**Apologies for the large gap in my blogging – I found myself without a laptop for a few months!**
So, day 2 in Brussels was another jam packed day for us. Armed with the knowledge from my Lonely Planet Pocket guide I didn’t want to miss anything on our short trip.
Today, we thought we’d take a walk from where we were staying and head to the EU Quarter and have a bit of an explore. As it was early we thought we’d walk up there and then grab some breakfast afterwards. Though the metro was highly recommended, Brussels isn’t that big and there’s no better way to see and get a feel of a city than by walking through it.
I left Adam in charge of the route that morning, which I really should have known better than to do! We took 45minutes to walk to a beautiful cathedral that we later realised was only about a 10 minute walk from where our hotel was! Oh well, an adventure right? Once we were on the right road (after I had taken the map back!) we were well on our way to the EU Quarter. We detoured slightly for a short stroll through Brussels Park for a bit of a change from the roads. It was fully of mid-morning runners (rather them than me!) which was nice. It gave us an opportunity to see the ‘real’ working Brussels rather than the prime tourist lifestyle.
We walked up the Rue de la Loi a large straight road and when we got to the main EU area it was a very different environment to what we had been emerged in the day before. It seemed a bit cold, a little unfriendly with its huge glass office buildings rather than the buzz and beauty of the Grand Place. It was also very quiet when we approached what we thought were the main EU buildings (hindsight would have been fantastic here!) which was in fact the Charlemagne Building, i.e. a bunch of offices. It then dawned on us that is was Sunday – probably not a good day to experience the atmosphere of a working area! There was also nowhere to grab a bite to eat. We decided at that point it was probably worth heading back to the Grand Place area – we both needed food and I really needed to rest my legs! We headed back up the main street and back through Brussels Park. Only realising on the way back that this was where many of the foreign embassies were. There was a reason these buildings were so nice, the flags really should have given it away too. It was nice to head back a slightly different way, I couldn’t really tell you where we went but it was nice to just wander.
When we made it back to the Grand Place, despite it only being about 11am we were exhausted and very hungry. We sat outside a fast food cafe just near our hotel called Belgian Frites and had a rather large baguette sandwich with a sausage, pile of fries and a large dollop of ketchup! It was good and very filling. After this point I really needed to go and put my feet up and have a little rest. All that walking really took it out of me, we also needed to plan our afternoon as we’d been planning to spend the whole day in the EU Quarter.
Our afternoon took us to the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée or the National Comic Strip Centre. Really, we thought ‘hey, it gives us something to do’ as we didn’t want to waste our holiday in a hotel room but there’s only so much walking around you can do with no aim. This museum was absolutely amazing…we spent a good 2/3 hours in there. We didn’t go to every exhibition and we didn’t even read everything there was to read in the ones we went to. It was really interesting to see how comic strip design has evolved (even for the two of us who really aren’t that into comics) and I was thrilled to get to visit the Tin Tin exhibition and The Smurfs one. Brought back many childhood memories – what would we have done without Hergé?! What I really liked about the centre is that there was a good mix of fun comic snippets, information and things to have a little play! Would definitely recommend this to anyone with a bit of free time in Brussels.
It was dark by the time we left the museum so we headed back to the Christmas Markets for a walk amongst the christmas lights and for some food. We each had a raclette from one of the market huts: I had a baguette with salami and cheese. My mouth is watering just at the thought as I’m writing this. On our walk back to the hotel for another rest for my legs, we picked up a warming mulled wine to share as we admired the lights in the Grand Place.
At about half nine that evening we were restless again and made our way out for a drink. We went to a bar our friend had recommended just on the other side of the Grand Place: Delirium. Little did we know, this was an institution – a place we just should not miss! (It’s even in the Lonely Planet’s 50 best bars to visit) It had a nice cosy atmosphere but with excitement and fun! It was a no pressure environment: there was a group of men in there, obviously very drunk, having a great time: singing, chatting, drinking. But, there was nothing threatening or unpleasant about it, everyone in there was really friendly. Adam had a 3 beer tasting board, whilst I who is not a beer drinker, had another mulled wine.
A couple of hours later we strolled back to our hotel for bed, but not before absorbing the atmosphere and admiring the lights in the Grand Place…again! I really couldn’t get enough of this city – there’s something so innately calming about it.