Snapshot of Europe: Brussels & Amsterdam
One of the first stops after London, would be a short ferry ride across the English channel to Brussels and Amsterdam. Part of this trip I took was with a tour, so things were a little rushed and I may not have eaten all the things or all the places on my checklist, but there is always next time ey?
Bypassing the northernmost tip of France and into Belgium: home to some of the world’s best beer and chocolate where I sure had my fair share… The waffles are amazing. Though not exceptionally crispy, the fresh buttery aroma from the warm waffles, with melted Belgium chocolate and juicy strawberries was mouth-watering. Be wary not to visit any place that pre-make their waffles and reheat for you, that is an abomination. You may have to walk a short distance away from the main square to find some less touristy stands (some quick suggestions: this and this, but really just walk further and you’ll likely strike gold).
I think part of reason why things taste so good when you are in a new country is partly because you are on holidays, you are in a good mood, and some of us (*ahem) have filtered out the best places to visit after weeks of research. Then again there are times when you go with such sky-high expectations, you may be disappointed. All part of the experience.
No doubt that you must have and bring home plenty of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! Truffles? Chocolate blocks? Pralines? Nom nom nom. Unless you are keen on particular brands, I would suggest just trying different brands, and trust your tastebuds rather than the price tag.
So before you think that all I did was eat, I did see the sights as well. The atomium and mini-Europe on the outskirts of town. The famous Grand Place (aka Brussels Historic Center) smack bang in the middle of everything you need to see in Brussels is a must. Having an after dinner stroll is a must any photographer, as the night approaches and tourists dissipate, pockets of lights start to illuminate the square. Manneken Pis for those who know of this little statue of a peeing kid. I personally am not sure why it’s such a drawcard. I’d much rather the chocolate fountain version.
And please visit but do not eat on the Rue des Bouchers-Beenhouwerstraat. It is a known tourist restaurant gauntlet. Drop yourself in a beer garden instead (Delirium café pictured). And don’t leave without trying mussels and frites (this actually originates from Belgium)!
[From top to bottom]: Brussels Expo centre (adjacent the Atomium), Church of St Gudule, Maison du Roi (King’s House), Manneken Pis, Brussels Hotel de ville (town hall).
Whilst sitting on a bus can be dreary, driving through the countryside just about anywhere in Europe is however full of stunning scenery. If you are on a train / bus and can’t stop on the roadside as you please, please crank up the shutter speed and snap away. Nothing worse than blurred photos! Although glass reflections is probably just as bad.
I suppose you would want to see a few traditional windmills if you’re passing through the Netherlands, and buy some souvenir clogs. They say it’s great for your feet, but I can’t imagine wood-solid shoes being more comfortable than my super cushiony shoes…
A short stop in Amsterdam to see the beautiful canals by foot and by canal cruise will take up most of a day or two. There are plenty of museums around (from Anne frank house all the way to Heineken beer museum), markets, coffeeshops. If you want to try some muffins / brownies at a “coffee” shop, then *ahem* look out for the green café signs.
By day the infamous red light district is hardly recognisable, but by night the fluoro lights from the windows light up with scant clad woman posing behind them. Certainly not everyone’s cup-of-tea, but still an attraction in its own right, though much to the distaste of the locals. You will likely see the occasional pointing / giggling / embarrassed tourist who scuttles through the district.
[Contrasts of Dutch countryside vs. Dam Square in central Amsterdam.]
Grand marnier and apple pancake, and mushroom omelette [pictured above], alongside the Anne Frank museum, Volendam, tulips and more windmills.
Just a quick mention about the pancakes at the Pancake bakery. Savoury options include items like: spinach & camembert pancake, mushroom omelette which are very scrumptious. I really enjoyed the apple and Grand Marnier pancake – crispy and slathered in alcohol! Nothing dramatic, but great fillers.
For those familiar with Anne Frank, then make your way down there to personally experience and feel of the claustrophobic walls within the Anne Frank Museum.
[Pictured above]: profiteroles; clogs in the making; spinach and camembert pancake; the canals of Amsterdam and finally a coffeeshop.
[above] the beautiful seaside town of Volendam where we had dinner; Royal Palace in Dam Square; and the sun setting on Amsterdam.
>>> For more travel posts on Europe see: HERE.