While Berlin pleasantly surprised me, I was rather nervous about Brussels. Would I like the city just as much? Would it be fun? Would it be boring?
Brussels came as a bit of shocker. There was much about this city that I could not grasp in the first interaction…I got lost, wandered off my path and then began discovering the city for it’s true nature!
I am a firm believer of, “Those who wander… discover!” 🙂
And Brussels was no different.
I remember the first time I read about Brussels was in class X, we had a chapter in a Democratic Politics about the power sharing and the division of the Flemish and the Wallonian region. While more than half the population lived in the Flemish region and spoke Dutch, the remaining lived in the Wallonian region and spoke French, with barely 1% speaking German.
This comes in addition to the fact that Belgium shares its borders with France, Germany and Netherlands.
First Impressions Of Brussels
Why this is important?
Because when you go to Brussels, you will find all signs and instructions in not 1 but 2 languages- Dutch and French.
All stops & stations too have 2 names: Dutch name and French name!
Now while it’s a cool thing for the sake of power sharing, but for a tourist who is only in the city for over a couple of days, it could take some time to adjust with this.
Personally speaking, I lost my way at least 4 times on the first day itself… All thanks to the convenient co-existence of the French and Dutch names!
Brussels, as we know houses the headquarters of the European Commission. It’s important position in international politics is directly relatable.
The dual language system to me was another masterstroke at diplomacy.
Brussels truly appeared like the city that wanted to please one and all. (Often in a good way, I guess!)
This city has a museum for everything- from comic strips to auto mobiles, to European symbols… Brussels seemed all inclusive to me.
Inclusive of not just peace…
… but REBELLION
After all, which other city would consider a tiny statue of a little boy pissing as their key attraction in the city even in the presence of grand museums and royal palaces! This statue, called the Manneken Pis did not cease to amaze me. I further found out that there is a whole museum dedicated to clothes used to decorate this little statue.
There is also a female and a dog version of this.
And that’s not the end of rebellion for the people of this great city.
One of the visibly beautiful and omnipresent element in Brussels or Bruxelles is the street art graffiti. In the name of art, rebellion, expression and voice… every lane is vibrant with street art.
You could look up while walking and find one!
Read Here: Sleep Well Youth Hostel, Brussels
While the differences between the Dutch and the French speaking populations still exist, but Brussels surely has its way of life.
I was impressed to see that this is the city that would get up and get on its toes as early as 6:30 in the morning, even on a chilly winter morning. Whether there’s governance or not, people have created an order of life which exists even unsupervised.
Belgian Chocolate & Beer
Finally, the finest aspect of Brussels to me was the Belgian Chocolate and Beer.
Chocolate and Beer are considered the symbols of the good life and are celebrated everywhere. But Brussels takes both, very seriously.
Right from the creation to the consumption, every aspect is carefully picked.
I could easily spend a lifetime here, trying a different beer and a different praline each day.
It took some time for me to fully be able to comprehend my first impression of the Belgian capital. I am still in the process.
But Brussels is definitely a welcoming and an accommodating city… only second to Dubai in diversity!
It may not be a top tourist pick, but there’s definitely no element called BORING BRUSSELS. Indeed, the best adventure to take would be to go out and explore Brussels or Bruxelles as they call it.
It will grow on you… slowly but surely! Like it did for me 🙂
Have you been to Brussels? What was your first impression like?
Also Read: First Impressions of Berlin, Germany