Day trip in search of storybook-worthy scenery
You don’t have to choose fairytale scenes over culture-dripping grit. In fact, I encourage you to do both. Hopping Intercity trains in any direction can land you in a page ripped from a storybook narrative.
Picturesque Bruges is about an hour from Brussels and where I learned about the real hot chocolate, none of that powdered Swiss Miss crap. I’m not afraid to say it was life-changing. Bruges is also annoyingly photogenic with its canals, cobblestones, and general medievalry.
Stumbling upon a hidden alley bar rewards patrons with house-brewed De Garre beer, just off the main tourist route. Test your tolerance with the Tripel Van De Garre, a cool 11% alcohol content brew that definitely packs a wallop. Or fulfill your enchanted fantasy in any of the numerous shops where intricate teapots and pocket-sized treats are presented on posh platters, making a hard case for daily waffle tea parties.
A half hour’s train ride from Brussels will get you to Ghent, a city still emerging from its under-the-radar post in a solid way. Big on culture, big on architecture, and big on food, Ghent is just, well, big… without being huge, you know? If you trek two hours south from Brussels by train, you can discover Dinant, pretty, little hamlet where two rivers meet and giant saxophones hang out on the streets. Grab a local Couque de Dinant biscuit, a hard, but sweet, treat native to the city. Let it melt in your mouth as you tour some caves, and marvel at castles. Fairytale? You betcha.