Brussels was a 1½ day transit stopover on the return home from Portugal via Hong Kong. As it so happened it coincided with New Year’s Eve so we were keen to see how the Bruxellois celebrated.
We arrived on a pretty dour day and found the financial and political centres deathly quiet as you would expect during this time of year. We spent an hour wandering through the EU Parliament buildings before heading over to the bustling main historical square – the Grand Place with the surrounding streets and quaint alleyways. This was where we were easily able to spend most of our time.
The Grand Place is the main attraction in the city centre and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. The square is dominated by the 15th century Flamboyant Town Hall, the neo-Gothic Breadhouse and the Baroque guildhalls of the former Guilds of Brussels. All that I will say is that you will be left awestruck by the architecture. Manneken Pis, a fountain containing a small bronze sculpture of a urinating youth, is a famous tourist attraction and symbol of the city. To be honest I felt this was somewhat overhyped as the sculpture and fountain are actually quite small and were dwarfed further by the throngs of tourists surrounding it…
However it was the delights of the cuisine that caught us absolutely. The endless gorgeous shop displays of chocolate and pastries were out of this world. We sampled the local beers, the cafes and dined at a couple of restaurants. Brussels cuisine is pure quality – we didn’t come across a poor eating experience once during our short stay. It was just such a pity that the stomach could only hold so much!
With time being limited we decided to concentrate our visit to the city centre and to leave the more time-consuming attractions to a later (post covid) time. The exception was a visit to Brussels landmark building – the Atomium which is just west of the city. The Atomium is a jaw dropping model of an atom which just happens to be a whopping 102 metres tall. The sculpture was made to welcome visitors to the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair – to a new and atomic age to Belgium and is an accurate depiction of an iron molecule except that it is about 165 billion times larger!
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t kind for the New Year fireworks and I suspect many people – like us decided to stay in rather than venture outside in the cold wet conditions.
If you would like more information about this destination please do not hesitate to contact me.