So after having a huge debate inside my head and some good retrospection done on our Europe travel memories, I still could not decide which country to start on. Paris was undeniably topping my mind, but then Italy was also equally fascinating giving us memories enough to treasure a life-time and oh not to forget the scintillating Switzerland. So you ask me how I ended up with Belgium finally? Well, the oldest trick in the book- go in the alphabetical order 😛
We explored mainly Brussels, the capital of Belgium with grand boulevards and palaces galore. Speaking of palaces, Grand Place or Grote Markt, the central town square of Brussels surrounded by ornate gilded guild houses, the city town hall and the museum was quite magnificent and drop-dead gorgeous. ❤ It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered as one of Europe’s most beautiful squares.
Each and every architectural detail is taken care of so exquisitely and you really feel like staring at it for hours and hours. But soon enough you discover you cannot, as a delicious warm chocolaty scent wafts through the air and you find yourself drawn to the authentic Belgian chocolate shops nearby. Do make sure you pack an empty stomach for gorging on the world famous Belgian waffles and chocolate(all to be washed down with the country’s famed frothy beer.) 😉
Every two years a flower carpet of the aromatic begonias of a rich palette, ranging from the most vivid colours to delicate pastel shades covers the Grand Place. Unfortunately, we missed that but if you have Brussels on your mind do plan it between August 12th and 16th this year. It is indeed an extraordinary spectacle and will not disappoint you in any way! 🙂
Whether it is Brussels or Bangalore, if there is any chance of shopping anywhere I would smell it out. Ha! So I dragged my poor hubby to the Royal St. Hubert Galleries, which is the oldest shopping arcade in Europe! But you would never guess that from the appearance and of course their collection of luxury boutique shops 😉 It is covered by an impressive arched glass-paned roof and looks as stunning as it was 150 years ago.
Off we went to see the famous little peeing boy in Brussels 😀 Yes, I am talking about Mannekin Pis indeed 🙂 Overrated or not , this is an attraction nonetheless and there are several legends associated with this little guy peeing his way to fame! One of them which I particularly liked is this one. Brussels was besieged and the attackers set up fire to burn the city before they left. Fortunately, a little boy who was walking down the street saw the burning wick. He did not know where to find water, so he decided to pee to put it out. When the Belgians heard about it they were overwhelmed with joy and erected a statue honoring his epic act. Oh and between he is dressed up in different attires daily and on the day we went, his dress matched my hubby’s perfectly 😀
While we are still talking about statues, I did not miss the chance to fondle the whiskers of the beloved mayor of Brussels, Charles Buls. The story goes he was behind the protection and maintenance of the beautiful old buildings of the Grand Place. The statue adorns the cobblestone city square and the place is lively with a lot of street artists performing and ample opportunities to buy souvenirs or chocolates or any Belgian specialty. It is also pretty close by to the famous Rue des Bouchers (Butchers’ Street), which is Brussel’s restaurant row, a pedestrianized cobbled street lined with a multitude of restaurants, bars and cafes housed in 17th-century step-gabled buildings.
Our next destination was the iconic symbol of the town, an ode to scientific progress, an elementary iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times- the Atomium in Brussels. You can actually visit each of the spheres, and there are various exhibitions hosted there devoted to architecture, design and society.
I had seen the picture of this architectural marvel in one of my Science textbooks when I was in 6th or 7th grade and since then it was always there in the back of my mind to see this for real! And now the wish has come true. 🙂 My man loves taking perspective photography (where you seem like eating the sun or pushing the leaning tower of pisa, that kind of photos 🙂 ) and we had a ball experimenting that with the atomium 😛
With that, we bid farewell to this charming city with countless castles to quaint cobbled streets, innovative art museums to indulging eateries. It was a rainy day and Belgium was a last minute addition to our itinerary so we could cover only a tiny portion of its awesomeness. With over a 1000 breweries, chocolates that rival the Swiss, and frites which are more than just fries, Belgium has quite some culinary aces up its sleeve. You name it, Belgium has it – history, architecture, art, shopping, fun, food, the list goes on.
I fell totally in love with the Grand Place and my vote would go for the aesthetic architectural appeal of Belgium and oh not to forget the lip-smacking frites 🙂 Is Belgium in your bucket-list ? What is it that makes you love Belgium ? ❤
P.S.- The recent attack on Brussels has left me and countless people in the world distraught. It is so heartbreaking to hear about the terrorist attacks across the beautiful cities in the world quite often. Hope the city recovers soon enough and let the Lord give courage to the frightened, the bruised and the grieving to come out of the aftermath.