My first two destinations were Brussels and Paris. I had visited both cities before. In Brussels I never got to do the touristy thing and Paris was simply on my: I’d like to go there again list. Hence, both cities made the cut. In total, I spent one day in Brussels and two in Paris.
The first day of my trip was also the same day I spent in Brussels. It was only a few hours from Leiden so it was a perfect start. My hotel, Hotel Galia was basic but comfy and a 15 min walk from the train station and a 20 min walk from the city centre. I first spent walking around the area for a bit. My hotel was located in a neighborhood filled with antique and vintage shops. I had a browse and walked to the market square where you can find the buildings above and city hall, which you can see below.
A visit to Brussesl is incomplete without seeing Manneke Pis. This peeing statue has his own wardrobe and during the day he is clad in garments that usually line up with some sort of holiday. After 4 PM someone undresses him and he stands there in his naked glory.
I also visited the Cathedral which wasn’t too far of a walk from the city centre. It was stunning and the first church of many that I would be visiting. I also went to see the Royal Palace and took a nap in the adjoining park.
Many buildings in Brussels are adorned with comic book illustrations. This one of Tin Tin was the only comic I recognized though, but I thought it was a fun and clever way of livening up the city and avoid the sides of buildings being sprayed with graffiti.
One thing I really wanted to see while in Brussels was the Atomium. When I think of Brussels I think of this building. It’s a little out of the way though, so I got myself a subway ticket and got there quickly enough. You can go up into the top sphere for a view over the city, but since my time was limited and I was getting hungry, I decided to simply walk to the other subway station and head back into town. I had dinner near Beurs, but I hadn’t had a dessert and so when I passed a waffle stand I just couldn’t resist! My goal was to try local food wherever I went so this is what happened:
The next day I already had to say goodbye to Brussels. I took a train to Tournai and hopped onto another train to Lille where I got on the TGV to Paris. My hotel was a stone’s throw away from Gare du Nord and called Avalon. My room was the size of a broom cupboard but it was clean and comfy enough for the 2 nights I’d be staying there. The hotel was within walking distance from Sacre Coeur and Mont Martre. So after checking in I immediately knew what I’d be doing.
In Mont Martre I found a beauty store (Monop’Beauty) and had a bit of a shop and while walking around I also found a Pharmacy that stocked Bioderma and Embryolisse. So my first bits of beauty shopping already happened. I had dinner at Chipotle. Not very French but justified as the last time I had that was in New York in 2008! I did indulge on French food earlier that day for lunch, so all was good. I walked past the Moulin Rouge, found the stunning Galeries Lafayette and went back to the hotel.
Paris day two meant meeting up with my parents. We had booked and planned a trip to Paris at exactly the same time unbeknownst to one another. Such a coincidence is crazy so we met up for lunch. I updated them on my job situation as I was now in talks about a job opportunity again and gave them 2 of the books I took with me but knew wouldn’t want to carry around for very long. My first stop after I got into town was Arc de Triomph.
I tend walked all along Champs Elysees and passed the Grand & Petit Palais on my way to the Eiffel Tower. I desperately wanted to go to the top for a view of the city. After lining up for 30 minutes a sign near the register said the top was closed that day and since I wasn’t going to settle for less, I decided to go to Place de la Concorde and walk along Rue de Rivoli to my final destination of the day.
I knew that when I was in Paris I’d have to visit Angelina. It’s a lunch/ tearoom that has been around for more than a century. Apparently Coco Chanel came here often. But that’s not why I went. A few years ago I visited a friend of mine in Paris several times and she’s always take me to this place for their hot chocolate. It’s the thickest, creamiest hot chocolate you’ll ever taste so if you’re ever in Paris: make sure you visit!
In the little shop attached to the lunchroom they sell their cakes and patisserie to take home and they also do macarons. I had never had a macaron in my life, so I decided to pick up one of every flavor to eat later. I crossed the road into Jardin de Tuileries, walked past the Louvre and all the way back to my hotel. I would have a long day ahead of me, as I’d have to go to Paris Gare du Lyon and hop onto the TGV to… Barcelona! So stay tuned for tomorrow’s post.
What’s your favorite thing about traveling?
3 responses to “Interrail #3: Brussels & Paris”
Such a good call to get your first macarons from a fancy place! Even Albert Heijn sells them now and kust…no. So did you like them?
I also love how flexible you are about skipping stuff when you’re hungry or the lines are too long. Because sometimes eating is more important than doing other stuff. Right on!
They were absolutely delicious! And I get so cranky when I don’t eat something after a few hours. It’s better for me and everyone around me to make sure I stay nourished.
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