A Day in Brussels ft Lily

Hello everyone! In this post, I'd like to share about everything I did during my day trip to Brussels. I went in April with my friend Lily, who was visiting from Japan! We took the 7AM train from Gare du Nord, arriving at Brussels Midi Station around 9:20AM. When looking for tickets, I often use the Trainline website or SNCF depending on where I'm headed!

Once we arrived, we went to the nearest kiosk to buy the transit pass for the day. The great thing about the unlimited day pass is that it's good for all forms of transport around the entire country, all trains, buses, trams, etc. I read online that if you pay for public transit via contactless payment while riding, they stop charging you after 2 rides, but I didn't get a chance to prove this while I was there. Either way, I highly recommend the Belgian Train (has a blue B on it!) pass for short visits. 

After this, we headed to the nearest available fry shop. Frituur Tabora was one of the only fry places open at 9AM, and had pretty good ratings so we went directly there for 'breakfast'! I got a small fry with barbeque sauce and it was so good. Later when we returned to the shop after walking around, we saw there was a short line outside, so I recommend coming early.

We walked around, trying to find a small market that we saw spoken about in different online forums, but I guess we were out of luck because it wasn't open that day! Even so, we had wonderful weather so we were simply happy to get some sun. 

The best part of exploring with no plan is finding a bunch of hidden gems along the way, and we came across many little boutiques and chocolate shops that we sampled and bought souvenirs from. 

Lily had mentioned a castle and garden area about 30 minutes outside of Brussels that boasted an impressive tulip garden, and around noon we decided to buy tickets to go check it out. I'll admit I was hesitant to cough up 12 euros to visit a garden, but it was totally worth it. The Groot-Bijgaarden Castle is a 17th century castle with extensive grounds covered in a variety of multi-colored tulips. 

It's very much off the beaten path, the walk to the castle was in an industrial area that was a bit run-down, and I was putting my full trust in Google Maps to get us to the right place. Though the way over wasn't glamorous, we had a wonderful time strolling around and taking photos of the flowers. This little detour turned out to be the highlight of our day!

I had to get a photo with my engagement ring and nails, which coincidentally matched with this floral area!

After leaving the garden, we wanted to have a proper lunch together back in town. While riding the train, they suddenly announced that the train was making a sudden stop and everyone had to get off. We were thrown, and it must have reflected on our faces because a nice Belgian woman came over and asked us if we needed any help finding something. She was so kind, she guided us from the train station directly to our lunch place, Chez Leon. 

We got their famous mussels gratin with garlic and some pasta. It was my first time ever having mussels and I didn't expect the cheese to pair well, but I liked it. Lily snapped this photo of me looking very serious about my bread, haha!

Right off of Grand Place, the historic city center area with lots of bars, restaurants and historic buildings, we came across advertisements for Belgian waffles. We knew we couldn't leave Belgium without trying one, so we went to Maison Dandoy for their classic 'Brussels waffle', which had a fluffy texture with a slightly milky and buttery taste. 

We dug into our sweet treat, the ice cream and those homemade strawberry preserves hitting the spot after a long day! We looked out the window and watched the people pass by in comfortable silence. Feeling totally satisfied and a bit sugared up, we decided to take the long walk back to the train station feeling full and ready to take a nap on the train.

I enjoyed my day in Brussels and feel like I saw a lot of the city, so I'm confident giving this city a 'check' on my travel list! 

Thanks for reading, and see you soon! :)