One day in our Harrison Home (catchy huh? I should make an Instagram page for it) we were talking about how in the world we were going to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. Some people go all out for this moment while some like to spend it at home going through their photographer’s amazing captures of the day. Both are definitely a good idea but for us we felt the need to go a little crazy. By crazy I mean we decided on a foreign location, booked the plane tickets and nine day long stay at an Airbnb all within four days… yeah we did that.
Personally, I have never daydreamed over the idea of spending much time in the country of Belgium. My thoughts always wandered to Greece, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Spain and just about every other country in Europe but Belgium. However, even though it was never an idea in my head I soon realized just how blissful I was about to be while walking the cobblestone streets of the country oozing the fragrant smells of chocolate and waffles.
We are clear for takeoff!
On the afternoon of October 14, we started our journey. From Indianapolis we took a short plane ride to Chicago (shoulda coulda drove) then we boarded our eight hour flight to Brussels, Belgium. Jacob and I’s plans for the plane ride were polar opposite. He had a strict schedule of sleep, snack, sleep, dinner, sleep, arrive in Belgium. While I, on the other hand, was filled with envy over his ability to sleep on the plane. I am a deep lover of travel, of exploring new land, of trying new food but I am not a fan of the journey to the destination. Try as I might I can never sleep on planes so my plan for the eight hours was simple, watch all of the movies and not focus on how much time is left until arrival.
Good news is that it worked. Sooner than I realized, we were there and it was 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday the 15th of October! We grabbed our checked bags, got our euros, bought transportation passes (this step made me miss how effortless it was to get transit passes in Germany) boarded a train and road into the heart of Brussels ready to explore.
Whenever you research the city of Brussels you instantly see that one of the hottest locations to visit is the Grand Place. It is the queen of courtyards that gives all of its glory to the surrounding buildings dressed in gleaming, gold in the sunlight. Here you can find restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, gift shops and more. It really is a one stop shop that will stop you in your tracks.
Because of the nature of our stay in Brussels, we were able to come back to this city center many times to enjoy its splendor, the excited onlookers like us and the feeling of being apart of the heartbeat of this city. I am also glad that we were able to come back here a few times because even though it is still beautiful while rainy, it is even more special with a blue sky backdrop.
Moving past the Grand Center you will find four roads to take. Each of these roads leads to more gorgeous, old style buildings with cafes, vintage finds, chocolate and waffles. But if you want a mini mecca of chocolate, waffles and a little something to tickle your funny bone, find the junction of Rue de l’Etuve and Stoofstraat.
Here you can get your chocolate and fruit smothered waffle while viewing a local celebrity, little Manneken Pis. This local celebrity has two other comrades that are roughly a 10 minute walk in either direction. They are called the three Pis and they just happen to be sculptures of a boy, a girl and a dog peeing very proud and free. I personally found this to be the weirdest thing but I’m not mad about it.
But don’t let this area confuse you. Brussels is the capital of Belgium and also the largest city in the country so there is still so much more to see. So with this fact, Jacob and I took off towards another section of the city where we found a gate that gave us a nod towards our honeymoon in Berlin. This gate is called Cinquantenaire and is located in Jubelpark. It is apart of a lush park with plenty of green grass for a picnic to history museums full of war planes and cars of the world. Neither of those things interest you? Well there happens to be a food truck there serving up more waffles and coffee to help bid your time.
As the day grows darker and into the evening hours finding a delicious restaurant, pub or bar isn’t an issue. Most restaurants offer English menus to their non- French speaking guests. However, if they happen to not have this option my advice is definitely to download the Google Translate app to your phone (not sponsored but that would be a dream). There is a camera option in the app that if you hover your camera over, say a menu, it will translate the words right in front of you. Hence making it easy to eat within your tastes, preferences and dietary needs.
On our evenings in Brussels we ate gorgeous amounts of pizza from a shop right around the corner from our Airbnb. I will share more about our new neighborhood in a later post but for now we are saying goodbye to Brussels with an evening view of the sky while on a ferris wheel ride.
Next week come back for part two of my Belgium series as we board a train to the city of Gent. Expect those iconic European canals, unique treats, stunning views and more places to save for your future trip to Belgium.