All I really knew about Brussels was indeed waffles, chocolate, and beer. Oh and also Brussels sprouts, but who eats those anyways? My knowledge of Belgium was limited, but I was intrigued by what the country had to offer. My husband and I stayed at the Novohotel which was centrally located between all main attractions and was a nice place to stay. Upon arriving in Brussels, we went to our first destination which was the Grand Place. It is an open space surrounded by beautiful historic and visually stimulating buildings like the Town Hall. The Grand Place is the center of Brussels and where mostly everyone goes to get a taste of the city.
What's interesting is that in Belgium they speak about four languages. French, Flemish, German (near the border), and many also speak English. In Brussels, every local we encountered spoke French so I found myself trying to put together the meager bits of French that I knew. I always try to learn a few key phrases whenever I travel.
Here is the St. Cahterine Church which was right around the corner from our hotel. The first image is from the front of the church. It is very dark. The next picture you can see the other side of the church where they are working to completely clean the surface.
Below, is the restaurant that we chose for dinner. I read that Jaloa was a former residence of Van Gogh. Besides good seafood, this was a draw for me. I was excited to eat in a place where I thought Van Gogh had once lived, however, after dinner, we walked a few blocks down the street and noticed another, different Jaloa, so I'm not sure we were at the right one. Not to be dissapointed, I had some "mussels from Brussels" at this place. I never thought I would like mussels, but wow were these good! I was glad to finally be in a place that has great seafood. Germany's seafood doesn't really do anything for me and Bavaria is a landlocked area.
One of the biggest attractions for Brussels is the Manneken Pis. Your read that right and it is what you think it is. Brussels' most beloved Bronze statue erected in about 1618, is surprisingly small. It's a statue about two feet tall of a young boy pissing in a fountain. You can see this right around the corner from the Grand Square and right next door to a waffle shop. Supposedly, this is the Belgian version of the Eiffel Tower. I don't really see what all the fuss is about but at least the Belgians have a sense of humor. They dress the little guy up all the time depending on what is going on. I'm really not sure what outfit he was currently wearing.
As mentioned, said waffle shop. The waffle I got which had Everything on it was not 1 euro, it was about 5 euro.
Me: "What could be so great about Belgian Waffles, I mean, you've got some basic ingredients here?"
Me biting into the waffle: "OMG I need 5 more of these."
Complete with an obligatory Manneken Pis gummy.
The next day we took a (free) bus ride to The Atomium. I'm not sure if the bus was free or the driver just didn't give a shit, but we didn't pay either way. This was a significant way from our hotel and the city center, but it was listed as one of the big attractions so we wanted to check it out.
The structure was displayed originally at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair and was designed by Andre Waterkeyn. It is basically a huge depiction of a iron crystal. And yes, we went inside of it. There are elevators to the top and you can go in 5 of the 9 metal balls. The best part of The Atomium was simply looking at the view of Brussels. It was nice to get a more complete idea of what it looks like.
Brandon took some shots of me going down the escalator. I was a bit surprised when some crazy lights started going off.
The last statue which is way less popular than the Manneken Pis, but way more important is the Patria Statue which lays in the area of the Place des Martyrs. It commemorates the lost lives of 466 people who fought against the Dutch to reclaim their independence in 1830.
So that was Brussels. If you ask me, it can be done in two days like we did. In my opinion the sights weren't the best that I have seen. But, I will mention that the food was fantastic and for that reason alone I would go back to Brussels. The food really was that great. On the first day, for lunch we had eaten at a restaurant where I ordered scallops with riced potatoes and a cream sauce. These were literally the best scallops I've ever had. Not to mention, the great waffles, that really are that good in Belgium. I'm not a beer drinker, but the sips I drank of Brandon's selections could make me a beer drinker. They have fruity beers with a very strong alcohol content. Brandon found this out the hard way at one of the bars we went to during our stay in Belgium. :)
The Belgian chocolate also confirmed my thoughts that Belgium has the best chocolate. And even though, I never thought I'd like mussels, they were simply very good! Excuse my French, but the food was fucking brilliant. This really gets me excited for the French cuisines in France! If not for the sights, go to Belgium for the food!