A brief city break in Brussels

Culture editor Charlotte Boulton, recollects her weekend break to Brussels before the COVID-19 lockdown.

Charlotte Boulton
7th May 2020
Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay
It's hard to believe that I was in Belgium just two weeks before the UK went into lockdown. I'm so grateful that I was able to have such a lovely holiday before everything went swiftly downhill. So, here's a whistle-stop tour of my long weekend in Belgium.

My boyfriend and I decided to go to Brussels for a break, and neither of us knew what to expect. From what we'd heard, we kind of expected Brussels to be a cold city, rough around the edges. Although there were definitely some less refined areas that had us hurrying through, they were not the norm. Brussels is a gorgeous city, and was full of tourists from across the world even in the chilly early March weather.

Grand Place made for a grand view - Image: Charlotte Boulton

Our first hotel was above an independent bar on the corner of a thriving plaza, with restaurants and bars on our doorstep. The weather probably wasn't really warm enough to sit outside, but we huddled outside the bars drinking La Chouffe (him) and rose gin cocktails (me) anyway, surrounded by dozens of locals and tourists.

Manneken Pis in all his glory - Image: Charlotte Boulton

We sought out waffles as we wandered the streets - nothing beats a warm, doughy waffle sprinkled with a little sugar. I'm a sucker for interesting architecture and Brussels doesn't disappoint, with its Art Nouveau and neo-Gothic style. Grand Place is Brussels' landmark central square and stumbling upon its opulent guildhouse buildings one evening took my breath away.

For art lovers, Brussels is full of it but perhaps the most interesting Belgian artist is surrealist artist René Magritte. The Magritte Museum was a real highlight of our trip, although I have no photos as we abided by the "no phones" rule; keeping full focus on the incredible, unique paintings was a must to really appreciate the weirdness. And of course, no Brussels trip is complete without seeing the infamous Manneken Pis. That's right, a statue of a boy having a wee.

Our second hotel was on the corner of his perch and we had the confused delight of witnessing some 'show' in the morning where he sprayed amused crowds with water.

Brussels was wonderful, full of culture, good food and vibrant life. When all this is over, I recommend it to anyone who fancies a European break in a country with the best chocolate and beer. Plus, it's perfectly placed to extend your trip and visit some neighbouring countries.

The gorgeous views of Luxembourg - Image: Charlotte Boulton

We had a night in Luxembourg since, when you're that close, you might as well go to a micro-country that you'll probably never plan a full holiday to! We even took a day trip to Trier, a German town just an hour's train ride from Luxembourg where we checked out Karl Marx's house and one of the nicest vegetarian burgers I've ever had. I came home with bags full of Belgian chocolate, a few new pins to add to my travel collection and a renewed appreciation for how easy travel is within Europe. Dank u, Brussels!

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