Our evening in Brussels lasted about three hours, enough time to explore the city and to eat dinner. Brussels is a big city, certainly a place that warrants a multi-day visit, so I felt like this was just a tease. I'll be back.
The first hour of Brussels included a guided tour of a few highlights. The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, was the first stop.
We were able to do a walk through of the gothic style cathedral, as they were prepping for Friday evening mass. Living in the United States, where nothing is quite so old, I'm still mesmerized when I visit churches and cathedrals in Europe.
As we made our way to the Galeries Royales Saint Hubert, we saw cool statues and a street fair.
The Galeries Royales Saint Hubert is an indoor shopping arcade that opened in 1847. It's so pretty and truly made me feel like I had stepped back in time.
As most people know, Belgium is famous for their chocolate. Our tour guide told us something that I didn't know; how chocolate got started in Belgium. It began at this place, Neuhaus. There are now many locations around the world, but the Neuhaus in the Galeries Royales Saint Hubert, is the original location.
Prior to getting involved with chocolate and Smurfs, Neuhaus was an apothecary. Neuhaus moved to Belgium from Switzerland, and used chocolate to mask the flavor of medicine. Soon, he realized that people were coming to his store for the chocolate (taking medicine they didn't need, as a way to get the chocolate) and he shifted to a confectionary shop. According to our tour guide, Neuhaus is what started the chocolate craze in Belgium. I bought the story and a few pounds of truffles. Yum.
Our guide walked us out of the arcade and into a series of narrow streets: Rue des Bouchers, Petite Rue des Bouchers, Rue de la Fourche Petite and Rue Gretry.
On these intersecting streets, really more like alleys, exists over seventy restaurants. It's an international feast, all types of cuisine. The restaurant owners are like carnival barkers, trying to sway you to eat in their restaurant. Aggressive marketing! In many areas, we could only walk single-file, because it was so cramped. I imagine that there are some wonderful food tours in Brussels. I tried to glimpses at all of the stalls to make a plan for dinner. The options were overwhelming!
In part two of my Brussels trip report, I have a very special video of a magical, Disney-esque moment and a famous statue of a peeing boy.