Monday, July 1, 2013

Mussels in Brussels

By 'eck, it's been a month since my romantic weekend in Brussels....It's about time I shared some of my photos here, don't you think?

Loverboy and I booked a rather spontaneous trip to Belgium for the end of May/beginning of June, and in our true style - at least where trains are involved - we cut it rather fine, and only boarded the Eurostar a couple of minutes before it left St Pancras!  Phew!

On arrival in Brussels... 

We had a pleasant journey with a little reading, a little napping and a little giggling, and made it to our hotel before noon.  Our hotel was nice, but had the smallest lift in the world, which amused us greatly!

Now I must say that Brussels was not what we were expecting - I'm not sure what it was that we were expecting, exactly...but this was not it.

Overall we had a lovely romantic time, and enjoyed exploring the city, however despite some beautiful architecture, we were overwhelmed by the blandness of the place.  From the grey, miserable subways, to the lacklustre atmosphere, we just found it a really boring city!  Let's just say that when we look back through our photos, it seems like a fun place to visit, but in reality it was void of that certain je ne sais quoi...

Undeniably, the main plaza and the surrounding area is beautiful - the architecture is simply exquisite, and the area is quite bustling.  We usually tend to seek out off-the-beaten-track areas, rather than the tourist hotspots, however in the case of Brussels, we found the more touristy areas to be the the most interesting and vibrant.

Of course we sought out the main tourist attraction - Manneken-pis - which is a small water feature statue of a little boy weeing.  It is on the smaller end of the scale, and shall we say, rather underwhelming...

These guys were a little more impressive...

Perhaps the cruelest dash of expectations was the food. I am constantly astounded by the bad rep that British dining gets, as London has some of the best restaurants in the world - yes, like everywhere, it will always be possible to find bad food, but on the whole it is not hard to find a delicious meal. In fact, I could probably get a better moules marinière in London than the sandy one I got in Brussels.

Accompanying the mussels was a plate of cold, limp chips, as well as a plate of garlic bread which our waiter kindly offered to bring us - which upon arrival was a few old slices of cold soggy baguette, topped with cheese and tomato paste, which had been reheated in the microwave - we were charged 6 euros for this culinary masterpiece!

This was the worst breakfast I have ever attempted to eat...

This croque monsieur was definitely a crock of something... 

I will admit, not all the food in Brussels was bad - we had the best meal of the whole weekend on our last afternoon....

Plus, we enjoyed some tasty chocolate and macaroons...

Now what Brussels does do well, is doors.  Yep - we saw a lot of really cool doors during our exploration of the city!

There are also some great museums in Brussels, the most exciting looking one being the Atomium.  This iconic building was constructed during the 1958 World Fair, and the exhibits are held in the various 'atoms' that make up the structure.

The nearby expo buildings are also a treat to the eyes - this time less scientific and more art deco.

However, it is the art nouveau style that Brussels is famous for, with architects such as Victor Horta incorporating this style of art into the architecture back in the 1890s.

Whilst the architecture was attractive, the metro stations were not.  I don't know if it's that nearly every metro station is currently being renovated or what, but every time we entered the depths of an underground station, it was like entering a dungeon!  That said, they ran a great service, and some of them featured art works decorating the platforms.

It is also worth noting that Brussels is cobble-stone central.  They may well be pretty to look at, but comfortable to walk on, they are not!

Unfortunately, we had great expectations of the vintage shopping and flea markets, which were not met.  The flea markets were full of junk, the vintage shops and markets were mostly full of 80s.  There was one vintage shop which we heard was full of 50s clothing - yeah 1850s!

My thoughts on Brussels sound a little harsh, and granted, it is not somewhere that we would rush back to, however we did still have a wonderfully romantic weekend, enjoyed exploring somewhere new, and came away with some great memories and funny anecdotes.

 It's hard not to enjoy yourself when this is your partner in crime.

We arrived back to a sunny St Pancras Sation - next time we will go to Paris instead!

Home sweet home!


  1. I completely understand your feelings towards Brussels. I was glad we went but felt I did not need to return. I would highly recommend Bruges if you have not been and decide to try Belgium again. We loved it there and would definitely go back!

    1. I agree - I'm glad we wen't but I don't feel the need to go back...ever! Hahah! :) Everyone I have spoken to about Brussels has recommended going to Bruges, so I may have to hop on the Eurostar and go there next time!

  2. Too bad that it turned out to be such a dull place. But at least you had Loverboy to keep you company and entertain you. It's always easier when you have a partner who is willing to brighten the day and try new things.

    When we first moved to Nevada, my husband's uncle took us to Vriginia City. It's one of the oldest mining towns in Nevada. They made it sound really cool and fun but it wasn't. It was cool. . . if you were into the Old West and I'm not. There's not much to see and do.

    1. That is definitely true - even when something is not how you expected, it can still be fun to share experiences with someone you get on so well with.

      Awww Virginia City sounds col, but I can imagine that if you are not into it, then it must have seemed super boring!

  3. I want every single delicious Belgian waffle in your top picture please.

    I remember what a big deal it was to be on time for the Eurostar when I lived in Europe because of the timetable of departures. You missed your train... too bad you were waiting for at least two hours. Is that how it is now as well?

    That picture of you two in the lift is so cute and funny. You are right, it is the smallest lift in the world.

    You two should try to go to Bruges next time. It is supposed to be very romantic and "off the beaten path" still to a degree.

    Macaroons! Oh god how I love thee.

    You are right, those doors are all so gorgeous and TALL.

    I will admit that I spent only a short time in Brussels when I was on a train layover and thought I was the only person that didn't love that city. Shew, I am glad to know otherwise.

    1. Hehehehe! You want to know something funny? I am really not all that into waffles! I love pancakes, but waffles are not my thing! They look pretty though! I am definitely with you on the macaroons though - love them. Did you ever read my post (aaages ago) about the first time I made a batch of them?

      I am not sure how it works when you miss your Eurostar train, as luckily, I have never missed mine! That said, I can imagine that you would probably have to buy a new ticket and deal with a lot of drama!

      EVERYONE keeps telling me about how awesome Bruges it! Damnit, I wish we would have know before we booked our train to Brussels hahahah!

      I'm glad we are in agreement of boring Brussels! :P

  4. It's a shame that Brussels didn't live up to your expectations. Still, your outfits looked great against the backdrop of the city and the macaroons looked delicious too!

    1. Thank you!!! I was quite pleased with how co-ordinated my capsule wardrobe was! Packing success in grey and red! :)

  5. By the way I nominated you for a Liebster Award. Be sure to check out my blog.

  6. Your outfits are amazing all the way through!

    I have heard Brussels is a bit of an odd place. I have been to the main touristy bit years ago I think. I still wouldn't mind going back to explore more I think!

    1. Thank you! I had total red and grey capsule wardrobe packing success! )

      By all account, when in Belgium, Bruges is the place to visit. That said, we still had fun, and I am still glad that we went to Brussels so that I could form my own opinion!

  7. What a pity that you don't like Bruxelles! It was perhaps a bit long week-end... Sylvain and I always go to Bruxelles for only one day and it's always fun but it's also perhaps we can meet friends there...
    I was with Sylvie (from 365 days vintage) on my last visit there and we found a lot of vintage stuffs!

    1. Oooh you just have the best shopping karma - we couldn't find ANYTHING!!!! Hahah!

      I am still glad that we went, and we did have fun together, but it was just not what we were expecting. I think when you live in a vibrant city like London, where there is always so much happening, then it can be a bit of a disappointment to go to a city that is not as exciting....however, I now want to go to Bruges, as I have heard so many great things about it!

  8. Those waffles look as scrumptious as you do stylish in all these lovely snapshots. The grey jacket with the red skirt is especially fetching - I will have to try to recreate that look myself when the temps dip back down a bit here.

    I'm sorry that you trip didn't quite live up to the hopes you'd set for it. True vintage is getting harder and harder to find these days in so many places. I must say though, I would have loved to have seen a shop with Victorian dresses from the 1850s - even if they were way above my budget or didn't fit, it would be awesome just to be in the presence of garments that old (here in Canada, a relatively newborn nation, anything from the Victorian era or further back is big time old). Fingers firmly crossed that your next vintage shopping trek - wherever it may be - goes a whole lot more fruitfully for you both.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Thanks Jess! The grey skirt and jacket are a suit, but they are great to mix-and-match when you want a splash of colour, or indeed when you are trying to pack a capsule wardrobe for a weekend trip!

      I suppose that vintage shopping can depend on a bit of luck too, as Laurence from Lost in the 50s has told me that she found great vintage in Brussels. Quite honestly, I think the best place for vintage shopping is in the USA! xx

  9. Omg what an awesome trip! I cannot wait to get back to Europe! England is my first stop LOL I love all the things you did and you looked just adorable in all of your outfits! xox

    PS Sidenote-those waffles looked insanely yummy LOL

    1. Thanks Bunny! You should definitely come to England (and London, of course)! :)

  10. Your gray suit is adorable, I'm guessing here: the bag in vintage?

    (Oh, thank you for putting the waffles as the first picture, since I'm starving..) :D


    1. Thank you Marija! Both the suit and the bag are indeed vintage! :)

      Heheheh! The funny thing is that everyone is drooling over the waffles, and I am really not that big a fan of them! :P