As you'll have guessed from my Gluten Free in Brussels post, I've recently been on a holiday/study trip to Belgium. As a languages student, travel is really important to me, not just for language practice, but to learn about different cultures as well! My university funded the trip to Belgium to give me the opportunity to practice speaking French (one of the skills it is hardest to maintain whilst in the UK), and also to visit the Magritte Museum, as this year I will be studying a module based around 20th century francophone culture, including Surrealism, so I had the chance to do some research before my classes start!
While we were there we also had time to do some sightseeing, and take in the city, which was really fun! Here are some of the places we visited!
As I mentioned, this was one of my main reasons for coming to Brussels. Most people are familiar with Magritte from his famous painting "La trahison des images" ("The betrayal of images", often known as "Ceci n'est pas une pipe"), but his work is so much more than that! The museum holds the worlds largest collection of his works, including some from his lesser known "vache" period, and some of his early impressionist works. The museum also features letters, sketches, sculptures, posters etc relating to Magritte and others in the Surrealist movement. Here are some photos of me in absolute art heaven:
Not as audacious as the palaces in other European countries (such as Versailles), it's still an extravagant gold filled beauty, and definitely worth a visit! One room features an amazing art installation, with the ceiling decorated with hundreds of thousands of scarab beetles, and there seem to be endless rooms dedicated to just nice places to put a table and chairs. I was left wondering how someone could need such a big house (notwithstanding the fact that this is not even the residence of the Belgian royals), and considering it was free I'd definitely recommend taking a look!
Arts et Marges
A tiny independent modern art gallery in a great trendy area of Brussels. Exhibitions change regularly, and we saw artworks from a great collective which allows artists with mental illnesses to have a platform to show their work, something which I think is extremely important. They also have a little art room where you're free to sit and draw for a while, and then display your work on the walls afterwards. Also, going back to my post about where to eat, this place is perfectly located to pop for a meal at L'Aubette afterwards.
A tourist hotspot but a definite must-see nonetheless. La Grande Place (literally translates as 'big square') is known for being one of the prettiest town squares in Europe. A great place to stop for a coffee and take in the beautiful and extravagant buildings, and definitely a top place for a photo opportunity.
A night out in Sainte-Catherine
Not really a tourist attraction in any way, but just a guaranteed good time! Sainte-Catherine is a lovely area in Brussels which seems to be quite student dominated, and definitely a cool place to be. Outside the Cathedral in Place Sainte-Catherine we stopped for cocktails at an adorable cocktail van, and just enjoyed the atmosphere whilst we had our drinks. We later went on to one of the numerous tiny bars dotted around the square and the surrounding streets for more drinks, where everyone sits together around little tables, whether they know each other or not, enjoying the gloriously cheap alcohol (especially Belgian beer) that they serve, and making friends. We took a Polaroid with our new friends Bibi and Mustafa who we chatted to for an hour or so, before making our way back to our hotel, the two of us more than a little bit tipsy on just €20.