Tuesday Travel

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As promised, today I am excited to share all the details from the first stop of our European tour… Brussels. Home to the European Union, TinTin, nearly 400 Embassies, and a beer hall with over 2,000 beers, Brussels certainly does have lots to offer. And while many suggested we skip Brussels and head right to Bruges, I am happy we decided to kick off the first two days of our vacation here. So without further adieu, here are my Brussels must-do’s.

Stay

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Hotel Des Galeries. My most favorite hotel ever. The location, the decor, the pillows. Located around the corner from the Galeries Royales Saint Hubert, this picture perfect hotel is close to everything you will want to see in Brussels including the Grand-Place and Manneken-Pis. And although I was a bit worried when I saw just how close we were to the Grand-Place, I was pleasantly surprised by how quiet the rooms were. The bathrooms are breathtaking and are stocked with my favorite Malin + Goetz products. And, Comptoir des Galeries, owned by French chef Julien Burlat, is connected to the hotel and serves the most delicious continental breakfast.

Note: This photo was not our room but sadly my photo was a bit too dark due to the grey weather we encountered. These photos are from the hotel website.

Eat

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The first thing K asked upon our arrival was “what do you want to do?” To which I replied, “I want to eat a Belgian waffle!” Fortunately, the Gaufre de Bruxelles was around the corner from our hotel and let me tell you they have the best waffle EVER. Although there were cheaper options outside of the main square, these were euros well spent!

For those who know my girl well, they know she loves her beer so of course we had to find a spot to enjoy a traditional Belgian brew.

Across from the Manneken-Pis is an eclectic bar Poechenellekelder, filled with treasures and beer paraphernalia where I tried my first sugar beer. Quite tasty if I do say. After we finished the first {of many} beers, we decided to head to The Delirium Cafe {thankfully a stones through away from our hotel) to dive into their menu of over 2,000 beers. My girl was in heaven!

With a slight buzz and a bit of jet lag kicking in, we decided to enjoy a traditional meals of moules frites {mussels and fries}. Rick Steves was our trusted guide {or rather his book} and he suggested the touristy yet fun Chez Leon. We started with a simple tomato salad and then enjoyed a big old pot of mussels in white wine broth with shallots and garlic. So good and they provide plenty of bread to soak up all the broth.

While touring around the Sablon neighborhood on our second day, we stumbled upon a delightful delicatessen shop Claire Fontaine that had the most beautiful prepared lunches and decided to grab a few bites to enjoy at their little tables outside {three in total}. I highly recommend visiting this little shop, if even just to enjoy the smells.

Sadly, our dinner recommendation for our final night was a bit disappointing {Lola} but some places I had on the list that we didn’t get to try include: Les Filles and Mammouth.

Do + See

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One of the main reasons why K and I decided to keep Brussels on the itinerary was purely driven by our vices… she loves beer and I love chocolate and thus many of the things we did involved finding good beer and tasting delicious chocolate!

At the top of our beer list was a visit to Brewery Cantillon, which began brewing in 1900 and today uses the same method for crafting their Lambic beers. Although the Lambic {sour} beer is not my thing, we learned so much about the process. Did you know that spiders keep away harmful insects as they serve as effective predators to maintain a biological equilibrium in the brewery? With that, a Lambic brewer will never destroy a cobweb and killing spiders is very much frowned upon. How cool!

As for chocolate, there are so many different places to visit. My favorites included Elisabeth, a shop that represents several local Belgian artisans. Their belief: better souls make better treats! I picked up the most delicious dark chocolate Orangette. “One of the things you should try once in your life, is the flavour waltz of chocolate and orange.” And what a waltz… these didn’t make it back to the states with me. In 1919, Mary began as a chocolate shop that is now claimed to be the favorite of the Belgian royalty. It was in this shop that I learned what makes a true Belgian praline. What sold me here was not only the flavors and variety but the packaging. Perfect for all the gifts I needed to bring home!

As for the sights to see, there aren’t too many. The Grand Place, Notre Dame du Sablon, the Royal Palace and of course the Manneken-Pis, the statue of the little boy peeing. From what I’ve read, this statue represents the freedom and joie de vivre of living in Brussels. A place where happy people eat, drink… and drink and then pee. On this particular day, he was dressed in old army gear. Some days he isn’t dressed and other days he is. Just depends on your luck!

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Oh Brussels, you are certainly a place where we ate and drank quite a bit. Next time we visit, we will be sure to check out The Comic Strip Center and the Musical Instrument Museum.

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