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There was one reason and one reason only for me wanting to go to Brussels and that was for beer. Ok two reasons, beer and chocolate, but this trip gave me that and so much more.

Day 1

Parque du Cinquanentaire

Coming to Sancha, Brussels after bustling Barcelona was quite the change of pace. We landed midday, and had no idea what to do. I didn’t do any planning before because I has a simple mission, beer and chocolate, and that’s an easy mission to complete.

We started with the hotel map and took a walk over to the first point of interest, Parque du Cinquanentaire. This is one of the most beautiful parks in Brussels. This park is a decent size and I’d recommend taking your time walking through it to really appreciate it. This park had a bocce court, soccer field, cricket court, basketball court and track and field towards the center that leads to a breath taking view of ‘the arch’. Depending on what side you enter in from, you could easily leave the park without getting to arch, but make sure you go visit it!

Pro tip: You can take pictures from the top of the arch, which I didn’t originally know about. Don’t be like me, go to the top!

Pavilion of Human Passions designed by Victor Horta
Pavilion of Human Passions designed by Victor Horta

Square Ambiorix

Next we walked over to the Square Ambiorix. Square Ambiorix itself contains a series of well -landscaped 19th century spaces with sculptures and fountains, around which elegant houses were built in a variety of styles at the end of the 19th century.

What’s great about this square are the houses, surrounding it. The house that stands out is the Saint-Cyr House with its curving swirling ironwork on a house only 4m wide. 

The house was built between 1900 and 1903 in Square Ambiorix as the home of artist and decorator Léonard de Saint-Cyr. It was designed by Brussels architect Gustave Strauwen, who was a student of the legendary Victor Horta, when he was only 21 years old. 

House in square Ambiorix

City Center

After we finished our food, we walked about the city center. The city center made me appreciate the true beauty of Brussels. I’ve seen a ton of town squares and centers but the Grand Place knocks all of the ones I’ve seen (Cuba, Barcelona, etc ) out of the park.

We walked around the center and stopped at:

  • The Grand Place
  • Zinneke Pis, Manneken Pis & Jeanneke-Pis (trios of peeing statues )
  • St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral
grand place
Street near grand place
mont de arts

Then in true Belgian style, we stopped at Delirium Cafe for a few beers before we ended the night.

If you want to try as many Belgian beers as humanly possible you should come to this cafe, they have over 2000 beers from around the globe that you can try!

Day 2

City Center

Mont de Arts, it’s one of the sites that’s worth seeing duding the night and day. We took a longer but more scenic route walking down Toison d’Or Guiden Vlies and Avenue Louise. These streets are the main avenues with a ton of the shops and restaurants. If you’re looking to get some shopping done this would be the area to go to.

These are some other must sees of the city center:

  • Egmont Palace
  • Place du Petit Sablon
  • Halle Gate
Place du Petit Sablon
Place du Petit Sablon
Halle Gate
Halle Gate

Ghent

Ghent, has a more charming feel than Brussels, but I wish I had a whole day to spend here. The closest castle to Brussels by train is the Gravensteen castle. It’s an hour away by train and the fare is like than 10 euros.

Ghent castle

We got to Gravensteen castle just as it was closing, so we weren’t allowed in. Nevertheless, we were still able to appreciate the castle from the canal tour. We grabbed some beers and enjoyed the castle, church and city views.

Belgian Cuisine

Before this trip, I couldn’t even take an educated guess at what Belgian food could even be. We wanted to try some authentic food, so we asked a local about some typical Belgian food we could try. She mentioned, french fries, sausages with stoemp and a few others we could try at Fin de Siècle (La), which is located in the city center. This place was bomb!

We tried the sausages with stoemp and a beef stew with mashed potatoes. Both plates were amazing! The portion sides were a a good size, but the food was heavy so we split two meals between five people, and it was enough to be satisfied.

Overall Brussels was architecturally richer than I could’ve imaged. I was expecting it to be a hip and bustling town with many of the pleasing elements existing outside of the city center, but there was a multitude of greatly detailed pieces within the city.

Vania Nettleford

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