Most associate Brussels with beautiful architecture, EU headquarters, French fries and chocolate. The Belgian capital had long been on the "go for the weekend" list, and now was the perfect opportunity to make a dream come true. The last summer days in September made the trip really enjoyable. It was also a bit nervous, because being there, I realized how much I don't know French and how much we want this language to become the one in which we will communicate every day.
How to get to Brussels from Charleroi airport?
One of the easiest ways is airport transfer (taxi), but it is also one of the more expensive options. One way taxi fare from the airport to Brussels is around PLN 350. It is much cheaper to get there by flibco bus (thanks to Iza for hints!). One adult ticket costs 17 euros and can be purchased as soon as you exit the airport. At present, Charleroi Airport is undergoing renovation, so the flibco cash register is moved outside. Tickets can also be purchased at flibco websitewhich is also in English. Buses from the airport leave approximately every 30 minutes.
The flibco bus stops at Bruxelles Midi (Brussels-South railway station), which reminded us very much of the Central Station in Warsaw. Both trains and metro depart from this station. We tried to get to the hotel by metro but unfortunately due to renovation the station close to our hotel (Le Plaza Brussels) was closed. We found out about it when, after 1,5 hours of wandering around the station, we found a machine to buy a ticket and after entering the name of the metro, it turned out that our station was closed. Fortunately, there is a taxi rank near the exit of the station, so we decided not to wander anymore, but to drive faster to the hotel.
How to travel from Brussels to Charleroi airport?
The fastest and cheapest access is via the flibco bus (the same bus we took from the airport). The bus departs from Brussels-South railway station Bruxelles Midi from the exact same place where the airport bus stops. I recommend buying a ticket online (link above), because at the station we did not find a ticket office selling tickets for these buses.
I will not fool anyone that Charleroi airport is close to Brussels. The bus trip takes almost an hour (I recommend planning it in case you want to go from Brussels to the airport also by flibco). Unfortunately, we did not understand that the bus at 7:30 am at the airport is at 8:25 (we had a flight at 9:05). Luckily there wasn't a lot of people at the airport so we made it just before the gates closed.
Hotel in Brussels - where to stay?
While in Brussels, we decided to stay at the Le Plaza Brussels hotel (Adolphe Maxlaan 118/126).
This hotel met our expectations 100%. Not only was it very clean but also beautiful inside and out.
The room itself was very large and comfortable. We decided to use it and take some pictures while the light was perfect. The only downside for me was the bathtub instead of the shower (but for me that's a minus as I'm not a tub fan).
What is worth visiting in Brussels?
There are a few must-see spots in the Brussels Center. I will not only describe the places that appear in the guidebooks, but also those that we visited on the way.
One such place is definitely the Église Notre-Dame des Victoires au Sablon on Rue des Sablon - it's an amazingly beautiful church worth visiting, as well as the Église Notre-Dame de la Chapelle.
A must-see is the beautiful shopping center - Galeries Royales Saint Hubert. There you will find luxury brands such as Longchamp and a lot of Belgian chocolate shops with the smell of chocolate from the entrance.
I was most impressed by the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula (Cathédrale des Sts Michel et Gudule), in which we spent the most time admiring its beauty. Entrance to the cathedral is free.
If you are going to Parc de Bruxelles, it is worth stopping at the Square of Petit Sablon - a small but very charming park. It was there that we sat on the bench opposite the Statues des Comtes d'Egmont et de Horne and gathered our strength to get to the Prac de Bruxelles.
On the way to the hotel, we also saw Place Royale Bruxelles and Colonne du Congrès. Unfortunately, we did not go to Mont des Arts because this is where there were dangerous riots.
Where to eat in Brussels We recommend Aux Gaufres De Bruxelles, where Piotrek ate a vegan burger with Belgian fries and a salad. I, on the other hand, tried Belgian fries and a waffle with chocolate.
What surprised us the most in Brussels?
Brussels is not only about delicious chocolate, beautiful architecture, but also a depressing sight of homeless people sleeping in the streets. Perhaps the biggest surprise was their amount (even when entering our hotel on Monday morning, we saw people sleeping on cardboard). It is a terribly depressing sight that I have not experienced in Poland on such a scale so far. Of course, I see homeless people near the train station in Warsaw, but despite everything, people sleeping on cardboard boxes next to office buildings were really annoying. The second surprise was the large amount of garbage. Unfortunately, Brussels is not one of the cleanest places (of course, it's not dirty everywhere!).
A huge plus is the freedom to communicate in English. In Brussels, many places are described both in French and also in English (often also in German, so I suspect that communicating in this language would not be a problem either).
Brussels is a place where you can meet people of different nationalities, and a place where you can be in the heart of the riots in an instant (I do not recommend this experience, more info in the featured "Travel" report on Instagram).