In the aftermath of the EU referendum (don’t worry this isn’t another rant from an unqualified politician) there was only one place for the next instalment of KHTravels; Brussels.
The heart of Europe and the EU, Brussels was exactly what we expected it to be. A real European city, café cultured with incredible art and architecture, an extraordinary love for waffles and amazing Belgian beer, what more could you ask for?
The Radisson and Grand Place
Staying at the Radisson Blu in the centre of Brussels, we decided to take a break from backpacking and splash out with pure luxury! With a bucket of beer upon arrival, we took the glass elevator overlooking the Michelin stared restaurant to our floor before falling in love with our room. This was our first break away from England together since coming home from our travels and we had totally forgot that holidays are meant to be relaxing. We’d become so accustomed to dorm rooms and wooden beds the incredible décor and lavish style of the Radisson Blu was just what the doctor ordered!
After tearing ourselves away from the gorgeous room we decided to head down to Grand Place which was only a few minutes’ walk away. As luck would have it, the Brussels Jazz Marathon was taking place and we kicked back with a freshly brewed Belgian beer soaking up the sun and the atmosphere. Grand Place was stunning, you feel as if you’ve been enclosed into a mythical land, although with some of the buildings being very dark, we felt this land could also have a gloomy, eerie side if no one was around …
Manneken Pis and Meet Meat
Manneken pis was next on our hit list and we soon found the small bronze sculpture by following the giggles of tourists sniggering around a small boy with an everlasting bladder. We have to be honest, the sculpture was interesting but with so many people and an overkill with replicas all over the city we were slightly underwhelmed. We may have also been slightly distracted by the multiple one Euro waffle bars that were distracting our attention. These were the greatest waffles on Earth, we know you’ve heard this a lot but trust us, please go to Brussels if only for the waffles … beer, oh, and the Belgian frittes. Just go for the food, everything else is a bonus!
Speaking of food, we may have had our best meal ever at a wonderful little restaurant called Meet Meat. Slightly out of town on a rainy evening, we took the option of travelling out of the city centre to Meet Meat due to the rave reviews on Tripadvisor and it was definitely the right decision! With a wide range of steak cuts for you to select, cooked to your preference and accompanied by a host of impeccably presented sides, Meet Meat certainly continued with our theme of excellency and quality during this city break. The prime cuts of beef almost melted in your mouth and filled that gap in your stomach in such a way that you would not know how you ever lived without it. Simply exceptional.
The Atomium and Mini Europe
Enough food porn for one blog and back to the sights! We loved the accessibility of Brussels, from walking through the cobbled streets to jumping on the tube without paying through your nose for travel. We did exactly that for our next destination – the Atomium and Mini Europe. The Atomium was opened in 1958 amidst great fanfare at the World Fair of Brussels (aka Expo 58). This incredible structure was designed to symbolise utopia and peace, a structure without structure and a figure of the past with a permanently futuristic look. Climbing through the Atomium there is a sense of imagination and wonder with a hint of incompletion. A wondrous view from afar and equally breath-taking views of the city from within, the interior of the Atomium just seems a bit hollow, yet it almost seems as though it was meant that way.
A stone’s throw away was Mini Europe, a grand collection of Europe’s most iconic and recognisable landmarks and a fantastic place to inspire you to travel the continent. Featuring the eruption of Vesuvius and the leaning tower of Pisa, this is the perfect spot to choose your next destination if backpacking through Europe.
Other city highlights included brunch at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), St. Michael & St. Gudula Cathedral Tower and Galeries St Hubert. Brunch at the MIM was unreal with limitless prosciutto ham, champagne and a selection of cheeses and freshly baked breads. The cathedral was another piece of architectural brilliance while the Galeries reminded us of just why Europe is so fantastic. Lined with exquisite chocolatiers, theatres and luxury stores all enclosed with a glass roof, this was one of our most favourite spots being just a short walk away from our hotel.
Finally, despite being in the immediate aftermath of Brexit we could not leave Brussels without visiting the European Union. Politics are politics and there will always be rights and wrongs to both sides but one thing we can say is that we are better collectively than individually. In a world of travel and integration, there is no room for segregation. The EU may not have been what it had set out to be but it did help to bring together 28 countries with different languages, different cultures and different people. No one is certain what the future will hold or what another decision would have brought but one thing we do know is this. The European Union was one of the most boring day trips of our time in Brussels so instead of visiting a building full of politicians, you’d be better off hanging back in Grand Place with a beer and meeting the real people that make Europe so great.