It had been years since my last time traveling to Belgium with food allergies. Back then I was living in Italy full time, so Belgium wasn’t a far weekend escape. I booked a spontaneous last minute trip one weekend when I found myself without plans. On this occasion, I was returning for a meeting and leaving from the U.S.
In typical Allie fashion, I planned the essentials, but left a lot up to last minute decisions which tend to be one of my favorite travel choices. Since I often have the flexibility to make decisions that way with only myself to factor into the decision, I like the excitement of not having it all figured out. Note: This has come with significant amounts of travel experience and include some non-negotiable factors I take into account, like having enough epinephrine auto-injectors, translated chef cards, safe snacks, etc.
First Stop: Gent, Belgium
Instead of going straight to Brussels, I decided to explore a new city. I had been to Brugge on my last trip and loved it, but since I had given myself two days before my meetings in Brussels, I decided that as long as I found Wifi and wasn’t too far, I could explore. I chose Gent as my destination. I knew very little about it, but found a fabulous apartment and decided to make it home for two nights.
How to get to Gent:
- Direct trains run from the Brussels Airport
- If you are in Brussels already, take the train from Brussels- South/Midi to Gent
The apartment itself was incredible. I walked in and felt like a queen in a palace. The immense space, high ceilings, abundance of light, and the antiquity of embellishments gave it an aura of royalty. It also had the furnished touches that I needed; plenty of sitting room, a desk and table. I had choices for my workspace. If that wasn’t enough, the kitchen was fully functional and equipped with everything (including dish soap… it’s the little things, seriously). The shower had great water pressure and the towels were large and fluffy. I felt like I had won the last-minute, spontaneous decision-making lottery!
While there, I did some exploring during my lunch breaks. I found a grocery store, however since my stay was so short, I didn’t need much. I knew I would take myself out for dinner and left brunch to snacking on what I brought, along with going out for a coffee.
Dinner in Gent
I did a search for Italian restaurants near the neighborhood I was staying in. I read some reviews and chose one a few streets away. Aperto Chiuso, an Italian restaurant that has been there for the past twenty years, was a welcoming experience. It was cozy, they understood my food allergies, and I felt safe eating there. I ended up returning the following night because they were already familiar with my chef card, the food was delicious, and I had a successfully safe meal the previous night. It was also close to the apartment, meaning a short walk back at night. Note: There is NO SHAME in returning to the same restaurant. When you already know somewhere will accommodate you safely, sometimes it is just easier to go back.
A Few Tourist Favorites in Gent:
- Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen Castle)- Medieval moated castle in the city center.
- St. Michael’s Bridge & View of the Three Towers– Great spot to take photos that look like postcards.
- Belfry (UNESCO World Heritage Site)- Go to the top for gorgeous city views and learn about the bells.
Next Stop: Brussels, Belgium
Most of the time I spent in Brussels was for a meeting on this trip. However, you can read more about my last trip here. On this trip to Brussels I stayed at Sofitel hotels, which were very nice.
I had one night before I left Brussels where I did go out to dinner. I found an adorable hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Certo where they thought I was Italian. They were great about my food allergies and I had a tasty meal there.
Information of Places Mentioned:
- Aperto Chiuso
- Sleepstraat 82, Gent, 09 233 72 64
- Rue Longue Vie 48, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium