chrispy thoughts

-the world as I see it

*Belch*ium

If you really want to enjoy yourself in Brussels, you need to stop counting – whether it is your cash or those calories you are consuming. Fries, waffles, chocolates and beer – all those ‘a moment on the lips forever on the hips’ foods seduce you at every street corner. The baguettes and pastries in the bakeries seemed to be screaming ‘eat me’ the moment I set my eyes on them. They appeared to have this hypnotic effect on me that made me want to do just what they were asking for. Anyway, I allowed myself these indulgences, after all, I hadn’t set foot in a bakery ever since I’ve been living in Portugal. I love desserts but I’m also very picky about the kind of desserts that I eat. I particularly dislike eggy pastries and by default this makes almost any Portuguese dessert inedible for me. The egg tarts, the deep yellow croissants, the cakes filled with eggy cream- just the sight of them fills me with revulsion. You might think I’m eggzaggerating, but I’m not ūüėõ

Belgian delights

Belgian delights

I think Belgian waffles (or gauffres) are the most incredible waffles that you can have on the planet. I usually like to have my waffle topped with nutella or ice cream but the Belgian waffles taste delicious¬†even without any accompaniment. The waffles with powdered sugar on the top are ‚ÄėBrussels waffles’ and if the sugar is on the inside, they are ‘Leige waffles.’ ¬†Many tourists go overboard when ordering for a personalized waffle. There is nothing touristier than a waffle topped with dollops of ice cream and heaped with fruits dipped in a generous amount of Nutella.

Belgian chocolates need no introduction- they are world-famous and understandably so. I’m not much of a beer person; the only beers that I drink are Belgian or German. Among the Belgian brands, I like Leffe, Delirium and Chimay. The fact that Belgium has the highest per capita consumption of fries is not a shocker considering that you see almost every other person on the street walking around with a paper cone containing fries. The fries (frites) are a cut above all the other fries that I’ve ever had in my lifetime.

Frites in Belgium - the formula for success

Frites in Belgium – the formula for success

In case you want to know more about Belgian fries and what the huge deal is about,¬†this website¬†will tell you all that you need to know about frites and frietkots. I spent around three days in Belgium, of which I spent two in Brussels and one in Bruges (Brugge in Flemish). Belgium is divided into three regions – Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels and has Flemish, French and German-speaking communities. It is ¬†also¬†home to many immigrants from Asia, Africa and other European communities. Brussels is one of Europe’s most multi-cultural cities and serves as the capital of the European Union.

As in most European countries, Belgium also has its own Venice РBruges. Bruges is a beautiful city whose historic centre is a UNESCO world heritage site.

The Venetian side of Bruges

The Venetian side of Bruges

With its rich Gothic architecture and Venetian feel, this Flemish city has an irresistible charm to it. It is cleaner, greener and far calmer than the capital city. The skyline of Bruges is dominated by a stately 13th century belfry and the steeples of masonry churches.

Bruges skyline

The medieval belfry at Bruges should be on the top of your must-see places in the city. With 366 steps leading up to the top, it sure can help you shed a tiny fraction of those pounds ¬†that you’ve gained. Once I reached the top-most gallery of the belfry, I was more wonderstruck by¬†watching how the carillon works¬†than feasting my eyes on the panoramic views of the city.

View from belfry

On the whole, I loved Bruges and I think setting aside a day to visit it when you’re in Belgium is a must.

Because of my interest in¬†historic preservation, I prefer the regions of Flanders and Wallonia where efforts of preservation, conservation and restoration of heritage monuments have been remarkable. In the Brussels region, many of the historic structures have been demolished to make way for new constructions. The term ‘Brusselization’ has come to mean ¬†” the senseless destruction of urban and¬†cultural values in an historical town center.” ¬† Nevertheless,¬†the Grand Place has got to be one of the most beautiful city squares in the whole of Europe. The town hall in the Grand Place complex is lit up beautifully at night and the square is a great place to hang out with your friends while sipping on some Belgian beer and munching on fries.

Town Hall

The Grand Place miniature at Brussels' mini Europe

The Grand Place miniature at Brussels’ mini Europe

Mini -Europe, a tribute to the European Union that¬†upholds European values¬†has miniature replicas of ¬†select monuments and sites from different countries of Europe. At the end of your mini-Europe tour, your knowledge about the EU and its member states is sure to improve. The attention to detail in the miniatures is commendable. Even if the entry ticket is slightly expensive, I think a visit to mini-Europe is worth it but I wouldn’t say the same about the Atomium. In the picture below, you will find the real life version of the Castle at Guimaraes in Portugal and the miniature version of it in mini-Europe. Can you spot the differences? Because I can hardly tell them apart ūüôā

Mini Guimaraes

The birthplace of Tintin and the Smurfs, it’s no wonder that the street-art scene in Brussels is happening.

Street Art in Brussels

Street Art in Brussels

I liked Belgium but it didn’t impress me all that much. The Manekken Pis, a bronze statue of a boy peeing which is said to be an iconic symbol of Brussels, is overrated.The statue is tiny and there’s a good chance that you can pass by without noticing it. In my case, I only saw it because of the crowd of tourists swarmed around a corner, taking pictures by the dozen of this weird little statue.

The Mannekin Pis

The Mannekin Pis

My trip ended with me having to deal with two major problems of varying dimensions – an expanding waist-line and a shrinking wallet. If you do go to Belgium, go there for the food ūüėÄ

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This entry was posted on July 10, 2013 by in Food, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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