What's your passion? Whether it's food, drink, shopping or even spiritual, you can satisfy it in the city of Brussels, the capitol of Belgium.
Brussels is a small (one million population) European capital city, yet its passions are outsize. Although it is the headquarters of the European Union and NATO, there is more to Brussels, Belgium than international trade and politics.
Where traveling couples ought to start: Brussels' Grand Place is the city's central gathering spot. The wide, cobblestoned plaza, which was was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, is surrounded by buildings dating from the 1400s. Today many of them are filled with shops, restaurants and hotels.
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
The passions of Brussels, Belgium pleasure to residents and visitors alike. The spiritually inclined will want to put Belgium's leading Roman Catholic church, the dual-named St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, on their agenda. It was constructed hundreds of years ago.
Standing high on Treurenberg hill, the Gothic cathedral was first built in the 11th century, renovated in the 13th, and completed in the 15th. It provides succor to those for a passion for Catholicism and draws admiration from those with a passion for history and architecture.
The Brussels Cathedral features a massive pipe organ that fills the nave and towering vaulted ceiling with liturgical music.
Splendor in the Grass
Your visit doesn't have to be all liturgy and looking up. On the lawn across from St Michaels and St Gudula Cathedral, a couple takes a break from Brussels sightseeing.
Galeries Royal St Hubert
Have a passion for shopping? One of Europe's most elegant addresses, the Galeries Royal St Hubert houses several of Brussels' finest chocolatiers and purveyors of luxury products.
Like the Galleria Umberto in Naples, the Galeries Royal St Hubert is an early example of a covered shopping area.
A handmade treasure to be cherished for generations, Belgian lace is valued for its delicacy, intricacy and quality. Lace is woven from linen thread, and the natural color of unbleached lace is beige. This Galeries Royal St Hubert shop sells handkerchiefs, runners, christening gowns, and more.
It won't cost a Euro — Belgium's official currency since 2002 — to people watch. Have a passion for street life? Outdoor cafes line both sides of this cobblestone street off of Galeries Royal St Hubert.
Belgians have a passion for dining out, and the city's approximately 4,000 cafés and restaurants accommodate them with French and other fare.
Mussels in Brussels
Eating mussels in Brussels is one of many culinary passions in this city. (You may want to avoid them in any month that does not have an R in its name.)
Brussels is also credited with cultivating Brussels sprouts, although the vegetable has fewer fans than lovers of Belgian waffles, beer, fries, and chocolate.
Love beer and tasting a variety of different brews? Belgians are justly proud of the quantity (more than 400 varieties) and quality of their beer.
Some of the many brands of Belgian beer at the Beer Temple, all of which are for sale.
Belgian Beer Glasses
Interestingly, every beer has a distinct glass into which it is intended to be poured. And you want to be proper, don't you?
Of the many passions in Belgium, chocolate is paramount. The city of Brussels is filled with chocolatiers, many of whom have been in business for generations.
One of the best-known of Belgium's top-quality chocolatiers, Neuhaus Chocolates maintains an elegant shop in Galeries Royal St Hubert.
Neuhaus chocolates are meticulously made and beautifully packaged.
In addition to the big-name chocolatiers, Brussels supports numerous smaller ones who turn out creative batches of unique chocolates.
And no trip to Brussels is complete without a serving of Belgian waffles, known as gaufre in French.
How do you like your waffles? Sweet or savory, piled high with fruit and/or whipped cream, Belgian waffles are mouthwateringly good whether bought on the street or consumed in a Michelin-starred restaurant. If you use use the proper tool to create them at home and follow the recipe, each time you make them will help you picture a visit to this charming city.