Saturday, 1 September 2018

5 day 4 nights in Belgium

When you think of holiday destinations in Europe, popular cities that springs to mind are like London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Rome... how about Belgium and its lovely cities? This was the exact train of thoughts I had when I planned my recent trip. The original plan was Paris and Barcelona but I did a last minute switch to Belgium after getting tempted by the sights and food on some travel guides. As a result, I spent 5 days and 4 nights in Belgium where I visited 4 Belgian cities.



There's really nothing much that intrigues me in Brussels besides eating. Located at the city centre near the Grand Place, there're rows and rows of chocolate shops. Most of them offers free tasting so you can pig your fill before buying some chocolate souvenirs home. The range of chocolates in Brussels totally blew me away. Every shop I go, I almost wished I could buy the entire shop and I don't even like candies.

Another must eat in Brussels is Belgian Waffles. There's long streaks of queue for all the good ones so be mentally prepared to wait. Maison Dandoy comes highly recommended prior to my trip. Despite promising myself I'll try it, I gave up queuing. The waffle in the photo is a Brussels waffle with dark chocolate sauce from The Waffle Factory. They also have a queue but thankfully it moves much faster.

Aside from the snacks, there's the famous Manneken Pis which is a classic must take monument. It's impossible to not know who he is. That guy is literally everywhere ranging from chocolate models to even the peeing on the sink where I wash my hands at one of the restaurants I dined at. What is less known however is Zinneke Pis and Jeanneke Pis. These two are Manneken Pis's dog and sister. You might want to take photos with all 3 monuments if you need a walking activity after all the eating. There's also a comic strip wall nearby but it's so pathetic, I don't want to feature it here. 

Another traditional Belgian food is meatballs and I encourage you to try some. We went to Balls & Glory to check out their meatballs. I don't take beef and most meatballs are made up of veal and pork. Balls & Glory serves up meatballs of other flavours like pork, chicken and vegetarian. They are really good and worth the calories! I enjoyed the sides very much too! 

We also discovered an unexpected pasta place. Vain Pot's tip to finding good food is to see if they have 4.5 stars or more on TripAdvisor. On this instance, it worked excellently. Pasta Divina is the best thing that happened on my holiday. The pastas are so heavenly, I am filled with deepest regret I didn't have time to eat them again. This is the first time I felt an immense urge to ask the table next to me to let me take a bite of their pasta because I simply wanted to try the entire menu. 

Mussels, another classic Belgian food not to be missed. To try authentic Belgian mussels with fries, it's best to visit Le Zinneke where they serve up mussels cooked in as many different ways as you can possibly imagine. I'd like to warn Asians though that they seem a bit discriminatory. We felt that the service for us was terribly slow and other tables were served multiple times before we had any service at all. I'm glad to try the mussels once but I don't want to go back and get frustrated again. 


Ghent is known as Belgium's best kept secret. It's a historic city with lots of architectural beauty from the commissioned murals that totally left me mesmerized. I totally enjoyed my day there and it's my favourite place in Belgium. Walking around Ghent has a calming effect on the mind because everything just looks so pretty and ancient. 

While at Ghent, you can visit the Gravensteen Castle which carries a dark history. Personally, I think castles are better appreciated outside rather than the inside. If you have been to castles before, you might wish to skip going in. If not, it's pretty worth the money. 

I'll strongly recommend the canal boat ride while in Ghent. This is especially the case if you love taking photos as some sights are out of reach without the boat ride. I've been on a couple of boat rides this trip and I must attest that the ride in Ghent is the most value for money. The sights are spectacular and taking in the multitude of historic architecture can totally take your mind away from stress. 

As we were in Ghent on a Sunday, most shops are closed. Gust however is a highly rated brunch place that lives up to their hype. The brunch menu we tried was fantastic! Worth the visit when in Ghent. 


Brugge is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belgium. It is known for its preserved buildings and cobbled streets. Brugge attained most of its touristy fame from being listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site. Walking around the city, you can get really awed by the amazing preservation of the ancient buildings. People still live in such houses today??? 

I was quite determined to try as much local delights of Belgium as possible. The lunch in Brugge took place in a restaurant serving authentic Belgian delicacies. I'm glad I tried the eel in green sauce where the eel tasted so fresh and tender, and I was impressed the kitchen came out and gave us more eel half way into the meal. Wow! The mussels and fritez were equally awesome. You can taste the freshness of the mussels and it's not rubbery to eat at all. I highly recommend Restaurant De Koeste when in Brugge to try their local dishes. 

Another fantastic place I dined at was De Bocarme. It has a unique underground cellar decorated setting and the restaurant is family owned. I was impressed by the impeccable service despite they only have 3 people operating the place. It's a wonderful ambiance and you can see each table enjoying their food and wine. As it was Vain Pot's birthday, I'm very impressed with the management for successfully producing a cake with sparkles at my early morning request. Seriously, finding a birthday cake in Belgium is probably the biggest challenge this trip...

Personally, I found Brugge a little too touristy for my liking. There's so many souvenir shops, I lost count how many we entered. Besides that, the cobblestone streets and standard historic design of their buildings left me bored later in the day. One thing you can try is the horse carriage tours. They look fun and it's probably worth the memory. Having said that, I couldn't take the stench of the horses so had to pass. 


Dinant is another under discovered city of Belgium. The number of tourists visiting is really a handful and it's such a pleasure posing for nice photography without masses of people in your photo. Really, it's quite a joy to be here for photography aficionados like me. 

One of the attraction in Dinant is the Grotte La Merveilleuse. The cave tour was quite satisfying as it was my first ever visit to a cave. That said, the guide had limited English so you can only catch key words and the bulk of the tour was conducted in French. Dinant is located in a French speaking Belgian community. I simply busied myself snapping photos. By the way, the end of the cave requires you to climb 150 steps to exit so be in comfortable shoes for your own sake.

Aside from the caves, there's the Charles De Gaulle Bridge where saxophones of different designs and nationality line the bridge. Dinant is also known as the Saxophone City because it's the hometown to the inventor of the Saxophone. 

Another key highlight of Dinant is the Citadel of Dinant where I took the shortest cable car ride up. You can also climb 420 steps up the stairs if you want some exercise. The view here is taken on top the Citadel where you get to tour its historic war site. 

On top of the wonderful time I had taking photos, I would like to highlight my particular joy in my Speculoos ice cream cone. I simply love the sweetness of this flavour and associate speculoos with Belgium so much. It's such a fattening indulgence but I don't care, it's happy food. You can buy it from Leonidas in Dinant. The food choices in Dinant is truly limited and that's the biggest drawback of the place so please plan your meals outside of Dinant. 

I found Dinant to be a beautiful quiet town that really satisfy a one day trip. I went camera crazy there and so did Vain Pot. She got plentiful of display photos there. 

To sum up my 5 day 4 nights Belgium trip, it's more than satisfying. I enjoyed my stay and still miss the pastas at Pasta Divina. I even joked to Vain Pot we could make another day trip to Brussels simply to satisfy our food cravings and shop for chocolate. Ghent is my favourite place and I highly recommend everyone who visits Belgium to take a peek at this beautiful city. I really would love to be back during Christmas 😍...