I first visited Belgium in high school as part of an exchange program. At that time I spent a week in Bruges and soon fell in love with the lovely brick houses and their beer. Mostly beer. It's been a while and I wanted to take Nina to see Bruges, plus I wanted to check Gent as well.
There's a direct connection from Ljubljana to Brussels with low-cost Wizz Air, so that was convenient. We only had two full days but it was enough for a short city break. This was our first couchsurfing experience and probably not the last. The lovely couple gave us an amazing welcome in their cozy home in Gent. With food, private room and post-it notes everywhere :) Thanks Elke and Willem, you're the best! :)
We started the first day by taking a train to Bruges. We continued on foot towards the town centre through Koning Albert I park and got "lost" somewhere around Sint-Janshospitaalpark. Walking the streets we somehow ended up at Grote Markt, just where we wanted. It's a very lively square with colorful brick houses and restaurants. Belfort would be a nice viewpoint but there was just too much crowd outside. We settled with Bruges Beer Museum in the eastern corner of the square.
The Beer Experience
You learn about the history of beer, from its beginnings until the present day, beer in Bruges, Trappist beers, beer types and brewing processes. You can taste, smell and feel every beer ingredient. After the museum visit you get to taste the different beer types and styles. The price of admission includes a tasting of three beers of your choice. You can use the different touch screens to find out about the origins of each beer or why a certain beer has more of a sweet, sour or bitter taste. You can choose from 16 diverse draught beers. We also offer a range of matching cheeses.
Bruges Beer Museum
We then continued towards Groenerei, supposedly the nicest canal. It really is a romantic spot with the old bridge, green trees and old architecture all around. The famous spot by the side of Dijver Canal is also nice. We checked out a couple of shops and headed back to the train station on the lovely Oostmeers street. The train didn't leave for another hour so we chilled in the nearby park, just across the road from the station.
The train later took us north to the coast at Knokke-Heist. It's a nice beach town with a promenade, a bit posh though. It wasn't as bright and cheerful since the streets were mostly empty. We spent the evening in Gent centre, around Korenmarkt, St. Michael's bridge, Korenlei/Graslei, had dinner at Club Reserva and a couple of beers at Café 't Galgenhuis.
The next day we explored Gent. It was a raining. We started with Korenmarkt, took a peek at the flea market inside Saint Nicholas' Church and climbed Belfort for a view over the city. Then some lunch, tour of Gravensteen castle and a stroll on Kranlei bank and across the bridge towards Vrijdagmarkt.
The weather cleared up in the evening so Willem and Elke took us out to De Frietketel and Vooruit - arts center and a café, where we tried a couple more beers. That concluded our bank holiday getaway.
I now have to say, having seen both towns - Bruges is on a more touristy side, whereas Gent just feels more relaxed and genuine. Also the town centre in Gent is crazy beautiful, in my opinion even more so than the sights in Bruges. But a short stop in both of these Flemish towns is definitely a good idea.