Author Topic: Business trip to Brussels  (Read 771 times)

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BatCity

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Business trip to Brussels
« on: January 25, 2013, 12:18:08 PM »
I'll be in Brussels (from the US) for a week in February.

I know it's going to be cold!  I've been to Europe a lot, sometimes as a tourist and a lot on business, but I haven't been to Brussels since I was a kid.  I remember the Grande Place, the Mannequin Pis, and excellent chocolate (yum!).  Given that I'll be working during the day (no museums or other attractions that close at 5 PM), anyone have recommendations on good eats or sights?

Any etiquette or tips for visitors that you'd like to share?

Snowy Owl

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Re: Business trip to Brussels
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2013, 10:05:59 AM »
I'll be in Brussels (from the US) for a week in February.

I know it's going to be cold!  I've been to Europe a lot, sometimes as a tourist and a lot on business, but I haven't been to Brussels since I was a kid.  I remember the Grande Place, the Mannequin Pis, and excellent chocolate (yum!).  Given that I'll be working during the day (no museums or other attractions that close at 5 PM), anyone have recommendations on good eats or sights?

Any etiquette or tips for visitors that you'd like to share?

Brussels is a lovely place.  I lived there for nearly a year.  It will be cold in February.  Take stout shoes against snow / rain / cobbled streets.  Most Belgian women going to a posh event will take their good shoes in a bag and change when they get where they're going.

In terms of restaurants, there are plenty.  If you eat meat you'll have a lot easier time than if you don't in terms of finding places. 

The Grand Place is very pretty.  I think it's de rigeur to have at least one meal on it.  The best of the restaurants on the square is called t'Kelderke.  It's as touristy as most of the others but has decent food and local people will eat there.  Very traditional Belgian food like mussels and chips and my personal favourite of rabbit cooked in beer (called lapin a la gueze).

One of my personal favourites in Brussels is a North African restaurant called La Kasbah on Rue Antoine Dansaert which does really nice tagines and couscous. 

If you like fish then the fish market up at St Catherine is surrounded by fish restaurants.  I don't much like fish so don't go there often but by and large if it looks relatively clean, it should be alright. 

La Quincaillerie is a rather upmarket brasserie where famous people are alleged to eat.  In my view it's slightly over priced but the food is good. 

Brussels is also renowned for chips.  These are served in restaurants but also in friteries / fritkots which are just stands in the square with no seating.  There's a good one on Place Jourdain called Maison Antoine.

You may have problems with museums etc as most of them keep office hours.  Not many of the shops open late but in terms of the shops there are, there's a rather nice square called Place du Grand Sablon which has upmarket shops and antique shops as well as my favourite cafe (Wittamer) and my favourite chocolatier (Pierre Marcolini).  Avenue Louise has all of the designer shops and the department store called Inno.   

You could go to a concert or opera one evening.  The Palais des Beaux Artes has concerts of mainly classical music and the Opera House La Monnaie has a reasonably good programme.  The Botanique also has music some evenings.  Or you can just find a bar, drink a beer and watch the people go by. 

The public transport in Brussels is really good with buses and trams all over.  Tickets are pretty reasonably priced.  I wouldn't usually bother with taxis in Brussels unless i was going somewhere the transport didn't go. 
And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.

Friedrich Nietzsche

BatCity

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Re: Business trip to Brussels
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2013, 03:49:51 PM »
Great advice!  I will be staying near the city center and anticipate doing lots of walking.  I'll also be in one of those hotels with tiny rooms, so I think I'll be spending my evenings out and about.

Warm coat, boots, scarf and gloves...check.  French/English dictionary...check!


Snowy Owl

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Re: Business trip to Brussels
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2013, 04:04:51 PM »
Great advice!  I will be staying near the city center and anticipate doing lots of walking.  I'll also be in one of those hotels with tiny rooms, so I think I'll be spending my evenings out and about.

Warm coat, boots, scarf and gloves...check.  French/English dictionary...check!

Yeah, in comparison with US hotels, most European city hotels have quite small rooms.  I think it's because land is comparatively more expensive and there's less space. 

Brussels is pretty compact so it's a nice easy walk.  It's also pretty safe.  I mean you need to observe the usual precautions around not flashing wads of cash or wearing a lot of valuables.  Keep an eye on your things on the metro and the tram and keep your handbag close to you. 

I'd recommend avoiding wearing a bumbag (fanny pack as USians call it) as nobody apart from a tourist would bother and it marks you as a tourist.  Other than that it is very safe, has a very low crime rate and very few problems.

In terms of restaurants, if it has plastic menus in six languages up on a board outside then you probably don't want to eat there as nobody local ever would and it's designed as a tourist trap with mediocre food.

French / English dictionary is useful.  Brussels is officially bilingual in French and Flemish (Flanders Dutch) so you'll hear announcements in both languages and some in English. Most people there will speak English to some degree.  Nobody will expect you to speak Flemish (because so few people do) but it's a good thing to have a few words of French.     

If you're ever shopping and go into a shop, always greet the shopkeeper before asking them for anything.  You've entered their space and you need to acknowledge them with a pleasantry.  Bonjour Monsieur / Madame is fine.  Wait for them to return the greeting and then ask the question. 
And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.

Friedrich Nietzsche