Brussels, Bruges and Belgium! 3B's = A+!

Trip Start Aug 02, 2010
Trip End Dec 22, 2010

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Brussels Hello Hostel

Flag of Belgium  ,
Sunday, September 5, 2010

Brussels (Bruxelles) and Bruges (Brugge) in Belgium! =D  Wow, who would've thought that this little country had so much to offer, the food alone would've made anyone go gah gah....think of the world's best pralines neighbouring a 1 euro waffle store which is opposite a 2 euro frites shop and all surrounding a little statue of a boy peeing into a fountain.  Too good to be true?  Nup, that's Brussels =).  Oh btw, did I mention that the little peeing boy was dressed up as a British Guard?  Add on to that the fact that 2 blocks away is one of the most magnificent squares I've EVER seen (this includes the rest of Europe!) with a happening beer festival to top!  No wonder the EU capitol is here in Brussels =D 

Ok, enough of making you guys wanna go to Belgium (which you should), I actually didn't love this place so much when I first arrived...=O  yes shock horror!  When we first got off the plane at Charleroi Brussels the weather was terrible, cold, cloudy and foggy, I expected the rain to come any minute.  But it didn't...then the sun came out and we were greeted with dirty streets, crazy drivers, run down buildings and not the nicest smells going around.  So I'm thinking...oh no...what did we get ourselves into =S.  Then we found Mannekin Pis (the little peeing boy) and so began my revelation on this wonderfully confusing city of Brussels. 

See, Brussels is a place with A LOT of contrasts, the Mannekin Pis was surronded by chocolate shops, waffle shops, souvenir shops, fries knew you were in the tourist area =P  And the whole place was beautiful, you'd think you were in another city to the street just 2 blocks away.  Then of course we stumbled into the Grand Place (Grote Markt) and that was just WOW.... I'm not kidding when I say it's the most magnificent square I've seen to date.  This was the place for the rich and the grand, the town hall, the guild know you've made it if you could claim one of these buildings.  The detail on every building was amazing, gold guilding, statues...seriously just look at the pictures and double whatever detail you see, that was what it was like in real life.  Then barely two blocks away was this commercial district filled with shops, restaurants and again the crazy drivers.  Another 20 mins down the street and there are high rises with their glass and concrete super offices, these are right next door to this giant monolith of a station from the cold war (ok I have no idea when it was made but it reminds me of it).  Then of course there was a the red light district, the street full of middle eastern and african goods, gleeming white cathedrals, not so gleaming white cathedrals, massive palace, beautiful museums, even more beautiful churches, one massive giant mother of a courthouse (the size of this thing is RIDICULOUS, why anyone would have/need it is beyond me but I swear it is one of the biggest most outrageous buildings I've ever may even rival the Forbidden Palace but that's a different story).  Then you have more chocolate shops and crazy markets, I didn't even go to the EU parliament part of town!...But it's a kicker of a city.  In the end I simply gave up trying to decide what kind of city Brussels was because there's really nothing that come close to describing it...just go there and see for yourself =P

Hmmm....ok, now for what I did there...XD

Haha, let's see...I'll make it less lengthy =P.  First, the Grand Place (Grote Markt), impressive as hell and for the exact same weekend Yee-Ling and I were there (3-5/9) there was a Belgian beer festival right in the square!!!!  Can you believe it!?  Unfortunately we didn't go in due to massive lines, expensive beers and loud drunken Germans and Belgians BUT we did have our fair share of beers...mmm.  OK, Belgium, they are AMAZING, I can see why people say VB tastes like pee water now XD.  First one, a Trappistes Rochefort 10 (Trappist beers are brewed by monks and are quite famous in Belgium) was horrible haha, ok it didn't help that it was from a supermarket, so slightly warm and was that was hard to down >.<  Second one (had this like 4/5 hours apart so don't worry) was a Gauloise?  Mmm it's my favourite beer to date and it was very good =P  We had it in the Grand Place as well, admiring the square as the night went on so that was really cool.  Third one I had the the next day at Archiduc while watching a very cool jazz trio was a Duvel, another famous Belgian beer, kinda strong but the taste grew on me =P.  My last two beers I had at Delirium, this crazy touristy bar with over 2000+ kinds of beer, that's right 2000+, it made it into the Guiness Book of Records and we tried EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!!  psssh XD do you believe me?  haha.  I had an Oude Geuze and this beer tasted like wine!  So much going on with some sorta fruit or something but it's funky and zesty =P  Yee-Ling had a cherry beer (Kriek) which tasted like soft drink!  haha, I think people could down like 3 of those but it was very nice.  Finished with a Delirium...a beer with pink elephants? haha, was not bad.  Damn, and that's just the beers XD

OK, so drinking aside, food in Brussels was amazing =D...Chocolates is so much more the Guylian with brands like Neuhaus, Galler, Leonidas, Marcolini and Godiva...and they are oh so good but oh so expensive...oh so worth it! =D  I bought some back to share!  But I don't like the odds....people in Sweden may have a chance....but people in Melbourne might only end up getting wrappers....if that XD.  I tried a horse steak in Brussels...interesting texture, very dense but not stringy at all...something to try =P.  The Waterzooi that Yee-Ling had was really good too, creamy and very tasty.  Had Stoemp (pretty much mash) but with carrot and potatoes!  That was nice =) with a very dense sausage, I dunno if that's because they fill it with real meat or more offal =P but I liked it!  The waffles here were so sweet...and smelt so very good.  Of course we had to get the extreme tourist waffle with cream and strawberries and banna and chocolate but what a horribly delicious meal.  We barely had the stomach to finish it all and yet, later that day we were having more waffles XD.  And of course the fries here are amazing!...Ok, they're not mind blowing, I mean, fries are fries but they were fresh, fried in clean oil and very crunchy ^_^  Coupled with a massive dollop of mayonaisse and a refreshing coke and you get the perfect 4 euro dinner!  Btw, Frech fries are actually Belgian!  The American/British troops saw the Belgians making their fries during world war 1 but because they spoke French, they just remembered "French Fries".  Also French and Dutch are spoken here in Belgium which is why some places have two's all kinda complicated.

And as for things to do...(as if food and beer aren't enough) we checked out some of Brussels many many churches, monuments and giant palace/civic buildings and parks.  But the highlight for me would've been the art museum and the open air market.  The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium was quite cool and made me realise that art museums really are quite cool.  Here there were the paintings by Rene Magritte (a famous Belgian surrealist) which while at times were quite bizarre/intimmidating I really quite liked, especially his later works.  Just the way he paints light and uses it to bring out the texture and feel of things.  No photoshop lighting effects here!  Also he's known for some very clever and though provoking paintings, they were a little too deep for me to understand but you can check out his "Empire of Lights" and "This is not a pipe" or just wiki him.  The pictures on the internet are no where near as impressive but they give an idea.  I also quite liked the modern are section....not the "here is a blank canvas with a brown border...lets put it in an art museum!" modern art...but just check out some of the pics =) (btw, these were all perfectly legal =P) 
The marketplace was my second highlight, both for the atmosphere and amount of cool things that you could buy there.  I of course succumbed to impulse buying BUT in my defence, they were cheap and (I think) very cool.  An old photo of a family saying goodbye/hello in Anvers (Antwerp), and old beer label, 2 pins (MGM and Les Mis!) and 6 old coins - a penny, a half penny, a three pence, a shilling, 10 francs (France) and 50 ptas (Spain) dating from 1938 to 1977 and with the heads of King George, a pretty Queen Elizabeth and Francisco Franco.  And there were so much more old accordion, camera equipment, beer glasses, old clothes, furniture, anything you could think of.  Ah the money I could waste there buying useless things XD.  Btw, I'll save a chocolate for anyone who could guess how much money I spent at the market (in euros) ;)

To top it off, I spent a crazy saturday morning training to Bruges and riding around the beautiful town while Yee-Ling checked out the Atomium (A BCC structure of iron!!!) and the EU buildings.  Crazy confusing ticket counters and a missed train later...I was on a bike riding like mad through Bruges.  The place really is amazing, even if it's half manufactured...the medieval buildings were mainly built in the 19th century to make the city prettier cos someone published a book saying that Bruges was ugly.  Must see sights include the Markt and the Burg, two very beautiful squares in the centre of town and the wind mills to the east of the canal city.  The canals running through this place is beautiful and you really need to take the time to wander its picturesque streets...something I couldn't affort to do in the 2 hours I had there =(.  Ah well, I don't regret it given the amount of things were were trying to see in two and a half days in Belgium but given the time, I would (In Bruges): Take a canal tour, walk the streets and taken many many more pictures, checked out the interiros of it's churches, town halls and belfries, went to the Fries museum!, picnic-ed on the river/canalside and checked out the holy blood in the Holy blood chapel =P.  Just a little taste of what you can do in Bruges =)

And that's it!  My longest post yet I think but it was justified!  I think Belgium has been one of my favourite places so far.  Not crippled by extreme sight seeing like in Rome =P but still have an amazing day discovering the city.  I dunno how much fun it'd still be after you've seen all the museums and lost all your money/health after buying all that chocolate/beer/fries/waffles XD but it's definitely worth the 3/4 days =)  And if you DO get sick of Brussels, just an hours ride away is Bruges, or Antwerp and Ghent!  And if you SOMEHOW get sick of Belgium...Paris is like 2 hours away! XD

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saNdra on

as IF you tried EVERY SINGLE drink hehee liver failure =P
ahh ya packing ya bags true traveling style ..Belgium!! soo cool. lol. ."little peeing boy"

wow that cartoon pic is impressive.
loving ya posts chunn !! they are soo detailed!! its almost like we are there being wow'd too =]

>oh ive applied to Berkeley, California, USA. no idea if i would get it though. =P

chunhin on

yeah, I didn't realise the Belgians made Tin tin and the SMURFS!!! I did go a little overboard on this one though haha XD I was so excited after coming back from Belgian. Surprisingly I still have some chocolate remaining! =P

All the best for you application!! w00t for exchange!!

chunhin on

Ops..."Belgium" XD

Frasse on

What the fuck have you been doing to the Archiduc? Who gave you this address?
I'm happy to see that you enjoyed Bruxelles.

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