Fall for Flanders and all its Medieval Beauty
No trip to Brussels would be complete without taking the one-hour journey west to Bruges. You can catch the train either at the Brussels Nord, Central or Midi stations. No reservation needed (or taken) and trains leave about every half hour. When you get off the train in you only need to walk a short distance, crossing over a canal by bridge to discover what some have called the "Venice of the North."
Standing over the bridge you'll see a series of canals, grass parkways with a blanket of wildflowers, white buildings with orange rooftops and Benedictine nuns parading in old-fashioned habits. This is a great walking town, but if you're looking for romance or charm (easily found in Bruges), hop in a horse-drawn carriage or take a canal boat tour.
For a high-flying vantage point, climb the 366 steps of the belfry of Bruges, a medieval bell tower in the town's historical center. What once served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger, today, for a small fee, you can see more pleasant things – like orange rooftops as far as the eye can see, and a maze of canals webbing around the town. After such a workout, head back down (try not to get dizzy) and stop at a café for a glass of cherry-flavored Belgian Kriek beer.
Bruges is well known for its delicate lace production. For a small fee, watch women move their hands ever so quickly to craft these beautiful crocheted creations. Bring home a tablecloth or set of placemats to remind you of Bruges every time you sit down to eat.
Bruges is just the beginning of your journey into Flanders. See what sparkles in Antwerp, center of the diamond trade, and be there in less than 90 minutes. For more riches, Oostende, also known as the "North Port" is where you'll gawk at million-dollar yachts. For more medieval charm, Ghent, just 30 minutes away, used to be one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe. Today, it's the biggest car-free area in Belgium, allowing you to walk freely among the well-preserved architecture. Travel to Bruges using a Eurail Benelux Pass.
Bruges is special for its intense beauty. Yes, there are museums to see and towers to climb, but most come to simply "be" here. Walk through busy squares. Take a moment to reflect in a quiet park. Stop for a bite at a café on an intimate cobblestone street. And make "old times" new again.
Contributed by: Vida, Development Coach, is 100% Lithuanian and has plans to visit the country soon.