Now that you’ve read all about Belgian beer, it’s time we talk about Belgium itself and all the things we were able to do and see while there! After spending 3 days in Amsterdam, we took a bus in the evening to Brussels. One of the best parts about living in Europe is that in about 3 hours, we were in a new country and new capital city.
Our first morning in Brussels we took a free walking tour with Sandeman’s New Europe. Our tour guide was a native from Brussels and very knowledgable. This company has free walking tours in many cities throughout Europe and I highly recommend going on one! (I also have been on a walking tour in Paris with them and had great experiences in both cities). The guides give you helpful tips about where to eat and what to do!
While on this tour we learned a lot about the city of Brussels and the history behind it! One of our favorite things we learned about was “Mannekin Pis”. This is a famous statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain. You may have seen replicas of this before, but this is a very important symbol for Belgians. Fun Fact: this little boy has over 600 costumes and is dressed up throughout the year! (ex. Santa Claus, soccer player, Elvis etc.) I think we especially loved this statue because Mark has a replica in his garden at home and we never knew the story behind it before!!
Our tour guide also introduced us to the “Mitraillette” sandwich, which means “Machine Gun” in French. Any sandwich with a name that intense has to be good!!? He told us it was Belgian’s drunk food, but Mark & I knew we had to give it a try. It is a type of Kebab (you can have chicken or meat inside) with veggies and sauce. They also put the fries INSIDE the sandwich. It is HUGE and it is very unflattering to eat, but during our 4 days in Belgium, Mark and I had 3 Mitraillette’s each… We couldn’t resist. (If you ever try one of these delicious creations, try the Andalouse sauce–its a little spicy but so good!!)
Our tour guide also told us where to find the best (authentic) Belgian waffles in the city! So obviously we made a point to stop for breakfast the next day and try one! They were so sweet & warm (because the sugar is caramelized on top!) Look for little yellow food trucks (that also sell ice cream) if you’re looking for a good Belgian waffle. (And try avoiding the places that put fruit, Nutella and everything else on the waffle).
Although drinking & eating may seem like the only things we did in Belgium, that is not the case! We were also able to do some sight-seeing, and Brussels is a very beautiful city.
One of our days in Brussels, we visited the Parlementarium (a free museum where you can learn about the history of Europe and the European Union). It is surprisingly very modern and interesting, and it’s worth checking out if you have any interest in history or international affairs!
We were also able to visit the Chocolate Museum in Brussels. Although it is small, it is fairly inexpensive and you are able to watch a demonstration! One of the most interesting things we learned was why some chocolates (such as Godiva, Lindt or other specialized shops) have products that are creamy and melt in your mouth, while other chocolates (like M&M’s) don’t. This is because some companies only use cocoa powder, which is cheaper. But in order to get that creamy taste, you must use cocoa butter and cocoa powder! We really enjoyed the demonstration (and the samples of course)!
We found that we were able to see a lot of Brussels in a short time, so on Tuesday we decided to take a day trip to Brugge!!
The train was fairly easy to navigate and in about an hour we were transported back in time to a medieval city. Brugge is known for it’s beautiful canals, cobblestoned streets and an old city center (the Markt).
Above the Historium (a museum in the center of Brugge), there is a bar that overlooks the Markt Square. Although it was cold, we sat outside and enjoyed a beer with a view! Later that day we visited the Beer Museum followed by a beer tasting. (For more information about the different types of beer we tried while in Belgium, check out Mark’s post “Happy New Beers“)
We spent most of our time in Brugge wandering the tiny back-roads. Almost every corner you turn there is a picturesque scene!! If you ever find yourself in Brussels, take a day to visit Brugge–you won’t be disappointed!
We hope you enjoy our video blog about Belgium! Stay tuned for an upcoming post about Spanish tapas.
Much love, Amanda