Monday, September 2, 2013

Brussels Trumps Paris?

Summer's end. The time of year when the morning air suddenly has a bit of a nip and my favorite white linen skirt gets just one more wear before seasonal hibernation.

Husband and I grabbed one last chance to travel in our final days of summer. We spent the weekend, six hours northwest, in Brussels, Belgium.
World Heritage Site- Grand Place

When Americans plan European vacations, the top visits tend to be France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Belgium is not even rated in the Top 25 European Destinations according to TripAdvisor. The tiny country is often overlooked, nestled in between France and Germany. Belgium, the European Union capitol, is either underrated or one of the best kept secrets. 
Where the King Works

We loved Belgium! I daresay that we enjoyed just two days in Brussels over six days in Paris. How is that for a bold statement?

Beautiful Brussels

Husband and I stayed right in the city center in the Saint Catherine's district. The heart of the Brussels, The Grand Place, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The cobbled stoned, 17th century guild hall lined square is considered the best in all of Europe. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a dollhouse village.
You must see this square!

We participated in a free (tips) three hour walking tour of the city. With only two days, this was a great crash course to what Brussels is all about. The guide lead us through the charming streets, sharing historical information along the way.
"Marin" Close Enough!

Saturday night, Husband and I did yet another tour, a Belgium beer tour! Belgium is known worldwide for it's craft beer. Our guide explained to us about trappist ales (brewed by monks), lambic beers (wild yeast) and wheat beers. It was a dream come true for Husband!
At Delirium Beer Pub

And of course we ate Belgium waffles, fries, and chocolates but no trip would be complete without a steaming pot of mussels in Brussels.  After our beer tour, Husband and I ate dinner on the patio of Rugbyman No. 2.  The food was outstanding although the service was slow (by American standards) as is the case in most Parisian styled dining experiences.  Meaning, our meal took close to three hours and included several courses.  Both of us choose a fantastic lobster soup as our starter, wine mussels and garlic cream mussels as our main course, creme brulee for dessert, then ended it all with espressos and the famous speculoos biscuits.  We even got to enjoy the company of our neighboring table, retired U.S. Diplomats still in love with Brussels.
Mussels in Brussels!

With good food, great beer, a melting pot of culture, art galleries, gifted street musicians, and a heart of politics, I couldn't help but feel the similarities between Austin, Texas and Brussels, Belgium.  If you are planning a European vacation, this city is well worth a few days stop.  You will see how quickly Belgium can get under your skin.
Spotting Artwork 

Au Revoir,

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