Sunday, June 14, 2009


This past Saturday, I left Leuven for a trip to Brussels. The weather Saturday was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and mid-70s all day. It was such a beautiful day!

Anyway, the train ride from Leuven to Brussels was about 30 minutes. I got to Brussels around 11:00 am and as soon as I step outside the train station, I see a rather tall building with spires poking up. I decided to just head in that direction. It turns out to be the Cathedrale des Sts-Michel-et-Gudule. My travel book lists these cathedrals and museums in the native language, so sorry for the these not being in English.

Afterwards, I found my way to Grand Place. It's the largest and most popular square in Brussels. It's surrounded by guildhouses and the city's town hall. While I was walking around the square, there was actually a wedding going on in this building.

The picture below is the town hall, which is in the same square.

The buildings in the picture below are the guildhouses that I previously mentioned. All throughout the square, bars and cafes line the perimeter. This square was also incredibly crowded. I saw some Japanese tourist groups and a mob of Europeans. I actually ran into a segway tour as well. I didn't try to go on that tour though, it doesn't seem worth it since you can just walk around and the see the sights on a regular tour. The segway tour travels fairly slowly, so it's not like they're zipping through the city.

As I was reading through my travel book, it suggested I pick up a bag of homemade chocolates from this store called Wittamer. Wittamer has stores in several countries, as you can see from the cities listed on the awning. All throughout Brussels and Belgium itself, there are tons of chocolate stores, since the country is well known for this sweet. Some chain stores include Godiva, Leonidas, and Neuhaus.

So when I bought the chocolates, it was about 12 pm. I didn't get back to Leuven until 8 pm. After storing the chocolates in my bag this whole time, they now look like this:

I swear they were much prettier when I first bought them! Oh yeah, I bought 6 pieces for 3.60 Euros, so it's a little more than $0.60 for each piece, which I guess isn't TOO ridiculous. I realize there are only 5 chocolates in the picture above. I was too eager to try one before actually taking a picture of them.

Speaking about food, I indulged in another Belgian waffle. The store where I got it from was absolutely packed, and they had over 15 different types to choose from.

I ended up getting the strawberry with chocolate and whip cream. The waffle itself was glazed in sugar, with fresh cut strawberries, whip cream, and hot chocolate syrup to top it off. I thought the waffle I had in Bruges was good, this one was absolute bliss. The only drawback about this waffle was that it cost 4.5o euros. It's quite a bit since 1 euro is almost equivalent to $1.50. It was definitely worth it though!

Continuing with my travels, I found the Manneken-Pis. It's a VERY small bronze statue of a boy urinating into the fountain's basin. For certain holidays, the city dresses him up in costumes. There's a museum somewhere in Brussels that showcases all of his costumes, but I didn't see it during my excursion.

To put it in perspective, here's a picture of the crowd all coming to see this statue. The statue is literally just on the corner of a block. There are many legends about the origin of this statue, but none are believed in more so than the others. Legends date the original statue back to the 12 century up to the 17 century. The original statue was stolen and destroyed, however the statue was recast from the broken pieces and what we see now is that recast statue.

Wandering around Brussels still, I come across the Notre-Dame du Sablon. It's a late gothic style 15th century cathedral.

For lunch, I stopped at a restaurant recommended to me by my travel book. It was called Brasserie de la Roue d'Or. In terms of beverages, I made the mistake of ordering bottled water. Next time I need to remember to get tap water. That small bottle of water, 0.2 L, cost 2.25 Euros. That was my mistake, hopefully I remember next time. Anyway, for lunch I ordered the vol-a-vout. It consists of a flaky biscuit stuffed with chicken and mushrooms, with more chicken and mushrooms on the side, all doused in a house-made cream of mushroom. It even came with a side order of fries, which I didn't order. I guess here in Belgium it's customary to have a side order of fries, since it's one of the nation's most famous offerings. The food was delicious! Oh my, it was phenomenal. The entire lunch set me back about 23 euros, but again, it was well worth it.

I also found my way into a little garden in the middle of the city. There are a couple parks dispersed throughout the city as well.

After spending hours walking around and sight seeing, I decided to shop around a bit. When I came to Belgium, I wasn't expecting the weather to be so chilly, so I didn't pack a whole lot of warm clothes. So I went out to some stores and picked some up. There's a big department store here called Inno. It reminds be of a Nordstrom's. There are lots of expensive brands, with some more affordable brands as well. I tried going into some boutiques, but as expected, their prices were outrageous. A pair of jeans at these shops was about 190 euros. A little too much for my taste...

That pretty much concludes my trip to Brussels. Once again, the architecture here is very gothic, seeing as how most cities over here have a lot of history. I imagine I'll be back here eventually. There are so many restaurants over here and I'd like to try a couple more.

No comments:

Post a Comment