After the exam period, I felt like I needed a change of scenery, a break before starting the next block of classes, and that’s how I found myself in Brussels a couple weeks ago! The Belgian capital is just a hop away from Rotterdam, making it a perfect destination for a day trip. I paidÂ â‚¬25, hoped on a train, and in slightly more than one hour I reached my destination .
If you happen to be planning a day trip to Brussels, here are some tips on how to spend your day!
Places to visit in Brussels
The Belgian capital is a fairly compact city, you can get to see the main touristic sites fairly quickly and should have enough time to stuff yourself with waffles, chocolate, and beer! Brussels has a fantastic metro system, but if you are just visiting for a day, you definitely wonâ€™t need it as the city is very easy to see on foot
The Grande Place
First, head to the Grande Place, it’s the centre of Brussels and a place to start your day off. The square is home to the City Hall and gothic-styled King’s house (as well as many chocolate shops, yum!).Â By day or by night, the buildings covered in gold gilt are absolutely beautiful and you can see why tourists flock to explore and take pictures. Grab a beer and just enjoy the scenery.
Often voted as one of the most disappointing tourist attractions in the world, The Manneken PisÂ is a 61cm high statue ofâ€¦a little boy pissing. “Is that it?” is a sentence you’ll often hear from the multitude of tourist around there. Still, the many waffle shops in the neighboring streets make it worth it to go see the iconic statue.
Cathedral of St. Michael
The beautiful gothic Cathedral is the national church of Belgium and it is here that royal weddings and funerals take place. Though dating from the 12th century, the church was only granted cathedral status in 1962.You can visit inside for free.
Royal Palace of Brussels
Even though it is named “palace”, this gorgeous building is not actually used as aÂ royal residence. In fact, the royal family of Belgian lives in the Royal Palace of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels. Still, it’s worth going inside before heading to the beautiful Brussels Park for a stroll next door.
This is a shopping arcade in the centre of Brussels, not too far from the Grande Place. Split into two major sections, each more than 100m in length, it is the home to a multitude of small shops selling everything – chocolate, designer clothing, jewellery, and many more. If not for shopping, just go there for the scenery, it’s gorgeous!
Food and Drinks
After a whole day of walking, you deserve to enjoy the local food and drinks without restriction (or almost?). Forget the calories and indulge yourself for a day!
Waffles:Â One cannot come to Brussels without at least one waffle. You can choose to add a multitude of ingredients like fruits, Nutella, caramel and so on, or simply eat it nature.
Mussel & Fries:Â a classic Belgian dish that you will find everywhere around the city. Don’t miss it, but try to avoid eating in touristic streets as the price can be excessively high!
Chocolate:Â Belgium is known for itâ€™s Chocolatiers and you just cannot leave Brussels without sampling some of its chocolate and buying some to bring back home! Pierre Marcolini & Godiva are the best in terms of quality in my opinion.
Beers: Belgium is a paradise for beer lovers, and you simply cannot leave Brussels without sampling a few (many?) decent beers. For that, head to the Delirium near the Grande Place – it offers more than 3000 sorts of beers and you’re sure to find one to your tastes!
Iâ€™ve always loved travelling; itâ€™s an escape from my everyday life, and there is sightseeing, meeting new people and pub-crawls. But the best part of it all is definitively the food! Discovering flavours and dishes youâ€™ve never tried before is always exciting, and it tells you so much about a countryâ€™s culture. I have been in the Netherlands for almost one month now, and spent most of my free-time hunting down local food. Hereâ€™s what Iâ€™ve tried so far and my impressions of Dutch food:
Cheese is a big business in the Netherlands, and the most ubiquitous of all the Dutch cheeses is Gouda. You can find it everywhere â€“ from the farmersâ€™ markets, to local grocery stores – and its flavour and texture can vary greatly depending on the aging process. So far, the Old Amsterdam brand is my favourite â€“ as tasty as Swiss cheese (yes, I am from Switzerland)!
This is one of my favourites. Two thin waffles stuck together with a generous layer of hot caramel, they are just so good. Youâ€™ll find these sweet treats almost everywhere, but the huge ones street market vendors sell are to die for.
I have to admit, I really wasnâ€™t looking forward to trying raw herring, and my Dutch friends had a hard time convincing me to give it a try. It was during my trip to Amsterdam that I finally braced myself and ordered some â€œbroodje haringâ€, which is basically raw herring served in a small sandwich with pickles and onions. To be honest, I didnâ€™t manage to take more than a couple bites, but wellâ€¦it was worth giving it a try.
These are little fluffy cloudy pancakes served in restaurants, pancake houses, and street markets all over the Netherlands. They are traditionally served with unsalted butter and powdered sugar, but youâ€™ll also find many other toppings. Simply delicious.
Dutch people seem to love drop â€“ the Dutch version of liquorice. In fact the country boasts the highest per-capita consumption of the sweet in the whole world. When I first tried drops, I was surprise as they are much saltier than normal liquorice. Not a favourite of mine, but Iâ€™ve never been good with liquorice to begin with.
That was the five Dutch foods I got to try since I arrived in Rotterdam. I hope youâ€™ll enjoy them as much as I did! What should I eat next? Leave me some suggestions in the comments!
Heya, itâ€™s An and Iâ€™ll be one of the new bloggers for the next year! I hope you enjoyed this blog and will stick around for more to come. Cheers!
It can be intimidating, moving (on your own or together with others) to a new country with a new culture and new language. Although most of the world has a proficiency in English, it can still be frustrating to not know the language of the country in which you are now residing. Put simply, Dutch is not an easy language, and it is understandable that it can be scary to take on the task of learning it. Thankfully, there are a few simple phrases that you might need in everyday life to help you grow more comfortable in Rotterdam. Even if your pronunciation is a little off, locals will know what you mean and will appreciate your effort to learn.
Hallo : Hello
Hoe gaat het? : How are you?
Goed : Good
Slecht : Bad
Dank je (wel) : Thank you (very much)
Alsjeblieft / Graag : Please
Sorry/Pardon : Sorry
Dag : Goodbye
Fijne dag nog : Have a good day
Gezellig : Cozy, social (i.e. â€œHow was the party?â€ â€œIt was gezellig.â€)
Je/U : informal/formal you
In the grocery store (supermarkt), for example, the cashier will greet you (Hallo), then proceed to scan your items. At the end of the scanning, they will tell you the total (which you can read on the screen next to them). If you want to pay with a bank card, you say, â€œPinnen, graagâ€ (swipe please). If you want to pay with cash, you can simply just hand them the cash.Â The cashier will proceed to ask you if you would like a receipt: â€œWilt u de bon?â€ to which you can reply â€œJa, graagâ€ (yes, please) or â€œNee, dankjeâ€ (no, thank you).Â [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]
This exchange is applicable to any store, such as a clothing store, general store, or any place where you may make a transaction.
Perhaps the most important words, however, are for when you go out. That is, of course, one of the best aspects of your student time, and Rotterdam has many bars and clubs to offer.
Een biertje : One beer
Een wijntje : One wijn
And if youâ€™re buying for your friends (or just more for yourself) twee (two) or drie (three) biertjes / wijntjes.
In general, some other words/phrases to know are:
Waar is de WC (pronounced â€œway-sayâ€) : Where is the bathroom?
Mijn naam isâ€¦ : My name isâ€¦
Kan ik u helpen? : Can I help you?
And, of course, because you are international, one of the most important phrases:
Ik kom uitâ€¦ : I am fromâ€¦
Rotterdam is a very diverse city, and being able to say where you are from in a local language brings you that much closer to feeling more at home here.
This is a very rough overview of basic interactions you may experience every day, however if you would like to become more proficient in Dutch, it is highly recommended to participate in a Dutch course. These can help you with pronunciation, grammar, and fluidity. Check out:
Your local university
ROC and Volks Universiteit
Consider a private tutor
My name is Danique van Winden, and I am a new blogger for this year. I hope to help you learn more about Rotterdam and grow more comfortable as an international in this wonderful city!