The capital of Belgium is one of those places I never thought about visiting. My 14th country is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to (along with Uruguay and Czech Republic). Belgium and I share a lot in common. Bicycles, slow food, cafés, businesses and a multicultural society made me fall quite easily with the city.
I arrived to Charleroi Airport, located down south. To get to Brussels, you have to take a shuttle that leaves every 30 minutes (book one month in advance to pay €5 instead of the €17 I had to pay). After 1 hour, we were in one of most exciting cities Europe has to offer.
I will give you my insights and comments as concisely as I can. There is so much to tell, walk and eat. Let’s go.
Its always a pleasure to have “your spot” in any given city. Just like Jerry and the gang, we found our “Tom’s” in JAT’ a beautiful cafe located near the museum district. We came twice to try the homemade coffee (the baristas take their job truly seriously), the desserts and the heavenly salads they have everyday (believe me, next time, I will eat at least two slices of carrot cake).
The attention was always 10 out of 10, the employees were kind, smiling and the whole atmosphere inside was relaxing and careless. There is a huge collection of magazines (such as Wired) and hipnotic beats to fade the stress away.
We also visited two other pastries that deserve as space in this post. The first one is Paul from UK, in which I tried macarons for the first time. We also went to Le Pain in which I tried the eclairs and the foamy cappuccino. Heaven on earth I would say.
We did not tried any other restaurants but next time we will stop by the Le cercle des voyageurs, a very nice bistró in the heart of the city.
Apart from this places, you cannot leave without trying Brussel’s famous waffles. There are dozens of food trucks along the city offering this mouth watering creation; you can have them with fruit, nutella, whipped cream, chocolate or ice cream. Simply beautiful.
If you are from another planet and waffles are not your thing, then you have a huge culture on chocolate and beer. Even though chocolates are a bit expensive, it's completely worth it to try some Godiva’s or Dumon. Beer is not quite my thing, so I did not tried, but if you are into it, there is plenty to choose from.
Then again, Airbnb gave us the best choice of them all. We stayed in a very centric place in a beautiful and spacious room that met all of our needs. As far as Im concern, Brussels its more expensive than other cities, however you can always find affordable choices if you look good enough. The city is not huge, therefore, Im pretty sure you can find something good and still near downtown for a very good price.
Morning! pic.twitter.com/UGhmfru1JG— Cristián (@lavozdecristian) March 30, 2014
Brussels is quite unique. Its two main attractions are “weird” and unconventional. One of them is the Manneken Pis, a famous bronze statue of a kid peeing. Like any other famous club mascot, the statue has been stolen several times. The current one is a replica placed there in 1965 (the original one its safely kept on the Grand Palace). Everyone seems a bit disappointed when they see the actual landmark, since its “too small”.
Just outside the city, you find the other highlight of Brussels, the famous Atomium, which was built exclusively for the World Expo in 1958. The “statue” its by far one of the weirdest landmarks I have ever seen in any city. However, I must admit that once you leave the Heyzel Metro Station, seeing this huge structure impresses me a lot.
Apart from the peeing kid and the Atomium, there is plenty to see in Brussels. You have to remember that Brussels is one of Europe’s most cultural cities. The home of Maigret, the Smurfs and Tin Tin has several museums (all together in a “museum district”), a lot of impressive gothic cathedrals and tremendously important buildings such as the Headquarters of the EU or the beautiful Grand Palace.
Brussels is a hidden jewel. Not everyone thinks about it, but once you visit, you feel in a truly nice place, which blends modernity and tradition perfectly. The food, culture, nightlife and atmosphere are simply hypnotic. I should be back in no time.