Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Last of Us: The Brussels Diary

Hello again, guys! I'm baaaack. I'm not sure if anyone's waiting for me but I'm just going to let you know that I have a new post for you. If you follow me on instagram, you should've known by now that I went to Brussels last week. We had the worst luck during this trip: our bus broke down on the way there, it rained on and off during most of our time there, it stormed in Germany while we were in Belgium which ruined our train schedule and we were pretty much stranded on our way home. But I'm glad we went there, which is something I'd been wanting to do since last semester. It was, all in all, a rather fun albeit seemingly short trip.

WARNING: This post will be a rather long one so feel free to skip it if you don't want to know anything about the trip. Just don't say I didn't warn ya!

The first thing I noticed as our bus finally entered the precipice of Brussels was how the buildings are stacked right next to each other and they have various heights and styles, which make them look all the more beautiful and interesting. Since our bus broke down and set our schedules back over two hours, we decided to just go and visit places we can't enter or can just appreciate from the façade. These are the Palais Royal, Cathedrale Saint-Michel and all the buildings in Grand Place. We also checked out the Manneken Pis, which is rich with hilarious legends and history. It rained constantly on the first day, much to our disappointment. But we made do. Grand Place later on became one of our most visited squares and my personal favourite spot.

Now comes the day we ate belgian waffles in a '20s style café for breakfast, namely Mokafe. My life is complete. Perfect, really, since I'm also lusting after la belle époque. The waffles were amazing. Firu got the fruit frais, Iva got the sucre while I ordered the banane au choco chaud - I hope this all makes sense from the photos. They were a little pricey compared to other waffles for sale but the quality speaks for itself. They were crispy enough to cut but also tender inside. Top-notch, I'd say!

H&M denim dress // tights from Ebay // Studio Nine loafers // Typo satchel

Afterwards, we caught the metro headed for Mini-Europe. It was a remarkable experience, we got to have a mini Europe tour within two hours. Obviously, we learnt a lot and thank God it only started raining as we were heading out to lunch at Quick. Man, just thinking about Quick makes me miss that place somehow. Afterwards, we walked high and low trying to find the museum I wanted to visit next, only to be drenched and told that we were too late. Exhausted, we headed back to the hostel after buying instant meals to heat up for dinner. Iva and I hung out at the bar afterwards while Firu showered. Hours of heartfelt talk later, we tucked ourselves into bed.

Some of the comic murals I spotted (sadly, not the Tintin ones)

This was my day, if anything else. The reason I came to Brussels was mainly because it was the art nouveau capital of the world in the late 19th/early 20th century. It was home to one of the two forefathers of art nouveau, Victor Horta - the other being Paris's own Hector Guimard. It was his house and atelier that I didn't get to see the other day so we made a mental note to go there today. Since it's open in the afternoon, we decided to just roam the town first. We checked out La Boutique Tintin - where I bought myself a stuffed Snowy ♥ - and Belgian Comic Strip Centre - which was also lined with art nouveau goodness. We didn't enter the centre because it was a little on the pricey side and it wouldn't be fair because I would be the only one enjoying it. But I was already quite content with the art nouveau abundance and Tintin merchandise. Wish I had known about the Hergé Museum sooner, though.

Hôtel Tassel 2nd floor façade
Afterwards, we made a beeline for the museum. It was magical, just as I had expected, though a little odd with the guards forbidding us to take any sort of visual representations of the place. Not even a cellphone picture was allowed. Such a shame, you guys just had to be there - or, you know, google the official photos. Man, if that house was on sale, I would live there forever. It was the perfect house! Not only his house, we also saw one of his works - which is also my favourite -, Hôtel Tassel. Sadly, we couldn't enter it because it's now the office of the European Food Information Council. Firu and Iva don't understand art nouveau so they were drained by the energy I gave out - also, I tried to explain but failed miserably. But the amount of art nouveau goodness - even those I only catch in a glimpse - is enough to make me swoon. Man, I think I could be happy in Brussels.

First and foremost, this isn't a sponsored post whatsoever. But the place where we stayed was super comfortable and lovely that I feel like I needed to mention it. So we stayed at the Meininger Hostel, which we stayed at before in Cologne. It was affordable, comfortable and nice that we decided why not stay there again - which was our cheapest and easiest option to begin with. When I booked the beds, I didn't know how awesome this place was going to be. I can't speak for all their hostels but the one in Brussels had extra aesthetic points. I would say it's the perfect housing for students since it felt like a dorm (but probably cleaner and more organised).

It says to be the urban artist's home and I don't doubt it, judging from the barrel-like computer hotspot and bottle chandelier. They accommodate us with a shared kitchen as well as 24-hour bar. It was filled with awesome interior elements and the people seem to be friendly and respectful of one another. The bar is also non-alcohol-friendly, which is saying a lot for a bar. There are also vending machines, if you ever have a hankering for snacks in the middle of the night, as well as a pool and foosball table at the bar. Highly recommended, if you ever consider staying in Brussels!

That was my Brussels trip. It was kind of hard to find time to fit everything in - especially with the limited opening hours and all - since we all wanted to see different things. Personally, I would've been happy just roaming the streets, appreciating the architectural beauty as well as the lifestyle of the citizens. It would have been awesome to just drink in the culture as well as the art nouveau treasures. Iva, on the other hand, is a sucker for palaces, castles and gothic plus baroque style buildings. Firu is just happy to be out and about. So to fit everything in, we had to rush from one place to the other. But it was still possible to just breathe and take in everything around us. Above are some random photos, which don't fit into any of the categories. Enjoy!

P.S: If you've read this far, you're my hero (always)

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