After a couple of hours in Brussels, it was off to Bruges. Finding where to buy tickets was a bit confusing, as there were two ticket offices in the main train station, one for international tickets and one for domestic. Once I found the right one the purchase was easy though, as same day tickets are flexible with time. There was no security so it was just a wait at the platform for a few minutes before the arrival of the train.
The distance was quite far, one hour at a fairly high speed. The irony is that I could have gone to France in 36 minutes on the Eurostar. However, Bruges is a sight to behold according to what I’d read.
After getting off at the train station, I wasn’t exactly where to go so I just followed the crowd of tourists assuming they were going to the center. The day was cold and drizzly so I think this cut the amount of visitors. The town definitely had an archaic center and I can see why it’s romanticized as a typical old European city.
Though the canals get a lot of hype, they didn’t look like much to me.
As with many cities, the highlight was the center of the city which was more impressive than I’d expected.
It was large with fantastic architecture, and a crowd of horses. The horse ride sounded intriguing until I saw the price of 50 euros.
I sampled a few chocolate shops and bought a couple of trinkets in preparation for the Belgium vs. England world cup game later that evening.
One thing I noticed is that the High Street of European cities is really just a street for shopping. I saw many of the same brands here that I did in England. One shop made a point to mention to me to ask for a VAT refund form so I can get tax money back for purchases made in the EU. If only I had known that earlier on, this is a good tip for global travel in general.
After a couple of hours, it was back to Brussels to watch the semifinal at a decent time. I found a bar near my hotel that was already packed an hour before the game. I ended up sitting on the floor near the front.
There were quite a few French fans, interestingly enough. They were treated well also, which I couldn’t see happening in many other countries. In the end, the French won due to one well-constructed corner kick. The French reveled, the Belgians went about their night, and I wandered around several streets looking for a place that served mussels. In the end, I decided to order over my phone as there was no way I was leaving Belgium without this. I was a bit surprised at the amount of mussels, I was given at least 50. No complaints, as this was a good way to end a busy day in which I traversed 3 cities and saw a World Cup game.