This past summer I FINALLY convinced E to “Take Me To London,” and the way I did that was to entice him with a day trip to Brussels. He had been DYING to go to Brussels to drink beer and eat mussels for years. Thankfully we were able to do both and so much more!
The quickest and easiest way to get from London to Brussels is to take the Eurostar from the St Pancras railway station in London. Eurostar runs 10 trains a day from London to Brussels. I purchased tickets for the first train out of London and the last train back from Brussels so we could spend the maximum amount of time in Brussels. Unfortunately, we just (literally by 2 minutes) missed our train in the morning due to long lines at security. Our Uber from Kensington took a little longer then expected and we didn’t check in at least 30 minutes before the train. We checked in 28 minutes before our scheduled departure. At that point, they no longer guarantee that you will make your train. So…my advice is to make sure to arrive at least an hour before your scheduled departure so as to avoid any issues! Thankfully, they had another train just 45 minutes after ours and we were able to hop on that train without any increase in our fare.
We found our assigned seats and promptly fell asleep for the duration of the ride from London to Brussels! That nap was critical. In less than 2 hours our train arrived Bruxelles-Midi. It was so easy! We hopped off the train and were off to our first destination…Cantillon!
Our first stop upon our arrival into Brussels was the Cantillon brewery. I have never seen E so excited about anything in as long as we have been together. He was like a kid in a candy store. We elected to do the tour, which is 7 Euros per person, which also included four tastings at the end.
The tour was short but sweet. It gave a nice overview of their brewing process and their facility. The facility is quite old and houses a lot of history. The brewery was founded in 1900 by Paul Cantillon and his wife, Marie Troch. They produce lambic style beer such as gueuze and kriek. Lambic beer is a spontaenously fermented beer where the breweries allow wild yeast and bacteria in the air to ferment the beer. This tends to create tart and sour style beers. Cantillon is almost impossible to find in the United States and, when you do find it, bottles tend to run for over $50 each! At the brewery, you can purchase bottles for 7-8 Euros each. A bargain!
For E, we couldn’t get through the tour fast enough…He wanted his tastings! We arrived in the tasting room and they poured our samples. We were able to try four different variations of their beer: the Classic Gueuze, Gueuze 100% Lambic Bio, Iris, and Kriek. E’s favorite was, by far, the Kriek, a lambic brewed with cherries. After our tasting, E spent some time in the “gift shop.” He purchased 8 bottles of beer as well as a Cantillon glass. Because proper glassware is paramount! How did he carry 8 bottles of beer around all day, you might ask? Well…he didn’t have to. Our friends who live in Amsterdam met us in Brussels, and we stored the beer in their car while we wandered around. He did, however, have to carry the beer from the brewery to the car and he did that with the help of my backpack!
After we “ditched” our free walking tour (more on that below) we stopped into A La Mort Subite for drinks. After much online research, I learned that bar had been in existence for over 100 years! It is a family owned beer hall located in the heart of Brussels. They serve their own brews, as well as other Trappist favorites. My personal favorite was the Mort Subite Kriek, which is a cherry lambic. And it is pink!
E was somewhat disappointed that we were only going to be in Belgium for one day. There were so many other breweries that he wanted to visit! So, as a consolation, I took him to De Biertempel, aka the Temple of Beer. While it was a little pricey, E was able to find beer from some of the other breweries such as Westvleteren, 3 Fonteinen, and Mort Subite, which he had his heart set on. To my surprise, he only picked up one bottle from each of those breweries here. That brought us to a grand total of 11 bottles of beer! One of De Biertempel’s best known features is their massive collection of beer glasses on display and for purchase, which are a nice complement to their humongous collection of different beers.
An easy, FREE and quick way to see the sights!
The tour stops at the Grand Place, Town Hall, Maison du Roi, Comic Art Scene, The Stock Exchange, Galeries Saint Hubert, Manneken Pis, The Monnaie Opera, St Nicolas’ Church, River Senne, The Royal Square, Mont des Arts, and the birthplace of Tintin. We participated in the first hour of the tour, but got a little bored, so we wandered off on our own. We wanted to find more food (and beer)!
A Panini Lunch at the Grand Place
Eye See You
What to Eat
If I could have stopped at each and every waffle stand in Brussels, I would have. Unfortunately, E wouldn’t let me!
I stopped at the first waffle shop we passed by, and picked up a chocolate smothered waffle. It was only 2 Euros and it was AMAZING! I didn’t want to share but I did anyway. Sharing is caring, after all.
Definitely stop for a waffle (or two…or three) if you are in town!
Mussels (in Brussels)
While I don’t eat shellfish, I didn’t want to deprive E of eating mussels in Brussels. Every time I say that I laugh a little.
We stopped into L’Escale which, thankfully, was a short walk back to the train station. E ordered the classic mussels with a garlic and white wine broth. They were served with a side of frites. According to E, they were delicious!
Belgian Chocolate is FAMOUS! We made sure to pick some up whilst wondering. We found the prettiest shop in town, called Elisabeth. They try to use locally sourced ingredients when they can. And their packaging is adorable!
Back to London…
After a ridiculous day of eating, drinking and wandering, it was time for us to head back to London. Post-mussels, we found our way back to Bruxelles-Midi. On our way over, we picked up E’s beer and said goodbye to our friends. It was such an amazing day. The only thing we wished we had done differently was to spend more than one day in Belgium. Next time, we are going to visit Bruges and Ghent, too!