We recently found ourselves staying near Brussels. We’d already visited Ghent, Antwerp and Bruges (on an earlier trip, the previous year…we have a bit of a thing for Belgium!) so Brussels seemed like a good option for a day out.
I’ve said in previous blog entries that travelling with children is all about compromise. Everybody has to do something they really like on holiday and that way nobody goes home disappointed (well at least that’s the theory!). Our daughter loves swimming (which 4 year old doesn’t!?!) and last summer in Seville she discovered water parks and loved the slides, waves, rides etc. When we read about Oceande we just knew that we needed to visit. It’s out at the Bruparck– a sort of out of town leisure/recreational area (there’s a whole load of activities that can be done – mini Europe, the iconic Atomium and a large open area of parkland – you could easily spend a day out there.). Parking was easy but it’s also well served by public transport.
Anyway, back to the swimming pool. The changing rooms were immaculate (and anybody that read my centre park blog will know how important this is for me 😂).The pools were a big hit, with something for everyone – a lovely children’s area with mini slides, water shoots and a seesaw and a large wave pool (again suitable for the whole family) with some more mini slides (there was also a whole load of slides and a lazy river…we didn’t try these out!). After a fun-filled morning, we ended up having lunch at Oceande….don’t bother. It was over-priced beige food! My advise is to head down towards the Atomium where you’ll find lots of traditional chips, waffles etc or take a picnic and take advantage of the park land (this is my modus operandi….why we didn’t do it this time I’l never know!?!).
We had planned to visit the Atomium but stupidly didn’t think to book in advance (again, very unlike me!). The queues were massive….no amount of Belgian waffles as a bribe would have meant our two would have survived the queue (and as for us, well…). So reluctantly we gave it a miss, choosing instead to grab a waffle before heading into the centre of Brussels for a spot of sightseeing. Thanks to the wonder of google we quickly created a hit list of must see attractions (we had a tight schedule – little people would need to get home for dinner and bed and we’d need wine!).
We parked in one of the many multi-story carparks in the city, Parking Grote Markt, and quickly located the Smurf Statue for a quick family photo! From here we ambled around the historical centre of Brussels – admiring the Unesco heritage sites and stopping for a quick photo of the Grand Palace. Along with everyone else (!) we walked down to admire (is that the right word?!?) the Manneken-Pis and feebly answered questions from our inquisitive 4 year old about the anatomy of the statue. From here (and feeling like we were on borrowed time as our youngest had not slept) we walked up to the Belgium waffle factory for yet another pitstop (there’s a theme developing here…we seriously overdosed on waffles!).
A quick pit stop (and a visit to a rather dire public toilet!), and we jumped back into the car for our easy 40 minute drive home. We left feeling that Brussels has so much more to offer. We’ll definitely return.