Our impressions of the Christmas market in Brussels!
Winter Wonders is the official English name of Brussels’ Christmas market and all its activities. And it happens to be our favourite event of the year!
Muntplein/Place de la Monnaie
This is where Lars and I started our visit. In recent years, this place has become the home for the ice skating ring.
Grote Markt/Grand Place
Does this location need any introduction? Anyway, we absolutely loved the Christmas tree, which originates from Slovakia.
Where people gather to celebrate… New this year: Impulsion, luminous and sound-animated seesaws!
Origami, an audiovisual show, highlights contemporary and traditional Japan. Stalls sell Japanese specialties.
Lars and I always end our visit to the Christmas market here. We had some pasta and a couple of “jenevers” before we returned home.
Yes, we made another video! Enjoy!
From a distance, the Maximiliaanpark, located in Brussels’ Noordwijk, looks like any other park in Brussels. But come closer and you will see that this place is home to a beautiful children’s farm.
The Maximiliaanpark has not always been a park. In the 19th century, a train station was located here, but its activities stopped in the fifties. Afterwards, the place functioned as a small airport for helicopters and in the eighties it was turned into a park with a children’s farm, which organises cultural and social events.
The park is home to the most common big and small farm animals, like goats, sheep and horses, except for cows. There are a couple of unexpected guests as well, like alpaca and a peacock, who struts his stuff. Some of these animals make an annual appearance in the Christmas stable at the Grand Place.
There is a quiet corner in the park with a small pond surrounded by artworks.
The Maximilaanpark is located right next to the metro-station Ijzer. One more remark: it closes quite early, between 4 and 5pm.
About a week ago, Lars and I celebrated the Oktoberfest in the Berlin Fabrik, here in Brussels. And yes, I made a video of this event. You can find it in the playlists of Belgium and Fun.
Next up, a video we made in Ghent, in another cat café, called DreamCATchers.
Enjoy the videos and let us know what you think!
Berlin Fabrik is the name of a burger and cocktail bar in Brussels. This weekend, they organise their own version of the famous Oktoberfest. And since we love anything German, Lars and I decided to give this event a try.
We took the tram and got off at the Kleine Zavel, made our way to the Grote Zavel and finally arrived at the Kapellemarkt, where the bar is located.
The interior of the Berlin Fabrik has an industrial feel, personnel is very polite and friendly. Service was smooth and quick.
First, a good German beer: Warsteiner!
For the main dish, we choose the Schweineschnitzel from the special Oktoberfest menu. The normal menu is extensive and it took us quite some time to choose a desert (donuts and ice-cream) and cocktails.
We spent more than 3 very agreeable hours in Berlin Fabrik and can only recommend this place. It is located at the Kapellemarkt 17; you can find more information on their Facebook page.
One of our best friends is acclaimed horror writer Vanessa Morgan, often hailed as the female version of Stephen King. Yesterday, she and I and two of her novels – Drowned Sorrow and Avalon – went for a walk in the heart of the Belgian capital.
First stop was at a cozy square between the Grand Place and the Koningsgalerij. One of the statues proved to be a nice resting place for Avalon.
Before we had time to figure out who the famous gentleman of the statue was. it started raining very hard and we had to seek refuge in the Koningsgalerij. To be honest, I am not a fan of shopping, but this gallery is truly one of the most beautiful places in the centre of Brussels. Vanessa and I were looking for Halloween decorations, but found … none.
A bookshop with grandeur: that is the best description of Tropismes. Most of the books seem to be in French, but Avalon didn’t seem to mind this. By the way, the ceiling itself is a work of art.
Right next to the Koningsgalerij is the Beenhouwersstraat, one of the most popular and therefore crowded streets of the Belgian capital. The kitsch and sometimes overpriced restaurants draw a lot of tourists. And some cats as well, which happen to be Vanessa’s favourite animals. I think she will publish these two on her blog.
The next place needs no introduction: the Grand Place!
I was really happy when Vanessa was willing to accompany me to one of my favourite places, the Sint-Katelijneplein. This is one of the spots where the yearly Christmas market takes place.
Our next stop was near the Grand Place, at a very special monument. It is called the “Monument aan Everard ‘t Serclaes” and legend has it that when you rub the statue, it will bring you good luck. Of course, I forgot to rub it, but Vanessa didn’t.
Last but not least, a place we had talked about visiting so many times, but we never seemed to find time to actually do it. It is a café called Le Cercueil, which literally means The Coffin. Yes, it is quirky and dark and funny, with coffins as tables and the theme of death everywhere. Add a large choice of beers and cocktails and this is heaven on earth! Too bad the place only opened at 16.30 instead of 16.00, but it was worth the wait. This is a place I will visit again.
Thursday, 8 September 2016 was the day that Lars turned 60. And on that sunny day, we went to the Grand Place.
The Belgian capital often organises free events, especially in summer. On the birthday of Lars, we could actually watch the Belgian finals of put shot for men, as part of the Memorial Ivo Van Damme, an annual athletics meeting, that takes place in the beginning of September.
This meeting had a sad start; a group of journalists organised the first meeting in 1977, in memory of the Belgian athlete Ivo Van Damme, who had died at the age of 22 in a car accident. In the meantime, the Memorial has become one of the most important athletics meetings of the world, attracting some of the biggest names.
Animation was in French and Dutch – Brussels is officially a bilingual city. Not only did the animators encourage us to cheer for the athletes, they gave us a lot of practical information about the sport itself, ranging from the weight of the shot to the difference between legal and foul throws. To be honest, we learned a lot that afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
And the shot putters themselves seemed to be having a good time as well.
Later that afternoon, we could watch the women’s finals of shot put – with performances of the Olympic champion! -, but we had become hungry. It was time for a very early dinner, so we headed towards the nearby Steenstraat.
Introducing The Smalle Steen, a restaurant specialised in some of Belgium’s most popular dishes. This place works with a tapas-inspired theme, allowing you to eat just as much as you want for a more than reasonable price. Most of the plates cost 5 euros and you usually combine 2 or 3 of them for a complete meal. To be honest, we stuck to 2 plates each and had a special beer for dessert.
The red beer is called “kriek”, which means sour cherry. Or as Wikipedia explains it,
Kriek lambic is a style of Belgian beer, made by fermenting lambic with sour Morello cherries. Traditionally “Schaarbeekse krieken” (a rare Belgian Morello variety) from the area around Brussels are used. As the Schaarbeek type cherries have become more difficult to find, some brewers have replaced these (partly or completely) with other varieties of sour cherries, sometimes imported.
Kriek is one of the most popular Belgian beers, especially during summer, because of its refreshing taste. The name of the restaurant, by the way, means ‘narrow stone”, referring to the very narrow size of the building in which it is located.
Anyway, Lars enjoyed his birthday a lot! And it was the perfect conclusion of our summer in Brussels.