Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Travel Diaries: The Quirky City of Brussels, Belgium

When we were planning our last vacation, we knew that we wanted to go to Paris, and we also knew that we wanted to visit another European city for a few days. We didn't want to spend a lot of time travelling to another city, so after a quick look at a map of Europe, we decided on Brussels, Belgium. I've heard a lot of mixed thoughts on Brussels - most people told me that I'd need a day max in the city, and then I'd be bored. However, I still wanted to see the unofficial capital of the European Union for myself, so we planned two and a half days in Brussels after spending a week in Paris! The train from Paris to Brussels took about an hour and a half, and it was easy to take the subway to our Airbnb. We quickly freshened up, and headed out to explore the city, and let me tell you - we weren't disappointed or bored for a single second!

Charles Buls Fountain Brussels
Charles Buls Fountain

Dylan and I immediately fell in love with how quirky and carefree Brussels was! I mean, one of the main tourist attractions in Brussels is Manneken Pis, a statue of a little boy peeing in the street. There's also a museum with over 800 costumes for the boy, with about 100 on display, and the collection rotating every month. Manneken Pis is pretty easy to find, we actually kind of stumbled upon it after walking through Grand Place. There were a fair number of tourists taking photos with the statue - this is the perfect spot for people watching! Yes, the statue is pretty tiny, but I'm not sure why that disappoints people. Dylan and I loved Manneken Pis because it was incredibly quirky, and it was just so funny. Everyone around the statue was having fun posing for pictures, which made for a great atmosphere.

Manneken Pis Brussels

Speaking of fun statues in Brussels, Dylan made us search out the Jean-Claude Van Damme Monument in Brussels. Dylan is a big fan of Van Damme, or the muscles from Brussels, so this was on his "must-see" list. The statue was a bit difficult to find, as it isn't in the city centre. Take a metro to the Westland Shopping Center, and then find the exit closest to the grocery store in the mall. The statue is actually in the middle of  two streets, which we thought was quite an odd location for such a statue. So, you'll most likely have cars in the background of your photos as it was a busy street, but what can you do! Since this statue was out of the city center we were the only ones there, so there's no crowd to fight your way through for that perfect photo!

Jean-Claude Van Damme Monument in Brussels

On our way to the Van Damme Monument, we stumbled upon De Vaartkapoen by Tom Frantzen, a statue of a policeman being tripped by a man hiding in the sewer.

De Vaartkapoen by Tom Frantzen

I visited quite a few museums in Brussels, all of which were quite unique, and unlike anything we have here in Ottawa. I learnt about the history of comic strips, lace, chocolate making, musical instruments, and Mannekin Pis costumes! 

Belgian Comic Strip Center
Belgian Comic Strip Center

Museum of Costume and Lace
Museum of Costume and Lace

Musical Instrument Museum, Brussels
Musical Instrument Museum

Brussels is the acknowledged capital of the comic strip, and you'll see amazing monumental frescoes all around the city while walking the "Comic Strip Trail." This one is called "Billy the Cat" and was one of my favourites. This frescoes were a really fun touch, and we were always scoping out the next one!

Comic Strip Trail Brussels

Needless to say, Dylan and I absolutely loved our time in Brussels, and I would highly recommend adding this quirky city to your next European itinerary! These were some of my favourite unconventional features of the capital city of Belgium, and they are what made our short time in the city so enjoyable!

Have you ever been to Brussels? I would love to hear about your travel experiences in Brussels!

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  1. Stunning Photos! Sounds like a really fun city!

  2. after an airport mishap I only ended up spending about a day in brussels (longer in Bruges, which is GORGEOUS and i highly recommend) including new years eve! i don't feel too bad i didn't spend longer but it is a great city to add on if you're nearby and only have a little time! I'm glad you had fun :) so many trips lately...I'm a little jealous! I can't wait to travel again sometime soon I hope :)

    1. Bruges looks gorgeous, I definitely want to go back to Belgium and check out the rest of what the country has to offer!
      I don't have any travel plans right now, but I have quite a few trips that I'm constantly dreaming about!


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