Discover More, Brussels by Cristina Munteanu

We sent Cristina a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Brussels to get her perspective on what it means to use a travel guide in her hometown.

Name:Cristina Munteanu

Place you live: Brussels, Belgium

Can you sum up Brussels? International. Cosmopolitan. So close to everywhere else in Europe.

Can you sum up the people of Brussels? Relaxed and culturally-diverse.

What was the experience like looking through the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: BrusselsI moved to my current neighborhood, Saint Gilles, a couple of years ago and I have so much still to discover. It was interesting to learn more about the history of Brussels and especially about the architectural masterpieces that are literally a stones throw away from my home – the Horta Museum for example!

Did you find anything new or inspiring about Brussels? Absolutely! Talking about architecture above – I did not know Hôtel Hannon is one of the city’s most spectacular Art Nouveau structures. I passed by a few times during my weekend strolls through Saint Gilles and admired the building from the outside, but after reading more about it in the guidebook, I will definitely go visit the photography gallery inside too.

How did the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Brussels influence the photos you went out to take of your area?  It was fun actually – I had a friend visiting from outside Europe the weekend I went out to take photos, and we very much enjoyed reading through the book and selecting the places we would want to explore.

Tell us about the photos you shot for this project? Through my photos, I tried to sum up the way I live and experience Brussels – its typical architecture, its narrow streets, the Art Nouveau elements, the famous flower carpet in the Grand Place, the views over the city at Place Poelaert and Parking 58, the underground areas along the Canal, the fabulous, ever-changing skies that never cease to amaze me.

Occupation: I run a small consultancy business for congress organizers and suppliers in the meetings industry.

Describe a perfect day in Brussels? To start the day, a coffee and croissant at one of the many cafés in the city. Look for Le Pain Quotidien if you are in the city and enjoy breakfast at the long, wooden communal tables that are so typical of this Belgian bakery-restaurant. And go explore – by foot or by bike! I like to start at one of the vantage points that offer a nice view of the city (Place Poelaert, for example, where you can also see the impressive Palais de Justice), take the elevator down to the popular district of Marolles, go up again to cross the Sablon area towards Place Royal and the museums quarter, stop at Mont des Arts for another spectacular view of the city. Continue towards the Grand Place and on your way, make sure to stop for a local beer at one of the many brasseries around La Bourse. Then move towards the trendy area of Rue Dansaert, from there you can easily continue on a quiet walk along the Canal.

What do you love about Brussels? It’s cosmopolitanism.

What do you dislike? I wish summers were longer and warmer and winters covered in snow. I was born and lived in Romania and I miss the clear seasons we had there.

What would be surprising about Brussels to an outsider?  While the capital of Europe, Brussels still has the coziness of a small village where everyone knows everyone.

If Brussels was a person or character who would they be? Tintin.

What was your impression of the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Brussels? I enjoyed learning more about the history of my adopted city. It certainly made me want to go visit some of the places I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see. I especially liked the “Brussels Through the Year” recommendations – such a good way to quickly find the best activities in the city, based on the time of year when you happen to visit it!


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Name:Cristina Munteanu



Best place to eat? 

Knees to Chin for the most amazing (and affordable!) fresh rolls ever, Café des Spores if you love mushrooms.

Best place to drink?  

Etiquette Wines for a great selection of wines and delicious finger food, Chez Franz in my neighborhood (Saint Gilles) if you’re looking for a fun buzzy café bar, Café Belga for a locals’ hangout with good choices for beer.

Best place to shop?  

I like the local stylists and creative designers grouped on Rue Antoine Dansaert, in downtown Brussels.

Best outdoor activity? 

Enjoying the beautiful parks of Brussels – my favorite is Woluwe Park, especially in autumn when all the trees turn their leaves to a myriad of nuances of yellows and reds.

Local tip? 

Always be prepared for an unexpected rain shower.

If someone was visiting what must they do?

Try the local beers. Eat ‘moules-frites’ and dark chocolate. Admire the Art Nouveau architecture throughout the city. Go up on the roof of Parking 58 for the best view (and if you’re lucky, spectacular sunset) over Brussels!