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Brussels has to my favorite city among the ones I visited during my Europe vacation. There are poems I could have written sitting on a pile of Autumn leaves and breathing in the sweet Belgian air. Yes, it’s true. The air was so extraordinarily wonderful that I could smell waffles a kilometer away. A tingling feeling of wonderfulness engulfed me with every breath.

Autumn In Brussels

A very dear friend of mine resides in Brussels and promised to take me around the city. So excited was she that I was visiting her city that she ended up taking a day off work on the weekday.

The Brussels Bunch

It was a 3-hour journey from Paris with Flixbus which costed me € 11. Brussels was the only city in my European Itinerary that I’d not planned for and it was for a good reason.

Churches in Brussels

Brussels

Lampposts in Brussels

The first sight I noticed in Brussels was that there weren’t any people as I expected to be. It was like the whole city had been almost deserted with a virus outbreak. I took to sitting in the balcony of my hotel and hearing at what point the clickity-clack of a woman’s heels would die away. There were cars, but no honking. This was a city of profound beauty encompassed in silence. A city I’d dream of settling in with great beers playing a large motivator.

Started off the day with a bowl of steaming escargot. This was my first time I got to try snails which tasted fairly nice. It was the broth especially which was the game-changer, packing in a sea-food like flavor with a whole lot of fresh vegetables.

Escargot

Being the city where the best comics like Tintin, Asterix etc have been developed, the city’s graffiti is comic-inspired too. It’s like you’ve been placed in a comic book and tasked with the job of going off on your own adventure.

Comics Graffiti In Brussels

Streets In Brussels

Streets in Brussels

We then headed to the city square where we bumped into a little guy peeing, whom everyone seemed to be interested in. Manneken Pis is the most famous little statue with a whole lot of stories revolving around it. The statue itself has a massive wardrobe collection which changes several times a week.

Manneken Pis

Manneqen Pis in Chocolate & Waffles

The city’s square is magnificent with the Grand Palace and it’s opulent edifices. Right on the square you’d find comic book artists creating caricature versions of people, horse –drawn carriages and lot of activity. This is the most visited landmark in Brussels and the only place where I actually saw lot of people gathered in the city.

Grand Palace Square

Right next to the Grand Palace is the sculpture of Everard t’Serclaes, rubbing whose hand is believed to bring luck. Legend has it that rubbing the hand will ensure a return to Brussels and bring good luck. This is one theory I didn’t mind believing in.

Everard t'Serclaes

A visit to Belgium is incomplete without sitting down over a glass of Belgian Beers and we had a glass too many at Delirium. Officially crowned in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest collection of Beers in the world, you’re spoilt for choice with more than 2,000 variants. It was easily a couple of hours before we left Delirium for a late dinner only to be back at another pub for a few more drinks.

Delirium Brewery

Delirium Brewery

Delirium Brewery

Right in the alley of Delirum Brewery is the statue of Jeanneke Pis, the female equivalent of the Manneken Pis although not as famous as it’s counterpart. The creepy smile by the girl doesn’t help it’s cause too.

Jeanneke Pis

Alley Outside Delirium Brewery

Meals in Brussels were grandiose as I went crazy on the fresh produce. An entire bowl of Moules Frites which had mussels cooked in white wine with onions and celery and a side of Fries at Chez Leon. This was neatly polished clean in a few minutes. For brunch it was an order of Savory Waffles with smoked salmon and poached eggs at Peck 47. And of course all of my meals were accompanied with glasses of Belgian Beers.

Moules Frites

 

 

Belgian Waffles

Brussels blew me away and should be high on your list when doing a Europe Trip. It’s been one of the most exhilarating cities I had the chance to visit during my travels across the world.

For readers who’ve reached the end of my post on Brussels, here are some more fabulous pictures of the city. And of course, there are going to be loads of Beer photos.

Belgian Beers

Galeries Royales St Hubert

Belgian Beers

Brussels

Belgian Beers

Sprout To Be Brussels

Belgian Beers

 

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Ever since I’ve returned from my Europe Trip, there have been numerous DM’s and messages about the costings and hacks that I used during the vacation. Yes, I did my entire Eurotrip for a little over Rs 1.5 lakhs. 1,56,000 INR to be precise which is roughly $2400.

The list of countries that I covered were all part of the east side of the continent which make up for the costliest cities. If you go further east, countries like Hungary, Croatia etc your budget can decrease even more. For people who’re surprised by the amount that I spent on the Europe Travel, you can do it too. There is no great hack to it but just simple research. In this blog let me detail some of them.

  1. First decide on the entry and exit points from Europe and then your Itinerary:

Europe is so vast that you might want to cram the maximum in one visit. But remember that it’s a vacation and not a marathon. Soak in the cultures, the art, hear the stories from people and most importantly enjoy. Indulge yourself by sipping on a wine while overlooking the Eiffel Tower, a spritzer in Italy while Beers in Belgium and a little bit of green in Amsterdam.

Also since you apply for a Schengen for the country that you’re going to be most days at (or the point of first entry in case it’s equal number of days in each country), this should be thought over thoroughly. I’d first suggest to get the visa and then plan on the itinerary as a whole. Applying for the maximum countries, increases the chances of rejection.

  1. You don’t always have to eat at McDonald’s (Fill up on a good breakfast at the Hotel/Hostel)

Most of the blogs I read before I ventured on my Europe suggested to eat at McDonalds to cut costs. A hamburger in McD will have a starting price of €1 but you’re going to be hungry again after an hour or two. Rather spend about €6 for a fulfilling breakfast in the Hostel/Hotel which will have a huge assortment of breads, meat, cornflakes, fruits, muesli and more and be set for almost till the afternoon. A sandwich at a supermarket will cost €4-5 and upwards while most hostels provide breakfast for just €2 more. Would you rather have a whole meal or a lousy supermarket sandwich?

And with every city I’ve indulged in € 20 meals for I really do love food and exploring a culture through it. From a beautiful Pork Knuckle in Berlin to a bowl full of Mussels in Brussels tossed over in white wine with onions and celery. Remember you’re on a trip to enjoy and not hold back on your cravings.

  1. Skip the tours and Hop-On Hop-Off Buses. (Take A Day Pass)

The biggest mistake that tourists do is to choose for tours and buy a hop-on-hop-off pass for the city. A hop-on-hop-off bus pass for a day costs minimum €30 and you’re allowed to only use specific buses. Meanwhile a whole day pass in a city costs €7 which gives you access to Buses, Trams and Metros. Every city of Europe is well connected by public transport and the best way to explore a city is by taking the day pass.

Europe is meant for walking and soaking in the energy of the city on foot. There have been days that I’ve walked 15 kms – 20 kms and yet never felt tired. Almost all attractions in each city are maximum 2-3 kms from each other and do not require a transport altogether.

  1. Re-think the Eurail Pass:

Most people travelling to Europe usually buy the Eurail pass coz it gives them access to all train travels through the countries. But there is a huge catch. The Eurail Global Pass for 5 countries is Rs 20,000
(€245) while all my travels through 7 countries in buses cost 6200 INR (€80). Isn’t that a huge difference? The buses are super comfortable and make for a pleasant journey.

Compare prices between cities using GoEuro website. Flixbus connects most cities with very attractive prices but I loved the comfort of RegioJet far better. Flixbus only offers 150 MB of free Wi-Fi while RegioJet has unlimited Wi-Fi, free entertainment screens loaded with movies and also complimentary coffee and juices on request. If you’re doing much longer journeys, then the €99 pass of Flixbus too comes in handy.

  1. Choosing the right Multi Currency Travel Card

This is a prime point to tick off before embarking on a Europe Trip. Banks which offer multi-currency cards do so at much higher rates which will also include service, conversion and withdrawal charges among many more. On the other hand, the online sites like Centrum and Bookmyforex offer travel cards at very competitive rates. In addition, they also have a number of free ATM withdrawals on the travel card.

I bought my currency and Multi-Currency Travel Card through Centrum. I was following the rates on the website and Google carefully for a few days. The rate at which I loaded my card was much lower than the latest conversion rate shown on Google. There is a time-lag during which it takes to update on the websites and this is best utilized to buy currency. It’s paramount to buy currency on weekdays than the weekends when it’s much higher due to last minute plans.

  1. Buy a local SIM Card

Being a blogger, I go through data at a much higher rate than a normal person. With updates on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter the HD photos that I keep uploading suck in a bulk of data. I know it’s a bad thing, but I actually have withdrawal symptoms if I’m not online. Buying a local SIM Card is much cheaper than taking a global one from your country of origin.

To give a better understanding let me jot down the rate difference between different SIM cards:

  • € 40 Matrix SIM Card taken from India – 2 GB of data and 400 minutes of calling.
  • € 39 Orange SIM Card from the Airport – 10 GB Data and 500 minutes of calling.
  • € 15 Lebara SIM Card at a Tabac/Tabacchi – 2 GB of Data, Unlimited Local calls and 500 Mins International Calls. These can be topped up online as per requirement

Most definitely I chose the last option.

  1. Peeing is costly but you DON’T necessarily have to pay:

I explore a lot on beer and with that comes the after-effects. Yes, you’re charged from around 50 cents to €1 every time you got to go pee in a public toilet. Even in McD you’ll have to pay to use the washroom which isn’t the case in local pubs or eateries. With an extended Oktoberfest drinking in the town square, it was safe to say that I lost €7 my first night in Berlin. It wasn’t until someone in my hostel told me that the payment has been put up only for tourists and you can choose not to pay. Sure do pay for the initial first time coz this helps them maintain the cleanliness and makes for a good tip. But with every recurring visit, rather hold back the change for another pint of beer.

  1. Never hold back on Desires and Cravings:

You’re in Europe on a vacation and sometimes you don’t know when the next trip to a particular country might pan out. So if you see a delicious looking pastry or gelato, go ahead and buy it. This is one decision you won’t regret.

After Eight Gelato In Florence

  1. Tap water is drinkable:

The tap water in Europe is filtered and you’d rather utilize the money spent on a mineral water bottle elsewhere. Mineral Water and Sparkling water cost the same in a restaurant, however the restaurant is bound to serve you tap water if you ask for it. It’s just that they don’t mention it anywhere.

Before heading outside, I carried my own water bottle filled from my hostel itself. This helps a lot in keeping hydrated.

  1. There is no concept of MRP.

Nowhere in Europe is there a concept of Maximum Retail Price that can be charged on a product. This can be quite confusing as the same bottle of water will cost €6 in one shop and €1 in a vending machine. Beers can be priced at €4-5 in shops around tourist areas while cost €1 in Carrefour. Personally I preferred Carrefour for buying my basic needs for the trip. But if you need to buy fresh produce like fruits and vegetables, the local markets provide a much better rate than the supermarkets. This is one things you’ll get used to gradually once you’ve spent a few days.

If you have any further questions do feel free to post them in the comments. Do not postpone your trip to much later on. A Europe Trip is doable and not as costly as it’s advertised to be.

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