‘I’m a massive fan of anything unusual. I love a tourist hot spot as much as the next girl, but nothing grabs my attention quite like something a little quirky. These are my top picks for Brussels…’
Manneken Pis is the symbol of Brussels and you’ve probably already heard about the 61cm statue of the peeing boy that’s so famous around the world. However, in the interests of gender and canine equality (take that, cats!) Petit Julien (as he’s also known) has a sister and a dog. And, yes: they’re also peeing.
‘Jeanneke Pis was a *little* much for my liking, but a peeing dog? I’m so here for that’
Located outside the city centre on Rue des Chartreux 35, this Very Good Boy is a design by Tom Frantzen. He’s been urinating on the streets of Brussels since 1998. He’s nowhere near as famous as his brother and sister but, as far and I’m concerned, he’s by far the best. He stands on the street, casually cocking his leg against a bollard and minding his own business. And you can be safe in the knowledge that he won’t and attempt to hump your leg as you pass.
The Coffin Bar
Brussels has a *lot* of bars. They’re literally everywhere and they all pride themselves on friendly service and excellent Belgian beers (of which there are shit tons). The Coffin is the quirkiest one we found and it a pretty creepy place to enjoy a drink or two…amongst the bones of the dead. Coffin Bar is located just off the main Grand Place Square in the centre of Brussels. You can take a walk out here afterwards, in the presence of the living.
The Famous Four
No one should really be allowed to visit Brussels without trying out four things: Waffles, Chocolate, Beer and Fries because obviously. To be honest, this is what I do on *all* of my holidays.
‘I realise that, to Belgians, this is probably much like saying that it should be illegal to visit Scotland without wearing a kilt whilst drinking whisky and looking for large water-dwelling monsters…’
Brussels is famous for all four delightful consumables (amongst countless others) For example, it invented gin. It’s a miracle the women in my family haven’t gone some sort of Pilgrimage, tbh. They’re all very widely available and, some of my favourites chocolates are from Godiva or Nehaus. For beer, I love Kriek Cherry Beer, Leffe or Westmalle Blonde. For waffles and chips or ‘frites’, you can choose from a million stalls and stores off the Grand Place.
Dinner and Atmosphere in Matonge
Matonge is an area in the Ixelles neighbourhood of Brussels and has some of the most authentic African food. Matonge comes from the area of the same name in the Congolese capital of Kinshasha. It certainly brings its vibe and flavours, along with culture and people. Many of the residents that I met were raised between Brussels and Democratic Republic of Congo. The whole area has a relaxed, friendly vibe. It has a plethora of cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating for sitting and watching the world go by with a coffee or beer. The food is also incredible, with chicken and goat dishes combined with spices and lots of peanuts.
‘The chicken moambe from Inzia (at Rue de la Paix 37) is sensational and is part of the restaurant’s buffet menu. This means you can literally eat it until you make yourself sick. I did #noregrets…’
We also loved the communal tables and chilled out company at Soleil D’Afrique, (Rue Longue Vie 10). It offers sit in and take out meals from their menu.
This giant structure was initially built for the 1958 World Fair Expo to be held in Brussels. It was not intended to be a permanent visitor attraction. Once the fair ended, however, it stayed put and has been a visitor magnet ever since. Standing at some 335ft high, there are 9 steel atoms in the shape of a unit cell. Anyway, in terms of quirky, it’s right up there with the peeing dog, IMO.
The Atomium is a museum displaying both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Entrance is permitted to six of the nine spheres. The top sphere boasts a restaurant with panoramic view of the Brussels skyline. It’s always an impressive and unusual sight, but it’s even more special at night. With more than 2900 LED lights, it illuminates the sky and, despite being a little out of the city centre, it’s definitely worth the trip.
What are your favourite quirky things to do and see in Brussels?