Belgium, Europe, Travel

Brussels, Belgium

It’s been 13 years, since I’ve been to Europe.  Lucky for me, I finally had a chance to return.  From September 1-6, my friends and I traveled around Belgium to take in all of its beauty, many of the towns, the languages and definitely some of the food and drink.  This travel itinerary will come in three posts: Brussels, Mons and Bruges, as there is just way too much to share!  Many, MANY thanks to the Smith Family for hosting us!!!!

Best Posh Cafe in Brussels

Our trip started at  Wittamer Cafe in downtown Brussels (Bruxelles to the natives).  According to sources, this is the “creme de la creme” of places to take a leisurely coffee break.  It’s known for its decadent desserts and pastries, as well as amazing cappuccinos and hot chocolates!  Sitting outdoors affords you the opportunity to run into Belgian celebrities and sports figures, none of which I’d ever be able to pick out of a lineup.  Still, a great way to start the trip!

The best tiramisu ever (what I could eat of it anyway)
Me with Liz Smith, taking in the people watching.

Grand Place Downtown Brussels

After our two-hour break, we decided to go explore downtown Brussels.  After taking several twists and turns down streets/alleyways, lined with chocolate shops, we made it to the Grand Place (pronounced plats).  As most European travelers know, almost every town has one – it’s just a big town square where people congregate.  (Click here for the complete history.)  In this particular case, it’s a famous one, as it started construction in the 1100s and boasts influences from the Medieval times, as well as Louis XIV.  On our first day there, we happened to stumble upon two things: 1) A meeting of princes at the Royal Windsor Hotel, where I could have stayed for the next hour or so to snag one 🙂 ; but 2) a setup for one of the world’s largest beer festivals to celebrate the Manneken-Pis – more on that later.

Guilded homes
Waiting to announce the exit of the princes
Town Hall

Grand Prix Exhibition Race

Our first full day took us out to the former World’s Fair site, Expo 58,  for the Grand Prix Historical Exhibition race.  It was a day for car enthusiasts, allowing VIP ticket holders to race historical Grand Prix cars for 10 laps, as well as chance for spectators to see historical Grand Prix cars in motion from the 60s – 90s.  Check out my videos and pictures below.

Expo 58
Admiring one of the drivers

Festival of Mannequin-Pis

As previously introduced, this same weekend that we’re here, the big Manneken-Pis beer festival was also going on, complete with parade (which we happened to stumble upon).  Thousands of people were jammed-packed into a roped-off, tented area to sample hundreds of beers from across Belgium, France and Germany.

Beer Festival
My good friends and I at the beer festival
The town hall on a sunny day
The town hall on a sunny day
Faberge egg structures

Dining and Drinking

Our time in Brussels couldn’t be complete without tasting some of the local cuisine and hitting up one of the most infamous bars.  We started at a place called Chez Leon’s, which is known for their mussels (yes, I made that Mussels from Brussels joke about a half dozen times) and then headed to Delirium – a massive, world-reknown bar that brews its own beer, now found in the United States.  Given that I cannot drink beer, I was lucky to be able to try some Belgium pear cider, called Stassen.

A litre of beer

If you notice, I didn’t say anything about chocolate yet.  That’s because the entire first day, just the smell alone fills you up but don’t worry, I didn’t leave Belgium without some 🙂

Stay tuned for my next most on Mons!

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