Last December, as an early christmas present, we went for a special weekend to Brussels. To make the weekend even more special, we met one of our friends that we hadn’t seen in quite some time. So we set of to exploring the Belgian capital together. I was very happy about meeting this dearly missed friend, but being a chocomaniac I had multiple interests and caught myself picturing Brussels as a paradise of chocolate streams and showers of sweets. And it got even better. As it turned out, Brussels is not only the chocolate centre of Europe and the capital of the EU, but also home to delicious waffles, whose smell can be felt all over the city. Among the cultural sweeteners to our trip were: mule, comic murals and phenomenal Grand Place (nl.Grote Markt).
On Saturday morning, while browsing the gardens on the Mont des Arts, we were finally joined by our friend. After a joyful welcome, we directed our steps towards a booth with waffles, which we simply had to try, as I read that they are very different from the waffles we get at home. It turned out to be a delicious truth! The wealth of toppings and additions made your head spin and it was really hard for me to decide what to take. In the end, I took a waffle without toping – as opposed to my friend who chose waffle with smooth, white chocolate, strawberry and caramel. I was happy with the choice, because the waffle itself was already so tender and sweet. It was a cold day, but with the nicely warm and oh so sweet waffles, I felt blissful and endlessly happy.
The Grand Place
With waffles warming our hands and hearts, we went on to visit the Grote Markt (Grand Place). Once there, I was truly speechless! This is probably one of the best markets I’ve ever seen! The view was simply stunning! I momentarily lost all interest in the waffle and instead wanted experience the atmosphere of the market with all my senses. When in Brussels, this is a must see and visit! Not surprisingly, the Grand Place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to magnificent, ornate and gilded buildings, there was a huge, beautifully adorned Christmas tree, which made our stop here even more special. I hope that next time we will visit Brussels in August as I’d love to see the famous flower carpet which is laid out on the market every two years-view, it must be amazing.
Christmas markets (and a bit of fish)
Once I had calmed down a bit after the breathtaking experience of the Grote Markt, we headed toward the Christmas Markets. Along the way we stopped at De Nordzee for some fish soup and smoked mackerel. De Nordzee is hugely popular in Brussels and despite the cold and rain we had to wait in line to order, but it was certainly worth it!
Finally, on Christmas markets, you could buy souvenirs, crafts, soap and jam. We opted eat for some fried mussels and warm mulled wine (which I simply couldn’t resist).
A light show to remember
Dusk fell and we decided to go back to the Grote Markt, because waiting for us was a true highlight of our trip a light and sound show. Despite the cold, the market was packed and everyone wanted to experience the multi-coloured illuminations. The show impressed us with its diversity in forms, colours and music. Grote Markt seemed to be different then when I had seen it earlier, it brought back memories of fairy tales and struck me as a magic place. The richly illuminated Christmas tree certainly added a special, warm charm. Again, the atmosphere at the market was great!
A cuban feast
After the show (and a long debate what to eat and where to go 😉 ), we decided to go to a Cuban restaurant. I’ve never had the Cuban before, so didn’t not really know what to expect. And therefore all the more curious what would await us. Both the chicken fillet and fruit salsa looked very inviting and were very tasty. But it was the flan that conquered my heart.
(Little) Manneken Pis
After a few drinks at the Cuban restaurant to top of our dinner, we left happy and content. By pure chance we came across a statue of Manneken Pis. I had only heard about the statue before this evening and was very surprised to find it a lot smaller than I expected. In general, I still do not understand the phenomenon. Hm … maybe I just do not know much about art 😉
On Sunday, in the morning we went to the Brussels district of Laeken, which is home to one of the most emblematic symbols of Brussels – the Atomium. The design of this extraordinary building, consisting of 9 steel balls-atoms reflects the model of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. The monumental structure made huge impression on me. Unfortunately, we did not have time to look inside as the flight back to London was in the afternoon.
All the murals
Walking around the city one cannot not fail to notice the many colourful murals depicting cartoon characters. Comic murals fit perfectly into the architectural landscape of Brussels, especially considering that Belgium is considered the birthplace of the comic. For me personally, the multi-coloured murals were a huge joy to my eyes and brought back memories of my childhood, who of us has not followed the adventures of the Smurfs, Asterix and Obelix or Lucky Luke? 🙂
The only item on my list to remain was the main reason I wanted to go to Brussels in the first place: sweet and mouth-watering chocolate! I could not return to London without visiting several chocolate shops. There are numerous shops around Brussels, all with beautiful displays of their variety and elaborately decorated pralines, designed to lure in passing shoppers. In these temples of chocolate, the sweet smell of cocoa and other tempting ingredients took me in and despite my best efforts, I simply could not decide what kinds to buy, the selection of shops and chocolate assortment is HUGE. In the end I made a choice and left the shop with a big bag of chocolate delight 🙂 Hurray !!! Having secured my supply I I was ready to go back to London. Having tried all of my “souvenirs” by now, I can tell you, they are truly divine!