BRUSSELS (April 2015)


Chocolates, waffles, Brussels sprouts, French,pardon, Belgian fries, beer, EU institutions; all these clichés and more make up our image of Brussels. It’s been my wish for a while to visit Brussels (the capital of Europe in a way) and we finally did it in April (2015).
I’ve come to realize that my view of a city and the whole experience of a trip depends little on the city/trip itself but much more on the other subjective circumstances such as myself and my state of mind, my travel companions, the weather and other variables. So, this weekend trip wasn’t supposed to happen actually. Our honeymoon was to be our last trip for a while but things didn’t go according to our plan and we decided to go to Brussels. I’m telling you this because my experience of Brussels was tainted by the fact that my mind just wasn’t into travelling anymore.

the Halle gate-remnant of Brussels old city walls
the Halle gate-remnant of Brussels old city walls

My first impression of Brussels wasn’t great simply because we got slightly lost after exiting the train station Brussels Midi and ended up in some slightly dodgy area on our way to the hotel. I reluctantly admit that my husband possesses better orientation skills than I do. Or is it just that I get confused when I’m on a trip with him because I usually pride myself on never getting lost. So, after finally arriving to our hotel and after some nap time for him we ventured out to explore the city. Our hotel was in Saint-Gilles area in the Louise shopping district and near the Palace of Justice, which according to Wikipedia is bigger than St Peter’s Basilica in Rome (Vatican). The building is being renovated but I liked the view of Brussels’ Lower Town from the square in front of it. There is also a lift which connects the Palace of Justice and the square (Upper Town area) with the Lower Town (where the famous Grand Place is ).

you can see the Atomium and the Town Hall's spire
you can see the Atomium and the Town Hall’s spire

I wanted to see the infamous statue of a peeing boy Manneken Pis on the way to the main square the Grand Place. We could have chosen another route to the statue but as it turned out our way lead again through some not so nice streets and then all of a suddenly there he was: a small statue of a naked boy peeing in the fountain surrounded by chocolate&waffle shops and by a throng of tourists.

the infamous Manneken Pis statue
the infamous Manneken Pis statue

Of course, my mood lifted up once I’ve eaten a big chocolate&strawberries &caramel sauce waffle but I did feel cheated since there were all these signs advertising the price of waffle at 1 euro when in reality it cost much more since you have to pay for all the toppings. The cheapest option is to get a waffle with sugar at just 1.50 euro.

waffles in the shop
waffles in the shop

I didn’t find the main square (Grand Place or Grote Markt in Flemish) that big actually. I guess I expected it to be bigger but it was definitely grand with all those stunning guild houses. It looked even more spectacular in the evening with all the lights on, especially the Gothic Town Hall. After my husband’s obligatory picture in front of the Hard Rock cafe (which is at the main square) we wandered around the side streets and did some souvenir shopping.

the Town Hall at the main square (Grand Place)
the Town Hall at the main square (Grand Place)

If you like beer you’d be in heaven because there is a multitude of beer shops and pubs and brasseries. On the other hand, If you are like me, a self-professed and not ashamed of it chocoholic, then you’d enjoy walking around the square Place du Grand Sablon which we did earlier on our way to the center. All the well-known Belgian chocolateries are here such as Godiva, Leonidas,Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini , Wittamer and many more. Of course, since you’re in Brussels chocolate shops aren’t just here but they’re practically on every corner. And that I enjoyed very much. In the end I bought my Belgian pralines in a cute shop in Brugge (read my other post). We also had our obligatory portion of Belgian fries which are slightly different to so called french fries which are actually Belgian; the fries were thicker and greaser and you can have them at a few places around the town.

On my to-see list was also the main cathedral St Michael & St Gudule’s but unfortunately we only saw it from the outside. I also wandered around the Royal St Hubert Galleries , a luxurious-looking 19th century shopping arcade.

We finished our day at a tavern dating from 1886 and near the Stock Exchange after almost walking around in circles because I couldn’t make up my mind on where I wanted to have a drink. So, we ended up in this beautiful, old-fashioned tavern where I had a glass of wine and he tried Duvel beer. There was one unexpected guest too; a big ginger cat was sprawled on one of the chairs. All in all, a quite nice end of a day that didn’t begin well.

the pub cat

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35 thoughts on “BRUSSELS (April 2015)

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  2. I only had one night in Brussels & spent all of it in the hotel near the train station. May or may not be planning a sneaky trip to London later this year & plan a few days in Brussels as well 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha because it’s completely opposite to what I was going to do and at the moment only a few people know I’m even contemplating going to London for the 2nd time this year haha

        Liked by 1 person

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  7. The waffles look yum!! The 1 euro waffle but charging a lot more for toppings remind me of this 50% off waffles promotion at the ice-creamery here. Where the 50% only applied to the waffle but we have to pay for ice-cream as per normal. #CityTripping

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s amazing how much difference other things would make to a trip, from the weather to the people to how tired you feel. But it’s a great destination that lets you have a good time even after a tricky start- lots of chocolate and pub cats do help! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, I remember how good the chocolate is in Belgium – can’t beat it! However, you’re not the only person I know who didn’t really enjoy Brussels, I’ve heard much nicer things about Bruges, and also how pretty some of Belgiums little towns are. #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Glad the trip turned out good in the end Tanja. Well, when chocolate, waffles and beer are involved it can’t go too far wrong. I’ve not properly explored Brussels so it’s on my list. It’s so funny how your husband loves Hard Rock restaurants. I love the cat in the pub too. #citytripping

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Oooh I love Brussels! Or at least the historic city center! We didn’t like it right at the beginning because of the neighborhood our hotel was in and we felt it was actually a little sketchy even though it was only a 5 minute walk to the Grand Place. #CityTripping

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Can you believe that I haven’t been to Brussels yet but hubby has been there several times for work. I love the look of the place but can see that if definitely need to be located somewhere central. #CityTripping

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The Grand Place looks lovely during your visit. I visited the square on a rainy day and the sky was grey and gloomy so I didn’t have a great experience. Glad the day turned out well for you! Lovely photos! #CityTripping

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve been in Brussels a few times for business and was amazed by the prices I’d to pay for flights to Brussels, hotels and food. Maybe now, with much more travel experience on a shoestring, I would manage Brussels much cheaper. How is that hè: a small little statue so famous – good marketing I guess! #CityTripping

    Liked by 1 person

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