We arrived in Amsterdam feeling surprisingly well rested and were soon on the high-speed Thalys train from Amsterdam-Schipol to Brussels. Check out our trip itinerary here. We were greeted by rain, rain, and more rain. There is always a risk of poor weather when travelling in the offseason, and especially in Europe, March and April can be quite gray and rainy which would be the theme of the European leg of our trip. (You can read about the North American leg of our trip here and here.)
After what seemed to be a slight break in the weather, we set off to explore Brussels. We had only made it a few blocks though before the rains resumed and so we took up refuge in Galeries St. Hubert, which is a beautiful covered shopping arcade, perfect for us to wander through on a rainy day.
With this being very close to Easter, the Belgium chocolate houses were out to impress with their Easter displays!
We may have sampled one or two items, and couldn't resist stopping for a coffee at Le Pain Quotidien, which gets Bettina every time with their French countryside décor.
Naturally, we also had cravings/withdrawals for pain au chocolat that needed to be fulfilled!
We continued our tour of Brussels, and were in awe of the architecture at Grand Place, a huge city square surrounded in 14th century buildings. (Full disclosure: While we did take a lot of pictures on the first day it was cloudy and grey, so these pictures are all from when we returned late the next day!)
European architecture is truly amazing. We could have stood there and admired the square and its beautiful buildings for hours.
Exploring more of the city - we stumbled across lush parks and more impressive architecture.
And of course, we couldn't resist getting some waffles to keep us going.
Jetlag got the better of us in the early evening, and we headed back to the hotel, equipped with a bottle of red wine and some of Belgium's finest cheese and bread.
Bettina and I like to tour cities during day and night-time, as often times, a city completely transforms. We found Brussels to be very lively at night and just as picturesque as during the day time.
And the best part about touring Brussels at night is the mandatory and famous midnight snack - Belgian fries. After doing some research, Bettina found Fritland, which is everything you would think it is by its name - and so delicious!
Of course we couldn't miss out on dessert which was Belgian chocolate samples at almost every chocolaterie. And there are quite a few as you could imagine.
On our last morning, Bettina (ever in search of interesting coffee shops) and I (ever in search of caffeine) enjoyed coffee with a view at the café at the musical instruments museum, the mim restaurant.
You basically need to walk into the lobby of the museum and take a super old school elevator to get to the top floor of the building. We had read online before visiting that the service wasn’t great and that you should only go for the view. Let’s just say the view and the service lived up to their reputations.
We enjoyed another leisurely stroll through the city, knowing we would leave the next day.
Bettina particularly loved this old carousel which we found in Brussels Park.
Shop Bettina's Look
And she couldn't resist the spring flowers groing everywhere.
Looking for some small-town Belgium charm, we left on a daytrip to Bruges the next day.
What about these ones?