We woke up before dawn to catch our train from Amsterdam to Brussels.
It was drizzling and chilly in Amsterdam which made me thankful for the great weather we had during our time there. We took the Thalys train from Amsterdam Centraal to Brussels Zuid. The Thalys trains are high speed trains that run between Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, Cologne, and a few other places. The fares are affordable, the seats are comfortable, and the journeys are relatively short.
We arrived at the Brussels Zuid station around 9:00AM. Our hotel was located in the city center, near Grand Place, and so we had to make our way there from the train station located in the southern part of the city. We decided to take the tram from the station, but weren’t quite sure which station to get off of the train. I asked a local sitting next to me and it turned out that she only spoke French. Using hand gestures and her very slow French, somehow we understood each other enough for her to tell me where we should get off of the train. We popped out of the metro just outside of the main square, bought a map, and found our way to the hotel.
After storing our luggage in the hotel, we headed back to the main square, Grand Place, to explore. The very first thing we did was grab breakfast, Belgian waffle style!
I decided on a waffle with Nutella while Jonathan chose one with whipped cream, nuts, fruit, and syrup. We later learned that we could have gotten our waffles a bit cheaper if we would have walked a little further, but oh well. Lesson learned.
So, Brussels was our pit stop between Amsterdam and Cologne. We only had one day/one night to experience Belgium. We decided the best way to orient ourselves and maximize our short time in Brussels would be to take the free walking tour offered by Sandemans. Our guide was wonderful and even made light of the fact that people only come to Brussels for a quick stop between other (more popular) European destinations. The tour was three hours long and we were able to learn about the history of the city as well as the famous Mannequin Pis.
The Mannequin Pis was a bit underwhelming… It was a funny sight to see and even more funny to learn that no one really knows why the statue exists. There are legends and stories, but no one knows for sure.
After a lot of walking, we had a pit stop to try some Belgian refreshments. Jonathan went for a Belgian beer and I opted for hot chocolate with amaretto. Yum!
The tour concluded with a wonderful view of the city. Since the weather was misty and foggy, the pictures do not really capture the view as we saw it in person.
After going back to the hotel to check-in and rest for a few minutes, we headed back out to find some fries!
Jonathan and I are both grossed out by mayonnaise so we ordered our fries with ketchup. I don’t really get what the big deal is about fries in Holland/Belgium, but they were yummy as all fries usually are.
After our snack, we headed off through the maze that is the city of Brussels to find the Delirium Cafe. Our tour guide told us about this spot and promised that there was a beer there for everyone. I’m not a big beer drinker. I do not really enjoy the bitterness or hoppy taste of beer. I’ll drink beer if there are no other options or if I’m eating crawfish. That’s about it. This bar had over 2,000 beers available so I was hopeful that Belgium would be able to offer me a beer that I could appreciate.
I got us a table while Jonathan went to choose our beers. He asked the bartender what he recommended for me and his suggestion was on point!! The Floris Mango beer was fruity and light and everything I ever hoped for in a beer.
I may sound a bit dramatic, but I have never been so excited about an adult beverage. 🙂 This cafe is a MUST stop for beer drinkers and non beer drinkers alike. After a few more rounds of (delicious) beers we headed off in search of a chocolate shop and dinner. I am ashamed/proud to say that I spent close to $50 on a modest amount of chocolate. Oops!!
We were planning on eating dinner in the busy restaurant area, but it left a bad taste in our mouth after so many people tried to convince us to go into their restaurants.
Instead, we opted for getting extremely lost in the hopes of locating an area that our tour guide pointed out to us earlier in the day. After close to an hour of wandering around, we finally found a place and enjoyed some Belgian stew and beers to close out our stop in Brussels.
I’m glad that we decided to spend some time in Brussels, even if it was only one day. The Grand Place was a beautiful square and the chocolate, waffles, beer, and fries left our taste buds wanting more!!
Next stop, Germany!