train and in less than a half hour we were the most visited town in Belgium…Bruges. Bruges was built by the Count of Flanders to protect himself from Viking raids. Bruges is describe as the town that time has forgotten. It has the tallest building in Belgiu, Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk. Other places to see are: Chapel of the Holy Blood, town Hall, and Gruuthuse where you can climb the Belfry, bell tower.
We sure had a full day and adventure going through Belgium. Our next blog will take you to Germany and they fun and excitement we experienced there.
The format of our blogs will be changing slightly as this trip was from 2002 and we want you to also know what we are doing currently with our adventures. So stay tuned!
In next blog use the words follow alongside us as if you were there.