I was really looking forward of going to Brugge, but it ended up being pretty boring to me--we ate at a really mediocre (sp?) restaurant in the main square and the shops we just pretty much lace oriented--which I didn't want to buy.
Unique Suggestions: Eat chocolate at all the chocolate shops!
Fun Alternatives: Stay in Brussels and eat waffles and chocolate!
The Maison des Brasseurs (the Brewers Guildhouse) on the Grand' Place is one of the most stunning buildings on the square with its ornate gilded masonery and statuary serving as testament to the wealth of the Belgian brewing industry.
Having noticed on my previous trip that the guildhouse hosts the "Museum of the Belgian Brewers" I made a point of visiting it this time round. What a waste of time and money! The only publicly accessible area is the basement which contains a pleasant enough little bar with the walls adorned with brewery paraphernalia and another room with some modern stainless steel bits of brewing kit and a big screen showing the brewing process.
Contrasting it with my visits to both Carlsberg and Hieneken's excellent museums (along with a host of smaller ones) this pathetic effort failed totally to capture my interest. As I said, the bar was pleasant enough, quite characterful but as the only visitor was totally devoid in atmosphere. The barman, who took my 6 Euro entry fee, was off-hand and unwelcoming and the place was such a disappointment I didn't even bother claiming my inclusive beer.
Fun Alternatives: Brussels has loads of interesting bars and cafes where you'll actually feel welcome and quite of a few of these are far more interesting than this place - and without the 6 Euro cover charge!
Here you can learn the history of Belgium through documents, videos and memorabilias belonged to various kings and queens.
The BELvue Museum is housed in a 18th hotel for wealthy people. Personally I found this museum quite boring.
This museum is located in Place des Palais, 7. It's near the Royal Palace.
Fun Alternatives: You could visit the Musical Instrument Museum or the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. These are not far from the BELvue Museum.
It looked so easy. Just put in your credit card and call the US. I had missed my flight at the Brussels airport so I needed to call home just to let my wife know when to go to the airport to pick me up. I looked for the fees but could not find them. I figured that it would not be cheap but I could not have guessed $15 connection fee, $5 dollars per minute with a minimum of 6 minutes and one dollar just to use the system. I know this does not come up to the $58 they charged me, but who says this was an honest operation.
Oh, when I called them they said that they could have refunded me about $20 but could not because I had blocked my card fearful of possible illegal use after a warning call from my credit card company.
Unique Suggestions: All I can suggest is that you avoid these phones. There was one phone on the same wall that took coins, perhaps that would be safer.
Fun Alternatives: Go to the Airport Supermarket and buy a beer.
We walked around town all day, had a few beers and hadn't had anything to eat but a waffle for breakfast. We were really looking forward to the perfect portion of chips. We decided to buy them at Friterie Tabora, located in one of the houses that are built around the church at Rue de Tabora, only a short walk away from Grand Place. A queue outside gave us hope that this was a popular place with good chips. How wrong we were! The chips were wobbly and greasy, tasting of old oil. Disgusting. I threw most of them away and stayed hungry.
Unique Suggestions: Let the others in the queue know how bad the chips are. And the rest of the world, too, that's why I am writing this here! In a country that is famous for its chips it's almost blasphemic to sell bad chips I think.
Fun Alternatives: I am sure there are great chippers in Brussels. You only have to find them. Maybe we should have asked the locals. You definitely should!
The museum of brewery is located in the corner of the grand place. When you walk down the steps,you enter a room with old barrels and equipment in it. You think to yourself "now this looks like its going to be interesting!", so you pay your money (5 euros if I recall correctly). But this single room is pretty much the sum total of the experience. There is a second room, which has a few big brewing containers, and a video about brewing, shown in various languages. But that is it. Nothing more. Nothing really about the history of brewing and the few items in the first room you enter are unlabeled.
Unique Suggestions: Ummm... just don't do it. You WILL feel ripped off. I wish I could recommend something to you to make it bearable, but really all I can say is avoid it. There is a bar within the museum, but the atmostphere looks far from exciting.
Fun Alternatives: There are all sorts of great bars where you can try a range of Belgian beers. Go an enjoy them instead!
This street is nothing but restaurants (it's off the Rue Marche aux Herbes). They all serve the same food - 4 course meal for a set price (they start at 18 euros and then as you move further down the street, the price is less). A waiter at every restaurant will come out and try to talk you into eating there.
Unique Suggestions: My aunt finally told one of the waiters that we would eat at his restaurant for 10 euros (2 euros off the price of the set menu). He agreed, but only if we ate inside. While my 3 travel companions enjoyed their meals immensely (except for the dessert...we got creme brulee), I got the lamb chops, and they weren't good.
Our menu included: before dinner drink (wine with blackcurrant), appetizer (I had smoked salmon), main course, dessert.
Fun Alternatives: I would suggest eating somewhere outside the Grand Place and the Rue des Bouchers...those are both very touristy, but at least you'll get a cheaper meal at Rue des Bouchers. Go to some areas that are a little quieter and less crowded, and you're likely to eat better for less.
Quick is the Brussels equivalent of MacDonalds. It offers the standard hamburger range.
It is saying something that I would rather eat in MacDonalds than Quick. Quality, cleanliness, and service I have found all to be wanting.
Unique Suggestions: You are better going to a "chicken and chips" or kebab shop if you want fast food.
All around Grand Place, you will find the famous Belgian lace. What is amazing is that I don't any Brusselian owing some Belgian or Brussels lace.
This is a typical tourist shopping.
Unique Suggestions: If you really want this expensive craft, well, that's your choice. Maybe a present for Grand'Ma.
Fun Alternatives: Well, there are so many things to bring back from Brussels, starting with beers and chocolates.
My first time in Falstaff was a pleasant surprise. My beer guidebook at the time listed it as a former great beer café that had become merely an Art Nouveau masterpiece with an all too predictable beer menu. I was bowled away by the décor and though the beer selection was limited I was impressed when my choice arrived with proper glass and bottle, label facing me on a silver platter by a tuxedoed waiter who treated me well despite my pedestrian attire. That the price was ridiculously low didn’t hurt matters. Ten years later I returned with Doreen who adores all things Art Nouveau to find an even more restricted beer menu and more disappointingly a flippant wait staff that treated us obviously as an afterthought. My beer came in its proper glass but it was already poured sans bottle or silver platter. That the place was fairly empty did not go unnoticed and it is unlikely we’ll ever set foot there despite its grand appearances. Prices have gone up and with the devaluation of the dollar appreciably so. It’s only natural to look for a better quality of service at such costs.
Unique Suggestions: Stiff the wait staff, maybe they'll get the idea that tips are contingent on some level of service.
Fun Alternatives: Try Cirio across the street. It's probably not much better but its where I'll go for a peek at Art Nouveau next time.
There is a bar called Fat Boys in Place Lux. It is designed as an American bar but the prices are outrageously high compared to others in the area
Fun Alternatives: there are several English speaking bars in town like Churchills or O'rileys they are less expensive
For Ketchup lover..dont forget bring u on bottle... u have to pay 10 and sometimes 20 cents of euro for little bag...Amazing!!..
Fun Alternatives: Fancy restaurant downtown expensives but nice...but if u try the turkish ones located on the top hill in Botanique station .
Over there is another world u going to find lots of shopping places...like open market...nice and fresh bread...real good place to go but dont go late..very close is the red area..so pay attention.
try the waffles...very nice too but just plain...they said are the best in the world...i dont think so...!!!...the chocolates ..are ok...the good for me r from switzerland..
If you fly into Charleroi with Ryanair, or whoever else flies there, beware of the distance to the city centre. It's a long way in and at least 10yoyos for a one-way journey (2004). So if you're backpacking and/or on a tight budget then allow for this in your pricing.
By the way, this tip will apply to all 'regional' airports.
Unique Suggestions: check out
Fun Alternatives: Pay the extra for a flight to the 'main' airport...is it worth it?
Calling this a "Museum" is a loose term. While it is a little small for your 5 Euros it can be interesting if you are into chocolate.
Unique Suggestions: At least you get a free tasting from the chocolate fountain. It doesn't take very long to see everything.
Mini-Europe on the outskirts of Brussels next to the Atomium somehow symbolised Brussels to me. It is certainly well designed and has a certain ambience to it, but is also at the same time somewhat earnest, overpriced and too well-meaning in its intent.
As the name suggests, it is model village of Europe, with each of the states being represented by a few models of their famous buildings and street scenes. The whole enterprise is linked together by little model boats and trains that scurry around the site. Each country had at least two interactive buttons. One would play the National Anthem of the country, whilst the other would set some of the models in motion. I was quite intrigued by the Irish one, that appeared to consist of a yapping dog - on closer inspection you could see a bucolic scene of a sheepdog rounding up sheep in green fields.
The Spanish models inevitably included a bullfighter, although when we visited the bull had fallen over and lay on it’s side while a small stump of metal made an endless circuit of the model arena.
The Italian models (and I'm normally very keen on Italian models) included a re-creation of Vesuvius, with plumes of smoke and a vibrating pavement. I feel sorry for those visitors who will be mightily disappointed when they find out this is not in fact a regular event on the Neapolitian Riveria. (it last erupted in 1944)
Unique Suggestions: Take it all with a pinch of salt, and make lots of inappropraiate comments as you pass each country !
Fun Alternatives: Buy an inter-rail ticket and actually go there !
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