Saturday, September 19, 2009

Brussels, Belgium [Part III of III]

It’s Brussels… …where comics come to life literally in the streets!

Above: Comic strip wall murals can be spotted all around the city.

…where one can have waffles, fries, chocolates & Belgian beer all day!!

…and where a tiny pissing boy (girl and dog too) can draw so much attention!!!

Above: A whole lot of pissing. From left: Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis and Zinneke Pis (which isn’t a fountain).

Of course, there’s more to Brussels. The capital of Belgium & home of the EU has its own distinct character due to the co-existence of both French and Flemish culture. [For that reason, street signs and names of places/monuments are all printed in both languages! For simplicity's sake I shall describe them in English].

The look of the city is characterised by its strikingly picturesque Grand Place, legendary monuments and vibrant boulevards. I chose a hotel near the central train station, in the area of Grass Market. It’s an excellent location, with lots of eateries, shops and close proximity to the Grand Place, where the heart of the city beats. While the hotel (& its service) though was not great, thankfully its location and view from the window saved the day.

Above: View from my hotel room window as the night falls. The bell tower of the town hall, illuminating the night sky.

Above: The Grand Place, listed as UNESCO's World Heritage Site. Clockwise from top left: The House of the Dukes of Brabant, The King’s House, Row of Guild houses, The Town Hall.

In the old days when the houses here were not numbered, they were recognised by their architecture or simply by the different statues sitting on top.

Near to the Grand Place is Butcher's Street (for eating) and St. Hubert Gallery (for shopping).

Above: The narrow Butcher's Street lined with restaurants on both sides. It was impossible to walk down the street without being stopped by touts from every restaurant.

Above: St. Hubert's Gallery, where you can find luxurious shops selling fine Belgian lace & chocolates, as well as cafes.

If you only have time for visiting one church in Brussels, it has got to be the St. Michael & St. Gudula Cathedral. The Cathedral was named after the 2 patron saints of the city and the most outstanding feature of it is the stained glassed depicting the scene from 'The Last Judgement'.

If you're a fan of Tin Tin or the Smurfs, you have got to visit the Comic Strip Museum which is housed in an Art Nouveau Warehouse. Comics in Belgium is serious art + literature! At the museum, you can learn more about the history of comics and the entire process of the making of a comic strip.

And if you're a fan of chocolates, visit the Museum of Cocoa & Chocolate!

Above: Learn more about the history of cocoa, the myths & truths about chocolates, catch the chocolate master in action and of course, chocolate tasting :)

One other place that was not within the city center and actually requires taking the MET to get to was the Atomium. The Belgians call it "the most astonishing building in the world". And I'm sure it could have been at some point in history.

The structure of the building was modeled after the atom concept, magnified 165 billion times. It was built in the 1950's for Expo '58 (Brussels World Fair) and it represented modern architecture in Brussels at that time though it wasn't intended to be kept. Eventually it was kept and today it remains an attraction providing a 360 degree view of Brussels, as well as a venue for exhibitions and events. Above: The view from the top sphere of the Atomium. Above: A guy attempting the flyingfox down from the top of the Atomium. This wraps up my summer holidays in Belgium. Lots more coming up!


  1. I enjoyed your accounts of Brussels! I am going there later this month with my son and look forward to seeing some of the things you hi-lited.

  2. Hi Karen, thanks! I'm sure you'll enjoy Brussels very much and hope you have time to cover much more than what I could :) Have a good trip!

  3. Hi there, great pictures on your trip! could you share which hotel did you stay in Brussels? The view looks great.. thank you =)

  4. Hi Lynn, thanks for checking out my blog :)

    The hotel I stayed in was Hotel La Madeleine on Rue de la Montagne
    Do note that though the location is fantastic, it's really just a 2 star hotel. There're lots of other options in that same area which is near the Central Train Station as well.


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