Travel in Belgium: Two Days in Brussels

Greetings from Brussels in Belgium! 🥞🇧🇪


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I spent the past two days exploring the beautiful city of Brussels. 💙

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comic book street art based on The Adventures of Tintin

From the comic book street art to the heavenly sweets, traveling through this city has proved to be another unique European adventure. 40731120835_2928afee68_cFor starters, this was the first time I’d ever used a website called couchsurfing. 🛏

26755284047_096af173d4_cOn this website locals offer their couch or spare room for FREE. You start by making your own profile, which lists information about yourself, and why people should host you (i.e. you speak many languages, you are very clean, you play an instrument). Then, you search the database for hosts and request to stay with them. They have the right to accept you or refuse you based on their availability and the common interests listed in your profile.  

26755284127_b222ab6189_bI got denied by many people that were too busy, but finally got accepted by this Spanish guy from Madrid. Here’s his cozy apartment with a stunning view. He also hosted two Russians, so he had a blow-up mattress and a couch on offer. He even made us breakfast with coffee in the morning. 🙂41582514442_2131f15b77_c
What’s the catch? 
It can be unreliable and you need to watch out for weirdos. Plain and simple. The host can cancel on you at any point, and they can also turn out to be a major creeper. Hah! 😂40739119945_1b5dbc14f1I’ve heard some horror stories, which is why I recommend only requesting to stay with hosts that have plenty of references and recommendations. Mine had over 20! He just moved here from Madrid and was hoping to meet people from other countries. On the day I arrived, the four of us went exploring around the city center and tried some traditional Belgian foods. 

What to See and Do in Brussels

Brussels has an incredibly compact city center, which can be easily explored on foot. There are many historic buildings dating back to the 13th century. Highlights include The Grand Place and The Palace of Justice, plus numerous religious buildings, such as the Notre Dame du Sablon Cathedral and the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral.

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The Palace of Justice- the largest court of justice in the world

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view from the Palace of Justice
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This is a free elevator from the palace to the city center. Very smart!
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St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

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Notre Dame du Salon

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41582454392_bf40cef1b1_cLa Grand Place is the central plaza of Brussels.26754636887_70bf3907a4_cThe buildings here appear very ornate with neo-classical Flemish façades and gold trim.
40731120475_b1460263ba_cMany of the building were actually owned by guilds-wealthy tradesman who dominated Belgian society in the 1600s.40731120685_2390d25a5f_c

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Selfie time! 😀

Aside from the historic buildings, there are also countless cobblestone streets oozing with character and charm. 39815014880_0dae1066a2_cOverall, from the people to the architecture, Brussels appears very regal to me.

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the old stock market of Brussels

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locals people-watching from their balcony

26754422667_9c5238d84b_cPeople here dress very chic, and take on a very sophisticated air. Heck, Audrey Hepburn was born here.

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birthplace of Audrey Hepburn- actress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

One of the best places to witness this sophistication is at the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, the oldest shopping mall in Europe. 41582740552_c4edbe3da6_cIt’s full of expensive boutiques and home to some of the finest Belgian chocolatiers. 🍫

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It produces 220,000 tons of chocolate per year, which is about 50 lbs per Belgian.

Some of the most famous chocolate brands include Maison Pierre Marcolini and Neuhaus. 26754422957_c6f74b9fc7_cThe flavors were very exotic like passion fruit, yuzu, pineapple, and mango.41582740462_7b3d6130e6_cWith the hefty price tag, we all just looked through the windows and drooled, then bought some cheaper chocolate at the grocery store later on. 😛

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the dream…
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the reality… (grocery store chocolate bars) 🍫

There are also plenty of green spaces here, like Brussels Park and Monts des Arts, which is a museum complex with beautifully sculpted gardens.27753820008_2d887f44cc_c41582454592_7f34118652_c//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Monts de Artes

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waffles food truck

On this sunny day, it seemed like the thing to do was relax in the park with a picnic lunch and beer, or lounge on one of the city’s many quaint terraces.

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Brussels Park

40731352825_d970521d6f_cNow one of the strange oddities I found in Brussels is a famous statue called, Mannekin Pis.26754676247_d767a2d3e1_cIt’s basically this guy peeing into a fountain. I’m not sure if it has something to do with all the beer people drink here, but they are definitely obsessed with peeing. Hah!😂 Apparently it’s lucky if you throw a coin in the fountain. They dress the statue up in different outfits depending on the day as well. When we visited, he was dressed as a street cleaner. There are also two other ‘pis’ statues in Brussels. One is the mannekin’s sister and the other is his dog. 39815282130_aaeb595ec6_c27754288728_61503c3c61_cNow speaking of beer, one of the must-do things in Belgium is to try the food and drink. Contrary to the city’s name, I could not find a Brussels sprout in sight! Hah! Instead I found lots of beer, waffles and fries. Fine by me! 😉
40739088065_eeab5381eaFor beer we went to Delirium Cafe. 🍺26754636497_476df434f2_cThey have a literal bible of beer, with over 3,000 microbrews to choose from! 😮26754636377_5fe144a38a_c39815282280_0e07f025f7_cApparently each beer even has a designated glass. I had a sample of the cherry beer, but I don’t think you could make a bad choice.39815012500_7d99685509_cCost: 2-7 Euros per beer depending on size

To soak up the beer we relied on carb-licious fries and waffles. Ironically, French fries were actually invented in Belgium, and here you can have them topped with a variety of unique sauces. 🍟 26754422397_15bfbd335a_cWe went to Belgian Frites to share a sausage roll topped with fries and an andalouse sauce, which was made with mayo, lemon, peppers and tomato. Other choices included a garlic mayo and a curry ketchup.39815111440_e2721afdbd_c26754422547_9a94f3fd2b_cCost: 3-5 Euros for sandwiches or fries

For a sweet treat we went to Le Funambule. 26754676347_ce7e83d7bb_cThere are many types of waffles in Belgium, including the Brussels waffle and the Liège waffle. Brussels waffles have a light, yeast-based dough, which makes for a thin and crispy waffle, while Liège waffles have thick dough mixed with chunks of sugar, which makes for a heavy, caramelized waffle. The Liège waffles can also be topped with chocolate, caramel, whipped cream and fruit.40731120795_ee0c359539_c26754676437_ac61632db4_cCost: 2-6 Euros depending on toppings 

On day two I went wandering on my own to explore the Comic Book Route in Brussels. 41623230791_523c050b68_cEssentially, there is a famous Belgian comic called,  The Adventures of Tintin.41623230601_74b3e6a9ec_cThis 20th century comic series stars a courageous Belgian journalist who travels all over the world, and even outer space, to report on current events and solve mysteries.

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Tintin visited the moon way before Armstrong.

It received a lot of criticism for its potentially racist and ethnocentric content, especially in its depiction of life in Soviet Russia and life in the Congo.

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The Belgian author, Hergés, never actually visited any of the countries he wrote about.

Despite this, the comic is a significant part of Belgian history, and to memorialize it, the city of Brussels has painted gorgeous Tintin murals around the city.

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There have been over 2 million copies of Tintin sold worldwide.

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26755119167_119c88637a_cThey even have a website where you can find out the location of each mural. I decided to test my luck, and went wandering without the map. In doing so, I found tons of other street art along the way.26754928827_4bdba690fd_c40912919644_1f6ac7cdd8_c40912919724_44612f4d90_c39815958380_2acf92683b_c39815958530_05e9639f9b_c26754636757_0f146a15bd_c26754636637_2b687b0042_cI also made it to the Atomium, a famous landmark statue located on the outskirts of the city.

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The Atomium is a crystallized molecule of iron, magnified 150 thousands million times. It was built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair.

40733715145_1642e1a304_cOverall I really enjoyed exploring the outer burrows of Brussels.40912920104_55baacbe0b_c40912919814_5160faf81e_cI noticed a large immigrant population here, and read later that 16% of residents here are immigrants.39815958610_950a89c1b6_cIn fact, Belgium grants more new citizenship than any other nation in the world. It makes sense that Belgium would be an ideal choice though. The country is very affluent, with one of the highest standards of education, and offers an excellent quality of life. As well, they speak French here, which makes for a smooth transition for those coming from African nations. Despite this influx of foreign citizens though, the Belgian culture seems to still prevail. In fact, while wandering the city, I came across a group of traditional Belgian folk dancers. 26754929107_b730ce5931_c41623230501_76259952e0_c

Anyway, I decided to end my evening watching the gorgeous sunset in the city, then meeting up my host and the Russians for dinner. He made us chicken pasta, which was very sweet. 🙂41681207011_c8b6cbe2d3_cIn the end, I originally planned to spend only one day in Brussels and one in Luxembourg, but I felt like Brussels warranted the full two days. I found so many beautiful sights, and felt like quality time in one city was better than trying to rush through two cities. Anyway, that wraps up my adventure in Brussels. Stay tuned for the next city on my radar- Amsterdam! Until then! 😀 
Transportation:
To get to Brussels from Barcelona, I flew with Vueling, a budget airlines in Europe. I like to use Skyscanner to find cheap flights deals.40911952154_affabc4301_zTo get from the Brussels airport to the city center, the cheapest option is bus #12 or 21. The cost is 4.50-6 Euro depending if you purchase the ticket beforehand or on the bus.
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2 thoughts on “Travel in Belgium: Two Days in Brussels

    1. Oh thank you! That’s so sweet of you! You can expect posts much more regularly now, since I’ll be traveling for the next few months. I appreciate your positive feedback, as always. Take care!

      Megan

      Like

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