Existing Member?

Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Porto, Brugges, Stockholm,and Helsinki - if it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium

BELGIUM | Sunday, 18 June 2017 | Views [69]



It’s time to hit the road again and we’re thrilled, as usual. We’ll be visiting 17 countries in 3 months, 13 new countries and 4 old favourites for the summer. By the end of this trip, we’ll have 70 countries under our belt, so exciting!!! On top of that, we’ll be travelling with just hand luggage this time, yes, you heard me, 2 little backpacks (6-7 kgs each), plus 2 tiny ones, for 3 months! We’ll get very creative and make many visits to the local laundromat, but the freedom and the mobility will be incredible. I’ll be writing another chapter focussing on how and what we packed, just in case you guys are planning something similar or are just curious.

We decided to begin our holiday earlier and spend a weekend in the incredible city of Porto. Of course we’ve been to Porto many times before but it’s such a beautiful, vibrant city with a fabulous food scene, it’s worth arriving two days before our flight leaves. We come by train and walk to the Residencial Portuguesa, the room is not very good but we wont let this burst our bubble, lets go for a walk, get some great food and some cool vinho verde (green wine). We walk to our favourite restaurant in Porto (Pedro dos Frangos) for a nice lunch and to meet a couple, friends of a friend, who are now living in Porto. After lunch, we go for a walk but, it’s so hot, we don’t last very long. We go back to the room and chill for a bit. In the evening, there is a party on across the street and they just decided nobody is going to sleep! Next day, we go for a long walk and some serious sightseeing, the city is buzzing with tourists, but even without proper sleep, we walk around for hours in beautiful Porto, going back, of course to our favourite restaurant, heatwave or not!

BTW, during our lunch, Paul asks for the salt and the waiter makes a very angry face at us, we don’t understand and think he’s in a bad mood as it’s really hot, then he brings the salt and says “this is going to kill you, this is poison, I had a stroke and everything changes”, so, he was just trying to promote healthy eating for his costumers, bonus points!

Thanks to Ryanair, we wake up at 3.45 to fly to Belgium. With just two backpacks, we walk 2 kms to the Ibis Budget Charleroi Airport Hotel, check in and catch the bus to Brugge. Brugge’s been on my list for years and now we finally managed to tick it off! After a two hour bus ride we arrive in Brugge, time for some serious sightseeing as we only have one day here. The city is beautiful and has a very singular architecture but for some reason, it really didn’t speak to us. There are hordes of tourists from all over the world and some incredibly beautiful buildings and canals. At the end of the day, we catch the bus back to the hotel and go to sleep, tomorrow is another day, another city!

We catch another Ryanair flight at the civilized time of 10.15AM, this time to Stockholm, Sweden. Ryanair is now, apparently seating people separately on their flights unless you pay four euros per person to move, no worries, it’s only for 2 hours, it’s not the money but it’s a matter of principle. From the airport we catch a bus to the centre of town, checking in at the tiny but nice and very well located Micro Hotel. Again, it’s all about expectations, huge expectations for Brugge, no expectations for Stockholm, and it’s amazing! A beautiful, very human city, gorgeous, very nice, good looking people, lots of tourists but not too much, stunning architecture and surrounded by water. OK, it’s not for the faint of heart as it’s very expensive however, totally worth the trip. We stop for a quick but very nice “Dagen Ratt” (set menu lunch - 9 euros) and hit the pavement running for a lovely day of sunshine and sightseeing in this incredible city. We go back to the hotel and make “instant friends” with a Canadian family who also loves to travel. Very nice day! We wake up the next day and go sightseeing again, then back to the hotel, get the packs and take a local bus to the St Peter Line Terminal, to board the Princess Anastasia ferry-cruise we will be calling home for the next 4 nights.

Overnight to Helsinki, a day in Helsinki, overnight to St Petersburg, 2 days in St Petersburg overnighting on the boat and 1 overnight back to Helsinki. The tickets cost around 96 euros for 2 people from Stockholm to Helsinki and 250 euros for 2 people, including the free tour and the Russian visa waiver for St Petersburg. For transport and accommodation? A bargain! We board the Princess Anastasia and we are not disappointed! It’s really nice, a cabin for two, with toilet and shower and 2 bunk beds, very clean and tidy and it really reminds us of a simple but nice cruise ship, way cool!

We arrive in Helsinki in the morning and go sightseeing, we get lost many times and have to ask around as we left without a map, how very amateur of us! Helsinki is a nice, friendly and modern city but there’s not a lot to see here. There is no historic town and everything looks pretty new. We walk for miles trying to find Market Square, just to realise it’s very close to the boat terminal. We walk around for hours and as the weather is turning bad very quickly, we make a pit stop at a supermarket for some supplies and return to the ferry, just in time not to get seriously wet.

BTW, just in case you are wondering, you are allowed to bring food and water onto the ferry but they also have bars and cafeterias, nightclubs, duty free shops, etc. Speaking of duty free shops, we had a very funny experience last night. We asked the cashier, if we bought a bottle of vodka could we take it our room, as we’ve been on many cruises and it’s usually not allowed. She told us to go to the cafeteria to get water. We explained it was vodka, not water, after a few comings and goings, she finally understood us and said with a big smile, ah, you mean “uwoddka”. we all laughed! And yes, you can buy booze at the DF shop and take it to your room, it’s perfect! That’s all for now, next stop, St Petersburg!


Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About pauluiza

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries


My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about Belgium

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.