After our one hour train journey from Paris, we arrived in Brussels. We found our hostel fairly easily, but they wouldn’t check us in at this particular location. We ended up having to find our way to an office building about 15 minutes away to check into our room. Then walk all the way back to get our bags into our room. Seems like such a silly process, but something we have zero control over.
In any case, we’re here! Our hostel was situated in central Brussels. Just a stones throw away from Grand Palace. We booked a 8 bed mixed dorm. When we arrived, there were two Americans who had just spent most of the day drinking at the nearby Beer Festival. They seemed nice enough. We spent a few minutes securing our bags and decided to grab some food. We hadn’t planned on doing much today because the day was just about finished.
We found a great Mexican restaurant when we had to walk to the hostel check-in desk. So we made our way back there to have some dinner. I know, I know. Why would we eat Mexican cuisine in Brussels? Well, sometimes you just want something that is familiar. Both Sandra and I’s families love Mexican food. It’s comforting sometimes to find cuisine you know you’re going to love. I enjoy trying new foods whenever I travel, but there are times when I just love my old favourites.
So with dinner out of the way, we wandered back to our hostel. Since it was getting dark, we didn’t wander too far from where we were staying. Which is fine because there was so much to see in our little neighbourhood anyway. The Grand Palace itself is breathtaking. If you can look past all the beer tents and thousands of people wrangled into a roped off area, it is really spectacular. We made sure to stop in the local chocolate shops to try some authentic Belgian chocolates. Also noteworthy are the beer stores with over 250 types of beer! We picked up a variety of beers to bring back to the hostel. But the kind cashier asked if we wanted him to open the bottle for us…he said its as ok to drink in the streets of Brussels. Well…OK! Why not! When in Rome, right? So we spent our evening wandering around the alleys of Brussels eating chocolates and drinking beer. What better way to spend our first night in the city.
Our second day in Brussels would prove to be just shy of disappointing. I came to Brussels without doing much research in the way of what to do and what to see. Sometimes it’s nice not to have a plan and just wing it.
The one thing we were told we just had to see/do is the MIM (Musical Instruments Museum). We decided to do that first. We leisurely made our way to the museum, passing by Mannequin Pis. The hoards of people trying to get a picture of this little guy is absurd. I still have no idea what the draw is with this statue. In my opinion, it’s a tourist trap. There were at least 100 people crowded around this little guy, which made it difficult to get through if you just wanted to walk. I felt bad for the guests at the cafe next door. So much for a peaceful patio lunch or coffee.
The MIM was interesting to say the least. After purchasing our tickets, we were given headsets. What we thought was a guided tour turned out to be something completely different. The instruments are the main feature of the museum (obviously), so with little to no talking involved, you listen to the instruments as you stand in front of their display cases. It was fun to hear the sounds of instruments I had never heard of let alone seen before in my life. Sandra and I ended up getting separated in the museum. People experience museums differently, so it’s hard to keep pace with one another. But having feared I was taking too long, I set off to find her. She was sitting on the bench by the entrance — I felt a tad guilty for having her wait, but she insisted she had just sat down.
Anyway, the building where the MIM is situated is stunning. It’s been beautifully restored and stands out amongst the other buildings that surrounds it. After the museum, we just wandered around the city. We stumbled upon the Moof; Museum of original figurines. We thought, ‘what the hell’ and went inside. It throws you into a world of comic books varying from Tin Tin to Spiderman and Batman. Life size figurines along with comic book strips or scaled down versions of sets capture just about anyone’s imagination. It was fun to see because I had grown up with some of these figures.
The Moof isn’t very large, so it didn’t take Sandra and I long to finish it. I wouldn’t recommend this little museum to be quite honest. It was only €5, but I felt it was a bit wasted. Unless you’re a huge fan of the figurines and their stories, go for it! At the end, I was left a bit deflated.
Brussels in general, albeit stunning in architecture, was quite a boring little place. We ended our day eating, as per the norm, and sampling some of Brussels’ finest brews and chocolates. Although we skipped the Atomium (on purpose), we elected to try waffles and frites! And in my opinion, the experience was far better than the Atomium! But then again, I do love food. So maybe I’m a bit biased there… 😛
All in all I wish our third day in Brussels was a short one, but sadly our bus was booked for late afternoon. The hostel wouldn’t let us extend our check-out for a later time, so we had to lug our bags to a nearby cafe and wait for our bus. It actually wasn’t so bad. We scored a great table, ate some great pastries and had a nice coffee. Sandra wandered a bit, then I wandered a bit. Making sure one of us was with the bags at all times. We managed to waste the time quite nicely. Eventually we made our way to the bus station and continued to wait there.
Our next stop on our EuroBlitz is Amsterdam! Stay tuned for history, crooked buildings and windmills!
Until next time…