Brussels has a dynamic population of approximately one million people, and the languages spoken here are French and Dutch, so be sure to pick up a few rudimentary phrases of the two languages so as to make communication easy. Brussels has come a long way from its humble origins as a 10th century fortress town to a huge and vibrant city. The early Brussels was founded by the descendant of Charlemagne and underwent a lot of political turmoil as early as in the 13th century to the Belgian Revolution (1830) and World War I to the World War II where the city was occupied for the umpteenth time but spared any destruction. After the Second World War, Brussels was greatly modernized and soon become the hub of international politics as it hosted many EU institutions, the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and many others.
Nowadays people know Brussels as an important European center of rich culture, with about 90 museums, splendid parks, walks and chic restaurants and eateries.
How To Get To Brussels
Brussels has two airports: the first, which is one of the oldest airports here in Europe, is the Brussels Airport and the second one is the Charleroi Airport that offers cheap flights for tourists. Moreover, there are high-speed trains that run from London, Amsterdam and Paris through an efficient intercity train network that has the capability of taking you to almost anywhere in Europe. For the more adventurous tourists, they can even get to Brussels from ferries that originate from London and drop the persons at the coastal cities of Bruges or Rotterdam. Since Brussels receives a throng of tourists during the peak season, there are many affordable hostels, hotels and motels that offer lodging at reasonable prices. Some of the cheap hostels available include Sleepwell, 2GO4 Quality Hostel and Hostel Grand Palace, and some of the hotels include Hilton Brussels, Sheraton Brussels Hotel and Brussels Marriot Hotel among many others.
Why is Brussels the Ultimate Holiday Spot?
There are a myriad of reasons why Brussels is the most unique vacation you will ever take only because:
What to See and What to Do!
The first place one usually goes to when in Brussels is the city center. This is known as the Grand Place or Grote Markt. This is a tiny gem of a town from the 15th century, with a town square that is a modern day ode of Brussels’ rich heritage. All the buildings surrounding this town square have a rich historical significance attached to it. It has three town squares from three different periods: Baroque, Gothic and Louis XIV. Due to the eclectic touch of this town, the Grand Place is one of the UNESCO’s Sites of the World Heritage entrant.
Bozar is another must see destination to visit in Brussels. It is perfect for an artsy tourist as this place is regarded as the center of Art Nouveau, built in 1928 by the famous architect Victor Horta.
Atomium is another example of the monumental European architecture, built in 1958 for the World Exhibition and is shaped like an iron crystal which is enlarged 165 billion times. People can take surreal walks and tours of the spheres and tubes inside this humongous metal structure. The Atomium has an impressive history exhibit for the public. The upper section of this sphere-like structure offers spectacular bird eye views of the entire city, and this becomes even more magnificent during the night.
There are plenty of exciting and innovative museums in Brussels that one must see when he is there. Some of them include the Magritte Museum which has an area of about 2500 square metres, and there are large displays of surrealist art, and has about 200 pieces of art making it the richest collection in the world. Then we have the Comic Strip Museum whose building is an impressive ode to Art Nouveau and was created in 1906. There are many interesting permanent exhibitions here, ranging from the invention of comic strip to the Museum of Imagination.
There are many water parks and parks for tourists to visit in Brussels. Oceade is the most noteworthy water park and boasts high-speed water slides, solariums, saunas, and wave pools. Then there is the Mini-Europe Park which provides the tourist whistlestop tour of the entire Europe in a matter of hours.
The Amazing Food:
Belgian food is very rich, tasty and has a lot of variety. Some of the traditional Belgian food that is consumed in Brussels is: Frites (Belgian fries) that is wildly popular and come with a variety of sauces and condiments such as samourai, mayo etc. These fries are available at most of the food trolleys on the street and the most famous of these is the Maison Antoine at Place Jourdain. Then there are special Belgian steaks called the filet Americaine which are raw minced beef and served with herbs and are very tasty. Stoemp is another traditional dish that is a Flemish style mashed potato.
Some of the main restaurants in Brussels are: YuMe, Le Rabassiere (for authentic Belgian fine dining), Jaloa, Malte (for an exquisite French cuisine), Exki and Dolma (vegetarian restaurants).
The Exhibitions and Festivals:
There are scores of exhibitions, concerts and festivals going on at all times in Brussels. J’aime Les Belges is a contemporary depiction of Jacques Brel’s relationship with his country in five areas. This is a very popular exhibit. The jazz festival exhibition, called the Expo Saxx in Brussels is an ode to the creation of the saxophone by a Belgian creator and entails jazz concerts, colloquiums, and much more. Then we have the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition which takes visitors to witness the all the memorabilia and artifacts from the actual vessel, the Brussels Film Festival which celebrates dozens of renowned directors and filmmakers (the festival lasts a week with over 60 movie premieres), and the Brussels Expo.
The Exciting Nightlife:
Brussels has a buzzing and dynamic nightlife, with more than 50 nightclubs. The quality of the nightclubs is such that regularly many international DJs come to these clubs and play genres that range from reggae, electro, house to R’n’B. There is no limit to the variety of music here. Some of the notable nightclubs of Brussels include:
Fuse: This is regarded the hub of Techno and almost all the big names in the world of DJ-ing have been here, hence it is a decent place to visit for any clubber.
Le You: This is regarded as a center for attractive girls to visit, with its cozy setting, Gay nights, and fuchsia themes.
Le Cactus: This is one where you can dance endlessly against the backdrop of neon everywhere and psychedelic music.
There are many other nightclubs, hence this list is exhaustive. Nightclubs are great way to meet new people, and locals and get to know them better in a more relaxed environment. Other than nightclubs, there is a plethora of choices when it comes to live music concerts that are happening all over Brussels.
Ancienne Belgique: This is a huge and dynamic concert hall where many international and local Belgian performers regularly perform. This is the ultimate venue for contemporary music.
Backstage: This is the go-to place for listening to intimate performances for jazz and modern rock every day.
Flagey: This is another concert hall in Brussels, famous for all sorts of events like music chapel festival, readings, piano days and so much more.
Beer is an establishment in Belgium and Brussels. There is a Belgium Beer Museum show by the Belgium Brewers in Brussels (Grand Place) which shows videos on how beer is made. There are 300-400 varieties of beer that are available in Brussels. Some of the famous places to grab a cold one are:
Delirium Café: All the 400 varieties of Belgian beer are available here, along with many different kinds from around the world and some of the specialties include White Pony by Cognac, Wipers Times 44, and Rochefort 8 75CL Limited Edition. In fact, this Café holds the Guinness World Record of housing the largest variety of beers in the world.
Au Bar: The advantage of this bar is that it serves beer in half pint or full pint glasses at cheap prices with a great selection of beers to choose from.
Many others include the Puppet Cellar and A’ La Mort Subite among many others.
Meeting New People in Brussels
Aside from the hotspots mentioned above where one can meet people in Brussels, some other ways to interact with new people here are:
One of the best ways to meet new people in Brussels is by joining some classes. These classes can range from language courses (French or Dutch), cooking, chocolate making and dance classes. This is a great way to create lasting friendships and the best advantage of this is that you would already have a common link with the other person; the same interest. This is a great way to meet like-minded people. Some suggestions for classes are: French classes at the Alliance Francaise, fitness classes at the Aspria Brussels, and salsa lessons with Salsa Bruxelles etc.
Brussels has a variety of networking opportunities that can help create opportunities for a person to interact with another. Social networking websites such as Internations is popular in Brussels and offers many meet and greet events. Beta Group Network which is a technology start-up network and MeetUp.com is a great way to interact with new people.
Nearby Brussels: You can attend to visit Munich Germany within a short distance.
Venturing to many restaurants or pubs is a great way to strike up a conversation with total strangers. Choose from any of the places above. Some suggestions are Maxine, Evelyne and Rui.