We stayed in a hotel on the FoodSquare Grand Place (that’s where Google Maps says it is). It was a great area to stay in. We had lots of food places just downstairs including a couple of places with some good coffee and useful breakfast foods. This was one of the hotels without coffee or tea making facilities in the room. They had a coffee machine downstairs for a price but for a little more we could walk across the Grand Place and buy a decent coffee. Looking at the price of some of hotel breakfasts we decided to self-cater where possible and bought a box of breakfast cereal, a couple of makeshift bowls (i.e. little yoghurts which we washed and reused) and some cutlery. The lowest price we saw was 13 Euros and the highest was 20 Euros. We were able to get several breakfasts for the price of one hotel breakfast. I’m not dissing their breakfasts as some of them are just wonderful, just the price is not so exciting.
We saw as much of Brussels as was possible. It was rather hilly. This included getting lots of walking to see the city, the Manneken Pis was one destination. It was first installed in 1618 or 1619, although what we saw is a copy from 1965 with the original being in the Museum of the City of Brussels. And it might actually go back as far as 1451.
One thing we found was the Grote Markt or Grand Place. Such an amazing place! Measuring 68 by 110 metres it is surrounded by the most beautiful old buildings. We did see similar locations in most places we went but this one took the cake. I took a couple of photos but they just don’t do the place justice, here is one building I beheaded. With over 30 magnificent buildings I’d need to have taken a lot of photos.
Here’s a list of some of the things we did in just one morning in Brussels. It’s making me tired just reading it:
- Cathedral of St Michel & Gudule
- Theatre Royale & Muntplein (including the obligatory visit to a book shop)
- St Catherine’s church and the adjoining bell tower
- Place St Catherine (a 19th century market hall)
- Bourse (old stock exchange)
In the afternoon we bought ourselves 24 hour tickets and took the train to Heysel where we looked at the Atomium and decided not to go in. I don’t remember the price but if you’re booking online it’s 15 Euros, I feel it was closer to 25 Euros and there were warning signs about pickpockets. We decided a photo from the outside and some drinks was enough.
The train tickets were good for the tram as well so we made sure to take as many trams as we possibly could, it had nothing to do with our second tram not going where I expected it to. On the way back to the hotel we found some statues of Don Quixote and his sidekick, Sancho Panza with Bela Bartok nearby.
Despite eating almost everything I could lay my hands on I had actually lost weight when we got back home. We did a lot of walking.
Speaking of walking I’m going to mention Liège once more before signing off for today. For one week every year Liège decorate their staircase with plantpots. I heard about it on social media a couple of weeks before we left and a little research found they’d be opening on the day we’d be flying through to Frankfurt on the train. We managed to get out of the hotel in time so we stopped off in Liège where we had our morning coffee (they managed to upsell us so for 5 Euros each we were able to have a good coffee with three chocolates, it was meant to be three but they put on another tiny one each). Having found the staircase we took turns walking up and then down. The web tells me it is 374 steps and I did every single one of them. After we’d both done that we found somewhere for lunch before heading back to the station to take the train to Frankfurt. We’d booked tickets for the 2Cellos concert and I wasn’t going to miss that.
Going back to the steps momentarily, I found it interesting. They use pot plants and it was themed for the First World War so I thought carefully of the hardships the soldiers faced at that time while walking. I also looked to each side and found people live on the staircase, not really live on the stairs, they’re not homeless. Their front doors open directly onto a landing on the staircase. On my way down I was able to look inside as a couple of men were fixing the door.