January 30, 2013

A Short Trip to Brussels

Just before Christmas my family and I went on one last trip before my sister and her family emigrated to Australia. I'm sure we are like every family where it took us about six weeks to decide where to go after whittling down a list of about seven places! In the end we decided on Brussels, predominately because most of us had never been there before and because we still suffer from the fear of a few winters ago about getting caught abroad in the snow!! So off we went, all six of us, ranging in age from 10 to my mother's age which I cannot disclose or this would be my last post!

I have to say though it did take a bit of convincing on my brother's part to get us all there, as when I think of Brussels I just think European Union, chocolate and beer and apart from the chocolate the other two don't rate very highly on my list. I have to say though that I was pleasantly surprised. The centre of Brussels is beautiful with the main square being the Grand-Place. Diverging off this are numerous side streets which are great fun to explore. Around every corner there is something new to discover.

The beautiful Grand Place and its Winter Light Show
One of the many chocolate shops
Once you have finished exploring there is always a chance you will be thirsty and in Brussels beer is the drink of choice. Now I'm not a big beer drinker, the only ones I enjoy occasionally are Eight Degrees Brewing but in Brussels there is such a huge amount of choice that you can't fail to find something you will like. One of the best places we went to was Delirium Cafe. It is a total tourist venue but how can you say no to a place with a choice of over 2000 beers. Turns out I am quite partial to a pale ale which is about five percent in volume! This was after asking the barmen what they would recommend and they were spot on. Each beer also has its own glass, some of which are easier to handle than others and the Belgiums are fanatical about using the right ones for each beer. There are tons of venues to try out beer in but Delirum is great because the range it offers is huge. We were also told about a place called Moeder Lambic but we didn't get to give it a go. It's on the list for next time.

Kwak Glass not the easiest to handle!
We didn't eat out a whole lot in Brussels as the Christmas markets were on and we filled ourselves up with bratwurst, churros and the famous Belgium frites. By the way there are over 2km of markets and they are fabulous to wander around with old style wooden huts everywhere you turn. Of the two restaurants we tried one was a forgettable Italian while the other was an amazing place called Un Jour á Peyrassol. 

The ceiling at Peyrassol
We came across it while wandering around looking for somewhere to eat and this place caught our eye. It offered afull restaurant menu of pasta and other dishes but we were looking for a light lunch so the  waiter suggested we try their antipasti selection. He made us up a fabulous cheese and meat plate which was accompanied by some fresh crusty bread. It all felt very European!!


The cheese selection was unusual with one of them being a brie type cheese with truffle running through it. The meat plate consisted of Iberico ham, mortadella, salami and aged parma ham. It was a perfect sharing lunch.

As regards tourist attractions there isn't as much to see and do as in other European countries. Their main cultural statue is the Mannekin Pis which is of a boy peeing which the 10 year old found hilarious. He also kept saying Pis in the Irish way to wind his mother up! We did go to see the Atomium which led to a lot of 'Up and Atom' Simpsons jokes but it is worth going to see as there are a few interesting exhibitions on there. Brussels didn't feel as touristy as other main European cities but there is definitely enough to keep you busy for the weekend and if you get bored Bruges is only an hour away by train. No doubt though that like us you will be waylaid by sampling lots of beer and chocolate!

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