Brussels – sans sprouts

We woke up before the sun to get out of the Paris apartment and make our way to Brussels.  An early start and quick train ride meant we were in Brussels before 8 am.  We stopped off at our B&B, received a warm welcome and quick intro/recommendations on what to see  and dropped off our bags.

Before I go any further, I have to comment on our B&B.  It was one of the best places we have ever stayed.  The hosts were so kind and bent over backward for us.  We had requested a specific room based on online reviews however it wasn’t available because of updating working that had taken longer than expected.  In order to apologize for this they gave us a box of delicious Belgian chocolates and raspberry gummies.  When we arrived at 8 am to drop off our bags they offered us tea, coffee and breakfast, despite the fact that we shouldn’t have been able to check in until 2 pm.  Our second day there our host saw us coming in around 5pm and stopped us in the hallway, asked about our day and offered us tea and coffee, then proceeded to bring it to our room with cookies and candies on the tray.  The room was fabulous – large for US standards and gigantic for European standards.  The bed was more comfortable than our bed at home (in the states, not the crummy cheap mattress here).  I could continue with the great things about this place, but I’ll stop there.  Afterall, I don’t think you’re reading my blog to hear reviews on lodging.

Two huge windows!

Two huge windows!

The uber comfy bed

The uber comfy bed & a live orchid

Cool black chair

Cool black chair

Large bathroom

Large bathroom

Huge shower

Huge shower

This room was way too cool for us (the bedside lights)

This room was way too cool for us (the bedside lights)

That first morning we had foolishly declined breakfast and coffee by our hosts because we didn’t want to take advantage of their hospitality so we wandered off looking for food.  After sitting down for a filling and delicious breakfast, we set off to explore the city before the hordes of tourists finished their breakfasts.  We had time to see the infamous Manneken Pis and the Grand Place with only a few other people around.  The Grand Place (or Grote Markt) is the most beautiful city square I’ve seen in Europe – gorgeous architecture, ornate detailing in all the buildings and very clean.   After a short time admiring the Grand Place we took off on a walk to find the city’s flea market.  The walk took us through the “design district” if you will, with tons a cute furniture and decor shops.  The flea market was filled with lots of junk and few cool things.  However, since we don’t speak Flemish or French we didn’t try haggling for anything.

Yep, one of the city's most famous sites is a miniature statue of a peeing child...

Yep, one of the city’s most famous sites is a miniature statue of a peeing child…

 

One of the buildings of the Gran Place

One of the buildings of the Gran Place

Looking around the Gran Place

Looking around the Gran Place

Brussels Town Hall

Brussels Town Hall

We went back to the Grand Place for lunch and enjoyed a good meal al fresco looking over the square.  With full bellies we hopped on the metro to find the Museum of Natural Sciences, C’s request.  It had an amazing display of dinosaur remains within a very informative exhibit.  Sadly, most of the rest of the museum was pretty outdated.  Tired and hot we went in search of a good drink place.  We found a bar with a great beer selection and C got to try another Belgian beer, which he thoroughly enjoyed.  I, of course, don’t drink beer so enjoyed a glass of wine.  Then it was nap time!

IMG_7053

Dino bones!

IMG_7054

This boy loves him some dinosaurs

Alfresco dining

Alfresco dining

Hooray yummy food in the sun!

Hooray yummy food in the sun!

Beer + wine = great afternoon sightseeing break

Beer + wine = great afternoon sightseeing break

That evening we were tired from our early morning and long day of sightseeing so we enjoyed a nice dinner at a good Belgian restaurant and called it a night.  The next day we hopped a train to Bruge for a lovely day trip (more on that in a separate post).  Our final day of the trip was spent seeing more sights in Brussels like the Atomium, Brussels cathedral, and the Grand Sablon area as well as loading up on yummy goodies to take home like Speculoos, Speculoos spread, macarons and chocolates.

The Brussels Cathedral

The Brussels Cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

The Atomium - built for the 1958 World's Fair.  The science geek in me found it pretty impressive

The Atomium – built for the 1958 World’s Fair. The science geek in me found it pretty impressive

Under the Atomium

Under the Atomium

Reflections of the stained glass on the floors of a church in Brussels

Reflections of the stained glass on the floors of a church in Brussels