We just returned from a week long vacation in Belgium and the jet lag, post vacation blues, and persistent waffle cravings are very real. Getting back into a groove after vacation can be a bummer, especially with a mountain of laundry and a to-do list a mile long. Fortunately, I have all of these beautiful pictures from our trip to edit and enjoy. We LOVED Belgium and traveling together as family made the trip all the more memorable, exhausting, and perfect.
Since we were bringing our almost two-year-old along, we wanted to stay in one place and do day trips. After all of our research, we concluded that Brussels was the perfect city to do this. Not only is Brussels a vibrant city full of history and good food, but its many train stations make day trips very doable.
We selected an AirBnB near Grand Place and it was perfect for our needs. It felt super homey and the owner provided a huge portable crib for Theo. We also had access to his Netflix account which meant long Big Bang Theory marathons when Theo went to sleep. We stocked the fridge with yogurts and bread for breakfast each morning to save some money and keep some of our daily routine with Theo.
We spent a day and a half exploring Brussels. Now that Theo is a toddler, it’s harder to go into museums and staying out for late night entertainment is not an option. So for this trip, we planned to just wander around and pop in and out of things that looked interesting. I loved this because Todd and I are super fast walkers and made it all over the city (minus one mishap on the metro where we went in the wrong direction and almost got separated jumping off!). We visited the European Parliament building and made our way up the surrounding streets and stopped at a chain bakery called Paul’s for lunch. It’s the simple things that make Europe so wonderful, like fresh pastries and ham and cheese baguettes!
We also wandered in front of the royal palace and didn’t realize that’s what we were looking at until Todd pulled it up on the map! We were honestly more excited about the beautiful park across the street. We let Theo run around and play on the playground despite the light rain.
We have a deep love of churches and every time we see one, we have to go in! I love the reverence, the burning candles, the art, and somehow Theo always manages to be somewhat quiet. The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is beautiful and a must see if you are in Brussels. It reminded us of Notre Dame in Paris and I loved being able to see it in the distance as we walked away.
We also made our way through Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert drooling over all of the window displays for each of the chocolatiers. We tried truffles and chocolates at a few different places, but our favorite thing we tried was the hot chocolate from NeHaus. The lady who helped us dumped straight milk chocolate chunks into the cup and mixed it with hot water and cream. Amazing! Somehow they make it so it’s not too rich. Todd and I had some almost everyday since it was pretty chilly.
To have a break from all of the waffles and frites one night, we had dinner at Bia Mara, a fish and chips restaurant in Brussels. Our waiter was so kind and made room for our stroller. I was a little stressed out being in there because it’s a small place and Theo was being super cranky. Somehow Todd rocked him to sleep and laid him in the stroller, so it felt like we were on a date! The food was so good, our waiter told us that the time from the fish being caught to being served is only 36 hours! You can definitely taste the freshness.
Since we stayed so close to Grand Place, we spent a lot of time taking pictures in the square. The best time to visit is early in the morning. We walked through on our way home and there was hardly anyone there! During the day it can get pretty crowded with tour groups, vans dropping off food, and tons of people. We also ventured off to see the famous Manneken Pis a little ways off the square, which is a little underwhelming since it’s so small.
Overall, our trip was so much fun! Read more about our day trips to Brugge and Ghent and into the Netherlands to Lisse and Amsterdam. I’ll also be putting together a post with more tips for traveling with toddlers and some of the new travel products we used and loved on our trip.