We were in Brussels for only 2.5 days and I can’t tell you one landmark or historical site that we saw. Okay, that’s a lie. We actually saw quite a lot.
We took a City Sightseeing Bus and saw most of the city during one of the full days. We got off a couple times to explore the area and even stumbled upon a museum dedicated to musical instruments around the world. We paid the extra 2€ and got the audioguide where we were able to listen to the actual musical instruments being played.
Later in the day, we went into Atomium, which is this huge contraption that was built for the 1958 World’s Fair (I think). The boy was really interested in it, so in we went.
Inside there was an installation on Rene Magritte, which was a win for me. We explored this for a little while, saw 360 degree views of the city, grabbed some ice cream from one of the trucks outside and caught the sightseeing bus to continue our tour of the city.
The sightseeing bus allowed us to get around the city, hit the major sights, and it was an inexpensive way to get to some farther parts of the city.
But enough about the sightseeing, this post is about the FOOD! Here’s what we ate.
Our first day we got in around 9pm, so we went straight to the hotel and fell asleep. We had a pretty full day exploring Istanbul, so we were pooped. But when the sun rose, we got up to have some breakfast and take on the city.
We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton and since I am a Platinum Preferred member, the breakfast was free! It was pretty good, too. They had a buffet of pastries and breads and even a make your own waffle section. The boy loved this one and ended up eating about 8 of them. I had a regular smegular English breakfast of eggs, beans, roasted tomato and mushroom, and bacon with toast and coffee.
After getting our fill, we set out to find something else to sink our teeth into.
We found the bus and began riding around the city. We found the museum and caught the sightseeing bus later. After exploring Atomium, we grabbed some ice cream from a cart nearby. We ate it so quickly I forgot to get a pic (this happens often, you will see). The boy had oreo and I had speculos, which is like those cookies you get on Delta Airlines flights, but in ice cream form. Both were good, but not really anything to write home about.
We hopped back on the bus and found ourselves in the fish market area (I think that’s what they called it) and stumbled upon a farmer’s market, loads of restaurants with outdoor seating where people enjoyed a beer or wine and listened to a live brass band playing “Like a Prayer” by Madonna in front of the church.
I noticed a huge line outside of a seafood place called Noordzee Mer du Nord. I’ve learned that any place where people are willing to wait in line for an undetermined amount of time for food is most likely worth it, so that is where I wanted to go. The boy whined about wanting McDonald’s and “not knowing if Belgian fries were even good”.
[insert side eye here]
I got him his stanky McDonald’s and found our way back to the action. By this time, the line was a little shorter and I parlay vou’d my way into ordering grilled shrimp and salmon with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. It was divine. There is only stand up seating but you’ll be dancing and so into your food you won’t even care.
Satisfied with our food selections in that area, we wandered back to our hotel and relaxed for the night. We explored a lot and didn’t realize were still tired from the 13-hour layover/tour of Istanbul we passed out by 7pm. We didn’t even eat dinner!
We woke up in hopes of making up for lost time and food experiences on this day. We went downstairs and had more waffles and set out to explore more Belgian foods. We found a bike rental kiosk, figured out the system (with help from a kind stranger) and rode around the city a little.
After biking around for 30 minutes or so, and realizing that the city is completely dead on Sundays, found our way to Flagey Square. A trendy little neighborhood that has a bustling farmer’s market with fresh produce, cheeses, breads, meats, and even a rotisserie chicken truck. This place was pretty chill and I was overwhelmed just walking around to decide what to eat first. They even had an oyster place, a frites truck, and I found Senegalese food!
The boy and I got some frites first (and he decided that Belgium fries are pretty good), had some drinks and sat down to enjoy the scenery. After finishing the food we walked around the market, looking for more to devour.
After sampling all the fruit in the stalls, drooling over the smells of rotisserie chicken and oogling the sausages and cheeses, we ended up getting some plaintains and fritters from the Senegalese place, some fruit from a couple of the stands, and cheese for our train ride tomorrow. It began to rain so we walked into a café and had a coffee to wait it out.
After the rain, we meandered a bit more, walking into book shops and stores before heading back to the hotel.
After some rest, we went back out to explore the city a bit more and find dinner.
We ended up riding bikes again to see more of the city. By the way, Brussels has a lot of cobble stone and hills and biking is not fun when these two are combined) We found Manneken Pis, which is basically a statue of a kid peeing into a fountain. Very underwhelming because the thing is tiny. Not his “thing” but the actual statue. I mean… You know what? Nevermind. YOU’RE the perv.
Anyway, it was surrounded by all these tourists taking photos and I didn’t even realize it was the pissing boy until we walked up on it. The only amazing thing about it was the statue is surrounded by chocolatiers. So you know what we did? We created our own little chocolate tasting tour.
We went to about six different chocolate shops and sampled (purchased) different types of truffles, pralines, and other sweet treats.
After we decided we were within our desired proximity of diabetes, we wandered more about the city in search of dinner. We ended up running into some random, yet fascinating places (like a skate park and street performers), walked into antique stores and vintage shops, and took in some unexpected views of the city.
Still no dinner and 4 hours later, we decided to have dinner at the hotel and watch the World Cup match between Brazil and Suisse.
I had a burger with more frites and a Stella Artois. The boy had pizza with a fancy Sprite. It was delicious but we were too tired to really enjoy it. After the match we went up to our room and passed out.
Seafood, fries, waffles and not a brussel sprout was had! My overall food impression of Brussels was positive. Everything we’ve eaten during this trip has been good. Plus I love exploring new ways to fry a potato and I’m happy that I was able to experience the world famous Belgian Frites. I’m forever amazed by how something so simple can be so magical and delicious.
My only regret was not having more traditional Belgian fare such as mussels or carbonade flamande. Perhaps next time we are here we can try more traditional Flemish dishes. We’ll be back for half a day before catching our flight home, so maybe.
We are now on our way to Amsterdam for three days. We hope to eat more delicious food, learn more about the city, and have more adventures. So stay tuned!