EuroCheapo's own Meredith Franco Meyers pounded the pavement in Brussels - home to Manneken Pis, the gorgeous Grand Place and the Kunst galleries. She gives us the scoop on Brussels' artful flair, love of comic book heroes and waffles. Read on, Cheapos. Read on.
Brussels had a lot of quirky, and unique cheap sleeps. By far, the B&Bs stood out. First up, Les Bluets, a charming little place in Ixelles that's done up with antiques. One bonus about Bluets? All rooms have modern kitchenettes so you can cook while you're traveling. The owner was friendly with the proprietor of Residence Rembrandt, which is another gem down the road. Also in Ixelles, I loved the artful design and boutique feel of B&B Philippe Guilmin.
A La Grand Cloche, where I stayed for a few nights, was lovely. From the ample breakfast to the comfy downstairs lounge and the spacious bathroom in my double room, I was smitten.
For hostel accommodations, I loved the Breugel, where the rooms are clean and cozy, TV lounges abound, and you can get a daily meal (three or four courses) for €9.
My fellow Cheapo visited the Chocolate Guesthouse and oohed and aahed at the delightful "chambres." Pralines anyone?
What surprised you about Brussels?
Turns out, it's not just a business center. It's also a city packed with culture, beautiful art and those gorgeous guild-house façades in the Grand Place! In addition, the city marks the definitive center for comic book art in Europe. Streets are marked with colorful, welcome graffiti typically paying homage to Asterix, Tin Tin or the Smurfs — all Belgian originals.
Oh, and not once did I see a Brussel(s) sprout! Thank goodness...
The residents of Brussels are downright giddy when it comes to their icon, Manneken Pis. He stands just two feet tall, but his reach is much greater. All over the city, kitschy souvenirs in his likeness abound. It was hard not to buy a tiny Mr. Pis corkscrew. I'll let you form the visual there.
In addition, there are Pis shot glasses, t-shirts, and a whole lot more.
But, the funniest Pis-inspired work I saw was in Taverne Manneken Pis, a pub directly across from the famous fountain. Bronze Mannekens hold up all the main bar stools creating a very funny montage. Pis, in the form of pictures, photos, and paintings, cover the walls too. As if that's not enough, you can order a pint of Pis (Manneken Pis Belgian beer, that is).
Favorite local food
Chocolate and Belgian waffles with dark chocolate drizzled on them kept me going when I thought I'd drop from exhaustion! And, of course "stoemp" was on my menu; it's a traditional Belgian fave - vegetables pureed with mashed potatoes. Of course, you can't leave the city without having the mussels!
Highlight of visit
Um, those waffles…
Hotel rates drop during the summer months and on weekends when business travelers aren't as present. If you have flexibility, travel to Brussels in June or July and stay on Saturday and Sunday nights.