Brussels - The capital of Europe

Trip Start Feb 15, 2008
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Trip End May 31, 2008


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Where I stayed

Flag of Belgium  , Brussels,
Thursday, May 8, 2008

That morning I left our group at the town of Bruges in Belgium and made my way into the country's capital, Brussels. I had not expected anything particularly special of this city though later discovered its significance as the seat of the European Union. Brussels is a large, modern city with many original buildings of interest and there is certainly enough to see here to occupy a good day of site seeing. Sites I visited included the European Parliament complex, the Army Museum with its Arch de Triumph style arches and the Justice Palace which covers over 260,000 square metres and is actually Europe's largest Monument. An entire neighbourhood was destroyed to build this court house and legend has it that the building's architect, Poelaert, was cursed by a witch and died a lunatic which is understandable given this building's ridiculous size. I also went to see Belgium's Schuman square; the ugly 1960/70s buildings have undergone a recent revamp though the facelift of the square's largest building has turned out to be something of a disaster with the facade now featuring glass louvers which I heard are extremely expensive to clean and require the use of special equipment which only the cousin of the project's architect can supply and apparently this has landed the architect in court. I didn't miss the famous 'Mannken Pis' statue which is simply a bronze statue of a little boy pissing. It's very small and I really don't understand why this little statue is such a big deal and seen as something of a symbol of the city. He is often dressed up in clothes to commemorate certain special days, though he was in the rump when I saw him. Belgium also has the old favourites of European cities including cathedrals, towers, parks and palaces.

Make sure you try the hot Belgian waffles which are delicious with either cream, chocolate, strawberries or the lot. Also a favourite in this city are French Fries. Now you may have thought they were invented by the Americans, but they weren't invented by the French either, it was the Belgians. I tried some at 'Antoine' which are said to be the best in the city... they were ok though nothing special. And if you're a chocoholic the Belgian chocolate shops are everywhere. I stayed at the centrally located 2GO4 hostel which is clean, spacious and has the most comfortable beds I've ever slept in at a hostel. I travelled back to London on the high speed Eurostar train the following morning before making my way out to Heathrow airport for my flight to Beijing China.
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