Our day began early with a roughly three hour train ride from London to Brussels. I slept, but Chris managed to entertain himself with the newspaper and sudoku until we arrived at our destination. We bought day passes for the metro and headed off to the Grand Palace to meet up with our free Sandeman's tour group.
|The Grand Palace was a square of gorgeous buildings.|
|Maison du Roi (King's House)|
|Detail on the Town Hall|
The Grand Palace area was impressive. Many very detailed and ornate buildings in this beatiful meeting area. This area had the feel of a city center. I really enjoyed walking around and checking out all of the buildings. After leaving the Grand Palace area, we made a quick stop at the monument of Everard 't Serclaes, a Brussels native made famous by his recovery of the city from the Flemish. He was eventually assassinated for defending his beloved city's rights, but it is said among locals that the statue brings luck and grants the wishes of all who touch it. Our tour guide, Senna, also indicated that rubbing his arm would ensure a return trip to Brussels.
Heading down the side street where the monument was located led us toward the famous Manneken Pis statue. However, before we arrived at the next statue, our tour guide pointed out several buildings with comic strips painted on them. Brussels is the birthplace of Tintin, the star of the 20th century's most popular comic. These were really neat to see throughout the city streets.
Manneken Pis was one of the main things I wanted to see on our trip to Brussels. I had heard so much about the statue from other travelers that I was a little bit let down when I actually saw it in person. It was also annoying that he was dressed up as a British soldier. I would have preferred he be in the nude as he was designed. Nevertheless, I took a ton of pictures and got a good laugh out of it all.
Next, we headed past the Stock Exchange and over to the Galeries Royales Saint Hubert. Both buildings and areas were unique. I liked the lions outside the stock exchange. The Galeries were stunning. Love all those windows and the light they let into the area.
We visited several other areas all while learning way too much about the history of Brussels and Belgium from Senna. We were definitely on information overload!
|St. Andrew's Church|
|Senna lecturing on a side street...|
|St. Michael's Cathedral|
|Inside Brussels Park listening to more history of the city from Senna...|
Toward the end of the tour we visited the Royal Palace which is home to the Belgian King.
And the tour ended at Mont des Arts which provided a great view of the city! Perfect time for a photo :)
|Thought this clock was unique.|
After the tour, we ventured out on our own for a bit. We wanted to make sure we tried the Brussels Four - waffles, fries, chocolate, and beer - so we began our search.
We were informed there are two types of Belgian waffles so we had to be sure and try both! One was more like what we have in the US, but topped with whipped cream and chocolate. The other was basically filled with sugar so it didn't need any toppings. I preferred the second one!
We had no trouble finding fries. And equally no trouble eating them. We loved them!! A very tasty lunch indeed!
We were having some difficulty deciding on a chocolate shop so we decide to make use of our metro passes and venture to another area of the city. This was an interesting experience as we weren't entirely sure where we should go. We finally just picked the last stop on one of the lines and took off. Upon arrival, we learned we were in a more residential area so we just headed back to the city center. It was worth a shot venturing outside of the touristy area, but I think we were more comfortable when we got back to the city center.
We eventually decided on a spot to buy some chocolate. We were able to try a few pieces before we bought a couple boxes to take back to our families. It was delicious!
Our last stop before heading back to the train station was a little restaurant called Le Lombard. We had a pasta dinner here, but were able to try out a couple of Belgian beers. Chris had Red Delirium. I had the framboise. I liked both of them, but probably because they were sweeter than any beer I'd ever tasted before. Mine also had a fruity taste, too.
After dinner, we headed to the train station to catch the Eurostar back to London. We were exhausted, but we had a very fun day in Brussels!