So before I jump into my full days in Brussels, I need to include a bit from the first night I got to town.
I was chilling around the hostel, doing some much needed laundry, when I met my roommate. Another woman traveling alone. She was looking to head down to the Grand Place, but wasn’t sure about heading there alone and was looking around for other single travelers when I showed up. Lucky for me!
I had heeded the suggestion that I should really check out the Grand Place at night, preferably before seeing it in the day (Thanks Uncle Alan). So off we went. I think we were finally ready and collected to head out around 11. So not a normal thing for me.
Belgium is one of the countries where you can drink where ever and whenever you want. So once we got to the square and realized that everyone was just sitting around drinking and smoking (seems like everyone here smokes), we headed over to a night shop (what I’ve now learned it’s called, at the time, it was an open store). We picked up something to drink and planted ourselves in the square with everyone else.
We hung around for a bit, it started to rain and everyone ran for cover around the buildings by the square. Then we finished the cider we had, and decided to head some where to grab a drink. Which some how turned into picking up food and a bottle of wine and heading home. The upside is with only the two of us, this was something that sounded awesome to us and that’s how it happened. We were the only two in our room and so it was easy to head back and chow down there.
Lucky for me, Aurea (pronounced the same as Aria) had a lot of the same things on the want to do list as I did. So we wandered around together for the two days she was still in Brussels.
We started off with a walking tour. Always good for hitting up the main things. Like Mannekinpis.
And the cathedral. I never did make it back here to go inside. But perhaps there’s no need. Looks just like another one I’ll be visiting later.
The other awesome thing about these tours continues to be the good suggestions for places to go or eat. Particularly when you ask about something specific. So a bunch of us were looking for fries (2pm, what else are you going to eat). We all headed over to the place recommended, sadly, closed for about a month.
Instead Aurea and I headed off to find some chocolate. Our hostel reception had pointed out a good area to go for stores. There’s no pictures of this. But perhaps I will manage to gain weight on my trip because, yum. A couple places in the area also had macarons. Also tasty. Still no pictures.
We then wandered around to find fries. Because try as we might, chocolate does not make a meal to fill you up. I think I’m converted to the mayonnaise with fries thing. But they also have a ton of other sauce options, all the ones I’ve had have been good. Way more interesting than ketchup, and I love ketchup.
Back to the hostel for dinner and resting. Because staying out late isn’t easy when you’re old.
There was a flea market that Aurea had found out about. And I’m always curious about local markets. So off we went. Took the metro, got off at the correct stop, but that didn’t make it any easier to find the right little square we were looking for. And then some more rain.
Pretty much a flea market is the same every where I guess. All sorts of junk that the owner doesn’t need that they hope someone else thinks they need and will pay money for. There were some super cute boots that would have been hard to resist had then been in my size. The one time small feet are not a good thing is when you’re looking second hand.
But really, this is what one place had for their offerings:
Piles and piles of random metal bits. I guess this could be interesting to dig through if you’re trying to restore a house or something. There was also a lot of clothes. Which just seems weird to buy at an outdoor market. Aurea left after the market, so back to being on my own.
I headed down to the Grand Place to catch a tour of the Town Hall. Turns out you can only go on the hour, as part of a tour group. The next tour in English wasn’t for another 4 hours. Bought my ticket. Then had to decide what else I wanted to do.
Having gotten a day pass for the metro, I decided to head out to the Atomium. It was built for the world fair. I ended up deciding not to wait in line to go inside. The line was long, it was cold and raining, and I hadn’t brought my rain coat for the day. And had opted for shorts. Always fun trying to figure out if the forecast is actually going to be correct. Not this day.
You can go inside the balls. But most of what you get is a view over the city. And I was a bit over the whole idea of a view over the city when it’s all gloomy. Been there, done that. And this one was some amount of money way more than was worth it.
So I hopped the metro back into the city center. Stopped and grabbed some food for a picnic, because by this point it decided to be sunny again (and there are actual picnic tables in the street). Found some gluten free pasta and bread at the store, which I wasn’t looking for, but couldn’t pass up. It’s very annoying to carry food around from place to place, but it’s also getting old having no bread to go with breakfast when that’s so how European breakfasts are focused. So purchased all the deliciousness and off I went. Even expensive gluten free pasta is a a cheap meal.
Headed back to the town hall for the tour. An interesting building, a great story about the building, probably the worst tour I’ve been on. Earlier trying to buy my ticket was a confusing mess, and then the entire tour just didn’t have a ton of substance. Oh well. It is another one of those places that is still an actively used place of government, so it’s a lot of offices that aren’t interesting and not included on the tour. So the tour seems short for such a giant building.
Back to the hostel for dinner (pasta!) and to plan what to do for the next day. Turns out pretty much everything in Brussels is closed on Mondays (tourist things at least, similar to other big cities).