After London we took a short flight across the English Channel to Brussels. To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect from Brussels. I know Belgium is famous for waffles and chocolate, two things that I’m not too interested in. Belgium’s also famous for beer, and for that I was somewhat excited.
One of the famous attractions in Brussels is the Manneken Pis, a small statue of a peeing boy. According to TripAdvisor this statue is the number one attraction in Brussels. After seeing the statue and feeling very underwhelmed, I was beginning to think Brussels would be kind of a bust.
The area around the Grand Place was filled with restaurants and shops. There’s a small alley that’s completely lined with restaurants, and each has a somewhat shady looking guy out front accosting tourists to try and get them into their restaurants. My favorite shop was a beer shop, with an incredible selection of beers that were all brewed in Belgium. We ended up buying a half dozen bottles to try.
Speaking of beer, we went on a brewery tour. It was to a small brewery called Cantillon that has been brewing Gueuze, a Belgian lambic beer since 1900. They’re still using the same machinery and methods from back then– they don’t have refrigeration, the beer is naturally cooled by air in the attic.
We had a guided tour of the process of making traditional lambic beer. We had a tasting at the end. The beer was unlike any beer I’ve ever had– it was incredibly sour and not very bubbly. Our somewhat snobby guide said that’s what traditional beer’s supposed to taste like– all I can say is I’m glad for progress…
The attraction I was most looking forward to was the Atomium building. It’s an interesting piece of architecture that supposedly is built in the shape of iron crystal. It’s next to a theme park called Mini-Europe, which was closed, but we got a nice view of the theme park from inside Atomium.
The upper spheres contain a rotating exhibit, when we went it had some random furniture exhibit. Not that interesting, in my opinion. But the views of the surrounding city from the upper spheres were nice.
What I remember most of Belgium is the food. Surprisingly my favorite plate of food from the entire trip was from Belgium, which is saying a lot, considering I also went to the culinary powerhouses of Spain, France and Italy. It was a plate of beef carpaccio and foie gras– the foie gras and thinly sliced raw beef both melted in my melt. Another dish I enjoyed was the moules frites, which is steamed mussels served with fried potatoes. I’ve heard it said that Belgian food is French quality food with German portion sizes. I think that’s a fair assessment.