As if you might need a reason to visit Belgium and Brussels specifically, let me tell you now to mark your calendars for the 2012 Brussels Antiques and Fine Arts Fair (www.brafa.be) held in January. I went in 2010 and it was worth the time spent checking out one of the oldest antique fairs in the world. Even if you aren’t into “old” things, these are classic items with a limited number of 120 exhibitors hand-picked for the fair. Now is the perfect time to stretch the imagination and discover the art of fine art and living.
Of course once you are in Brussels you surely won’t be expected to spend every moment of spare time indoors. The city is a labyrinth of streets and roads, a cool city where there is something to discover down every wind and turn. Particularly notice the art in this little European village, well at least it feels like a quaint European Village even if it’s that and more.
Brussels has around 1800 restaurants, a lively nightlife (think beer, beer and more beer) and for chocolate lovers you won’t find a place that will make you any happier. With chocolate shops (around 2000 in all) like Pierre Marcolini, Neuhaus and Wittamer it’s a great find, really. After window shopping it will be chocolate, but what to choose? How about some “pralines” (individual filled-chocolate) perhaps in the form of “manons” with “ganache” (chocolate cream) or marzipan and nougatine filling, it all sounds good. Is your mouth watering yet? The master chocolate makers in Belgium have also as of late tried their hand with some experimentation; flavors like ginger, violet and jasmine with chocolate are these days the norm. It’s a gourmet trail you can’t refuse so take at least one or two days just to discover the amazing food and chocolate (and did I say beer).
Of course, speaking of food, I will silently remind you that Belgians can’t get enough of their chips (that means French fries) or also appropriately called “friteries.” Once you’ve tasted the likeness you can’t go back either. There are little stands that serve up bags of friteries and it’s not just the tourists that partake (let them add the mayonnaise).
Beer, we can’t talk about Belgium without a bit about the beer in this country. Renowned breweries have brewed this beverage in Belgium for years, some are still brewing and the best way to discover the variety of tastes are in one of the little local bars, on tap, again, please! Just an aside, there are more than 400 types of beer from which to choose.
After the food coma you’ll invariably be in from the state that the Brussel’s cuisine has left you in, you need to walk. Museums are a good way to get exercise and learn about where you’re visiting.