Bruselas por Absynthe Minded
Hablamos con Bert Ostyn y Jan Duthoy, voz y teclados respectivamente de Absynthe Minded, grupo belga que acaba de editar su trabajo As It Ever Was sobre su ciudad.
1. St. Jans-Molenbeek
La primera canción As It Ever Was y que da título a su último trabajo está inspirada en el trabajo de un artista Jeroen Peters. Este artista que vive en Bruselas, una ciudad grande y pequeña a la vez, ha creado un jardín único en las afueras de la ciudad. El jardín de St. Jans-Molenbeek está situado en un lugar donde antes había una zona gris e industrial en una zona de Bruselas no demasiado bonita y done se concentra mucha pobreza y personas desfavorecidas, muchos camellos por el barrio y muchas otras cosas de las que hablan en la canción. Peters alquiló una gran espacio de tierra que pertenecía a una industria, un espacio en el que no pasaba nada desde los años 70 y consiguió convertir esos terrenos grises en espacio verde construyendo allí un jardín con sus propias manos para ofrecérselo al barrio para su uso y disfrute. Es un jardín conceptual donde todo el mundo es bienvenido y es algo muy bueno para el barrio, una obra de arte que Peters creo con sus propias manos y ha invitado allí a políticos y otras personalidades para que vean lo bueno que es el jardín. Este es el jardín del que habla la canción As It ever was.
2. Overpoortstraat, Ganthe
Hay otra canción en el álbum llamada Crosses que pasa en una calle llamada Overpoortstraat, una zona de Gante donde están todos los bares y clubes, y donde está toda la movida nocturna. La canción habla de una chica que actúa irresponsablemente y de forma un tanto peligrosa. Habla del tipo de chicas que no deben ir con cierto tipo de personas a su edad, no deben confiar en todo el mundo o actuar de un modo tan ingenuo. Han querido reflejar en esta canción con el sonido del bajo que asemeja a una chica joven atrapada en el pánico. Crosses va de los peligros de la noche y de quizás beber demasiado.
3. Music Mania, Gante
Absynthe MInded compran discos en Gante en la tienda Music Mania, una tienda especializada en lo nuevo y en discos de segunda mano. Una tienda my popular donde acuden muchos jóvenes a comprar vinilos. Los propietarios son increíbles y tiene mucha pasión por la música. Little Rascal es una canción con gran presencia de samplers de una vieja compañía discográfica egipcia llamada KayuFone.
Music Mania, Walpoortstraat 3, 9000 Gent
En Bruselas existen lugares como Botanique que es un jardín botánico que, además, tiene sala de conciertos donde acuden a tocar infinidad de bandas de la Bélgica francófona.
5. Werchter Festival
El festival más grande de Bélgica es el Werchter Festival, un grandísimo festival donde descubrir siempre bandas nuevas pero hay además muchos más festivales en Bélgica parece a día de hoy que cada ciudad tiene el suyo propio.
Hay un famoso cóctel bar no muy lejos de la Ancienne Belgique, a la vez que una de las más reconocidas salas de conciertos, llamado L’Archiduc. Es un lugar de moda con unos combinados espectaculares y donde puedes encontrar caras famosas de Bélgica. “Bruselas es una ciudad perfecta, caótica que siempre ofrece grandes inspiraciones para nuevas canciones. Bruselas es la ciudad de Bélgica. Gante es muy pequeña y Amberes está a medio camino. Bruselas es muy internacional y es la capital de nuestro pequeño país Bélgica”, nos cuentan.
L’Archiduc, Antoine Dansaertstraat 6 1000 City of Brussels
Gante es una ciudad muy acogedora, una ciudad preciosa con muchos restaurantes y nada caótica, con muy buenas vibraciones. Nadie del grupo es originario de allí pero todos han ido. En Gante, hay muchos estudiantes, muy buen ambiente y muchos clubs de rock donde empiezan infinidad de bandas. También hay muchos bares de jazz, muchos conciertos y mucha actividad cultural. Es una ciudad llena de vida, una ciudad muy joven.
De rubias por Bruselas
Belgium is a comparatively small land which has nevertheless made an inestimable contribution to the world of gastronomy – chips, waffles, chocolate and, very especially, beer. Here, over 450 varieties are made, whether by trusted traditional methods or using new technologies, yielding flavours that range from the classical to the most exotic. While the barley brew is a religion in Belgium, for beer enthusiasts Brussels is the hideout of some of the best taverns – and veritable places of pilgrimage – on the old continent.
A La Mort Subite
(Rue Montagne-aux-Herbes Potagères, 7)
Opened in 1910, A La Mort Subite is one of those spots oblivious to the passage of time. It boasts an exquisite beer selection, but I can recommend the one named after the establishment, Mort Subite, with its raspberry aroma. Its appearance and elegance on the palate have earned it the sobriquet of “the beer world’s pink champagne”.
(Impasse de la Fidélité, 4)
This is Brussels’ beer cellar par excellence, a must-visit place of pilgrimage for any beer toper worth his or her salt. It started off as a tiny cellar on the Impasse de la Fidélité, but today it has taken over most of the street. Here you will find the whole range, from typical Belgium abbey beers to exotic beverages from the outer reaches of the planet. They need loads of storage space to house the more than five thousand types of beer on offer.
(Rue de la Bourse, 18-20)
In the very heart of the Belgian capital, Le Cirio is located in the side street of the Bourse. Although not on account of its siting, the café is packed with guided tour parties. Le Cirio is a veritable institution in Brussels’ tavern guild. Rather than a venue for downing a pint, this spot, which still has its original centenary decor intact, is the ideal place for trying local cuisine, washed down – naturally – with a good indigenous beer.
(Rue du Chêne, 5)
Hanging from its flea-market-like ceiling you will find anything from puppets to lavatory seats. Le Poechenellekelder is undoubtedly one of the bars with the most character in Brussels. This small venue, ideally located next door to the famous Manneken Pis, has a sizeable variety of mainly Trappist beers, crafted for the most part by monks.
Le Roy d’Espagne
(Grand Place, 1)
A seat on the terrace in the Grand Place is a privileged vantage point for viewing the bustle of the city. If, in addition, you are savouring steamed mussels, a helping of chips and, for instance, a 9° proof Chimay Bleue grand reserve, the experience is complete. The proposal might conjure up images of a rubberneck in flip-flops and socks, but there are certain pleasures one cannot – or should not – pass up, as clichéd or hackneyed as they may be.
(Place Fontainas, 8)
Pils, Trappists, triples, doubles, wittes, IPAs, pale ales, stouts… you will find them all in the Moeder Lambic, a stunning place with its 40 taps arrayed behind an endless bar counter. While you’re there, make sure to try the beer they make themselves in a brewery just two blocks away. Fermented in the open air, the fruity taste of their Moeder Lambic Original is highly seductive.
(Rue du Lombard, 25)
A small brasserie always packed with locals, an unmistakeable sign of success. They offer excellent cuisine at more than reasonable prices and an array of beers that will meet the expectations of even the most seasoned beer connoisseurs. This is one of the hidden gems all cities seem to have, but guard the secret jealously!
(Rue du Marché aux Herbes, 66)
Our route ends with what is likely the quaintest bar in Brussels. The Toone, concealed between the buildings separating the Impasse de Sainte Pétronille from the Marché aux Herbes, is a brasserie which doubles as a puppet theatre. Between performances, customers drink amid puppets and a number of other fabled creatures.
The Belgian Beer Weekend is held the first weekend in September each year in Brussels’ Grand Place, where a host of brasseries sell their wares and regale visitors with activities relating to countless methods of brewing and different beer flavours.
Belgian Brewers Museum
The Maison des Brasseurs, a majestic stone building located in the Grand Place, is home to the Belgian Brewers Museum. It opens every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission costs 5 euros.
Brussels Beer Tours
Being highly specialised in beer, Brussels is understandably criss-crossed by an endless list of thematic tours of the city, notably Beertrips, Belgian Beer Me, Global Beer, Podge Beer and Bier Mania.more info
Brussels is the heart of Europe, the birthplace of Art Nouveau, the comic capital of the world and the headquarters for numerous EU institutions. A stroll around Brussels will enable us to discover its marvellous architecture, enchanting nooks and crannies and the typical gastronomical delights from the city, such as the chocolate, the beer or the mussels.
The centre of Brussels is home to two charming taverns that can be found on side streets off the busy Rue du Marché aux Herbes. The first is À l’image de Notre Dame, a place with traditional décor and a cosy ‘popular beer bar’ atmosphere that will transport you back in time.
Another of the taverns to be found near the Marché aux Herbes is the Toone Marionette Theater, a place full of history and owned by a popular puppet master dynasty. It comprises a typical tavern, a puppet museum and a small theatre with shows that are as popular with the locals as with the tourists.
The Saint Hubert Galleries link the area around the Monnaie Theatre with the Grand Place. They are a passageway between two worlds, linking a more modern Brussels to the most historical Brussels. The place is home to luxurious boutiques, traditional sweet shops, magnificent bookshops, avant-garde galleries and cafés.
Right next to the exit from the Galeries Royales, we will find the À La Mort Subite restaurant – a place with hundreds of years of history where one can enjoy the namesake beer as well as many others. The name comes from a 19th Century game of dice that the employees used to play during their break. This is one of the most traditional places in the city with long wooden benches, high ceilings and a collection of old mirrors. The thing to do here is try the Cherry or Kirk beers with a bit of cheese or one of their toasted snacks.
Steering clear of the bars around the edge of the Grand Place (which are mainly focused on tourist hunting and where the waiters try to catch you on the fly so you sit down to enjoy their typical and expensive mussels with chips), you will soon arrive at the Impasse de la Fidélité – the side street where you’ll findDelirium Tremens, one of the most famous places in Brussels and a paradise for all beer lovers. It is an enormous underground basement that is decorated in a very rustic fashion with barrels and flags on the ceilings. They serve hundreds and hundreds of different brands, which come in all different colours, aromas and flavours, each one served in a different glass that is especially designed to enhance the beer in question.
When leaving, don’t forget to visit the Jeanneke Pis fountain (Peeing Girl) at the end of the street. This is the female equivalent of the Manneken Pis, the most representative symbol of the city.
The time has come to visit the Grand Place, the main square in Brussels and considered one of the most beautiful in the world. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998 and houses a large number of historic buildings, such as the Town Hall (Gothic in style and situated in the middle), the Cathedral of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula and the Royal Castle of Laeken (with its large greenhouses). Around the square, it is possible to see traces of the old city and an architectural style known locally as the ‘Spanish style’ due to the fact that the main historic buildings in the Flemish style date back to a time when what is now Belgium (then Flanders) was one of the provinces controlled by the empire ruled by Carlos V.
Moving on, we come to Le Roi des Belges, a modern café at 34 Rue Jules Van Praet where having a quick breakfast or lunch becomes a delightful experience. Pleasant music at the right volume, meticulous service and a selection of delicious and healthy dishes, such as salads, quiches and lasagne, make it the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat.
However, one of the most popular and central places in Brussels for enjoying small fish dishes is Mer du Nord. A few tall tables where you can stand up to eat in the square, just behind the Saint Catherine Church, mean you can stop and try the typical baby prawn croquettes, the delicious fish soup or the typical mussels. Did you know that the best mussels are eaten during those months that contain the letter ‘R’, such as December, January, February and March?
Surrounded by the exclusive shellfish restaurants of the Santa Catherine district a delicious gourmet hamburger restaurant called Ellis Gourmet Burger can be found.
These shellfish restaurants fill up with both locals and tourists at dinner time for a meal of exquisite quality. But if your budget won’t stretch to a table on one of their terraces, one of these enormous hamburgers will fill you up for between € 8 and € 10. You also have the option to order a trio of mini-hamburgers for € 13 in order to try the various specialities all in one sitting.
If you keep walking through the Place Sainte Catherine, you’ll find the Micro Market Marché culture centre and a bar-restaurant inside called Via Via Café where they serve international food and organic drinks. This centre organises parties, DJ sessions, concerts, screenings and seasonal exhibitions. It is a meeting place for young creators and lovers of more alternative art.
And if you prefer somewhere with more of a rock music atmosphere and American-style meat dishes, Le Corbeau is the place for you. Located on Rue Saint-Michel, it can be found in what was once one of the oldest breweries in Brussels.
One of the greatest attractions in Brussels are the journeys to be had along the side streets full of comic wall art. Brussels is the comic capital of the world and is the birthplace of such legendary characters as Tintin, Lucky Luke, Spirou and the Smurfs. One of the more fun activities to be enjoyed in Belgium is to discover the large-scale reproductions of elements and pages from comics that you can find on any street corner. The idea began in 1991 as a way to renovate old buildings but has now become an identifying symbol of the city.
We took it as a bit of fun and took photographs of the ones we encountered on our visit but there is an entire route to be followed that should not be missed by any lover of Art Nouveau.
Finally, we recommend you take the train to Gantes for a day trip. Gantes is the Flemish city with the largest number of historic buildings, a strong cultural vibe and a privileged location between Bruges and Brussels – 50 km from each. The city has five abbeys, three convents and eighteen museums, as well as numerous other attractions that are all concentrated in the central district.
Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!
5 chocolate shops in Brussels
By Laia Zieger from Gastronomistas
If you've visited to Brussels, you're sure to have noticed that chocolate is a serious matter here. It is one of the city's emblems that has also earned it world fame in the dessert sector. But, with so many choices, where should you go to try the best chocolate in Brussels? Around the Place du Grand Sablon and its surrounding areas is where there is the greatest concentration of really high-standard chocolate shops. They are all rivals in the exclusivity and quality of their raw materials, in speciality and creativity. One of the most visible signs of chocolate power in Brussels is that the establishments that make this confectionery close late at night and open every day of the year. There's no rest for the sweet-toothed.
• Patrick Roger (Place du Grand Sablon, 43). Ultra-luxurious, this shop is a real gallery of art dedicated to chocolate. The chocolate artist and flavour sculptor - as Roger introduces himself - expresses all of his mastery in impressive and enormous cocoa figures that are displayed at the premises and are only for aesthetic purposes. But let's not forget what's important: they are distinguished by delicious and very fine chocolates, that seem simple but hide extraordinary complexity: they combine up to 14 different products to obtain a unique flavour.
A special mention for the little plain chocolate squares with lime and basil ganache. Speechless.
•Wittamer(Place du Grand Sablon, 6, 12, 13). Four generations of the same family have devoted themselves to making delicious traditional chocolates and cakes, but also to innovating and adapting to new trends. They make their almost 100 different chocolates (some with seasonal ingredients or inspired by current events) with cocoa ‘grands crus’. El Pavé de Bruxelles (plain chocolate filled with Brazilian-style praline and caramel), registered as the firm's own recipe, is their most famous chocolate. But the most daring idea, without a doubt, is their bar covered in fried grasshoppers sprinkled with gold...
•Maison Pierre Marcolini. (Rue des Minimes, 1). Rather than a chocolate shop, it is a cocoa jeweller's shop. The hundreds of different chocolates they make are on display behind glass. To make his products, the Master Marcolini brings the most delicious raw materials from the five continents.
There are also limited editions for celebrating special events and current affairs.
•Neuhaus.(Rue Lebeau 79). The history of this brand is very curious. Jean Neuhaus settles in Brussels in 1857 and, with his brother, opens a chemist on the prestigious Galerie de la Reine. To disguise the taste of the medicines, he decides to cover them with a layer of chocolate. It's not known for sure how, but one day he substitutes the drugs with fresh cream and so creates the first filled chocolate, which he calls praline, and which is one century old this year. It is an immediate success and this recipe spreads as a chocolate classic in cake shops all over the world.
• A little further from the Place du Grand Sablon, we find Zaabär (Chaussée de Charleroi, 125), which defines itself as a chocolate and spice shop. In fact, its name is inspired by the Arabic word bazaar - a market where you can find numerous condiments. The speciality of this firm are chocolate bars flavoured with spices (the plain chocolate ones with cinnamon, Guérande salt or Szechuan pepper are incredible). The point that differentiates Zaabär is that it organises chocolate-making workshops (there are ones for learning to make truffles, cakes…). Ideal for groups and families visiting Brussels, or simply foodies searching for new experiences.
Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!more info