Beer and chocolate. The first two things that comes to mind when I think about Belgium. Good thing then that Brussels have countless places to get it, and actually also a museum for both. Add waffles and moules frites, and you are all set!
Brussels is honestly not the first city that comes to mind when planning a weekend trip. Coincidences led me and my friends here, but we ended up being pleasantly surprised.
We had booked the nice and spacious Apartment The Opera Residence right next to the Opera, with two balconies facing the shopping street Rue des Fripiers.
Arriving quite late, we just dumped our luggage in the apartment and went out to find something to eat. That was not only a pleasant experience.
To be fair, we were in the touristic area, and we should know what to expect, but honestly, we could never imagine that it could be like this. Walking up Rue des Bouchers, we were literally attached by people trying to convince us to eat at their restaurant. I must admit, I really hate that! If it would be enough to politely reject them, I would let it pass and just move on, but they actually blocked the way still trying to convince us. All my time travelling, I have not experienced anything like this. The closest would be in touristic areas like Hurgada in Egypt or several places in Turkey. I must say I was quite shocked to experience this here! Since it was getting late and we were very hungry, we still ended up eating in that street, but at one of the few places that did not have staff acting like vultures trying to fetch you.
Waking up Saturday morning just after 10, we were a bit surprised the street was more or less empty and the shops were closed. We began to suspect something was wrong.
Breakfast was first in line, and since it was a beautiful and sunny November morning, we were determined to sit outside enjoying the warm sunbeams. As the sun was still low, and the houses still tall, the only places near by combining outside tables, sun and breakfast, were on Grand Place. Sitting down, enjoying a huge breakfast, we found out it was a national holiday and all the shops were closed… Not quite according to the plan, but still. More time to wander the streets and get to know the city then.
Top attractions in Brussels include the Grand Place, Atomium, the Comic Strip Museum and the statue of Manneken-Pis. Legend has it that the small boy saved the city from being blown up in the 14th century, by peeing on the burning fuse leading to the explosives. Good boy! If you are after something a bit quirky, the City of Brussels Museum holds a permanent exhibition of Manneken-Pis different outfits.
Mentioning comics. Brussels is the homeland of several international comic strip heroes like Tintin, Spirou, The Smurfs, Lucky Luke and the Dalton brothers, to name a few. Quite a lot of the museums are linked to comics, and large murals are to be found all around the city. VisitBrussels have even made their own maps for the comic trails, and I walked parts of it.
Moving on to two of the other important things in Belgium; chocolate and beer. One expression describes them both; Mmmmmm!
Bottom line: Wander around at you own pace, looking at the beautiful surroundings, and stopping from time to time to enjoy some nice food, beer and chocolate. But please do some research before going out for dinner, and unless you enjoy the (in my opinion negative) attention, stay away from restaurant street Rue des Bouchers.
How to get to Brussels from the airport:
As we were five persons, we got a maxi taxi from the airport to the city center. The price was 50 Euro. As the train would be 8,5 Euro per person, this was an easy pick for us, but there are off course other options.