In Brussels, I ate Belgium waffles. Smothered in Belgium chocolate, of course. Paired with a Belgium beer. Not really! The chocolate on the waffles, YES! The beer with my waffles, no. More like a cafe au lait with my waffles. And Belgium beer later on in the day and at night. It was a glorious two days for my tastebuds.
We arrived by fast train in Brussels late Tuesday afternoon. Spending the majority of Tuesday morning amongst the streets of Amsterdam. Being excited for the Belgium beer and waffles, we weren’t really expecting much else from Brussels. Little did we know how fascinating the city truly was! We instantly loved it. We roamed the tiny streets lined with restaurants, cafés, tempting chocolate shops and dark Belgium beer halls. The architecture was seducing, especially in the awe-inspiring square, where our jaws dropped with astonishment of its radiant beauty! No one ever tells you just how spectacular Brussels square is…. They are always raving about the squares in Florence, Venice, and Rome. Yes, those are beautiful too, but Brussels was my favorite of all the squares. It glittered with such magic and I never wanted to take my eyes off it.
Interestingly enough, Brussels is officially bilingual! So all names from train stations to street names have both Dutch and French versions. Which worked out much in our favor as my husband speaks French (one of the many reasons I fell in love with him). We started our Tuesday evening with a stroll through the magnificent central square. With trade symbols and Gilt statues adorning the sparking guildhalls that were rebuilt shortly after the originals were bombarded in the late 1600’s. Not all was broken in the 1600’s though, the beautiful City Hall is an old survivor and sits proudly amongst the rest.
We stopped at one of Brussels most famous beer halls called Delirium. We sipped some Belgium beers (I drank an apple beer that tasted like fizzy apple juice!) and headed to dinner. My husband did some research and we ended up having a fantastic meal at a true Belgium restaurant called Fin de Siecle. We ordered dishes that were unfamiliar to us as there was only one menu… which was written in Dutch… in chicken scratch on a mirror at the bar area of the restaurant. Flustered and unaware of anything, we just pointed to two random things on the mirror and got lucky! I got sausages and mashed potatoes in a mushroom sauce while my husband got honey ribs. It was great!
Important side note: majority of restaurants (actually all of the restaurants, tea rooms, beer halls and cafés) in Brussels and many other European cities are cash only. And ATM’s are far and few. So if ever traveling to Brussels, be sure to carry a substantial amount of cash on you for big dinners and nights out in the town.
Wednesday morning we set out to continue our exploration of the city. Starting our day off with amazing Belgium waffles from a tea room that is known to serve the best waffles in all of Brussels! It is called Maison Dandoy and if you are ever in Brussels, you must go here. We each got our own waffle doused in Belgium chocolate, cooked strawberry’s and whipped cream. It was a heavenly breakfast. Just off of the square we noticed a tiny shopping street filled with chocolatiers and boutiques. Did I mention the whole city smells like chocolate? It was an absolute dream. Also right off the square we happened upon a colorful, narrow street that was jam packed with seafood eateries and Italian restaurants with waiters heckling you to dine there. It reminded me a lot of New York City’s Mulberry Street. Really funny actually!
We made sure we took a walk passed the infamous Manneken Pis. This is a well known monument right in the center of the city that tourists and school groups flock to. I am still unsure as to why it is so fascinating to some, but it was humorous to Mike and me. The national symbol is a fountain in the form of a little boy joyfully taking a leak into a fountain pool…… Yes. This causes masses of people. It is supposed to symbolize sexual equality. So we saw it, took some photos, had a good laugh and were in our way!
The city’s overall architecture was very interesting. It combines awesome art-nouveau and 17the century masterpieces against suburbanism and gold spires to create an insanely dramatic backdrop. If any of you are familiar with Trip Advisor – the current backdrop when you open the app on your iPad or iPhone is Brussels square. It’s just so beautiful there! I can’t reiterate it enough.
Wednesday night we dined at another fabulous restaurant we had read about in one of our travel magazines. It was Belgium/French fusion and was located in what looked to be the living room of a tiny home in the center of the city – Nuetnigenough. They did not take reservations, so we ended up drinking some Belgium beers at the minuscule bar while we waited for a table. The wait was so worth it because dinner was phenomenal! We started with the most scrumptious veal meatballs ever, some cheese and some olives. Followed by our main courses – I got pig, my husband got steak. It was fantastic!
Brussels was such a pleasant surprise. We were excited to drink beers and eat waffles, but little did we know its culture and beauty. We are so grateful we got to explore it together! Thursday morning we boarded a super fast train to Paris. Our second time venturing to the city of lights together, we were really excited! Stay tuned for tales on our long weekend in the romantic city. Until then, bon voyage!