My in-laws came over to visit us in May this year. Since they’ve been to London tonnes of times, we figured that it would be fun to take them to Brussels over the weekend. Ironically, they too have been to Brussels, along with M when he was a kid, and I was the only one who had never been! Still, it was a lovely trip, with me oooh-aaah-ing over new stuff, and them reminiscing their European adventures with M and siblings when they were kids.
The Eurostar ride to Brussels took us only 2 hours, and our first stop was the Grand-Place, also known as Grote-Markt after dropping off our bags at the hotel. I have been to a couple of main squares in Europe, and I would say that this tops my list together with that in Prague. It is huge, and the town hall, guild halls and surrounding buildings were incredibly ornate. If you make a trip there, do take time to admire each and every statue sculpted on the buildings, you’ll find that the sculptors have put in immense effort to make every single one of them different.
We popped by a very small chocolate museum along Kolenmarkt, the museum was very unimpressive with a half-heartedly done chocolate-making demonstration and elementary displays, but the entrance fee included a free biscuit dipped in melted chocolate. It was crazy good so it made up for everything that was wrong.
Then we took a turn into Rue au Beurre Boterstraat, and to our delight, it was a street full of confectionery!! Waffle shops, bakery, chocolate boutiques (Leonidas is cheap and good, we bought 3 kilograms of chocolates between us!), candy shops, it was quite exhilarating for a foodie like me. I found the discipline to skip waffles as we headed for lunch at Quai aux Briques. Lunch was however horrible with revolting mussels that left us gagging at its smell, but it was nice to have good white wine along the picturesque stretch of water.
We were full but unsatisfied with lunch, so we headed back to Boterstraat for more chocolate shopping, and popped over to St Hubert’s Gallery, one of the most beautiful shopping galleries I have ever seen. The narrow and long passage of boutiques was found under panels of glass ceiling, a remarkable feat for architecture in those times (1847!). I don’t think the pictures I have do the gallery any justice, but make a trip there and you’ll see what I mean!
My in-laws were exhausted by late afternoon as they were jet-lagged so we returned to the hotel to rest. Right about 9pm, M and I woke up in shock that we might have missed dinner time (food is very important to us). My in-laws were too tired and told us to go ahead with dinner, and so we did.
On our way to look for a better meal, we passed by the Manneken Pis, interesting legends have been told about this little boy who pissed, each even more colourful than the previous, but what fascinated me most was this little statue would be dressed up in different costumes for various international occasions. It was a shame that we caught it naked, would have been fun to see it in a Taekwando attire or something!
We decided to stick around in the vicinity of the Grand-Place for dinner as it was getting really late, and thank goodness we did because if you think the square looked pretty in the day, you should see it at night. It was magical to be there, with M, and to watch countless of people walk by.
Not wanting to miss dinner despite the spectacular sight, we hurried off to a street off the square for dinner (to be reviewed soon), had a rather nice meal and took a long stroll back to the hotel. Day two and three await!