Posted by: Kristie | September 9, 2009

Brussels Snapshot

Traveled Sept.4-7, 2009

Our General Observations

  • The main language is French, but Belgium is officially bilingual so you will also hear Dutch. For the most part, people spoke English, but not as much as Brugge and Antwerp. We attempted some French, which always seems to go a long way. Brussels is a weekday town, so hotel prices are cheaper on the weekends and the town’s population drops by one-third on the weekends.
  • If you’re not a big beer lover or attending the festival, I would recommend either just popping off the train to see the Grand Place or just stay one night. In general, the city was relatively forgettable. There are times you feel you are in Paris, but then quickly realize you’re not. You’ll walk down a cute road, stop at a quaint cafe and then eat subpar food. The mussels, chocolate, waffles and beer are definitely the best the city has to offer. They are also known for their frites, which are double fried and sold on street carts and in restaurants. They are good, but they never seemed salty enough. I think I prefer the fries in France. I will qualify my comment about the food by saying that I didn’t do research on restaurants like I normally do. We went to cafes for their beer selection, so there could be better food out there — just do your research.
  • The one place we didn’t hit that seems to be a big attraction is the new Magritte Museum, which I’m sure would be a big hit for art lovers. After reading more about it, I was thinking we would try and hit it before we left, but its closed on Mondays. Oh well.
  • If you are coming for the beer or the festival, then I think 3 nights is perfect. At first I thought it would be too long, but it was nice to have time to sleep either from jet lag or from hangovers. Personally, I really enjoyed the beer festival, and I don’t like crowds. But after a beer or two, you’re already half in the bag and you meet a lot of great people from all of the world.
  • Supposedly Belgium is known for their rain. We hit a little bit of it but the rest of the time the weather was in the 60s which was perfect for me.
  • The cafes seemed extra slow, slower from what I can remember than other European cities. Most of the time we tried not to act like impatient Americans, but often we just asked for the check.

How We Got Around

  • Flew into Brussels airport and took the train to Brussels Centraal Station, which is the station closest to the Grand Place – €3
  • Once inside the city, we walked everywhere.

Where We Slept

The Dominican Hotel
Highly Recommend
Booked through
€110 for first 2 nights, €140  for 3rd night
*I was mistaken, this is not the most expensive place of the trip. I think it was expensive for Brussels, but it was worth it for the location and comfort.


  • Excellent Location: short walking distance from Centraal Train Station and the Grand Place
  • Spacious, especially for a European hotel
  • Great amenities: free wifi, espresso machine, flip flops, robes, nice shampoo/shower gel 
  • Swanky decor and restaurant/bar
  • Friendly and helpful staff
  • Slightly warm even though it was 50-60s outside, had to keep the windows open

Where We NomNom’d

  • Delirium – Super fun bar near the Grand Place. Where everyone seemed to go after the beer festival. Stocks more than 2,000 beers and 40 on tap.
  • Bier Circus – About a 10-15 minute walk from the Grand Place. Excellent selection of beers and tasty mussels.
  • Chocolate Shops – There are a ton of them and we tried several. Our least favorite? Godiva
  • Belgian Waffles – piled high with whipped cream, chocolate and bananas or just plain with syrup (caramel).

What We Did

  • Grand Place – Central market square of Brussels, with buildings of Gothic, Baroque and Louis XIV styles
  • Sablon Antiques Market – Quaint, weekend antique market

What We Bought

  • Antique chocolate egg mold – €6
  • Lot of chocolates – €3-5

Check out all of our photos at our Brussels Gallery, with updated commentary by Brett 🙂

Click here for Brussels Pics

Click here for Brussels Pics


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