mini trip to brussels…
Posted in mini trips, pia's photos November 2nd, 2010 by pia

Yesterday I did something completely unplanned and non-work-related: I got up at the crack of dawn and took the thalys train to Brussels to explore a brocante at place du jeu de balle. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and when leslie told me she was going to stop by there on her way back to Amsterdam from a weekend away, I decided to meet her there and finally check it out. It was great, we loved the market and found heaps of great things. I even bartered in French which was lots of fun, and all the stall owners that we dealt with were really friendly and kind (two of the stall owners let us gather our findings at their stalls throughout the day until we fetched the car). ย  After that we had some lunch and strolled around town. It was really nice to get out of ‘the office’ for a while…

I was only there for a few hours, but would you like to know my first impressions of Brussels?

1. I thought Paris and Amsterdam were full of cobblestones but Brussels really is the cobbliest city I’ve ever been in.

2. If you love street art, you’ll love this city! It’s full of fabulous street art and graffiti.

3. It feels like a mix of Paris and Amsterdam, which is really cool.

4. Everybody speaks French, and that’s awesome.

5. If you love brocante treasures and antiques, there is plenty of the good stuff in Brussels.

I’m eager to plan a longer trip now and explore some more.

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40 Comments

  1. Jane says

    Loving these photographs…I went to Brussels many years ago on my way over-road to Czechoslovakia I remember it being a wonderful City even then. I recall many beautiful buildings and cobbled streets.

    You sound like you had a fantastic time, I always think spontaneous trips thought of and acted upon often turn out to be the most enjoyable!

    x Jane

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  2. Lauren says

    This looks like the best thing ever! You are so lucky to be able to get up in the morning & head out to Brussels for the day. I hope so so much one day I’ll be able to do that!

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  3. Carla says

    I think I hear another book coming on!

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  4. emerson merrick says

    Just bought plane tickets for a Belgium/Holland vacation yesterday! So so excited.

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  5. pia says

    Carla, yes, wouldn’t that be grand? Brussels: Made by Hand… the title has a certain charm to it, don’t you think?:)
    Lauren – I hope so too! But I think hopping on the train anywhere would be pretty cool – just exploring a place 2 hours away that you’ve never been to before.
    Jane I agree, spontaneous is a wonderful way to be sometimes.
    Emerson – yay!!!

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  6. LatteLisa says

    I live a short train ride away! Moved to Belgium this summer but haven’t visited Brussels yet; going in December.

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  7. Wendy says

    Beautiful photos enhanced by lively commentary. This novice traveler to Europe will be going to Belgium in June and Brussels is on the must see list. Your blog has cemented that idea!

    – a Canadian traveler

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  8. Amanda says

    “the cobbliest city” haha i love it!
    Such beautiful photographs, Pia. Thank you for taking us for a wander with you.

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  9. nadia says

    It is in my favorite city, i have always loved it. my aunt took me when i was young to see the st-sulpice and by chocolates whta happened instead was a love affair with it streets and alleys, food busket performers and the sunsets in the square.

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  10. Uncle Beefy says

    Have wanted to see Brussels for so long. And, at least in some way, today I did. And, I needed the escape if only via your visuals, Pia. :)

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  11. Ameesha Lee says

    Wow, I love the colours in the first photo. Very inspiring!

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  12. nathalie says

    Pia, I live in Bordeaux (south west France) and recently, I have been daydreaming about moving to Lille (north France) (because I miss England a lot) so I would only be 1H30 hour from London, one hour to Paris, less than an hour to Brussels, a few hours to Amsterdam … and when I look at your photos and read your story, this makes me want to really look into this possibility !

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  13. Tara Bradford says

    Oh, yes, Brussels is fun – especially the market and brocantes! Two friends live there and your post is a reminder I don’t get there nearly enough. Lovely pics – glad you had a fun day out! xo

    November 2nd, 2010 | #

  14. shipbuilding says

    thanks for re-igniting some happy memories of this beautiful city.

    …if you have time next time you go, the Costume and Lace Museum is gorgeous and you’ll probably have the whole place to yourself!

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  15. jen laceda says

    Thanks for showing us the beauty of Brussels when everyone says it it a “boring” city…

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  16. whitney says

    when i went to belgium, i spent most of my time in bruges, and only one night in brussels. i wish i had stayed longer! i also hope to plan another trip back to stay longer.

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  17. Leslie Oschmann says

    Great pictures Pia – lovely day. Thanks for the bartering in French!

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  18. Kristina says

    Strange enough I have never been to Brussels, such a shame, but now knowing it feels like a mixture between Amsterdam and Paris (my most favorite European cities) makes me want to pack my things and hop on a train. Thanks for sharing!
    Viele Gruesse, Kristina

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  19. judith b says

    Dear Pia,

    Have been kind of out of commission of late but no one could put me “en selle” again like you! LOVED yesterday’s Oma story (my French great-gran certainly inspired my definitive move to Paris at 19, even if I never met her! SO sweet that your little note was saved (of course it was!).
    And then, spontaneous and misty fall weather always spell “cobbly”, creative Brussels to me, so I can definitely identify!
    Your words and pictures are true and lovely as always and oh yes, Brussels Made By Hand would definitely win my vote!
    xo

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  20. laura (see hear say) says

    all your photos are so lovely!! i’ve been to brussels it’s such a nice little city isn’t it? did you have some warm waffles too there?

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  21. pia says

    Thanks for all the sweet comments guys, I so love your input, feels like I was there with all of you!

    laura, how did you know? that is EXACTLY what we had, couldn’t resist the smell coming from the waffle van.

    Judith, I’m so glad to hear it, nice to have you back! I’ll put your vote in for Brussels Made by Hand :)

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  22. Julie-Inspired says

    Brussels is so charming, and you captured it perfectly! Thanks for sharing, and glad you had a great mini trip!

    Juliexo

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  23. hybrid handmade says

    I LOVE brocantes (Ikea was so, like, yesterday)…here I have to wait till autumn before I pounce! In the summer the traders like to add on a little ‘tourist tax’…my french isn’t good enough to negotiate but I feel ‘almost french’ after 2 years so I wait, and wait…

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  24. Vanessa says

    Oh your blog is so wonderful and these photos too. I’m full of admiration how you can shoot so beautifully on grey days. I’ve often dreamed of Brussels and you mak me want to buy a ticket striaght away.

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  25. linda dacey says

    i live in lille which is just a short hop from the belgian border and i just don’t understand why the belguims are painted to be dullards by so many french; the people are super cool and honestly i find the country to be alot more edgy and stylish, in general, than france. brussels is cool. i live near a small town called tournai which is so happening. great post, love the eye candy; thanks pia…

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  26. Ruby says

    Lovely photos~
    Haha, “cobbliest” made me laugh. : )

    November 3rd, 2010 | #

  27. Adina Deen says

    I love the picture. really really nice tho. can’t wait to see more n more n more..

    November 4th, 2010 | #

  28. shannon fricke says

    What a great thing to do. Lovely post.

    November 4th, 2010 | #

  29. Ariane says

    Longing for brussel is awake! Long time ago I stay in Antwerpen, a beautiful town also! My husband and I shared breakfast in a small bakery sitting on a long, long wooden table with other people: Eating the typical bread from belgium and drinking cafรฉ au lait. A real treat!
    Thank you.

    November 4th, 2010 | #

  30. ana b. says

    Fantastic travel post. I’ve been to Europe several times and when I leave I think that’s it, surely that’s all the countries I want to explore in the region. But then I see posts like yours and the list grows again.

    November 7th, 2010 | #

  31. Martina says

    Beautiful photographs. You’ve captured Brussels perfectly. I’m lucky, I live here!

    November 8th, 2010 | #

  32. krystal says

    your pictures are amazing :)

    November 10th, 2010 | #

  33. Jes says

    Thanks for sharing the photographs. They’re beautiful.

    November 14th, 2010 | #

  34. kitchu says

    you have a wonderful eye!

    November 18th, 2010 | #

  35. Nimue says

    I dare say that Ghent (that’s where I live) is ever more cobbly and more beautiful! but you sure know how to make a city that I really don’t like look absolutely fabulous! I’m thinking now that maybe I should give Brussels a second chance :)

    November 19th, 2010 | #

  36. Tina says

    lovely photos! thank you…i was in brussels for the first time last Feb (in the snow!) & enjoyed seeing more shots of the city – here’s to more trips to belgium in 2011!

    January 7th, 2011 | #

  37. Karena says

    Pia so happy to find you!

    What a wonderful getaway. I think I would love this city!! Thank you for sharing!

    New Giveaway on Monday!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

    January 9th, 2011 | #

  38. woolf says

    lovely to read in your post and in the comments that brussels gets appreciated for what it’s worth. i work in the office just visible in picture #4, we have the nicest view of kapellekerk. that’s right. apart from french, there’s alot of flemish going on… ;)
    i suppose too a ‘brussels : made by hand’ could fill a booklet.
    grtz

    January 16th, 2011 | #

  39. Lisa says

    Pia, I’m celebrating my 50th birthday with my twin sister this summer. One week in Paris, a breeze thru Brussels and a week in Amsterdam. Do you have a few suggestions, can’t miss shops or restaurants? We have rented an apartment in Paris but need to find a hotel in amsterdam– I’ve read about the Lloyd …???? Thanks, Lisa

    April 18th, 2012 | #

  40. {travel inspiration: brussels, belgium} « This is Glamorous This is Glamorous says

    […] {photography by pia jane bijkerk} […]

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