Excellently written by Derek Blyth, “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels” is a must-have for any aspiring tourist of the city, while residents will be surprised at what could be just around the corner from them.
Think you’ve done Brussels? Seen all there is to see? Ready to move on to another city? Even a cursory glance through “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels” will give you a reason you to stay. And a more in-depth study will probably give you another hundred reasons.
It’s no ordinary city guidebook. It won’t bore you with descriptions of the familiar tourist sites. Instead, it will surprise and inspire you. With this in your pocket (it’s small enough) you’ll be able to go on your own Trail of the Unexpected.
The main chapter headings are pretty standard: Where to eat, drink, shop, sleep … Buildings to admire … Activities for the weekend etc. But open up any one of these and you’ll get a glimpse of what’s to come.
For example, the chapter “95 places to eat good food” is cut up nicely into manageable servings:
- The 5 best restaurants to eat like a Belgian
- The 5 best places for a healthy lunch
- The 5 coolest places to eat
- The 5 best cake shops
- The 5 best places for a Sunday brunch
- The 5 best food trucks and where to find them
- Etc. and etc.
Under “60 places to drink” you’ll find the 5 best coffee bars, romantic cafés, coolest bars, or where to hear new bands, sit in the sun, or drink like a local.
“40 places to enjoy culture” include art galleries, statues, street art, classical music venues, or even the best art in metro stations.
Want to take the kids somewhere? Look at “20 things to do with children.” Don’t show them the 5 best ice-cream shops or you’ll never get any shopping done.
So what caught my eye?
The Sewer Museum, Porte d’Anderlecht. “When it’s not raining, you can walk along a sewer tunnel that follows the River Senne beneath the city streets.”
Le Jardin de ma Soeur, Quai au Bois à Brûler. “A small café-theatre that feels like someone’s living room, with old tables, odd paintings and a tiny bar in the corner.”
Brut flower shop, Rue Haute 202. “A fabulous plant shop in the Marolles dedicated to rare cacti, ancient ferns and other green curiosities.”
Brussels Sight Jogging. “A group of passionate joggers organizes running tours through the city with occasional pauses to admire the sights.”
Le Petit Train A Vapeur, Chaussée de Neerstalle 323. “A charming miniature steam train that runs at weekends in a little park, carrying small children and their parents.”
The Soldier Pigeon, Quai au Bois à Brûler. “A statue that commemorates the carrier pigeons that died during World War One.
Le Tram De Boitsfort, Place Payfa. “A retired 1950s tram has been converted into a stylish diner with a few seats and a small kitchen.”
National Library, Mont des Arts. “Take the lift to the 5th floor and enjoy of of the finest views of the city.”
WHERE TO BUY “THE 500 HIDDEN SECRETS OF BRUSSELS”
The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels by Derek Blyth is available from bookshops, online stores, and directly from the publisher, Luster at 17.95 EUR (free postage within Belgium). Derek has also written “Hidden Belgium” which I review here. And if you want to discover more about Derek, check out this interview with him where he describes his favourite locations in Belgium.
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