So let's rewind back a month ago to some Christmas markets.
Dan and I hopped across the channel to Belgium, one of our favourite countries. Belgium is one of those countries that I'm not sure people consider straightaway as a weekend getaway, but it's such a marvellous place. The people are friendly, the food is traditional and wholesome (cough..Belgian frites & waffles) and the architecture is stunning. Not only that, but it's close enough to the UK that you can get there by train, you can road trip it across the channel via ferry or channel tunnel, or even get a cheap flight to Brussels. There are so many options.
As part of our babymoon, we decided to head to Brussels to see what their Christmas market was about. Neither of us had been to the business capital of Europe before, but had heard wonderful things about the buildings and ambience around this time of year. We love a road trip, so decided to drive and get the channel tunnel across, which is a lot more comfortable for me whilst pregnant. We arrived at our hotel by 9am, checked in and head out to explore what Brussels had to offer.
We wandered through the stunning Grand Place, and the undercover shopping street of Galeries St Hubert. Belgian chocolate shops are literally every other concession, so you're never far from trying some sweet treats (we couldn't say no to sampling truffles in Leonidas..of course.) We also made a stop by the Mannekin-Pis, which is basically just a statue of a little boy weeing. It's one of those moments that when you get there, you go 'Is that it?!' But we did the tourist thing and saw it anyway. The market stalls sold a mixture of things: chocolate, alcohol, souvenirs and a variety of Christmas gifts. I can still smell the mixture of glüwein and toasted almonds in the air now!
In the late afternoon, we head back to the hotel so that I could rest my pregnant legs, and of course, unbeknown to me at the time, I was about to get engaged! You can read about that in more detail here.
After the rather exciting proposal, we head back out to see the market in full evening swing and grab some dinner. The real highlight was the Grand Place. Once the sun goes down, a light show is projected onto the ornate buildings in giant square and set to a variety of music. This was really incredible to watch, and we stopped to watch it three times all in all. The lights mixed with the giant Christmas tree was just beautiful. Tired from being on our feet all day (especially me!) we called it a night to get some rest before heading to Bruges in the morning.
Brussels had some beautiful touches to its Christmas market. Spread out across the whole city, you have to wander to find everything, but it means you get to see more of everything. Considering that Brussels is head of the EU, we expected it to feel a little more formal and business like, but the typical Belgian architecture was everywhere and some of the eateries are wonderful.
Of course, Brussels will always have a special place in our hearts for being the magical place that we got engaged, but for a little Winter magic, don't rule Brussels out!