Belgium: A Weekend of Firsts

After two weekends in a row of traveling, I’m back in Amsterdam, curled up with a cup of my favorite tea uploading all my pictures and wearing my new flannel (a sign that the weather has finally started showing the first glimpse of fall).

Two weekends ago, I went with a group of my friends to Antwerp and Brussels, Belgium.

Ah Belgium, the land of delicious chocolate, perfect waffles, crispy frites, and more beer than you could imagine. Basically a carb lovers paradise, so needless to say I absolutely loved every bite (minute) of it.

welcome to heaven welcome to heaven

Twerpin it in Antwerp:

We started out our trip with a train ride to Antwerp. I’ve never been on a train before and was excited but nervous to see what it would be like. I learned this: longer trains have wifi (to post selfies of your carb overindulging), people are extremely stingy about their seats (especially the coveted 4 person seating area that offers extra leg room), and there is no worse situation when traveling than sitting in the close vicinity to a screaming baby. I thought planes were bad, but somehow a screaming baby on a train where you aren’t able to turn your headphones all the way up in a vain attempt to drone it out in fear of missing your stop, and no free coffee/water is exponentially worse.

Anywayyyyy, the train was no bad at all, very quick and pretty seamless, but nothing like the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express image I had built up in my mind. No chocolate frogs, but I did snag a Snickers bar before I left the station.

We made it to Antwerp and went straight to our hostel to check in and drop off our bags before grabbing a bite to eat and checking out the city. The train station was beautiful and our hostel was (somewhat) easy to find. For my first hostel experience, it was definitely not a bad one at all. The place was quirky, the people were friendly and there was Nora Jones playing in the main room. Oh and there was a 2.50 euro breakfast feast consisting of every breakfast food you can imagine and piping hot coffee.

IMG_7583 our first view of Antwerp, the beautiful train station

the (crowded) living room of our hostel the (crowded) living room of our hostel

After grabbing a quick dinner at a local restaurant, which oddly enough was an English pub, we decided to head out and check out the nightlife. We found ourselves in a student bar, where unfortunately due to the fact that the university in town didn’t start up for another week, we were the only students actually in the bar. After chatting up the bartender, we went to check out another bar right in the middle of the main square, De Engel, located next to De Bengel. No, I’m not making this up and yes I am a five year old and found it hilarious to say both names together in an attempted Belgian accent.

We meet up with a group of friends of ours that live in our building at VU and had a great time, even when we were being chased by bar owners for stealing their beer glasses. This is one of the many reasons I haven’t worn heels since I’ve been abroad, because I’m clumsy enough without added stilts that pass as shoes into the equation and for more practical reasons such as outrunning angry Belgian men.

The Chocolate Line, once owned by Napoleon The Chocolate Line, once owned by Napoleon

After a fun night out we woke up early and headed out to check out the city of Antwerp, and first on our list was finding some delicious Belgian chocolate. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, but when in Belgium, eat and drink as the Belgiums consume aka a free for all pass on chocolate, waffles, and beer.

Insert The Chocolate Line, a petite chocolate shop known for its chocolate sculptures and its famous past owner, Napoleon (yeah that one that ruled a country, nbd). I decided on getting a small box of truffles and I can definitely say that it was the most chocolate I’ve ever had hands down. These people aren’t messing around when it comes to chocolate.

little box of heaven little box of heaven

In the afternoon we decided to do a bit more sightseeing and then took a break for a late lunch near the water at a small cafe. After we finished our seafood feast, we grabbed our bags and made our way to the train station to head off to Brussels. That’s one of my favorite parts about Europe, traveling is so ridiculously cheap! Train from Amsterdam to Antwerp? 25 euros or less. Train from Antwerp to Brussels? It’ll set you back a whopping 7 euros. I couldn’t even dream of going anywhere for that much in the States!

Brussels:

When we first got to Brussels, we immediately hiked over to Grand Place to check out the famous square, and were surprised to find a marching band performing in the middle of the square. Cheesy but seriously, talk about a welcome to the city.

Xabier, Jack, & Rhona, my fellow travelers for the weekend, in the square Xabier, Jack, & Rhona, my fellow travelers for the weekend, in the square

After the band was finished, we went to check into our hostel which was only about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the center of the city. We grabbed dinner from a pizza place a few blocks from our place on the suggestion from the front desk, and then went back to the hostel to hang out and have a few drinks before going out.

Delirium Village, a small alley filled with almost a dozen cozy little bars, was recommended to us by various different people and after we got there I can see why. It was packed with people, had great prices, and a huge variety of beer on tap from all over Belgium and just about any other place you could imagine.

IMG_7746 Delirium Village

cheers to local Belgian beer cheers to local Belgian beer

Our final day in Brussels, we woke up early and went to go take a tour of the city. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip, it was lead by a local who was full of information about the city and recommendations on where to eat, drink, hang out all around the city, and the best part was it was free! Of course we tipped him because he did a fantastic job, but it was a good way to check out the city for a low price.

Our tour lead us all around the city and we saw comic street art, the beautiful cathedral, Mannekin Pis (yes the statue of a little boy peeing), and the main park that is lodged between the building of Parliament and the Grand Palace, home to the royal family.

the beautiful cathedral we saw on our walking tour the beautiful cathedral we saw on our walking tour

IMG_7780 streets of Brussels

sampling the local Trappist beer sampling the local Trappist beer

On the advice of our tour guide, we popped in to a local restaurant to get a real, authentic taste of a traditional Belgian meal. We had a relaxing dinner and after being sufficiently full, we ventured back to our hostel to grab our bags and head back to Amsterdam. Overall it was a great trip, with some very fun people!

traditional Belgian stew (and of course frites) traditional Belgian stew (and of course frites)

the last supper, Brussels edition the last supper, Brussels edition

Belgium, you are definitely a place that I want to make my way back to soon, if not for the beautiful buildings then definitely for the out of this world chocolate.

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