Recently I had a stop over in Brussels. After coming back from Bruges I had around 4 hours to explore outside Brussels train station before heading off home to London. I’d previously been to Brussels and honestly? I really did not enjoy it. I’d go as far to say that I hated it. Could it have been that awful sinus infection? (read about this here)The person I was with? The fact my hotel felt like a hospital and was 45 minutes away by CAR? I’m not sure, but my experience there was enough for me to go “Ew, no. Never again” which isn’t really fair, is it?
So when I had a little time left over from Bruges and my friend Marcela wanted to go, who was I to say no? I really wanted to give it another chance and I am so glad that I did. Although 4 hours is not enough to explore a whole city, I really thoroughly enjoyed those 4 hours! So here are 4 things that I got up to (and you should too) if you’re going there any time soon.
One of the first things I noticed when I arrived is that Brussels is big on street art. I don’t mean some rubbish graffiti with someones tag called “COPEZ” or something! Yikes. I mean real art. Quite a few buildings had little pieces on them and I definitely stopped in my tracks (some other people did too) to admire, figure out what it was and even take photos. I really enjoyed looking at them and found myself deliberately looking up at the buildings to see if I could find any more! I always say look up from your phone anyway when travelling, but even more so in Brussels. You never know what you might find.
So good but yet, so bad. Around many tourist attractions you are guaranteed to find several over priced waffle shops. They usually advertise that is €2 on the outside but this is just for the plain waffle. Of course they do not make them fresh in store! I don’t know who I was kidding when I first believed this. I watched the lady unwrap mine from a packet and then charge me €7 for some strawberries, nuts and Nutella, but sometimes you got to live in the moment and listen to your sweet cravings.
I also quite enjoy the atmosphere around these shops; It’s busy, everyone is taking photos and the shops are in competition with each other (or so they like to make us think!) We went to a shop next to Manneken Pis. Nothing says Brussels like a warm, gooey deliciously over priced waffle. I usually encourage saving your pennies on this blog but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.
You really just cannot miss this beer while in Brussels. Why? because the logo is a bright pink elephant! coming in a ceramic bottle and a hefty 8.5% alcohol content, it is a signature born and raised Belgium beer that I thoroughly recommend. (please eat beforehand!) There is several pubs declaring themselves a Delirium only pub or you can head in to a tourist shop to try it for €6. A little overpriced but I do not expect anything less. You can also be smart and head in to a supermarket and buy them for €3/€4. Up to you! The beer IS worldwide and I know you can get it in most places but…when in Brussels right? I bought myself a Delirium Red that is sitting downstairs in my house ready to try! Update: worth every penny.
Finally, Grand Palace. Would your trip really be complete without a trip there?
When I arrived there was a big beer festival happening. We decided not to join in but watch from the outsides as the barriers were really low. We ended up dancing and clapping with a lot of the locals to a jazz band any way so we didn’t need to go inside! Last time I went there it was raining and I was so miserable, so it really was so lovely to see it from a different perspective and lively vibes!
The Grand Palace is surrounded by overpriced restaurants, chocolate shops and pubs. There is a museum you can visit there too. It really is a beautiful square and nice to just sit in and absorb your surroundings. Just don’t sit on the floor, it smells like pee. Hahaha.