We’d just finished an amazing 4 day trip to Bruges.
Brussels was on our direct route home, and since we had a few hours free, we decided to go exploring.
Early morning, we visit Bois de la Cambre, a fantastic park on the outskirts of town.
I’d been to Belgium once before while inter-railing in my 20’s.
I remember I bought a souvenir from each country I went to.
In Belgium, I bought this little Viking about the size of of my thumb, which I still have today.
This is how I normally imagine Brussels to be.
Charmless modern metropolis where an army of Eurocrats got to work and shuffle paper each day.
The reality was quite different.
Places like this, Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert really capture the classy nature of the town.
Early in the day, we had burgers at this sort of bohemian cafe which played jazz music and we were served by barefoot people in dreadlocks.
Later that day I had delicious Belgian beer and a perfectly cooked piece of Steak in an up market restaurant.
Put simply, this town has everything.
We carry on exploring and see the Grand Place.
Its the very epicentre of Brussels, has a Gothic town hall, and several other amazing buildings.
It was impressive, but unfortunately, was being prepared for a large event , so I couldn’t get a real view of the whole place.
We hung around and had coffee, and the vibe and weather were superb.
We wandered down a side street to visit the “must see” sight of the Mennekin Piss or famous pissing boy.
My 2 observations:
1. As you can see from the picture above with people in it, the boy is about a foot tall, and I’d always thought he was much taller.
2. This is an internationally famous destination. Eiffel tower, Buckingham palace, The Vatican ? Brussels can do better than this tawdry gimmick and should take it down.
Off special interest to me, was the Belgian comic strip centre.
Belgium has more comic strip artists per square kilometre than any other country.
During the school holidays as a child, my brother and I used to watch (among other things) Herche’s adventures of Tin Tin on tv on weekday mornings.
Tin Tin and his dog Snowy would embark on adventures from catching spies and smugglers to travelling to the moon.
To help him on his missions, were the hilarious “Captain Haddock” and “Professor Calculus”.
I was delighted to explore the Comic strip centre and it brought back so many happy memories.
There were loads of exhibits of Tin Tin and in the lobby, even had a model of the rocket which took our hero (and Snowy) to the moon.
A photo of Georges Remi and a statue of Tin Tin (his life’s work).
Made me think: Tin Tin doesn’t worry about the details or the danger, he just goes out there in search of adventure.
I always think its my own volition that makes me do the things I do.
We’re the seeds of adventure planted in me all those years ago, on a PYE television with dodgy colour balance and no remote control 🙂
With only an hour left, we head for our final destination on the tram.
I first found out about the Atomium, off all things on the New Statesman with Alan B’stard.
Still, it looked liked an impressive building to me, I really wanted to see it so I worked out my route and off we went…
And then, after I’d made a complete balls of it and taken us the wrong way Nikki took the lead, and we finally got there.
She isn’t perfect though, she took this photo and its pretty awful.
We had a look around, had some really nice coffee and then headed home.
Overall, a brilliant trip and a destination I’d highly recommend.