Brussels is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, and it felt a lot like being in any American city. I didn’t anticipate this at all and truly appreciated that level of diversity when I first arrived there on Saturday! The first thing I did was look for an ATM and a food market. The first ATM I stopped at was broken so I decided to look for another one. The square I walked through, called Place Communale Gemeenteplein, was within a predominantly Muslim neighborhood and they were the sweetest people I met while there! I think what most Europeans share in common is their interest in student travelers, especially those from America. They’re quick to pick up our accents and ask us where we’re from! Some of the best conversations I’ve had with locals happen during checkout lines, and that always makes me feel more at ease, no matter the city.
Something I quickly noticed were the multilingual street signs, they were usually in French and English. Take this sign at the airport for example.
I know it’s an airport sign but literal street signs were in both French and English. Lol, so that was unique to Brussels. It’s the first city I’ve noticed that in.
I went on a walking tour which lasted about 3 hours while I was there, and even though it poured the entire time, it was more than worth the time. I’ll talk more about free walking tours in an upcoming Travel Tips blog. Our tour group went from 20 people down to about 10-ish by the end of the tour, and our shoes and clothes were soaked by the end. Although I wouldn’t say I did much during my time in Brussels, I did partake in some activities well known in the Belgian culture.
For example, rubbing the Monument Everard `t Serclaes which Belgians say will either give you 3 wishes, 7 years of good sex or become beautiful. Lol, I thought this was hilarious but a lot of tourists (myself included) were quick to rub the statue. A few other things Brussels is well known for is for their fries, chocolate, and waffles! I stopped for some fries on my way to the airport, but I wouldn’t recommend the parlor I went to (it’s between Central Station and Grote Mark- yellow and blue building, trust me–find another 1). Their fries were okay. Another thing I did was go to the Delirium Cafe with a friend I met during the tour. I’d recommend any traveling student, over the age of 18 to stop by Delirium. And it’s definitely not a cafe, lol!
So yeah, it rained 2/3 days I spent in Brussels , but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the city! Overall, I’d say there’s no reason to stay in Brussels for a long period of time if you’re planning on traveling there.
Don’t miss the statue of petit Julien (peeing boy)!
Tips for traveling in Brussels:
- A single trip public transit ticket is 2.10 euros.
- A train ticket to the airport is about 9 euros.
- Head to the airport at least 3 hours early. 1 hour for travel + 2 hours before the time the boarding gate closes.
- Don’t jaywalk. It’s illegal, and you can be fined up to 50 euros.
- Get a map from your hostel, and always have it with you. It’s pretty easy to follow in case you get lost.
- The further away you get from the center of the city, the cheaper the food 🙂
- If you know any French, speak it!