I have to say that 2015 I ventured to many places and it was just the start of a new beginning of roaming the world. My first trip of 2016 I wanted to check out a new country and I decided to explore Brussels, Belgium. Brussels is an absolutely beautiful city. The architecture is amazing, the things to do and see, oh and the Belgian waffles were to die for. If you ever make it here and only had one spot to check out, the Grand Place and get a Belgian waffle. A few days prior I was a little suspect about visiting because of the authorities received tips of ISIL attacks so they canceled their NYE fireworks but, of course, that did not stop me from going. Brussels has so much to offer so I was not sure where to start. I started researching via Google because well, Google magic! It's a wonderful tool to find anything and everything. If you are wondering if your question has been asked, I would bet you a cookie that it has. I mean I'm pretty sure I can self-diagnose myself better than my doctor all thanks to google.
Brussels Atomium Red Staircase
First stop was Atomium which is this super cool looking building that you can take an elevator to the top for a decent viewpoint of Brussels. When I was browsing around online looking for places to see, this never popped up. So, here I am on google maps clicking and dragging throughout the city looking for places that may appeal to me. Atomium is located about 15-20 mins north of the city and when I noticed this place of interest, I clicked on it and I saw this awesome photo of a very long and red escalator. I had to go there and get that photo. Come to find out there was more than just a long escalator, it was a building of expression of love the Belgians have for architecture. A quote I found summed it up quite well.
"The story of the Atomium is, above all, one of love, the love that the Belgians have for an extraordinary structure symbolising a frame of mind that wittily combines aesthetic daring with technical mastery. The appearance of the Atomium is unusual and unforgettable. It has a rare quality of lifting everyone’s spirits and firing their imagination."
Diane Hennebert, 2008.
The cost to the Atomium is 11 euro which was a self-guided tour to the top via elevator and then back down where they offer a gift shop and an escalator to the other exhibits. The exhibits themselves didn't really entertain me too much but I was more drawn to the extremely long tunnels of stairs and escalators. On the way down at the end, the escalator lights up in multiple colors. Like a light show through a tunnel which was quite trippy. If I was on acid or some trip drug I know I would be freaking the heck out! After the tour, a magnet at the gift shop was a must and then check out the park. The park would be good for a picnic or take a wog through. Yes, a wog, not jog. It's a word, google that shit! My favorite spot was this path on the way to the round-a-bout by the Atomium that had this cylinder shaped trees. A must photo-op!
Brussels Atomium Red Escalator Up
Stop number two was the Botanical Gardens (Plantentiun Meise). I didn't go there to check out flowers don't bloom in winter because there were not a single flower blooming while I was there. I was there to check out this awesome castle I found via Google maps once again. To enter the gardens, it cost 7 euros. Honestly, I thought it was waste during the winter but maybe in the summer, sure. I was still going in because the Bouchout Castle was there and I am a sucker for a sweet looking castle. Built in the 12th century surrounded by water on 3 sides. It is so cool to see building still around from that era. Yes, of course, it has been renovated but still. it is an incredible site. Apparently the Mexican republicans executed the Emperor at the time in 1867. I am curious to know why.
The Bouchout Castle
Basilica of the Sacred Heart was our next stop. This was mainly just a photo-op because I enjoyed the look of the building with the very long park in front of it. I don't have too much to say about this bad boy besides it is a beautiful sight to see and worth taking a photo. Mind you, good luck finding a parking spot nearby. Traffic is atrocious and the round-a-bout is a circle of death!
To finish off the day/night, it was time to head down to the Grand Place which was near the Manneken Pis and his sister Jeanneke-Pis that were must see tourist attractions but they were no more than just a photo-op just to say you have been there. Overly crowded and I hate crowds, I snapped my photo and ran off away from the 30+ tourists trying to do the same thing or better yet, take a selfie with a little boy pissing in the background. The Grand Place is an absolutely stunning market square. The buildings that dated back from the 17th century that lined the market were marvelous. The detail of the sculptures and the incredibly bright gold statues which you will see in the photos very impressive. The other cool thing is that it's a UNESCO world heritage site. One thing I could not help but notice was the absurd amounts of people with selfie sticks. I have mentioned this in previous articles but oh my lanta! I swear every other person had one which you will notice in a few of the photos. Nothing wrong with it, it is just an observation I noticed. Who needs someone to take their photo when you have a selfie stick?! I don't blame them, I would not want to hand them my cell phone or $2,000 camera to a take a photo with a chance of them taking off with it. My buddy and I wandered around the market for a while snapping some photos and we ended up stopping at the Hard Rock Cafe which is in one of the corners of the square that overlooked the market. I was not impressed with the steak, I ordered and the waiter asked how I liked it and I was honest with him and tell him it sucked so he offered free dessert but I declined because my belly desired a Belgian Waffle, but I do give the Belgians props for making quality beer.
Before it was time to drive back home, I HAD to stop and eat a Belgian Waffle I kept seeing through the alleys and streets near the grand place. Oh, by the way, sweet shops and souvenir shops were everywhere but they pretty much had the same stuff. Just stop in a store and get your gift or waffle. I decided to stop at Los Churros that was around the corner and they had this amazing display of these waffles that had all kinds of toppings on them. I was drooling over these edible miracles of deliciousness I could not stop gawking at. I ordered one that had strawberries and bananas that were topped with white and dark chocolate. Oh. my. god. I would get SO fat if I lived here. One other cool thing was they had a legit orange juice machine. Freshly squeezed orange juice being made right in front of you. I would have tried it but I don't think an OJ would have set well in my tummy after having a beer.