Brussels in a day

As mentioned previously I went to Belgium for a long weekend trip with my beautiful friend Amy. We managed to hit up three different places so as a little Belgian treat for the next week I’m giving you three different day trip/itineraries for three wonderful places in Belgium – Brussels, Ghent and Bruges. (How many times did I say three just then?)

First up is Brussels which is the capital of Belgium. We decided to use it as our ‘base’ for the trip as it has great access to different places and is easy to get to from the UK via plane or train. Upon arriving at Brussels airport we hopped on the bus to the city centre – be warned it takes ages. We were staying at Hotel Bloom by the Botanique in the northern part of the city. It was a lovely hotel with a very modern/artsy finish. Everything was plant themed with the carpet looking like grass and there being painted dandelions on the walls that glowed in the dark. From there we spent the rest of the day wandering around Brussels as it pretty much is a ‘do it one day’ kind of city. We grabbed a map and jumped on a tram downtown. The trams are very thin and narrow but very convenient and space-age.

After hopping off the tram we were at Place Louise and went down a bizarre glass lift to the lower level. The square was surrounded by little cafes/shops and we opted for a place that claimed to have huge bagels – they were not wrong! We shared a giant bagel and also tried some fruity beers (which is apparently a Belgian thing?), we opted for peach and strawberry and they were very delicious.

From there we just walked around everywhere (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it). It isn’t a huge downtown area so save your money and just go by foot. We passed lots of chocolate shops and people enjoying drinks outside of bars and cafes. It was a Saturday afternoon and the city was bustling with beer drinkers and smokers on the pavement – very European haha. We somehow ended up at Place Royale which is an iconic square at the top of a hill/busy intersection and looks down onto a lower part of the city where all the shops/tourist spots are and pretty gardens. There’s a beautiful church in the middle of the square and it is surrounded by museums and other neoclassical buildings.

You just follow the main road down from there and you end up in the real hustlebustle of Brussels. Tons of tourists, tons of restaurants and tons of tourist shops etc. There are little lanes that you can navigate your way through and it’s fun to get lost in. It was here that we got our first taste of ‘the pissing boy’. One of the famous icons of Brussels is Manneken pis aka a pissing boy fountain (and it’s tiny). I’ll show you the real thing in a second but they really love to play with it and come up with clever uses for souvenirs/parodies. He’s everywhere…

If you keep wandering round the sidestreets you’ll end up at the central square (this one is huge) called Grand Place or Grote Markt. It is the main landmark of Brussels and a UNESCO Heritage Site. It is surrounded by stunning buildings which are all gothic and baroque style and truly feels like the setting of a fairytale. Bar the hideous amount of tourists/people, it is a very lovely place and the town hall as well as some guildhalls and shops are there.
After another cheeky beer we went round the corner and found the famous pissing boy fountain. He’s hidden down a small street at an intersection but you’ll be able to find him from the insane amount of people gathered around. It’s crazy to think that this little guy has become such an icon.

Our last stop for the day was out of the city so we hopped on the metro (be warned that the machines only take coins and not notes). The Atomium was built for a world fair and is one of the weirdest places I’ve ever visited. I don’t really get the appeal or need for it but it was definitely a unique experience haha.

And that pretty much sums up our day in Brussels. We got dinner at some really random restaurant and headed to bed after watching Belgian TV. Obviously you could fill out your time more by visiting museums, more bars and shopping but we were more excited to just get in bed haha. I’ll post about Bruges on Sunday!

Discussion

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