Honeymoon Series: Brussels & Bruges

This is post continues our honeymoon series – I can’t wait to share them all with you! If you have any specific questions, just let me know in the comments below or email me at heather@3blackcatco.com!

After spending three amazing days in Amsterdam and getting used to being on vacation, we packed up our bags and walked to the train station to catch our train to Brussels. One thing that I LOVE about Europe is the ease of getting around. I wish that we had trains in the States that could just take us to another country! In less than two hours, we had left the Netherlands and arrived in Belgium. Conveniently, our hotel was again right next to the train station (literally across the street) and we walked off the train and set off to our hotel. We stayed at the Park Inn by Radisson Brussels Midi and I worry that we may have been a little too spoiled by the Grand Amrath in Amsterdam. We thought the location was great being right next to the train station and a ten minute walk to our reason for going to Brussels (more on this later), but it was really far away from the main downtown area that we spent a majority of our time. The quality was okay, but nothing near where we stayed in Amsterdam (or even some hotels in the States).

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From the hotel, we set out walking towards the Grand Place in the middle of town. It was definitely further than I expected – a little over a mile. Our hotel was convenient for our train travel but not as centrally located as we wished. While we were fine with the walking, it was definitely not a neighborhood I would have walked through by myself and I was definitely glad to have my husband by my side. When we finally arrived in downtown, we made our first stop at the Manneken Pis – a quirky little statue of a boy peeing that has become somewhat of a symbol of Brussels. We also picked up the necessary Belgian waffles from a little shop nearby.

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We continued walking through the Grand Place and exploring the streets around the square. We stopped at Delirium Café for a beer – mostly to just say we’d been. It wasn’t nearly as impressive as other beer bars we’ve been to but we can now say that we’ve been to the world record holder of the most varieties of beer commercially available – if you’re into that sort of thing. We found a cute little Greek area and restaurant, Plaka – Petite Restauration, along the way home for dinner and finished with few more drinks at Moeder Lambic!

We learned our lesson from the day before and bought passes to take the metro downtown today! I always love taking public transportation while visiting a city because I think it lets you get a real feeling for the city and the locals. We got off at Arts-Loi stop and walked through Brussels Park towards the Musical Instrument Museum. As Roswell is a musician, he was really excited about the museum and I had heard really great things about the view from the cafe at the top of the museum.

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From the Museum, we stopped by the Jardin du Mont des Arts where I offered to take another couples photo so they wonderfully returned the favor. We headed off to Le Bier Circus for a few beers and a light lunch of cheese and bread (we ate a lot of this in Europe…) Continuing on our walkabout, we saw the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula and walked through Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. I’ve been really restrained with my shopping lately so walking through the Galeries was interesting, but we didn’t stop in any of the stores to look around.

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On to what brought us to Brussels originally… Brasserie Cantillon. I’m anticipating a full blog post on just Cantillon from Roswell – I think this was the real reason we came to Brussels in the first place. This brewery has been on Roswell’s bucket list to visit for 6 years – this is what made him excited for this trip! We walked around the brewery on a self guided tour, and then had a few samples. We also bought a bottle to enjoy in their tasting room. Roswell will explain all of the great things about Cantillon better than I ever could, so be on the lookout for Roswell’s post.

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We ended the evening with Belgian moules and frites at Chez Leon and watched the sun set in the Grand Place while being serenaded by dueling men’s drinking clubs.

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Early Saturday morning, we hopped on a train and found ourselves in Bruges in less than hour. We started with a light breakfast at Cafe Craenenburg before climbing the stairs of the Belfry of Bruges. Y’all that climb was no joke! It’s 366 steps up quite narrow at point stairs – but the view is 100% worth it in the end. It was fantastic!

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After making the descent, we decided to follow the canal walking tour that we found in our Lonely Planet Pocket Bruges & Brussels (Travel Guide). We walked along the quiet streets of Bruges and ended our walk around Minnewaterpark, where I fell in love with the flowers and was immediately in my nature habit of flower photo taking. We visited another brewery Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan and shared a wonderful three-course lunch. I visited another church, Church of Our Lady Bruges, and was able to appreciate their Madonna and Child statue by Michelangelo. We end our day in Bruges by visiting Begijnhof – a tranquil corner of Bruges that now is home to the sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict. We caught a train back to Brussels for our last full day before heading off to Paris!DSC_0655DSC_0671 DSC_0687 20150418_120259 DSC_0694 DSC_0717 DSC_0750 DSC_0768

On our last day in Brussels, we redeemed our AAA voucher for our Hop on Hop Off City SightSeeing Bus. We chose the Atomium route, because of the distance. We felt that everything on the Europe route we could easily walk or metro to, but the Atomium is quite a bit from downtown. The first stop we got off at was, of course, the Atomium! The Atomium was built for the World Fair in 1958 and has become a symbol for Brussels (much like that little Manneken Pis). The elevator ride to the top was a bit much for me – as I’m already afraid of heights and there was a glass ceiling so you could watch how fast you were going (I couldn’t look).

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After the Atomium, we got back on the bus, and headed over to the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg. I had heard that the basilica also boasted a great panorama of the city, but didn’t feel like shelling out the Euros after having just been at the top of the Atomium. I still enjoyed looking around the church (as usual).DSC_0852 DSC_0849 DSC_0835_stitch

To finish off our day, we visited the Brussels Comic Book Museum. One thing I loved about Brussels was all of the street art – you’d be surprised by a wonderful mural around so many turns!  We finished with a drink at À la Mort Subite.DSC_086520150416_142458

Despite our train not leaving until 11, we didn’t plan anything for the morning of our last day. Roswell went and did some laundry, while I packed up our hotel room and waited anxiously for him to come back so we didn’t miss our train! Overall, I was a little disappointed with Brussels and couldn’t wait to leave on our last day. I think we just spent too much time there. We definitely could have only spent a day or two in Brussels with more time in Bruges, Amsterdam or Paris. You live and you learn! Coming up next week: Paris!

Check out the rest of our Honeymoon Series:

HONEYMOON SERIES: AMSTERDAM
PHOTO FRIDAY: HONEYMOON SNEAKS
HONEYMOON IN A CARRYON

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