A Travellerspoint blog

celebrating NY in Brussels

celebrating the new beginning of the year in our own beautiful capital


View NYE in Brussels - 2013 on Ils1976's travel map.

31/12/13 exploring our capital

Instead of going to one or another exotic destination for New Year’s, me and my travel buddy Tania decided to stay close to home this time and opted for our tiny capital Brussels. Whenever I travel to Brussels, it is just for shopping and although I already stayed overnight one time before, I am amazed that I still get that exciting feeling whenever I am on holiday and in a way it is nice to notice that even traveling inside my own country makes me feel quite happy … that’s what traveling is all about!

It’s still early in the morning when I close the door behind my home and go on my way to the train station. I agreed to meet Tania on the train in Mechelen and after a relaxing ride of half an hour, I met up with her and our small getaway could finally begin.

Upon our arrival into the big city, we first walked all the way towards the hotel to get rid of our luggage and than we did what all tourists do when visiting the capital of a country, we went sightseeing!

First up was the Royal Palace and from there we slowly walked downhill till we finally reached the Grand Place and admired the huge X-Mas tree. Although I have been in many cities, I still think that we Belgians are so lucky to have such a beautiful capital. I am actually not always that proud to be a Belgian, but when you are surrounded by so much beauty, it kind of changes things a bit.

Next on our sightseeing list, if you can call it that, is „Manneke Pis”. I know …. what’s there to see? It is but a small statue of a little boy in the nude that pees water or other beverages if you like, but hey … it's so well known to thousands or should I even say millions of people that I just cannot help but see that little fellow whenever I visit the city.

From here we just walked through various streets and although we all celebrated Christmas about a week ago, we still had the pleasure in enjoying the X-mas market which was spread over various small squares throughout the capital and most important of them all … it was also on our bucket list of things to do while here in the city.

It’s clear enough that we weren’t the only once out here, but for some reason I didn’t get that crowded feeling whenever you visit a capital city and that’s really a good thing!

A bad thing however where all the different smells when walking over the market and it made us get hungry really quick. In order to get rid of that feeling, the both of us ordered a sausage with bread and some mustard, your typical X-mas market „junk”food, but I don’t give a damn about that … it is just so delicious and together with a cup of hot mulled wine, it was a day to remember for a long time.

With food in our stomach and some alcohol in our system, I finally dared to go on the Ferris wheel, much to Tania’s delight. Over the years, I missed out on many things because of my fear of heights, but thanks to my best buddy who encourages me to do something about it, I finally am ready to do some crazy things, this being one of them.

I have to admit that the views up there were really nice, but I was more than glad to be on the ground again and not that I am that religious, but I could really kiss the ground!

Still feeling like an adrenaline junkie, we walked further through the city only to arrive back at the Grand Place again about an hour later. We wanted to see the sound and light show, but because we were still a bit early, we tried to find a place where we could sit down and relax for a while. This was easer said than done! People were coming from all over the place and as it was getting more crowded by the minute, we left the major streets behind us and tried to find something in one of the smaller streets and the best thing about it, we succeeded!

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We found a cozy looking eatery which served a heavenly lemon meringue and an hour later we left the place with a big smile on our face and ready to see the sound and light show, which was quite amazing!

Although we still had a few hours to go before we could go and see the fireworks, we eventually got tired of going up and down the same streets over and over again and instead we tried to find a place where we could have dinner. Since we didn’t made a reservation, we initially thought we could be ending up at the Golden Arches, but luckily a big city like Brussels houses more than one chain of restaurants and after a little debate on what to eat, we went for the thing we both like the most … Mexican!

It was just our luck that we didn’t even needed to make a reservation and within minutes we were send to a nice table for two. The food itself wasn’t the best we had ever eaten, but the frozen strawberry margarita made up for it. It was just so delicious, but strong as well and I guess it must have been more than an hour later when we left the place feeling a little tipsy.

Luckily we made it back to our hotel in one piece and after Tania had sent a message to one of her colleagues who was going to join us later on this evening to see the fireworks, we just needed to take our bottle of cider and before we knew it, we were on our marry way again, back into the many streets of Brussels.

A little after 11 PM, we arrived at the hill of the arts, the place to be to see the fireworks and although we expected a big crowd, we were pleased to notice that there was still lots of space to move around and although we waited and waited for Tania’s colleague to arrive, it seemed that she and a friend had a bit of a problem of getting there. Not that we were bored, coz there was a DJ playing all kinds of exceptionally good music and before we even realized it, the countdown into the new year had begun!

The fireworks weren’t the best I had ever seen, but the cider and the music made sure it was a hell of a good way to start the New Year and although a bit too late, even Tania’s colleague showed up and we wished each other all the best for the new year.

We partied until 2 AM and sadly enough, we couldn’t stay any longer coz they stopped playing music and slowly every one was walking down the hill again into the centre hoping to crash another party. the both of us joined the crowd downhill, but because we didn’t find something to our liking, we headed back towards our hotel were we arrived way after 3 AM and I must say that I was completely knackered. I think I wasn’t even awake when my head finally touched the pillow.

01/01/14 hello 2014!

When I opened my eyes for the first time, it was a little after 9 AM, but for some reason I didn’t mind at all, I was just so tired and needed some more sleep that I closed them immediately. The second time I openend them, I noticed it was already past 11 AM and this was actually a sign that we needed to get out of bed. Not that my body was up for it, but we had to get up at some point, so this was as good as ever.

After a nice hot shower, we got dressed as quickly as possible and made it just in the nick of time to still have breakfast. What a relief coz after such a night, I really needed some food into my system.

The both of us still felt like zombies when we eventually checked out of our room and went into the city which was about an hour later, but now that we were in the capital, we wanted to make the best of it as well and we slowly walked all the way towards The Royal Palace.

We still needed to do one thing on our bucket list, which was a visit to „Ice Magic”, an international ice sculpture festival which could be found near the palace. This year the main theme is cartoons and when you come to think about it, it is ideally situated because our country most famous cartoonist Hergé was born and raised in one of the smaller cities near the capital, where he became famous with his adventures of Tintin.

A good thing about visiting this pavilion of ice is the fact that you get an immediate wake up call … it was just that damn cold!!!

I don’t know much about comics and such, but I was glad to see some familiar faces and being the kids that we are, we just enjoyed the whole experience, but we wisely said no to a shot of gin and went for the hot chocolate instead, just to be on the save side.
After spending an hour in such a cold environment, it felt like we were on a tropical island as soon as we came out of the pavilion. What a joy, but sadly enough it didn’t last that long ... bummer!

It was still a bit early to go home again and since I never visited the flea market at the „Marollen”, Tania was so kind to show me the way. Sadly enough when we arrived at the scene, there wasn’t so much to see and I guess New Year’s day had everything to do with it. There were some people selling there old and used stuff, but still, the real atmosphere that usually surrounds this market was nowhere to be found, so we just walked back to the centre of the city, had a late lunch and after one quick visit at the Grand Place again, we decided we had walked enough and took a train back home, where I arrived a little after 6 PM.

All in all it was a great weekend and I am sure that we are going to have yet again another amazing travel year, with lots of plans, but for now I just needed another hot bath and wisely kept quite for the remainder of the evening. Tell me why has mankind invented alcohol again ????

Posted by Ils1976 11:53 Archived in Belgium Comments (3)

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