It was a long trip to Brussels, mainly because I decided to take the megabus, on my own. It was one of those reflective trips were you feel as if you’re suffocating in your current environment and you just need to breathe. When you need a new scenery to piece your thoughts together, to get your thinking straight. Even though it was long, I barely felt the hours go by. I guess it helped break down the journey a bit having to get out of the bus onto the ferry at Calais.
When I got to Brussels, it was cold and wet, no different to English weather. Dawn was just breaking, though the clouds did not lift throughout the day. I got there in the early hours of the morning and found a cute cafe to pass time waiting for the city to wake up. I might have struggled a little with language seeing as I spoke neither Dutch nor German, so I was left once more to use of universal tourist sign language of endless pointing, nodding and shaking.
Even through the grey skies, the architecture was beautiful in an understated way. It was just there in the background unassuming. Normally I’m not a big fan of gold, but somehow it worked strikingly well on the Grand Palace. I went into a few museums, but by far the best was the Musical Instrument Museum. Its a mini hike to get up to it, but totally worth it. The range and age of instruments is unbelievable and managed to keep me, a non musician entertained for quite a while.
I did most of Brussels in a day, but was torn between Ghent or Bruges for the following day. After having the obligatory waffle in a pristine cafe near the Grand Palace, I like many tourists before me solicited the advice of the waiter. To be fair it was a slow day and there’s far worse things he could have been doing than chatting to me. He recommended Ghent, so there I was the following morning on a packed train to Ghent. It was a 30 minute journey so I didn’t mind standing most of it, looking out through the window as the train rolled through the countryside.
If I thought I had seen the best of Belgium, I was happily mistaken. Ghent is like a neatly tucked away gem that sends a flicker of excitement once you find it. I was glad I’d chosen Ghent. The cafes didn’t disappoint either, and no-one bothered me. To be fair at no point did I feel my safety threatened in the two and a half days I was in Belgium.