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  • penumbra's Profile Photo

    Toot your horn

    by penumbra Written Oct 13, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

    Speaking Pipe
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  • DAO's Profile Photo

    Mannequin Pis and the Flying Dogs !

    by DAO Updated Oct 7, 2011

    Favorite thing:
    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.

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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Vive la Révolution!

    by breughel Written Aug 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: 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.

    Belgian Revolution 1830.
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  • Crazywoman's Profile Photo

    Road signs for tourists

    by Crazywoman Updated May 29, 2010

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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.

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  • marielexoteria's Profile Photo

    Street art(ists)

    by marielexoteria Written Mar 16, 2010

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: 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."

    AIDS awareness mural Hula hoop artist Another street artist The best of them all
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  • johngayton's Profile Photo

    A Little Wierdness Of Language

    by johngayton Written Oct 4, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: 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??

    In Flemish In French
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  • johngayton's Profile Photo

    If You've Got A Bit Of Time Between Trains At Midi

    by johngayton Written Oct 1, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: ...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!

    Bars at Midi Railway Station
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  • johngayton's Profile Photo

    Left Luggage at Midi Station

    by johngayton Written Oct 1, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: 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.

    Left Luggage Location at Midi
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  • johngayton's Profile Photo

    Phone Calls and Internet Connection

    by johngayton Written Oct 1, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: 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.

    Concepts Telecom at Midi Station
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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Weather forecast.

    by breughel Written Sep 6, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: On the VT travel forum a repeated question is that of the weather to be expected on a planned trip.
    In Brussels, Belgium, with an Atlantic climate, vacations are often spoiled by rain.

    For bRUSSELS, BELGIUM I use www.meteo.be (in 4 languages encl. English) from the Institut Royal Météorologique.
    I also use the weather forecast from the Belgian (francophone) television www.rtbf.be/meteo (in French).
    Good at short term. Not reliable at more than 3 days.
    The weather is so changing in Belgium that nobody is able to tell you if it will rain the day after tomorrow or not. So never visit Belgium without taking your umbrella. You might leave your hotel in the morning with sunshine and get rain in the afternoon!

    Fondest memory: The rain.

    Unforeseen snow near Brussels in October.

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  • Maurizioago's Profile Photo

    The Comic Strip Route.

    by Maurizioago Updated May 23, 2009

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: Here and there you can spot some big mural on many buildings and walls around the city. They are more than 30. These represent many cartoons characters. Probably these paintings were created to improve some areas in Brussels.

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  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo

    Be on the lookout for Belgian Cartoon - TINTIN!

    by jumpingnorman Updated Mar 28, 2009

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: When in Belgium, be on the lookout for pictures of TINTIN, a famous Belgian cartoon character who has recently been on newspapers/magazines (2009) because Steven Spielberg has become interested in making a movie about him. I was actually reading about this while I was having my hair cut by my Russian barber today!

    George Remi created this character who first appeared in the newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle on 10 January 1929. Tintin is actually a young Belgian reporter who is aided in his adventures from the beginning by his faithful fox terrier dog Snowy and later accompanied by the brash, cynical and grumpy Captain Haddock, the bright but hearing-impaired Professor Calculus) and others…The slapstick humour, colourful illustrations, along with the satire of the political and ciltural milieu makes this wonderful comic appealing to both kids and adults.

    My twins by Manneken Pis, Brussels, Belgium

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  • Mikebb's Profile Photo

    Festivals & Events

    by Mikebb Written Jan 17, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: It is always a bonus to arrive at a tourist destination and find a festival co-incides with your stay. This happened to us whilst in Brussels and we enjoyed watching the parade of locals dressed in period dress for the Beer Festival held each September.

    Brussels hosts Festivals and Events on most moths of the year. Some of interest are:

    Arts Musica www.arsmusica.be
    Serres Royales www.monarchy.be
    International Festival Of Fantastic Film www.biff.org
    Zinneke Parade www.zinneke.org
    Brussels 20 km Run www.20kmdebruxelles.be
    Belgian Beer Weekend www.visitbelgium.com/beer.htm
    Comics Festival www.comicsfestivalbelgium.com

    Beer Festival Parade Beer Festival Parade - Women In Period Dress Band Leading Beer Festival Parade Learned Men Beer Festival
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  • Mikebb's Profile Photo

    Rub The Bronze Statute For Good Luck.

    by Mikebb Written Jan 11, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Favorite thing: There are many buiuldings, fine architecture, historical items etc etc in the Grand Place, however tucked away in front of a building close to Rue C Buls Stratt is a beautiful bronze statute of Everard 't Serclaes who was murdered defending Brussels in the 14th century.

    Legend says that if you rub the bronze arm of his statute it should bring you luck. The arm shines bright where countles tourists rub his arm. It worked for us as the constant rain ceased by the next morning.

    Everard 't Serclaes Bronze Statute
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  • DanielF's Profile Photo

    A bit of History

    by DanielF Updated Aug 1, 2008

    Favorite thing: Brussels is not very old by European standards. At least, it does not have the pedigree that other Roman or Greek founded cities can boast. Although its origins are unclear, it is considered that the city was founded in 979 A.D. on different islands in the small Senne River. Nevertheless, there are no written references of Brussels until well into the 11th century. Today, there is nothing left of the former swamps and all the arms and canals of the river Senne are either dried up or voulted. This lack of glamorous waterways makes that Brussels holds no comparison with more glamorous neighbouring cities like Paris or Amsterdam.

    Brussels gained enormous prosperity during the Middle Ages thanks to the textile industry, becoming eventually the most important urban centre in Brabant (over Antwerp, Mechlin and Leuven). It was chosen as the capital of the Low Countries by Charles V and, since then, has had a tormented history, being handed from one European power to another.

    Brussels was severely bombed by the troops of Louis XIV of France in 1695, which resulted in the old city practically being levelled and rebuilt in the style that we still see today in the Grand Place and its surroundings.

    Since 1831, Brussels is the capital of the independent Belgium, with a new wave of grand architectural construction that aimed at putting it in the same league as the other European capitals. After the World War, it has also become the seat of many international organisations, the EU in particular, which make of it one of the centres of international policy in the world.

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