It’s never fair to reduce a city to just a few well known attractions, because every place has far much more to offer, if you take the time to discover and experience. That said Belgium fries, Belgium beer and Belgium chocolate are three culinary masterpieces, that make a good starting point to sum up my stay in the Belgium capital of Brussels.
This time I mainly fell for the beer, which comes in a ton of different flavors, colors and variations. We couldn’t test all of them, but it felt like we must have come pretty close. There’s a reason Belgium beer bars grow more and more popular around the world. If you want to learn more about Belgium beer, the Belgium Beer Geek is a good starting point.
Like many other trips my first visit to Belgium happened mostly by chance. It turned out, that Austrian Airlines flies to Vilnius with a two day layover in Brussels for about the same price you, would pay for a direct connection. I’ve also always been interested in going to Belgium, so I was quick to book my next weekend trip.
I did a little research and for some reason stumbled upon Wolters World again. I found his review on Brussels quite harsh and overly judgemental. Probably we just have different ideas about traveling, which is perfectly fine. He has his views and I was eager to find out for myself.
I like the differences of Brussels. On one hand there is the warm atmosphere of the cozy old town with its picturesque Grand Place, narrow streets, beautifully ornamented buildings and nice cafes. On the other hand Brussels, with just over a million citizens, is the de facto capital of the European Union (inhabiting half a billion people) and also hosts the headquarters of the world’s largest military alliance NATO.
Just a few hundred meters from the Grand Place, you’ll find Brussels’s most famous tourist landmark, the Mannekin Pis, a small (yes, it’s small) bronze statue of a boy urinating since 1619. There are a lot of legends about the origin and meaning of this statue, some more likely than others, but all worth checking out. In the end you’ll learn, that there is more than just one peeing statue in Brussels.
I also learned something about the USE-IT travel maps, which I first noticed on my visit to Graz. It’s a great concept to make this “alternative” maps for (not just) young travelers and it’s a very tempting thought to put one together for Salzburg as a small side project. If anyone’s interested, let me know! In the meantime I’m looking forward to the second edition of the Salzburg city map from my friends at Fräulein Flora.
I visited the Atomium on the outskirts of Brussels, which is one of the few remaining symbols of the 1958 World’s Fair and a well-known landmark of Brussels to this day. It’s quite an interesting building with a good museum inside and for sure worth a short visit. From top of the spheres you have a good view on Brussels and the restaurant on top is probably one of the busier locations to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
A big thanks goes to my couchsurfing host Joelle, who made my weekend in Brussels quite a memorable one. I’m eager to come back and spend some more time (and beers) to discover not only Brussels but also the rest of this beautiful country. Fries, beer and chocolate may be three good reasons, but there are many many more.