BRUSSELS: Sprouting A Love For This City

August 29, 2015  •  1 Comment

Photos Taken / Written by JENNIFER MAHON  |  This post was read 950 times

Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography



So....Brussels was not really anywhere on my list of places to go to.... I mean, besides Jean-Claude Van Damme, I hadn't really heard all that much about the city. But when the opportunity presented itself to go for a weekend - how could I possibly say no??

I AM SOOOO GLAD I WENT.

I completely fell in love with not only Brussels, but Belgium itself - the food (waffles, moules-frites, chocolate!), the people, the architecture and - everything was ridiculously cheap. So here's some snaps from day 1 in Brussels (more to come - Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp and Amsterdam - all in the same weekend!) and my take on this charming city that has drawn me in with its unique charm.

 

MOULES-FRITES 
My initial plan was to have Moules-frites for every meal in hopes of finding the perfect one....that did not happen. But I am happy to say that my first meal on Belgian soil was this national dish....and a 1/2 litre of rosé. You can pretty much find this dish in any restaurant, and it's definitely worth it to sit down to this enormous pot of mussels stewed in veggies and white sauce served with fries.

 

First things first - gotta try the eat...and drink!First things first - gotta try the eat...and drink!

First things first - gotta try the eat...and drink!


I love how everywhere in Europe it's almost cheaper to do a 1/2 litre than a glassI love how everywhere in Europe it's almost cheaper to do a 1/2 litre than a glass

I love how everywhere in Europe it's almost cheaper to do a 1/2 litre than a glass


Salad...in Brussels? Lightweights!Salad...in Brussels? Lightweights!

Salad...in Brussels? Lightweights!


Travel Keeps Me Sane - Jennifer Mahon Photography

No salad for moi - Moules-frites is the only way to go


Moules-fritesMoules-frites

Moules-frites



 

ÉGLISE SAINT-JEAN-BAPTISTE-AU-BÉGUINAGE 
M
y travel buddies were jet-lagged and opted for a nap, I strolled around all by my lonesome for an hour to check things out. Leaving our hotel, Hotel Astrid, I turned left and stumbled upon the Place du Béguinage with the stunning Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage. A beautiful Baroque church, the facade is impressive, as is the interior. The wooden pulpit midway down the aisle and the confessionals are quite the eyecatchers.


L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage (French) / Sint-Jan-de-Doper op Het Begijnhof (Dutch)L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage (French) / Sint-Jan-de-Doper op Het Begijnhof (Dutch)

L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage (French) / Sint-Jan-de-Doper op Het Begijnhof (Dutch)


Impressive entrance to L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-BéguinageImpressive entrance to L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage

Impressive entrance to L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage


Impressive doors as well - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-BéguinageImpressive doors as well - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage

Impressive doors as well - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage


Interior - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-BéguinageInterior - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage

Interior - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage


Carved wood pulpit - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-BéguinageCarved wood pulpit - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage

Carved wood pulpit - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage


Carved wood confessional booths - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-BéguinageCarved wood confessional booths - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage

Carved wood confessional booths - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage


Beautiful stain-glass windows - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-BéguinageBeautiful stain-glass windows - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage

Beautiful stain-glass windows - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage


Pipe organ - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-BéguinagePipe organ - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage

Pipe organ - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage


One last look at the beautiful vaulted ceilings - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-BéguinageOne last look at the beautiful vaulted ceilings - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage

One last look at the beautiful vaulted ceilings - L'église Saint-Jean-Baptiste-au-Béguinage


place du Béguinageplace du Béguinage

Place du Béguinage


Walking down Rue du BéguinageWalking down Rue du Béguinage

Walking down Rue du Béguinage



 

PLACE SAINTE-CATHERINE 
Continuing my solo stroll, I was glad to see that our hotel was only a block away from Place Sainte-Catherine. The impressive Église Sainte-Catherine leads out onto a massive square that is lined with restaurants - especially seafood restos - which makes sense since this used to be the central fish market. The fish market is now on the north side of the square, aptly named Marché aux Poissons. A lot less tourists here and really not that much going on, but I still loved this area for its relaxing atmosphere - a great place to sit and watch the world go by - which is exactly what I did. 

 

Église Sainte-CatherineÉglise Sainte-Catherine

Église Sainte-Catherine


Place Sainte-Catherine/Sint-KatelijnePlace Sainte-Catherine/Sint-Katelijne

Place Sainte-Catherine / Sint-Katelijne


Place Sainte-Catherine / Sint-Katelijne
Place Sainte-Catherine / Sint-Katelijne

Place Sainte-Catherine / Sint-Katelijne


Great restaurants all along Place Sainte-CatherineGreat restaurants all along Place Sainte-Catherine

Great restaurants all along Place Sainte-Catherine


Seafood resto on Place Sainte-CatherineSeafood resto on Place Sainte-Catherine

Seafood resto on Place Sainte-Catherine


Les Crustaces all set for the dinner crowd - Place Sainte-CatherineLes Crustaces all set for the dinner crowd - Place Sainte-Catherine

Les Crustaces all set for the dinner crowd - Place Sainte-Catherine


Église Sainte-Catherine (French) or Sint-Katelijnekerk (Dutch)Église Sainte-Catherine (French) or Sint-Katelijnekerk (Dutch)

Église Sainte-Catherine (French) or Sint-Katelijnekerk (Dutch)


Place Sainte-Catherine / Sint-KatelijnePlace Sainte-Catherine / Sint-Katelijne

Place Sainte-Catherine / Sint-Katelijne


Walking back down Rue du BéguinageWalking back down Rue du Béguinage

Walking back down Rue du Béguinage


Pretty door - Rue du BéguinagePretty door - Rue du Béguinage

Pretty door - Rue du Béguinage


The Brasserie beside our hotel on Rue du CyprèsThe Brasserie beside our hotel on Rue du Cyprès

The Brasserie beside our hotel on Rue du Cyprès



 

GRAND-PLACE / GROTE MARKT 
Joining back up with my fellow travel addicts, we head to the Brussels city centre and end up at Grand-Place - this is where every visitor inevitably ends up because something like seven roads lead here. The city's central market in the 13th century, the Grand-Place (Grote Markt in Dutch) is a beautiful square in the centre of Brussels. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, the square is somewhat of a mishmash of extravagant architectural styles that somehow work together. It's the heart of Brussels and it's here you'll find people gathering for rock concerts, dance festivals and every August (in the even years) even more tourists pack the square to see the Carpet of Flowers

Standing in the immense square, choose any one of the narrow streets leading away from here - it's these narrow streets that you want to skulk around in. So many hidden gems on these streets - artisan shops, restaurants, little cafes, beer shops and waffle houses. 

 

Drug Opera on Rue Grétry Drug Opera on Rue Grétry

Drug Opera on Rue Grétry


Exploring the tiny alleyways all over the historic centreExploring the tiny alleyways all over the historic centre

Exploring the tiny alleyways all over the historic centre


All these little alleyways always lead to something interestingAll these little alleyways always lead to something interesting

All these little alleyways always lead to something interesting


Like this little alley leading to the Grand-Place / Grote Markt
Like this little alley leading to the Grand-Place / Grote Markt

Like this little alley leading to the Grand-Place / Grote Markt


Stadhius van Brussels (Town Hall) - Grand-Place / Grote Markt
Stadhius van Brussels (Town Hall) - Grand-Place / Grote Markt

Stadhius van Brussels (Town Hall) - Grand-Place / Grote Markt


Seems we just missed the Brussels Dance Festival!Seems we just missed the Brussels Dance Festival!

Seems we just missed the Brussels Dance Festival!


La Rose Blanche Restaurant - Grand Place / Grote MarktLa Rose Blanche Restaurant - Grand Place / Grote Markt

La Rose Blanche Restaurant - Grand-Place / Grote Markt


Grand Place / Grote Markt - Rue Charles BulsGrand Place / Grote Markt - Rue Charles Buls

Grand Place / Grote Markt - Rue Charles Buls


One of the buildings on the Grand Place / Grote MarktOne of the buildings on the Grand Place / Grote Markt

One of the buildings on the Grand Place / Grote Markt


Some dude, checking his phone..... Grand-lace / Grote Markt
Some dude, checking his phone..... Grand-Place / Grote Markt

Some dude, checking his phone..... Grand-Place / Grote Markt


Entering the Galeries Royales St. HubertEntering the Galeries Royales St. Hubert

Entering the Galeries Royales St. Hubert


Galeries Royales St. HubertGaleries Royales St. Hubert

Galeries Royales St. Hubert


Galeries....macaroons...Kinda feels like Paris!Galeries....macaroons...Kinda feels like Paris!

Galeries....macaroons...Kinda feels like Paris!


Oh. My. God. Don't know what these are, but they look divineOh. My. God. Don't know what these are, but they look divine

Oh. My. God. Don't know what these are, but they look divine


A little too sweet for me.... A little too sweet for me....

A little too sweet for me....


Entrance to Galerie de la ReineEntrance to Galerie de la Reine

Entrance to Galerie de la Reine


Galerie de la ReineGalerie de la Reine

Galerie de la Reine



 

IXELLES
A quick metro ride away (although we probably could've walked it) to Porte de Namur and we're in the Ixelles area. A quite diverse region of Brussels, it has the university area, the Flagey area and it's here that has the greatest concentration of Art Nouveau and Art Deco style buildings. Cute to walk around and explore, we ended having amazing wine and cheese at a cute wine bar called Non, Peut-Être

 

Taking the metro to the Ixelles areaTaking the metro to the Ixelles area

Taking the metro to the Ixelles area


I think this is Parc du Bruxelles, but not too sure!I think this is Parc du Bruxelles, but not too sure!

I think this is Parc du Bruxelles, but not too sure!


Parc de BruxellesParc de Bruxelles

Parc de Bruxelles


Cool building somewhere in the Ixelles areaCool building somewhere in the Ixelles area

Cool building somewhere in the Ixelles area


Time for some wine at this cute wine bar called Non, peut-êtreTime for some wine at this cute wine bar called Non, peut-être

Time for some wine at this cute wine bar called Non, peut-être


Right outside, this is what's happeningRight outside, this is what's happening

Right outside, this is what's happening


Time to head back to Brussels Central StationTime to head back to Brussels Central Station

Time to head back to Brussels Central Station


Changing metro lines at Kunst-Wet....I know what you're thinking!!!Changing metro lines at Kunst-Wet....I know what you're thinking!!!

Changing metro lines at Kunst-Wet....I know what you're thinking!!!



 

MANNEKEN PIS 
Back on the metro and back to the city centre in search of Manneken Pis. Apparently a "must" for any trip to Brussels, the world-famous peeing boy can be found at the corner of EIkstraat/Stoofstraat near the Grand-Place. A landmark in this city and wanting to see what the all the hype was about my reaction was "Look how small it is!" - he stands a mere 60 cm tall - so I still don't get what the hype is about. But, I guess things don't always have to be big to be beautiful.  

That's it for the first day in Brussels.....stay tuned for more!

 

Getting back to the town centre just in time for sunsetGetting back to the town centre just in time for sunset

Getting back to the town centre just in time for sunset


Close as I got to the St. Michael and St. Gudula CathedralClose as I got to the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

Close as I got to the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral


Grand-Place - Rue du Marché aux HerbesGrand-Place - Rue du Marché aux Herbes

Grand-Place - Rue du Marché aux Herbes​


Restos along Rue des Chapeliers / HoedenmakersstraatRestos along Rue des Chapeliers / Hoedenmakersstraat

Restos along Rue des Chapeliers / Hoedenmakersstraat​


Feels like Greece on Rue du Marché aux Fromages / KaasmarktFeels like Greece on Rue du Marché aux Fromages / Kaasmarkt

Feels like Greece on Rue du Marché aux Fromages / Kaasmarkt


Stadhuis van Brussel - Grand-Place / Grote MarktStadhuis van Brussel - Grand-Place / Grote Markt

Stadhuis van Brussel - Grand-Place / Grote Markt


The infamous Manneken PisThe infamous Manneken Pis

The infamous Manneken Pis


Teeny, tiny Manneken PisTeeny, tiny Manneken Pis

Teeny, tiny Manneken Pis


Checking out the local beersChecking out the local beers

Checking out the local beers


Christmas in JulyChristmas in July

Christmas in July


People hanging out on Le boulevard Anspach / AnspachlaanPeople hanging out on Le boulevard Anspach / Anspachlaan

People hanging out on Le boulevard Anspach / Anspachlaan


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Comments

Liz via Facebook(non-registered)
Moules... frites...............mmmm..and probably a little vin blanc to go with it!
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