Bruxelles, je t’aime.
This weekend I headed over to the east to Brussels, Belgium. My first European weekend trip this semester! I did this one solo, so it was really a great experience to try and navigate my way around the city and find things on my own. Overall, it was a success! Here are some things worth mentioning.
I ate waffels errrrrrday.
This was the first photo I took. I’m really not sure I could describe to you the beautiful feeling my mouth and tummy felt when I took my first bite. I don’t think there is anything quite like the “Gaufre Liège” anywhere else but Belgium. By the time dinner rolled around I ended up bolting to the closest waffle place I could find. I’m pretty sure I ended up eating at the same restaurant three times. Gettin dat proper Belgium experience, amiright guys?
Another highlight of Brussels is the chocolate. Pretty much on every corner you turn you can find a beautiful chocolate shop filled with any kind of chocolate you want. There were a plethora of options at the Galerie Royales Saint-Hubert, a lovely interior shopping arcade with restaurants, shops, and a quirky French indie movie theater. But if ever you decide you want a bit of adventure while wanting to cure your chocolate fix, try and find the original “Mary” a chocolate shop which has been in business since 1919. Their original shop on Rue Royale is listed in the “1,000 places you must see before you die” book. Thank goodness I got to go, because now I can really focus on getting to those 999 other places.
Another food-based luxury Belgium offers: frites. These “fries” are very similar to the chips you can find here in a London pub. But what makes these ones so special is that they’re hot and served in a
bottomless pit cone and at least ten pumps of mayo or whatever else kind of sauce you want is thrown on top. Let me just say that my hands were super moisturized after that experience. I didn’t get the memo about eating it with the fork. Whoops.
Brussels has a lovely selection of museums. On the first day I ventured into one that was all about the history of Brussels. The thing I remember most was the overwhelming amount of “Manneken Pis,” a statue of a little boy relieving himself.
I don’t get it either. But okay.
Before you start thinking that Brussels isn’t a class act city, you should only know that this place has some of the most stunning and impressive cathedrals and churches I’ve ever seen. These buildings are breathtakingly beautiful inside and out. I traveled with someone who pointed out that one had nothing on Notre Dame. Take that, France!
Another thing that makes Brussels so classy are the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. There are roughly 5 different museums, all of which only cost 2 euro for students. While I was tempted to check out the famous Magritte museum I decided to go to its neighbor instead, the Fin-de-Siecle. There, I saw the most stunning landscapes, but even better, I finally got to see an Alphonse Mucha! These Belgians know what’s up.
One of favorite parts of the trip was getting to travel off the beaten path into a section of Brussels called Ixelles. I went to an authentic Belgian restaurant, Les Brassins, which is (apparently) located on the street where Audrey Hepburn grew up. There, I had one of the greatest dishes of meatballs I ever had, and that’s coming from an Italian American who only likes her mamma’s recipe!
Overall, it was an amazing trip. I would do it al over again in a heartbeat. I’m quite proud of myself for being able to get around the city with ease (although in fairness, it is a pretty easy city to navigate around in). Still, I had no GPS, no WiFi, and no understanding whatsoever of Flemish or Dutch (thank goodness I took French in high school). I’m glad that I decided to take a risk and travel to a new city. I would encourage anyone to try and do the same at some point. Who knows what you’ll find!