4-3-19 Brussels Walking around and learning the City

On Sunday (3-31) we dropped off our rental car and took a flight from Bordeaux to Brussels. The flight was only an hour or so but the change in temperature was almost 15 degrees. We landed around midday and the wind was blowing but the skies were clear. Eventually we figured out we needed to take a shuttle (bus) into the city. Once we got there, the taxi guys were unwilling to take us to the hotel – it was only 900 meters or so and they wouldn’t have made any money from us. So off we went pulling our three bags towards our hotel.

After 900 meters (or thereabouts) we did find the hotel – Be Manos – a family owned place really geared towards the business community but also part of the Best Western chain. We were upgraded to a superior room that was nice – largish sitting room with separate bedroom.

We had decided that the first thing we would try and do is the Hop-on-Hop-Off bus tour of the City.

On our bus tour!

We splurged and bought the two-day pass thus allowing us to take both the Blue line

Janeen on our first day on the bus tour.

and the Red Line.

Here’s David!

The first day out was beautiful – clear blue skies with a high around the upper 50’s or so. From our hotel it was about 1.4km so we walked it finding our way along various business and residential streets until we ended up at the Grand Place. One interesting stop was the Pasionaria – a megaphone for migrants.

Janeen giving a shout out to the community.

This permanent artistic installation represents a monumental mouthpiece from which you can give a shout out to the City.

The Museum of the City of Brussels.
The Grand Place, towards the King’s House
From right to left- Le Roy d’Espagne, La Brouette, Le Sac, La Louve, Le Cornet, Le Renard. Starbucks is on the first floor of the third bldg from the left.
From right to left- Le Cerf, Joseph et Anne, L’Ange, La Chaloupe d’or, Le Pigeon, Le Marchand d’or
From right to left- L’Étoile, Le Cygne, L’Arbre d’or, La Rose, Le Mont Thabor

The Grand Place is the central square of Brussels and is surrounded by opulent guildhalls as well as the city’s Town Hall and the King’s House.

Here we are in the Grand Place

This is the most important tourist destination and most memorable landmark in Brussels. On our visit it was not very crowded and we found a Starbucks for some coffee. Along the way to the Grand Place we did find Mannequin Pis.

Manneken Pis dressed for graduation with Mortar Board hat and logo uniform.

Manneken Pis is a landmark bronze sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into a fountain’s basin. It was designed and put in place between 1618 or 1619. The current statue is a replica that dates from 1965 – the original is kept in the Museum of the City of Brussels.

A saxophone for Manneken Pis on the 200th birthday of Adolphe Sax 2014
Manneken Pis dressed as Dracula

The day we arrived it had on a Cap and Gown costume. It seems this guy has over 900 different costumes and they are rotated as per a schedule posted on the gates every few days.

Proof we were there!

Once we found the tour bus, we climbed to the upper level and started our Blue Line tour. This is the longer tour, parallel to the industrial Port Canal at the start and end.

The Ixelles Ponds are two freshwater ponds in the Brussels municipality of Ixelles.
Another view of the ponds of Ixelles.

After crossing over and heading north, the scenery improved, next to the royal forest and Parc de Laeken, residence for the royal family. After circling around the

Atomium – built for the 1958 Worlds Fair

Atomnium sculpture, constructed and installed in 1958 for the Brussels Worlds Fair, and now a museum, we headed south again toward the Basilica and Parc Elizabeth

Flagery Place Art Deco architecture
Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral

which acts as a mall to the church.   The Blue Line tour on a sunny day produces different views than the Red Line tour on a cloudy day, but the photos tell the story.

Basilica on the hilltop looking down the mall
World War I memorials in Europe are much more dominant than in the new world.
Waffle House – everything you could ever want could be put on top of a waffle.
Too many choices.
Museum with Brugel paintings and other regional artists
The Musical Instruments Museum is a music museum with over 8,000 instruments. The building was a Department Store , iron art deco design
A street musician just across from the Music Museum.
It was great walking along these streets on the way to post cards.
This is the Hall of Justice – the entire building was covered with scaffolding.
The Triumphal Arch and its perfectly symmetrical colonnades in the Parc du Cinquantenaire
Just one of a number of streets we zipped along on the bus tour.

Of course we had to eat while we were doing all this touring.

Janeen having a few mussels with Belgian Frites
Chez Léon Restaurant Family-owned restaurant, established in 1893, known for regional cuisine including mussels & fries.- lovely meal here.
Janeen checking out the menu, which included Chimy Trappist Belgian beer
They were kind and de-boned the sea bream for me.
Black and White sausages with apple and potato and beer
Waffle Dessert – couldn’t wait to take the picture dug in immediately.
View of the kitchen and our waiter’s backside.

Next up a visit to Bruges by coach and then on to Amsterdam by train.

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