After a sunny vacation in Parga, Greece, our next stop was Bruxelles, Belgium. We’re talking of a whole different kind of weather. Though it was the beginning of July, it felt more like autumn than summer to me, with winds and occasional rain. Despite the not so lovely weather, the city has a lot to offer and it is difficult to get bored there. If you ever feel you’re getting bored, just visit another museum. Fries, beer, chocolate, take your pick – they all have at least one museum. Apparently you can find over 80 museums in Bruxelles. All you need is time. And of that, I only had a handful – 4 days. Those days were all so rushed, I’m afraid my recollection of them will also feel like a rollercoaster at full speed.
This trip took place back in 2017 so it’s already a bit hazy in my mind. Luckily, the pictures we took will help freshen up my memories. This trip was also a bit different, as it was group travel. We enrolled in an Erasmus+ project involving both dance and foreign languages, so we took part in different activities, which made for less time to wander the streets. However, with my somewhat newly found appetite for travel i still wanted to see as much as possible, hence the rush.
We, of course, began by visiting the city centre, Grand-Place and its surroundings, walked up to Monts des Arts and further to the Royal Palace of Bruxelles. On the way, I stopped to visit the Museum of Musical Instruments, which was far bigger than I initially thought (I know, “that’s what she said”) and really interesting – definitely worth the visit. Besides, the building, this museum is in, looks amazing! You’ll find here instruments from all over the world and from all periods of time. For music lovers, it’s music heaven.
Returning to the city centre, we stopped by the MOOF Museum (a museum that features vintage cartoons and comic books). We didn’t go in, as it was around closing time already, but spent some quality time with the statue of the smurf guarding the entrance. It’s definitely a good place to take as many pictures as possible.
At some point, we stopped to drink flavoured beer. I think i got banana-flavoured beer, which though it might sound disgusting, was actually really tasty. If you find that curious, you’ll be interested to find out, if you didn’t already know, that Bruxelles and Belgium on the whole are very famous for their beer, whether “regular” or flavoured. The most popular flavour is cherry and you can try different types either in bars or directly in breweries, which abound in the city.
By the time we reached Grand-Place again it had started to drizzle but we kept on strolling. We took a look at the windows of the shops in the Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert. Luxury shops and especially chocolateries stole my attention. The windows of the chocolateries looked so good, and cozy (in a luxurious way), I felt I could move in…I wish I could move in. Everything would steal my gaze in such a way I almost felt dizzy, going round and round, just staring at the windows like a proper lunatic.
In the evening, i got to meet my high-school desk mate – in Romania, back when i was in school, and even nowadays, in most schools, a desk had two seats and we all had a desk mate. She lives and works in Bruxelles and I was so excited about it, I almost missed the group gathering at a local brewery, after losing track of time while catching up. Luckily, I didn’t. I finally got there and tasted some beer, which, to be honest, was not as good as the one we had earlier in the day. But, i’m not a connoisseur, so don’t take my word for it.
The next day, the whole group had an arranged tour of the city, with a professional guide. I don’t remember much of the tour, to be honest, as it focused mostly on Grand Place. The guide was telling us about each building as my attention was drawn to a formation parading around, other groups of tourists bumping into us and the fact that the rain was starting to pour again. I know the guide was very nice though, and that she took us to both the “peeing boy”(Manneken Pis) and the less known “peeing girl”.
Afterwards, we had dinner with the group at a nice restaurant, where everybody (or almost everybody) had the house specialty: mussels. Just like beer, mussels are some of the stars of Belgium cuisine. I struggled, along with the others, to get all the yumminess out of the shells and enjoyed the whole thing, though it took me a while.
Third day came packed with project activities. I did, however, skip on a few of them to go to the Atomium and Mini-Europe. Had to pick just one to visit and I went for Mini-Europe. I had fun taking pictures of the different miniatures of the most representative buildings of each European country. This is a really good place to visit with children as most miniatures are interactive. After playing with the Tower of Pisa, a volcano and some toy trains, I headed over to Parc Cinquentainaire and the Military Museum, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. And, of course, could not leave Bruxelles without taking a tour of the Parlamentarium.
After a “tour de force” of visiting these places in roughly 4 hours, i finally got to join my project colleagues for a French class, where we played games, trying to guess words.
The whole trip was wrapped up with a huge intercultural party in the evening and we left for home the following morning, where i needed an extra day of vacation to recover after this packed and exciting trip.