Because Madrid has a number of bank holidays, us language assistants benefit from days off of school which are in turn, great times to travel and explore different places for a little longer than the usual (and amazing) 3-day weekend.
Taking full advantage of the holiday last week, my roommates and I hopped on a plane to Brussels, Belgium to see what the country had to offer. We went in with zero expectations and admittedly, zero knowledge of Belgium in general. My guess before landing was that it was going to feel French and maybe a bit like a smaller Paris.
First, we were impressed by the airport. It was clean and bright and felt very upscale- we exchanged varying versions of, "this airport is so nice!" and made our way out to find a bus into the city.
We were then checked into our Airbnb which was a fantastic reprive from our small-but-cozy apartment in Madrid and that boasted two full beds and a kitchen entirely separate from the living room.
And then my 48-hours in Belgium began.
12/5 Dinner: Better Than Hungry
What I ordered: Pad Suki with tofu
12/6 Breakfast: Eight and Three (Belgian waffles)
What I ordered: Waffle with Belgian chocolate, bananas, and whipped cream
12/6 Shopping & Walking
- The Little Wizard's Brussels Shop
- Bookstore with a large selection of Harry Potter and The Adventures of TinTin merchandise
- Mr. Ego
- Men’s and women’s streetwear
- Grand Place
- The one, if only thing you should see in Brussels!!!
- Christmas Markets
- Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
- Mannekin Pis
- Statue of the symbol of Brussels, embodying the "calm temperament and spirit of resistance of the people of Brussels."
- (A statue of a little boy peeing).
12/6 Coffee: Aksum Coffee House
- Cool Ethiopian coffee shop inside the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
- What I ordered: Caramel latte
12/6 Drinking: Delirium Taphouse
- I don’t like beer, so I can’t justify spending money on it, but my roommates ordered beer here and liked it. However, Delirium beer was named “the best beer in the world,” and this place was fun and is an alleged staple for anyone visiting Brussels.
12/7 – Train to Bruges !!!
If you are heading to Belgium, you must add Bruges to your trip. It is an hour train from Brussels, and its charm- especially around Christmas is unlike anything I have ever experienced. It felt like something out of a Hallmark movie, in a less cliche, tacky, way. The town sits on (on? near?) a canal, giving it a true European feeling. Bruges was one-of-a-kind!!! From shopping to history to just walking around and taking it all in, it makes a great day-trip.
For dinner in Bruges we ate here: Poules Moules; order the Moules Frites but don’t try to order bernaise sauce with the half chicken- they will not serve it to you… :/ The restaurant was good overall, I wouldn’t say 5 stars, but if you’re looking for a nice, cozy dinner, it’s a good pick. We spent the evening walking around, wandering into different stores, and eating Belgian chocolate. It was perfect.
Throughout our two days in Belgium, my roommates and I kept saying how much we loved it and how surprised we were. Belgium is nice, clean, and affordable. Brussels is more of a cosmopolitan “big city” due to it being the capital of the EU, but if you venture into the city center, it becomes a compact, vibrant, and cultural place that feels straight out of the movies. And Bruges, well, only visiting it will do it justice.
Why don’t we talk about Belgium more!!!! Belgium deserves more credit!!!!