I think Brandon was most excited for our day in Brussels, he talked about Belgian waffles and chocolate nonstop before our trip! We woke up bright and early (dark and early, really) on day five to catch the bullet train to Brussels. The bullet train saved us an hour, but honestly the countryside was so pretty that I wouldn't have minded the extra hour. We got there around nine, which was great, because the town was still quiet and nobody was out. We stayed at the B-Aparthotel, which was different, because there was no front desk to check in at! It was a self serve check in, and luckily there was another group of English speakers that got there when we did, otherwise we would have had no idea what to do. Long story short, the email with the check-in instructions went to my old email that I don't check. Anyway! The housekeeping staff came down and put our luggage in a closet for it, and we were off to see the city!
The first thing we did, and the thing I was most excited about (besides waffles), was Coudenberg Palace. Coudenberg sits across from, and slightly under, the new palace. Coudenberg Palace was built in the 12th century, but caught on fire in 1731, after which they started constructing the new castle. It was neat to walk through the ruins, underground, and see the grandeur of the old palace. It was so cool! From there, we stopped for a waffle, then made our way to the Museum of Music. This museum was way cool, and very different from any museum I'd ever been to. Not only did we get to walk around and look at various types of old instruments, but we got to hear them being played as well! Just through our little audio device, but still! It was neat, and we spent a lot of time there.
From there we walked to Grand Place, which is essentially a giant town square, and it really is grand! Everything was ornately decorated, with lots of gold, and it was just really pretty. We walked through there to a chocolate house, where we got to learn how a chocolatier makes chocolates. And then (the best part) we got to sample some! We tried white, milk, 50% and 70% dark chocolate, and we also tried cocoa mass, which is actually just super gross haha. But it was all so good. Then we went for frites (fries) and all shared a waffle. SO. YUMMY.
After food, we took a bus out to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. It is the fourteenth largest church in the world, and is so big. I loved Sacre Couer in Paris (more than Notre Dame, don't hate me), so basilicas are my new favorite thing to see on vacations. We walked around there quickly, then headed back to the center of Brussels. We made it in time to quickly walk through the city museum, and though this museum had everything in English, we were to short on time to read everything. And because we didn't get to read anything, I didn't actually know the significance of the next thing we saw, so I had to google it.
Mannekin Pis is a must see when you are in Brussels. It represents the rebellious spirit of Brussels, and has been there since 1618. I did learn that they have had to replace it many times, and that it has been stolen before too. It was surrounded by people when we got there, I'm not joking. There were so many people that we kind of just dove in for a picture, then hurried down the street for another waffle.
The highlight of the trip, and the last thing we did that day, was Atomium. Atomium was built for the Brussels World's Fair in 1958, but it was easily the biggest hit of the whole day. I don't think any of us were prepared for how big it is. We wandered around there in awe for a little bit (well, the guys were mostly in awe, Candis and I were just laughing at them) before heading back to town for dinner. And after dinner we got another waffle. That's four, for those of you keeping track. We turned in early-ish to get a good nights sleep for our last big day of vacation, which ended up being one of the best!