A good few years ago, I was privileged to live in Belgium. It felt very surreal for me to live in a country where English is not the Second language and in a city located in the Wallonian region, where French was a dominant language. Everything felt so foreign to me and the fact that I made every single effort of learning and speaking French was a positive challenge (Not to mention, made me immersed in the language and culture). I remembered spending my very First Christmas and New Year on my own, something that I was not used to and ended in tears.
In spite of the culture shock, I had the time of my life living in Belgium. I enjoyed Belgian Waffles (Yum! Yum! Yum), Belgian Fries (Make sure to dip it with Ketchup and Mayonnaise because that’s how the Belgians enjoy it!) and of course… The Pralines! (C’est Deliceux! Tres Deliceux!). And living in Belgium gave me the chance to travel to Brussels on my days off… Something that I’ve always wanted to do. Those were the moments I had in Belgium and something that I’ve never forgotten, which made me want to come back there. Belgium is divided into 3 Regions, Wallonia (South and French Speaking), Flanders (North and Flemish Speaking) and then you have Brussels, which is the Capital City.
Fast Forward a few years later… I decided to visit this amazing country. Since I wanted to reminisce my glorious time in Belgium, I decided to visit Brussels, home to the European Union and the city that a piece of my heart and soul remains. I got super excited coming back to Belgium and wanted to visit places that I once visited and also I wanted to visit.
As an adventure (And suitable for the budget travellers), I decided to take the Coach for a change from London Victoria Station to Brussels North Terminal with Eurolines (Owned by the National Express Coach line). It was a debate between the Eurostar or the Coach, as I would not recommend catching a flight to Brussels. It’s more of a hassle getting to Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted (Unless you live outside London and this is a much better option for you). Getting to Brussels from London took me 8 and a half hours on the coach, including getting on the Euro tunnel from Folkestone in Kent to Calais in France. And the return to London took about 5 and a half hours. Will I recommend taking a coach?… Not entirely, unless you are on a tight budget or maybe wanting to take a scenic route or want to be adventurous. Definitely, the best option would be taking a Eurostar from London St Pancras Station. But taking the coach, I managed to make friends on the way and this made up for the very long journey as well. If you opt for the Train, check Eurail here.
Staying in Avenue Louise Hotel felt like a Blast from the Past. It was very traditional and Renaissance. I loved how cosy my room was and I love the Artwork too. It was a bonus that I was staying in the Louise area, which is considered an upmarket area. I was able to find a great deal for this hotel on Expedia.
If there were 7 things I loved about Brussels, these will be my 7 things:
1.Eglise Notre-Dame du Sablon (Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon)
This 15th Century Catholic church looks beautiful, both the inside and outside! The architecture is amazing and baroque in style. Located in the Sablon area. Outside the church is a very beautiful park called Kleine Zavel Park (Petite Sablon).
2. The Grand Place
Definitely not to be missed out! This is what I consider the “Heart of Brussels!” It is dubbed as a Unesco Heritage and considered one of Europe’s most beautiful Squares in Europe. There’s so much going on around this place and was very lucky to see the Christmas Lights show at night here as well! Was truly magical. Around the square, you will find the City Town Hall, shops, restaurants and not to mention… Museum of the City of Brussels! It’s definitely worth the visit!
3. Manneken Pis
The First time I saw the Manneken Piss ( Little Man Pee in English ), I didn’t realise he was just behind me. It took me minutes to find it until someone pointed me to him! This was a good few years ago! LOL! The Manneken Pis is a Bronze statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain basin. It symbolizes the people of Brussels and their independence of mind.
A futuristic-looking landmark with spheres makes the Atomium a landmark not to be missed (Even if you are going there to take photos from the outside). If Paris has the Eiffel Tower, then Brussels has the Atomium to be proud of! It’s an observatory, where you get to see the view of Brussels. Unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy the observatory due to the lack of time. On my next visit to Brussels, I will definitely be writing a blog solely for the Atomium! But definitely, put this on your priority list of things to do when in Brussels.
One of my favourite places in Brussels and definitely a priority when visiting Brussels. This is a window to Europe. It showcases the different landmarks around European cities. Got me excited! The perfect time to enjoy this place is definitely during Spring and Summer. I am writing a separate blog about this.
6. Belgian Fries and Waffles
I have never enjoyed a very crispy and thick fries but in Belgium. They are divine and love love love them! Make sure to dip it with Ketchup and Mayonnaise as that is the proper way of enjoying Belgian Fries.
Waffles in Belgium are definitely worth the try. Around the Grand Place and The Manneken Pis, there are Waffle shops lined around enticing visitors and waffle lovers with a 2 Euro Waffle (word of warning, the 2 Euro waffles are usually the plain ones without the cream, strawberry, banana or any fancy filling. These would usually range around 6 Euros). Yum!
7. Praline and Chocolate Shop
The Belgians have definitely introduced the finest chocolates in the world. There are famous brands out there that sell Belgian chocolates, aka “Pralines.” What makes them special for the Belgians is that Pralines are given as a gift. This was something I’ve learned from one of the owners of a Chocolatier shop when I used to live in Belgium. They are very proud of their Pralines. They are very divine!
It was such an amazing City break to Brussels! This city made me a changed person when I used to lived there and I came back rekindling what the city has to offer. It may not be the biggest city in the world, but the city’s heart is big in its own right and I can’t wait for my return visit to the city! This city will always have a piece of me there!
Before your visit to Brussels, make sure to take a European Travel adaptor with you at all times! 😉
Useful Information About Brussels:
- For flights to Brussels via Abu Dhabi, check the Etihad Airways site here.
- For flights and accommodations, check the Expedia site here.
- Alternatively, you can also check with Kayak or Lastminute.com.
- If you are thinking of taking the train to Brussels, check the Eurail site here.
- If you are in the UK and would like to use your Internet Data, Calls and Texts for free, Check the Three website here to know more about their feel at home package.
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