We travelled by Eurostar from Waterloo, arriving at Bruxelles-Midi quite late on a Friday night. What we didn’t know was that this station is quite a distance from the centre of Brussels (Grand Place) and a ride on the Brussels Metro was in order. At the late hour we arrived, the trains were infrequent (or as we began to think whilst waiting in the Subway, non-existent) but eventually one did arrive with a name we recognised on the front and we boarded, fingers crossed.
On arrival at our destination stop, thankfully we were armed with a street map as once out of the subway we were completely disorientated and we were still a short walk from our hotel – The Hotel Amigo.
Checking in was no problem even at this late hour, and once we had inspected our extremely luxurious room we decided to take a walk to see if we could find any signs of nightlife. I think we walked about for around 45 minutes before we decided there really wasn’t any outside of the Grand Place and we headed back to our hotel for the night.
Saturday morning was unfortunately slightly wet and dull, and even a little chilly. We made the best of it and headed out to see a few sights. The Grand Place is very impressive and architecturally quite wonderful. Just off the Grand Place we saw the famous “Mannekin Pis” (Peeing Boy) which had been dressed up (as he often is) for some occasion or other. We witnessed a procession making its way to the Mannekin, whereupon plastic beakers were handed out filled with…. you guessed it, pee! Actually, we believe that some clever chap had hooked up a beer barrel to the little chaps dangly bits; I think you get the picture. Very odd indeed!
We walked for miles around the city seeing the various sites that our guide book informed us should be of great interest, but to be honest, we were just a little under whelmed by it all.
For lunch we of course had the customary Moules Frites, washed down with a finest Belgian Beer or two. I can’t remember more than two, but then again, most of us wouldn’t!
It did brighten up in the afternoon and we made our way to the shopping district for a look at Belgian daily life and of course, for some Chocolates to take home (as presents of course. If you didn’t get yours it’s because some of them melted in the train on the way back, honest!).
During our walk earlier in the day, we had eyed up a restaurant (Aux Armes de Bruxelles) we thought would be a good bet for dinner and we headed here just in time to grab one of the last available tables. We were not to be disappointed and it rounded off the hectic day quite nicely.
Sunday morning was much brighter (though still cold) and we decided to try to hunt down the Atomium.
The transportation system in Brussels is a little confusing to say the least and we didn’t actually know whether we were on the right tram until we arrived! (and it was a very long way).
There was an exhibition running in the Atomium of the 1950’s (which is when it was built for the World’s Fair in 1958). We took great delight in recognising various kitchen items that our parents still use to this day.
Our trip back to the Grand Place was a round about one…. as I said, the transportation system is a little confusing! Oh well, at least we did get to see a little more of Brussels, and our feet didn’t suffer this time either. Betting that the tram would have to go full circle, we just stayed on it until we got to a station that was on our fairly limited map.
We just had time for lunch before we needed to head back to the Eurostar terminal for the journey home.
To be honest, Brussels doesn’t have a lot going for it. There are certainly better places in Belgium to visit, Bruges being one of the finer examples.
We are glad that we went, and did have a great time, but both agree that more than one and a half days would be too long here! Others may of course disagree.