Arrival in Belgium

Brussels Travel Blog

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Royal Palace

I arrived in my last country of my trip through Europe.  Sure, I was flying out of Paris, but I wasn't going to spend much time there.

I learned quickly that there were three train stations in Brussels, which seemed a little excessive, as it was only a couple minutes between each.  But, no matter, it was convenient.  I made my way to the hostel and dropped off my things before heading out into the city.  It was sad to think that this was the last time I would be checking into a hostel in 2005.

The city is actually really beautiful, and it felt very old.  I was excited because they speak both Flemish and French here, so I could practice my French some more.

Brussels
  I headed downtown toward the Royal Palace, which I believed to be closed to tourists.  I saw people going inside though, and I asked the guard (in French) what was up.  He told me that the king was out of town and therefore the palace was open to visitors.

How cool!  I really lucked out there.  I took the grand tour of the palace, if I remember correctly it was free, but it was neat to see and I would have paid for it.  (Don't tell the king of Belgium that!).  From the palace I walked through the town, with my destination the Manneken Pis, or the peeing boy.  My great aunt had been to Belgium many years ago, and when she heard I was going, this was all she talked about.  "Go see Manneken Pis!"  I wondered what the big deal was.

Grand Place - Hotel de Ville on the left
  As I got close, it started pouring down rain.  I'm talking total downpour here.  It didn't last too long, but I was caught in it to get totally soaked.

After the rain stopped though, it didn't rain again for the rest of my time in Belgium.  I made it to the statue, and I guess I still wonder what the big deal was!  It was cute to see, but what is the significance of the peeing boy?  While I was in the area, I had to try a Belgian waffle.  Sure, I know it's all a touristy thing, but what did I care?  They looked really good.  I got one with strawberries and powdered sugar on it.  It WAS good!  Near the Manneken Pis is the Grand Place, which is the main city square of Brussels.  This massive, old square offers several great examples of architecture, including the Hotel de Ville with it's massive tower.

St. Michel Cathedral
  I asked about going up the tower, but unfortunately it was closed the entire time I was there!  There goes my great view of Brussels...

I continued on through Brussels and came to the St. Hubert Gallery.  Not really sure what this was by the name, I found out that it was a 19th century shopping center.  This is one of the 3 such covered shopping centers in Brussels.  The center was designed for ground level shopping, with the upper two floors for apartments.  Inside this shopping center is the Neuhaus Chocolatier, one of the oldest in the world.

From St. Hubert Gallery, I headed over to the St. Michel Cathedral, where I got some photos.  Another example of the beautiful architecture of the town.  As the day wound down, I headed back to the hostel to get directions for a supermarket.  As I wandered the streets looking for a place, I wandered into what must have been the Turkish part of town.  I could feel the eyes on my back as I passed through.  I did eventually find a shopping center, bought some food, and went back to the hostel via another route!

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Royal Palace
Royal Palace
Brussels
Brussels
Grand Place - Hotel de Ville on th…
Grand Place - Hotel de Ville on t…
St. Michel Cathedral
St. Michel Cathedral
St. Hubert Gallery
St. Hubert Gallery
Inside St. Michel Cathedral
Inside St. Michel Cathedral
Brussels
Brussels
Park in Brussels
Park in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels
Brussels
Brussels
Brussels
Brussels
Brussels
Brussels
Which one to choose?
Which one to choose?
Me with Manneken Pis
Me with Manneken Pis
In the Grand Place
In the Grand Place
In the Grand Place
In the Grand Place
Manneken Pis
Manneken Pis
Grand Place
Grand Place
Brussels
photo by: Vlindeke