This week we went to Brussels for 4 days. They were a quite good four days filled with shopping, food, museums and rain. Lots of damn rain.
We took photos as evidence of our epic journey. We didn’t document the rain because that would be stupid and at one point we were being pelted by football sized hail (might be a tad exaggerated). As Cat quite rightly puts it we experienced The Day After Tomorrow in weather conditions, that’s NOT an exaggeration. But enough about the weather!
On the Eurostar on the way to Brussels Mama paid for us to be upgraded to Standard Premier… The difference between the norm and this is amazing. You feel all posh as they bring you a meal to your table, they balance a tiny tray with your coffee cup, milk and sugars in one hand while pouring your coffee from a snazzy coffee pot in the other hand. Oh and the train is moving.
We stayed in a lovely penthouse near Grand Place. Such a stunning place owned by a lovely couple who had great tastes in the antique area. This meant we could buy in and cook our own food which led me onto Cheese Fondue flavoured crisps… I’m still undecided on them. Speaking of food we all know what Belgium is famous for. If it’s escaped your attention it’s chocolate, beer, chocolate, waffles, chocolate and chips. We bought lots and lots of chocolate. We also bought some beer.
One of the nicest places to go walking (when it’s not raining loads) is near the Hotel D’Ville and the Grand Place. This is a beautiful courtyard type square that in summer is filled with vendors selling flowers and the likes. At this time of year it was quieter even with the tourists bustling around. You can also have horse drawn carriage rides from here and there’s a Starbucks and a tourist information centre. On the first night we actually ate in this area… We went to Hard Rock Cafe where you can get some very decent American food served by wonderfully friendly staff who aren’t afraid to sit down and have a chat with you. I know you don’t go on holiday to eat the same food but we make it our mission to go to the Hard Rock Cafe wherever we go so we had to do it.
On the second day it rained. A lot. We walked up rue du Neuve which is a pedestrianised street full of high street stores. It can get quite busy but it’s worth a browse. We also had breakfast in one of my favourite cafe’s in Brussels. It’s a little place called Peck 47. They do gorgeous smooth coffee, excellent blends of fruit juices and some stunning food. I had Eggs Benny and Cat had Eggs Hemmigway. The Benny came wth loads of crispy bacon and really set me up for the day. We carried on shopping and buying chocolate after that then we went back to the flat to have a picnic and allow me to get some work done. There was a reason why I had to go to Brussels, journalism waits for no man.
Thursday may be the most profound awe inspiring day of my life. It rained a lot of the day, not all though! Then the meteorite hail came and I saw someone knocked out by it (I’m joking, it was probably close though) First off we went to BelVue museum which, when it’s open, is a lovely little museum about the history of Brussels and Belgium. It’s currently being refurbished though so we went to the Coudenburg part instead. This is a museum under BelVue.
It’s the old Royal palace and as some amazing archaeological history to it. It won’t be everyones cup of tea but it is worth having a look around. Even if it’s just to watch the big door swing closed and shut you in. An even better part is finding your way out. You do get a map but when you’re that deep underground that you have no phone signal and you realise they’ve installed toilets and seats it can make you feel a little unnerved about the situation.
After this we had lunch in Green Kitchen their lovely restaurant/ cafe. Here everything is freshly made on the day and you can create your own salads or pick from the ready made quiches, sandwiches and soup. It really is a great place to go eat, most of the museums have great food selections to them and usually have great deals on.
We then took a leisurely, rainy, walk down to the European Parliament. This is where I work a lot of the time when I’m in Brussels. If you get a chance I would highly recommend the guided tours they have on. They must be one of the only working Parliament buildings in the world that gives almost full access to tour groups and the tours are available in the corresponding languages to the 24 countries in the EU.
Behind the EU building you’ll find the Science Museum which contains rocks, shiny rocks, sparkly rocks and DINOSAURS. Everything from big dinosaurs to tiny dinosaurs. The kids and school groups that were there seemed to be really enjoying it. I liked the dinosaurs too.
You might be wondering what part of my day was awe inspiring. Well I met a certain little boy. A certain little NAKED Boy who is doing something that some people might laugh at and other people might be disgusted by. Yep I went and found the Mannekin Pis or as we Brits call him the Pissing Boy. This little boy is on souvenirs all over the city and is well worth the effort to find him and join the crowds to have a selfie with. At certain times of the year the locals like to dress him up in appropriate clothing so it’s fun to see what state of undress he’s in. As I mentioned he was in his birthday suit when I visited him.
I might add that me and Cat went to one of our favourite museums in Brussels on the Wednesday… The Belgian Comic Strip Centre. They have some awesome permanent exhibitions showing all the best of Belgian comics including the Smurfs. They look at the progression of the comic and how digital art as changed what we read and look at in todays comics. They also have a floor of temporary exhibitions which on this visit were the works of Fred Jannin and Jean-Pol. Take my word for it you’ll be smiling the whole way around the exhibitions and it’ll really open your eyes to the Belgium contribution to the comic world.
I had fun on my Brussels adventure I ate lots of yummy food including, sushi and waffles. In fact I didn’t buy anything but food and drink. Oh wait I bought a flat pack t-shirt. I have a new found love for the French language because I really don’t get Dutch.
So as I write this from my Standard Premier seat on the Eurostar to London, in which we’ve literally just exited the euro tunnel to the great British sunshine (Fuck me there’s no rain!), the first message I receive on my iPhone to alert me I’m back on British soil is not a hello from my service provider but an alert about Jeremy Hunt, I realise I’ve had a pretty good week. Not all work, not all play but there’s lots of chocolate to eat and a naked boy to smile at on my photo album.
- We travelled to Brussels Midi Station from St Pancras International with Eurostar and booked our accommodation through Airbnb. Other alternatives are available.
- There are plenty more places to eat and museums to go to in Brussels. We just wanted to show you the variation there is in the city and some of our favourites.