“So how long are you staying in Brussels for?”
“Oh. I’d say that’s 2 nights too many.”
This was the alarming conversation I had with my uncle last week who is a pilot and therefore has been to Brussels a couple of times. So we were on a mission to make sure we weren’t bored and out of things to do!
Our train from Paris (check out my Paris blog if you haven’t already!) arrived at 5pm and the first thing Ammun said was “so are we in Germany now?”. Things were looking promising for our A level geography student… About 5.45 we (and our bags that weigh like boulders) arrived at the Meininger hostel which is actually really, really nice! As soon as the three of us walked in the door Fiona came bounding round the corner and attempted to give us all a hug despite the fact we were fully loaded with bags! As it was lateish and three of us were still hungover we wandered towards the city centre for dinner and then got a reasonable nights sleep.
The next day we woke up earlyish and started exploring Brussels. Brussels has a lot of very old, beautiful buildings like the stock exchange, town hall, courts of justice etc and luckily it’s all fairly compact. Here are some of the sights:
Grand Place (you may not be able to tell but all the buildings are covered in gold)
The town hall that has a really tall and beautiful bell tower.
War memorial dedicated to all the Belgian men that fought between 1914-18 and 1940-45.
We then walked down a road that was FULL of chocolate shops and waffle shops which smelt amazing! At the end of the road was the heart and soul of Belgium. Mannekin Pis, a copper statue of a little boy having a piss. Brussels is obsessed with it and loads of shops adapt it to make their logos. It was erected at the end of the Middle Ages when the city was in the process of developing a public water supply network. In the 17th century they replaced the original stone statue (now in the Museum of the City of Brussels) with the current bronze statue. It’s pretty small which wasn’t what I was expecting when I was told it’s the highlight of Brussels!
After looking at old historical buildings all morning, we went for a more light hearted afternoon at the Belgium Comic Strip Museum and the Atomium.
After spending the last 12 months flying to and from England and Spain and constantly changing between English and Spanish, this was when it really set in that I’m in a country where I don’t speak the language. I had to just guess the comics from the pictures!
The Atomium is another one of Brussels’s most iconic things. It’s a MASSIVE building consisting of big balls and you can get an elevator to move between them. It’s a 102m high structure representing an iron atom in its crystal form. Sadly the last entrance is at 5.30 and we arrived at 5.31 so didn’t get to go inside. Apparently there’s a museum and a restaurant and panoramic views. I didn’t look it up because I didn’t want to know what I’d potentially just missed out on!
We then made dinner in the hostel, got ready and then went out to a bar/pub called Delerium where there are over 4000 types of beer! Fiona and I asked the bar tender to recommend us a Belgian beer and we had two of those each. Ammun also had a beer (which we also don’t know the name of) and didn’t really like it but drank it. Shelly tried ours and pulled the most hilarious faces. I don’t think she’s going to start liking beer anytime soon…
We felt like we’d pretty much done Brussels by the end of our second day so we used our interrail passes to jump on a train to Bruges. We arrived with no map and no idea what there was to see but we’d heard it was really beautiful so we were excited. After finally finding a map we walked towards the centre for lunch. FINALLY I had my mussels and chips which I had been craving since we arrived in Paris! We went to a small restaurant called Restaurant ‘T Schrijverke and the food was so good!
We then continued wandering around, looking at pretty buildings and filling our nostrils with amazing smells of Belgian chocolate and waffles. I bought myself a little bag of sea shaped truffles which are yummy!! I’d loved to have bought Beligian chocolate for my mum and other people back home but I know it won’t make it! It’ll either melt (like mine has today) or I’d eat it! I think everyone is going to have to have Pisa souvenirs as that’s our last stop!
To finish our surprisingly busy few days in Brussels we went out for cocktails. Shelly got drunk after just two and the rest of us had a few more.
Overall I would say that I have really enjoyed Brussels. I’ve had chocolate, beer and mussels which are all Belgian specialities so my tummy is happy too!
Food rating: 10/10
Boy rating: 4/10 (Sorry Belgium)
Boy creepiness rating: 8/10
Tackiest gift: Mannekin Pis boy with a bottle cap opened on his head and a cork screw as a willy. Probably would be painful for a man to watch it being used..
What I would do different: Brussels is the centre of European politics so I feel like I would have been able to enjoy it more if I knew what I was looking at!
I’m posting this just after arriving in Amsterdam so I’ll post again in a few days!