Brussels: Sad to See Dark Cloud Hanging Over Brilliant City

I really hate to see Brussels, Belgiumon lockdown, with the city bracing for a possible terror attack like the one that decimated Paris.

When I went there last Easter in search of extraordinary chocolate, I also got a good taste of the place. It was so cosmopolitan, I couldn’t understand why it had a rep as a European wallflower as opposed to glamorous Paris. Its French and Dutch roots were just as interesting. Here are a few snapshots.

brussels museum

First off, it’s no secret that Brussels has seen its fair share of violence. I did stumble upon the Jewish museum that had been a terrorist target last year, which I wasn’t actively looking for nor avoiding. But there it was. A frightening and upsetting sight.

But I found the city and its people lovely.

brussels airbnb1

The Airbnb I stayed at was dreamy; one of the nicest I’d ever been in. Like a palace. It was in Ixtelles, centrally located, which means it was within walking distance of some of the best and worst neighborhoods. I walked everywhere or took public transportation, kept a low profile, and never had a problem.

brussels flea market

My host was on his way to a nearby flea market, and he was nice enough to walk me there. It was like wandering through a gigantic attic with, I have to say, a lot of junk. Here’s more about it.

brussels dogs

I came away with some earrings that I was told were from an estate, though I would have preferred these darling dogs. No fleas on them, as far as I could tell.

brussels mussels

Locals attempted to teach me the fine art of eating Brussels mussels. With frites — fries — on the side.

brussels friterie

There were frites joints everywhere, including this one in the neighborhood. The advertised fare seemed heavy. I was more content just to gaze at the beautiful building.

brussels baked potato

Another place for potatoes was more my speed. Baked and mashed potatoes in all manner of combinations. The place’s grand opening was that night.

brussels potato couple

The owners served me up a preview, and it was lovely getting to know them. Just checked in with them; nice to know they’re still in business.

Brussels sky2

Brussels has a couple good museums, including one showcasing the work of late Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte. Neat stuff; sorry I couldn’t stay longer.

brussels train station

It’s also the gateway to two medieval towns on canals, Bruges and Ghent, easily reachable by train.

Though the former was made famous by that movie starring Colin Farrell, I was attracted by the latter because it sounded less touristy.

brussels castle on canal

Not quite. Ghent was pretty enough, but still crowded in early spring. I hid out in a castle in the middle of town.

brussels me in castle

brussels looking down from castle

I could hide out no longer; I emerged to eat awful, overpriced Belgian waffles. Everything in the tourist section looked awful and overpriced; the local alternative in another part of town looked to be mostly burgers. So there wasn’t much to choose wafflesAs it turns out, these were the best waffles I had in Belgium: from a truck near that Brussels flea market. They still weren’t that hot.

But the city is, and it’s well-worth a visit.

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2 Responses to Brussels: Sad to See Dark Cloud Hanging Over Brilliant City

  1. mariama says:

    Thank you for your blog. It’s just good to have people like you still searching the “essential”.
    Live the moment and share it. thanks so much.
    Mariama from Brussels

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