We took a day trip to Antwerp, which is Belgium’s second largest city after Brussels. It has great medieval character with a lot of beautiful buildings and winding cobblestone streets. Antwerp is about 40 minutes from Brussels by train. The train station is a sight in itself with all its spectacular architecture.
We saw the Grote Markt (Great Market) square in the heart of the old city. It is very picturesque with the Brabo statue situated in front of the beautiful Town Hall building and guild houses lining the rest of the square.
We stumbled upon the Steen Castle, which is a medieval stone fortress built in the middle ages and is the oldest building in Antwerp. From here, there is a nice view back towards the Grote Markt and looming Cathedral of Our Lady gothic church.
We were wandering down a small pedestrian street when we came across a little shop emanating a heavenly smell and a line-up of patrons trickling out the door. We didn’t know exactly what they were selling, but quickly joined the line. We were treated to the cutest little bakery with homemade speculoos cookies, beautiful pastries and hearty breads. We loaded up on some treats for a couple of Euros and walked away happy with our discovery!
Bruges is about 1 hour away by train and we visited this city on another day trip. We discovered the Belgian railway has a travel deal where fares are half price on the weekend, so we made sure we took advantage of that. Bruges has been described as the perfect fairy-tale medieval town as it has many cobbled pedestrian streets, charming canals and market squares.
We started in the Grote Markt historic centre of Bruges where they were just starting to set up for the Christmas Markets. This area has the Belfry Bell tower as well as many colorful buildings surrounding it. And who can forget the countless frites stands and chocolate shops!
We slowly meandered our way off the beaten path to explore the intricate canals linking the waterways. We also took a Canal tour, which was a great way to discover Bruges from a different angle and see all the ornate buildings lining the water.
All in all we had a great weekend away. The only downfall was when my small jar of speculoos cookie butter was confiscated from me at the airport since we only took carry-on. That security officer had some nerve denying a pregnant woman one of her few indulgences! It certainly wasn’t the usual hot destination babymoon that you typically see (not that I would have minded having some virgin pina coladas while basking somewhere hot in the sun!). We ticked a few places off our list of destinations to visit and it got us excited to start planning some new adventures to take in the New Year!