14 December 2013

Brussels Pt 1 of 2 - Out and About

I'd never been to Belgium before and I wasn't sure what to expect from Brussels. I knew they liked frites, made incredible chocolate and served a lot of beer. But what else?

We were staying at Hotel Amigo, a very nice hotel slap-bang in the middle of town. 

Most of the places we wanted to get to were walkable and we had a lovely time just wandering up and down the cobbled streets, getting our bearings. 

The main reason for our visit was to go to the Christmas markets. 

Brussels embraces everything Christmas whole-heartedly. There were Santas on every corner, huge inflatable snowmen and most of the stalls and buildings were covered in pretty fairy lights. 

First thing first - we needed to find somewhere to have some lunch. I spotted a pretty little Belgian restaurant called La Villette and was charmed.

We were warmly greeted and led up a narrow winding staircase to our table. 

Mussels are the national dish of Belgium so we were confident they'd be a good choice to make. We decided to share a pot cooked with garlic, onion and cream.

It turns out the mussels in Brussels are very good indeed! Although needless to say, we didn't smell too briliant afterwards.

Our steak and chicken main courses were both covered in thick cheese sauces; they love a thick cheese sauce over there! 

Although my meat was a bit on the chewy side, we had a lovely lunch in a delightful and traditional surrounding.

Time to shop!

As we walked towards the huge wheel at the base of the market, we surveyed the stalls for possible gifts and momentos. There was a big variety of produce on offer...tea and coffee, sweets, snails, framed pictures, finger puppets, hats, toys, tree decorations and alcohol to name but a few.

In fact, there was quite a lot of alcohol. Creamy shots in endless flavours, Jagermeister, mead and the cockle-warming Amaretto Chaud - mulled wine with an amaretto shot.

We may have partaken...a few times.

After a couple of hours of very festive browsing, we reached the big wheel and queued up for a spin. The ride provided us with a wonderful opportunity to get a great aerial view of Brussels. It was something of a postcard scene.

As well as the markets, there are also plenty of nice shops in and around the Grand-Place. Of course we had to check out some of the Belgian chocolate and cake shops.

We spent far more than we'd intended in that chocolate shop but at least that was a few Christmas pressies sorted!

Brussels looks beautiful after dark when the colourful, light-covered capital twinkles.

We had two days in Belgium and we had originally considered jumping on a train to Bruges but found there was more than enough to keep us entertained in Brussels. I found the city distinct in character and thriving - not dull as its reputation would suggest. It can get a little busy due to its small size though; at one point a street packed full of people walking in opposite directions had to come to a complete standstill! A little unnerving!

Although the nightlife here isn't quite as vivacious as London, there are always places to party and we loved the friendly and welcoming atmosphere in the bars and pubs.

But more on that later...

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  1. my friends and I went to the Christmas markets here for the first time a couple of years ago, and this is bringing back all the fun memories! the wheel terrified me! x

    1. Haha! I was actually ok on that wheel! The one at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, now that gave me the serious shakes! I didn't like the way it dangled... x

  2. Looks like SO much fun! Ben saw this over my shoulder and said 'Oooo I'd like to go to the Christmas Market'

    Watch this space!

    Katie <3

    1. Oooh you should go! Just a couple of hours away.... :) x

  3. Great blog!!
    Can we follow each other via gfc bloglovin and g+?


  4. Great blog, looks like your had an amazing time!

    xo Mel
    Selfhelp | Inspiration | Positivity

  5. It looks gorgeous, do you feel all festive and cheery now!? Your photo from the top of the wheel is a cracker.
    Can't wait for part two!
    M x Life Outside London

    1. Definitely feeling festive now! :D x

  6. Although I am from Belgium, I haven't visited Brusels in much details like you have! T-I think it is about time!

    Monica Harmony's Blog

  7. Looks like you had a fantastic time, I would love to go!

    I came across your blog and love your posts, so now following on Bloglovin and it would be great to follow each other's style journey :)


  8. That Amaretto Chaud sounds delicious!

    It really is a beautiful city, and I don't blame you for spending loads of money in the chocolate shop, whilst in Belgium right?!

    Hmm maybe...


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