Moving on from the the expenses of Paris I made a short stop in Brussels. I still had a lot of countries to see on my trip and I knew the further north I went, the more expensive everything was going to become. So the plan was simple, meet up with a friend that had been one of the winners of my easter competition and enjoy a few beers.
And that is exactly what I managed to do over the two day stop. Two days you say? how can two days be a good guide to costs in Belgium? I agree spending such a short time anywhere isn’t a very good guide to the overall costs of a place so feel free to take these costs as you please. With that said, here are my expenses.
In just two days I really only spent money on trains to get to and from Ghent on the first day I was there, even then my Eurail pass made the cost next to nothing because it was on my designated travel day. I did manage to avoid paying for the couple of trains I caught getting around in Brussels, but only due to not being able to find a working ticket machine at any of the stations.
I found finding a hostel in Brussels really difficult because there just wasn’t many listed on the hostel booking sites. I even adjusted the arrival dates to see all the hostels in the area with the hope of rocking up at the door without a booking. Alas it wasn’t to be and I ended up in a place that wasn’t worthy of being the same price as the one I had just paid for in Paris. Cramped rooms, no breakfast and they closed the common area/kitchen for the major part of the day.
This prompted me to think next time I’ll take into account the stop ahead to ensure I have an idea of what I was heading towards. I could easily adjust my stay in one spot to work in with when the hostels in the next country were quieter, like the middle of the week.
Most of what I saw while in Belgium was free. The afternoon I spent in Ghent didn’t cost me anything to walk the streets and admire the buildings. I did pay to enter the City Museum in Brussels but otherwise I took the free option and used me eyes to explore. The town square in Brussels is beautiful and you can’t forget to stop in and see Mannequin Pis, who is just down the road a little.
All up my food budget was rather conservative. Sure I splashed out at great ribs restaurant the first night with my friend but OMG it was all you could eat and they were seriously huge ribs. The 20 euro I spent there was worth the food and the beer any day of the week.
I also ate waffles, delicious chocolate brownie’s and of course some frittes an mayo. Buying from the street stalls really didn’t cost the earth and it allowed me to taste all of the treats of Belgium as I pleased.
My extra costs were spent on beer, beautiful beautiful beer. All of the beers I bought cost me around 3 euro each but I could have easily spent more had I wanted to have a night on the town. It’s just a shame my hostel didn’t provide the atmosphere or the people that wanted to party.
Total Cost for Brussels
Now for the total, two days in Brussels cost me 98.2 Euro or 144.41 AUD (at an exchange rate of 1 AUD = 0.68 Euro). This averaged out to just on 49 euros a day, which was a big saving on the budgeted 70 a day limit I set. Getting ahead at any stage in the money stakes before I landed further north was a real bonus in my eyes.
To compare that to today’s exchange rate, if you left Australia now (November 2014) it would cost you $140.36 AUD with the current rate of 1 AUD = 0.70 Euro.
I know I didn’t spend long here, and completely missed Bruges which I slightly regret when I think about what happened next in Amsterdam. Chalk it up to a rookie mistake if you like, it sure wasn’t going to be my last learning experience I’d have as a backpacker. Sometimes you come out in front, other time your getting taken for a ride.