The Waterloo Lion, proud Belgian monument

A few months ago, I put together a Belgian must see list. It actually contains events, musea, places that I still haven’t seen in Belgium and I think are worth checking out. I try to cut items of this list whenever I get the chance, so nothing rigidly planned. But, whenever you have a sunny week-end in Belgium, you have to make the most of it. So, we decided to finally visit the famous Waterloo Lion. It’s about 20 minutes from Brussels and I think I represents an important piece of Europe’s history.

What?

It’s basically a huge hill with a big lion monument on top of it. It’s pretty impressive for Belgium, but if you want to get to the top, you have to go up 226 steps. Yes, 226 stairs that are quite inclined and thin. By the time you get on top, your lungs hate you. Or maybe I’m just weak and not fit 🙂

Why was it built?

It was erected to memorialize the place where William II of the Netherlands was knocked off his horse by a musket ball during the battle of Waterloo. This was Napoleon’s last battle (18 June 1815).

Impressions

I must say that you have a more impressive view from the bottom. Once you get on top, if you go during spring and summer, you have a nice view of the surrounding fields. But, honestly, it’s not breathtaking. If it’s not crowded, you can sit down and spend some time just chilling, gazing at the pretty, green fields.

The way up is quite a turn off, but I had to do it and I think that if you have the time and lung preparation, you should do it as well.

Pictures

The Hill

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The Lion

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The Stairs

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The surrounding fields

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Where?

Route du Lion 315, Waterloo, Belgium

When?

April – September: 9:30am – 6:30pm

October – March: 10am – 5pm

Link: http://waterloo1815.be/

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Bath, a lovely surprise

I haven’t seen much of England, so was not sure what to expect of Bath. Yes, I knew it was a former Roman city, with hot baths 🙂 but the rest was a mystery.

I discovered that it’s actually it’s a beautiful, historic city, with lots of coffee shops and pretty stores. It’s a great place for a week-end to relax, take advantage of the Roman baths and shop. For its size it has quite an active nightlife. It might be because it’s a student city, as well. If you are there for more than just a week-end, there’re plenty of cultural activities to discover.

Both the city and the surroundings are very charming and very green. It’s quiet a calming feel to it and has beautiful architecture. I must say that I would gladly go back. It’s also because we have dear friends there 🙂

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Few things to see in Bath:

1. The Roman Baths, right in the center which you can only visit, not bathe in. For the real thing, you have to go else where. Check out here where you can find this attraction. 

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2. Bath Abbey – beautiful, medieval English church right in the center.

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3. St Michael’s Without – lovely church, just across the abbey.

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4. The Circus, an impressive piece of architecture and the name speak for itself. It’s more interesting to see how it looks from bird’s eye pictures. But, I didn’t go for a hot air balloon ride to do that 🙂

5. Shop. The city is not very big. I would say it’s a cute, lovely town, but it’s great for some shopping. The shops are not so big and commercial, which gives you a more homey feeling, with super friendly and nice shop attendants.

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Of course, there is much more to do. But if you’re there for a week-end, just doing this will suffice.

It’s about 1h30′ away from London by train. Plus, the Stonehenge is literally one hour from Bath. We didn’t have time to go, but maybe next time we’ll make an extra effort.

For more info: http://visitbath.co.uk/

Mexigo, Brussels’s Mexican food to go

Belgians have a good quality: they love having nice dinners out. As a consequence, you will find a pretty amazing array of restaurants and many of them are really good. But if you want a good Mexican, than that’s a different story. Until recently, and not the best example, Brussels had only Chi-chi’s. Recently, I discovered Mexigo. They have a pretty straight-forward business model and surprisingly, authentic and delicious Mexican food.

So, a few weeks ago, I passed by, bought some mashed beans (that I prepared with diced onions) and guacamole. A delish taste of Latin America. I was really excited to try my first ever, close to the real Mexican food.  I was not disappointed. And, if you are looking for Mexican booze, as well as random US products, then pay the store a visit.

Then, I decided to order the real deal, some prepared meals. As you cannot really eat at their shop, you should mostly order take-away or get it delivered. Was not disappointed with what I ordered and I would try it again. Also, their food got the approval of one of my Mexican friends, so I guess that’s good enough.

Practical
Mexigo
47 Rue Francois Dons, Ixelles
Contact: contact@mexigo.be
Phone: 02 649 23 83 o 04 793 09858
They speak both Spanish and English

Merrilys, new cupcakes on the Brussels’ map

By now it’s clear that I’m passionate about cupcakes. I love them in most flavors and try to discover new cupcake places in Belgium. Until now, I have a favorite in Brussels and one in Antwerp. Nevertheless, I research to see what else is there. So, in my sugar quest, I found Merrilys.

It’s a very quaint and original cupcake place in St Gilles, on a beautiful street with art nouveau buildings. So, it’s a treat for the architectural lovers as well. It’s very Bruxellois, so I encourage you to go an hang out there just for the atmosphere, if you don’t have a sweet tooth.

So, my assessment of the sweet delights: very cute, quite nicer than expected. Nevertheless, I found them a bit too sweet, so you can’t have more than one. But it’s worth the try. They also have very nice coffee, so it’s a perfect break for a lazy Saturday.

Practical:
Merrily’s atelier sucré
46, Avenue jean volders
1060 Saint-Gilles (Bruxelles)
02-538.02.00

 

Antwerp’s coolest chocolatier: Dominique Persoone

Belgium is known for having most fantastic chocolate. Swiss might disagree, but I say just try it by yourself. So, besides the well established brands like Godiva and Neuhaus, you will encounter many chocolatiers in Belgium, be it a big city or a small village.

My favorite and in my subjective opinion the best chocolatier in Antwerp is Dominque Persoone, for it’s crazy flavors, daring combinations and innovative products. One good example is his sniffing chocolate package. He created it for a birthday party of the Rolling Stones. He also has a chocolate lipstick which is really cool to inspire you and your partner to have a sugary night in 🙂

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His store is located in a very popular shopping street in Antwerp and I’m sure you cannot miss it. The address is Paleis op de Meir 50 | Antwerp. I really encourage you go in and see what you can choose, as I’m pretty sure you won’t get out empty handed. He also opened a store in Brugge, so if you’re in the neighborhood, it’s worth the try.

What’s also cool about his store is that in the back you can go and check out the atelier where him and his team work. Last time I was there with dear friends, we where able to see him in action. He was really cool and my friend Jodi managed to snap a picture with him smiling at us.

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Needless to say that we had to buy a selection of the precious pralines. We has quite a blast discovering the flavors and indulge in Persoone’s creation. So, next time you take a walk in Antwerp’ Meir hop by his store and try some goodness.

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Practical info:                                                                    

Website: http://www.dominiquepersoone.be/

Address Antwerp: Paleis op de Meir 50 | Antwerp (not very far from Ruben’s house)

Address Brugge: Simon Stevinplein 19 | Brugge