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.
We splurged and bought the two-day pass thus allowing us to take both the Blue line
and the Red Line.
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.
This permanent artistic installation represents a monumental mouthpiece from which you can give a shout out to the City.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Of course we had to eat while we were doing all this touring.
Next up a visit to Bruges by coach and then on to Amsterdam by train.