Monday, July 16, 2012

Europe - Pit Stop 3 - Brussels, Belgium

After the beautiful cities of Ghent and Bruges our next pit stop was Brussels. The capital of Belgium is also the headquarters of NATO and is generally low on great sights but high on ambience. A day and night would be enough here but if you decide to stay longer there are plenty of things to do. The main reason people visit Brussels - the Grand Place.

We bid our goodbyes to Ghent and around noon hopped on to a van to catch the next train to Brussels. The cab ride was so comfortable that five minutes into the journey we wondered if the driver would be willing to drive us all the way to Brussels. A few minutes of negotiation and finally he agreed to do the job :) I love spontaneous plans!!

After checking into our hotel - Novotel Brussels (read my review here) we headed directly for the Grand Place. While walking through the market we made a quick stop at this waffles place selling delicious waffles for 3 Euros. Take a look at these, who can ignore these scrumptious monsters. Hot and fresh waffles, I gorged on a banana and Nutella waffle. It was amazing, had the perfect crunch, texture and flavor. It was better than the best. I quickly decided to go for a second one!!

Yummy Waffles
The waffle stand
After a 10 minutes walk we found ourselves standing in Brussel's main square called the Grand Place. It is the heart of the town and the greatest sight. Historically this was where farmers and merchants sold their goods in open-air stalls. Today the square is surrounded by shops and cafes selling chocolates, gaufres (waffles), beer, mussels, fries, lace and flowers. My first impression was WOW!!!

The main building dominating the square is the Town Hall (below). It has a 300 foot tall tower with a golden statue of St. Michael slaying a devil. We decided not to go inside.
Town Hall 
Town Hall
Town Hall 

These smaller buildings are the former guild halls (now mostly shops and restaurants). They were once the home offices for town's different professionals.
Guild Halls 
Guild Halls 
Right opposite the town Hall is the Kings's House (Maison di Roi). It was used by the kings not as a house but an administrative centre. There is a City museum inside the house, we skipped it.
King's House
Town Hall 
After spending a few minutes at the Grand Place we decided to walk around the city. Unfortunately it was a Monday and all the museums were closed. While walking around we came across this beautiful church.

In the evening we had fabulous dinner at this small, quant restaurant called Sainte-Catherine. It was the BEST meal in Belgium so far. I'm just going to leave you with some pictures of the scrumptious meal.
Delicious french fries
Steamed and herbed veggies 
Chocolate Mousse 
After a truly amazing meal, my friend and I decided to take a stroll and go back to the Grand Place. The sun had just set in (it was probably 10 pm) and the lighting was perfect, I wanted to capture those beautiful monuments all lit up. I am so glad we went back. The square was buzzing with hundreds of people. The air was festive and everyone was just having a good time. They were preparing the place for an event the next day so there was much excitement all around. For the one last time, I present to you yet again, the Grand Place. 
Town Hall 
The square 


Mekhs said...

Lovely photos and write up! Glad you enjoyed Europe!!

Shruti Kapoor said...

Thanks Mekhy!!