Let’s go on a road trip!
… He told me on my name day on August 15th. But first, he gave me my gift; a disk of Parov Stelar with a ticket inside! Of his concert! In Amsterdam! ‘Well, since the tickets in Athens were sold out let’s go and see him in Amsterdam’! I think I hit my head on the ceiling as I jumped really high from my enthusiasm! So, we started planning the basics first. Days and which cities we were going to visit. We thought of flying to Brussels and rent a car from there and drive to Belgium and Holland. We thought of visiting visit Ghent, Brugge, Amsterdam, Utrecht (where the concert eventually moved to), Leiden, Edam, Volendam, The Hague and finally Brussels. I couldn’t wait to go back to the office (yes, you can laugh) and confirm my November days off. My supervisor told me with surprise ‘you are signing for days off from now for November’? ‘Yes’ I told him, I want to be sure and book my tickets!
The next days passed with an everyday travel planning. Final decisions about which cities we were going to visit, the route we were going to follow, find tickets, car, hotels etc. My best thing! Planning and organizing trips! My world! Airbnb proved to be very useful, as I found very nice rooms (with an exception) in good prices. Moreover, we were going to stay (in a way) with the locals and what better in order to get to know a city?! We didn’t booked every night in advance, since our program would definitely change! After all, this is the essence of a road trip! You don’t know me yet, but the old me would freak out thinking ‘travelling with no hotel bookings? And what happens if we cannot find anything in the middle of the night?’ Nevertheless, the new me is different! I loved that challenge and to be honest, I wasn’t the one that got anxious when we had our first difficulty.
Time almost flew and hello November! We landed to Munich (first stop), we had coffee at the airport, where I was desperately looking for chocolate (not yet at Brussels, but it started already!) and then we continued by landing to Brussels. We got our car and the road trip started! Maps, travel books, travel notes from us filled our car! Perfection! Our first stop was Ghent. We wandered around the little streets of the town and we finally found our way to our room by asking a passer-by. We left our things and we were ready for walking around. Picturesque streets, canals, castles, medieval churches and the smell of freshly-baked waffle! We passed through the Castle of the Counts and headed to the old fishmarket. We kept looking at the wonderful colorful houses and we had pictures at the Saint Michael’s bridge. We made a stop for sea food at a very nice random restaurant and then we walked at the canal eating that freshly baked waffle with a view to the medieval port Graslei.
The next day found us to the Belfry Tower. At the top there is a dragon that is supposed to protect the city! I am telling you, Ghent is a fairytale! Mysterious, medieval and romantic. You think that ‘now a princess and a prince will show up’! I would suggest going to the top of the Tower and enjoying the view! It is, also, worth visiting the St Bavo’s cathedral. And don’t forget to look for the ‘Big Fish’ spot. If you have watched the movie you will understand! It is easy to find, the city is small. I would easily describe Ghent as ‘a little Amsterdam’! And that is how our visit to Ghent was completed. Next stop, Brugge! I was already in love with her! Yes, it is as beautiful as it seems at the pictures! The car was packed again and Brugge, here we come!
Nevertheless, before start talking about Brugge, I think I should share some basic information concerning road trips. Firstly, you should confirm that your driving license is valid for Europe. Secondly, the car must be safe. Even if you pay something more, prefer it, as you will spend a lot of hours in the car. Even though the highways are safe, it is better to get ahead. Don’t forget to check which road assistance covers you and of course remember to have with you the necessary medicine. Also, it is very important to realize that the car is going to be your home for the next days and you have to feel comfortable in it. So, pack your stuff accordingly. Lastly, you should definitely go on a road trip with someone you absolutely have common tastes. It is crucial not to start grumbling for possible difficulties, such as not being able to find a room instantly.
So, finally one my travel wishes became true. Brugge my love! Canals, lakes with white swans, medieval streets and alleys. I told you! I lived my own fairytale! I felt like a princess (wearing all-stars though, as the heels were uncomfortable for walking around)! My sense of smell was surprising intense and I was heading towards everything chocolate-ish! So many shops with chocolates and biscuits! If the prince would let me, I would buy something from every shop, but he was logical and told me ‘when are we going to eat all these’? ‘One last stop’ I told him and I found my paradise. A colorful store with so many cookies with different tastes! A shop that came out of a fairytale! The employee offered me a cookie filled with cinnamon and apple. Loved it. And got a box full of cookies. After that, I think I calmed down, so did the prince and we continued our walk.
The central square, Burg, is the heart of the city! Medieval architecture and sculpture. The symbol of the town is the church Belfort. If you bear it, it is worth climbing the stairs (I think they are around 300-400) which lead you to a magnificent view. Before the top, there are two floors with bells and clocks. While walking around the city, you will see baroque statues, very high temples, carriages and ofcourse colourful houses.
I suggest that you climb the stairs, so that afterwards you will have the reason to visit the Choco Museum! Ok, you will not exactly admire anything spectacular, but you will learn the history of chocolate, the ways of production, you will get to see a short live demonstration and I left the best for the end. You will eat chocolates for free!!
This little city in Belgium holds unchanged its medieval character, the buildings are perfectly maintained and the modern elements are the exception. Many call it ‘The Venice of the North’. It is unbelievably romantic! Simply, a fairytale!
See? I gave you an idea for a movie now! ‘In Bruges’!
And the trip goes on!