Why did you decide to become a tour guide?
At first I never thought about becoming a guide in the city in which I was born and where I lived all my life; I only wanted to understand it. So I started studying its past, the tremendous heritage it offers, its museums. I loved it so much that I took a two-year course to become a guide. Today I am a full time guide in some of the most spectacular museums of Brussels, and in the city itself.
What are a few “must-sees” you recommend to visitors?
My favorite thing in Brussels is the Bellona house, a hidden marvel not far from Saint Catherine. We believe that it was constructed by a mistress of Louis XIV, who fled Paris after she tried to poison him…
Of course first time visitors should see the Atomium, but also the Palace of Justice (inside as well as outside) and the Grand Place neighborhood.
Do you have a “local experience” travellers to Brussels should try?
Yes! Go to one of the many estaminets (local pubs), order one of our fantastic beers (I would go for a Tripel Westmalle) and relax while you try to understand what is going on around you.
What about local food – any favourite dishes to recommend?
The “Stoofvlees” or “Carbonade à la Flamande” (meat stew simmered in beer) with fries is the favorite dish of everyone in Brussels. A good address to eat that is “La Taverne du Passage” in the Galeries de la Reine.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or café to recommend?
The best café of all is “The Monk” near Saint Catherine: great beer and fantastic music – you will definitely meet the locals there.
Finally, where do you suggest visitors go to get a postcard-worthy photo of Brussels?
The best place to take a picture is on the steps of “Mont des Arts”, just below the Place Royale: Brussels lying at your feet!
If you’re planning on visiting Brussels in 2016, send Dirk a message and plan on a few hours of good company, good stories, and a lasting appreciation for this beautiful city.