As the alarm went off last Saturday at a ridiculously early time, I did question my decision to head off on a day trip to Brussels. These ideas usually seem much better at the time of booking, especially back in September when it was far warmer! However, before I knew it, I was at Ashford International, ready to jump onto the Eurostar. The beauty of a day trip is that you can travel light with little more than your passport, money and your phone. The other good thing is that you can cram your day full of sights and experiences knowing that you’ll be tucked up later on in your own bed….and goodness did I cram lots into my day so seatbelts on… let me take you on a whistle stop day trip to Brussels, capital of Belgium.
First stop after arriving at the train station was Mini Europe. As the name suggests, it’s Europe in miniature with iconic buildings such as the Eiffel Tower, London’s Houses of Parliament, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc. Although the area didn’t seem huge and I suspected I’d be done in about 20 minutes, there was so much to look at with fantastic attention to detail. For example in the section about England, there were miniature people with placards referencing Brexit. By the time I left 90 minutes later, I felt as if my day trip was taking me right round Europe rather than just to one city! Here are just some of my photos but the first one is taken from where I had lunch afterwards 100 metres above Mini Europe.
Yes, I ate lunch 100 metres above because the nearby Atomium has a restaurant in its top sphere. The views over the surrounding area are spectacular and the food is absolutely wonderful. In the other spheres, there are exhibitions but there was no time for me to hang around. I had places to be!
With just four hours left before I needed to be back at the train station, I headed into the city centre. Having gone to Bruges 18 months ago, I found Brussels very similar in terms of so many chocolatiers, waffle houses and lace shops. However, Belgium is known for its art and cartoons and there is so much to discover around the city of Brussels such as cartoons drawn on the sides of buildings, famous statues such as Manneken Pis which is a tiny statue of a urinating boy who’s dressed up at certain times of the year, etc. With a huge crowd around him, he’s clearly a highlight for many tourists.
Wondering around the pedestrianised streets with Christmas music and enchanting fairy lights, I just happened to stumble upon a chocolate museum. I didn’t even know it was there but I couldn’t resist the temptation to pop in and have a look around. It’s full of information about the history of chocolate and of course the gift shop.
Most cities have a main area where people congregate for public events and, in Brussels, it’s Grand Place. Lined by stunning architecture, the square is a beautiful spot that puts on a lights and music show every 30 minutes during the December weekend buevenings. There was a huge nativity scene attracting lots of attention. However, explore the surrounding streets and you’ll find Christmas markets, beautiful shopping and arcades and even a statue of yet another cartoon character, a Smurf!
And then it was time to find my way back to the station. It takes less than two hours to get from Ashford International (in Kent, England) to Brussels so well within reach for a day trip. Having done a similar day trip to Paris in the summer, Eurostar is perfect for a real change of scenery. My next European day trip? Amsterdam!
I don’t usually post on consecutive days but the end of the year has suddenly crept up on me. Tomorrow, I would love to share with you my top 10 experiences from 2019. What a year it’s been! Hope the year has been kind to you as well Xxx