1 1/2 Days in Brussels

brussels belgium the style and beauty doctor

So now I really see the appeal in microblogging in real time while traveling—especially when you travel from city to city. I was in Brussels about ten days ago (although it feels like three months ago) and traveled to two other cities in Belgium and each city I traveled to was more beautiful than the last. Which makes things a little unfair to the previous cities because now my viewpoint is a little tainted. But I would say that I’d love to visit Belgium again to see even more and would re-visit all three cities again.

eglise notre dame du sablon 2
Église Notre-Dame du Sablon (Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon). Dates back to the 15th century

So Brussels. I almost didn’t even make it there because my mom, aka Sylvia Browne, had a bad feeling about me going there because of the recent terrorist attack. Now let me tell you that as a child, growing into my teens, and entering adulthood, there wasn’t one time when my mom told me something wasn’t a good idea and I did it anyway that turned out well. There was the time when I was about 17 and she told me she didn’t want me driving in the rain. I told her I could handle it. And I did. Until the car hydroplaned and only stopped when I hit the car in front of me causing the front of my car to fold up like an accordion and resulted in extensive damage to the radiator. Or the time she warned me about black ice (that’s when there’s ice on the streets and sidewalk but it looks black like the asphalt so it’s not very detectable) and I shooed her off and walked outside and wound up sliding halfway underneath a parked car. I mean, I could go on because there’s a list of stories like this but we want to get into talking about Brussels.

So after a while one starts to use their mom’s warnings as an omen and you heed to her fears. But like psychic Sylvia Browne (may she RIP) was often epically correct, she was also wrong at times and thank goodness my mom was wrong about her bad feelings about me being in Brussels. I was on edge though the first night I got in—it was National Day and there were a lot of people in the streets and fireworks going off—so much on edge that I couldn’t enjoy myself. I had to remind myself that attacks can happen anywhere. My mom was so nervous about Brussels, but we had one of the biggest terrorist attacks right here in NYC. You can’t let fear keep you from living life. I won’t even go into the many ways one can also die that don’t involve terrorist attacks AND are more likely, but I’m trying to keep this post upbeat.

It did help that there were several armed soldiers present at many of the places we visited. We stayed in a business district area (kinda like being in the Financial District here in NYC) so after National Day there weren’t many crowds. Which was great because while I don’t mind doing some tourist-y things, I’m not the biggest fan of crowds (they make me think the worst—like what if the zombie apocalypse hits and then I get eaten because everyone starts to turn so quickly) and when you travel it’s an amazing experience to get a glimpse of what life is like for locals. And locals everywhere tend to avoid their version of NYC’s Times Square like the plague, too.

We met up with our guide, the lovely Paquita who was originally from Spain but had lived in Brussels for quite some time. She was such a delight to be around and I kinda wish I could still be in Brussels now talking with her and learning more about the city. Since it was just me and Tracy, our mini tour was tailored to our interests: food, fashion, and local culture. One cannot go to Brussels without heading to Maison Dandoy to have a Brussels waffle (and the many other delicious treats). Yes, there are differences in the waffles—I’ll tell you about the Liege waffle in my Liege post. The Brussels waffle is often light in texture, rectangular in shape, and many are simply garnished with powdered sugar on top. You might also see many of these sold for 1€ that are loaded with various fruits and sauces (our guide said those aren’t the “real” Brussels waffles and have all those toppings to mask the bland taste—and I had someone comment on my Instagram post that she loves the ones with all the toppings). All I know is that Maison Dandoy Brussels waffle was GOOOOOOD.

brussels waffle maison dandoy
Brussels waffle at Maison Dandoy

maison dandoy brussels waffle liege waffle
Brussels waffles being made at Maison Dandoy—there are some Liege waffles in the back

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Pierre Marcolini

To continue on the food theme, we couldn’t pass through without having some Belgian chocolates. We were off to the flagship store of Pierre Marcolini (Rue des Minimes 1 1000 Bruxelles) who is kinda like the Karl Lagerfeld of chocolates. The store was decadently dressed up in flowers and a fun marquee and then you go inside and it’s like a haute couture runway show except it’s a chocolatier…lol. (but I mean, he DOES do collabs with fashion designers) Honestly, I could STILL be there sampling chocolates if I didn’t have schedules to follow. I had a teeny piece of Earl Grey-infused ganache heaven and sampled a Belle Toujours which was essentially iced tea made of the remnants of the cocoa bean they don’t use when making chocolate—a very refreshing chocolate iced tea, if you will. Later on when Tracy and I were exploring on our own, I saw another Pierre Marcolini store and had to stop and get a esquimaux. You pick your ice cream flavor (I picked vanilla) and then your chocolate coating (I picked a hazelnut and milk chocolate coating) and while you go pay it quickly hardens and is ready to enjoy by the time you get back. It was SO good that I wanted to pop into another Pierre Marcolini shop I spotted while we were later in Paris but I hadn’t had lunch yet so I figured I’d wait. I should have just gotten it—we didn’t even walk back that way after lunch :/

pierre marcolini flagship rue des minimes 1 brussels belgium

pierre marcolini brussels chocolates
I had already eaten my esquimaux before I realized I should have taken a pic, but I *think* I got video of them…lol.

#AlwaysGetTheEsquimaux

Belgium is of course home to many chocolate shops—Godiva, Mary, and of course the inventor of the praline, Neuhaus. If it were up to me, I’d still be there sampling everything but of course I can get many of these here in NYC so I had to fight the urge…lol.

jean paul knott brussels
Jean Paul Knott

After sampling chocolates and popping into fun Belgian designer shops like Jean Paul Knott and luxury Belgian shops like Delvaux (Rihanna was spotted rocking one of their bags), it was time for lunch.

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Inside Jean Paul Knott

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Inside Jean Paul Knott

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Inside Jean Paul Knott

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Inside Jean Paul Knott

yellowkorner photography brussels

beauty by kroonen and brown brussels belgium
We popped into the Beauty by Kroonen and Brown shop which had a FABULOUS arrangement of luxury perfumes—wish I had time to sample them all!

inside beauty by kroonen and brown brussels
Inside Beauty by Kroonen and Brown

perfume inside kroonen and brown brussels
Inside Beauty by Kroonen and Brown

street in brussels

plazier postcards store
Avec Plazier gift shop—so many cool postcards and gifts inside

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Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert—tons of cool shops and restaurants inside and along this area

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Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

grand place grote markt brussels
Grand Place–too bad I didn’t get to see this place at night. SO BEAUTIFUL

grand place brussels grote markt brussels belgium

inside flamant home interiors place du grand sablon
Inside Belgian home store Flamant Home Interiors

inside flamant home interiors place du grand sablon brussels
Flamant Home Interiors Place Du Grand Sablon

flamant home interiors brussels
Flamant Home Interiors Place Du Grand Sablon

aksum coffee house brussels

brussels street 2

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brussels street near jean paul knott

pistolet original rue joseph stevens 24
Pistolet Original—I didn’t have time to eat there but they’re known for Belgian breads and other amazing delicacies

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Pistolet Original

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Pistolet Original

inside pistolet brussels
Pistolet Original

brussels frites with mayonnaise
I surprisingly didn’t eat much frites in Brussels—I need a do-over!

One of the things I most wanted to eat while in Belgium was mussels and fries. I wanted them individually and then had the genius idea that perhaps I could get them together—I thought it was very “Queens”of me but I asked Paquita and it’s actually THEE WAY to have it: mussels and fries together. Like, that’s exactly how they serve it—it’s the Belgian way! She recommended a place but Tracy mentioned that we were meeting some folks for dinner to have mussels and fries so I figured why have it twice. I should have tried the mussels and fries there anyway because I wasn’t very impressed with the ones we had later at Le Chou De Bruxelles :/

#AlwaysGetTheFirstMusselsAndFries

canal near st catherines brussels

canal near st catherines brussels 2

Walking was the name of the game for us because 1. it’s a great way to somewhat help counter some of that food and 2. it’s FREE99. We walked through the St. Catherine area to get to the MIMA (the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art). It was interesting—I don’t think I have the right attention span for some kinds of museums though.

jardin du petit sablon brussels belgium
Jardin Du Petit Sablon

After that we headed to visit some friends of Tracy’s and then had dinner at Le Chou De Bruxelles (the place was packed so maybe it was just me who didn’t love the mussels and fries I got). We were both pretty exhausted and had to pack up our things and head to Liege the next morning so we turned in early. The morning before we had to leave we walked around the area near our hotel (Hotel Motel One) and took a few pictures, somehow got lost, and then found our way and schlepped our luggage to the Central train station to head to Liege.

mussels le chou de bruxelles
Mussels and fries (the fries were out of frame) at Le Chou de Bruxelles

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Brussels though it was pretty short. One of the things I’ll always remember is the beautiful architecture. Everything in Brussels looked so classic yet modern. There were buildings there from the 15th century!

brussels the style and beauty doctor

Some other cool things about Brussels:
1. The international presence in Brussels is only 2nd to NYC. There was SO much diversity everywhere you turned. There’s a huge African population there from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. I saw so many beautiful Black people in Brussels and Liege—I was smiling and doing the head nod quite often.
2. Belgium is the second country in the world to legalize gay marriage. Woo hoo, Belgium!
3. There are a lot of things you might think are French, but are arguably Belgian. That could be a whole post itself!

I’d LOVE to come back and explore more. Give the moules-frites (mussels and fries) a go at that first restaurant, blow half my budget at Pierre Marcolini, and people-watch all the way through.

belgian bier
Oh, and I’m not a beer drinker in the least, but when in Belgium! I actually found THREE kinds that I really liked including this Marie Blanche…lol.

Stay tuned—I also filmed while in Brussels so I’ll hopefully have video to share in the coming weeks! In the meantime, subscribe to my Youtube channel.

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About Danielle

A former finance girl, Danielle is a New York City based freelance writer and fashion and beauty expert. She's a Hofstra University and Fashion Institute of Technology grad with an obsession with fashion and beauty which she loves to tell you all about every weekday on her award-winning blog. Think of her as your style and beauty entourage all wrapped up into one bubbly brown package. Danielle's work and expertise can be found in print and across the web in Cosmopolitan for Latinas, StyleBlazer.com, and more! She's also appeared as an on-air style expert on CBS New York's "The Couch" and WPIX11's Savvy Shopper segment.
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One Response to 1 1/2 Days in Brussels

  1. Nice recap! I haven’t been to Belgium yet but it’s in my list!

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