EU 2008: Brussels, Belgium

From Bruges to Brussels on the train takes around an hour, but the difference between the two places is vast. Brussels is much more a typical European city, full of modern buildings and with flocks of people milling around.

Manneken PisI didn’t get a good look at the central market square as it was filled with a massive tent holding a stage and seating for some event or other. So I wandered in search of the Mannequin Pis, it’s not a big statue and I might have missed it had it not been surrounded by a bunch of tourists, a brass band and a group of people in black-face make-up wielding oversize items of cutlery. I wish I knew exactly what was going on but sadly I remain mystified. After that I managed to get hopelessly lost, the map the hotel gave me wasn’t very helpful and, worse, it didn’t match either the map in my book or reality. I did manage to find another Notre Dame to visit (one of the best I’ve seen).

Saddle of RabbitAfter finally working where I was I headed to a restaurant that I’d seen recommended on Wikitravel. It was booked out save for one table that I could have as long I was done in time for a later booking. I figured this was a good sign and immediately opted for two traditional dishes, eels in green sauce and saddle of rabbit. Both dishes were fantastic, the eels tasted very faintly fishy but with a lot fewer bones than I’d expected, I’m less convinced about the sauce which was just too herby for my taste. The rabbit came with it’s nice crispy skin but both the skin and the flesh didn’t have any real strong flavour, I’d expected something much gamier. I can see why the have the sauce over it to give the dish some oomph. The chips were excellent, they love their chips in Belgium and they’re good everywhere but these were simply the best chips I can remember eating anywhere.

The second day I travelled to the Atomium which is outside of the centre of Brussels (although it’s easy to get by train or tram.) The Atomium is a giant representation of a iron atom, built in 1958 for the Brussles World Fair, it was renovated recently and reopened last year. It’s excellent, just seeing this bizarre building makes the trip worthwhile but you can also go to the top sphere and get great views of Brussels.

From the top of the Atomium I spotted another attraction I’d wanted to visit, the mini-EU. I hadn’t known they were right beside each other so it was a nice surprise. Atomium SpheresThe mini-EU is a set of scale models of buildings and locations from around the EU, there’s little sounds clips and some of the models move too. It’s pretty great actually, you learn a lot of things about the countries and because all the models are to the same scale you can get an idea of the comparative size of things. It’s totally worth a day out of the town centre to visit these the area, there are a few other things around to visit, shockingly none of this was covered in my guidebook so you’ll might be better turning to the internet for help.

I did manage some pub crawling whilst I was there and whilst I liked Bruges better I did find a couple of nice places. Delirium is stuck down a side street, it’s massive and has a huge range of beers while it’s sister bar across the street is stocked with an equivalent selection of spirits. Well worth searching out, although it’ll be busy. I also found a nice little rock bar which is a nice break from the beer halls and the tourist traps.

To be honest I don’t see much reason to go back to Brussels, there’s plenty of more interesting places to visit in Belgium.

One Response to “EU 2008: Brussels, Belgium”

  1. UnorthodoxY » Blog Archive » EU 2008 Progress Says:

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