I was introduced to Leffe when I lived in Germany in the late 1990s, and it has been one of my favorite breweries in the world ever since. Their blonde, brun, and rouge beers have become staples on my beer shelves anytime I can find it. InBev, the largest beer conglomerate in the world, now owns Leffe, but the beers are still good, and it seems their lineup is expanding.
In 2013, I found Leffe Radieuse Beer at a grocery store in Japan. This Belgian Strong Ale has the familiar taste and smell of the other Leffe beers, but is extremely strong at 8.5 percent alcohol. The beer pours a nice amber-brown color, with a thick, foamy head. The smell and flavor are heavy and diverse with n amazing mix of complex flavors.
Not the best beer in the world, but very unique.
We got an opportunity to visit Brussels with Irina and our German shepherd Asslan v Haus Schiran in August of 2000.
It was a trip to the German Shepherd Bundessiegerzuchtschau (SV BSZS) in Bremen where our Asslan v Haus Schiran got his first excellent mark (vorzuglih). It was our second trip to Germany with Asslan and I planned to visit Paris via Brussels on the way back to Moscow from Bremen.
Our visits in many European cities have never happened if our dog Asslan v Haus Schiran and his participating in dog-shows in Germany.
You can watch my 1 min 36 sec Video Asslan v Haus Schiran in Brussels out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Favorite thing: I have put links to Google Map in my tips to make it easier to find the objects mentioned, when possible to get the right position. The links are marked in italics. Unfortunately Google Map isn't very precise and too often points to other buildings than the wanted one.
Many (or most actually) of the main attractions in Brussels are closed on a Monday and so if you find yourself in Brussels with some hours to spare on a Monday you might wonder what to do with yourself.
Well, I found myself in this situation and I found a few things to do. Mondays are a good time to visit the churches of Brussels such as:
Cathédrale Sts Michel et Gudule
Eglise Notre-Dame du Sablon
and the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur out at Koekelberg.
The Atomium out at Heysel is also open on Mondays.
Back in the city the Musée de la Brasserie is also open on Mondays. All the usual souvenir shops and most of the restaurants, cafes and bars will also be open on a Monday.
The city of BRUSSELS is the capital of Belgium and also the largest urban area.
Brussels has grown from a 10th century fortress town into a metropolis of mora then one million inhabitants.
Since the end of WWII Brussels has been a main center for internation politics and is the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - NATO.
Brussels is known for its waffles, chocolate (Neuhaus, Leonidas & Godiva) , Belgian Frites ( NOT french fries), and its numerous types of beers.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Hans and I had the opportunity to visit Brussels for the evening as we had a 15 hour layover. IanGrace (kylian74), was kind enough to offer to pick us up at our B & B and take us to the old town of Brussels. IanGrace, along with her Boys - Werner (hubby) and Kyle (son)- showed us a bit of Brussels for the length of time we had. It was evening, so the Grand Place was absolutely beautiful all lit up. We got to see the Town Hall, The King's House, the Guildahalls, Mannekin Pis, Galeries Royales St. Hubert and the Rue de Bouchers. We also had some Belgian Frites and Werner bought me a box of the lovely Godiva Chocolates.
All in all we had a great time. Thanks again IanGrace, Werner and Kyle. You're the best.
With its numerous cafe's and restaurants, offering all types of local and international dishes, RUE DE BOUCHERS is one of the most famous pedestrian streets of Brussels.
In the medieval ages, this was the street of meat sellers (Bouchers) hence the name Rue de Bouchers.
As we strolled along this narrow street, we were constantly touted by the restaurants, to come into their place to have dinner. There are so many, it's perhaps the only way to attract customers. Also the cobbled street was not even and had many bricks missing, making it necessary to watch your step the whole time. You would think that such a famous street would make repairs to the bricks. Or maybe it's part of its charm???
Sorry, I don't have any pictures of it - too busy watching my step. hehe!
Favorite thing: Called Pasionaria, the large speaking pipe is located on Stalingrad Avenue where it meets Boulevard du Midi. This is about 10 minutes walk North of the Bruxelles Gare du Midi / Brussel-Zuid train station on the West side of the tracks. On several occasions I saw people blow or speak into the horn but the traffic and street noises tended to dampen any sound coming out. If you have a great pair of lungs and are passing by, give it a try and let Brussels know what you’re thinking.
Somehow you are probably not surprised I have a story about flying American dogs and the celebration of a small child urinating in a public square. Yes, my one and only night in Brussels started with drinks in a bar and my tour guide telling me that he would show me and one of my friends a special piece of Brussels history. We were wondering what museum or castle we might see. Instead, after several hefty Belgian beers he took us into a small square and said something like “Wow! Look at that!”.
“That” was Mannequin Pis. A small bronze depiction of a little boy with his winky out and peeing. Why they thought this was so great in 1388 mystifies me to this day.
So, underwhelmed and not yet unsteady on our feet we invited our (now much less respected) guide to follow us into the nearest bar where we could here music. As we entered I heard an American voice introduce themselves over the microphone. “We are the Flying Dogs! Well that’s La Chienne Avion (French) to you!” And the band began to wail out some serious rock n' roll.
So now the gap in my French ‘vocabulaire’ was complete and we enjoyed proper Belgian history, culture and beer manufacturing so much that I don’t remember the rest.
Sometimes I wonder why there are moments in my life where I hate everything that is compulsory (on VT the pros, cons & nutshell for example). I'm sure that I have revolutionaries among my ancestors.
How should I otherwise explain that for me the best moment of the history of Belgium is the revolution of 1830 against the Dutch power.
The congress of Vienna in 1815, after the defeat of France, unified, without consultation of the populations, the Belgian territories to those of Netherlands with at the head Willem I of Oranje
This forced marriage was bound to fail because of incompatibility. There were problems of language, religion, domination of the Dutch people on the state administration and the absolutist tendencies of King Willem I.
It is during the summer of 1830 that the dissatisfaction of the Belgian working class, the catholic bourgeoisie, the liberal bourgeoisie lead to their alliance and to the upraise in front of the refusal of king Willem I to accede to their demands.
The sending of Dutch troops to Brussels provoked the outburst.
In Brussels the "garde bourgeoise" took the weapons. Volunteers streamed from all parts of Belgium to support the uprising in a big patriotic surge. This "garde bourgeoise" is well armed, contained numerous experienced servicemen who fought with the armies of Napoleon. They forced the Dutch troops to retire.
So began our independence with at first a temporary government, the elaboration of a constitution, the choice of Leopold de Saxe-Coburg-Gotha as first king in 1831 under a parliamentary monarchy regime.
I would have liked to participate to this revolution because it began on an opera aria of the French composer Auber: "La Muette de Portici" exalting the patriotism. It is on the air " Amour sacré de la patrie " that the uprising began in Brussels.
A revolution beginning on an opera aria is rather original in the history of nations.
The Belgian revolution of 1830, although there were approximately 500 deaths among the patriots, was much less bloodthirsty than the French revolution of 1789. King Willem I was not beheaded; the Belgians had no guillotine!
May be you understand now why as a genuine Brusseleir I am a rebel.
Favorite thing: When walking around in Brussels you can see signs like the one in my picture here and there. They show the directions to the nearby tourist attractions. Unfortunately the distances to the attractions were missing, but they were still helping me when I got confused in the streets around Grand Place.
In front of Galeries Royales de St. Hubert we saw 3 street artists. The first one was someone playing with a hula hoop and the second and third ones were playing an instrument/singing. Of the 3, the third one was the most entertaining, singing songs by Eric Clapton and other known artists.
Not too far from there, on Rue au Marché aux Herbs, I found an AIDS awareness mural that says the following text:
"Time goes by, but not AIDS. I get informed, I protect myself, I am solidary."
Belgium has two main official languages (and a host of lesser ones including Walloon) these being Flemish (or Dutch) and French. I've heard, perhaps apocryphal, stories about Flemish speakers refusing to speak French even though they are bilingual (and vice versa).
It was quite wierd getting the train from Adinkerke back into Brussels as the train's in-carriage signage was wholly in Flemish until it passed Gand St Pierre when the display became bilingual. So maybe if the train is pretending not to be bilingual until having passed Gent the stories are actually true??
...these bars are worth popping into!
There's a little row of modern terraced bars on the plaza outside the Eurostar arrivals at Midi station. If you are heading elsewhere by train or bus and have a bit of time between connections then drop by. You'll find prices very reasonable (1.50 Euro for a coffee, less than 3 Euro for a beer), service friendly and ashtrays on the tables inside and out!!
They also serve what looks like OK food, and once again at reasonable prices.
A small warning though - if you are tight timewise for your connections order at the bar!
Roughly in the centre of the main concourse, where the ING bank thing is and just round the corner from the International departures area for Eurostar and the Thalys reception, you'll find both manned and automatic left luggage facilities. These are available 24 hours a day with a small locker costing 3 Euros per day whilst the manned office charges 3.80 per item regardless of size.
Friendly guys in the manned office but note that they won't give you change for the lockers.
During my last trip I had to make a couple of work calls back to the UK and had initially intended using a payphone. I was at Midi railway station and the public phones there all seemed to be card-only, rather than cash. Then I noticed this place which is located on the concourse beside the exit to where the underpass bus stops are.
Friendly helpful guy, asked whether I wanted internet or phone, and telling him phone said to use any one and pay afterwards. My four calls of about three minutes each came to a total of 1.50 Euro which actually worked out cheaper than if I'd been making the same calls on a public payphone here in the UK. I even got a receipt!
So if you are around Midi and need to use a phone or the internet, search it out.
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