6.4.07 - 8.4.07 13 °C
We arrived in Brussels on Friday afternoon (April 6th) after a 3 hour train ride from Amsterdam. We spent 1 night in Amsterdam before heading to Brussels, of course returning 2 days later.
The first thing I noticed was that the language barrier was going to be much more difficult. In Belgium, the languages are French and Flemish. Unlike in Holland where the Dutch people speak exceptional English, in Brussels it wasn't the same. We were lucky that our hotel was just 1 stop on the Metro from Central station at Ste Catherine and close by the station. I was glad that i still had some french language skills and between the 2 of us we could figure out signs and ask some questions. Our hotel was nice, on a quiet street and although there was construction at the end of the road, we arrived on a Friday and left on Sunday so we never heard them working.
Of course when we arrived the woman that checked us in didn't speak english so it was alot of hand gestures and my broken french coming into play again! We were given a room on the top floor, 6 flights of stairs to the top. In Belgium, like Holland, the stairs are very narrow and very steep. Lots of fun!
End of our street
We dropped our bags and then headed out to explore the city. We were very close to the city centre, about a 10 minute walk. We headed over that way and just checked out the stores and restuarants along the way. Fresh seafood restaurants are the predominant here and tables and seats set out along the pavement outside the restaurants beckon you to chill out and have a seat.
The one thing on my mind was chocolate! I wanted to try some famous belgian chocolate and luckily for me there were chocolate shops everywhere. We had dinner outside at a cute little italian bistro and just watched everyone walking by. The culture here is very cafe oriented and where we were eating was a little square of cafes with lots of tables outside and everyone drinking beers and wine.
After dinner we headed over to a shop to try the infamous belgian waffles..sooo good! I realized then that our trip would be dominated by alot of great food!
Me eating a belgian waffle!
The next day we did more sightseeing. Brussels was surprisingly small and there weren't alot of tourist sights to check out. That wasn't a problem as Rich and I tend to just wander around new cities anyways and hate to follow the tourist circuit as there are always way too many people around.
We checked out the most famous sculpture in Belgium, the 'mannequin Piss'. Sculpture of a little boy holding himself. There were hordes of people around taking pictures of it. I wasn't that impressed but it was kinda cute. The sculpture is dressed in a different outfit everyday for some reason. The day we were there it was a scuba outfit.
We went to the Grand Place square. This was impressive! Gorgeous buildings surround you whilst you stand in the middle. There are cafes with tables outside along the side, and stands selling flowers and paintings in the middle. I stood there in awe as it was quite magnificent. We also checked out Hubert Plaza, built in 1847, and has a beautiful glass roof. There were lots of little shops inside and one of the oldest chocolatiers in Belgium, Neuhaus, which has been around since 1857. Very posh chocolates!
Grand place square
In the evening we went and had dinner at another italian restaurant. For some reason we kept eating italian, and then steered clear of it the rest of the trip! This restaurant looked really nice as it was streetside tables again, and in a rather touristy area so lots to look it. The food was great, unfortunately the service was horrendous! Not that it mattered as we were just chilling and not in a rush to get anywhere anyways.
After dinner we just strolled back to the hotel and since it was Easter weekend we saw quite alot of people all walking into this beautiful church just up the road from out hotel. It was dark out already and there was sounds of people singing hymns in the church wafting outside. Neither myself or Richard are religious at all but we were curious about what the church looked like inside! So we went in and everyone was just gathered around holding candles and singing french hyms. It was really nice so we stood there for awhile and watched everyone.
This is the church (sorry the pic is a little lopsided!)
Eventually we headed back to the hotel and had an early night as we had to catch a train back to Amsterdam the next morning.
Brussels was really nice, artistic and very chilled out. Although after 2 days there I was ready to move on as there isn't that much to see. One thing that I noticed is that they had quite alot of really interesting graffiti painted everywhere. They had quite alot of shops selling paintings and pictures which really inspired me to start looking at art, something I've never really been that into. At home Graffitti is more about branding and bored kids, here it was really an artform and a beautiful feature throughout the city.
Isn't this the cutest thing? I can't belive his dad was letting him play with it though!!