Remember when I said before that the whole ideal of quick weekend trips throughout Europe doesn’t pan out when living in the outskirts of Europe. Well, this time it did.
Since Brussels is the home of EU headquarters, lots of EU related meetings happen there. I had one of those meeting on a Friday, conveniently the day after Julian had his own Brussels meeting. My boss had even suggested staying the weekend. So before I knew it, I had a ticket booked for the next week and instead of coming home on Friday night after the meeting, I tacked 2 extra days for exploring Belgium’s capital city.
While Brussels isn’t known for being a must see in Belgium (Bruges and Ghent are more popular destinations), we had a lovely weekend exploring a new *to me* city (it was my first time in Belgium too, European country number 15 I think!).
So what is there to do in Brussels?
Sample the beer.
It was an impromptu stop as we wandered through the narrow streets of the city. The outside heaters looked as inviting as the beer sampler. We were in shouting distance of the Grand Place, where Belgium was playing Croatia on the big screen for a World Cup spot (they won!). The beer was just as I like it, flavorful and STRONG, and we had good company too, chatting with other tourists from all over the world.
Indulge in some good food.
Once nice thing about living in a country as expensive as Norway is that even if a meal is expensive by previous (aka American) standards, it is cheaper, and most likely better tasting than a meal in Norway. TripAdvisor is one of my favorite travel sites and it lead me to Spinnekopke, a fabulous spot for dinner. Julian had the rabbit in cherry beer and I had the chicken in some buttery sauce… both fabulous. But I have to admit that I was less than impressed with the pomme frites (famous Belgium fries). And not just because I don’t do mayonnaise.
Take a chocolate making workshop.
This was hands-down my favorite part of the whole weekend. We got to make our own truffles, medallions and chocolate bars, and take it all home with us. Yum! I love chocolate! If you are in Brussels, go to Zaabär.
Sample more beer at the world famous Delirium Bar.
Think Brouwer’s times 100. (maybe I’m just slow but I just realized – on this trip – that Brouwer’s means brewery in French…) With over 2000 beers, it can be a bit overwhelming, but I just went with what I new I liked, the namesake Delirium.
Take in the Grand Place.
I know that Brussels is supposed to be rather unimpressive when it comes to European cities, but if you really take in the city’s main square (thanks in part to next thing to do in Brussels, see below), I think you’ll agree that it is amazing. Even on a rainy day.
Take a tour.
I love guided tours. It is something I always search out when in a new place. I like learning about the streets I am wandering through, it gives me more appreciation for what I am seeing, especially in a place as rich with history as Europe (random aside from pub quiz, did you know that Belgium is the site of the most battles in history? – that is what happens when you are situated between France and Germany I guess). I’ve done my share of bike tours, food tours, and as in this case, free tours. I’ve taken several tours with this company in numerous cities, and I highly recommend them. It was cold and rainy, and we had already checked out of our hotel. So being on a walking tour at least gave us something to focus our energies on when we were walking around in the unpleasant weather.
And my most favorite thing to do in a new city: wander the streets .
Next time I think I’ll turn my GPS on to see where our wanderings take us. Often, unintentionally, we’d find ourselves on a small street we had wandered once before.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Brussels might not be as iconic Paris, or old as Rome, but I won’t mind if work sends me back there in the future. Chocolate and beer, who’s to complain!?!