Mussels in Brussels (and Brugge)
Updated: Jan 30
#1 Thing to Do in Belgium? Eat 3 pounds of mussels with a Stella Atrois.
December 5, 2019
After classes on Thursday, Kat, Elise, and I flew from Newcastle to Brussels, Belgium. Once we landed, we went straight to our Airbnb and then headed to bed.
As always, we decided we would rather spend the majority of our budget on food and experiences, so our accommodation was not luxurious. We agreed to rent an Airbnb that had a "pull out couch" instead of a bed, even though there were three of us. We went into the apartment with low expectations, however, we were a little shocked that we did not have a pull out couch. Instead, we had a smaller sized sectional couch that came with two blankets.
I do have to say, I preferred this Airbnb over some of the others I have stayed in because it was extremely clean. It also came with a big TV hooked up to Netflix.
December 6, 2019
When Kat, Elise, and I woke up on Friday, we put on warm clothes and walked to Maison Dandoy for waffles. I ordered a Brussels waffle, which is rectangular and less dense than a Belgium waffle.
Next, we went to the town square to see the Grand-Place.
Afterwards we walked to the Delirium Bar. As we were walking there, we saw the Mannix de Pis, which translates to "Little Peeing Man." This statue was created in 1618 or 1619. During the holidays, the statue is dressed up.. Since the statue gained so much attention, its sister version was created in 1987 called Jeanneke Pis. In 2000 the statues became a trio when Zinneke, the peeing dog statue was created. To see more pictures of the statues, click here. After the Delirium Bar, Kat, Elise, and I walked to Brew Dog for lunch.
The next stop on our list was Brussels Park. In the park we found electric scooters that were activated through the Uber app. Although it was absolutely freezing outside, we spent the next couple of hours cruising through the city. On our self-led tour, we came across a light activation.
The final activity on our list that day was going to the Marche Aux Poissons Christmas Market. At the Christmas market, we ate a wide variety of food for dinner and shopped at the different stores. Then we got to see the light show on Saint Catherine Cathedral.
December 7, 2019
Kat, Elise, and I woke up early to catch a train to Brugge. After about an hour train ride, we got off and walked to the center of town. Luckily, we passed by Chocolatier Dumon and went in to try their chocolate. When we left, we found out that Chocolatier Dumon is supposedly one of the best chocolate shops in Belgium.
Next, Kat, Elise, and I took a canal tour of Brugge. Our tour guide was very knowledgable of the area and was able to point out a lot of cool architecture I would have not recognized on my own.
Following the boat tour, we went to Lovers Bridge and then to the Brugge Christmas Market. Since we were outside in the freezing cold for so long, we wanted to go inside for warm air. We decided the best place to warm up was Bourgogne de Honduras, a brewing company. I had a flight of beer with Wild Thing (the Brewer's choice), Bourgogne des Flandres, Waterloo Triple Hop, Blonden Os (unfiltered), Blond, James Blond, and Gordon X-mas.
After finishing our beers, we waited in line for about 20 minutes to try Vincent Real Belgian Fries. When we finished, Kat, Elise, and I walked to the Belfry building and then the windmills.
Since we were exhausted from the long day, we were craving a big dinner. Although it was expensive, Kat, Elise, and I went to Poules Moules. I was excited because the top thing that I wanted to do while visiting Belgium was enjoy mussels with a Stella Artois. I was very pleased when the waiter brought me a huge pot of mussels. When I asked him how many were in the pot he said three pounds! Eating at Poules Moules was incredible because the restaurant was located right in the city square and in the middle of the Christmas market.
After dinner we walked around the Christmas market. When we got too cold, we decided it was time to get on the train back to our Airbnb in Brussels.
December 8, 2019
On our last day in Belgium, Kat, Elise, and I woke up early so we could go back to Maison Dandoy for breakfast. Rather than getting the waffles to go, we waited in a short line to eat in their tea room. This time, I got the Brussels waffle with Speculoos crumbles and syrup on top. It was absolutely amazing.
When Kat, Elise, and I finished breakfast, we went back to the Airbnb to pack our bags. We called a taxi and went to Atomium. Afterwards we went to the airport.
Epilogue? - I am unsure what to call this next section.
To make our flights cheaper, we flew through Amsterdam on the way home. Sadly, our flight from Belgium to Amsterdam kept getting delayed so we missed our connecting flight. At this moment, I learned two of the most important travel lessons.
Kat bought my plane ticket for me on her credit card so we had the same confirmation number. Elise however, bought her own ticket and was not under the same booking as us. Since we missed our next flight, the airlines automatically booked us onto a new flight. Elise's new flight was supposed to take off four hours from our original flight but Kat and I were rebooked for a flight the next day.
Although Elise is capable of traveling by herself, we did not want to split up. We went to the help desk and asked if Kat and I could be put on Elise's plane. Unfortunately, the plane was booked so we could not. The man was extremely helpful and let us change Elise's flight to the next day so we could be on the same plane.
On the bright side, Kat and I got a meal voucher worth 20 euros to spend in the airport on food. In addition, the airline gave us a hotel room to stay for the night along with a dinner at the hotel restaurant. Surprisingly, the airport hotel was very nice and clean. The only down side was that Elise was not given the food vouchers or the hotel room. This was barely a problem because she split the meals with Kat and I and stayed in our hotel room. It was just a pain that Elise was not given her own meal voucher.
After our free dinner, Elise and Kat were finishing homework. I got all of my work done before the trip so I was just hanging out in the hotel. I looked up how to get into the city of Amsterdam but the cheapest way I could find was $70. I decided I would stay at the hotel instead of spending the money. I think my only regret in life is not going into Amsterdam by myself that night.
To recap, the two main lessons I learned on this trip are
Always book your flight under one booking and Venmo the person who paid - this tip came in handy when Kat, Elise, and I had to evacuate the United Kingdom due to the Covid-19 pandemic and were scared to be separated coming home.
If you ever have an "extra" night in Amsterdam, drop everything that you are doing, and spend the money to get into town. It would have been worth spending less money on clubs and drinks for the following week or so.