Brussels Journals

Brussels, the capital of Europe ???

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A July 1999 trip to Brussels by helenka

Quote: Surprises, disappointments, and ... oh well... waffles. A practical, if somewhat hedonistic, guide to Brussels.

Brussels, the capital of Europe ???

Best Of IgoUgo

Overview

Quote:
The Royal Art Museum can boast one of Europe's finest collections. Mini Europe and the Atomium - if you have kids (or if you consider yourself one)is great. Gastronomical delights abound--especially if you stay away from the touristy Grand Place. Some MUST-haves: chocolate (obvious) and waffles, from steet vendors (even more obvious).Quick Tips: Be wary of Brussels self-proclamation as 'the capital of Europe'. Some things one comes to expect from most large European cities are hard to come by--ATMs, for instance.Best Way To Get Around: Walking, most of the time. Downtown Brussels is tiny! Otherwise (to reach the train stations, the Atomium, etc.), take the subway...Read More

Opera Hotel Brussels

Hotel | "Opéra"

Quote:
It was a basic accommodation (a bed, a TV, a dresser, private shower/bath/toilet), but for a very good price, and within walking distance from all important sights. Good breakfast is included in the price. Fun, almost ancient, elevator. Great for a budget-minded traveler.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 30, 2000

Opera Hotel Brussels
53 RUE GRETRY
Brussels, Belgium 1000
02 219 43 43

Mini-Europe

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Attraction

Quote:
It is what it proclaims to be: a minature version of Europe (at least of its most prominent landmarks). It is, of course, very touristy--but what can you expect? It CAN be fun, IF (1) you are a small child (2) you are with a small child (3) you have the mindset of a small child. A special case: also fun, if you have a few Belgian beers in you (exactly how many depends on your level of tolerance). It provides for some great photo-ops (I'm Gulliver!). It is similar to Madurodam (mini-Holland, near the Hague), with one important difference: mini-Europe's models can be operated at the push of a button. You can make Vesuvius erupt, or--my personal favorite--reenact the fall of the Berlin wall. The best par...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 1, 2000

Mini-Europe
Voetballaan 1 Avenue du Football
Brussels, Belgium 1020
+32 2 474 13 13

Atomium

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Attraction | "The Atomium"

Quote:
What it is: a giant monstrosity... I meant, molecule... built for the 1958 International Exhibition.

Face it: if you go to Brussels, you have to have a picture taken in front of the Atomium. So don't fight it. Take the subway to Bruparck in the late afternoon, after the museums close and shoot away. The best picture spot is not the one where the tour buses take you. It's from the inside of Mini-Europe. (But I'm sure you can find equally suitable view from other spots in the Bruparck).

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 1, 2000

Atomium
Atomium Square
Brussels, Belgium 1020
32 (0)2 475 47 75

Grand Place (Grote Markt)

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Attraction | "Grand' Place"

Quote:
What it is: the city's central square, the first thing you'll see listed in the guidebooks What I think of it: here, my opinion differs from that of many others. Yes, it is pretty, in a picture-perfect kind of way. Yes, it is a must-see sight. Yes, all tourists flock there, and, chances are, you will, too. Keeping all that in mind, it's rather disappointing. The Town Hall is indeed remarkable, but the neo-Gothic 'La Maison du roi' (King's residence, facing the Town Hall ) feels, well, *fake*. After visiting it, I couldn't shake off the feeling that the whole city somehow lacked authenticity. My suggestion: go ahead and visit it, take all the pictures you want (bring a wide-angle lens), ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 1, 2000

Grand Place (Grote Markt)
Central Square
Brussels, Belgium 1000

Manneken Pis Fountain Sculpture

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Attraction | "Manneken-Pis"

Quote:
You may have heard of it: it's a fountain-statue of a little boy peeing. The legend (one of many) has it, that's how he helped extinguish a city fire. No comment there. Among the world's fountains, Mannekin-Pis probably has the largest wardrobe (over 600 different costumes the city makes him wear on various occasions). I confess, I only saw him once, and he was naked. Tacky, yes, but free to visit anytime, day or night, centrally located, and makes for great souvenirs: if your friends' homes are anything like mine, they'll rejoice at the idea of getting a Mannekin-Pis corkscrew--a miniature version of the statue, with the corkscrew sticking out right in the middle, in the pla...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 2, 2000

Manneken Pis Fountain Sculpture
Rue De L'etuve/Stoofstraat
Brussels, Belgium 1000

Quote:
To get to Brussels from Paris (where I was staying at the time), I took the Thalys (the high-speed TGV). I arrived in the early morning, carrying an ATM card, credit cards and a 100 Francs (about $16 at the time). This may seem a bit careless, but I travel frequently and am well aware of the fact that bank machines abound in most European cities. Even in the smallest towns I've been too, they were easy to find. What then to say of Brussels, the cosmpolitan city greeting me with a giant poster 'Brussels--the capital of Europe'? With so many European Union's governmental offices in town, I expected no problems. Sadly, I was mistaken. There was not a single ATM at the Gare du Midi (a major train stat...Read More
Quote:
As I mentioned previously, Brussels is tiny. You will find yourself walking most of the time. And in some ways, it's a shame because the city subway (underground) is certainly worth at least one visit (look? ride?). New Yorkers, especially, be prepared for a cultural shock. Yes, there are subways in the world which DO NOT smell! Seriously, though, Brussels' stations are beautifully decorated by local artists (including comic strip artists--Belgians are really big on the BD--'bande dessinée'. They even have a museum devoted to it!)

Belgian Waffles

Story/Tip

Quote:
They're called 'gaufres' in French, they are sold at every corner (very inexpensive!), and they are absolutely delightful. Now, important advice: if you get one with chocolate syrup, ask for extra napkins!

Summary, or How to do Brussels in a day

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Brussels’ central location makes it an easy day-trip (or a weekend-trip) from many major European cities, such as Paris and Amsterdam. And Brussels is reasonably small, so you can get a pretty good idea of it, even if all you have is one day. Travelers often make Brussels a stopover on a longer journey by train. If you arrive by train, store your luggage in the locker at the station, and you're ready to face the city (Ok, make sure to read my article on ATMS, first). An organized bus tour makes no sense in Brussels--more of it will be accessible to you, if you are on foot (and you will be spared the eternal sales pitch by tour guides--whether it's at a lace shop or at a chocolatier's)....Read More