A discount at Hotel Bloom and free tickets to the Harry Potter Expo were provided in exchange for review. All opinions are my own!
We are very blessed that Papa Bear receives German and American holidays off of work. So we took full advantage of two three-day-weekends in a row in the last two weeks! For Columbus Day weekend we made our first flight out of Germany and headed to Brussels, Belgium. I have wanted to go to Brussels since this last summer when I found out about the Harry Potter Exhibit taking place there! It ends in November, so the clock was really ticking to travel there. Luckily we were able to fit in the trip and found that we really love Brussels!
We took RyanAir out of Berlin which wasn’t too bad of an airline despite the super inexpensive rates. The flight was just a little over an hour. It was a bit cramped, especially being 21 weeks pregnant and Papa Bear holding a writhing 16-month-old on his lap. We also felt like the crew did a lot of product hawking. Because the flights are so inexpensive nothing on board is complimentary. So the crew was constantly trying to sell us snacks, drinks, duty-free goods and charity scratch cards.
From the Brussels airport we took the train and then walked to our hotel. I would recommend taking a taxi from the airport instead of the train if you are arriving late at night. The small amount of money we saved did not make up for the extra time the train took. Plus walking from the station was difficult with our bags.
We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Bloom near the Botanical Gardens. We all really enjoyed our stay there. It was easy to access public transportation and just as easy to walk to nearby sites. The room was quite a bit larger than other hotels and pensions we have stayed in in Germany. There was plenty of room for the provided pack n’ play and our luggage. It’s nice to have enough room to be able to walk around and feel comfortable relaxing in your space.
I also loved the room concepts. Each room has a different featured mural on the wall. Our room happened to feature the stunning mural titled “She” by Agata Czeremuszkin-Chrut of Poland. It definitely added a really cool vibe to the room!
We slept well the first night and ate to our heart’s content the next morning at breakfast! I have really missed American breakfasts here in Germany. So I was so happy to find that Hotel Bloom’s breakfast included all-you-could-eat fresh waffles with all the trimmings, pancakes, eggs, bacon and of course all the European accoutrement of fresh cold cuts, vegetables and pastries. I also loved their self-serve boiled egg station where you could boil eggs to exactly the temperature you like.
Our first day we walked around downtown most of the day sampling local delicacies, lots of chocolate and waffles, and Papa Bear even tried Escargots for the first time! If I weren’t pregnant it would have included lots of beer! We saw an untold number of beautiful buildings and churches. The architecture of Brussels is simply gorgeous. I especially loved the gilded buildings of the main square.
Sunday we (finally!) visited “Harry Potter – The Exhibition!” Papa Bear and I were so excited, and Goldilocks was content to tag along in her Deuter hiking backpack! I would suggest buying the extra 5 euro audio tour if you don’t read Flemish or French. The translations for the exhibit were included in a free guide book but it was nice to hear commentary in English as we ventured through the exhibit. You can buy tickets to the exhibit and find more info at http://www.expoharrypotter.be
We started the tour with a greeting by the sorting hat! Three volunteers were taken from our group to be sorted into houses. That was really fun to see. The live guide spoke French while the sorting hat spoke in English.
We particularly enjoyed this exhibit because it focused on the costumes and props of the films and how the designers used those items to build the characters. This exhibit is not about the books or even about the actors in the movies. It’s really an exhibition of the sets, costumes and props. It reminded us quite a bit of a Downton Abbey costume exhibit we viewed at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. All the kids and adults really seemed to enjoy being able to take a close up look of the actual costumes and props used by the actors.
My favorite costume was the dress worn by Hermione at the Yule Ball in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” This is my favorite outfit she wore in all the films and it was so interesting to hear the commentary of how the costume was designed for Hermione who was still a girl but transitioning into a beautiful young woman.
We left the exhibit with one souvenir, a photo taken of our family holding wands in front of Hogwarts. I am obsessed with this picture! It looks very much like Goldilocks is casting a spell on Papa Bear!
It was a great weekend and we found that the city of Brussels really can be seen in a matter of two or three days. Of course you can spend a lot longer exploring the city. There are hundreds of museums and tours that you can do. However, with a toddler in tow (and no stroller) we were ready to head home by day three.
Have you visited Brussels? What were some of your favorite sites and foods? I’d love to hear from you!
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