Wednesday 29 August 2018

Belgium travel diary: day 2

My second day in Belgium was a Sunday, and I decided to spend the day having a wander around Brussels - I had kindly been given a Brussels Card* by the tourist board, which gave me free entry into loads of museums so I thought I'd head into the centre and check out some of them out.

I walked out of my hotel and realised that actually, there was a museum right there: MIMA, the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art. It's literally located in the car park of the Meininger Hotel, and has a café at the front - and I could use my Brussels Card to get in. The current exhibition is called Get Up, Stand Up and it consists of over 400 posters/objects from 30 countries across 5 continents, and showcases how people protested and promoted things before social media. It was so cool to see posters I recognised as well as loads I'd never seen before, all across different themes such as peace, equality and freedom. The museum also has a bit of a terrace that looks out over some of the city, which was really cool.

From there I walked along the canal and towards the city, stopping to have a look inside a pretty church and then get a drink of rhubarb cider in O'Reilly's, an Irish bar which was about halfway between my hotel and the grand place. I sat outside in the sun, and was planning to read my book but got chatting to two lads sitting on the next table who turned out to be from my hometown which was mad, but they gave me some good recommendations for bars and it was nice to actually have some people to speak to, being on my own!

I then walked across to the Grand Place, and used my Brussels Card to get into the Museum of the City of Brussels - I paid an extra €1.50 so I could go on the balcony and I'm SO glad I did because the view over the Grand Place was amazing, especially as the flower carpet was down and it was gloriously sunny. I then headed across the square to the Belgian Brewers Museum, which was also free with the Brussels Card. I won't go into too much detail about the museums, because I plan on doing a 'Brussels museums' blog post similar to the one I wrote for Prague, so keep your eyes peeled for that if you're interested!

By this point I was honestly ravenous, and you can't go to Belgium without getting Belgian fries - although they weren't actually as easy to come by as I thought they would be. I eventually found two places: Fritland on Rue Henri Maus which had the longest queue ever out the door, and Manneken Frites which is on Rue du Midi and was fairly empty. I just couldn't be bothered with the queue so opted for the latter and honestly, the fries were incredible. I had BBQ sauce on mine and they were just delicious. I ate them sat on the floor in the Grand Place and it was just lovely.

I had read about the Comic Strip Center, and it was around a 10 minute walk from the Grand Place so I headed straight there after finishing my fries. It's located in a stunning Art Nouveau building and has three floors dedicated to Belgian comic art, which is so cool. Again, there will be more info in the  Brussels museums post, but this one is definitely worth a visit. From there I walked up some steps and along to the cathedral, which is just gorgeous, and grabbed a beer from CouCou which is a pop up bar that has deck chairs that give you the chance to sit down and enjoy the view. I read my book for a while and then decided to go into the cathedral itself - inside it was stunning, of course, and there was some really heavy and dramatic organ music playing, and you can pay a euro to go underneath and see some of the Romanesque streets of Brussels that was just a joy to my archeology-loving heart.

Next stop: back to the outskirts of the Grand Place for a cocktail at a bar that I can't remember the name of, but it's Mexican themed and has really cool vibes. I read my book for a while and did some people-watching, then walked back into the square for some golden hour sunshine and sat on the floor in a big crowd of people, watching a busker who was doing everything from Adele to Celine Dion. I then decided I needed some food before I headed back to the hotel, so wandered into one of the many pizzerias in the city centre for a chicken and sweet pepper pizza and a (very) large vodka and coke.

By the time I got back to the hotel it was dusk and I was knackered so I just completely chilled out, ready to hit Ghent the following day... A huge thanks to Visit.Brussels for gifting me a city card to fuel my love of museums/learning - it's SO worth it if you're in the city!

1 comment:

  1. That MIMA museum sounds fascinating! Is that a permanent exhibition, or a temporary one? I'd love to see it!