In the US, bank holiday weekends are dispersed rather evenly throughout the year – Veteran’s Day takes place in November, Independence Day in July, Memorial Day weekend occurs in September, and Columbus Day crops up in October. While I love a well-rounded calendar year, I think the Dutch might be on to something. Instead of spreading bank holidays throughout the year, four long weekends are given between April and June, allowing the Dutchies to enjoy Holland’s most glorious sunshine months.
I tried to tempt B to go on a long Istanbul weekend with no luck. KLM, please stop sending me last-minute ticket reminders, I’m trying to save up for wedding! Instead of venturing off somewhere exotic (sad), B and I have been enjoying a series of mini stay-cations in and around Holland. Three weekends ago we rented a scooter and hit the tulip fields in Lisse, and more recently, we took advantage of our second long spring-weekend and hopped on a train down to Belgium for the day.
B and I have been to Belgium before – it’s a short train ride from Amsterdam, and the food, beer, and chocolate are considerably better! On separate occasions we have visited Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges, so this time around we knew to expect beautiful architecture and delicious food. But nothing prepared us for the stunning square that greeted us – Brussels has my vote for prettiest center in Europe!The Grand Palace (right) is situated in the central square of Brussels, and is surrounded by guildhalls and the city’s Town Hall. It’s a charming square where you can sit and grab a coffee, soak up the sun, and take the cliché Brussels tourist photo with a stunning backdrop.
I was rather snap-happy, but B was running low after our two hours train ride sans coffee. So we compromised and found a spot right in the square, with a killer view.I window gazed while B caffeine guzzled. After a brief 10 minute pit-stop, we were ready to hit the streets of Brussels!On thing we immediately noticed about Brussels was the abundance of street art. Tall murals, small sketches, and long rails of graffiti colored the city in a unique juxtaposition of old and bold.
We wandered and admired the city scape for about 10 minutes before stumbling across a restaurant that had been recommended to us – Nuet Nigennough – the Brussels brassiere for greedy gluttons and fine beer lovers.
Although I would not call myself a fine beer lover, I do tend to enjoy indulging in fine cuisine. So I guess greedy glutton does suit me from time to time ;) As recommended by B’s bud, we ordered beers and tapas. However, the menu sounded absolutely mouth-watering, and as we watched entrees arrive at the tables around us, we questions why we had chowed lunch on the train!We avoided being total gluttons and plumped for veal meatballs, old gouda cheese, olives, and his and hers beer.The veal meatballs were amazing, and in hindsight we should have returned to Nuet Nigennough for dinner. I have to say I’m a bit stubborn when it comes to taking food recommendations from B. I research online, follow international food blogs, and have a list twelve miles long of restaurants I am dying to try in various countries around the world. B is much less planned, doesn’t look at stars or reviews, and relies blindly on recommendations from friends. Unless I’ve done some research I’m always hesitant to try a new place. But I trusted B blindly on this one, and need to learn to do so more, as B’s choice of Nuet Nigennough was a Brussels foodie-win.We set off from Nuet Nigennough slightly tipsy and rather giddy. We didn’t have a destination, but when we stumbled across Delirium Cafe right around the corner (or at least what we believed to be the Delirium Cafe. . . ) we decided it was a sign and ducked into the wooden door.This place had ranked high on Trip Advisor, and as mentioned, I’m a sucker for a good review. We repeated our order from Nuet Nigennough, and sprung for a cold amber beer and a sweet cherry beer (and a side of large fries!) The bathrooms were disgusting, but the beer did not disappoint, and we left this brown bar slightly drunker than the last.We strolled in the fresh breeze, throwing off our coats, warmed by a Belgium beer glow. We stumbled across this towering beauty, which reminded me of the Notre Dame we had seen in Paris only weeks before.Except this cathedral had a waffle truck outside. We added waffles to our must-list for this trip, vowing to try one later when our bellies weren’t filled with beer and grease.We laughed over this cheeky stature (ha! no pun intended!)
And then found some of the best views in the city.We ended the afternoon by wandering through a beautiful court-yard. Brussels is a lovely city, with so much historic architecture. Often my mind wanders to Paris when I envision romantic buildings and perfectly laid cobble stones. But Belgium has its charm, and definitely gives the romantic City of Lights a run for its money! Part two Brussels to come :)