What to Read Before Traveling to Brussels
I wasn't excited to go to Brussels. We were one week into a whirlwind trip in the Netherlands and Belgium. Brussels was only chosen for a 2-night stay because it was centrally located and amazingly connected to smaller towns via train. I was so underwhelmed by the idea that I didn't intentionally read anything set in Brussels before traveling there.
Brussels decided to impress me though. I remember the first moment I walked into the Grand-Place square in Brussels. The sun was shining and the buildings seemed to be dripping gold. The sight me want to spin around in circles Sound of Music style so I did.
I remember walking into the apartment we would call home for a while (thanks airBnB!), I saw the floor-to-ceiling windows that always felt Parisian to me. We sat reading in those windows, hearing the sights and sounds of the children playing ball below, for hours on end. Those days in that apartment shifted my perspective. So much so, that I vowed to be a better traveler and reader because of it. If I had taken my own advice, I might have been reading one of these books set in Brussels.
Belgravia by Julian Fellowes. I'm actually reading this book right now. You could say it was the inspiration for this post. This historical fiction novel is written by the author of Downton Abbey. It follows British aristocracy in Brussels on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo.
The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé. These comics feature an enthusiastic boy reporter and his pup. You'll see Tintin everywhere in Brussels so you should probably attempt to get the reference.
The Bright Side of Belgium by Sigrid Vandesavel and Hadewiich Ceulemans. I don't recommend bringing it as a read along - it's a coffee table book. It's a beautiful one though. A collaboration of editors, photographers and designers, all determined to convince Belgians to give up the act and admit that Belgium is actually great (but don't tell everyone else).
Bottoms Up in Belgium by Alec le Sueur. I've never had a better beer than the beer I've had in Belgium. The beer culture is only a part of this book though. It covers a dash of history and Belgian tradition too. This book is perfect for you if Belgium is sounding a little boring to you (they really do need better marketing). Le Sueur will prove you wrong.