The city of Mechelen in Belgium makes for a great day trip. Start with breakfast or brunch and have a coffee break at one of the many lovely cafes around town. Below you can find the ones I've tried so far.
Coffee, breakfast and brunch in Mechelen
1. Brunch at Sister Bean
Sister Bean was recommended to me by different people and so I was happy to be able to reserve the last table for two for brunch with my mom on Mother's Day. While Sister Bean offers breakfast, lunch, and sweets throughout the week, they only do brunch during the weekends and so I wanted to make sure we'd have a table.
Not only did we get a table, but we got one on the terrace in the morning sun. Perfect! The brunch consisted of different kinds of salads and breads, yogurt, fresh fruit, jam, pastries, all kinds of spreads and a sweet creamy cheese dessert with strawberries. Yum! Our first drink was included and after that, we could just order as we liked.
Mom and I spent over an hour enjoying our brunch, chatting away and watching people pass by. It was the perfect start of a fun day and I'd definitely like to come back to Sister Bean sometime. You see, I spotted some delicious looking pies on their counter ;-)
The brunch was €18/person, first drink included.
2. Taking a break at Coffee & Cake
When we arrived at Coffee & Cake, a cute bread, pastry, and coffee shop in the shadow of the St. Rumbold's Tower, there were two empty tables outside. Normally I'd jump to get one, but this time I didn't. The market in front had just ended and people were packing up, trucks were driving by. As it was too hot outside anyway, we decided to go in.
As one of the waiters had seen our hesitation, she gently said: “We also have a terrace in the back”. We walked all the way through the shop and indeed, there was a cute little courtyard with a few tables and an open spot for two in the shade. As if it had been waiting there for us.
Despite the warm weather, I was in the mood for a coffee and so I ordered one with hazelnut flavor and a glass of water as well. Mom had a Coke Zero because she's a rebel like that.
Not long after we'd sat down, a family of parents, grandparents and two little girls arrived. I hadn't looked at the food menu but as they ordered I noticed you could get a simple sandwich with ham or cheese, or even with Nutella if you liked. So cool!
Usually getting a sandwich at a cafe or a bistro gives me a headache as there's always something on the sandwich that I don't like or there are just too many options to choose from. I don't like having too many options. It doesn't match my indecisive character.
Anyway, plain sandwiches. Score.
You can also get bread and pastries to go at Coffee & Cake as the front of the shop looks more like a regular bakery. The interior is lovely, though, as is the little courtyard terrace, so I do recommend that you step inside for a drink, a snack, or something sweet.
Coffee & Cake
Lemoncake and homemade ice tea at Gamine
I actually wasn't even in the mood for coffee when we headed to Gamine near the end of our day trip, but I really wanted to go as someone on Twitter had told me they have the best chocolate brownies. Unfortunately, they were out of chocolate brownies, but I did score some lemon cake for me and apple-cinnamon cake for moms. To quench my thirst I had a homemade ice tea (yum!) and mom ordered the local beer “Maneblusser”.
“Maneblusser” means “moon extinguisher” and the name goes back to a local legend. The legend goes that on the night of January 27-28, 1687, there was a full moon and low hanging clouds. When a man left the bar late at night, he saw a glow coming from the tower and smoke rising up from it. He thought the tower was on fire and so he alerted everyone.
It wasn't until the entire city had carried buckets of water up the stairs of the tower that they realized the glow had come from the moon shining through the windows of the tower, making it look like it was on fire and as if the clouds were smoke.
The people of Mechelen tried to cover up that they'd actually tried to extinguish the moon, but the story spread and until this day they're called the “Maneblussers” or “Moon Extinguishers”. I didn't know there was a local beer dedicated to the legend until we visited Gamine, though!
Gamine, Korenmarkt 6, Mechelen
Where to stay in Mechelen?
If you're looking for an apartment rather than a hotel, I would recommend checking airbnb. Sign up through my link and get a discount on your first stay!
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How to get to Mechelen
The easiest way to get to Mechelen is by train. The train station is walking distance from the city center.
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