With the Brexit drama in full swing, Brussels is all over the news, almost all the time. So, on a long weekend, we decided to see for ourselves what is so special about the city.
To get the local feel, we booked an apartment through Airbnb near the Sablon area, in the heart of the city. Our host was Marcel who, though very nice and friendly, had an amazing hippy-ness about him. He was majorly into ‘alternative’ medicine and Kamasutra kind of therapy and his apartment was no different. His place had its very own character with a mini jungle in the living room and a weed garden in the kitchen. We absolutely loved the place.
Architectural splendour in Brussels:
We started exploring and almost immediately we were in the city centre. The main plaza (Grand Place – Grote Markt) is something one can’t miss. Surrounded by a mix of Baroque style buildings with visible Flemish influences, the square is the economic and political centre of the city and is a true reflection of the cultural history of Brussels.
No trip to Brussels would be complete without visiting “the oldest citizen of Brussels”, the Mannequin Piss. Surrounded by throngs of eager tourists trying to get their selfies with the urinating toddler, the fountain has been through several iterations since the original by Jérôme Duquesnoy, peeing since 1619.
Brussels’ mindblowing food :
Of course, needless to say, Brussels is a paradise for chocolate connoisseurs, waffle lovers and frites (french fries) fanatics. We visited Fritland for their mitraillette (submachine gun) fries sandwich, and boy, did it pack a punch! Crispy on the outside, and buttery soft on the inside, I put on a pound of weight, just from eating these juicy buggers.
Of course, the beer places can’t be left out. The night took us to Delirium Cafe, which apparently has the largest selection of beers on sale (more than 2000). I don’t exactly remember which ones I tried that night but for sure, I had neither heard of these beers nor tasted them ever before.
Of course, the quirky places and the Flee market:
Next morning, waking up in Marcel’s weed-filled apartment, we were feeling quirky to our bones. So, to make a day out of that, we decided to go off the beaten path Brussels.
They say, when in Hergé’s Brussels, do what Tintin does, so strolling around Vieux Marché (Old Market), the Place du Jeu de Balle flea market, seemed the most obvious thing to do. If you have ever read Tintin’s The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), you would instantly recognise this as the place where he bought the ship “La Lincorne”.
and the awe-inspiring MiM
One of our biggest surprises was the Music Instruments Museum (the mim) housed in the Old England building, pictured below. It has a huge collection of instruments, from the most mundane to absolutely bizarre. Here you can find ancient instruments from far-flung lands, sitting cosily with modern electronic ones requiring a supercomputer. Coming from a family steeped in music, this alone was enough of a paisa-vasool (hindi) for me.
And of course, how can I close without mentioning little Mozart with his orchestra belting out ‘Die Entführung aus dem Serail’ (Abduction from the Seraglio) for all of eternity to enjoy.
So Brussels, you might be the de facto capital of the EU, and ‘conspiracies’ to make sure my future children grow up poor might be hatched from your midst, but boy-o-boy, you are worth every sliver of that poverty!!
All Photos Courtesy: Miro Mo and Sid Dhar