Our time in Morocco is drawing to a close. But we were very excited to get back up to Europe this past weekend one last time while we are still on this side of the Atlantic! Due to a family event, our destination was picked for us...Brussels! With frites, chocolate and cartoons to offer, there couldn't be a better spot for a weekend with kids
Both downtown and outlying Brussels have a lot to offer. The central Grand Place buzzes with excitement and, besides being drop dead beautiful, has lots of fun on offer. Stop for a traditional serving of Frites at any friterie and don't forget your mayonnaise for dipping.
If you have a hankering for sweets, homemade biscuits or gourmet chocolates are everywhere. We particularly enjoyed succulent chocolate dipped strawberries. For a sit down dinner, you can't do better than a steaming pot of mussels....highly recommend any restaurant in the royal galleries or indoor shopping street just off the grand place. Take some time on the way in and out to browse the diverse goodies and maybe even pick up a chocolate box for nibbles on the way home. Just a suggestion :)
Just outside the galleries, at the ambachtenmarkt, we came across a lovely collection of handmade bears and dolls by Verslycke, among a variety of other charming stalls. Then just down the road, we hit a more mainstream but nonetheless delightful high street toy shop, The Grasshopper, with an array of European made wood toys, multilingual books and high quality stuffed toys. Our little man however chose a plastic tiger for his souvenir...there is no impressing some people.
We took a short ride out of downtown on an above ground tram (lots of fun for little ones and a perfect way to get the lay of the land) to Mini Europe, a park of tiny duplicates of Europe's most famous monuments and buildings. Nestled next to the Atomium (a 1958 world's fair relic also open for visiting science buffs) it is ideal for school age kids but still a very pleasant outdoor run around space for any age. Restaurants, carousels and other games around the complex round out the day nicely. Not to mention offer a much needed cold Belgian beer at days end.
And of course, let us not forget that Belgium is the home of classic cartoon favorites like Tintin and the Smurfs. For a complete history, head to the Brussels Comic Strip center. There fans of the boy reporter and the jolly blue gang will have much to recognize. Characters less known to American audiences will also be present. But even if you can't make it to the museum, or find that your little ones are too rowdy, keep an eye out for the characters all around the city in murals and statues...its an eye spy game that keeps the whole gang entertained.