My journey started in California on November 18th and wound me up in Brussels - one eleven hour flight and three hour train ride (via London) later - on November 19th.
“He who would travel happily must travel light.”
– Antoine de St. Exupery
One of the things I love most about Europe is the ease of accessibility. Once you are there it's a breeze to hope between countries, or travel great distance, quickly.
That to say, if you're within a country or two there is no reason you
shouldn't pack a small bag and pop over to this sweet city to explore for a day.
Brussels: a city of art and architecture.
While the majority of my time in Brussels was spent on a film set, that definitely didn't stop me from getting out and about and finding a couple great little spots to share with you.
From coffee shops to vintage thrifts here are a couple suggestions for a day in Brussels (and a little extra if you're keen).
HINTERLAND! My absolutely favorite spot in Brussels. I found this puppy one morning and I spent the rest of my time trying to figure out how I could eat there every day.
Not only is it a great atmosphere to escape the chill, catch up with a friend or have a write sesh but they offer an array of gluten free, vegan options both in savory and sweet! Such a great way to start the morning.
address: Chaussée de Charleroi 179, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium
hours:mon-fri: 8a-6p, sun: 10a-6p
This little (but not lacking a sweet terrace!) coffee shop is a perfect next stop. Located right around the corner from Hinterland this sweet little specialty coffee shop won't disappoint.
Grab a cup to go or, if you happen to be there in winter like we were hustling from warm space to warm space, hunker down and enjoy.
Address: Chaussée de Charleroi 203, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium
Hours: Closed Monday, Tue-Sun: 8a - 6p
click images for credits
So you're fed and watered (caffeinated, I hope), now what?
I was in Brussels in the dead of winter. December was touting a highs of 28-32° F, so if I can suggest a good wander from the bowels of winter I think its safe to say that your time will be just as good, if not better, when it's not freezing AF. If you do happen to go during a cold time of year my best suggestion is a warm pair of GOOD boots and a big, fat scarf.
The morning my friend and I chose to adventure was perfect. The sky was bright and grey; the air crisp and free of rain. We left Hinterland after a good meal and stepped out onto the street without a plan. We simply picked a direction and started walking.
While crossing one of the streets I looked left and almost wet myself - yes, people, I'm from California we don't have stuff like this - there was a FULL BLOWN CASTLE at the end of the street. Well, turns out it's a prison... but you know. Still cool.
Did I mention I love Europe? Just go, Walk. You’re sure to stumble upon some hidden gems.
address: Avenue Ducpétiaux 106, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium
If you're interested in art, be sure to lock in your Brussels Card which gives you 24, 48 or 72 hr access to over 35 museums!
KNEES TO CHIN
With all that walking, I expect you might want to sort yourself a little snack. Provided you didn't wander to the nether-reaches of Brussels I have the perfect place!
A couple of friends took us to Knees to Chin after a long day and it quickly topped my list. The thing I loved most about this fresh and easy spot was that it was both filling and light. I'm pretty sure I put down two rolls quicker than the dude next to me and while full, I felt great.
These fat rice paper rolls are stuffed with an array of delicious goodies and come with a ton of dipping sauce options. Perfect fuel to get you through to dinner!
Address: Rue de Livourne 125, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30a - 10p, Closed Sunday
Post-Lunch wander cont.
Early evening brought us to Rue Haute (street) where found a couple of cool shops. Some of my favorites were:
Melting Pot Kilo: a nifty little vintage shop that charges by weight.
Address: Rue Haute 154 1000 Brussels
Hours: Mon-Sun: 10a-5:30p
L'atelier: a concept store selling clothing, amazing wood furniture, as well as coffee and food.
Address: Rue Haute 64, 1000 Brussels
hours: Closed Mon-Tues, Wed-Sun: 10a-6p
and… if you’re lucky you just might find a waffle truck hanging about. Just kidding, I think they're always around. Do it.
Got your fill yet? At least for the day? Great.
Let's get you dinner.
Premier Comptoir Thai
One of the nights we went out in search of my favorite food group (yes. food. group.) Thai and nailed down this spot.
I wouldn’t say it’s the cheapest place ever, but it was certainly worth the couple extra dollars. AND Premier Comptoir is located less than a mile - 0.6 to be exact) from Rue Haute, so take a stroll and get yourself some grub!