The next leg of our tour was Ghent and I am going to be slightly biased when I say it was my favourite part of the trip because it’s where I got engaged. However it is a stunning little place full of history and a great base for exploring other neighbouring places; I’m already planning a trip back with my mum and sister for a girls weekend away!
Travel and Check In
We arrived from Amsterdam so our journey was mainly be train which is the easiest by far even if you are heading there from the UK. Catch a Eurostar to Brussels and then the local train to the Gent-St-Pieters it can look a little uninteresting when you first arrive but don’t let that fool you once you weaved your way to the historical part you’ll see you are in for a treat. We picked an IBIS for our stay, it’s a chain I’ve used before and although I prefer to pick boutique places this ticked all the boxes. Perfect if your travelling on a budget but want a good central base with clean rooms and friendly staff. It’s quite a walk from the station but if you’d rather jump on the tram – take the number 1 and you’ll be checked in, in no time. Something to note about Ghent is that a lot of restaurants close really early, we arrived early evening and only had a handful of places to pick from so if you are heading there I would try to arrive earlier rather than later! All checked in we struck out in search of food.
Comfort Food and an Early Night
As I said Ghent seems to shut down early so we headed for Otomat a warm welcoming beacon for two tired travellers. Seated in the window overlooking the canal we tucked into delicious pizza; Pumpkin jack flash for me and Rock the Kasbah for him, washed down with a healthy helping of beer. Feeling full but comfortable we wove our way back to the hotel for an early night. I wish we had walked a little more and explored the city at night but I was knackered so the exploring would have to wait!
Day Trip to Bruges
We rose early ready for an exciting adventure and our noses sniffed out Mokabon coffee. It’s a locals place which you could tell as soon as you walked through the door to see every table full. We ordered takeaway and hurried down to the station to set off for a day in Bruges which is only 40 minutes by train. In what seemed like a blink of an eye we were stepping onto the platform with our stomachs rumbling and in search of brunch. Completely by fluke we stumbled across Insta-worthy That’s Toast and grabbed a table inside, shedding our layers and perusing the menu. The Mr went for the Triple Madame Molten; Old Bruges cheese and Serrano ham on triple layered toast topped with a fried egg and sweet pepper mayonnaise whereas I opted for a slightly more tradition brunch choice The Smokey; smoked salmon, horseradish cream, Spanish capers, lemon and avocado and because we couldn’t resist we ordered toasted dumplings to share. Everything was amazing, washed down with tea and I would really love them to open in London soon!
Whistle Stop Tour
With only a short time in Bruges we had to be slightly picky with our activities and our first stop was the rather bizarre but wonderful Frietmuseum. Yes readers a museum dedicated to the humble fried potato. It’s possibly one of the strangest museums I’ve visited – and I’ve been to a fair few odd ones but it has a special charm about it! We then headed off to climb the 366 steps of the Belfrey of Bruges for the spectacular views of the gorgeous city. Satisfied that we would be back in the near future to explore it more we set off on the hunt for beer and the Mr knew just the place. Zot Brewery; there is a tour available but we sadly missed the last one of the day but if you can book onto it I would, if not then grab a drink in the tap-room instead.
Delicious Dinners and Marriage Proposals
Feeling in need of sustenance we headed back to Ghent for dinner, we had no plans but found amazing reviews for Du Proges online and decided to try our chances on getting a table – if you can book, you won’t regret it. After a 10 minute wait we were seated and unknown to me an engagement ring was burning a hole in the Mr’s pocket. Make sure you bring your appetite because the portion sizes are huge! For starters we shared cheese croquettes which were little balls of cheesy goodness and scampi with garlic butter. For mains the Mr went traditional with Flemish stew whereas I went a little more Italian with a smoked salmon Carbonaro. Both equally delicious but thank goodness I had a stretchy waistband because I was full. I literally can’t wait to go back and eat there again! We wandered from the hotel across the square towards our hotel before in the moonlight the Mr got down on one knee and made me even happier than I already was – now I’m not saying that you have to get married whilst in Ghent but if you are looking for a romantic city break to pop the question I would highly recommend.
Last Minute Castle Tours
We woke up the next day already sad that we weren’t staying longer, checked out and head to Alice – I totally forgot to take any photos of this gorgeous place. I blame the new ring on my finger but trust me it’s beautiful and the food is really good! Fuelled up for another day we made our away over to The Castle of the Counts. Ghent is steeped in history and we could only pick one thing for the day and I’m so glad this was our choice. This sounds like a weird statement but it’s the best audio tour I’ve ever had and is the perfect afternoon activity for couples, families or solo travellers. If you’ve got longer climb the tower, visit the cathedral or take a canal tour. I would highly recommend choosing Ghent as your base for a sightseeing holiday of Belgium.