Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Brussels {day 3}

Our last day in Brussels rolled around. Our departure was only at 16:40 so we had nearly the whole day to explore areas we hadn't got to just yet. 

We wandered into the fresh air and through the park and made our way to the Royal Palace of Brussels.

We continued our stroll on to the "Church of Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon". It used to hold a statue of Mary which was claimed to have healing powers and was paraded annually through the city, until it was destroyed by the Calvinists. The procession, though, called the Ommegang, is now days more secular, but still takes place.
The church was beautiful inside; we were about the only ones there and the intricate stained glass and carving left quite an impression.

After leaving the church we crossed over to the petit Sablon. The park is surrounded by statues, 48 of them, depicting various old professions, while in the middle Edgmont and Horne, symbols of the resistance against the Spanish, stand in the middle. Despite the fact that there seems to be a statue on just about every corner and one seems to constantly have one in sight, these were rather noticeable ;) And the view over to the church was so picturesque!

After admiring the scene and enjoying our spot in the sunshine, we made our way to the Palace of Justice. Ironically, for the construction of the gigantic building in the late 1800s to take place, people were evicted and relocated. Furthermore, when the German troups left Brussels at the end of the second world war, they set fire to the building. I hope that the building provides real justice these days! 

Nearby, stands a memorial to the soldiers in the infantry in the first and second world war, and one has a rather good view over Brussels from this point, too. We finally saw the Atomium from this vantage point, and could see many other landmarks as well. There seems to be some construction happening, and I'm not sure what it is, but hopefully one will be able to walk out onto the terrace since right now it hinders the view significantly. Here we met a man from Italy who was in town to meet either a Musician or a Magician for a festival they're planning, and after he took a photo for us, we took the elevator down to the street below.

After visiting a fleamarket that gets very good reviews but quite honestly looked to me like a junk-yard, we popped into a few antique shops and then made our way to the Notre Dame de la Chapelle. The exterior looked rather run down from the outside, but inside was really quite different!

We left the quietness of the church and reentered the hustle and bustle of the inner city and tourist-hub. Here we finally got around to trying some Belgian Waffles, which were delicious. They're pretty tricky to eat while walking so we found a spot to sit and attacked the waffles with those ridiculous little plastic forks they provide. (also provided for eating your Frites!)
My advice: bring cutlery along to avoid frustration ;)
They were so tasty and so sweet, that I'm glad we had three days to space out the Frites and Waffles a little!

Before we left, we still needed to buy some Belgian chocolate. We shopped around a little before deciding on Leonidas. The lady who worked there was so patient with our very careful and slow selection of truffles, and we walked away with 9 of them at a reasonable price. One of them was soon devoured!

Saying goodbye to the centre of the city, we passed some horse-drawn carriages and then stopped by the Cathedral we'd seen on the first day to get a quick glimpse of the interior. From there, we went to our apartment, packed our things, drank some tea, and headed to the train station.

Fortunately we left with enough time to get to Brussels North since we had trouble finding our bus. I felt a little panicked but, with the help of a very kind bus driver who took pity on me, possibly due to my rather forlorn expression, we found our bus and started our long journey home again. 

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Brussels {day 2}

Our second day way Museum Day. Since many museums are closed on Mondays, we needed to do it on the Sunday. There are many museums that are free to visit, which is awesome, and Tripomatic is really good for planning when to see what since it suggests places and includes prices and opening hours. 

With our plan for the day we set off towards the Comic Strip Centre but were soon distracted by a big building in the distance. It turned out better looking from a distance from up close, but the up-side is that we passed the Botanical Garden, which looked too pretty not to wander through. It was a really peaceful place among some of the run-down buildings in the area and the tall glass buildings surrounding it.

We eventually made it to the Comic Strip Centre and, after looking into the building and doubting the value of the entrance fee, decided not to go into the actual museum but rather spend our time looking through their shop. Since we aren't the greatest comic-fans, it was interesting to see the shelves and shelves of different comics available. It was really fun, and the Bible illustrated by comic strip book was cool and sort of gave me a new perspective on some of the things I'd so often read and imagined myself. 

After leaving the centre and getting some more frites for lunch, we strolled over to the Mont des Arts to see the view.

We walked around the back of the Palace and headed over to the Place du Thrรดne and then down the road to the Natural History Museum. It felt like a SUPER long walk.... 

We arrived at the Natural history Museum, and of course we needed a dinosaur selfie with the Iguanadon... we're not very good at dinosaur faces... whatever that actually even means...

We walked into the main hall, and were taken aback with how awesome it looked. The museum has a large collection of Iguanadon fossils, and has the biggest museum hall dedicated solely to dinosaurs in the world (says Wikipedia). It also has the Ishango bone... it was definitely a fun and interesting museum worth the entrance fee! 

I got to see a stegosaurus fossil! My favourite dinosaur - just a pity it was a fossil and not a real one... :/ 

T-Rex's arms really are tiny... by my estimation they're shorter than mine! (Grateful that this is a fossil and not a real one!)

They have all sorts of things for kids visitors to interact with and it was fun seeing what we'd look like as dinosaurs. I think Malcolm makes a convincing Parasaurolophus! 

After being all dinosaur-d out, we set off to the Parc du Cinquantenaire to take a moment to rest our feet. It was a beautiful day and the park was full of families, childrens birthday parties, and even some people practicing Judo. We were soon ready to head to the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, located on the right hand side of the Arches.

Entry is free and the collection is really impressive. Malcolm was especially interested in the collection of aeroplanes and could tell me all sorts of things :) 

There was this aeroplane where one could sit in, and Malcolm was not the only adult to check it out! 

We'd saved our money by not going into the Comic Strip Centre, so we found a restaurant (tourist trap) and had dinner there before going to the Grand Place to see it light up. We joined the many people sitting on the floor and read the guide book we'd borrowed from our AirBnB apartment, and figured out what each Guild House was for. Eventually, the square lit up and it was beeeeeautiful and my photos, as blurry as they are, are only an attempt to show how pretty it was! A wonderfully relaxed and romantic end to the day! :)