We decided to spend Christmas in another city, something not so far from Amsterdam and that has the Christmas feeling so Brussels came out! We booked the hotel, train tickets and started to plan our short trip to Belgium. We traveled for three hours by train from Amsterdam Centraal to Bruxelles Central. Get ready! Im going to bomb you with pics 🙈
First impressions. As soon as we got out of the train station a couple of things became evident. The place is less crowded than Amsterdam, with uneven terrain and a lot of round streets which also makes some buildings round. In this regards, buildings are bigger and more modern, however numerous conserve their antique architecture. Sadly, a lot of streets are dirty, smelly and with multiple homeless people panhandling for money.
Belgium is very well known for their fine chocolate, to mention some: Godiva, Leonidas, Bruyerre, Corne Port Royal and Mary 💕 we entered many stores and each have their unique varieties 🍫 OMG its paradise for chocolovers 😍 you want them all. We also took a chocolate tour from the Cacao and Chocolate Museum they have a museum with info and this super cool guy that took us through the process of making center filled chocolates which later we tried. If its in your budget to pay 35-70 Euros for a full workshop tour, there are many available were you go thru the tour and make chocolates which you can take with you.
We ate waffles in a couple of places, which are also very typical, the ones from food trucks are not precisely fresh but still good and shops offer more toppings that are super good. Also tried lunchwafs, which are salty options, LOVED them 😛
Vlamse frites, which are pretty much the same as in Amsterdam, variation in the sauces.
And this was a very nice surprise: Les Moules Frites. I read that they are famous for them but really didn’t imagine or had a clear idea of how they were prepared. We ordered ours from a food stand in the Winter Market around the Grand Place and were prepared right in front of us, they tasted delicious! There is abundance of restaurants offering them ➡️ Tip: Plan to go for them during lunch time, for dinner they double the prices.
Beers! We tried some varieties of Jupiler and Hoegaarden. Some other famous Belgian beers are Stella Artois, Leffe and Trappist.
Mini Europe, Atonium, Planetarium, Oceade, all these are nearby so you can buy combo entrances and get better deals. We just went to Mini-Europe and really enjoyed the park, where the most popular European landmarks are represented in scale of 1:25. Sharing some pics.
Parc de Bruxelles, Royal Palace of Brussels, Belgium Parliament, Palais de Justice, Musical Instruments Museum and many art museums are also located nearby.
Cinquantenaire, Autoworld, Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, and The Jubelpark museum/Cinquantenaire Museum all located in the Cinquantenaire park. This monument was build to commemorate the 50 years of independence of Belgium.
The Halle Gate or Porte de Hal is a restored 14th-century building that was once one of the seven city gates, the other six were demolished and this one survived because they kept on using it as prison and to store grains, now its part of the museum of weapons and has very nice park with benches ideal to enjoy the view.
The popular Manneken Pis, also Jeanneke Pis and Het Zinneke! The peeing boy and girl were smaller than I imagined and are behind heavy fences, so my favorite one was the doggie, who is real size and not in a cage!! Fun, but not so fun fact… Manneken Pis is dressed in costumes for special occasions, so now he is a little Santa! which at the beginning was not cool to me since it was the first time I was seeing him, I was kinda expecting him naked 🙈 just the Santa hat would have been enough 🎅🏻 😅
The Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a huge iconic Brussels square with opulent baroque, gothic buildings, impressive at day light and breathe taking with the light projections at night. Many special events are held here, famous are the flower carpets which are done every two years and in Christmas the light projections, more pictures and video in my Instagram.
Methods of transportation. Many of the sightseeing and famous restaurants are walking distance from the the Grand Place, however there are a couple of them that you need to get a train to get to. Some of the train lines you can tell are new, however, they are all dirty and smelly and they have a noneffective payment system, so must likely a lot of people don’t pay and one thing leads to another… bad conditions. I didn’t use buses or trams in this occasion. Bike rentals available.
The bad side of traveling during the holidays is that we encounter a lot of stores and restaurants closed the 24 and 25 of December, which we were expecting, but we didn’t think that the Xmas Village was going to be part of that too, they closed the afternoon of the 24th and we were looking forward to hangout at Delirium and it was not possible in this occasion.
We definitely liked Brussels, its a very interesting place to explore with a lot of history and activities to do. Yes we will be back in Belgium, but probably in the next trip we will be exploring another city, like Bruges!