Brussels, Belgium was a place that I never knew I wanted to go and is now a place I can’t wait to go back. It easily sits in my “Top 10 Cities Around the World” list alongside Barcelona and Venice.
While the Germans don’t really celebrate Halloween (it’s a new holiday, only partially well received around here), there is a national holiday for All Saints Day, November 1. If All Saints Day lands on a Thursday, as it did in 2018, Jeff’s company provides a bridge day or Brückentag on Friday allowing workers an extra day off or a bridge to the weekend. So we packed up our bags and drove about three hours to Belgium to explore the wonderful city of Brussels!
This was what one might call a “last minute trip” that we decided to partake in on a Monday with a departure of Thursday. While last minute planning is exhilarating it also comes with some challenges such as acquiring a hotel at a fairly reasonable price on a European holiday weekend. Luckily I have a husband who is talented in seeking out good hotels at decent prices. It also helps that Jeff and I realized that when exploring a new city, the hotel is where we sleep at night…not where we spend the majority of our time. We are always looking for a comfy bed, clean linens, close to public transit/trains and free Wi-Fi. In Europe we have found that the NH brand meets our criteria.
We ended up staying at the NH Brussels EU Berlaymont. As the name suggests, the hotel is located about a block away from the Berlaymont Building which is the home of the European Commission and the European Council. It is also a quick walk to the train and Parc du Cinquantenaire.
The Grand Place in Brussels is a large, open pedestrian area that features beautiful architecture such as the Town Hall and the Guildhouses. It was about a 30 min walk from our hotel or a quick train ride. Our first day exploring Brussels, we walked from our hotel, through Brussels Park, past the Palais Royal, took a few pictures, warmed up with some hot chocolate then made our way to the Grand Place. Unfortunately I can’t remember all of our details over the three days we were there but I do remember the overall great vibe and picturesque places that Brussels had to offer.
When I think of Brussels, more specifically Belgium, I think of food. Yummy, delicious food! Waffles, chocolate and beer were the first to come to mind. For some reason I didn’t know that Belgium is also famous for fries. I guess I’ll have to go back! Back to the food we did eat! The waffles with Nutella were incredible and can be found EVERYWHERE! So melty and delicious. We had milk, dark and hot chocolates at a chocolatier Laurent Gerbaud. Then spent a good amount of time drinking beer. Why not, right? We went to 2 beer locations, the first was a beer bar Moeder Lambic, the second was a brewery Brasserie Cantillon that specialized in sours. We did grab a beer at Delirium Café but it was packed so we stayed outside.
Brussels also has Manneken Pis, a well known public sculpture. The good news is that there is not just one but three of these statues! There is a boy (the original), a girl (outside of Delirium, thought to have been placed there to encourage tourists to eat at the restaurant that was there before Delirium), and a dog (newer and it’s painted yellow not a fountain). We only made it to two. The boy statue periodically gets dressed in costumes. Not exactly sure what this particular costume represented.
Besides the peeing statues, Brussels is full of beautiful, public art. If you ever get the chance to visit, do it! See all of the wonderful things and eat all of the delicious food!