Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Leuven, Belgium was my home while studying abroad, and while there I found many ways to get the most of my time and money. Here are some of my tips for Belgium. 

To travel, take advantage of the public transportation. You can get a "Go Pass" for the trains, which costs $50 euros, and is good for 10 one way train rides anywhere in Belgium. This was a deal, since most one way train rides were in between 5 and 10 euros, so you could take a day trip for just 10 euros! And if you are traveling to one of the countries on Belgium's boarder, you can use a pass to get to a boarder city, then buy a ticket to the city you want, which sometimes can be cheaper. This can come in handy when visiting Luxembourg, Germany and France! Also, if you have enough time, buy your ticket at the train station, instead of on the train. You will get stuck having a higher costing ticket if you buy on the train, since you don't have any option but to buy it! And buses are an affordable way to traverse the city once you get there. 

You absolutely must try Belgian fries while you are there; there are double fried for unhealthy goodness and then topped with sauce! I recommend the samurai sauce for a spicy kick! Another must eat: Belgian waffles. Most sugar waffles are just 1 euro, and the perfect snack or dessert. They are made with pearl sugar, which adds a caramelized sugary crunch on the outside of the waffle.  If you like seafood, try the mussels in white wine. Usually served with fries, this is a traditional Belgian meal! Many Belgians get sandwiches for lunch, and there are plenty of sandwich shops to chose from!

Next, beer. When in Belgium, you MUST try beer. How can you not when it is so cheap! And I'm not talking Natty Light cheap, I mean affordable and delicious! If you stop in Leuven, go to the Oude Markt, a square filled with bars, all with open air tables to enjoy your drink and the weather. There are also Drink Centers, which offer a wide selection of beers from all over the Country. There are also breweries all over the country that you can tour and do tastings, many offer student discounts. 

In Brussels, make sure to see the Manneken pis, the statue of a little boy peeing. It's a strange concept, but it's still fun to see! Depending on the time of the year, he is dressed up for any occasion! And the best part, it's free!  Also, The Town square and city hall, beautiful and historic buildings in the center of the city. Delirium Cafe is a famous bar with a long beer list and interesting atmosphere, try their beer while you are there! Finally, Cantillon Brewery: famous for its lambic beer and spontaneous fementation. It's an acquired taste, but definitely worth a try. When you get hungry, try the side streets off the Grand Palace, where there are many traditional restaurants where you can get a good deal!

In Ghent, hike up the narrow spiral steps to the to of the bell tower revealing a spectacular view of the city! Then stop in St. Bavo's Cathedral, an ornate Cathedral that is the seat of the diocese of Ghent. See the city from the water, and take a boat ride along the river! Try a nose of Ghent, a chocolate treat famous for the city. 

The country may be small, but it has a lot to offer! Visit Belgium for a wonderful time!

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