I had done no research at all on Brussels before visiting, so stepping into the Grand Place was a nice surprise. It is truly impressive, and therefore Ground Zero for tourism in the city. Herds of Japanese tourists roam across it all day, dodging the backpackers, buskers, and street artists who are camped out there. At night, it is much more serene and beautiful, but of course I didn’t have my camera with me then!
Inside the Town Hall, there is a city museum which we had to visit, because we always visit the city or town museum wherever we go. Also, it was free with our Brussels Card. And, like all city museums, it was interesting and blessedly uncrowded. It pays to be a history geek when traveling.
In the city museum, as elsewhere, there was not much information in English. They already have to print everything in both French and Dutch, you see. But, I found to my delight that all that high school and college French from 25 years ago is still lodged somewhere in the recesses of my middle-aged brain! I couldn’t really put a sentence together, but I could read just about everything, and understand quite a bit of the French being spoken around me, even successfully eavesdropping on Francophone museum tours. Maybe it helped to have had two Belgian French teachers back in the day. (Naturally, French is the one language I have never needed at a Foreign Service post.)
The Grand Place is also home to the Belgian Brewers Museum, which consists of two rooms, one of which is a pub. We were OK with that.