Last week, I went to Belgium for a five-day work trip with two colleagues. My days were spent curating a photo exhibition, holding a press conference, and delivering a speech at the exhibition opening. All things that I don’t usually do, but which I really enjoyed. In our free moments, my colleagues and I explored the seaside town of Knokke-Heist, where we were staying, and beyond.
One of the highlights was spending an evening in Brugge. I have been to Belgium numerous times and visited almost every major city, with the exception of Brugge. Our first stop was a waffle house and then a chocolate shop.
Not long after we headed into the side streets in search of a place with music for the evening. We ended up instead at Café De Republiek to sample a few Belgian beers as we talked about our favorite literature. After a further wander, we headed for a delicious dinner at Bistro Refter.
The day before the official exhibition opening, we had some extra time. I grabbed my speech to practice and we hopped in the car for a drive along the Belgian coastline, a late lunch in Dunkerque, and an evening in Lille. Just across the Belgian border, Lille is the fourth largest city in France.
We browsed through an open air book market, which had a fascinating collection of caricatures and advertisements from the ’60s.
After a further walk through the city and a sampling of macarons, we went to a simple, rustic restaurant for dinner. Throughout the week, we had great conversations over the dinner table, from hilarious accounts of awkward travel moments to serious questions about life and death. On our way back to Knokke-Heist, we told ghost stories as we drove across the darkened Belgian countryside.