All I need right now is vegetables and a horizontal bed, because I just spent the weekend in Brussels, Belgium.
This statement may not make any sense yet, but after I briefly summarize the highlights of this trip you will understand my needs.
The initial discomfort and exhaustion that accompanied taking a cheap, overnight bus from London to Belgium quickly faded when we stepped into the chilly fall morning.
Because we arrived in the city so early, there was an eerie silence that lingered in Brussels when we first began our exploration. The gray sky hung in a misty fog over the deserted streets, but the strange, lifeless atmosphere disintegrated when we stumbled upon “Gaufres de Bruxelles”, a tiny little restaurant that allowed us to experience the deliciousness of the famous Belgian waffle. The flaky pastry topped with strawberries and melted chocolate made for an incredible first meal in Brussels.
After exploring more of the city’s architecture and strolling through parks littered with crisp fall leaves, we paid six euros to tour the Museum of Musical Instruments. This turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the trip, due to the exquisite beauty and history of the instruments, and the headphones given to us that played recordings of the instruments as you walked by them. This interactive museum was entertaining and enlightening, and once you reached the tenth floor of the building you could enjoy an amazing view of the city.
Another highlight of the weekend was our extensive experience with chocolate. The rich delicacy that is Belgian chocolate clearly represents a central part of their culture, seeing as we couldn’t walk two feet without coming face to face with a decadent chocolate shop.
When we weren’t browsing these aesthetically pleasing shops and admiring the picturesque displays of sweets, we were embarking on a tour of the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate and indulging in endless free samples. We also bought our own chocolate, filling a three euro bag full of interesting flavors. The most delicious dark chocolates I tried were a green tea and lime truffle, and an apple, pear and speculoos truffle.
While I obviously don’t regret any of the incredible chocolate I consumed, by the end of the trip my body was craving celery to combat the excessive sweetness of my diet choices.
Belgium not only appealed to my taste buds, but the stunning sights also excited my eyes every time I turned a corner. Being an old city with lots of history, much of the architecture of Brussels had hints of medieval and baroque influence.
The most incredible area of the whole city was the Grand Place, a large square lined with magnificent structures that were decorated with shimmering gold. The Brussels Town Hall stood out in the square as a powerful masterpiece with a tall, ornate tower and detailed carvings of people and images. I stared at this building for so long and still could not absorb the intricacy of the engravings.
Overall, Brussels contains all the best elements of a European city. Open air markets with fresh food and aromatic flowers, adorable shops selling interesting, hand-made goods, and local musicians serenading you with inspiring music as you meander through the cobblestone streets.
Brussels was the perfect city to experience during a short weekend trip, because its small size is manageable and most of the attractions reside near the beautiful Grand Place. I mean, the chocolate alone is enough incentive to come to Brussels, but all the other amazing qualities simply add to the experience.