It's been a long, dark and typically miserable winter in good old Blightly and at this time of year I always feel the urge to escape the monotany and misery and head off on a city break. Trawling the internet for the best deal, my sister and I discovered a cracking deal on Travel Republic (www.travelrepublic.co.uk/holidays) for Brussels. For £110 each we stayed in a lovely 3 star hotel with return flights - what a bargain, we could hardly say no to that!
We flew out from Manchester on a Friday evening and arrived at Charleroi Airport at 10.30pm that evening ready our 3 night city break. Now Charleroi Airport is around 40 mins away from central Brussels and taxi's are expensive so beware - take the shuttle to the midi train station to save yourself some £'s! But for around £40 for a return flight with Ryan Air we could hardly complain.
We stayed in the NH Brussels City Centre (www.nh-hotels.nl), a lovely little hotel located just outside of the centre of Brussels in the Louise area where we found this cute little treat waiting for us (it only survived for this picture)!
While the hotel is slightly out of the city centre Brussels is easy to navigate and as long as you don't mind a short stroll into the heart of the city this is no problem. The decor is very tasteful, the beds are super comfy, the staff are friendly and the breakfast was plentiful. I especially like the quirky napkins below. :-)
So we hit the sack early on Friday night safe in the knowledge that we would have a clear head to explore the following day. After a plentiful breakfast of fruit, pastries, eggs, bacon and a lot of coffee we pulled our best sophisticated city outfits on and hit the streets of Brussels.
Note: Why does no one seem to rock a hat anymore?! Anyway, Brussels is a beautiful city but while we knew there was plenty to do there wasn't so much of an abudance that we'd feel like we could never stop, like in Paris or London. Letting us sample the important things like the renowned Belgian Beer and Chocolate!
Oh and Belgian Waffles!
So enough of the culinary delights, there is also plenty to do on the culture front. With French being the first and most often spoken language, Brussels has a chic Parisien vibe, with plenty of awe inspiring buildings to admire, squares to grab a drink in and gardens to relax in.
The Grande Palace is particularly beautiful and well worth a visit. Brussels is also a very arty city - which I love, my sister not so much. For 13 Euro's you can visit all three sections of The Royal Museum of Fine Arts (www.fine-arts-museum.be/en/museums/musee-magritte-museum). This includes The Rene Magritte gallery, the Museum of Modern Art and Ancient Art. Unfortunatley when we visited some of the rooms on the latter two were closed so we plumped for the Magritte Exhibit.
A massive fan of the Surrealist movement I thoroughly enjoyed this three floor exhibit, chronicling Magrittes life and work. Unfortunately pictures were forbidden in the main section of the exhibit so I had to make do with a few snaps in the reception only.
Check out this amazing sculpture Oscar by British based artist Gavin Turk.
Art isn't just confined to the galleries though and around every corner you'll discover amazing street art (I'm yet to find a city that Space Invader hasn't tagged) and sculptures galore. Even the road signs are in on the act.
Exhausted after all the art and food we headed back to the hotel to have an hours R&R before throwing on our gladrags and hitting the town. We grabbed a taxi and headed to a bar called Scotts where I had the most amazing (if not incredibly expensive) Espresso Martini. Scotts is a lovely place to start off your night. Every Saturday they have a musician performing an accoustice session. Too many Espresso Martini's meant that I forgot to take a picture of the chap who was playing that night but trust me he was seriously good. After that we headed to an Irish bar and the camera was forgotten!
Slightly sore headed and tired, the next day was a rather more quiet affair involving a lot of relaxing, sampling more cultre and food . . . and of course a bit more Belgian beer at Brussles best bar Delerium Cafe (http://deliriumcafe.be).
If your a beer fan you must visit this place, they have literally hundreds of types of beer. My favourite was the Mango one but theres plenty to try. All in all Brussels was a lovely city to explore for a couple of days. If you go for any longer though I would recommend visiting Bruges and/or Antwerp as I've heard both cities are beautiful. Now time to get planning my next excape!