18 July, 2015

Grumpy in Brussels

Maybe I had a bad day, maybe just a wrong imagination of how it would be.
Probably I was hungry and had a lack of sleep - a combination that always makes me a kind of grumpy, a little upset and even a bit quarrelsome.
Most likely it was due to the superb flight, that made anything afterwards seem like "blah".

Since I arrived at the airport in the morning, and would only get my room in Antwerp in the afternoon, I decided I'd go and have a quick look at Brussels during the day. I wonder if I did the right thing.
Put it as you might, the city didn't convince me. I've been at the Brussels Midi station last time I travelled to Antwerp, but as it's alledgely not a good neighbourhood, I thought the smell and dirt had to do with that. However, it wasn't any better at Brussels Centraal this time.
The main hall is fine, but I've never seen a train station as dirty, smelly and full of strange people lurking around. It was a bit creepy by dailight, and would probably scare the hell out of me at night. After wandering around for ages, I finally found the luggage lockers in a hidden part od the station, so my Brussels trip could begin.

One of the first things you see when leaving the central station - a view towards the old town.
I however decided to walk in the opposite direction first. My path led me past the church of St. Jacob, which lies on the Place Royale. The interior is very bright, and very Belgian. There are no major decorations on the inside, and even those that are, are mainly connected to Belgian royalty.
My next stop was Notre Dame de Sablon, a gothic masterpiece made in the 15th century, with typical outside decorations and beautiful stained windows. I'm glad I found this tip while reading one of Adria's In Flight magazines as it was probably the highlight of my Brussels trip. Definitely worth a visit.
Next to the lovely church lies a nice little park, perfect to take a break from the city. The only thing missing was water in the fountain. Bummer.
On my way to the old city center, I came past the Royal Palace and a huge park, where I finally got my water in the fountain - incredible dirty water, though.
Next on my schedule - the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, a huge gothic building atop one of Brussels' hills, overlooking the old center.
Then, one of the most praised must-sees: Grand Place with its golden decorated guild houses, the famous Town Hall and the city museum. Some of the faccades are being renovated right now, but as they pictured them on the panels, you can imagine how everything is supposed to look like. Did it impress me? Well, it's big and the details are quite fascinating, but there were way to many people to enjoy the scenery.
Another thing you may likely pass (and miss if not watching out) in Brussels: cartoons, such as this one featuring Tintin.
Last but (not) least, Manneken Pis - the little boy is rather a garden gnome than a huge statue, and if it wasn't for the masses, you could walk past the shabby street corner without even noticing him.
Of course not everything about Brussels is bad. The waffles are super-delicious.
In fact, most of my colleagues said they quite enjoyed the city, so my opinion should not scare anyone who wants to give it a try.

But overall, the best thing about Brussels was the train that took me to Antwerp :)
~ to be continued ~

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