Right after the Netherlands we focused on Belgium. Instead of Anvers, Bruges and Brussels ; we had time just for one, we chose the capital where we have spent almost two days, more than during my first attempt.
Meet Belgium the first day
Meet Jacques Brel
My first attempt in Belgium was during a bad day with its grey sky and rain. From Netherlands my buddy and me bring the good weather for the last destination. We didn’t have enough time to top in Antwerpen and we went straight to our hostel.
After turning around in the eastern part of the city to find our hostel, we luckily discover the only free place for the car in the right district, and guess what, the place was right front the Jacques Brel Hostel! At the reception is was said that parking is free in the city on Sunday, perfect!
Royal way to the Palace of Justice
For me this trip in Brussels was the occasion to visit unseen places. That’s why after get the keys we went in direction of the Palace of Justice, this amazing building with its golden cupola! As the last time the Palace is in renovation. You can see it from the upper Brussels on Royal street, near the Hostel. On the way we passed the Congres Column and the Saint Jack on Coudenberg church (in the Royal Square). And we made a deviation to the Cathedral Saint Michel and Gudule.
Under the Palace of Justice is the Monument of Glory Belgian Infantry, it was hidden when we came. From the place is a magnificent see point from where we can admire the city old town, the Atomium and the Basilic! The other main place I wanted to see.
Then we follow a tourists way from the map we took in the tourist office. Normally this way must lead us into an old district with its nice square called Place of the Ball Game, but the district neither the square was nice. I just notice a French restaurant. After that excursion in the less attractive district of Brussels we went back to the Old Town. This walk passed next to the church of Our Mother of the Chapel.
In the old town and say hello to the Manneken Pis
I met my favourite souvenirs shop, in front of the Manneken Pis. But to buy I needed Euro coins! And since I left Vilnius I never have so much Euro with me, credit card being my best friend. It was pretty hard to find a cash machine. Some bottle opener and shooter glass after, we said hello to the little pissing Belgium guy, still famous 🙂
The King House and the Town Hall are the two incredible buildings we found on the Market Square. The Grand’ Place was full of people despite the night and the cold temperature. Illuminations on buildings are really nice, we see the contrast and the typical Flemish architecture. We had dinner in a Pizza Hut, they were not complete but had some troubles to served us. Anyway, it was cheap and tasty, and we didn’t loose so much time, but the Beer was bad. Always drink normal brand and not the cheapest one. I know now.
Back in the Old Town and its square, I told my friend that some streets are good to see: the Saint Hubert Galleries and the Rue des Bouchés. This last street is just awesome, with its restaurants everywhere the small street give an impressive impression, you totally forgot to be in the Brussels, it is another world!
When we start to feel tired, we walk to the Hostel without taking the shortest way, we crossed the Rue Neuve… Fifteen minutes later we arrived in the Hostel where our two roomates were already sleeping.
Loose a day (but see the Basilica) for the second day
Woke up front to the Cathedral
The longest day in a city was also the day during when we lost a lot of time by walking somewhere… First part of the day was for walking in the Old Town in the morning. The sun and the weather made it good. We first parked the car in a expensive parking, and walked to the Cathedral. Front the Cathedral, on a square are some seats! Very comfortable with a view of the magnificent edifice. We stooped there for twenty minutes for talking and waking up.
We continued to the Mont des Arts square, just because the view is nice, and the Park of Brussels. This park has fountain, but they were empty this weekend, still winter in Belgium.
We decided to see the Saint Catherine church and the Sacred Heart Basilica. A long story, but I will be short: We crossed again the city centre, see this nice church and the long square with empty fountain, we had a break on it (travel friend was tired) and we have reached the canal. Near the canal is a metro station we should take to go to the Basilica. Once have found the metro station (Comte de Fandres) it would be to easy to just pay and take the metro. No, because we didn’t have enough cash on us we had to find a shop/coffee/whatever to have change on 20euros bill.
The Basilica and its two metro stations
The metro station was originally decorated with some flying statue over the line. Something interesting was that the metro line draw a 6. It means than the first station of the line is also an intermediate station. And to make is a bit more complicated, the station of the Basilica is actually two different station called by two difference name (Leoplod or Elisabeth) but are close to each other by 20 meters! Belgium I love you!
We have bought sandwich and drinks in the Leopold metro station, ate on the Elisabeth park, and once finished go to the super Sacred Heart Basilica. For me it seems a Russian attempt of non orthodox style during the Stalinist period! Spectacular. Even inside. I confirm that the Basilica is my favourite building in Brussels
The Atomium and a useless long walk
The Atomium, big structure made for the World Exhibition, is not far from the Basilica, three or four station.. we went! This time I had enough battery on my camera to shoot a lot. The European park Mini-Europe is at the same place. It needed ten minutes to walk to the entrance to see the expensive price (20euros or more…) Sorry, not for this time.
After have see the Atomium from under we went to the Ossegem park and the Laeken park. There is a hill with a surprising monument: Leopold I monument. A church arrow, without a church under 😮 From it we saw the Royal Castle and the spring atmosphere in the park with the flowered trees. We wanted to see the Royal Green House. But we didn’t find the entrance and ave walked for kilometres in the middle of nothing till we found the Chinese House and Japanese Tower! they are near the Exterm-Orient Museum of Brussels. When we asked where we are to a guy, we understood that we had one hours to reach the next metro station by walk, and decided to take the tramway.
Walking around the parliament
After we took the metro for the Cinquantenaire park and the European Parliament. I just realised that we didn’t stop in the correct station, The park is at the Merdo station and we step out in Mongmomery. Anyway it gave us the chance to see this rich part of Brussels around the Tervueren avenue.
In the park, after the Arch of the Cinquantenaire were many jogging girls, the sun was decreasing and our day arriving to its end. We got lost when searching for the Parliament and the Luxembourg square.
We finally took the metro in Trone station to the centre where we ate in Quick fast food. A little walk more in the Grand Place of Brussels and we went to the car and left for France!