Brussels – that city I ignored the whole time I have been in Europe because I have been told it is expensive and there is not much to do and see.
Not convinced? Well, hear some folks out.
Well, it seems Indians are generally unaware of that. Well, since Ryanair flies there for €20 return, I wouldn’t say it’s not worth that day trip from Berlin.
I definitely have some personal issues with Brussels though. First off, they haven’t really decided what language to use so place names appear in either Dutch or French. Brussels/ Bruxelles. The Belgians have never picked one name. Brugge/Bruges. Antwerp/Antwerpen/Anvers.
Second, they have bizarre street layouts. It took us well over ten minutes and two locals just to find out where the fuck our Airbnb address was. We found the street, we just couldn’t find the number. They cut off a perfectly straight street and just decided to give the other stretch a different name and start the count to zero. The street we were looking for, was apparently decided to be L-shaped, just because Belgium.
Third, eating out is expensive and I hate it when cafés charge exorbitant prices for bottled water.
Fourth, except for a huge Belgian crowd gathered outside an Irish pub near Grote Markt, to celebrate some hockey victory (I assume), there really was nothing exciting in Brussels. Sure, I am not supposed to think of Berlin in Brussels, but that was exactly what I was doing. I missed Berlin when I was in Brussels. I missed all the random shit you would encounter in Berlin.
I used to think Zürich was boring, but that changed when I visited it again last February. That changed again with my Brussels trip.
Guide books will tell you of the grandeur of the city’s architecture. Yes, the Grote Markt is beautiful but if the city’s most memorable landmark makes your head wander away after ten minutes, you’ll come to conclusion that a day is good enough in Brussels.
After the Grote Markt/Grand Place, we found ourselves trying to come up with things for our to-do list in Brussels which was basically:
We found ourselves with more than ample time to head far north of the city for the Atomium, which for the benefit of those who have no idea what it is, is the Belgian equivalent of the Eiffel Tower.
A seminal totem in the Brussels skyline; neither tower, nor pyramid, a little bit cubic, a little bit spherical, half-way between sculpture and architecture, a relic of the past with a determinedly futuristic look, museum and exhibition centre; the Atomium is, at once, an object, a place, a space, a Utopia and the only symbol of its kind in the world, which eludes any kind of classification.
We had no real interest in the exhibitions inside the Atomium and were more than satisfied with just seeing its architecture up close. We had overpriced and bad coffee at the site café, and I wanted to use the toilet and was willing to pay for it but the lines stretched too long I dropped the idea after five minutes of no movement. They must have had just two cubicles in the ladies toilet.
Brussels was underwhelming, but I can’t blame it for that. I guess Berlin has grown too much on me and I just couldn’t find the right personality in the Belgian capital. There were definitely some good things I loved about it – not just the chocolates, waffles and frites!
The city is dense but has a lot of parks, and I just loved the lake near Flageypein. I, of course, loved how it was hilly – I have always hated living in Berlin’s flatness.
Brussels is not something you would have to visit in your lifetime, or a stopover you would have to add on your eurotrip. There are far more interesting European cities and towns for that. Brussels is more like a destination for those living close by who have come to admit that they have ignored it enough and are just bored enough to finally book the cheap flights to get there.