Already it was our last full day in this amazing city! Whilst we’d already done quite a lot and it felt like an age ago that we’d arrived, it also felt like we hadn’t actually been there for long at all.
This morning, our last proper morning, I wanted to treat us to some rather nice waffles that I discovered in my Lonely Planet: Dandoy. This is ‘Brussels’ best known biscuiterie – much loved by locals‘ – how could we not visit?! There are two right next to the Grand Place: one that sells freshly made biscuits and another that has an attached tea room.
HOWEVER, before we left that morning Adam was looking for something…his briefcase/bag. We turned the hotel room upside down and it was nowhere. Tracking back we realised the last place he had it was in Delirium last night. I was fuming: our passports were in there, the rest of our money and our return tickets home. This is why you don’t carry absolutely everything around with you – really we should have at least known that some money and our return tickets were safe as they should have been kept in the hotel, but no. I think I did well not to go absolutely mental, it was just silence (which arguably is worse). I didn’t think there was any way that Delirium would be open so early in the morning, I mean why would a bar be open at 0930?! Luckily for us (mainly Adam) it was open and they had the bag and everything was in it. I’m not going to lie, I was more concerned about the potential security risk with an unidentified bag left in a tourist area in a prime Brussels location, especially with the current climate! Thankfully everything turned out alright, though by this time I definitely need some breakfast…
When we arrived at the Dandoy with the tea room at 0930 we found that we couldn’t eat in the tea room until 1000. So, we took a short walk around the Grand Place area on the other side to where our hotel was. We hasn’t really walked around there but it was as lovely as the places we’d already explored, there was even part of me that preferred it. There were more independent shops and fewer hotels, well I think. It may well have been that I liked it because it was a different area! I did find a Desigual though and I was in need of a new bag so as we had time to spare why not? We also had a Desigual right next to our hotel and when we walked into this other one I was convinced that the prices were different. So I dragged my poor boy back across to our hotel (barely a 5 min walk) to compare the stock and prices. Turned out the shop next to our hotel was more expensive for the same thing and I have no idea why! They were both in prime locations. It was weird. So we headed back to the shop by the Dandoy so I could buy my back at the lower price (and also a lovely knitwear jumper that I just couldn’t leave in the shop!) I found they have an interesting way of doing their ‘Sales’ – so they have 30% off your entire shop, but only if you buy more than one item. It was the first time I’d encountered Sale shopping like that, but I can tell you it worked: I feel like I got my bag for free when I bought the jumper that I didn’t need!
Anyways, after this shopping escapade we headed back to the tearoom for breakfast and I can tell you it was well worth it! We shared a fresh milkshake and had a waffle with ice cream (and some extras) each…they were so good! They weren’t the cheapest waffles we could have bought, but they were well worth it – would definitely recommend a trip here if you’re ever in Brussels.
Today we were determined to go to the EU Quarter (the right part) and see Parliament and the Parlamentarium (the museum with the history of the EU). We planned our walk to make sure we were going the right way and set off for the Parc du Cinquantenaire which was a lovely, vast park. It was pretty quiet as it was a little chilli on a weekday: it was lovely to get out of the bustle of town and have a stroll. We walked up to the large archways which had the Royal Museum of Army and Military History right behind it. We didn’t going in, but had a bit of a wander around the outside and then headed back on our way to the EU Quarter.
This time we were pretty sure we were in the right place, there were armed guards/military police for a start. There was a very different kind of beauty in the buildings that made up the EU Headquarters. We first headed to the actual Parliament, partly because we didn’t really know where we were going and it was the first place we came across and partly because there was a section of the Berlin Wall that drew our attention. It was pretty surreal to be honest, to have such a large part of history right there in front of you. We popped in to the Parliament building which said that the next tour was at 1400, which by this time was only about an hour and a half away so the decision was then do we go find food (as I had the name of THE place to go for frites) or do we stay and explore.
As neither one of us were really that hungry we chose to explore and head to the Parlamentarium, which was incredible. It’s totally free to go, very clean and everyone was friendly – even the guards who take you through the airport-type security. They even have free lockers for you to store your backs. We spent so long in this Parlamentarium that we needed to stop half way to go to the tour of the Parliament! I love modern history and it was really interesting for me to piece together the bits I knew from when I studied history with the information that I didn’t know. There’s a free headset tour available in all EU languages and you can go round at your own pace and listen to the sections you want and skip over the ones that interest you less. It’s a really well done museum, thoroughly worth the 4 or so hours we spent in there! The only bit we skimmed over was at the very end (so modern day, as it took you through the timeline of EU history) where you could find out information about your own MEP. By this time we were pretty tired and full of information, we also wanted food so we decided to head out.
Now, back to the tour of Parliament which we did in the middle of our educational experience: it wasn’t the most thrilling or exciting building in the world. Nor was it a building of beautiful architecture, like the Houses of Parliament but it was still pretty exciting to visit. There was a lot of guiding and shepherding the group, but everyone was given an individual handset to listen to the information in their own language. If you listened to everything and took your time, you were still out within 30-45 minutes. So, it doesn’t take up much of your time, but is well worth it. Just remember to take your passport so they let you in!