Brussels

<Brussels>

As the capital of Belgium, you would expect Brussels to be a big, crowded, dirty, business city. Of course every city has their bad parts, but surprisingly Brussels has a beautiful historic downtown section open to pedestrians only that maintains all of its historic beauty and significance!

Downtown

<Brussels cobblestone streets and pretty lights>
Cobblestone streets and pretty lights

Downtown Brussels is open to walking pedestrians only so people can casually stroll the cobblestone streets and enjoy the shops and restaurants. There is a lovely square where the architecturally beautiful town hall stands, among other important government buildings. There are restaurants in the square with outside seating so you can enjoy the scenery while people watching. Even in the cold months, the heat lamps are on to enjoy this outside dining area.

Food

<Brussels, Delirium>
Belgian beer at Delirium

On almost every corner, you can find a Belgian waffle or fry stand or a Belgian ice cream shop. However, not once did I get the opportunity to try Belgian waffles, fries, or ice cream because there are so many excellent restaurant choices as well! Belgian food is truly terrific, although being in the capital city it can get a bit expensive. You can get Belgian beer at every restaurant and with its worldwide fame, you must try a few different ones with each meal!

Entertainment

<Brussels Delirium>

There are city tour buses that run throughout the city educating tourists on the history and significant monuments and buildings in Brussels. You can pick these tour buses up at any stop, but remember they stop running at 6pm so it’s best to hop on early. They cost €30 per person (€27 for students). Another point of interest that we visited on our trip was Delirium. This pub is world-famous for its 2500+ and a menu that looks like a dictionary. It’s crowded all the time! There’s another building that they must have added on that doesn’t have as many beers, doesn’t get as crowded, and serves snacks, but the place you really want to be is down the little alley that leads to Delirium to check out some amazing Belgian beers (some up to 15 percent alcohol!)

Language

Because of it’s location, half of Belgium speaks French as a national language, and the other half speaks Dutch. In parts close to Germany, people also speak German, and all 3 languages are national languages. In Brussels especially, everyone also speaks English (lucky for us), but I noticed in every town we went to, the people spoke English. Makes us unilingual people seem pretty uneducated when everyone in Belgium can speak multiple languages fluently!

Transportation

<Brussels>

Brussels is in a perfect location in the center of the country. It has many forms of transportation including buses, metro, rental cars, trams, and trains. Trains run at least once an hour and there are three train stations in Brussels. There are four metro lines and two trams that service Brussels city center.

Driving in Brussels can be tough; we preferred to park our car and leave it to avoid all the foot traffic, one-way streets, and fast drivers pushing us along. After all, it is a city and people have places to go and things to do. The red lights cause a lot of traffic at peak times as well.

But be careful with a car; unfortunately, we parked our car in a garage with a big strong gate for 3 nights for a cost of €50, and our car still got broken into and robbed. Since we went home for a month at Christmas, we stopped for an eight-day trip in Northern Europe on our way back to Spain and thus had all of our luggage with us, which we left in the car as to not have to carry it up 3 flights of stairs.

Sadly, the thiefs got all our new Christmas clothes, 2 of my nice purses, my one of a kind handmade boots, a Google tv, and a few other things. In addition, the rental car charged us €1000 over the cost we paid to rent the car. Overall, the rental car wasn’t worth it for us to visit Brussels since we took the train anyway, but a car is an option when visiting Belgium.

We took a 20 minute train from Brussels to Leuven, and no one even checked our tickets. The train system doesn’t seem to be well-organized, or just lenient on purchasing tickets. However, on the hour train ride to Bruges, the ticket checker did check our tickets (good thing we bought them!) Moral of the story: free train travel in Belgium may be possible!

<Brussels Christmas Market>
Christmas market outside the Bourse Stock Exchange

Have you been to Brussels? Did you fall in love with this city like I did? Tell me your experiences in the comments below!

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Brussels, Belgium

P.S. You might also enjoy Bruges or 7 Places to Travel in Winter

4 thoughts on “Brussels

  1. No worries for the mistake :)! Actually people often get confused just because German in German is called “Deutsch” and it sounds like “Dutch”!
    I’m really glad to hear you loved Belgium! It’s not the most appealing country on earth so I don’t get to hear that often ahah :).
    Most English native speakers only speak English because you usually don’t need another language to make yourself understood. For us it’s different. If we want to travel or even to work in a multinational company, we need to speak English. But I have to admit that I love speaking more than one language, you should learn Spanish if you haven’t started yet! Thank you for my English! Although it’s not perfect, you should see me sometimes using gestures to communicate with my boyfriend (who’s not Belgian) because I can’t find the right words ahaha!
    Ahaha Jersey Shore could definitely kill a reputation but I’m sure there’s a lot of nice things in New Jersey to make everybody forget about the show!
    Have a nice evening :)!

  2. I’m from Belgium (and dream of living in Spain so obviously I love the name of your blog ahah) and it’s always interesting to read articles about Brussels. I don’t know the city very well and it’s always nice to discover it through the eyes of a foreigner.
    Next time you go to Belgium you definitely have to eat a waffle (I’m craving one right now!) and fries with mayonnaise :).
    I’m so sorry to hear what happened to your car :(!! I never heard such a story before, I guess you were just unlucky :(.
    And about the language, correction: half of the country speaks French indeed, but the other half speaks Dutch (I think you just killed the Flemish people out there reading your blog ahahah). German is spoken in a really small part near Germany, so small that we forget about it most of the time but still it’s a national language. And these 3 languages are our 3 national languages :).
    It’s true that a lot of people in Belgium speak English, I guess we are just used to meeting people who don’t speak our language because of the fact there’s not only one language spoken in the whole country. Most young people speak English (I’m always shocked in other countries when young people don’t ahaha) but not everybody does and usually the older people are, the less likely they are to speak English. And if it can make you feel better, we don’t all speak 4-5 languages (far from it!). I think most people speak 2 languages but it’s quite common to see people speaking 3 languages (French, Dutch and English usually) :).

    1. Oooh this is so interesting to hear from someone from Belgium!! I knew the language was mostly French and Dutch…I don’t know why I said German. My brain must have fried by the time I wrote this after writing about so many other travels, but I’ll definitely change that! I never actually heard German in Belgium, it was all Dutch and some French.
      The car situation wasn’t really that bad, it could have been much worse. And things like that happen all the time in my home state/country, so it’s not Belgium’s fault! I loved Belgium and would love to go back again soon. It was definitely one of my favorites!
      And still, most people speaking 2 languages is much better than in America where we only speak English. I envy anyone who can communicate in multiple languages, and I’m so inspired by bilingual (or multilingual) people. Your English is 100% perfect too!
      I feel the same way about learning about my state or country through the eyes of a foreigner. I love reading posts about the Jersey Shore, Philadelphia, or New York City and experiencing these places as a visitor! I think the tv show Jersey Shore definitely killed New Jersey’s reputation though hahaha

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