Brussels Round 2
I’ve bought a lot of it, but can I replicate it? Am I any good at making it myself? Well, it turns out the answer to that question is no, but I gave it a good crack, and it definitely could have been worse!
Yes, back in Brussels, first on today’s agenda was none other than a chocolate making workshop, set in a rather unassuming building between the Grand Place and the Midi-Zuid train station. Once there, our small group of six got to work making first pralines, and then what the workshop instructors referred to as “Plan B” – simple flat non-uniform chocolates decorated with various fruits and nuts. That way, even if the trickier praline failed, you had something to take home. Thankfully, everyone successfully ended up with pralines, so it was all good.
I booked this experience through GetYourGuide for a rather hefty €35, though you can also book on through most other booking agents too. It may seem pricey, but remember, they’re providing not only their time, knowledge and friendliness, but also all the equipment and ingredients, plus a homemade hot chocolate at the end, so I would still definitely recommend. And if you drink spirits, you can easy spend that kind of money in a bar here…
Fun fact: Pralines originally came about when a man called Neuhaus decided to hide his children’s medicine within chocolate so they would take it. It worked, and so why couldn’t it work for other fillings…?
From there, I decided I’d head somewhere a little different, growing tired of wandering up and down the same few roads. This brought me to a really rather industrial area, yet also home to attractions that include The Atomium and Mini Europe. Yes, the time to forget trying to be a “traveller” and instead become a shameless tourist was upon me. And despite the bitter, bitter cold, it was a great afternoon.
You can easily reach this area by taking the number 6 metro line towards Roi Boudouin, and you’ll want the next to last stop, Heysel.
Touring Mini Europe (Adult entry: €15), I was brought back to memories of visiting Legoland as a child and it’s similar display of scaled down landmarks. It also took me back to some of my previous travels across the continent and reminded me just how much I’ve actually done despite having barely touched the world as a whole. I saw sights like the colourful houses of Copenhagan, the thermal baths in Budapest, the obvious might of Paris’s Eiffel Tower and best of all, the Houses of Parliament in London, because – wait for it – they’d added both pro and anti Brexit protesters to the model, campaign signs and all. Hilarious.
While I opted not to actually climb the Atomium, it is still a damn impressive structure, despite it’s weirdness and apparent randomness. It also stands by a lovely area of parkland, which I imagine on a warmer day when the temperature is actually above 0 Celsius would be very pleasant to pass the time walking around.
Now, remember the statue of the little boy peeing from a couple of days back? Well, back on familiar ground in the centre, I managed to hunt down the peeing dog – inspired by Mannequin Pis – for more urinating glory. Never did find his sister, Jeanneke though. However, what I did find was a rather impressive church of some description hosting another previously unexplored market. And this market was special. This market had a carousel! Devastatingly, it was only for children up to age 12, so I walked away forlorn, consoling myself in a cosy rock pub in this coolest of areas of the city. Not a bad trade! Returning to Grand Place I watched the nightly light show they display, before a final vodka in the market.