I’m very pleased that Heidi from Heidi Unplugged has written the first guest post for Camino My Way. Let’s let Heidi show us her and her family’s way as she takes us on a journey through Brussels, Belgium.
One of the reasons Miss O (who’s 10) was supportive of this whole, crazy plan to up and leave Seattle for a year, is that she wants to spend some time in Paris (her current dream is to be a fashion designer there). Since the flight gods didn’t align, we flew through Brussels and not Paris, on our way to volunteer in Guinea. But, as it’s also French-speaking, overflowing with charm, has amazing architecture, and most importantly, has some of the world’s best chocolate, the whole family loved it. We were able to decompress from the craziness of packing, selling, or donating our things. We adjusted, eventually, to the time change. I drank my weight in heavy cream (with a dash of coffee), while the kids ate chocolate-filled Belgian waffles. Brussels truly is a delight for all the senses.
One of the main tourist attractions is La Grand Place, the main square, that was filled with people at any time of the day or night. You can see in the gold writing that this part was built in 1698—over 400 years ago!
In the center of the square are several flea markets. All five of us were delighted by the flowers and bulbs of every imaginable color. The other tourists and locals also seemed to be captivated.
As most of the city center is a maze of pedestrian-only streets, it’s a welcome surprise to emerge upon the huge, walled gardens with fountains dotted around. As our rental flat didn’t have any outside space, we took advantage of the Parc de Bruxelles Warandepark, and had the children run relay-races to burn off some energy.
Brussels is a chocoholics dream! Unbeknownst to me, Belgium is also famous for being the birthplace and home to many famous comics including The Smurfs, Tintin, Lucky Luke, Asterix & Obelisk. We toured the art-nouveau Belgian Centre of Comic Strip Art, and couldn’t resist the city’s offerings of some great choco-comic collaborations.
If it weren’t for my little kids, one of the 2500 self-service bicycles at 180 stands all around town seemed like a practical way to see the city. I can just picture the havoc the three-year-old would cause!
Each day, late in the afternoon, several alleys along the Grand Place are utterly transformed into a welcoming gastronomic heaven, filled with temptations for the eyes and palate. Awnings opened up high, tables and chairs set, and hordes of people descended to eat the delicious fare. We talked the kids into ordering escargot…and one of them even ate it… All of it!
Just the welcoming site of the Champagnothèque de Bruxelles was relaxing. All the stresses of the previous months slipped away while we sat out front at a little table, enjoyed the precious time together, and some chilled bubbly.
Even on a grey and rainy day, Brussels itself is bright and cheerful. This picture was taken with the Magritte Museum behind us, looking beyond the steeple of Sainte-Catherine, towards the Grand Place.
The Atomium, situated on the northern outskirts of Brussels, was built for the 1958 World Fair, and has attracted forty million visitors. We five were fascinated by the technical and scientific progress on display, as well as the equally breathtaking display of beauty seen looking through the windows, from high above the ground.
No trip with small children is ever perfect (sleep deprivation, tantrums, schlepping way too much luggage, meltdowns, etc.), but our stay in Brussels was as close to perfect as our family could ever hope to find.
Heidi recently decided to quit work and pull the trigger on a life-long dream – to take a year ‘off’ to travel and volunteer in global development. She, her husband, and their three young children are doing just that. No longer at Microsoft, they are instead exploring the world together, learning another language, and making an impact as they go. Heidi is learning to love photography and has captured countless images from their journey. She blogs about the countries and lessons learned at
You can also keep up with Heidi via:
Thanks so much to Heidi and her family for the inspiring journey through Brussels, Belgium. If you would like to write a guest post for Camino My Way, please send me an email for more information: guestpost (at) caminomyway.com. Thanks for your time.