the birthday box

The Birthday Box #LetsTalkBlogChallenge

 
Hello all! It is once again that time of the week 🙂 We are already half way through the #LetsTalkBlogChallenge now! Can you believe it?!

Week 3 is focused on something called The Birthday Box. Another great idea from Sarah Hamersley over At The Beauty Desk 😀 Basically, I have put together a list of things I would love for my birthday in an ideal world haha!

There are of course some beauty and fashion picks, but I have also thrown in a little trip to my favourite place. If you are thinking of going on a city break soon, look no further!

About 2 years ago, I surprised Steve with a little trip away for his birthday. I chose somewhere neither of us had ever been and somewhere I had never really thought of going before. We ended up completely falling in love with the place and have already been back there, but I would love to return again for my birthday this year!

The place in question was Brussels in Belgium!!

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GETTING THERE

At the time we went, you could only fly from Dublin, but I am happy to report that you can now fly direct from Cork to Brussels with Aer Lingus on Mondays and Fridays! 🙂 When we lived in the UK, we just hopped on the Eurostar and were there in under 3 hours!

WHERE TO STAY

Personally, I always recommend reserving a hotel through Booking.com. The savings we have made using that site over the years are unbelievable. I don’t think I’d ever book a hotel another way now!

The first time we headed there, we started in Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise near Avenue Louise, which is about 15 minutes from walk from the centre of Brussels. If you are a shopaholic, this is the hotel for you because of it’s location! But, be warned, this is a hotel I would definitely call posh. We were a bit unprepared for how posh it would be and felt a bit uncomfortable!

The bedrooms even have a pillow menu for you to choose from :O We were totally out of our depth! Unbeknownst to me at the time, a night in this hotel normally costs about €450 per night!!! When I booked it on Booking.com, I think I paid €300 for 3 nights!! So if you want to experience a night of luxury, this is the place for you 🙂

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If that is not your cup of tea, I would recommend staying in The DominicanThis is on a bit of a side street so very nice and quiet, but Grand Place is literally less than a 2 minute walk from your door! This is a beautiful hotel again and does have an upmarket feel but is much more relaxed than Sofitel Le Louise. We were much more at home here and couldn’t believe how central it was. This is definitely where I would like to stay if we go back. The bedrooms were much bigger than I expected and made for a very comfortable home for the 4 days we stayed 🙂

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WHERE TO SHOP

If you are looking for designer clobber from the likes of Chanel, Hermes and Christian Dior, than Avenue Louise is where you need to be 🙂 It’s the Champs-Elysees of Brussels!

For some beautiful window shopping, head to Gallerie St Hubert just off Grand Place. It’s a small shopping arcade with little boutiques and cafes under a glass ceiling. Such a lovely place just to stroll through 🙂

You will also find regular shops like H&M, Forever 21 and the like, on the streets surrounding Grand Place. It can get a little confusing wandering the side streets so this is a good place to always head back to, to get your bearings!

WHERE TO EAT

You will find lots of narrow alleys lined with restaurants here and there is normally someone stood outside trying to drag you in. Don’t do it!!! We gave in and ate in one of these random restaurants just behind Grand Place one night and it cost almost €200 for us to have 1 course each! Some of these places are total scams and the they make up the prices depending on what you look like you can afford, so be weary!

For a much more relaxed lunchtime meal, I would recommend The Food Factory cafe. They have a pretty extensive menu, reasonable prices and yummy food! Can’t go wrong 🙂

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If you want to treat yourself to a yummy treat, you can check out the Haagen Dazs cafes where you can get delicious ice cream, tasty cookies and scrummy waffles. Yum Yum!

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The main thing that attracted me to Brussels was the chocolate, so you MUST MUST MUST sample some truffles from Godiva in Grand Place. The coconut were my favourite! 🙂 They also make fresh chocolate covered strawberries several times a day and they are the most amazing thing I have ever tasted :O

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For those steak lovers out there, like myself, if you are looking for a nice, little place to have an amazing steak dinner, look no further than Hemgie’s restaurant. This place is pretty small and there are not that many tables available. It is really dimly lit and has a cosy atmosphere. The food may not look like much, but it is delicious!

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WHERE TO DRINK

Brussels is also pretty well known for it’s beer as well as it’s chocolate. I personally hate the taste of beer but Brussels is where I discovered the fruity options! Have you tried peach beer? OMG so good!

Delirium is probably the best known place to head to. They have literally thousands of beer options available and their is a whole little laneway called Delirium Village which they have slowly taken over. Every building in the laneway is now a Delirium bar specialising in different kinds of beer and tequila. It’s pretty fricking cool!

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If you are a fan of rock music like we are, there is an awesome little rock bar called Rock Classics that is a much more relaxing place to head than Delirium!

For a little tipple during the day or a place to have a coffee after a lot of walking around, you should head on over to Ethnic Cafe Bar 🙂 Here you can sit outside, just off the edge of Grand Place and people watch while you eat some chocolates!

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WHAT TO DO

If shopping, eating and drinking are not enough for you, there are a few other things to keep you happy on the trip! Something we never got to do, but I would love to, is take a day trip to Bruges. After seeing the movie In Bruges it looks like a lovely place to visit and relax. You can check out the day trip options on Viator.

I would recommend hopping on one of the City Sightseeing bus tours to get a lovely view of all Brussels has to offer. This bus tour is a bit pricey but the company is well known and available in almost all cities so we always use them 🙂 There are 2 different routes available which will take you past everything from the Manneken Pis, Palais Royal and the Atomium. You can hop off at any stop and hop back on when you are ready!

Speaking of the Atomium, this is an amazing looking structure of spheres that have different exhibitions inside. You should really check this out if you get a chance but do not go if it is a hot day! We made that mistake and nearly baked alive in the spheres while in the queue!!

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Of course, if you do nothing else on your trip, you have to at least visit Grand Place. I know I have harped on about it a lot but it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and would love to go back! The buildings are stunning and there are always artists there doing live paintings. At night, there are light shows that take place across the sides of the buildings and classical music is played. It’s pretty spectacular!

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THE GIFTS

No birthday would quite be complete without a few presents, so after a lovely trip away, I would love nothing more than to be showered with gifts upon my return haha! Here are just a few of the things that are on my wishlist for this year but I think I would settle for the holiday 😀

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ASOS Highbury Heels in black

I have seen a million and one people wearing heels similar to these this year and I have to say, I am so in love with them! I need a pair of my own! They are so simple but beautiful.

NARS Sheer Matte Foundation

A foundation that has been on my wishlist for as long as I can remember, I am determined to try this out before the summer ends. I just need to get near enough to a NARS counter to work out my shade!

TOPSHOP Strappy V-Neck Cami in black

A lot of TOPSHOP cami’s look lovely and to be honest, I would love to get my hands on quite a few! If I had to settle though, I would go for the strappy v-neck 🙂

MAC Playland Collection Lipsticks

I have been drooling over these since I first set eyes on them many months ago! If I don’t get my hands on Toying Around and Head In The Clouds once they are released, I’ll probably cry!

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

I managed to restrain myself from grabbing this when it was first released. How, I have no idea! Now that it is set to become a permanent fixture though, there is no way I am not going to find a way to get my own 😀

TOPSHOP Mono Tile Printed Leigh Jeans

If I see one more blogger strutting around in these badboys before I get my own, I’m going to lose it! They are totally not my usual style but something about them has just been calling out to me and seeing them absolutely everywhere has only made my love grow stronger :O

ZARA Mini Bowling Bag

No wishlist of any kind would be complete without a handbag! And where better to head for a handbag than ZARA. Their bowling bags are so cute and when I saw this coral option I knew it had to be mine. At only €25, this looks like it is definitely within arms reach for my birthday next month!

And that is it for my birthday box! What more could a girl ask for? A lovely city break, makeup, clothes, shoes and a new handbag! Too much? NAH!!! 😀

Do you like what I choose? Have you ever been to Brussels? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!!

Be sure to stay tuned for the rest of the Monday posts for the next few weeks, and check out the #LetsTalkBlogChallenge on Twitter, Mondays at 8pm for everyone else’s posts!! We are halfway there 😀

Until next time!

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  • Aisling Kenneally May 12, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Holy crap this is my favourite post this week!! (maybe ever) You really didn’t skint on the tips, now I really really want to go to Brussels! 🙁

    • polishedandprimed@gmail.com May 13, 2014 at 1:04 am

      Jaysus, if you keep giving me compliments like that I’ll even take you there myself haha! Seriously though, you have me smiling away like a fool. I’m so happy you liked it 😀 Thanks so much! xxxx

  • Claire May 12, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    And I need to go to Brussels :O Looks amazing! Really want to travel around Europe more! Lovely post 🙂

    • polishedandprimed@gmail.com May 13, 2014 at 1:02 am

      It’s such a nice place! And cheap too! So glad you liked the post. Thank you! 😀 xx

  • Aishling (@fluffyVW) May 12, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    This is fantastic! You seem to love Brussels so much! I really want to visit now haha!
    I can’t believe that about the food though! I think it happens in a lot of places though. But €200! Christ!

    The food looks amazing! And I want some now thanks you 😛
    I freakin’ love the film In Bruges and it really does look like a beautiful quiet place! 😀

    • polishedandprimed@gmail.com May 13, 2014 at 1:02 am

      I do love it! And Steve does too which makes it better because he normally hates where I pick haha! Yea we totally got scammed with the food. And it tasted horrible as well. I was raging!

      All the other places we ate were awesome though. And it’s pretty cheap there too which is always good! And they have a McDonalds with self serve machine things! It’s a touch screen where you put in your order and collect it at an express queue so you don’t queue with everyone else! It was all in French though so I had to order the normal way haha!

      We never made it to Bruges but definitely plan to next time 😀

      • Aishling (@fluffyVW) May 15, 2014 at 1:07 am

        Just going over your post again and just love it! You really know your way around and this is by far my favourite post for week 3!! Amazing!!

        If you do go to Bruges make sure and blog it! And let me know how pretty it is 😛

        • polishedandprimed@gmail.com May 24, 2014 at 5:58 pm

          Ah just saw this! You’re so nice 😀 Yea we ever do make the trip I’ll be sure to take a million pics for a post!

  • Aisling McGarrigle May 12, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Those topshop jeans are amazing! I want them myself hahah xx

    • polishedandprimed@gmail.com May 13, 2014 at 12:57 am

      Aren’t they so nice? I need to have them like or I’ll never be happy haha! xx

  • Sarah Hamersley (@sarah_hamersley) May 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Seriously Steph, you out do yourself every week and put so much work and time into these posts, I’m so thrilled to see it, so thank you. This is such an amazing post, the pictures, the food, the drinks…the whole thing. This is like a travellers guide and I want to go there now & do everything you’ve mentioned. AMAZING!!
    Sarah
    x

    • polishedandprimed@gmail.com May 13, 2014 at 12:56 am

      Aw wow 😀 Thank so much Sarah. I’ll try to keep my momentum up now for the second half of the challenge! Really enjoying taking part 🙂 I’m sad it’s nearly over!

  • Kerrie O'Neill May 12, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    I think this is my favorite post of Week 3! You should work for the Brussels tourist board because I NEED to go there RIGHT NOW!

    • polishedandprimed@gmail.com May 13, 2014 at 12:54 am

      Aw thank you! That’s so nice 😀 I wouldn’t mind a job like that actually! If they paid me in Belgian chocolates I would start tomorrow haha!

  • Claire Kane May 13, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Brussels is on my list for next year so I am bookmarking this

    • polishedandprimed@gmail.com May 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Aw cool! Thank you 🙂 Really hope you like it over there!

  • Rache Greeley (@Make_UpYerMind) May 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Wow Stephanie, you really went all out with your post! Great tips about the restaurant! Can’t believe the price!!! :O And those desserts look to DIE for!!! OMG! Great post!

    Rach X http://make-upyermind.blogspot.ie/

    • polishedandprimed@gmail.com May 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks hun! Yea the desserts were so good 😀 Food is probably my favourite part of a holiday haha!