Throwback: Brussels, Belgium July 2014

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Today I’ve been browsing through old photos, and figured why not share some with you? Back in July 2014, Eilish and I went to Brussels, Belgium for a few days of debauchery. Well, chips and beer.

Disclaimer: This post will be extremely photo-heavy, but it’s worth it to see the state of my eyebrows. Forgive me, I was young!

I’ll do my best to keep this concise…

We arrived early morning, and swiftly made our way to our hotel (I think an Ibis one?) located in Zaventem, not actually in Brussels. From our research, we figured that wouldn’t be an issue. We’d just grab a Brussels card and get the bus each day.

If only.

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This was where we ended up when we tried to find a bus stop to take us to the center. We had a time limit to pick up our cards from some sort of tourist info place before they were deemed invalid and we wasted €40 which we pre-paid, because we were super eager and booked everything almost half a year in advance.

We were both exhausted, with Eilish literally nodding off to sleep every few minutes. I have some glorious photos of her anger this day as well, you’ll see why.

Probably after 2 hours of going the wrong way, we eventually made our way to the central area only to find it completely blocked off for the welcoming of King Philippe of Belgium. Great timing Philipe.

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We unintentionally saw the exhibition and events as the place we wanted to get to (10 meters away) was blocked and we had to go several streets parallel and back up to get through. Only for it to be the wrong entrance. Mon Dieu!

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I love this photo, the pain in Eilish’s face is real.

You know what the best part is? We couldn’t even use the Brussels card on our bus, because we technically weren’t in Brussels! Not the best start, but going to bed at 9pm was pretty amazing.

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Day two was much more uplifting. If I remember rightly, that was when we did a free walking tour, where you pay what you feel it was worth at the end. Our guide was great, and managed to teach me more about WWI in 10 minutes than I learnt from GCSE History lessons.

I love walking tours, they’re a great way to learn about the history and landmarks, as well as meeting new people.

Our co-walkers were mostly nice except for an American couple who just didn’t want to accept that America didn’t win the war

We saw Manneken Pis, actually pronounced like ‘piss’, not ‘pi’…

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… And his potato equivalent

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The Saint Hubertus Gallery

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A nice park where our guide told us in detail about Leopold II and his dodgy doings in the Congo. It made the pretty white buildings seem a little bit sour…

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And enjoyed some interesting decor along the way

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Of course that wasn’t everything, it went on for a few hours, but definitely worth it.

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By the way, Tintin is huge in Belgium so there’s plenty of art and paraphernalia around . As well as some other well-loved cartoons too… With knives?

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Afterwards Eilish and I went on the hunt for the Belgian staples; frites, beer, chocolate and waffles.

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First up, waffles. Eilish went for caramel, I went for chocolate. Heaven, although not the most practical when racing against melting icecream with only a paper plate to protect you.

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Then the Grand Place, which we fell in love with. So I’ll just get it over with and show you the buildings now…

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Just look at that detail!

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And some obligatory selfies

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We searched for a while and found Delirium, a place Eilish discovered with over 2000 types of Belgian beer. It didn’t disappoint.

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Excuse the graininess but yeah… And I don’t even like beer!

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They offered small, ‘taster’ beers which we found fun. I think Eilish went for Chimay and I got some kind of cherry beer? I don’t remember exactly. As we went for our second round, I asked the barman if he spoke English (duh) in French and he was apparently so impressed by my manners that he continued to bring us free drinks for another hour or so and even sat with us.

Slightly awkward but If you go there say bonjour to Charles from Georgia, U.S.! 

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Intoxicated, we danced around in Grote Markt a little more in the sunshine, before making our way back to the hotel.

It felt so good to be merry in the sunshine!

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The bus journey was long and full of Marines who were talking rather loudly about their flings. Eilish and I were more interested in dancing along to Shania Twain who was still stuck in our heads after being in the metro. Yeah, they play music on the metro!

Day 3 meant we had to answer to our other foodie needs – chocolate and frites. The heat made it almost unbearable so I’d recommend visiting in the autumn or winter if you want to experience exquisite local cuisine like we did.

I feel like I’m confusing the order of events slightly, but let me throw this one in. We stopped for lunch before finding said Belgian cuisine and managed to grab a table in the shade outside Subway, only to be very subtly kicked off by a group of nuns.

No force was used but they hovered over our table and psyched us out until we left…

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Okay anyway, frites. They’re amazing, and also apparently why we call French Fries, French Fries. Americans came during the war and called them so because people were speaking French, even though they were in Belgium.

Also, it’s recommended to try as many sauces as possible and share with your friends, most places have atleast 20 to choose from!

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Then chocolate. We found a chocolate museum near the Grand Place by accident, but it was cheap so we figured, why not?

We did actually have plans to visit more museums and galleries but the King’s coronation and the heat made it quite impossible.

The chocolate museum was nice. Quite small but as expected. Again, the heat made it hard to enjoy since all the free samples were generally melted-together and warm, but we persisted.

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If you go, expect to see everything but in chocolate form, even a corset!

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Also, avoid the 100% cocoa option, you’ll regret it. Just head straight downstairs to this little man making praslin (or praline) chocolates.

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He spoke in French and the translator was too quiet but it was nice to watch and smell anyway.

Speaking of praslins, go and read about the Duc de Praslin. Or watch the film. Fascinating stuff!

Not much happened afterwards. If I remember correctly, we relaxed for a bit at the Grand Place again before heading back home. A brief but memorable trip, and just what I needed at the time as it’s when Shota and I became long-distance. He left for Georgia the day before, it’s so strange how things happen sometimes…

Apologies for such a long post! Hopefully it wasn’t too grueling. Have you ever been to Brussels? Or Bruges? Bruges is one of my favourites!

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19 thoughts on “Throwback: Brussels, Belgium July 2014

  1. Doug DeBug says:

    Enjoyed the story and the pics, especially the Manneken fry. Too funny. Great architecture and would love to visit one day. Thank you for taking the time to share your trip.

    Like

  2. Elvira says:

    I was born and raised in Bruges and my parents still live there. There are some lovely legends that come with certain places there!
    But posts like these remind me that I should be more ‘tourist’ in my own country 🙂

    Like

    • itstartedinoxford says:

      I’m very jealous, it’s so beautiful! I’d love to hear some local legends? It’s definitely a city of fairy tales that’s for sure 🙂 I feel like I should be more of a tourist in the UK now after being in Georgia for so long too 🙂

      Like

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