Lately my travels have come on a back-to-back basis. The day after I returned from California, I left for Australia. The day after I got back from Australia, I went to Belgium. It was exhausting, but given that it was still below freezing in London, I was excited to escape for a weekend in Brussels.

Grand Place in Brussels

Despite having lived in London for over five years, I haven’t spent more than a few hours in Brussels since I moved here. But I lived and worked in the city for a summer after college, and I couldn’t wait to get back and rediscover some of my favorite places.

Clock at La Quincaillerie in Brussels

I took the Eurostar to Brussels to be interviewed on Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. The short journey through the Channel Tunnel and into Europe was a good one, what with getting to share my thoughts about London and Brussels on the air and getting to know the other guests on the show.

Brussels Train Station

When we arrived at the Gare du Midi, I waved good-bye to the others and hopped on a connecting train to the central station. Just across the way was my hotel for the night, Le Meridien Brussels.

Lobby of Le Meridien Hotel in Brussels

They had offered me a stay in one of their newly renovated Delxue rooms, a large space with contemporary design and Le Meridien’s signature emphasis on art.

Room at Le Meridien Hotel in Brussels

I settled into my room, then explored the bright lounge and bar area before heading out to do some sightseeing in Brussels. The famous Grand Place was just a few steps away from the hotel, and soon I found myself steeped in history and medieval charm.

Grand Place in Brussels

From the Grand Place, I walked through the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a beautiful covered shopping arcade lined with more Belgian chocolate shops than I’ve ever seen.

Chocolate Shop in Brussels

Outside was the bustling Rue des Bouchers, a narrow pedestrian street perennially crowded with the tables of so many cafes. Jutting off from there was an alley where the famous Delirium Cafe was located. It was known for serving the widest range of beers of any bar in the world.

Rue des Bouchers in Brussels

Opposite Delirium was a hidden gem of a sightseeing highlight in Brussels, the Jeanneke Pis. The small fountain of a girl peeing was created as a counterpoint to its famous sibling, the Manneken Pis.

Jeanneke Pis in Brussels

Further down towards the Bourse, I passed by Falstaff, a famous Art Nouveau cafe and bar, and crossed the busy Boulevard Anspach to explore the funky shops, boutiques, and restaurants on the other side.

Dog Sculpture in Brussels

Later, I crossed back through the Grand Place and up to the Grand Sablon, a chi chi square lined with some of the best Belgian chocolate shops in Brussels.

Chocolate at Pierre Marcolini in Brussels

Tempted as I was to indulge, I had a dinner reservation to attend to. Peter Greenberg and his producers invited me to join them for a meal at La Quincaillerie, a funky restaurant in Ixelles set in an old hardware store. The meal featured everything from oysters to Poulet de Bresse, and we got a tour of the kitchen to see the action.

Kitchen at La Quincaillerie restaurant in Brussels

The next morning I had a big buffet breakfast at Le Meridien, then met up with the group from the night before at a nearby chocolate shop called Laurent Gerbaud. Laurent himself took us into his workshop, where he taught Peter how to make mendiants, chocolate discs with dried fruits and nuts on top.

Peter Greenberg and Laurent Gerbaud in Brussels

Afterwards Peter interviewed Laurent for his TV show while the rest of us sipped heavenly hot chocolate. Given that the shop offers chocolate making classes, I vowed to return for another weekend in Brussels to try my hand at my own confections.

Fruit at Laurent Gerbaud in Brussels

After cocoa, it was time for lunch. The venue was Bocconi restaurant, which was located right behind the Grand Place. The food was Italian, and we feasted on everything from fried calamari to fresh pasta.

Calamari at Bocconi Restaurant in Brussels

Soon it was time to travel back to London. My trip to Belgium had been way too short, what with the lack of time to visit the city’s excellent museums and taste more of the famous food—Belgian waffles, fries, mussels, and beer to name a few.

Smurf Sculpture in Brussels

But the city is so close to London that I should be able to find an excuse to return for another weekend in Brussels soon. If my travel schedule ever lets up, anyway.

14 Comments on Lady in Brussels

  1. Nice post! Been ages since my last trip to Brussels. Wanted to go last year for Brusselicious, but didn’t make it in the end…

    Didn’t know those chocolate discs with nuts were called mendiants. Funny name 🙂

  2. Back to back trips sound like fun, albeit exhausting!

    Your trip sounds so luxurious – Le Meridien? I’d be happy with that!

    I loved Brussels too – especially for the waffles and chocolates! I was actually ill when I visited Brussels but I still made it a point (stomach flu and all) to haul myself out to the chocolate store and buy a big box of chocolates! Such the determined chocolate fiend! Glad I did though – the chocolates were so good! You definitely should plan a return trip to scope out the best chocolates!

  3. Do come back again to Brussels! Sounds like you had a wonderful stay. You can rarely go wrong at the Quincallerie and in the summer months, the city’s restaurants are full of charming back patios where you can soak up the rare sun. Let us know if you come back into town in the near future!

  4. I can’t wait to get back to Brussels – spent a short 24 hours in the city in February after a trip to Bruges. It just wasn’t enough time! It really is a convenient city weekend break from the UK, though – even travelling from Manchester where I live. Flights can be really cheap, so there’s no excuse really. I’ll be back, I’m sure!

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