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.
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.
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!
Though I went back to Belgium as part of a larger trip four years later I somehow never made it to Brussels again. I made a base in medieval Ghent and explored Bruges and Antwerp in more detail. Brussels just didn’t fit in. So it was with great anticipation that I was to return to this fair city with my new wife on my most recent trip to Belgium. It would unfortunately be for only one day on our way back to Germany but I’d get some reaffirmation of my initial pleasant surprise and she would get a glimpse however small of its wonders.
Many plans were made for this all too short day and when our connection from Ghent ran late it became readily apparent that a mere fraction of them would be realized. Factor in the dismal cold weather and the winter sundown hour at that latitude of about four in the afternoon and you can imagine how the word tease came into existence. After securing our room it was already lunchtime so off we set for Spinnekopke, where beer and beer infused cuisine meet head on and splendidly. Both were great but perhaps too long and drawn out a choice with so little time at our disposal. Since the great Cantillon Brewery was in the neighborhood we decided to make our way there before heading to the center of the city. Though not a big fan of brewery tours or even visits per se, this brewer of lambic is quite special and even Doreen was intrigued. That they are amongst our favorite beers in Belgium should be taken into consideration too. The small tour was well timed as we were there when the early incarnation of the nectar came flooding into the open fermenters that define true brewing. Sampling some of the wares with head brewer Jean VAN ROY, one of the great giants in Belgian brewing was only the icing on an already formidable cake. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Fondest memory: The walk back into the city was cold and by the time we got to the central square nightfall was upon us. There was a festival of lights in full procession to mark the Christmas season. Though on the garish surreal side it brought tourists by the hordes upon the square and did make taking some photographs marginally better than would have been possible on less illuminated buildings. Soon the cold and crowds got the better of us and we were off on a mad tour of cafes that would dizzy all but the heartiest yet somehow leave me short of all those I’d like to cram in! Art Nouveau, Old Flemish Brown Cafes, modern beer emporium, there was no shortage of styles. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Brussels is well-provided for in terms of directional signs to the major tourist sights. For instance if you find yourself in the Grand Place without a map you can easily make your way to the Mannekin Pis and other nearby attractions.
This doesn’t mean that I’d recommend that you do try to find your way around without a map, but it does mean that you don’t have to keep getting it out and referring to it, making city walks pleasanter. In my view you want to be spending your time looking around you not down at the map – even though I confess I’m a bit of a map addict ;)
The mostly bought - apart from chocolate - souvenir in Brussels is Lace. Plenty of shops sell different kinds of lace and tapestries. Very nice souvenir... but I still prefer the chocolate ;-)
You'll find those shops as well round the Grand' Place next to the chocolate shops !!
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.
This is one city you have to spend some time in to see. It's spread out and there's more to see than you might initially think. There are also lots of great cafes to relax in and try a great variety of beer. Oh, the food scene is not too shabby either!
Fondest memory: My first trip to Brussels was not really a trip there per se but more of a trip through. I was a 19 year old college sophomore and was on my virgin trip to Europe. I was taking in all the requisite sights and I must say Brussels or anywhere else in Belgium was not one of them. In fact, I am not sure I had ever heard of Belgium at that point in my life. No, I was too concerned with London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and maybe catching Oktoberfest in Munich to give anything else much thought. At any rate, there I was in Brussels Central Station on my way from London to Amsterdam waiting for my change of trains. I could easily have spent a few hours in the city and gone on a later train but the idea never entered my mind. In fact, I never even ventured outside the station to even get a glimpse of what it looked like. Brussels conjured only one thing in my mind and that was Brussel Sprouts, something I was none too fond of. With a name like that, it must be a pretty ugly city I must have thought. Besides I’d never heard anything good, actually at all, about it so how amazing could it be? (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Fondest memory: About twenty years later, I had become quite the beer aficionado and having discovered Belgian beers at specialty pubs in the US I was now hankering to sample some on their own turf. I made plans to meet some friends from the UK at the 24 Hours of Beer festival in Antwerp. I had done my first swing through Bavaria and the Czech Republic earlier that fall and was currently staying with a friend in Southern Germany so all I had to do was jump on a train to Brussels. Of course, this time I wouldn’t be as foolish to rush through a city train station without some exploration just because its namesake vegetable didn’t appeal to me. I built a couple days exploration into the trip prior to the festival to take in the sights and cafes of the Belgian capital. I was pleasantly surprised to find a fascinating array of architectural styles, incredible old world cafes, savory local dishes and a seemingly endless variety of beers to try. I couldn’t get over how stupid I’d been as schoolboy on his first trip to Europe, intent to see only the things I’d been told to see. (continued below in Fondest Memory)
Fondest memory: We met up with old VT friend Cuqui in Bier Circus where numerous beers lubricated our tongues and force us to seek refurbishment at a local kabob house en route to the lunacy of Delirium. This new world café was new even to me heralding not only 2000 beers but also what seemed 2000 under age drinkers! The adept barman juggled not only the many patrons but perhaps more amazingly the huge beer menu without error as I found beer after beer I’d been “searching for” for days. Though I’d probably have stayed far beyond what I should with a mid-morning train back to Düsseldorf, my more sensible companions forced me into making one final choice. Of course, I opted for a 750 ml bottle of a strong Trappist Ale. I see pictures of myself enjoying it now and wonder how I managed to look so sane when depraved would have been a better estimation of my state at the time. Alas, we finished every last drop with some Trappist cheese for good measure (and likely much needed sustenance despite a kabob on our way there) and set off to find our way back to our Pension. We insisted on getting our local friend close to her home en route and wound up doing a bit more walking than we might have otherwise. But it was the least we could do; she’d have to work the next day. All we’d have to do is take a train to Cologne, try numerous versions of the local Kolsch beer and then head to Düsseldorf for some their local Alt beer. Come to think of it, maybe it was us that had more “work” to do than our comrade the next day. But who can argue when one loves their work as much as I do and each day brings me to another beery paradise.
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.
This is the Th??tre Royal de La Monnaie - De Munt
The building is nice enough, I'm sure you agree. The square it sits in is a tad ugly: another unfortunate victim of Brusselisation. It?s place in Belgian history is incomparable.
Belgium is a country was established as a constitutional monarchy in 1831. This rather late decision to unite quite a diverse society came about in a fit of collective consciousness of 19th century Opera buffs. Honest! It's true!
There they were, sitting happily watching the all but forgotten La muette de Portici (The Mute Girl of Portici) by the equally obscure Abert (father of French Grand opera as it happens) when the rousing revolutionary songs of fisherman Masiniello and his buddies, fed up by their tyranical lords, drove the intelligentia of the city to pour out of the opera house and do a bit of rabble-rousing.
Fondest memory: Don't you just think that's just wonderful? A whole nation achieves a common identity despite major differences in language and culture.. and it all started at an evening at the opera!
The building is superbly historical and beautiful inside. Guided tours are possible.
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."
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
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