I’m not much of a traveler. The process torments me and I have a general aversion to being the classic annoying tourist wherever I go. However, I recently had a lovely opportunity to explore Brussels, Belgium, and I wanted to give my review of this cute little city. Hopefully as the years progress, I’ll have many more opportunities to review many more cities in this crazy, beautiful world we live in.
Brussels is Clean and Smells Great
The first thing I noticed about Brussels was the ease of getting around. The trains were fast and pleasant and very centrally located. I felt getting from the airport and back, as well as storing your belongings, were both simple and convenient enough to truly benefit from a long layover with ease.
Next I noticed that the city was very clean. Whereas there was a fair amount of graffiti in the downtown area, there was almost no litter anywhere, which I appreciated. The city smells amazing! Everywhere you walk smells like chocolate and fresh waffles.
Brussels Keeps the Christmas Spirit Alive
It was already two days after Christmas, and I still felt the holiday spirit coursing through Brussel’s veins. I was in Target in Staten Island the day before, and it felt like they couldn’t wait to move on to the next holiday. Modern music was playing on the radio. All Christmas remnants were being systematically dismantled. America had overdone it once again, and was ready to move on. But the Christmas spirit was alive and well in Brussels!
The atmosphere and architecture in Brussels were lovely. The main area everyone recommended going to was called the Grand Place (sounds nicer in French), which was just a cute little centrally-located square with large and attractive buildings. From Grand Place it was quite easy to walk to all sorts of interesting city attractions.
Right off the side of the square was some statue in the wall that everyone seemed to be approaching and groping for no particular reason. Sadly, I wasn’t able to find an explanation before I left. Although I did speculate that it was part of some elaborate practical joke whereby some folk went up and started petting this statue, causing others to do the same. And 15 years later they’ve been able to keep the ruse going. If so, kudos! I for one am quite impressed.
Far more important of a statue is one of a small boy urinating. I found a list of must-see sites in Brussels before we went, and when I saw this I thought two things: 1) I need to see this. 2) This must be some sort of humorous list, dedicated to silly things you can do in Brussels.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Apparently our friend the pissing boy is a fundamental part of the Brussels scenery (see the picture above). There were endless paraphernalia dedicated to this li’l guy and loads of tourists standing around taking pictures. We even stepped into a museum about sculptures and they must have had over thirty different post cards dedicated just to this statue.
Interestingly enough, the sculpture itself was actually a bit disappointing. It was really small, so small that when I went into a store and asked if they knew where the statue was, it turned out we were just a matter of feet away and didn’t even notice it.Our friend the pissing boy is a fundamental part of the Brussels scenery. There were endless paraphernalia dedicated to this li'l guy and loads of tourists standing around taking pictures. We even stepped into a museum about sculptures… Click To Tweet
Museums in Brussels
The Chocolate Museum began with a fantastic demonstration. A woman gracefully and quickly showed the process of creating praline-filled chocolates. It was magical and really fun to watch. And it was quite impressive that she gave her presentation in English, German, and French.
The rest of the museum was very mediocre. Some charts and objects teaching about the history of chocolate. Fun to look at. A lot of reading for an exhausted traveler.
The Magritte Museum was fantastic. It included countless original paintings from Magritte and his contemporaries. Many were incredible. I especially enjoyed that there was an original Salvador Dali, my favorite artist. Magritte is quite the enjoyable artist, and the gift shop was a reflection of how engaging and entertaining his art is. Sadly the museum lacked some of his most famous works, but all in all it was engaging from start to finish.
Shopping in Brussels
Brussels is a fun city for shopping. There were great stores everywhere we turned, and different markets. We especially enjoyed a trip to a costume shop. The customer service left a bit to be desired (but I was returning to Israel, so it was probably best to start getting back in the groove), but the store itself was loads of fun.
The worst parts about this city were the coffee, and the culinary experience for the kosher consumer. I had two cups of coffee in Brussels, and they were both awful. I’m not ready to condemn the city and recommend no one ever step foot in such a horrendous place that can’t even dazzle my tastebuds with coffee delight. But I’d only give a few more tries before I’d be willing to say Brussels is a city where you should stick with Diet Coke to get your caffeine fix.
Unfortunately, Brussels is most certainly a city that tantalizes with its amazing aromas. So if you maintain a strict kosher diet, you might find yourself wandering around drooling at every corner, but never truly getting the benefit of the best part of the city.
In short, Brussels is a clean, relaxed city that smells amazing. There are a few good museums, some nice shopping areas, lovely sites to gaze upon, likely crappy coffee, and more important than anything else, a urinating statue. If for whatever reason, you can’t partake of the many food opportunities in Brussels, in might be worth looking for other cities to check out. But all in all, I had a lovely time and might even visit again.
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