Brussels 2007

Chilly Brussels

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Ahhhh, Brussels, the home of the sprout.

Kas and me made a trip in February 2007 when it was still the depths of winter and it was pretty cold. Ami stayed at home with my parents.

We travelled all the way by train, on the Eurostar, and had booked a reasonably priced hotel fairly close to the station (but not close enough to be really seedy). Kas couldn’t really walk far without taking a breather because Izzy was starting to grow quite large inside her, so our movements over the weekend were done generally at a fairly leisurely pace.

We travelled over during the day on a Friday and returned on Monday, so we had three nights, and hence two full days plus the dog ends of two other days.

For me, going Brussels was a bit of an hommage to my youth. I used to travel there quite regularly for weekends when I was living near Rotterdam in 1988 through to 1990. I certainly spent the weekend in Brussels four or five times over that period.

For the uninitiated, Brussels might not seem like that attractive a place to visit. After all, it’s a city. The central area is quite pretty, but it’s quite a small city and it isn’t really famed for its great architecture, or culture (1), or much else in comparison to some of the great European cities. What Brussels manages to do in spades though, is to present you with lots and lots and lots of different ways of indulging yourself. There are loads of good restaurants and masses of bars. It is a central hub for the Belgian brewing industry and the Belgian chocolate industry. And for the tourists, it’s got a statue of a small boy turning his bike round in public. On the outskirts it’s also got the Atomium – somewhere I’ve now been to at least three times. It’s difficult to describe why I like it, but it is very photogenic.

(1) Still, what would I know about culture? Nowt, that’s what.

I find Brussels is a great place to go if you fancy a weekend of eating and drinking too much and wishing you didn’t have to go back, except by the end of the weekend you do want to go back, because stopping any longer would significantly increase your risk of pickling yourself or turning yourself into foie gras. It’s good for a few days though.

So what did we do while we were there? Well, the time inbetween making this trip and writing this post is rather substantial, and as a result I’m a bit thin on the details, but in summary:

  • On the Friday afternoon we wandered around the centre of town looking in shopping arcades, gawping at the Grand Place and eventually ending up having the ultimate locally brewed beer in the Café À La Mort Subite.
  • On the Saturday morning we started off with a walk through the Grand Place to the Mannekin Pis, and then onwards to the European Parliament and the European Commission buildings.
  • On Saturday afternoon we took a train up to the Atomium and did some general atomic gawping, followed by some atomic beer drinking.
  • On Sunday morning we wandered around the old town again, taking in the cathedral and some arty looking office buildings around it, and also a museum of chocolate.
  • On our final evening we “went large” with the eating and drinking around the Grand Place, but found time to take a few photos of the square in darkness, which gives a very different perspective on it.

A good weekend away, all in all. It was good to get away from home for a few days and good to be in Brussels on a relatively quiet weekend that was suited to retiring indoors regularly for a warming drink (or a cold beer).