So a few weeks ago I went on a little European adventure to Belgium, to see what treasures I could find, and how much specialist beer I could drink. I did weeks of research for the trip, but all the places I mention below have been weasled down to only my favourite places, but I have only given links to the venues that I think are truly worth the trouble of visiting.
First up was Bruges where we stayed in the Bread and Butter Guesthouse with the lovely Frederika and John. They were great hosts and gave us excellent recommendations for the evening, although my favourite part of Bruges was Frederika's lovely breakfast and the orange bath!
We went for drinks in Cafe Rose Red, which have some truly excellent speciality beers, followed by a trip to 'T Zwart Huis, a jazz bar with good food and the best service I've received in a long while (come on London) but the saddest tale of all is that 'T Brugs Beertje was CLOSED, which was a real shame, I would recommend a visit for a truly excellent Belgian beer and old fashioned pub interior.
Next up was my favourite part of the holiday, Antwerp.
We stayed in an amazingly cheap apartment from Air BnB, which was very tastefully furnished in lovingly thrifted sixties-wear, we felt very at home there. Favourite hang out spots were Ra 13, which was my ultimate bestest place (that's a real word, right?). Like a smaller and slightly more 'out there' Dover Street Market, I could have stayed relaxing and chatting in the cafe ALL DAY. Literally. Enjoy the odd video link. Other almost as good cafes included Coffeelabs, which was perfect for spying good street style and was handily placed near the Belgian equivalent of Beyond Retro, T2. We accidentally stumbled across Seven Rooms Concept Store, but ended up sipping free champagne there for quite a while. It's a fascinatingly indulgent use of space, and they weren't snobby about the fact that I clearly was not going to spend 1000euros on a hairband, when I was clutching excitedly at my champagne glass wearing some threadbare fingerless gloves.
Delicious hot chocolates from Ra 13 & Mademoiselle Moustache
Antwerp was small enough to be able to wander around aimlessly, but trendly enough to still stumble across endless gems of places, we loved it there.
I would recommend Dansing Chocolat for an excellent traditional supper and lovely surroundings, and Cafe D'Anvers for dancing the night away in a raw factory/warehouse style shell of a building. Don't make the same mistake as we did, unfortunately we accidentally gatecrashed a '16 and overs' club night. It was awkward.
Other favourite bars were Elfde Gebod, which means, 'The Eleventh Commandment', it was hidden
near the beautiful Cathedral area, and featured a bizarre collection of religious statues lit by candlelight. Good beers can be found here.
Hungover but still ready for more, we trekked to Brussels for the final leg of the trip. We stayed in another stunning apartment from Air Bnb by the Royal Cemetery which is very similar to Pere Lachaise (I would like to add that all our accommodation was between 25-40 Euros each a night...)
We loved having more hot chocolates overlooking the whole of Brussels on the 10th floor of the stunningly designed Museum of Musical Instruments. A la Mort Subite was a glamourous venue for a specialist fruit beer, and Mademoiselle Moustache Et Son Le Freak Show was one of my favourite clubs, EVER.
The flea market at Place de Jeu du Balle was fantastic, and is open every day. TOP TIP: do not go on a weekend, prices are quadrupled for tourists. We went on a Monday and haggled some absolute bargains.
The Atomium is worth a visit on a sunny day, we took cakes and chocolate from Wittamer and Pierre Marcolini. These two both had excellent treats, but I would recommend taking away as I didn't personally enjoy the interiors. Any of the street vendors so fantastic frites if you need a guilty little traditional Belgian pick-me-up...
Phew, so there you have it. My final tip has to be: When travelling by Eurostar, remember you still need to bring a passport. We made it by the skin of our teeth.....