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Considering it's only a 2 1/2 hour train ride away, it's amazing really that I'd never actually spent any real time at all in Belgium's capital before now...I'd passed through the city a couple of times, always en route to somewhere else, but never realised that if I stopped and looked around me, Brussels itself might have anything to offer. This past weekend has changed that, though. Brussels is a wonderful place, full of great shops, palaces, parks, churches and museums. It also has a metro system that is easy to navigate, a divers population and a wonderfully friendly, multi-cultural atmosphere

I found a fantastic eatery in which to eat, drink and while away a cold and drizzly afternoon, called Arcadi in the Galerie du Roi/Koningsgalerij; and a cosy little coffee shop, Aroma on the Grand Place/Grote Markt, where they sell the most delicious coffee-and-cinnamon concoction you've ever tasted.

I went to Brussels in the company of my sister and her children. We stayed in this hotel where rather than letting the rooms go unoccupied they let us have them at 35 euros instead of the advertised 210 euros a night, and where the breakfast included in the price was superb.

Early in the morning, we took the train to Brussels Central from The Hague. When we arrived, we came upon the floral tribute to the poor 17-year old lad who had been stabbed to death at the station days earlier by a Polish youth out to rob him of his mp3-player.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We had Belgian waffels for brunch, dropped our luggage at the hotel, had a walkaround and found a playground where Romeo, helped by big sister Soraya, agreed to try out the swings

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Later, there was some Belgian beer to sample

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and taking a ride on an open top bus, we saw all the sights, including the newly renovated Atomium

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after which we got off to find Manneken Pis, a big hit with all the tourists and especially, the Japanese -- all we had to do was follow them!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Unfortunately, when I got back I found that another of my immediate colleagues had left us. That brings the total up to 5 people since the beginning of March, and Fatima will leave to go back to Spain at the end of the month.



( 31 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
May. 2nd, 2006 06:32 pm (UTC)
I've seen the Manneken Pis! I've seen the Atomium too. It looks extra shiny. Either they've been polishing it up or I went there on a cloudy day. But then, I went to Brussels *gasp* 19 years ago, so... damn, I'm old! :P
May. 2nd, 2006 06:38 pm (UTC)
They have been polishing it up! A team of abseilers trained for 6 months last year to learn how to carry out repairs to the srtructure, and they've only just finished the job.
May. 2nd, 2006 06:40 pm (UTC)
It looks fantastic,I`m glad you enjoyed yourself.
May. 2nd, 2006 06:41 pm (UTC)
Oh I did -- so much so that I'm already thinking of returning there for a closer look some day soon!
May. 2nd, 2006 06:50 pm (UTC)
I've crossed through Brussels a few times and it always looked so grey and boring - but you make it sound like it's worth a visit. :D Maybe I should go when I'm in the area again.
May. 2nd, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC)
I think they're taking their designation as capital of the EU quite seriously these days, and are taking pains to embellish the city accordingly. Everywhere you looked, there were buildings going up, office blocks and luxury flats mostly; and the old town is looking very good indeed.
(Deleted comment)
May. 2nd, 2006 07:13 pm (UTC)
It's definitely worth a visit next time you're there...Just take the metro to Heysel and you can't miss it!
May. 2nd, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC)
I like Brussels too, not been there for years, mind. Never have seen the manakin pis and only saw the atomium from the air for some reason.

Mmm, now I fancy some chips! :)
May. 2nd, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, the chips...they were delicious, too!
May. 2nd, 2006 07:59 pm (UTC)
Can you go in the Atomium or is it just a big shiny thing to look at?
May. 2nd, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
You can go in. With an elevator you can go to the top globe and get a very wide view of the surroundings, with signposts telling you what you're looking at.

Some of the other globes are reachable as well, via stairs. In them are some exhibits about the building/restoration of the Atomium and a few artworks.

Whether this is something worth standing in line for a few hours and shelling out Euro 7.50 for is up to you, of course.

(no subject) - bogwitch - May. 2nd, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gamiila - May. 2nd, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch - May. 2nd, 2006 09:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gamiila - May. 2nd, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 2nd, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
That looks like a really neat hotel. And you just must do the open top trip bus trip around anywhere new - I don't care how cheesy it is, it is always a good thing to do!
May. 2nd, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
I don't care how cheesy it is, it is always a good thing to do!

My thought exactly -- sight seeing busses are a perfect way to catch your bearings in any town you're not familiar with. It's a shame they're so expensive, though.
May. 2nd, 2006 08:52 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you had fun. Quite a different experience from mine just two months ago.

May. 2nd, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry. Maybe you can go again another time?
May. 2nd, 2006 10:33 pm (UTC)
Very cool pictures. It sounds like you had a fun time.
May. 3rd, 2006 05:19 am (UTC)
I had the best time ever. Exhausting, running around all over town trying to cram everything in in two days, but great. Sometimes you just need some time away from your usual surroundings, and to spend it with the people you love. It makes it easier to get through the weeks of hard slog at work that follow.
May. 3rd, 2006 05:40 am (UTC)
The pictures are gorgeous. I may have to take a long weekend and visit Brussels.
It's only a three hour drive.
May. 3rd, 2006 02:11 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...with you just over the border, you're not a million miles away, either...
(no subject) - chantal87 - May. 3rd, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 3rd, 2006 09:16 am (UTC)
I had never heard of the Atomium. Glad you had a good trip.
May. 3rd, 2006 02:03 pm (UTC)
What? Belgium's version of the Eiffel Tower, and you had never heard of it? Hee. Pauvres belges...;-)
May. 3rd, 2006 09:18 am (UTC)
yay photos! and mmmm ...blackcurrent beer is that??? nyummy.

I haven't been to Brussels since I stopped going to the Belgian Grand Prix (went 3 times - muppet!) .. time I went back.
May. 3rd, 2006 02:04 pm (UTC)
Time you did -- then that'd give me the perfect excuse to go down there myself! ;-)
(no subject) - gamiila - May. 3rd, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anonypooh - May. 3rd, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gamiila - May. 3rd, 2006 05:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 31 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
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