Travel Diaries: Brussels ~ Diane's Vintage Zest!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Travel Diaries: Brussels

More than halfway into my trip, and I was still going strong... until I started to feel a bit under the weather. Luckily, I recuperate pretty fast and I was able to get back on track. Here's our time in Brussels! :)


*Update: See the whole trip here!*













Day 1 (Tuesday, 4/16)

  • Sights: Église Saint-Boniface
  • Eats: Mano a Mano


We arrived at the train station and caught a bus to our flat. We hadn't been able to contact our host the whole day, so she was still preparing our room when we arrived. She suggested that we stop to eat at the area of shops around the corner for dinner or a drink while she finished up.

The center of the shops was the Église Saint-Boniface, which was small (for European standards) but pretty.




We ate at Mano a Mano, which was absolutely incredible! We decided to share a pizza...




...and a trio of pastas.




They were all sooo good! It was late by the time we ended, so we headed straight off to bed.


Day 2 (Wednesday, 4/17)

  • Sights: Place Royale Koningsplein, Musical Instrument Museum, Mont des Arts, Belgian Comic Strip Center, Royal Galleries, Grand Place, Manneken Pis, Sessún Boutique, Stock Exchange, Eglise Saint-Nicolas
  • Eats: Mary Chocolates, Waffle Planet, Fritland, Le Cirio
  • Drinks: A La Mort Subite, Delirium Cafe


The first thing we did every morning in Brussels was break out the bread and cheese that we bought in Noordermarkt during our time in Amsterdam.  Yum!




To get to our first place, we headed through Place Royale Koningsplein, which was unexpectedly beautiful! On our map it just looked like a big square, but there was a church and beautiful museums all throughout.




We saw the Musical Instrument Museum, which was a maybe on our list, but I'm glad we decided to go in!

There were incredible looking instruments that I hadn't seen up close before.




Ones that I had never heard of before (a glass harmonica!)




And ones that looked like they were imagined in a children's book!




Even the normal instruments were decorated to become something special.




Unfortunately, the Royal Palace was still closed for the year, so we took a picture of the exterior and moved on.




We stopped at the top of Mont des Arts to see a view of the city and Place de l'Albertinaplein just below. In the distance you can see the famous tower of the Brussels Town Hall at the Grand Place.




We veered off to the right and enjoyed the sights along the way, like this amazing clock.




Next, we went to the Belgian Comic Strip Center.




The main reason we came here is because my guy loved Tintin growing up, and read all of the comics when he was a kid! Remember that I bought him a souvenir from Portobello Road?  It was definitely right up his alley!




I was starting to feel sick here, but I was trying to keep it together and push through until the end of the day. I was starting to feel a little like this crumbly building... Rundown!




My guy wanted to make his quota for the day, so we stopped at A la Mort Subite, which translates to Sudden Death.




The interior was amazing, but DO NOT use the bathroom, even to find a tissue to blow your nose, like I did. Grossness.




Then, we went into the Royal Galleries, which look pretty modest from the outside.




But when you enter, it definitely looks royal. Cute bookshops, bakeries, chocolate shops, hat stores, and everything in between!




We stopped at Mary Chocolates, which was exquisite looking.




My guy bought a few souvenirs, and I stopped to admire this pretty display.




And of course, a couple to enjoy on our walk. :)




And then we walked into Grand Place. Imagine a large square, every inch surrounded by these beautiful buildings!




For now, we'd pass them by and instead continue our walking tour. Our next stop was for waffle at Waffle Planet. I wanted a plain one, but he voted for Nutella. It was pretty good, but I wanted to have another plain waffle, simple and delicious.  Later!




Manneken Pis is a strange attraction, but it is the world's favorite peeing statue, even if there isn't another one in the competition. More on him later...




I love that walking along an ordinary street, you can find amazing architecture like this old church next to a pharmacy across from a regular cafe. My morning routine does not look like this!




Then, we got to stop in Sessún Boutique, which was on my list, even if I knew I wouldn't be able to buy anything. Darn my tiny suitcase (and the weak dollar)!




Then a stop at Fritland to find a challenger to those amazing fries in Amsterdam. Notice the Mannekin Pis logo on the wall. Yep, he's everywhere!




I can honestly say that these fries were a solid second place, and I thought I ordered ketchup, but my French isn't so great. I think this was a curried mayo. Oops!




Sitting in this square with the fries, we could see a bunch of interesting things all in the same place!

1) The Stock Exchange




2) A beautiful little street




3) Eglise Saint-Nicolas




Then, we went to Delirium Cafe.  It's blurry, but then again that's how most people will remember the sign after drinking beer from their ENORMOUS menu!




I had a gingerbread-flavored beer, which was bought for me, while my tablemates had 6 or 7 different ones between them.




Then, we stopped at Le Cirio for a late night snack, since we hadn't had any dinner.




The restaurant had lovely, traditional decor.




The guy ordered a croque madame.




I had a crepe with jam!






Day 3 (Thursday, 4/18)

  • Sights: Atomium, Mini Europe, Brussels City Museum
  • Eats: Elisabeth Chocolates, Waffle, Le Pain Quotidien

In the morning, I walked by this cute little storefront.  I had to snap a picture!




We went to the Atomium, which has been a symbol of the city of Brussels since it was constructed for the 1958 Expo.


Little Miss kinda looks like the tree right under the Atomium.


And next, to Mini Europe!  I know that it's probably strange to want to go here without a kid, but I like to think that I'm a kid at heart.  :)




There were so many cute mini displays, but here's just a couple.  Grand Place in Brussels of course!




The Szechenyi Baths in Budapest, where Little Miss has actually been before.  :)




On the way back from Mini Europe, we walked back into town right by another chocolate shop, Elisabeth Chocolates.  Surprise, surprise!  Just a peek inside maybe?




And yes, we did buy some chocolates and a florentine, one of my faves to enjoy throughout the day.




And a plain liegewaffle for the walk to our next destination, please?  Thank you!




Then, we went to the Grand Place to go into the City Museum.  They have pretty interesting exhibits, and one of them is a display of fancy traditional dishes.  This one caught my eye, but then I saw the lettering.  How funny!




Here's a pretty stained glass window inside.




The real reason I wanted to come?  All of the Manneken Pis costumes.  Yep, I am now slightly obsessed, and want to sew a costume for him!




Afterwards, we popped into Le Pain Quotidien back in the Royal Galleries for lunch.




I ordered a tartine of course, but not without first reading the "directions."




My guy ordered a beef tartine.




Mine was chicken and pesto.  I won again!




We also shared a side salad.  I was missing veggies, and was happy to have some greens finally!




I couldn't pass up dessert, but ordered it to go for a late night snack!




The last stop of the day?  Toone Bar, which has two entrances, both of them fairly hidden.  Take a look at the "main entrance!"




There was an event that closed the restaurant, but they let us sit in the courtyard, where my guy could drink his beer with a chicken nearby.




We headed home early so we could pack for the next day's flight.

Unfortunately, I was feeling pretty sick that night and didn't eat dinner.  Luckily, my lemon tart from Le Pain Quotidien came in handy when the hunger pangs started!





Leaving Brussels (Friday, 4/19)


Unfortunately, the airport experience was a huge pain at Brussels, expensive and aggravating.

At least at the end of it, I didn't lose my sense of humor enough to pass up these silly Brussels-themed vending machines.


Manneken Pis Coke machine.

Atomium candy bar machine.


On to Ireland!

*Update: Continue on my journey to Ireland!*




1 comment:

I love to hear your comments! And putting in your two cents is always free. :)

.