A Travellerspoint blog

The Soul of Europe

Belgium - Brussels

all seasons in one day 12 °C
View Belgium on kmmk17's travel map.

Just over half an hour after leaving Ghent, we arrived in Brussels. We checked into our hotel, chilled for a bit before heading out.

This afternoon we'd take a look around the very heart of Brussels before grabbing dinner and heading back - we still had almost all day tomorrow to look around the rest of the city too.

Brussels is surprisingly hilly, something no one seems to talk about. We made our way over to Mont des Artes, where there is a nice view over central Brussels, before heading downhill towards the first of many murals around the city.

Mont des Artes

Mont des Artes

After making our way around the corner to the Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert, a very pretty shopping gallery, we took a short walk to the heart of the city, the Grand Place - the main market square.

Grand Place

Grand Place

The final sight for today was the Manneken Pis - the famous weeing boy statue, which much like the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, is pretty tiny, and difficult to actually see between all the tourists.

Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis

After grabbing dinner, we headed back to the hotel, and got caught in a rainstorm. To be fair though, given the weather forecast for this weekend we'd been pretty fortunate.

Settling in for the night we became aware of a pretty stupid flaw in the hotel. When we turned of the lights, the power in the room totally cut out - including the charging points. Great... my phone was almost dying and now I couldn't charge overnight ready for tomorrow's busy day.

The following morning, whilst charging our phones, we headed down for breakfast before checking out and leaving our bags at the hotel. Having seen the centre of the city yesterday, today's plan was to see the sights on the outskirts.

We headed out on the metro northwards to Heysel, and walked around the corner to Mini-Europe. This is a miniature park with monuments from all the EU member states.

Bruges meets Brussels

Bruges meets Brussels

It was a lot better than we expected, featuring a lot of locations we'd seen in real life. Interestingly, given the UK used to be a member, there is still a UK section, with new customs post and border control lines drawn in for realism.

Crossing the border

Crossing the border

We had a good wander around for a while, and at the end watched the European Space Agency launch a rocket from Cayenne.

Rocket Launch

Rocket Launch

We then headed around the corner and went inside the Atomium. Much like the Eiffel Tower, this icon of the city was built for the World's Fair, and has stayed well past it's original intention.

At the Atomium

At the Atomium

We headed inside, and darted between the spheres and escalators/staircases around the structure.

Walking around

Walking around

There wasn't a huge amount to see and do, as the spheres were relatively small. It felt very 1950s, with history of the Expo and some light shows.

Light Show

Light Show

There was an observation booth at the top, but as we were running short on time, and the queue was very very long we skipped it, and had to make do with the views we'd seen from the spheres from the middle of the structure.

Views from the Atomium

Views from the Atomium

After an interesting time, we then made our way right across the city towards the European Quarter. Sadly a lot of this area required pre-booking, and on Mondays not everything is open all day. Not knowing what time we would be around we had to skip the Parliamentarium museum, but we did get inside the Parliament itself - this was despite being told there was no spaces left, and then immediately booking a space online for the next tour...

Hemicycle

Hemicycle

I'd been here before, but Chris hadn't and so we took a brief look around at the hemicycle, before making our way across Leopold Park to the House of European History. It was interesting, with some information on the history of Europe, and fortunately all the EU sites were free to enter.

We then wandered past the European Council building and the EU Commission building, before grabbing some dinner.

EU Commission Building

EU Commission Building

Heading back to the hotel, we passed the Halle Gate, a very impressive mediaeval city gate along the line of the former city walls.

Halle Gate

Halle Gate

After grabbing our bags and having a quick sit down, we then made our final trip just around the corner to back to the train station and eventually through into the departure lounge for the Eurostar. Once again, with juxtaposed controls, meaning we'd entered the EU in London and exited in Brussels, despite the tunnel physically being in France.

Luckily it didn't take too long to get back to London. But having prebooked our trains back to Luton, we did have to stand around and wait in the cold St. Pancras station for the later train, watching the earlier train leave without us.

It had been a good and fun trip. Very busy, and weather not perfect but lots of interesting things to see and do!

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 15:24 Archived in Belgium Tagged rain fort train square parliament europe belgium border

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