Finally back in the city of a hundred languages, or more. Actually, there are only 3 official languages, as I saw them (in train stations), but while wondering on the streets, you will hear more eastern languages than western.🤫 So don’t expect it to be like Paris, because they speak French, or be like any other big city around. Brussels is Brussels and that’s why you should come here.
For instance, the first store I saw outside of the train station, was a very Spanish one.
Actually, that is not even the half of it! Here is a symbol of the St. James Pilgrim Route. I am actually curious if somebody (like a normal person, not a “professional” 😅 pilgrim) actually goes on foot from here, all the way to Galicia’s Santiago de Compostela (articles here). I would like to meet someone that did this route, or read his stories. He must have lived and unique and epic journey, without a doubt.
This a detail shot of Notre-Dame du Bon Secours.
And another place with Galicia symbol as a sticker and pointing the wrong way…
Notre-Dame de Laeken. Remember this area, as I will come back here…
And finally, since I saw these parrots for the first time in my life (in the wild) in Madrid, and then in Vigo (Galicia), here is the same species, but in Elisabeth Park.
So let me start this story from the beginning. It all starts at an airport, then again at an airport, then in a beautiful ALSTOM train 😍.
Then outside of Gare du Midi…
Then on my two feet, going to the central area.
Obviously, the first thing I wanted to do was to go and see the Manekin Piss statue and while out there get some street architecture shots.
Not so big without the zoom right? 😂
In fact, the area is so crowded (every day) that some people get really creative. I saw a person making a selfie with a for-sale-larger-than-life Manekin Piss statue. Not bad, since your Instagram followers won’t even know it!
To be honest, I didn’t do as many pictures on the streets, as I did maybe in Leon. Partially because most stores are with Kebab of souvenirs.
But not all!
Now we’re talking.🙃 As a tip, if you plan to come to Brussels in a few weeks, maybe months, seek on the mighty web for chocolate factory tours. Most of them accept only large groups, but maybe you can enrol in such a group and see how this tasty piece of Heaven is made live. (the one I saw to be with groups is Godiva factory)
There are many stores with chocolates, especially in the central area. Here you can buy small metal Belgian houses, to store your pralines or chocolate candies.
And some look like this:
Is truly a wonderful part of the city and a very good place to sit and enjoy a Belgian beer. Now I haven’t really had good luck with the good weather so I moved back to my hotel and waited for the morning.
If you stay just for one night in Brussels, and presumably on your first day, you too have visited the central area and some of the stores, I guess next morning you would want to be at the Atomium.
If not, then eh… For me, that was the plan 🤓.
So I got on the train and left to Heysel. (in the image below is actually the magnificent Palais de Justice, that never seems to be finished… like most streets in Brussels, as seen in the area of Gare de Midi)
Once at Heysel, you are welcomed by a Russia type architecture… Place de Belgique.
Luckily there are some mallards 🦆 to help make the place happier. 😍
This is the symbol of Belgium. Or maybe is the chocolate… Well, both are, but if there is a man-built-structure that resonates like the Eiffel Tower, it has to be Atomium. Ant the cool part about it is that you can see yourself underneath the spheres!
Right next to the Atomium is Mini-Europe, featured last week + d’Osseghem Laeken Park featuring colours that test the saturation of your phone’s camera. If you are silent and in possession of a zoom lens (and you are here early in the morning)…
You will see a bunch of rabbits.
If you want to see even more rabbits, then head to Parc de Laeken and go up on the hill towards the Monument of Leopold I.
The Leopold I Monument.
Is this same wild Mallard? Is it chasing me?
The golden gates of Chateau de Laeken.
Depending on the hour you arrive here, you should enter and visit the huge botanical gardens, hidden inside these glass roofs.
When I got to the Chateau, everything was still closed, so I moved on to my second favourite place from Brussels: The Chinese gardens. (first one is the Atomium area)
Featuring full-size houses and towers, just like in China, it simply takes your breath away. I mean, first time I saw a beautiful Chinese gate, was in London. Now seeing this, I am even more eager to go to Asia…
No wonder I dedicated so many pictures to this one place… To be honest, I was even alone in the whole garden. No house was open, no Chinese tea-room, in fact, I just said. I was alone.😅
So I took an apple from my bag, sat on the bench and just watched the main building…
After resting for a bit, I headed back to the central area, while making a stop to see the monument of Queen Astrid.
In fact, I did not know what was here, mostly because since I have a Garmin, I just record my steps and almost never look at the phone’s map. But I saw one huge red tree with a circular crown, so I stepped in the little parc, just to find the lonely huge tree and these conical bushes. They are actually cute, resembling to dwarfs hats.
Through the branches of the trees, I saw also this white (classic Spanish) cathedral.
Notre-Dame de Laeken. Hehe, I am back to the St. James Pilgrim Route sticker. 🤓
Not bad this Laeken region no? Castles, Atomium, rabbits, ducks and cute bushes.
Jules de Trooz, tram station.
To get from where I made this last picture, to the city… you have to walk a slightly non-belgian area. Just walk as you belong there…
Once you see giants, you are safe as you should be right in the middle of the black-suits zone. The guys with the money, the real robbers 😂.
Gare du Nord.
Hotel Le Dome.
Now once you are back in the city, you should start doing some shopping too.
Passage du Nord – Here is a beautiful and quite big library. A good place to buy The little Prince, story. IF books are not your thing, then how about some more chocolate?
Or a beer at a hard to miss restaurant.
Like I said… many places are in re-construction…
Hey… what is that Romanian flag doing there? 🧐
Royal Galeries of Saint Hubert – nothing interesting here, apart from the beautiful passage.
A white smurf.🤫
Now look who we have here. If it isn’t the famous Don…
Here you should have a big zoom lens, since there is lots of potential for a beautiful picture, at sundown. And you really need to compress the background. I could not pull it so instead here is what I got:
I also had to go and see Palais de Bruxelles. Not so interesting, and the park was close too.
By now I showed you many places to see while in Brussels and believe me, if you can push yourself, you can really see them all, at least from the outside. Street museums are the best!
My personal favourite places were the parc with the rabbits + the Chinese Pavillion aaaaaand:
The place where you will find the Space Egg and all the European HQs.
For this shot, is better to be here at sunset, and preferably not in rain.😂 I got here a little before dusk, so I went into the park and tried to take other photos, without the tripod.
This shot is the only one for which I really wanted a tripod…
Now you know my top 3 places to go while in Brussels.
But what about the feeling of the city?
Well… is mixed I guess.
Is no wonder I was in Paris, then London and then Munich (not in this order…). I kinda went around the city where my godmother lived. Around the city that is to full of the modern humans faults (I don’t want to blame only climate change or war… humans is fare enough). I also come from a country where is ok to live but very expensive to leave… or buy a car, or a plane ticket, or room in a hotel outside of the borders…
Brussels has many people from all around Eurasia and Africa. Every Sunday they make a market with products that are cheaper than in my country (some), but so is the quality… (my umbrella was good until I had to open it the second time). So finding food that is affordable should be easy. If you eat outside is cheaper than at the table. Also, bring cash, many places don’t credit (you know why).
FYI I stayed in Brussels Midi area. The hotels are cheap (not too many are friendly) so I will make an unsponsored recommendation: Nekotel Concept Art Hotel (is an affordable hotel that has very good accommodation. From here you go straight on Avenue de Stalingrad and you reach the central area.
What about food? Well, I ate what I eat in Romania also -> Kebab and wok. So I cannot really help you. But how are the waffles? You really think, that in a huge city, you will eat waffles in a romantic environment, without 50 tourists to keep saying “excuse me please” or nothing…
I know just the right place where you can eat a great waffle, and admire Belgian architecture.
See you next week at Bruges!