Brussels’ weather is weird and unpredictable: it is quite common that, during the same day, you will face sun, warmth, wind and heavy rain. It is very true what people say about the Belgian capital: you can experience all four seasons in just one day!
If you are not used to that, the unpredictable weather might catch you off guard and affect your mood, either by making you feel nostalgic, homesick (especially if you are an expat from a warmer country) and disconnected from the city, either by making you more cranky and touchy.
To fight the mood swings caused by Brussels’ crazy weather and to help you out if you are having a bad day, here are some ideas to cheer you up.
Coffee Shops and Books
We already recommended some bookstores (here and here) for your next literary adventure: it’s always nice and relaxing walking around the isles, sliding your hand on the book covers and reading the first pages. But if the gloomy mood is dragging you down, take your favorite book and hide in a café for some alone time. Sip some good coffee, chill in an armchair and enjoy the atmosphere around you. In particular, you should check out Poz” Café and Cup 28. The two coffee shops are in the Chatelain area and they offer amazing food, good coffee, and quite chill vibes. The first one has a warm and welcoming environment; the inside is colorful and equipped with as many armchairs as you may need and the spots in front of the big windows are ideal to work on the computer on a rainy day. On the other hand, Cup 28 is more plain and simple in the decorations, but still cozy. It is perfect when the sun starts coming out: you can read a book or enjoy an iced tea in the terrace on the back, marvelously covered in grapevines. These two coffee shops have some sort of therapeutic properties: they host you, comfort you and help you relax even in the worst days… Try them out and you’ll see it yourself.
Are you having a hard day? Or is it just a very busy period? At the end of the working day or as a break in the afternoon, there is nothing wrong with treating yourself with some good food and actually take the time to enjoy it. Nothing cheers up like a tasty dish: it helps seeing things in perspective, appreciating the good parts of life and giving less importance to negative thoughts. In Brussels the food choice is almost endless, but if we had to choose two quick and tasty snacks against bad-mood, we’d probably go for two Belgian classics: frites and waffles. Being in Belgium’s capital, one cannot ignore the amazing powers of carbs, and every once and then it’s ok to indulge in certain culinary pleasures. So go to Place Jourdan and visit Maison Antoine, probably the most famous and appreciated fries-seller of Brussels. Take the notorious paper cone filled with crispy, sticks-shaped happiness and head to Park Leopold (not even at a 5 minutes’ walk from there); sit on a bench, observe the ducks and swans gliding on the lake and relax. Let the nice atmosphere and the internationally-famous fries calm your thoughts and enjoy the moment. If you have a sweet-tooth, head to the city centre, get a gauffre (waffle) and sit in Grand Place. Admire the breath-taking architecture, observe the tourists crowding around the buildings and focus on the puffy sweet in your hands. A miracle covered in sugar.
Walk it Off
There is nothing like a nice walk to relax a bit, fix up your mood and forget about those grey clouds. An option could be Avenue de la Toison d’Or, the shopping street that starts at Porte de Namur and ends up at Louise. Check out the nice windows, get into the many shops aligned on the street and see what’s new in the fashion industry. If you don’t feel like shopping, get yourself a small city-adventure and explore a new neighborhood. Saint-Gilles is great for cafes, boutiques and French-looking streets. Also, a visit to Parvis de Saint-Gilles is a great idea, if you want to enjoy some live music, bars and a sparkling environment. Molenbeek is more alternative, with hipster cafes, nice small restaurants and murals.
When it’s grey and rainy outside, seize the occasion and visit some of Brussels’ incredible museums. You could try with the Museum of Natural Sciences (for free on the first Wednesday of the month, from 13:00 on), behind Park Leopold. Take a look at the dinosaurs, find out more about animals from all over the world and visit the exposition on the evolution of the human kind. An ideal stop to see things in perspective and empty your mind. The Bibliotheca Wittockiana is also another great stop. Free every first Sunday of the month, it hosts an impressive collection of books, manuscripts and autographs, collected by its founder, Michel Wittock, during his life. The library also hosts several temporary exhibitions on the history and art of books and bookmaking.
Marolles and Vintage Shopping
The Marolles area, in the city centre, is the ideal place for thrift shopping. The neighborhood is full of vintage shops selling art pieces, antique furniture, clothes and jewels. It’s nice to spend an afternoon discovering nice clothes, books and items from the past decades, seeing the changes in style, taste and mentality occurred during time. On the weekends Place Jeu de Balle hosts a nice vintage market, that gathers in the same square private sellers, shop owners and visitors in a joyful and animated environment.
If the previous suggestions didn’t work out, or if you are still looking for something new, check out Le Chat Touille in Chatelain. It is a cat-café, so a café that offers, together with amazing smoothies, the company of lovely rescued cats. The shop decided to host some kittens who had lost their home or that never got adopted and keeps them in the café. You can enjoy a coffee while petting cute cats and chatting with the owner, a very nice and friendly lady. If the starts align, you may find there your next furry companion and adopt it!