Who would have thought that I would have a chance to go back to Europe again after 3 years from my last visit. Who would have thought I would go to Belgium, the country I haven’t really heard much of. Well, I, of course, have heard about Belgium and its charm for a very long time but to be honest, never once I thought I would go there. But after my visit in May 2015, Belgium turned out to be one of my favorite countries in spite of its small size. Now I can’t wait to go back!
First city in Belgium I visited was Bruges, and before traveling to Bruges, let’s start off with a small town called “Presles”…the very very tiny town, yet very very cute.
I didn’t see much of the town I only went there to “have lunch” (sounds immensely important), visited around the town and my boyfriend’s house, it was very short, yet impressive.
This dish is called “bouché à la reine with french fries”, the dish is very authentic and delicious served together with authentic Belgian fries. Fries are actually very well-known from Belgium. There are some secretive Belgian recipes to make fries delicious and appetizing.
After the warm and loving treat in Presles, We headed back to Brussels to catch a train for our destination tonight, Bruges.
Bruges is located in the northwest of Belgium, it is the largest city of the West Flanders in the Flemish region of Belgium. Bruges was once the important port of the world, it was at times regarded as ‘The Venice of the North’. I, myself, have heard about Bruges now and then in the travel books as well as from the stories of my friends’. The city sounded fascinating and I thought if I would ever have a chance to visit Belgium, Bruges will not be missed.
Here we arrived at the train station in Bruges, it only took 1 hour from Brussel-Zuid Train Station. We took a bus to downtown and walked quite endlessly to find the hotel I booked from Thailand. The rain started to drizzle until we finally found this ‘Europ Hotel’. Have I told you yet that it often rains in Bruges, sounds like the south of Thailand but it really does.
We did not do anything much after arriving at the hotel and the evening ended humbly with a football match in a cafe and famous burgers in town, good night Bruges!
Next day was a city tour day. After breakfast, we started walking along the river near the hotel to see what this city has to offer.
We were strolling around, chilling. Sometimes we did not know where we were going but it was okay. We were not afraid that we would miss anything, just go with the flow.
After lunch, we arrived at the City Hall, there were so many people there as if something was going to happen and we decided to wait and see as well.
After we had been waiting for so long and nothing happened, we still did not know why people gathered but too lateeee we wasted a few hours already. So, we went to find a restaurant for tonight in the drizzling rain, it was freezing cold as we sat outside but warm mussels served with fries did make up for the rain.
That night eventually ended with pouring rain and we slept really deeply in the embrace of Bruges.
Our next destination is the South Bohemia, to a cute little city called “Cesky Krumlov”. This city is regarded as one of the UNESCO world heritages since 1992. Even though this city is in the south, Vltava flows from Prague through the heart of Cesky Krumlov, yet the tiny difference is that Vltava narrows into the little canal there. I felt better because we were so thrilled to visit Cesky Krumlov.
We took a bus ‘Student Agency’ to Cesky Krumlov and how lucky I was to get to sit next to a Thai person who is not my friend. She is a tour guide working in Phuket, she said she had a seminar overseas (which is great, right?). She talked a lot, so I pretended to be sleeping. Lol
3 hours ran by fast, we found ourselves at Cesky Krumlov gate and we walked a bit into the inside town looking for our hostel we booked with Hostelworld. “Krumlov House Hostel” was a place that we would be staying tonight. Just checked in and put our bags in, we quickly ran out of hostel in search of Czech food for lunch!
เราเดินผ่านจัตุรัสสโวร์โนสติ (Svornosti Square) โดยที่นี่มีเสาศิลาและน้ำพุกลางจัตุรัสชื่อว่า Marian Plague Column หรือในภาษาเช็กคือ Mariánský morový sloup ซึ่งสร้างในปี 1716 โดย Matej Václav Jäckel
Our hostel is quite at the edge of this world heritage town, so we needed to walk down the hill to get into the town, we walked past the famous Svornosti Square. There is a Baroque Plague Marian Column at Svornosti Square, surrounded by stone six-angled fountain, was erected during 1714 – 1716 for the memory of the plague epidemic that struck the town Cesky Krumlov during 1680 – 1682. Statuary of the column decoration shows mainly sculptures of anti-plague patrons (Catholic Saints) and town protectors. Statues of St. Václav, St. Vitus, St. John the Evangelist, St. Juda Thaddeus in the upper row, and St. Francis Xavier, St. Sebastian, St. Caetan and St. Rocchus in the lower row are the masterpieces of a Prague sculptor Matej Václav Jäckel, as well as a sculpture of Virgin Mary situated on top of the column. (Cr. : http://www.waymarking.com)
After we had been looking for the well-known restaurant for the great Czech food, the restaurant appeared on the left side of a small alley. We walked inside and found ourselves a nice table by the Vltava canal. Everything is perfect despite us being starving. The atmosphere, the canal, the slow lifestyle …everything is just perfect so far.
We ordered some local food that I didn’t remember the name. It tasted good but I would say it was a little greasy. Still you shouldn’t miss it when you come to the South Bohemia.
We were ready to explore after lunch. This town is so chill and relaxing and so everyone seems to live life slowly, even the tourists, they don’t seem to get to many touristic spot hurriedly but just let themselves go with flow, and so did we.
This would be much more of a romantic city if you come with your special one, but coming with a friend doesn’t lessen its beauty. There are a bunch of cute and cozy cafes along sides of the streets in Cesky Krumlov. Most people had some coffee and enjoyed the warmth of afternoon sun. Life can be as simple as that.
Krumlov Castle is very elegant and attractive observing from here, so we decided to walk up there to see what the castle has to offer.
We went to Krumlov Castle and made it up to Castle Garden (which someone said it was so wonderful but we didn’t find it that wonderful, Thailand has a lot more of beautiful gardens, in my opinion). Krumlov Castle is the most second largest castle in Czech Republic after Prague Castle, which now collects antique furniture of English periods, Flemish textile and ancient weapons.
I came across some Thai tourists but we decided to just enjoy our own world. I enjoyed mine, my friend enjoyed hers, we traveled without any talks, instead letting our minds flow and enjoy the present.
We walked up and down the hill joyfully, every now and then we would run or race each other, doesn’t that sound fun? It was a healthy and fine trip for us as we were not in a rush to get to places, thus we had more time to enjoy everything bit by bit. When we were tired, we would sit and talk (or even take a short nap), that made this trip so relaxing and wonderful. Also, I was so delighted that my friend didn’t complain at all with my plans and she was even overwhelmed with the pleasure Cesky Krumlov gave to her. : ) I’m glad we both enjoyed it a lot!
Out from the castle, we looked for the local snack, Trdelnik. And we finally found it! We tried it in Prague once and the taste of it always makes us want more.
My friend and I still had time, then we decided to walk around the town one more time (the town is really small, you can just finish it within one day, even 2 times!). We stopped at a small park to chill and relax by the Vltava canal, the locals took their dogs out and let them play around, I was just so happy watching them.
We went back to the hostel in order to take a nap and after that we planned on going to see the sunset at the hill nearby the hostel (I hope it’s near).
We woke up at 7 pm and walked to the place the hostel owner told us that it’s a good place for sunset, we believed them. It took us almost 20 minutes to get there and there was no one up at the hill. We walked a little farther inside the forest and saw one abandoned house, which made us scared. But the sunset scene was very gorgeous. We were glad we came but we didn’t let ourselves stay there too long as we felt some strange feelings.
We strolled back to the hostel and enjoyed the atmosphere on the way back. We cooked our dinner and talked to some friends at the hostel but they didn’t seem so cool, so we went out to a pub to get a Czech beer. Surprisingly, it was the best beer I’ve ever tasted, it was a great night! Good night Cesky Krumlov!
The next day…we woke up quite late and were chilling all morning until we realized that we wanted to see Astronomical Clock at noon. With that quick decision, we ran out of the hostel so fast and tried to catch the next tram. I was in the tram but my mind was already in Old Town Square. Once we got off, we ran so crazily past the crowds on Charles Bridge and in a short while we found ourselves a few minutes late for the huge statues’ dancing, DAMN US!
So I told my friend that I would stroll around in Old Town and on the Charles Bridge, she agreed as she would like to go shopping and she took my map (by saying that I already knew the directions, Ok great ) We would meet again at Starbucks near tram station (Malostranské náměstí) at 2.30 pm. I was extremely happy to have all the time by me, myself and I for more than 2 hours.
I felt so free and exuberant to go to places. In the Old Town Square area, I bought ice cream while enjoying the liveliness this place had to offer. There were loads of street musicians either solo or in a group. Everyone was enjoying the music both tourists and locals. The music lulled around the square and I was among the crowd who drank deep of the Czech style of music. I walked towards ‘the Church of Our Lady before Tyn’ again, since I couldn’t have enough of Prague, I needed to come visit for the second time. All those stained-glasses still welcomed me warmly, I felt peace and faith inside the church. The place was full of people. I believe there are people from many religions visiting the church and everyone seemed to respect things they saw in front of them, sometimes human beings could be unbelievably peaceful under some states of minds.
At one o’clock, I went back to Astronomical Clock (again) with the intention to watch the dancing at 1, of course it was not as massive as noon time but at least it would make me satisfied (after I missed the 12). After a while of standing there, I sparsely heard Thai language from afar.
One woman said: “There are absolutely no Thai people here”
I moved a bit further for my camera to record the dancing stuff, then I accidentally saw another group of Thai people and decided that the first woman was wrong because there were some Thai people here (thought I was in Bangkok for God’s sake!)
Next stop would be my beloved Charles Bridge. Anyways, I met another group of Thai people on the way to Charles Bridge. They were trying to get a team picture and no one helped them, so I walked up to them as I wanted to give them a hand.
I said: “I could help you guys get this photo?” (speaking in Thai)
One woman said: “Are you Thai?” (I was thinking, “no I’m Czech but speak Thai fluently” of course I must be Thai.)
I took the team photo for them and the woman asked what I was doing here alone in Prague, I said I was with a friend but we split and she looked so worried.
After helping them taking the photo, I said goodbye. I wandered until I got to Wenceslas Square. This square has the statue of St. Wenceslas. I found the square more crowded than Old Town Square because there was a lot of shops and restaurants in Art Nouveau style along two sides. An abundance of exchange money kiosks was here, this area was very modern and stylish, moreover there is also metro station (Mustek) that makes the area busier with many people from all walks of life. So I decided to go back the Charles Bridge to see it for another period of the day.
The afternoon sun shone too brightly and it slightly made me sick, but I insisted to roam around on the bridge regardless. I like people watching and at that moment I observed how the tourists and local sellers enjoy their lives and the atmosphere. A lot of tourists kept coming because of the warm weather. The local sellers were just sitting there, making their products without forcing the tourists to buy those souvenirs. The musicians enjoyed themselves by playing and singing and not worrying too much if the coins would ever be dropped in their boxes. I moved to one statue and was just standing there chilling, watching people and letting my heart flow along with Vltava. For a while, I was overjoyed by the atmosphere until I heard something in Thai.
A woman said: “Please take a photo of me, here and there and also here is another good spot…..”
I noticed the fourth Thai group of the day in Prague, they were only enjoying the photos that were taken and they took the entire atmosphere and the whole Prague for granted. I felt kind of weird…and I mean a lot of people want to come to Prague to see how beautiful she is like and her long gone history and the eventful stories. I think the only thing these people would remember are the taken photos, but not the real atmosphere.
I walked away because I needed peace to enjoy my own company. I saw people rubbing one part of the most popular statue; St. Nepomuk, as they believe that it brings us good luck. So I did the same. Hopefully that I might have a chance to come back to Prague. I was strolling around on the Charles Bridge for almost 2 hours, but had to leave and say goodbye to the bridge when it was time to meet up with the friend.
While walking to Starbucks, the meeting point, I saw my friend running so quickly past me and it was just funny. She knows that I’m a punctual person and I can get mad if someone is late, I really appreciated what she was doing. I had fits of laughter and didn’t call her name at all. : P We met and I told her I saw her running and she was just complaining that I made fun of her. Hahaha Anyway, We got cold drinks, went back to our hostel (to put my friend’s stuff). It was cold in the tram, my temperature changed suddenly after the hot sun, I felt quite sick (already) but we still had to meet with my best guide at 3 p.m.
This afternoon we had a plan to go up to Petrin, another beautiful park above Prague. There is the Petrin Tower that tourists would go up to see the whole Prague, and I did not miss. We arrived there, a lot of people enjoyed themselves by having a picnic or walking their dogs or just lying on the grass. It is such a great place to relax and chill with friends and family, and would be perfect with someone special. I went up the Petrin Tower alone this time because my two friends just wanted to chill.
It was long enough until I got on the top. Children was running around like they were in a plain field, they scared the hell out of me. However, I felt so thrilled when seeing the whole Prague from atop, Prague had five-star view to offer and she never disappointed me. I thought my friend might regret that she refused to come up here, because Prague from atop was stunning and just perfect and it melted my heart. I was so blessed, so happy to be there at that very moment.
The blue Gothic style churches almost everywhere contrast with orange roof of cute houses in Prague. It was such a magnificent panorama! Vltava flew slowly, while the stream of people on Charles was the same, slow and crowded. Charles Bridge is very popular for all time of the day. The view was truly exceptional.
I felt relaxed so we continued walking, we took a shortcut by the hill to Prague Castle. I kept watching people all the way (that’s what I like to do), absorbed and breathed the fresh air in the evening cool. After a little while, we arrived at Prague Castle (very late already) and every building in the palace area was already closed, but we asked some staff and one said, we should come back after 6 p.m. since the Golden Lane will be opened (only for seeing and we could not go inside).
After 6 p.m. we came back to the Golden Lane, no one was excited about it but I was. I was looking forward to seeing this since I have had read about this Golden Lane, it’s somehow interesting. Golden Lane was built in 16th century, it used to be the shelter of security officers of the palace. Then in the 17th century, it’s believed that alchemists came to live there to produce gold, that’s why it’s been called “Golden Lane.” but not sure if this story was true.
However, Franz Kafka, the famous Czech-Jewish writer used to live in Golden Lane in a house no.22 for a year to write his book, I was so thrilled to come to his home in Czech Republic, I read his book once in a German literature class and I really liked it. Furthermore, the houses are very small and they have the lowest ceiling in the world (I guess) LOL
We finished roaming around, then we were trying to find an internet café as my personal guide had to print out our train tickets that he booked for us (for me to Hamburg and for my friend to Berlin, forgot to tell you my guide works with Czech railways.) We couldn’t find any yet so we stopped at a Thai restaurant since my Czech friend wanted to eat to real Thai food, and turned out they made it out really great…I just realized how much I missed my homeland.
We were soooo full and happy but then we realized our tickets were not yet printed out and every shop seemed to be closed, so we took the metro to Florence area to find an internet café and we found zero. We tried again by taking the metro to Wenceslas Square and found none. Then my guide just had one place in mind and he took us there, we got there 5 minutes before it’s closed, thanks God. Our mission was completed and it’s time to go back to the hostel. My guide came with us on the tram because he wanted to see us off. It was such a good long day and we were all exhausted. We got to the hostel around 9.30 p.m. and I was pouring the thank-you words to my friend, he treated me very well here and he will always be welcome in my home, Thailand, and I will just treat him better. : ) I got into the room and felt so sick, I changed and was ready to sleep. My friend was kind of mocking me by saying “how was it?, the Charles Bridge that you had been waiting for 5 years?” She cut me deep but I was sick as hell so I just went to bed, Good night World!