Brussels: The Land of Waffles, Chocolate, Fries and Beer

Brussels Town Hall in Grand Place

I apologise for bombarding my blog with posts this week! I hope I'm not being too annoying. I don't really have a posting schedule and my posts are going to be really sporadic depending on whether I've been somewhere or done something blog worthy.

When I think of Belgium, exactly four things come to mind. These are waffles, chocolate, beer and fries. Did you know that fries were actually invented in Belgium and not France like the name 'french fry' suggests? As an avid lover of all four of these things, our trip to Brussels was one that I had really been looking forward to.

The drive to Brussels from Amsterdam was so picturesque. We took an iDBUS between the two cities which took around two hours. The grass fields along the highway were all covered in a thick white layer of snow from the night before and the sun was just beginning to rise.

 Snow covered fields on the drive from Amsterdam to Brussels

 The sunrise on the way to Brussels

When we arrived in Brussels, all we had in mind was to find a good authentic Belgian waffle place. I was keen to cross that off my bucket list! That wasn't too hard though because there were waffle places scattered all around the city. I definitely think that the waffle I got was hands down the best waffle I've ever had. Belgian waffles and Belgian chocolate make a magical combination. 

We were also quick to try fries. For those of you back at home, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of fries and it is likely that you've been out with me for lunch or dinner where I have literally just ordered a huge bowl of fries for myself and nothing else... The fries we had were delicious and the fact that they came in a cone made them even better for some reason. Logic? I've heard that they actually double fry them which is what gets them so crunchy on the outside yet soft on the inside.

 Belgian waffles live up to their reputation, that's for sure!

Belgian fries with mayonnaise and another unidentified sauce

Opting against taking public transport, we explored Brussels by foot and managed to cover a large amount of it! We definitely still didn't do enough walking throughout the day to burn off all of the waffles and fries that we'd eaten though.

The city centre and Grand Place were beautiful. The buildings in Grand Place were all decorated in gold that shone in the sunlight. The photos definitely don't do it justice! 

There is no way that we could visit Belgium without having a beer so that was our next stop. After having a stroll through the city centre, we settled down in a pub to enjoy some authentic Belgian beer.

 Grand Place

 Grand Place

 Museum of the City of Brussels in Grand Place

Enjoying some Belgian beers

The language barrier was really tough. All the signs and menus were in Dutch and/or French. Unlike Amsterdam, they were not accommodating at all to tourists, rarely displaying any English signage. Asking for help and directions was not any easier as we didn't encounter many people who could speak English well enough to assist us.

There were points throughout the day where we were a little concerned about getting lost but asking around for directions really wasn't an option. We had to keep popping into Maccas to use their wifi and to GPS our whereabouts.

 The streets of Brussels

The rest of the day in Brussels was a bit repetitive. We alternated from having waffles to fries to pints of beer. It was a nice relaxing day but I don't know if Brussels had much else to offer. The cold weather didn't make the trip any more enjoyable either and it felt colder here than any weather I have experienced since leaving Australia.

We felt like we had seen everything so we just wandered around the same streets, eating the same (delicious) food.

 The famous Manneken Pis

We stopped to have fries at Fritland, a popular friterie. This is where the negative side of Brussels really shone. We enjoyed our meal outdoors and as we were doing so, a lady carrying her toddler approached us asking for money. I usually wouldn't have had any problem in helping her out but as tourist in a foreign city, I didn't want to attract attention towards myself, reveal where I keep my cash or risk having other beggars seeing me and approaching as well. 

She was very persistent though and even had the nerve to reach onto my tray to try and steal one of my nuggets. Sarah swatted her hand away though but I was still left a little shaken after that. It was a real wakeup call that travelling can be dangerous and that it's important to always be cautious and aware of your surroundings.

The huge queue outside Fritland

Second waffle of the day

There really wasn't much to do in Brussels so by around 6pm, we were getting a little restless and sick of walking around the same streets and settled down at the nearest Maccas to recharge our phones but were upset to find that their wifi wasn't working. 

For dinner, we went to a restaurant close by called Drug Opera where we spent the rest of the night before catching our bus home.


 Royal Palace of Brussels

Being in Brussels was my first experience properly backpacking, that is, not just leaving my bag at a hostel but actually carrying it around with me for the day. I had a 33L backpack packed to the brim with things and although it was manageable, it wasn't exactly enjoyable. 

It's definitely something that I can handle but I can't imagine how I'm going to survive later on when I'm backpacking with my 80L backpack for a month and a half and not just the weekend... Having all of my belongings on my back made me so much more aware of the risks of theft and this was probably the first time that I've felt unsafe and worried about my belongings.

 Mont Des Arts

My last waffle of the day

Overall, we had a decent day in Brussels and I was satisfied at what we managed to see and get done. Besides the architecture, food and drinks, there isn't much else about Brussels that really appeals to me. The highlight of the trip for me was the Belgian waffles. I had three throughout the day along with two servings of fries, a cone of chocolate covered strawberries and some Belgian beer. To be completely honest, Brussels is a beautiful city but I don't think it is a place that I would be racing to get back to. I'd even go as far as to say that I really didn't enjoy Brussels very much as a city.


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