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“Europe part 7…Amsterdam to Brussels…”


Day 8…Thursday 16th June

After a restless night sleep, (thanks hayfever!!) we packed up the car, got our deposit back, realised there were actual maps at the front desk which we could have done with the night before and headed out on our final day. Destination? Brussels. With a few diversions of course. First up, the beautiful city of Cologne.Despite the scaffolding (surprise surprise!!) this ‘Episcopal Church of the Archdiocese of Cologne and UNESCO World Heritage Site’ was simply astounding. Construction started in 1248 and after several constructions and reconstructions and damage during the war, we have what is there today, a stunning gothic architectural masterpiece. My favourite cathedral so far. After admiring the beauty of it, we went back to the car and I suggested going via Luxembourg to get to Brussels.We got drenched. I only managed to snap two photos of the view over the city before I ended up soaked through to my underwear. Then it was a sprint back to the car, a decision to skip lunch and head out through the downpour straight to Brussels. It proved to be a good decision. We got to Brussels late-ish afternoon and parked at our hotel, Pillows Grand Hotel Rouppe. Another argument ensued about what to have for dinner as we could not decide. Nathan eventually decided he wanted steak so where better to go than Hard Rock Cafe. We had a great view out of our bedroom window, despite the shoddy weather we had had for most of our time in Europe. Brussels was amazing, including our view out the window of Hard Rock Cafe.The buildings, oh my god, were just stunning. The Grand Place is made up of the guild houses, city hall and the Maison du Roi and the UNESCO World Heritage Site is allegedly one of the most beautiful places in the world. I happen to agree. Once we had stuffed our faces, we headed out into the square to admire the buildings a bit more.It was just beautiful. Underneath the buildings were restaurants, cafes, bars and chocolate shop after chocolate shop after chocolate shop. I think we went in and out of pretty much every chocolate shop that we passed. They smelt so good as we walked in. Each shop was different too.Waffles, chocolates, ice cream, macaroons, biscuits, truffles, you name it, they had it. Some were sort of pick ‘n’ mix style, some you could create your own gift boxes, some were in the shape of the ‘Manneken Pis,’ (which I’ll get to later) and others were full on slabs of delicious Belgian chocolate. Yum!!! The streets were busy with people admiring the decorative displays in the windows and the stunning architecture that went along with it.The ‘Manneken Pis’ is a 17th century bronze statue of a little boy peeing. You wouldn’t think something sort of so ‘trivial,’ could become such an iconic statue within this city.  There are so many tales that bring this little statue to life. One tale describes a visiting father who lost his son in the city and with help from villagers to find the boy, he gave this statue to them as a thank you. Another story is about a spy during a siege of the city. He allegedly put out a ploy to bomb the city by ‘peeing’ on the explosives. There are so many stories that go with this tiny statue and no one really knows why, but the stories make for exciting tales within the city and to those visiting. They even dress him up in different outfits to coincide with the city’s calendar! The clouds had started to disappear lighting up the stunning architecture within the city. We passed back through the Grand Place and the buildings had come to life under the sunlight. The Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula was the next beauty we stumbled across and it sort of reminded me of Notre Dame in Paris. I can’t tell you how much this city had captured my heart with all its stunning architecture. This 16th century church was no exception. A brabant gothic style buiding and Belgium’s national church, it plays host to the royal weddings and funerals.Le Mont des Arts. A stunning garden with views down to the city where you could see the towering spire of the town hall. The sun was at an awkward angle in order to get a decent picture to really do it justice, but it was beautiful. This area is surrounded by museums and is dedicated to art.Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenburg was another beautiful place to see. The sun was still shining through at this point so the buildings were lit up against the black sky. This is an 18th century neoclassical church which looked more like a palace than a church.The Church of our Blessed Lady of Sablon sat along the roadside in the Sablon area of Brussels, perched atop a hilltop. This 15th century church is located within the historic part of the city.We also came across this beautiful restaurant covered in pink vines and flowers on the outside. It was striking and you could see it from quite a distance!There were even more beautiful churches and buildings everywhere we looked. From all different centuries, each building had its own unique style and architecture. They were all just beautiful. If you love buildings/architecture then this is the place for you. We walked for miles and miles and we still only scratched the surface. There is still so much to see in this stunning city. Satisfied with another great day, we got back to the hotel and hit the sack.

Until next time…

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