29 Oct 2014

Bonjour Brussels

Welcome to November and our latest Destination of the Month, Brussels! The truth is, is that we don’t really realise how little we know about a place until we really stop and think about it. Want to get to know Brussels EasyLanguages style? Of course you do!

The Atomium. Source: www.panoramio.com

I must admit that it took me a while to get to know this city after having lived here for over a year now, however the more I discover, the more the heart of Europe enchants me. Before arriving here, I thought: chocolate, waffles, moules frites and beer – whats not to like! However apart from these few things I knew nothing about the Belgian culture.

In spite of this, my time here has allowed me to explore the obvious, like the many high quality beers and the beautiful Grand Place lit up in all its glory at night time. In addition to this, the city has allowed me to also discover the unexpected, like the fact that Audrey Hepburn was born here.

Sacré Coeur. Source: cs.wikipedia.org

  • Views

If you like travelling and finding new places, Brussels is definitely worth a visit. There are of course the must see places, but if you are lucky enough to extend your stay here, you will find more and more well hidden gems that only the locals know about.

One of the best places in the city is Parc Royal, just in front of the Palais Royal, and near to the European district and Belgian Parliament. It is a hub for all kinds of activities, and the perfect place to do some sport, have a picnic or sunbathe!

It is no secrect that people in Europe go crazy as soon as the sun comes out, and here in Brussels the parks are full to the brim and you have many to choose from: Laeken Park, Cinquantenaire Park, or the Botanic gardens. In general, spring is mild and sunny, but in summer be careful! The sun can be very strong with very high humidity levels.  

Place Royale. Source: www.trabel.com

If you are looking for some great viewpoint for your photo album, Brussels does not disappoint with the Place Poelaert, next to the impressive Palais de Justice which, thanks to its location above the city, offers fantastic panoramic views. If you are lucky and the day is bright and clear, you cannot miss the views from Sacre Coeur, nor from The Atomium.

Of course, if you visit the European capital, you should definitely have a look at the royal palace, the Grand Place, the European Parliament and not forgetting Rue Neuve or Ixelles

  • Food

As with its neighbour, France, Belgium has a huge variety of bread on offer, available in all supermarkets – For just a few cents you can have freshly baked bread whenever and wherever you are!

Casseroles, are just as common here as they are in England, however, in honour of its national product, they are cooked with beer. This casserole, also known as “Carbonnade” (here is a great recipe for it) is originally from Flanders, but it is very easy to find this in any restaurant in Brussels, for tourist or locals.

It may be due to its proximity to the sea, but whatever the reason, mussels are the most in demand and the most consumed Belgian product (next to waffles of course). Always accompanied by the famous “frites”, you can eat them in any way you like: with a wine and garlic sauce, cheese, tomatoes, pasta, rice or mixed with other seafood. I can say for certain that you cannot go to Brussels without hearing about about them. They also have, of course, their own version of fast food.

Waffles at the Grand Place. Source: www.chudu24.com

No, its not a cliché, in Brussels they eat waffles. Whatever time of day, you will always come across someone eating these little treats. Sweet, salty, with ice cream, nuts, fruits, and of course, chocolate! There are hundreds of recipes, but the most famous come from Liège.

  • Transport

We are talking about the capital of Europe, of course there is great public transport! Brussels has a metro, tram, trains and two airports.

Parc Cinquantenaire. Source: www.gopixpic.com

The best ways to get around the city is definitely by bus, metro or tram. The prices are reasonable and you will always find either a metro or tram stop nearby. Usually, if you use these types of transport frequently, you can get a monthly pass for €47 and have access to all types of transport (bus, tram or metro). For €54 a month you will also have access to the trains.

In any case, it is very easy to get around on foot. Brussels is a pentagon and it would tak you around an hour to walk from the centre to the outskirts. 

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