When you travel to Liege, the experience is anything but ordinary.
I've never been to Liege before and I’m excited to visit a new European city. For Ryan, however, planning to travel to Liege is a special trip down memory lane. Ryan lived in Liege for a year as a Rotary Exchange Student when he was in high school and he hasn't been back since. Therefore, a visit to Liege is exciting for both of us!
We’re likely going to be going in different directions for the day. Ryan’s going to be retracing the footsteps of his 17 year old self, while I’m going to discover the city’s more classic sights and have lots of fun exploring. It’s no accident we’re in Liege on a Wednesday. This is the traditional day that exchange students gather together at a couple of the local pubs and we wanted Ryan to relive the real, authentic student experience one more time.
Unfortunately, there’s very little information on Liege in most guidebooks. We'd like to change that! Luckily, our partners from the Belgium Tourism Office were able to send us some local information from travel magazines, as well as offer some personal recommendations.
Leaving to Chance:
Ryan’s planning to go with the flow – it’s hard to predict how much time he’ll want or need to retrace his steps. As for me, I've got a loose plan and I'm happy to just enjoy exploring.
We'll likely be heading in different directions for the day, so I'll make sure to email the hotel in advance to let them know one of us will be checking in early to drop off bags into storage.
Street food dominated Ryan’s life in Liege when he was a student and I’m eager to try it today. At the top of the list is the famous Liegeoise waffle, followed by delicious frites.
Splurges and Souvenirs:
The sky is the limit in Liege - it’s been 20 years since Ryan’s last visit and I want him to absolutely enjoy it! (Ryan's note: This is one of the many. many reasons I love my wife.)
SOOO.... How Did Our Day Go?
Oh, it pained us to leave Bruges! We had such an incredible time in this beautiful city. Our plan to stay at a hotel that included breakfast was a sound one. We feasted on juice, hot chocolate, yogurt, crepes, croissants, ham, and cheese. It was a great start to the day and it was nice not to have an urgent morning agenda. We just had to hop on the train and go!
Pulling into Liege, the city's most famous attraction opened up before me. The train station in Leige is a gorgeous architectural wonder, fitting for a city that is at the crossroads of so many countries. We splurged on a rare taxi ride to our hotel and it was nice not to worry about directions for a change.
Checking into our suite at the Jala Hotel (sadly now closed) we couldn't help but feel it was so nice to have a spacious room for a change. We were fine with our microscopic quarters in Paris, did well with a basic room in Bruges, but there is no denying the comforts of a nice, roomy hotel room. Space to twirl around in, facilities for making good coffee, and my personal favourite - a bath tub! It was temping to stay in and relax but we soon hit the road, heading our separate ways. Ryan was on a personal mission to retrace his steps and I was interested in seeing the city for the first time.
My lack of a schedule worked out just fine, as the center of Liege is definitely made for wandering and exploring. In this lively student town it was fun to split my time between the narrow lanes of the city center, with funky shops and pubs, with more in depth visits to the historic churches. Liege is young, fun, and lively. There is a lot more going on here in the evening than there is in Bruges! But it's not a party town - there's tons of history, architecture, food, and culture to fill your days and nights if you choose. As a first time visitor, I found Liege to be energetic, quirky, and vibrant, with plenty to offer. I would highly encourage first time visitors to spend some time exploring on foot, popping into pastry shops, churches, parks, and pubs all on a whim.
Indulging in street food was a high priority for us and, after a few false starts, we hit the proverbial jackpot - twice! While Liege is famous for Liegeois waffles (round, dense waffles with irregular borders and tiny balls of hard sugar baked into the batter), I found some amazing stuffed waffles. While Ryan tells me its sacrilege to eat anything but a humble, plain Liegeois waffle whilst in the city boundaries I have to say the rhubarb and chocolate pear waffles I had from Stoffels were well worth running afoul of tradition! Stoffels (on Rue St Paul) is a beautiful bakery and their huge stuffed waffles were just 2 Euros each, making for a very affordable, filling, and delicious snack.
The search for amazing frites took some time. We had several false states with bland and basic frites, none of which were made with the classic two step process. We had just about given up on finding the perfect frites, but when we were coming back from a disappointing dinner (a long story, and a juicy review, are coming soon!) a teeny shop appeared out of nowhere. Le Petit Carre on Rue des Celestines is proud of their wee shop (the name translates to the "little square", an ode to its minuscule frontage). A medium frites was about $2.35, while combo meals with 'boulets liegeois' (like meatballs) is well under 10 Euros, making this a delicious spot for snacks of all sizes.
Thanks for following our round the world adventures! You might also enjoy....
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Related: Can You Ever Go Back? Retracing Ryan's Footsteps in Liege
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