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2017 was the year of some very short weekend breaks, and this all started in March when we flew to Brussels for less than 24 hours. I had never actually been to Belgium before (other than driving through it), and I wanted to finally see the “capital of the EU.”
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and mainly francophone despite being surrounded by the Flemish-speaking region of the country. Officially, it’s a bilingual city which reminded me of the time I spent in Montreal. Similarly to other bilingual cities, it has street signs in both languages, but these are not always exact translations, something I had previously observed in Barcelona and Nice.
Even though it was March, it was not as cold as we had expected, and we felt quite okay walking around the city. There was a bit of rain, but, in a way, this added to the atmosphere as it’s kind of expected in Belgium.
Due to the limited time we had in Brussels, we stayed in the center which made it easy to walk through the medieval old town. Brussels also has one of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe which makes walking the perfect method of exploring Belgium’s capital.
Brussels has some amazing buildings to admire, and a walk from the Palace of Justice to the Royal Palace on to the Brussels Park gives you a really nice feel of the city's more aristocratic part.
By far the most beautiful part of Brussels is the Grand Place in its center. Centuries-old Flemish buildings adorned with gold are the highlight here. As March is still pretty dark we were able to see most of it illuminated. I’ve been told that in August the entire square is covered in flowers which must be an even more breathtaking sight. There’s a reason the Grand Place is also known as the most beautiful market in the world.
The City Hall is the most impressive of the buildings in the Grand Place. The King’s House is another fascinating construction and actually a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Manneken Pis, the landmark of Brussels, is certainly nothing special. Like many famous sights in big cities, it’s something you simply take a picture of and then move on. However, I do like the fact that they dress up this little statue of a boy on special occasions. Manneken Pis can also be seen in souvenir shops all over the city and in the form of chocolate in the many chocolate shops around the Grand Place.
Of course, there were several things we didn't manage to see, such as the Atomium. It’s one of the things that is always recommended in Brussels guides, but we didn’t have a lot of time and decided not to take the metro all the way to the Atomium for half an hour just to see it. It’s now one of the major attractions I haven’t seen while in a city (such as the Little Mermaid when I was in Copenhagen). I don’t mind at all, though, as it’s always good to have something to go back to a city for.
All in all, Brussels is definitely worth a trip, even though we didn't see the EU quarter or any of the museums due to the little time we had. I hope, however, that when I go back one day there will be more vegan food available, as the vegan food options in Brussels were quite limited.
Have you ever been to Brussels? What's your favorite part of the city?
Half Bulgarian Turk, half German living life as an expat in Greece.