Actual date of this event: 1 & 4 January
On Tuesday morning, Luke and I woke up much later than normal. We had stayed to watch the New Year fireworks, and we had drank quite a bit of wine and beer throughout the evening. Luke's alcohol-driven mind thought that it would be funny to hide the chocolates we had bought while walking around. So when we woke up, Luke pulled them out from behind the TV only to find a bag of melted chocolates. Awesome! So this resulted in us scooping melted chocolate into our mouths for a perfect New Year's Day breakfast. Luckily, we don't have New Year resolutions to eat better.
We got on the metro around 11:30am and headed north of the city to BruParck. Before arriving in Brussels, I had read about this area and had it on my list of things I wanted to do. It sounded really neat because, well, I'm a little kid like that. Luke and I decided to just roam around in the area rather than go into anything - mainly because it was going to cost too much. The area includes a few different attractions:
1.) Atomium - 1958 Brussel's World Fair iconic building. It is 335 feet tall and has nine 59 foot diameter spheres. Tubes connect the spheres with escalators inside. There is a copyright on all images of the Atomium - from Wikipedia:
"There are some cases however where use of the image of the Atomium is not restricted by any rights. This is the case where photographs are taken by private individuals and shown on private websites for no commercial purpose (the current trend for photo albums), as long as these pictures are displayed at a low resolution (600 pixels maximum, resolution of 72dpi) to avoid abusive usage and downloads. However, the words "© www.atomium.be - SABAM 2010 - photographers name" must be included next to the image."
Pretty stupid, but whatevs.
© www.atomium.be - SABAM 2010 - Debbie Buisson
© www.atomium.be - SABAM 2010 - Debbie Buisson © www.atomium.be - SABAM 2010 - Luke Buisson
4.) Kinepolis - a movie theatre. Luke asked if I wanted to see a movie. I did not go all the way to Brussels to see a movie!
5.) The Village - restaurants and shops. It reminded me a lot of Epcot except it was total weak-sauce. The Mexican restaurant was called El Taco. No joke.
Since that didn't take up much of our time, we took the metro to the east side of Brussels to Parc du Cinquantenaire. We figured we would get off at the eastern most stop of the park and walk our way back to old town. There are a few museums on the grounds of the park, but we chose to not go into them because they were either not open or not free. You know how we do?
European Union - closed due to Jan. 1, but we went back on Friday (read below)
Right: Tree branches grown together so in the summer, the leaves are like blankets. Very cool!
Palace of Justice - The building is actually set up higher than the rest of the city. You can get good views but cant really take great pictures. Hard to explain. We could see the Atomium from here. Unfortunately, the palace was covered in scaffolding. The building is massive though!
Notre-Dame de la Chapelle - right across from it is a skate park
Back to the opposite side of the square where New Year fireworks were held
St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral
Sainte Catherine - open air markets where a variety of food and drinks and other novelties were being sold. There were also fun activities for kids like a super creepy carousel (see video below). Seriously, those creatures are creepy!
After this we just about had enough for the day, so we walked to dinner and capped off the night with a delicious waffle.
On Wednesday and Thursday, we did our day trips to Bruges and Antwerp which you will read about in two separate blogs. Friday was our last day, and we each had one thing on the agenda. I wanted to go to a brewery, and Luke wanted to go to the EU Parliamentarium.
European Union Parliamentarium - Entry was free and we got an audio guide to explain EVERYTHING. Literally. We spent 2.5 hours inside and easily could have stayed longer. The beginning of the tour explains the three locations of the EU political centers. Next we read about a few historical events from a few different countries. And we entered a room that goes through a timeline that shaped what the EU is today. We spent probably 1.5 hours in this one room alone. The next room showed ALL of the EU representatives and their position. All of the tour at this point had been reading and listening, so then we entered the interactive area. One room had stands that we could walk and push over cities in the EU that gave the role it plays in the EU. Another room had circular seating and played a video on the circular walls showing how bills are passed/not passed. Another room had TV's where we could sit and listen to a real person explain their thoughts on life in the EU. It was a really interesting and informative time. I highly suggest visiting the Parliamentarium if you are ever in Brussels!
Cantillon Brewery - It took us a while to figure out which metro line to take to the brewery because the brewery was off of the map we received from the hotel. We had to use our brains which were now fried due to EU overload to figure which metro stop to get off of. We determined that Brussels Midi was the best place to get off. The area around the south train station is not the greatest. Call me crazy, but I enjoy seeing the not so great parts of towns when I visit just so I know they also have their negative points. No place is perfect, right? Anyway, the brewery tour was like no other tour I have done before. I have done beer, wine, and whisky tours, and I wish all of them were like this tour. We had a brief explanation of the history from a lady for about 5 minutes. Then she gave us a pamphlet, told us what to expect and how to do the tour, and then we were off on our own to go explore the brewery. It was really neat to walk around on your own time and read the pamphlet and learn on your own. We even got to see a worker lowering a beer barrel to the basement for storing (see video). When we finished, we went to the bar and we got two tastes of beer (approx 4oz each). And these beers were not like anything I have ever tasted - they were sour and had such a unique flavor. I liked them, but Luke wasn't as interested.
Afterward, we decided that we were too close to take the metro somewhere, so we walked back through the dodgy area of town to the Manneken Pis. We had not seen this peeing boy since our first day, and there was apparently a really great bar right next to the fountain. If you are ever in Brussels, be sure to go to Poechenellekelder. It used to be a puppet theater and now has all kinds of unique decorations having to do with puppet shows. It also has a amazing Belgian beer list and a delicious lasagna! We spent a few hours enjoying Belgian beers before we had to leave for home the next day.
|Someone came and took the clothes off of the Manneken Pis while we were inside.|
Belgium is a great place to visit! I enjoyed being there with Luke, but I think it would have been a great trip to take with friends. Now... to get back to the grind and burn off all of those waffles!
Other posts on Brussels: Post 1, Wrap-Up
Waffles began as light, thin cakes between wafer irons - like communion wafers.
Waffles became popular in the States after the 1964 New York World's Fair.