Part One: Getting There
London, Paris and Amsterdam: three capital cities that are amazing, gorgeous and have so much to offer. Now, you could grab a cheap flight from a budget carrier like Easyjet and fly there in under an hour, but unfortunately that does not take into account getting to and from the airports, queuing up for security and the waiting in the terminal and on the tarmac. If you cannot bear to spend anymore time inside of an airport, there is an alternative: high-speed trains! They’re clean, fast and you can always use your portable electronic devices. Another plus: trains aren’t subject to the same weather vagaries that often affect flights and can back up traffic at airports. (ahem, we’re looking at you London Fog)
What does this have to do with visiting Brussels? Well, with the completion of the tunnel underneath the English Channel (la Manche to the French), Great Britain and Europe became linked by rail and Brussels became a crossroads of sorts for high-speed trains in northwest Europe. Brussels may not have been at the top of your European itinerary, but if you are traveling between London, Amsterdam and/or Paris, it makes convenient and fun stop on your journey.
When you arrive at Brussels via a high speed train line make sure to go to the Brussels Centraal station. The Thalys and Eurostar trains arrive and depart using Brussels Midi/Zuid station, so get off there, then take the next train that stops at centraal. If you are unsure which train to take, just ask a station attendant and they will tell you when and where the next train departs. Don’t worry, it will just be a few minutes and your high-speed train ticket counts as your ticket to central station, so you don’t have to buy another ticket.
Brussels Central Station smells good. You will not hear us (or anyone for that matter) say that about a train station very often. When you get off of the train, you are greeted by a delicious aroma. Yup, those are Belgian waffles you smell. Even if you are just changing trains here, you (hopefully) will have enough time to grab one for the road. Brussels is easily explored on foot, so after your waffle, ditch your luggage in a locker (just follow the signs). To use the lockers, put all of your stuff in and close the door, then insert exact change and collect your receipt.
Take one last ambrosial whiff, and head west to Brussel’s main square, the Grote Markt.
Part Two: Lunch on the Grote Markt
Part Three: Belgian Chocolate