For a very long time I thought that Brussels was a dull city. The only time I’d dedicate a thought or two to the Belgian capital was somehow connected to the European Union and bureaucrats. And let’s be honest, bureaucracy is boring. And Belgium seemed to have so many more interesting places to offer, like Bruges or Antwerp or Ghent. Well, a wise man (or woman) can always admit when being wrong. So, today we travel back to Brussels.
5 Reasons One Should Visit Brussels
Belgium has given the world a great many delicacies. Waffles, beer, cheeses and let’s not forget about french fries – or pommes frites as they are called in French. And Swedish. It is, however, unclear whether the Brussels sprout originates in the Belgian capital. The nice thing about Brussels is that there are a lot of small and cozy bars, pubs and restaurants that offer precisely what we like: inexpensive prices, a good atmosphere and lots of delicious food. One of the most memorable moments of our trip was breakfast at a local café/coffee shop. It was very much hipster but oh so good with fresh juice and sourdough bread, croissants, coffee, jams… Just lovely! And the best thing is that you can bump into these places all around the city.
We visited the Belgian capital in April 2015 and were met by sunshine and a very relaxed atmosphere on the streets. The word that comes to my mind is jolly. People didn’t seem to be taking life too seriously. It was a far cry from the image in my head, the one including bureaucrats in suits. There was, of course, a lot of tourists and in many cases it was impossible to see anything at all. Like the time we wanted to see one of the most overrated monuments in Europe, the Manneken Pis. There is a lot of fuss for such a little man! Thinking that Belgians are a conservative kind of people (don’t know where I got that from, I was obviously very wrong!), I was delighted when I noticed that people would sit anywhere (parks, squares, the ground) and drink cocktails and chat. And there were are lot of things going on in the streets; there were tightrope walkers, artists, and so on.
It’s Great for Walking
As all of the world probably knows, there is a metro in Brussels. However, our absolute favorite means of transport in the city was our own feet. The city is fairly flat and thus great for walking. It is not a tiny town, so one should expect the distances to be quite far. As we walked everywhere and decided to forget public transportation altogether, we did miss some of the main sights, such as the Atomium. Instead, our feet took us to Ixelles and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Quartier des squares, and the Botanical Garden. We saw parks, churches, and squares. A castle, too, and old city walls as well. No map was needed, we just kept walking. It must be said that we felt safe everywhere. And that the city is very green!
A Lot of History Was Made There
First and foremost Brussels brings to mind the European Union and recent events. However, the history of the city goes back a long time. It has existed for more than 1000 years and for much of its existence it has been an important economic, commercial, and political hub due to its central location. Like most of the towns and cities in the area, Brussels has seen many a war. It was also the site for the Belgian Revolution of 1830 when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands. History is very much present – in the buildings, the architecture, the museums, and any lover of history will find a lot of fascinating facts to dig into here.
It’s Easy To Get There
The location makes Brussels a great destination. And maybe we have the European Union to thank for the frequency of flights. Brussels might not have topped my list of weekend destinations in Europe, but actually, it’s a very good choice for an exciting getaway. It feels very different to northern Europe, it has that certain je ne sais quoi that might be more associated with France. It’s relaxing, joyful, historical, and – in its own way – stylish.
I would personally love to visit Brussels again, and maybe combine it with other Belgian cities next time – there’s still that fascination with Bruges…