|Elisabeth Chocolatier's window display.|
If I had to pick two words to describe Belgium, those two words would be: chocolate and waffles. I kid you not, every single street had some sort of chocolatier or waffle shop. I could easily say the capital Brussels smelled deliciously sweet. Most of my Euros went into buying chocolate souvenirs for family and friends, or eating waffles - there were no regrets there, because why wouldn't you indulge yourself in famous Belgian chocolates and waffles?
|Waffles from Chez Albert!|
Even if you don't plan on buying chocolate, being inside the countless chocolatiers in Brussels is an experience itself. Just the smells, the sheer amount and different varieties of chocolates available is a great thing to be immersed in. Look out for these chocolatiers (you'll probably spot them without much searching to be honest, they're literally everywhere): Godiva, Leonidas, Pierre Marcolini, Neuhaus - they're the ones who created the chocolate praline!! and Elisabeth. If you want something sweet, but not chocolate, the super famous Maison Dandoy is a great Belgian biscuit shop.
|Brugge - Cafe and Grote Markt|
My friend and I went to Belgium over the weekend, Friday to Sunday. The three days were more than enough time to explore the city of Brussels as well as ventured out to Brugge for the day. Brugge was a cute little town, about an hour away by train from Brussels. Grote Markt, which is the central square in Brugge, was the epitome of Belgium's three cultures and languages, Dutch, French and German, seen most in their architecture. We had a super long lunch at a cute little cafe in Brugge, where we talked about food, travel, boys and life. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the cafe, but I do remember the lively atmosphere, the extremely kind and talkative owner who ran everything on her own, and eating the most amazing green pea soup and cheese croquettes.
The two places you're bound to visit in Brussels are Grand Place, the main city square, and Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a stunning shopping arcade. Expect beautiful architecture that takes influence from the Dutch, the French and the Germans, chocolatiers, sweet shops, cafes, waffle shops and stands, and a lively sophisticated atmosphere. Brussels isn't all chocolatiers, although it may seem like that, they also have a nice selection of cafes or brasseries. Le temps de tartines is great for breakfast, and Nuetnigenough is great for lunch or dinner. Make sure to try Belgian beer! I almost forgot, the Belgian fountains. Oh wow, we had a real hard laugh over the famous Manneken Pis, a bronze statue of a boy peeing into a fountain basin, and his less famous sister Jeanneke Pis. Although the statue's size doesn't really amount to how famous the landmark is (reportedly leaving some tourists disappointed) I still thought that Manneken Pis was a must see in Brussels. His sister is harder to find though, she's tucked away in a small street away from her brother, she was so obscured by the gate that we walked past her several times trying to find her.
|Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert|
I think the best thing about Belgium is that it's a little bit Dutch, a little bit French and a little bit German. It's a small city, and you don't need many days to explore the main part of the city, which makes it the perfect option for a weekend getaway. It's lively and not too busy, and surprisingly, it had an unassuming sophisticated and eloquent atmosphere. If I ever find myself back in Belgium, I'd like to see what Antwerp is like!