APRIL 2, 2017 BY TAYETMTRAVEL
Day Trip #1: Brussels, Belgium!!
Living in the southern tip of the Netherlands, allows for easy access all over western Europe. Many places are less than a 3 hour drive–perfect for a day trip! The month of March has been filled with a lot of personal logistics–doctor visits, scheduling training, errands galore. However, thankfully, at the end of the month things started to slow down a little bit and my husband and I got to take a little day trip over to Brussels, Belgium!
From where we live it only take about an hour and a half driving our car to get there (maybe more depending on traffic–we got lucky getting there). Once we got there finding a parking deck was actually very simple. There were signs everywhere. We decided to park about three blocks form the Grand Place (the city center plaza), this way we could enjoy seeing other things while getting there. Now, I will suggest to have a map of some sort (paper, gps, phone, etc.) while walking around Brussels just for the mere fact the city is so large.
Side note: driving in to the city was very similar to driving in to downtown Charlotte, NC. Huge buildings everywhere, a lot of modern architecture, people everywhere. Even if it was only for a split second is was nice to feel like some was familiar.
The Grand Place
After parking, we started walking towards the Grand Place. This is the main square of the city and with the cobblestone walkways and different eras of architecture, it definitely makes you feel like you are in a different century. The simple magnitude of this area is stunning, then add all of the surroundings, and you could just stand in awe of this place for hours.
Continuing on, next stop was Manneken Pis. Yes, it is exactly what you think it is: a sculpture of a boy urinating into a fountain. Let me back up for a minute, on the way to this amusing sculpture we passed some walls that had some comic strips painted on them (this is very common all over Brussels), one in particular that we recognized was the comic of “Tin Tin” painted on the side of this tall building. Anyway back to the Manneken Pis with a little history, he was originally designed around 1619 by Hieronimus Duquesnoy the Elder. The current statue date back to 1965. There are many different legends that accompany this little man that range from wars to fire–all are truly fascinating. Throughout the week this little man is dressed up for different occasions: this particular day was the 82nd anniversary of the Kings circle.
The next stop was at the restaurant called the ‘Drug Opera’. I personally had a crepe with ice cream and bananas–it was pretty good. Most of the employees here speak English very well– which is always helpful. Also, their menu is in four different languages. If I can suggest that if you go anywhere and it is a beautiful day (it was this day), sit outside and people watch. You will see some bizarre things. For example, a man in a full suit going from a walk to a full sprint, by the looks of it he had forgotten something or was running late, either way it was not something I expected to see.
On to the next, we ventured up to the Royal Place to enjoy its beauty. Now, there is this garden right in front of it which is absolutely stunning. You can see an enormous amount of the city from the top of the gardens. If you go here, take a minute and don’t look at your phone or a camera, and just embrace the picturesque view. Up near the Royal Place was the group of four men who were playing their instruments at full blast with some jazzy tune. It was purely a wonderful moment.
Following all the walking, we had come to the conclusion that chocolate has to be the next endeavor. So, we went into on of the many chocolate shops around Brussels and got some marble chocolate, and some white chocolate. Let me say this, I am not a chocolate fan usually but this, was fantastic. I can’t really explain the taste but I will try; it almost tastes purer–can I use that as an explanation?– like there are no other tastes other than the chocolate. It is not as sweet as a Hershey bar. I don’t know, it was delicious.
FYI: near the Royal Place is the Musical Instruments Museum. I didn’t have the chance to actually go through this museum, but from what I know they have over 1000 instruments. It will definitely be on the list to visit next time!
Lastly, we had decided to go to the Atomium. Now this magnificent structure was originally built for Expo 58 for the World’s Fair in Brussels. Symbolizing peace among the nations, following World War II. The Atomium was not intended to be apart of the Brussels skyline following 1958, but it has become a key landmark in Belgium.
P.S. Don’t try leaving Brussels at 5 o’clock, because you will get stuck in traffic. We figured this out the hard way.
If you guys have any suggestions of where I should venture to next or other places to visit in Brussels, please let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, adventure on.
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