Brussels in winter has its own charm, but in reality [sic] we went to see the Pietà of Van der Weyden in the Musée des Beaux Arts. And of course a few other things. We rented a small apartment very close to the Grand Place and the landlord provided us with more information than we needed for two days. Everything in walking distance, here is an idea of the main points and how you could visit them in a single walk:
If you start from the Fine Arts Museum you pass in front of the Museum of Musical Instruments (do visit and go to the top floor for a wonderful view of the city and possibly coffee or lunch), then just close to the Gare Centrale (central station) towards the cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula. Gudula, known better as Sinte Goedele is a Belgian saint, and the girl’s name Goedele evokes that real Belgian feeling, like the praline. From the cathedral to the Royal Gallery is a stone’s throw and you could pass the famous café ‘a la mort subite’ (sudden death), so called not because of the food or drink but because sudden death is the last throw in a dice game habitually played there. The name became attached to a type of beer that the Belgians like…and they should know, for Belgian beer is the best. In the gallery itself there is a nice café, Mokafé, good for a simpel lunch but especially for Brussel’s gaufres. They are very light and crispy, unlike most waffles elsewhere. In my opinion, if you have tasted the real ones from Brussels, you don’t want anything else. There are a couple of nice restaurants in the gallery and they’re quite OK, in particular the Marmiton. Not cheap, but also not exorbitant. Reservations are usually necessary. Also in the gallery is the place where the Swiss immigrant Jean Neuhaus started his pharmacy and candy store, that under his grandson Jean Jr. would become the origin of the Belgian praline, and that is what we know as Belgian chocolate. The gallery is only a few steps from the Grand Place, in one word magnificent. Just off the GrandPlace to the west is the pleasant Saint Nicholas church, and on the eastern side is Maison Dandoy. Upstairs there is a small café and their waffles are wonderful too, perhaps even better than the ones of Mokafé. Downstairs they make the waffles, but they also have a biscuit and sweets shop of great fame. From here to Moeder Lambic is a short walk, and you can take a look at Manneke Pis on the way. Moeder Lambic has 45 beers “on the tap” (draught). From there it’s 10 to 15 minutes to St. Catherine’s church and you would normally pass by the ‘Bourse’, the stock exchange. Just beyond the church is the fish market lined with fish and seafood restaurants. Just see what you can and cannot afford. If you’re not in for that stuff there’s also a small tearoom and coffeehouse cum chocolaterie Frederic Blondeel.