With the wonders of Eurostar one can jump on the train and within a couple of hours be in one of many cities in Europe.
A few years back I decided to catch the first train to the picturesque city of Brussels for a day of exploring, culture and waffles.
The day started early, picking up the first train out of London St. Pancras and travelling through the English, French and Belgian countryside. Within a couple of hours I was stepping off the train in the centre of Brussels.
With only a few fours to spend exploring the city I had the sights I wanted to see planned out ready on foot.
The first stop was the Grand Palace – the central square in Brussels. Surrounded by the city’s Town Hall and the King’s House containing the Museum of the City of Brussels. Considered one of the most beautiful places in the world, the square is well known for it’s decorative buildings and it did not disappoint. With the bright blue skies in early May the UNESCO world heritage site was something to be seen. Surrounded by chocolate shops and cafes – the square was simply bustling with activity and certainly the centre of the city.
A very short walk away from the square you will stumble across St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, rather impressive with its Gothic architecture inside and out. Free to enter, visitors can wonder inside taking in the beauty of the stain glass windows, organise a guided tour or join one of the Holy masses.
Just a few minutes away from the cathedral you can wonder into the beautiful parks of Parc de Bruxelles – the largest urban park in the centre of Brussels. The 32 acre rectangular park offers a tranquil space away from the main hub of the city. Here I spent some time soaking up the sun whilst enjoying an ice cream and taking in the various surroundings within.
If I was visiting for longer than a few hours I would have simply picked a spot with a good book and a bottle of wine and spent the whole day soaking up the sun without a care in the world.
Further afield I stumbled across yet another beautiful space – Parc du Cinquantenaire, a national landmark in Brussels. The impressive arches of Cinquantenaire, home to an art and army museum, can be found outside the inner circle of the park. If time is on your side you can climb to the top of the arch for free to see a great view of Brussels and the European Quarter. For those who are just interested simply wonder around the park itself, take pictures of the beautiful surroundings, run, walk or simply sit on one of the many benches with a good book.
The Royal Palace of Brussels situated at the front of Brussels Park, the official palace of the King and Queen of Belgians. Open to the public for free in the summer visitors will have access to certain rooms of the palace, like the Mirror Room with the artwork “Heaven of Delight” – artwork consisting of a thousand beetles stuck to the ceiling. Sadly, I visited on a Monday when the palace was closed to visitors. So I only got to admire it from the outside.
The smallest sight I saw on my day trip to Brussels was the Mannequin de Pis – the small bronze statue depicting a naked boy urinating in the fountains basin. Of all the sights to see not only was this the smallest but also the one that seemed to be attracting most visitors.
No trip to the Belgian city would be complete without a visit to one of the many chocolate shops or a pit stop for a waffle or two before jumping on the train back to London.
Despite being in the city for a short few hours I managed to clock a good few miles and many impressive sites.
If you ever have the opportunity to take a day trip on the Eurostar I would thoroughly recommend considering Brussels as your destination. With its beautiful architecture and culture it makes for a wonderful day trip.