24 Hours in Brussels!

  • 9

24 Hours in Brussels!

If you only had 24 hours to travel, where would you go?

While in Europe, I chose “Brussels”. Small city, fun city, interesting city, tricky city. The reason I chose that city was to have a taste spicy enough just to let me decide whether I would go back one day… Or not. (And also, because the flights were cheaper).

In my opinion, the city is big enough to make you want to see more, and small enough to get you to see enough in 24 hours. This statement is made in comparison to other European cities where I’ve been, such as Paris, Rome, Geneva, and London.

So if you ever happen to have 24 free hours while in Europe and want to take a jump and try out a new city, go to Brussels, and I’m pretty sure you’d be able to do one of these 10 things (I did all 10, y’all):

1.Free City Tour

A lot of European cities have the concept of “free city tours”, which I like a lot. It’s a good option for tourists to have a bit of a historical background of the city they’re visiting, and this with no commitment (financial and time-related, that is). If you love the tour, stick around til the end. If you get bored, feel free to leave. And if you stick til the end because you find it interesting, you’re welcome to give a tip to the tour guide at the end, with no obligations. Do it… if the spirit moves you:)

Tip: free city tours usually last for 1h to 1h30. They are walking tours, have fixed departure times and are also available in multiple languages. Before traveling, find out, in your destination city tourism website, where the gathering points for the free tours are. In Brussels, a lot of tour groups gathered at the market place. 

2. The Atomium

The Atomium is a 102 m tall building shaped as a molecule made of several circular atoms connected by chemical bonds (well, in this case, physical bonds). It was built in 1958 as part of a scientif Expo (Expo 58) in Brussels. Now, the Atomium is a museum; the top sphere of which includes a restaurant with a panoramic view of Brussels. You could simply stand outside and take a picture around the molecule (which I did), but if you’d like to go in, there is a fee. Interestingly, access to the attraction is sold alongside with access to the Mini-Europe attraction, which might turn out to be a great combo deal for you:

Atomium + Mini – Europe: € 24,70 (adults) and € 16,60 (<12y) € 21,80 (12-18y) for children.

Tip: a good trip to the museum takes “at least” an hour. If you plan on visiting this museum, consider that in allocating your time available for the different attractions you want to see. Also, the Atomium is about 35 mns from the city center, one way, by metro. With that said, it would take you 1h10 mns to go from and to the city. Take this into consideration when making your plans.

3. Mini-Europe

Mini-Europe is rather an interesting concept. It is a miniature park that displays the landmarks of Europe, as well as cities and the most important buildings in the continent. It is located just above the Atomium, so you can easily tackle both attractions at once.

Tip: you can purchase a combo ticket that gives you access to both the Atomium and Mini-Europe. There is also a restaurant around if you want to grab a quick bite, and a movie theater if you feel like being entertained by the latest releases. Very practical for an afternoon out alone, with a friend, or as a family.

4. Brussels’ Market Place

The market place is located in the city center, and is a hub for all tourists. It’s also one of the most active points on the weekends (daytime), and you can easily access all the remaining attractions listed in this article by walking up, down and around the market place.

Tip: anytime is a good time to go there, and there are usually a lot of tourists early in the morning and in the afternoon! If you want to take a free guided tour, make sure to get there early and join a group that speaks your language!

5. Belgian Fries for Lunch

I have a philosophy: just like you can’t go to France and not have French fries, you can’t go to Belgium and not have Belgian fries. This is simply unacceptable. ^_^

I had my first Belgian fries experience at Belgian Frites. I received a generous and delectable portion for less than 5 euros, and my heart (and mouth) were at peace (you know how I feel about food). I also learned that the difference between French fries and Belgian fries was in the cut!

Tip: this is a sample medium portion, and it was sufficient to keep me full for the afternoon (and I’m a food lover). You can choose to add other sauces and dressings to your serving, at an additional cost. 

6. Belgian Beer Museum

Did you know that the average Belgian drinks about 84 liters of beer per year. Yup.

I never realized that Belgium was so big on beers until I went to the Belgian Beer Museum in Brussels, located in the Market Place. For only 5 euros, you get to learn about the beer making process, different types of beers used for different occasions, history of beer, and on top of that, you get a free beer glass (you can even choose which type you want).

I felt so enlightened to learn about the different types of beers (thirst quenching and degustation beers), to learn that specific beers are served in specific glasses, and to even realize that some beers are made for specific occasions (like Christmas, for instance).

Tip: the museum is pretty small, and if at the end of your visit you want to sit down inside to sip your beer, then I recommend getting there early, perhaps before 10. Otherwise, there’s a 50/50 chance that you won’t get a seat. But if you don’t mind standing up while sipping, then that’s great!

7. A Belgian Waffles’ Treat

Again, back to my philosophy: just like you can’t go to France and not have French crêpes, you also can’t go to Belgium and not have Belgian waffles. This is simply unacceptable. All along the market place, there is a wide variety of sellers. You can get them for as little as 1 euro, and you get to choose your toppings (additional cost).

Tip: I saw some tourists buying humongous waffles (with 4-5 toppings), and I also saw some locals purchasing a plain waffle. So, it all depends on your budget and the experience you want to have.

8. The Manneken Pis

Going to Brussels, I told myself: “If I don’t see anything, I want to see the Atomium and the Manneken Pis”. And as I was kindly led along the Market Place by two tourists sensitive to my plight and supportive of my desire to fulfill the second part of my goal, I finally encountered… The Manneken Pis: he’s a little boy.

A little boy, but an iconic landmark sculpture in Brussels. The scuplture depicts a naked little boy urinating into a fountain’s basin.

Historically, it was the first fountain that played an essential role in the distribution of drinking water in Brussels since the 15th century.  The sculpture also survived the bombing of Brussels in 1695. The Manneken Pis was designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder and put in place in 1618 or 1619.

It is said that Manne (can I just call him Manne – reads “Manu”, I find him so adorable…) has more than 900 suits in his wardrobe, and before each suit is officialized, there is a full ceremony. He is dressed about 130 times per year, and you better believe there is an official calendar that dictates (ahead of time) when he should be dressed. You can find out more about his wardrobe and costumes here. So, next time someone tells you you have too many clothes, just send them the link to this article and let them know that the Manneken Pis, Manne, has more than 900. Case closed.

Tip: Manne is a VIP, and it might be difficult for you to get a nice clean shot with him, when you go there, simply because there are a lot of other tourists. So you have to be pretty strategic! 

9. Tintin Museum (aka Hergé Museum)

If you are a huge fan of cartoons like I am, you’ll love visiting the Tintin Museum. You know, I grew up watching Tintin and Milou’s adventures all my childhood and early teenage years (well, at least til I entered medical school), and I only discovered that Tintin was Belgian when I went to Brussels. Quite an eye-opening trip! If you have a few minutes to spare, stop by, and if not, just pick up some souvenirs!

Tip: there is a small fee that you have to pay to access the museum.

10. MOOF Museum (Museum Of Original Figurines) 

This one is also a must for anyone who is a die-hard (or die-soft) fan of cartoons! This museum features original figurines of cartoons like The Smurfs, Asterix and Obelix, Tintin, and so many more! I was overwhelmed being there, it felt like childhood again. I’d definitely recommend this.

Tip: there is a small fee that you have to pay to access the museum.

One attraction I’d definitely love to see when I go back “someday”: The Musical Instruments Museum:

After everything had been seen, done, eaten and drank, I hopped back on the train to the airport, and guess what: I wasn’t even late for my flight! 🙂

Linking back to Faraway Flies!

Untold Morsels

  • 20

Welcome to the Minneapolis Greek Festival!

 

🌺“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous🌺

I am officially starting a new journey at a new destination, Minneapolis! And there was no better way to start it off than with the Minneapolis Greek Festival!

G2

Perhaps my love for everything Greece is a biased feeling because I am a huge lover of Greek (and also Roman) mythology, but having a taste of Greece before eventually traveling here (one day) was an amazing experience.

G12

The Festival was organized for September 8-10th, and so ran for the entire weekend. This is certainly an event that I would recommend to anyone visiting Minneapolis or if you live there, it’s a family friendly event worth checking out!

The festival featured greek future expressed in the form of traditional dances, music, and of course… food!

I particularly enjoyed the display of greek beverages and delicacies, not only because I am a foodie but also because food and culinary arts are a great part of culture all over the world.

G15

Food was offered using a “ticket” system, and every guest had the opportunity to earn 2 free tickets simply by bringing 3 dry good items for donations.

The Balkava Sundae that I had (on a perfect Sunday too) was a real delight! It was my first time tasting something Greek ever, and I certainly enjoyed it.

G18

 

I also loved the fact that I got the opportunity to discover the Orthodox church and learn more about its beliefs and teachings during the festival. While appreciating its similarities with the Catholic Church, I also got to discover the few features that make the orthodox church different.

Thinking about the fact that I nearly didn’t go, I feel contented by the fact that I did. ♥️

G20

Moving to a new city can be daunting, but hey – life is the living. I know for sure this taste of Greece revived in me the desire to… go to Greece one day.

Have you ever been to Greece?

 

 

 

Linking back to Two Traveling Texans!

Two Traveling Texans

  • 1

5 Flight Booking Traps and False Ideas that No One is Telling you about

Here are the two most important expenses that you always have to deal with when planning a trip: 1) Accommodation and 2) Flights (unless, of course, you decide to purchase a private residence or a yacht while overseas, in which case, that’s a completely different story😅 ). And because these are the most pricey items when it comes to budget for a trip, people tend to get very nervous over flights and accommodation bookings.

When it comes to flights, I have come across 5 key traps that keep being repeated over and over again, everywhere on social media and on several travel blogs:

1. Skyscanner is the best: Nope, it is not. Sky scanner is great in its own rights, but I wouldn’t qualify it as the best. In fact, people should not even say “the best”, but rather, “the best for me”; because what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.

For instance, when I was looking for affordable flights to visit other European cities while in Geneva, almost everyone in my entourage was praising Skyscanner wonders. Interestingly, every time I’d go on Skyscanner to look for a flight, I would never get the results that I want. And at times, I could not even see any flights listed for my intended dates. Someone introduced me to Google Flights, and it was a game changer for me, I’ve used it ever since. Whenever I enter a search on Google Flights, it combines all the results that are available, with all airlines, all layover options, etc. Additionally, it sorts out the prices based on the least expensive, and you can even check the most expensive flights if you feel adventurous. Moreover, Google Flights has this great option of suggesting travel dates that could make you spend even less money. And did I mention that they include results from ALL airlines?

The lesson: before landing on Google flights, I had to try a million options: Expedia, Cheapoair, Skyscanner, Trivago, etc. At the end of the day, you need to give it a try for yourself and use what works for you, and not take anyone word for it. 

2. I have a limited budget, so I need to go with the cheapest flight: wrong. I used to fall into this trap a lot, and I’m glad I’ve seen the light. Whenever you look at the price of a flight, there are a lot of things to take into consideration: departure and arrival times, duration of the layover, number of transits, and last, the number of carry-ons and bagages allowed.

  • First case scenario:  if for instance you get a $50 round trip flight deal, but with no carryon and no suitcase allowed (which means you need to purchase it afterwards), and you also get a $70 deal with a carryon allowed but no suitcase, which flight would you take? To make that decision, you need to know how much a carryon costs for option 1. If the carryon costs less than $20, then option 1 is definitely the cheapest of the two, but if it’s more, then… well, you get the point.
  • Second case scenario: say you’re planning a one day trip to a special city, like I did for my trip to Brussels. Ideally, you’d like to leave early in the morning and return later at night, or early the next day. Option 1: you get a $50 flight that leaves at 12:00 PM and returns the same day at 6:00 PM. Option 2: you get a 110 flight that leaves at 7:00 AM and returns at 8:00 PM. Which option is best? I’ll let you figure out this one on its own, feel free to give me your answer in the comments! (but if you picked option 2, I know you definitely got the point!)😎

3. It’s always better to use different airlines based on whoever offers the best deal: false. Sometimes, it’s advantageous for your to use different airlines, other times, it’s wiser to stick to the airlines you are familiar with, especially if you already have miles with them. For instance, if I get a Quantas Airlines (Australian airline company) for $60 and a Virgin Australia Airlines flight for $100, and I am a frequent flyer with Virgin Australia, I would personally choose to opt for the $100 flight because it would help me to accumulate a few miles (just for a $40 difference). Small rewards, but handy on the long run. But if my budget is extremely tight or there is a bigger price difference (in the order of the hundreds), then I’d gladly consider switching to the other airline and, why not, start a Frequent Flyer account with them too! 🤗

4. If I ‘m used to a specific airline, I should just stick to it: wrong. For instance, I’m a huge fan of American Airlines when it comes to traveling to North America and beyond. However, depending on where I want to go, Delta would offer me way cheaper and better options. Perhaps airlines have agreements with specific airports, I wouldn’t know for sure. But for some cities, American Airlines would charge me two to three times the price of a ticket sold on Delta and this for similar services (I have checked), and Delta would do the same for other cities. So even if you have your go-to airline whenever you travel to a specific country, be open-minded.

5. First and Business classes are always more expensive: said who? Psssh. My sister recently came back from a trip to Philly (Philadelphia) which she absolutely loved (in fact, she promised to write a guest post on www.travelwithclem.com about it, stay tuned!) And guess what, she travelled Business, and paid the same price she would have paid if she had traveled Economy (with a mere difference). And would you believe me if I told you that with an additional 20$-100$ to your economy fare, you could actually get a first class ticket, if you book your flight 6-8 months in advance? Test the waters, you’ll be pleasantly surprised😎

Do you agree with these tips? And are there any other flight myths you know of?

Join the discussion by letting me know in your comments, I’d love to know!

 


  • 0

Happy Freedom Day, South Africa!

Freedom+Day

Today, South Africa celebrates Freedom Day.

Historically, it commemorates the very first elections held in the country after Apartheid on that day, in 1994.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chain, but to live in a way that respects and enhances freedom of others”. (Nelson) Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 – 2013).

Such celebration brings a fair share of emotions to me, not just because I am of African descent, but also because I had the privilege to visit his beautiful nation earlier this year. (Check out My Trip to South Africa).

I wish a mysterious rocket would take me to South Africa right now to rejoice with the people as they celebrate #FreedomDay!


  • 5

Where Do People Find Money to Travel?

Since I have been sharing my travel experience through my blog, I have had this question time and again: where do I get the money to travel?

And I am happy to tell you.

But first things first, it is important that you know that what works for one might not necessarily work for another person, and as such, use the advice and information here to see how this can apply to you.

Here are three key questions to ask yourself:

1.First things first! Where do I want to go?

A lot of people tend to believe that you need to have money first before traveling, but let me correct this: you need to know where you want to go before you have the money. Just as much as your budget determines your destination, your destination also dictates your budget. In other words, where you want to go determines how much you’d need. Note that some people prefer to save up a lot of money and then decide on where they can go based on how much they have. I personally prefer to pick a destination and work towards getting the means to afford a trip to that destination.

2. How much do I need?

Now that you know where you want to go, it’s easier to determine how much you’ll need. 95% of the time, your biggest expenses are on flight+accommodation, so budget for that first. To make a budget for your flight, consider the travel season (summer vs winter, holidays vs regular days, weekdays vs weekends, etc.) to get the best flight deals. To make a budget for your accommodation, consider your preferences and expected level of comfort: do you rather stay in a guesthouse and maximize on sightseeing and meals, or do you rather stay in a resort and live the suite life? Either option is fine, according to your needs. You just need to take that into consideration when making your budget. Once you have an idea of the cost of your flight and accommodation, you can estimate the rest of your expenses on site such as transportation, meals, and sightseeing.

3. Where do I get the money?

The money can come from either existing funds, or newly acquired funds. Existing funds refer to savings and newly acquired funds to money earned while working at a regular job. So if you’re currently employed, it goes without saying that it’s easier for you to earn and save, depending on your responsibilities.

If you’re not employed, then you need to look for a source of income. Possible sources of income include:

  • Conferences: this is a great option to combine traveling and learning (I call it traveling with a “greater” purpose). Regardless of which ever field you’re into (Arts&Crafts, Business, Marketing, Accounting, Pharmacy, Medicine, Videos Making, you name it), there are a lot of conferences out there with other people sharing the same interests as you. Check it out, and if available, apply for travel assistance! However, it might be important to demonstrate how attending such a conference could help advance your career goals/develop your community.’
  • Training workshops: just like conferences, training workshops are great opportunities to get out there, learn new skills, meet people and discover other countries. You can also apply for travel assistance where available.
  • Paid volunteering programmes: a lot of my friends are involved in those and these options are rewarding at multiple levels. Again, it is important to pick something in the field you’re interested in, as it makes it easier for you to align the experience with your career objectives.
  • Freelance work: do you have any skills or services you can offer in your community or online? Get out there, give it a try and get paid for it! Whatever you think can be used as a marketable skill, is probably  marketable skill. Don’t let your fears limit you. Get out there. Remember, you’ve got a trip to plan!

Do you know of any other opportunities where someone can get money to travel? Feel free to share them here!

If you liked this article, subscribe to my blog and receive more tips and tricks on financing when traveling!

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine


  • 2

5 Silly Things EVERYONE does at the Airport…

I recently returned from a short trip and it was quite interesting to notice (once again) the things that people tend to do in airports, when traveling.

Actually, I have noticed these for quite a while now, but it’s becoming way too obvious and way to hilarious that I have to write about this!

  1. At the check-in counter: go straight in front of the counter (and skip the whole labyrinth) when the check-in line is empty, or pass straight right under when there are only a few people: I actually do this a lot (guilty!) and I always smile at myself when doing this. I mean, what’s the point of making the line when there’s no one in front of you? (Spoiler alert: I also do that at the bank, school and all other applicable public services. Please don’t judge).airport-security-line
  2. Pray that your bags are not overweight! When you’ve spent your summer shopping in Paris, London or Saint Lucia and you’re ready to check-in for your return flight, the idea of having your bag weighed could be an instant trigger for a panic attack! If you’re traveling with me, you’d catch me saying a few prayers, like the extra pounds are supposed to magically disappear… And sometimes they do! Nah, who am I kidding. If this happens to you and you’re lucky, the check-in agent might actually turn a blind eye and let you pass (depending on how overweight your bag is, though).20150531_112213.jpg
  3. After you’ve passed check-in and airport security… Window-shop at the Airport Duty Free stores! This is definitely one of my favourite things to do while waiting! I particularly like to stop at Perfume and souvenir stores. However,  my sister and I discovered a Makeup store at the  San Juan Airport  and it has become a mandatory stop for us ever since! You can get to sample and try different products, and you can even get a (light) makeup done for free! All you need to travel in beauty! (feel free to leave your comments below if you want to know more about that specific store, or for my recommendations of Duty Free stores to absolutely checkout while traveling!)selfplannedtrip-duty-free
  4. Take a selfie along the way! Hey, doesn’t cost a thing, doesn’t hurt a being. There are so many reasons to take an airport selfie: the background is amazing, the lighting is amazing, and you almost never need a filter (unless you’re feeling super fancy). Plus, you can update your Instagram or Snapchat to let people know what you’re up to (or not, the latter applying to me depending on my mood). IMG_8037.PNG
  5. Finally, remove your seatbelt before the seatbelt sign is turned off. Why?????? I really don’t understand why people do that though, I think that’s really the silliest of it all -_-. The sign is on for a specific reason, and the seatbelt should not be removed until the sign is off… I really don’t get why people remove it ahead of time. This one definitely takes it home.  seatbelt-sign

Which one of these silly things are you guilty off? (I definitely do all of them, except #5!)

 


Clem’s Fun Moments!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]
[index]
[index]
[523.251,659.255,783.991]
[523.251,659.255,783.991]
[523.251,659.255,783.991]
[523.251,659.255,783.991]
[index]
[index]
[523.251,659.255,783.991]
[523.251,659.255,783.991]
[523.251,659.255,783.991]
[523.251,659.255,783.991]