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Five of the best... ice cream parlours and swimming pools
Let’s hope the sun sticks around in Brussels for the coming weeks. There’s no better way to tackle the hot summer days than with a yummy ice cream or a refreshing plunge in the pool, so here are our favourite picks to cool down.
Australian Ice-cream: From its first ice-cream parlour, opened in Knokke in 1989, to a national chain with over 30 shops, Belgian brand Australian has come a long way. The brand is known and loved for its smooth and creamy treats, a wide range of flavours and generous scoops. See www.australianicecream.be for your nearest shop.
Capoue: With 10 shops in Brussels, Capoue is very popular on hot days. Check out their summer specials, including mojito, lavender and orange blossom flavours. Among the Belgian classics you’ll find speculoos (spiced biscuits) and cuberdon (purple cone shaped sweeties) flavours as well: very tasty. See www.capoue.com for the list of (new) shops.
Comus and Gasterea: On sultry days in the city centre, make your way to the Marché aux Poissons. You’ll find some unusual ice cream flavours at Comus and Gasterea, such as aubergine, olive oil, anchovies and wasabi. If you’re feeling less adventurous, try caramel, green apple or coffee. Very much worth queuing for!
86 Quai aux Briques, www.comusgasterea.com
Freezy Yog: If you’re counting calories, ice-cream parlours are unfortunately are a no-go zone. Thank heaven for frozen yoghurt, then, available at Freezy Yog (pictured above) near the Grand’Place. Choose a portion of plain yoghurt, flavoured with red fruits or a mix of both, and top it with raspberry sauce, sprinkles or fresh fruit (or undo your healthy efforts, by adding chocolate, mini marshmallows or cookie crumbles).
21 Rue du Marché aux Herbes
Le Frambosier Doré: This ice cream shop on Rue du Bailli is a must-visit whenever you’re in the area. It’s famous for its many sorbet flavours, which aren’t as rich (but are equally tasty) as the regular ice-cream. Try lemon or banana for instance, or our favourite choice: blackcurrant. Finger-licking good, but you will end up with a purple tongue!
35 Rue du Bailli
Zizi: Family-run Zizi in Uccle is well-known beyond communal borders. It all started in 1948 with Izzi Gabriele selling homemade Italian ice-cream near the Churchill roundabout. Back then, there were only three flavours: vanilla, chocolate and banana. Nowadays, the parlour in Uccle is crowded on sunny days, with people licking ice-cream or sipping milkshakes inside or outside on the benches.
57A Rue de la Mutualité, www.glacierzizi.be
Don’t jump in the car/on the train just yet, as Antwerp’s newest swimming pool has not opened its doors yet. If all goes well, the floating, open-air pool Bad’eau will be ready by the second half of August. Workers are busy day and night to get this impressive construction ready. Swimmers will get the illusion of swimming in the docks of the river Schelde, when they’re actually plunging in a moveable construction, floating on the water of the docks. The pool was designed by Sculp(IT) architects, with the help of the swimming pool techniques of S & R Group. In winter, the construction can be used as an ice-skating rink and will go by the name of Plat’eau. Sounds spectacular. Entrance to the pool will cost around €4. Location: Mexicobruggen, Kattendijkdok (but as it’s mobile, it could be moved somewhere else in the future).
Oceade near the Atomium is more of an aquatic park than a swimming pool, but it’s a fun place to beat the heat. If you haven’t been there yet, this summer could be a good opportunity, because Océade might have to close next year. The park unfortunately no longer fits in with the city’s plan of turning the Heysel area into a shopping, housing and congress complex called Neo. With its 14 slides, indoor and open-air pools, Océade has something to entertain your family for the entire afternoon. Tickets cost €14.50 for kids between 1m15 and 1m30 (smaller children get in free). Taller children or adults pay €17.50. It’s in Bruparck, www.oceade.be
For a more intense swim in Brussels, try one of the many communal pools. The most special one is in the Marolles area and dates back to 1949. It was designed by architect Maurice Van Nieuwenhuyse in the Art Deco style. To fit two pools in the narrow building, the architect came up with a construction where the pools are on top of each other. From the pool on the fifth floor, you have a wonderful view of the city. A swim will cost between €2.80 and €4. 28 Rue du Chevreuil
If you’re not too fond of public pools and chlorine, how about a trip to Ghent’s very own mini beach and swimming pond, Blaarmeersen (above)? Lie on the sand and catch a tan, and cool down in the pond. During the summer holidays, life guards watch the swimmers every day. There are lots of activities for children, and if you’d like to get sporty, there are facilities to play beach tennis, beach football and beach volleyball. www.gent.be/blaarmeersen
And if your holidays will be entirely dedicated to relaxing and pampering, a visit to the queen of all pools is a must: the baths of Spa, a good 100km from Brussels. The spa opened in 1868 and has 54 bath tubs. In 2003, the springs complex got a complete makeover and now includes everything you could possibly need to relax in the water: from thermal spring activities to a steam or carbonated bath. See the website for more information on treatments and packages. The baths are open every day. www.thermesdespa.com