Just before to start, we wanna introduce you to this tour.
We’ll divide it in 4 posts, one for each day that we toured:
- From Bruxelles to Ghent;
- From Ghent to Bruges;
- From Bruges to Antwerp;
- Back to Bruxelles.
It’s time to start. Take a seat. 😀
Bruxelles: Time To Ride!
Early, early in the morning, but very early in the morning, as usual, we got up to take the plane to reach Brussels.
After a double breakfast, one at home and another at the airport, we took the plane and once we reached Brussels we decided to have another breakfast in one of the fabulous bakeries of the city center! We love to stay healty ah! 😀
Once we arrived, after the breakfast I mean, we rented two city bikes at Velo Central.
The bikes were quite good, not the best for traveling but they’re okay for 40-50 kms a day.
The main flaw is that they didn’t have an insurance for bicycle theft, so you should better lock your bike and if possible, bring it inside your Airbnb or choose a hotel with a bike deposit.
I’m not saying that Belgium isn’t safe but in case someone steals your bike you will have to pay €350.
If you wanna travel by bike but you’re not a ruptured cyclotourist we suggest you to bring your own bike, or at least combine your riding with trains! 🙂 We will talk about rail network and bycicle in the future posts!
There are many bike rentals (ProVelò, Cyclo, Villo!, BlueBike) in the city (not too much in reality) and they offers quite the same prices. Villo and BlueBike are not good for traveling but only for the city).
Since we have decided to visit Bruxelles at the end of our trip and not in the first day, after a quick look around, we left the city for Ghent.
Due to the high-traffic Brussels wasn’t an easy city to cycle, even though it is full of cycle paths. A lot of cars invade the lanes for cyclists but once you get out of the city everything turns out to be a paradise! After few kilometres of uphill climb and the incredible traffic in Molenbeek, the Islamic district of Brussels, the road became free and the fun started! 😀
Road To Ghent!
Cycling in Belgium is really easy and well organized. As we said in the last article the country is almost entirely covered with cycle path and indications. To reach Ghent we followed the road N9, that connects Brussels directly to Ghent. It’s the best way to reach the city, even though the first part goes up and down hill! So prepare your legs and your motivation! 😀
You can do this route with all kind of bikes. It’s about 55km and the cycle path condition was pretty good, just pay attention if you use a fixed, ’cause the steady climbs and downs could cause you some issues. We saw a lot of e-bikes during this track 🙂
We did a little stop in Aalst, a little town in the middle, where we ate at the local Spar.
Unlike our expectations, food wasn’t bad; on the contrary, Belgian cuisine is very good!
You know,we are italian and hard to please with food but we didn’t eat any Italian food in those day, just to say. 😛
We will talk about it in the further post. In Aalst we ate just a sandwich 🙂
After the break we covered the last 30 km upwind, a killer wind, but of course if you are a cyclist know that the best thing to do in this situation is to change your attitude, change your attitude into a smile! 😀
Outside Aalst we realized that the landscape had changed. We found ourselves in the Flanders with beautiful canals, uphill and green fields. It’s hard not to fall in love with this part of the country!
Enjoy it! 🙂
Show us your beauty, Ghent!
A little bit tired because of the early get up, we arrived in Ghent at 5 p.m.
What to say about Ghent?
Ghent is one of the most fascinating city of Belgium, the gem of the Flanders such as the “rival” Bruges but less touristic. Its city center is full of interesting museums, art galleries and nice shops. Unesco heritage site, the city center is Emile Breunsplein, the most photographed part of the city where the cathedral Sint-Baafskathedraal is located.
If you, like Bruno, love the gothic style, YOU WILL LOVE GHENT.
St. Bavo’s Cathedral is the symbol of gothic style in this town and is really famous for housing a masterpiece of the Reinaissance: Jan and Hubert Van Eyck’s The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb also known as The Ghent Altarpieces. The cathedral also hosts some beautiful artworks by the painter Rubens.
There is a lot to do in Ghent: we suggest you to stay there a couple of days and don’t miss the Castle of the Counts built by Philip of Alsace in 1180, the Belfry Tower that is the proudest city symbol of indipendence and the Cloth hall.
Time to reach our Airbnb now, so after a couple of hours wandering in the city center we followed Coupure river to reach our host house: “Swonnie“!
We were a little bit excited to make this experience and I can say that our expectations have been met fully!
Tom and his family welcomed us very warmly, we felt like we were longtime friends.
He speaks 8 languages so if you ever go to visit him he will surely talk in your language better than the national average of your country 😀
As we said in the last post many people use AirBnb because it is cheaper than hotels and you can find a room even in the city center for a bunch of Euro. But, as we think, the soul of AirBnb isn’t just a matter of money but also a cultural exchange with your host.
Furthermore, we had the opportunity to stay in a typical Belgian house and to climb its typical stairs 😀
Belgian houses could be a bit weird for people who come from “ South Europe” because we have a different architecture style: Belgian houses are narrow and tall, built on several floors connected by steep staircases.
They were so little that we did them in a kind of slow motion!
For dinner we went back to the city center and ate a gourmet burger at Ellis, a nice restaurant in Korenmarkt, a square located in the city center and one of the most touristic location of the city because of the several historical buildings.
After dinner and few beers we did a night ride through the beautiful streets near Vrijdagmarkt.
The atmosphere was pure magic, this neighbourhood really deserves a walk at night because of the beautiful lighting of the buildings! It was like a ride in the past! 🙂
Belgian people really know how to enhance their cities, for example with the promotion of their local brewery. Each town have own typical beers.
GREAT! FOR US! 😛
At the end of the day we were really tired but also happy: we really wanted to visit Belgium and we were about to abandon the idea of visiting this country in those days for some organizational difficulties with work, but you know, nothing can stop a nomad mind! 😀
In the next post we will talk about the second day: from Gand to Bruges, so if you like our adventure stay tuned! 😀
Keep pedaling guys!! 😀
Arthur & Bruno