If you are reading this, this is your sign to book a solo trip! Someone had recommended if I love architecture, to visit Belgium and ever since it has been on my bucket list. Belgium was a short train ride away plus I had Monday off for Easter so it was the perfect way to take advantage of the long weekend. I planned to solo travel to Brussels, Ghent, and Brugge over the course of three days.
I had figured out where and how to park my bike at the station the night before so that my morning would go smoother. All was smooth except for the cobbled road that made my teeth chatter when biking over them. I found the train no problem using my Omio app and as soon as I sat down, someone asked me if they were on the right train. I said yes and asked him if he was a student at Maastricht. The odds were pretty high given that Maastricht is a small city and most of the students are attending the University there. He was in fact an exchange student from Sicily named Enrico so we sat together for the duration of the train ride to Brussels. It turns out he also lives in the Maastricht Guesthouse and is on the same floor I cooked dinner with my friend the other day. I really enjoyed making a friend along the way!
When I arrived in Brussels, I started with the Grand Place which is the most iconic part of Brussels. The huge square was surrounded on all sides with beautiful ornate buildings dating back to the 14th century. The details on each of the buildings were spectacular and I loved the gold trim. I snapped some photos but I could not stop looking at the amount of detail on each of the buildings. The architecture was stunning! I spent quite a lot of time in that square taking it all in and then decided I needed to try a Belgium waffle. I ordered a Belgium waffle topped with chocolate, strawberries, and whipped cream! The waffle was warm and had a crisp exterior with a soft interior! It was very good indeed!
There was a little fountain of a little boy peeing called Manneken Pis that has somehow become such a big tourist attraction. It was a little tiny fountain and I wonder why exactly it was sold as a souvenir in nearly every souvenir shop.
Right next to the train station was the Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. The name is in French since that is what everyone speaks here. This was a shopping center that was filled with little cute boutique Belgium chocolate shops. All the shops were ready for Easter and displayed all the bunny chocolates in the window. Belgium chocolate is on my list of things I need to try while I am here.
I walked around to the Monts de Arts which was essentially a nicely manicured garden at the base of a large museum. The museum was very expansive and I loved the building!
My first cathedral of the day was the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral. This was the national church and like most of the other churches I have been to this one also shocked me by how big it was. What incredible buildings they built way back in the day!
I took a nice stroll in Brussels Park which was right across from the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace is the official residence of the Belgium royals however it is under construction so it was closed to visitors unfortunately.
The last place I convinced my body to walk to was the Triumphal Arch that was about a 40 minute walk away from the city center. The arch was apparently a triple arch and larger than I expected. It looked pretty against the blue sky and was surrounded by a nice park that I chilled for some time while I decided where I was going to eat dinner.
I really wanted the iconic Belgium mussels for dinner but all of the seafood restaurants were rather upscale and I was unsure if I needed a reservation. Additionally, my hotel booking was in south Brussels and I was kind of stressed about how I was going to get there. Public transportation seemed the obvious answer but it was at least 2 trains and a 20 minute walk. In the back of my mind, I figured I could just Uber or use the Free Now app worst case scenario. I might have slightly freaked out when I realized that Free Now doesn’t operate in Belgium but Uber does. In the end, with the help of my train app and Google maps I figured out how to navigate the train system and eventually made it to my hotel. I am definitely not looking forward to this commute tomorrow morning.