Brussels is a truly international city! It’s the headquarters of NATO and the European Union, the Secretariat of the Benelux Union (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg), capital of Belgium and in some ways like Amsterdam without the canals.
We spent a few days here this spring, and loved exploring this place. It brought back memories from long ago, when I lived there for a while, and studied French. After all these years, I still recognized some of the places and found my way around town.
A lot has changed since 1978! Fortunately, the waffles and fries are still heavenly, and the Belgium beer is fantastic! Some places had over 500 varieties displayed on their shelves. Belgium chocolate is divine, with flavors for just about any taste.
Our hotel was a 5 minute walk from the central train station, and just a few blocks from the Grand Place. This town square, dates back to the 17th century, and is the most magnificent market place I’ve ever seen. Outdoor cafes and restaurants line the Grand Place, and on a nice day it’s a must to stop at one of them, have a beer and some fries and take in the view of these incredibly gorgeous and opulent buildings. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
There are more then 80 museums in this city, but we only visited the Musical Instruments Museum. A fabulous find, different and fun. Even for kids! At the end of one long day, we strolled past the Royal Palace, gave our tired feet a rest by relaxing on a bench in a perfectly manicured park. We would have liked to tour the Belgium Parliament, but didn’t realize that a reservation was required, so we’ve put it on our list for the next time.
Getting around in Brussels is easy. The center of the city is very walkable, there are plenty of signs to point you in the right direction and people are generally friendly and helpful. Beautiful old churches and buildings are everywhere, as are outdoor cafes where locals meet up after work to have a drink and visit with each other. With an international population, just about any kind of food is available. In addition, the hotel we stayed at had the most international TV channels we’ve ever encountered in all of our travels, and all of them were broadcast in their original language. Very cool!! We enjoyed numerous “Street Concerts”, including a Romanian Gypsy Band called Brussels Underground.
I am definitely looking forward to going back some day. This great city is easy to fall in love with, and as my husband so aptly said: “It’s Paris in a good mood!”