The third leg of our trip consisted of a quick stopover in Belgium before we finished our trip back in London. My husband’s favorite movie is the cult classic In Bruges, so the only reason we were making the trek to Belgium was so Lee could see it in person. When making the arrangements to stop over in Belgium, Bruges didn’t have a hotel where I would be able to receive my discount. In fact, they didn’t have one of my hotels at all, so we opted to stay in Brussels to take advantage of the cheap room, but spend half of our layover in Bruges as it was only about an hour away by train. Imagine my surprise when we got off the train and started seeing signs for the newest hotel in Bruges, the exact same brand that I work for. As it turns out, the hotel had just opened a month before, but because I had made the Belgium travel arrangements so far in advance (and of course, never thought to double check after the hotel reservation was made) we missed out on the opportunity to fully take in the city. Oh well. At least we know for next time. And I’m fairly certain there will be a next time.
Bruges was absolutely breathtaking. Like Amsterdam, Bruges is a canal city, and is referred to as the Venice of the North. Lee had researched all of the spots where In Bruges had been filmed, and so our day was basically spent retracing the steps of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
We visited the Belfry of Bruges, but the line to get in was incredibly long, and while I was game to climb the 366 steps to the top, Lee didn’t think that was the best idea. Instead, we enjoyed a drink at a restaurant in the town square and admired the view.
We only had about 4 hours to kill in Bruges, but we managed to fit in quite a bit of walking and drinking. Well, Lee managed to fit in the drinking. Considering I was 5 months pregnant, I had to stop every so often to either use a bathroom or rest my feet, and I always insisted I do so at a bar. Just because I couldn’t drink didn’t mean my husband couldn’t partake in a delicious Belgian beer or two.
Then it was back to Brussels. I was pretty exhausted from all of the walking, so we called it an early night. We had most of the next day to sightsee before we had to catch our train.
I’ll be honest, I did some research before we went to Brussels to try to map out any sightseeing we might want to do, and I didn’t come up with a lot that I absolutely had to do or see. Everyone makes such a big deal out of the Mannekin Pis statue, and I don’t know why. It’s a tiny statue of a boy peeing. We saw it, snapped a picture, and that’s it. I won’t need to venture to that street corner again.
Grand Place was beautiful, and I suppose if we were there for Christmas or to see the flower carpet that they build every couple of years that would be cool. But there was nothing exciting going on when we were there. We didn’t have time to do much else, so I can’t say that Brussels made that much of an impact on me.
We boarded the train late Thursday afternoon to head back to London. We had one more full day in London to enjoy before we went home and jumped into full nesting mode. I was excited to spend more time in London, but it was bittersweet. London is our favorite place in the whole wide world, and yet, I had no idea when we’d be able to make it back. We are so excited to be able to share our favorite city with our daughter someday, but want to make sure we bring her back at an age where she’s a bit more mobile and able to truly appreciate the experience. As such, the last leg of our trip would be our last visit for the foreseeable future.
We started our day with a walk through St. James Park, up to Buckingham Palace, then through Green Park to Harrod’s. I’ve always wanted to have lunch at Harrod’s and yet in all of the times I’ve been to London, I’ve never purchased so much as a coffee there. That was going to change this trip! We walked through their food halls, shopping for lunch and delicacies to take home.
We hit up a couple more shops before making our way back to the hotel so we could drop off our bags before dinner. We had dinner reservations at Lee’s favorite London restaurant: Gino D’Acampo’s. There are a few of Gino’s restaurants located throughout the UK, but the closest one to us was at Euston station. That night, we were able to just sit back, relax with some delicious Italian food, reminisce about our lives together and share our hopes for the future.
Neither one of us were ready to say goodbye to the city just yet, so after dinner we hopped on the tube and went to Tower Bridge. It’s such a beautiful area, with the Tower of London situated right next to it. It was a beautiful night so we decided to walk along the river and take in the views one more time. We ended up walking along the river all the way back to our hotel, which was roughly 2.5 miles. It was the perfect way to end our amazing vacation.
We left London early the next morning and while our hearts may have been slightly heavy, we were excited to go home and start preparing for our sweet baby girl. This trip helped us close the infertile chapter of our lives. We were on our way home to start the next chapter: The one where we become parents.