10 peculiar places you must visit if you are travelling to Belgium
Why we chose Belgium to start with our Euro-trip? Ummm…. Lets see, If we start painting Europe on its map, that is where we would start. The leftmost country of Central Europe. Doesn’t this sound very poetic and artistic?
Belgium is a beautiful country which deserves at least 10 days of a real travellers time to explore. Sandwiched between France and Germany, this country offers a charming mixture of medieval old towns and new infrastructure. Belgium is divided into two distinctive language speaking provinces : North is the Dutch-speaking Flanders and the South is the French-speaking Wallonia. Brussels, the capital is bilingual.
1. Fries Museum
I was astonished when I heard that a museum exists on Fries ! I had read about it in an article in a journal and was curious to visit it since then. I am so lucky to have ticked it off my bucket list According to Belgian people, the fries have its origin in Belgium. It is called French Fries because people heard the Belgians speaking french and started calling the fries as “french fries”. The history of Fries meticulously described along with interesting stories in the Fries Museum. A must visit place for the curious minds.
2. Manneken Pis
The Manneken Pis is another famous spot in Brussels which is close to Grand Place. We had heard so much about it and seen so many various forms of the statue in the souvenir shops that we were very eager to get a glimpse of the Manneken Pis. We followed the map and reached the square which said “Manneken Pis” But where was it? We looked all around. It was a normal square with people passing and vehicles passing by. Then at one corner we saw a lot of people standing and posing for a camera. Behind the bunch of people was a small bronze statue. That was it ! The Manneken Pis is a very small statue of a small boy pee-ing into a fountain. It was indeed very small. It is part of Belgium’s history and patrimony. The little boy is internationally famous and you can see shops and restaurants flaunting his name all over the little streets of central Brussels.
Belgium is known for its waffles and you cannot miss tasting them here. We had been told by locals of a few shops in central Brussels which serve authentic Belgium Waffles and it was worth the stardom.
Amongst the very renowned places in Brussels is the Atomium. The Atomium was created for a World Fair to be held in Brussels in the 50’s but now has become a permanent structure. It a kind of a architectural structure which depicts an iron molecule enlarged 165 billion times. You can enter the spheres and climb to the top to get a fantastic 360 degrees panoramic view of the city. The thing of going to the top of a structure and getting the city view seems to be very popular in Europe as we got to do that in almost every town. Atomium is beautifully managed and gives a very different perspective to the visit to Belgium.
4. National Basilica Church
While exploring the Gare du Nord, Gare Centraale and Gare du Midi, the three main train stations of Brussels, we stumbled upon a beautiful Old Church : National Basilica which was surrounded by pretty garden : Elizabeth Park. It was a picturesque walk from the train station through the garden to the church. The view of the top of the church was stunning We could spot the Atomium and witness the symmetry of the roads of the marvellous Brussels city.
5. Musical Instruments Museum
Being a singer I was eager to visit the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels. It was a treat to the eyes ad ears. Such a fantabulous presentation of instruments from all over the world ! Musical Instruments Museum displays over 1200 unique instruments from different countries around the world. The winning experience consists of state-of-art audio visual display through which you can see and hear what the instrument looks and sounds like as you walk by each of them. We got immersed in the sound of instruments through the looped streaming of music. It is a genuine treat for music lovers. An experience not worth missing if you are a music-lover.
6. A stroll in and around Gent with a tram ride
Gent or Ghent is a small medieval style town to the west of Brussels. It is a lesser known tourist destination but a sure treat for art lovers. Its fabulous canal-side architecture combined with the old historic character of the city hits bang on on its lovability index. Ghent has a super feel with its compact nature and its typical european style streets. The tram network is a marvel and can help you to see the city easily. While exploring the monuments, architecture, museums and the hidden gems in Ghent. we discovered a very old functional music drum behind the church bell. This huge structure works by the hands of the clock to give the sound of the bells at each hour. It was a breathtaking spectacular experience. They rightly say that Ghent is Belgium’s best kept secret.
7. Stroll + Canal Ride in and around Bruges
Bruges is about an hour away from Ghent by train and we reached Bruges at night. We did not realise what a masterpiece it was until next day when we left out walking for our day tour. Bruges is a dream fairy-tale land. Its cobbled streets, crossing canals, beautiful small circular bridges along the canals, charming market squares and triangular structured houses is just 2% description of the actual beauty of the town. Bruges is that love-at-first-sight kind of a town. Most of it can be explored on foot. The walk on the cobbled streets with small street side shops and live music at every alternate square is the highlight of visiting Bruges. It is indeed a very lively fairy-tale city and like a dream come true. There are old style horse carts too, on which you can explore the city in the old style. No wonder the city has earned the title of UNESCO World Heritage City. The city boasts of appearing in the Bollywood Blockbuster PK !
A canal ride is a MUST when you visit Bruges. It is in fact the best way to see around the city.
Bruges hosts a bunch of interesting museums . Enjoying a visit to a museum depends upon your personality type and the time that you have in hand when in the city. But all the museums are very well kept and should be visited once at least.
8. Choco Story (Chocolate Musemum)
Chocolate Museum is one of those awesome gourmet museums showing the origin and process of making chocolate. Belgian chocolates are world famous and this museum shares a lot of its secrets of making such awesome ones. Right from the utensils used to make chocolates in the earlier eras to its latest varieties, this museum has a lot to offer.
9. Grand Place
Brussels and Grand Place is like a synonym. In the exact city centre of Brussels lies this massive historic structure. It is extremely vibrant during any time of the day. It is an open area made up of cobbled grounds and surrounded by tall medieval buildings; the guild houses and the city hall. Grand Place forms a part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Small cobbled streets pave their way in and out of Grand Place and they are filled with shops, eating joints and restaurants. It is walking distance for a couple of metro stations and a lot of tourist places. When at the Grand Place, you actually have to do nothing. Just grab a can of beer and you can sit there for hours watching the scenes around. It is always dazzling with people and is full of stories. There is some sort of energy that flows in and around the place. The Grand Place looks very different during the day and night. Both views are equally fascinating.
10. Lumina Domestica
Europe is full of museums on unique stuff and this one is no exception. Lumina Domestica is a museum with a multifarious collection of lamps. The museum hosts the largest collection of lights and lamps from around the world. . I had never imagined there could be a “Lamp” museum. .
Belgium is a very rich country with respect to history and art. It is a lovely country which offers a unique slice of Europe through its history and modern infrastructure. The internal transport with Belgium is so efficient with its trains, buses and trams. There are clear directions put up in French, Dutch and English at every important location.They offer useful day passes and cards which can make the journeys affordable and comfortable. The locals are friendly and helping. Belgium was a gift full of surprise for me. It is rightly tagged as the food lover’s dream and the beer lover’s heaven. One can get unique varieties of beer here beyond numbers. It was an eyeopener for me to keep looking for undiscovered and non-typical locations around the world. The journey begins….