Belgium- Brussels, Bruges and Ghent
Brussels, Belgium is a 3.5 hour drive for us so we decided to cross it off our to-go list and head there in January. Bruges and Ghent were also on our to-go list and are close to Brussels so we also went to those destinations. Our trip to Belgium was somewhat uneventful. I say somewhat because Olivia did get sick and then I was a nervous wreck thinking she had the flu or something awful. I think she was sick, though, because she was teething. Luckily we were at the rest stop when this all happened so we were able to get the messes cleaned up and be on our way.
We got into Brussels around 3pm. The weather was sunny, but brisk. It was SO cold the entire trip. The weather app said it was in the upper 30’s, but it felt like it was negative something. We went straight to the Thon Hotel Bristol Stephanie. It was a beautiful hotel. The second you stepped in the door it was full of jewel toned colors and beautiful mirrors on the wall outlined in black crystal-like stones. The hotel got even better for me when we stepped into our room and saw a large room with hardwood floors and a white marble bathroom.
Olivia was sick again once we got to the hotel so we got her cleaned up and everything situated. Most of the restaurants don’t open for dinner until 6pm and the one that we wanted to go to didn’t open until 6:30pm so we decided to take a walk to HEMA which is a store we went to in Spain. It was a bitter cold walk. Along the way to HEMA we discovered what appeared to be a shopping district. It was the main street and it was covered in high and mid-end stores. We did some window shopping, ate chocolates and tried a waffle along the way. By this time, we were freezing, but still had time to kill before dinner. We headed back to the hotel, got Olivia a snack and then went to dinner.
When we arrived at Le Chou de Bruxelles for dinner they told us they were completely booked for the evening. Before we left the restaurant, Stefan asked them if they could recommend another restaurant. They said they couldn’t make any recommendation, but could accommodate us if we were able to leave by 8:30pm. Of course we said yes and settled into our table. This restaurant had great reviews and we were excited to try the food! We started our meal with cheese croquettes. For our main courses, Stefan had mussels and frites and I had shrimp in lobster sauce. Olivia chowed down on a bit of everything. She was fussy the entire meal so we scarfed it down and headed back to the hotel. The past couple trips we have been on Olivia has not wanted to sleep and this trip was no different. She loves to sleep in her nursery and in her own crib! This trip Stefan had a cold so it seemed every time Olivia would be settled and asleep he would cough or sneeze and she would be up again OR they would both be snoring and Mom wasn’t sleeping!
Running on little to no sleep we headed to Bruges the next day. As soon as we got there we saw Gravensteen Castle which so happens to be right in the middle of town. Next thing you know Stefan was driving down the cobblestone filled streets lined with charming old buildings. I fell in love and was so excited to be there. It was so much more charming than what we had experienced so far in Brussels. While in Bruges we did lots of sampling of chocolates and waffles. The waffle we had in Bruges was to die forrr good. The one we had the night before in Brussels was mehh so my expectations weren’t very high, but the one in Bruges was delicious. They were made out of lumps of dough and sugar crystals instead of batter. It was so cold in Bruges. My hands were burning from the cold so we decided to pop into De Vier Winden to warm up for lunch. It was quite expensive and we found out why when are food arrived. The portion sizes were massive. We finished up there and did some more exploring around Bruges Markt before driving to Ghent.We drove to Ghent where we saw Gravensteen Castle which so happens to be right in the middle of town. Next thing you know Stefan ended up driving down a street filled with a ton of people that appeared to not be appropriate for traffic. After having to back up and try to get out of there without hitting a person or being hit by a train we were a little stressed out and there was no parking that we saw available so we decided to head back to the hotel. It had been a long day already. It did look like a cute area to explore though so we might head back there another time. After having little to no sleep and knowing Olivia would be grouchy at a 6pm dinner we decided to get take out sushi for dinner and eat in the hotel room. Olivia tends to be very fussy around 6:30-7pm because at home that is her bath time followed by bed time. Olivia did not sleep well this night either.
We got up the next morning and headed to Peck 47 for brunch. It was such a cute hipster-like restaurant. We wanted to try everything on the menu! I opted for salmon benedict; Stefan had the Peck special and a cucumber, peach juice. We weren’t sure about the portion sizes since everything we had ordered in Belgium thus far was huge so we thought Olivia could share ours. Well, baby Olivia was hungry that morning and ate most of my meal so we decided to order an Açaí bowl for everyone to share. The food was delicious! While at breakfast Stefan and I decided we should leave that day instead of spending our last night in the hotel room and not getting any sleep. After brunch we did our final exploring in Grand-Place, Mannekin Pis, and the Royal Palace then headed back to the hotel to pack up. A lot of businesses are closed on Sundays so there wasn’t much else for us to do. Our trip home was calm for the most part. Olivia slept and ate her Cheerios the majority of the drive home. We plan on going back to Bruges and Ghent in the spring on our way to visit Holland to stop for a waffle.