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Where We Are: Brussels, Belgium

Amsterdam is a hard act to follow, and Brussels was dealt that card. If we’d come here on its own as a separate vacation, we would probably really love Brussels. But since so much of our opinion on cities has to do with where they fall in the trip, we haven’t fully committed to loving it here.

Even though it might not be our favorite city, we have enjoyed our time here. The main square, Grand Place, is beautiful and reminds us a lot of Munich, which we adore. I love the fact that there are entire restaurants devoted to french fries and that delicious chocolate can be found on every corner. As far as food and drinks go actually, Brussels is pretty amazing.

Inside this beautiful old City Hall in the Grand Place is the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles (Brussels History Museum).

Other than eating and drinking though, there’s not too much to do here. We visited the history museum and took photos of all of the important buildings. We shopped on Boulevard de Waterloo (well, we saw a movie on Boulevard de Waterloo) and went to the top of the Atomium. There are a few parks we need to run through and we still need to take a day trip to the site of Napoleon’s last battle, but I think we’ve got the gist of it.

Atomium is the symbol of Brussels, but we found it to be a little unimpressive.

We don’t mind not being too busy, though. We’ve really embraced the whole Summer in Europe mentality. It’s a perfect time and place for us to slow down a bit, reflect on our travels, and catch up on and talk about all of our favorite TV shows. That’s what summer is for, right?!

We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch at Jardin du Mont des Arts.

First Impressions on Brussels

  • The French Fry is said to have originated in Belgium. (This is more of a fun fact than an impression, but I’m keeping it here.) The story dates back to WWI. American soldiers were offered fried potato sticks from soldiers who spoke French. The soldiers were Belgian, but in Belgium, there are three official languages: French, Dutch and German. Upon hearing the French speakers, the American soldiers incorrectly nicknamed the food French Fries. (Classic.) The rest is history. I can’t confirm if that’s true, but I’m sticking by the story.
Friteries can be found all over Brussels. You can get a big serving of french fries and way too much sauce for like, 3 Euro. It’s amazing.
  • It’s quiet. As far as cities go, Brussels is really quiet. (In actual sound volume.) We came to Brussels from Amsterdam, which was a smaller,  but much louder — probably because of the constant rush of bicycles. But there’s something about Brussels that just feels still. There’s not a lot of traffic, not quite as many pedestrians, and it’s just a little slower than you’d expect from a city of its size.
  • The beer scene is on point. The best bars in Brussels are the best because of their beer variety, and we love that. We compare that to the beer scene in Munich, where there’s usually only one beer on the menu it only comes in one size: big. But in Belgium, the best bars, like Delirium Cafe and Moeder Lambic, offer a wide variety of beers, from Belgium and abroad.
Drinking Delerium at Delerium Cafe.

What you need to know — Brussels:

  • Population: 1.175 Million
  • Altitude: 13 meters
  • Temperature: June average highs are in the low 70s, lows in the upper 50s
  • Exchange Rate: 0.86 Euro to $1 USD
  • Primary Language: French, Dutch, German
  • Walking Tour: There are several, but honestly, we were so frustrated with the Amsterdam walking tour that we didn’t even feel like dealing with it here.
  • Time Zone: Central European Summer Time, UTC +2 (7 hours ahead of US Central Time)
  • Taxi: Yes
  • Uber: Yes
  • Public Transit: Trams, trains and buses
  • Emergency Number: 112
  • Running: We have a short run planned for Brussels Park, which is right near our Airbnb. There are a lot of bigger parks in Brussels, but they’re just a little far for us.
  • American Football: No longer in season.
  • Starbucks: Yes
  • Local Starbucks Specialty: No
  • McDonald’s Veggie Burger: Yes!
  • Coffee Price: About 3-4 Euro (~$3.50 – 4.50 USD) for a latte or flat white  
  • Beer Price: About 6-8 Euro for a pint (~$7 – 9 USD)
The gold accents on the buildings at Grand Place makes the whole square sparkle

The Journey Continues