Brussels has always been the center of politics and international organizations. The capital of Europe hosts a high number of EU institutions, and is the mother of politics. That was one of the reasons I considered when choosing Belgium for my year abroad, 21-year-old lau full of ideals and politics on her mind. Being at the center of a country divided in 2 linguistically speaking, Brussels has French and Dutch as languages, though French is more commonly used. However, it has become multilingual so far.
WeatherWeather of course can be a B* in many parts of Europe and Belgium is no exception, I remember January and February being especially cold, -20 degrees. Its proximity to the coast welcomes air masses from the ocean, therefore bringing cold winds to the country. Rain likes to live in Belgium, and it is said Belgium is the region with the highest amount of rain in Europe. However snowfalls are not that common.
Architecture & what to see
Architecture is lovely in Belgium but I got the feeling the capital should clean a bit more and pay attention to many buildings which are getting too old and damaged. Brussels has a combination of styles and ages when it comes to buildings.. that, you may love or hate. Art Noveau is also present in Brussels. Some districts in this city have many buildings of this style: Schaerbeek, Ixelles, Saint-Gilles, or the Stoclet Palace (by Josef Hoffman).
Grand Place is the main square of the city which brings more people to take pictures and is UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. There you can find the Town Hall, Breadhouse and guildhalls. Nearby you can see landmarks such as St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral, the Royal Palace and the Palace of Justice.
The well-known Manneken Pis, a kid (fountain) made of bronze, always dressed in a different outfit, surrounded by tourists taking pictures, of course.
If you leave the city center you can find a green environment in the Cinquantenaire park, with a big arch and museums, the Palace of Laeken and Basilica of Sacred Heart.
Atomium is another Belgian symbol which attracts many tourists, though I didn’t really liked it or found anything special. But next to this structure, you can find the Mini Europe Park, which holds maquettes of many famous European buildings (lovely!).
FoodHome to chocolate and beer, Belgium is very known for the waffles. I confess I don’t like them but I found one place in Brugges where they had some that were delicious! There are many restaurants in Brussels as well as cafés and bars. Their cuisine is characterized by the mix of French cuisine and Flemish one. A striking dish for me was the fries with mussels, eaten very often in the restaurants. It’s very easy to find any place that offers waffles, chocolate, and fries around the city.