Brussels. Don’t lie, you hear the word, and you visualise a stark, boring grey city in a flat landscape. The kind of scene Jason Bourne would fly across sideways in a Fiat. A gritty looking grindingly dull place. This is the Belgium, and particularly Brussels imagery we have been sold. Hardly the setting you would land on to choose for an exciting day one of a Euro family toadtrip. There’s been some serious miss-selling!
The first leg of the Bombshell family road-trip sees us pull up to a characterful terraced road in the heart of Brussels. Bounded by the modern tower blocks of the many national embassies and fabulously agressive brutalist architecture, the street has more than a hint of Paris about it, with delightful cafes and green grocers, interspersed with intriguing, multi-belled doors to the warren of towering Victorian flats above. There’s easy and hugely secure parking under a nearby block, which tops out at a max of around £12 a day!
Our street for the evening
With a little time to kill we decide to follow our noses through the Brussels streets, and spot a glorious garden oasis inset from the busy road above – The Botanical Garden of Brussels. This tranquil space delights us all with glittering glass houses, opulent statues and intricate angular box hedge beds.
Brussels Botanical Gardens
As with much of Brussels, we could stay and just take in the ambiance all day, but it is time to check in to our first Air BnB.
The wonderfully intriguing door to our first Air BnB!
To our delight this facade reveals a homely flat in the eaves, with a sofa bed for the grown ups, and a tiny mezzanine double bed quickly bagsed by a near hysterical 12 year old!
We are greeted by the MOST relaxed and delightful lady- and quickly suspect she is indicative of the nature of the Brussels people, something we subsequently pleasingly prove right. To the extreme delight of our diminutive travel companion, we reveal our visit to Brussels accidentally married with the Brussels summer festival, and so we were secretly carrying a set of tickets! Our rooms are around a 2 minute amble from the main festival square, even at the speed of a Bombshell, I confess mobility can prove a challenge to me at times and it couldn’t have been more conveniently placed. – More about the festival to follow…..
After a restful sleep and a delightful breakfast of vast pastries and coffee, we set out to explore the delights of the Brussels streets.
Brussels offers without compare one of the most engaging meanders I have ever had the good fortune to have. Every turn of the corner, or even the head offers a new and contrasting vista. The architecture ranged across the ages, with stark juxtaposition from 1400’s traditional cottages cut savagely with modern angular or brutalist facades. Little wandering streets full of chocolate shops gives way to fabulous squares bounded gothic opulence.
As the comic book home of Europe, Brussels is also hugely proud of it’s graphical arts heritage, and contains a fantastic trail of wall art, each of which shows a little map leading to the next piece. You could spend a day in a far worse way than to join and follow it, we just delighted on the pieces of street art we strayed across.
Glorious street art
For those who want a more detailed and delightful insight into the Belguim comic book heritage, there is a comic book museum where you are led through the history and genres, again I will detail this more elsewhere, as there is just too much to say in one post about even the smallest chunk of time within this fabulous city. Of course no matter how much their is to do we did not miss the most vital aspect to the Bombshell family – filling our faces with all the joys of regional food. We stopped for one last time, to de-brief and enjoy some waffles from one of the vast number of pavement cafes, before exiting the city past the astonishing Atomium with grins on our faces and a promise to ourselves to return.
- Drive time from the tunnel: Just two hours ten
- Best for: Comic book and street art, fabulous architecture, choccy obviously
- Language: French, if you are lazy it would be easy to speak English only….. but….. really?
- Pricing: Not bad, pretty similar to the UK
- Driving: Crazily easy, bags of cheap parking and sensible driving. Don’t be afraid!
Overall: A lovely intro to Euro travel, full of welcome and stacks to do. We can’t wait to return.