Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Brussels: A day trip

On the third day of our Antwerp stay we followed Olivier to Brussels. He was attending a business convention. From the parking lot next to where Olivier's business convention took place, we walked to the Atomium. A giant structure representing an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times. Well, this was built way ahead of string theory of course. In fact it was built the year I was born. I wonder if there is a structure resembling the string theory too. Anyhow, we did not take a look inside the Atomium. I'm sure there are exhibition panel explaining all about its history, as well the Expo58, but for a traveler on a budget we just went around admiring the Atomium from the ground. Having enough of it, we walked to Heizel metro station and took a metro train straight to the University of Brussels Campus, on the South West of the city.

The Erasmus station is right in the campus ground, no more change to a tram  ride as of the mid 90s, the year I did a post-grad in Statistic and Epidemiology at the university. I wanted to show Digital my school, so we walked around, and toured the lecture halls, took a look at my old classroom and met some of the current students then. The campus looked cold and grey in the late of February. Hoping for some color and activity, we headed back to the city, this time to the Grand Place. Grand Place looked just like how I remembered it. Light streaming out of shops' windows. Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate everywhere. We bought some and eat them while walking around.

What I enjoyed most of Brussels is its Lilliputian feel. A map with a route, all within walking distance.  From Manneken Pis statue, to the Grand Place,  to the Central Station. We were to meet Minny of Luxembourg in Brussels, and waited for her arrival by train at the Central Station. The last time we met up with Minniy was in Las Vegas, at another get together in 2006.

Walking towards the Grand Place

The Grand Place

Happy Digi ... looking at what was ahead of him

Our happy food - Ice cream, waffles and chocolate

From the Central Station, we walked back to the Grand Place for a more close-up sightseeing. By this time Digi had a good idea of the places in and around the Grand Place. Hungry again, we decided for a lunch at La Rose Blance Restaurant, right at  the Grand Place itself. A really nice restaurant with a big fireplace right in the dining room area that warmed us straight away. Minny ordered beef tartare. Wow, I was excited and took a spoonful of it. It was OK but I had too much preconception of beef tartare courtesy of Mr Bean's famous beef tartare antic in my head to truly enjoy it. Some other time maybe. As for Digi, he made a good choice of a baked fish with lemon sauce, and I had a steak, medium. Meanwhile we cheered Minny on her brave lunch.

Central Station, Brussels

Yea - we caught up with Minny.

O la la beef tartare

After lunch we walked away from the Grand Place toward South. Minny was looking for a book shop that she remembered from an earlier visit. We came across a demonstration supporting the Arab Spring (that was going on at the time), it was for Libya then. Minny, Digi and I stopped and watched the demonstrators for awhile then continued on with our walk. At that time a new history had just begun and I remembered hoping, please something good  be out of all this. As we now know, it was really only the beginning.

Arab Spring in Brussels

Underground City, Brussels

And my shoes, one of them gave up. They were my daily walking shoes, not new and I thought not too old. We had walked the street of Paris, three days; a day full of Antwerp, and almost at the end of our day in Brussels. And before that, Kuala Lumpur of course. My shoe sole just got separated from the top part, except a little on the back that was still attached. I theorized it could be caused by the sudden weather change, hot and humid (relatively dry) to cold and wet. I was forced to buy a new pair of shoes. So as Minny and Digi browsed the books at a bookshop, I run (err I meant to say shuffled) to a shopping mall nearby and quickly bought my new walking shoes for 29 Euros. It was just a simple pair of rubber and canvas shoes. They would do.

After we said our goodbye to Minny at the Central Station, we took another Metro train to Heizel, and walked back to the Atomium, to where Olivier was waiting for us, and ferried us back to our Antwerp base camp.

That was one big day of Brussels we had.
Alternative Foodie


  1. Wow! You have been everywhere, it sounds like. How many countries have you visited so far?

  2. Hi Laura, thank you for visiting. More countries to be visited actually, just most of Asean countries, a few of Europe's, Australia, then USA & Canada - maybe 15 countries so far. Have not been to any country of South America and Africa, so we still have still a long way to go ;)

  3. looks like a lovely place and a wonderful trip!

  4. I enjoyed the tour of Brussels. Thanks for the trip. I've only visited states across America, The Bahamas, and Mexico. Someday,though, someday! Here's hoping.
    I'm an A to Z fellow Challenger.
    Kathy (794 on the list)

    1. Hugs back Kathy, and thank you for visiting, now we can find you and read your story. ;)

  5. Saludos from A-Z. What an interesting blog! When you mentioned Brussels was chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate, it became a "must see" place for me :)

    1. It is where Belgian chocolate are made, Shawn ;) Imagine drinking black coffee with melting dark creamy chocolate in your mouth. Opps bad me eh.

  6. Now I really regret not exploring Brussels when I lived right next door to it.

    1. Where were you then Shaiha? Perhaps another time you'll be back to Brussels. Thank you for visiting us on our page too, Shaiha.

  7. Belgium looks like a very beautiful and interesting place! I always think of the chocolate. :)

    1. Chocolate, waffles, dolls and lace too, Wendy ;)