Tours & Walks, Brussels
The tour starts at the central station and takes you to all the main landmarks of Brussels. The bus stops 13 times at the different places and you can get on and off the bus as much as you want.
Fondest memory: I made the tour on a sunny November saturday. I sat in the open upper part as I didn't want the dirty windows on my pictures. But, jesus, after 1h30 it was quite cold! If you do it in the next months be sure to have proper winter clothes on. I'm still wondering that I didn't get a cold ...
Don't miss this area: les Marolles - Marollen. It is the area beneath the Justice palace. You can access there either via Rollebeek street (coming from the downtown area) either from the Palais de Justice. Just take the lift to reach Rue de l'Epée then Rue Haute and here you are.
The area used to be the home of the real Brusseliers, more often, small people. It used to have its own dialect, hence the 3rd names on their plaque. A mix of French and Dutch. To the initial Marollians were adjoined Spanish workers who came to work in Belgium mining. That was decades ago. The area was then totally inhabited by the working class.
For sure, it has changed since some parts have been renovated so that only the rich can afford living there. Real Marolliens have left the area to make place to EC execs on one hand, and to poor foreign communities, on the other hand: African (both North & Subsaharian). The latter live in the social housing. The most famous is the set with names of workers. The street-names there indicate the types of crafts once practised here. For instance, Rue des Orfèvres (goldsmiths) and des Chaisiers (chair-makers). Also, Rue des tonneliers, des Charpentiers (carpenters)...
Beneath Rue Blaes, the area is rather poor with those buildings that may have deserved some coating since years ago. Still, they are there: greyish, dirtyish & dusty with families living in there...
Fondest memory: Still, It is a charming place to stroll in. You will see the many comic strip murales while browsing around. Check the many ascending and descending streets as you walk in either Rue Blaes or Rue Haute.
Then, have a stop in the small eateries there, to have soups, tartines au fromage blanc and the very Marollian cuisine & Spanish restaurants. OK, I have experienced it in De skieven architek and it was perfect (see my restaurant tip). For other restaurants, you'll have to wait till I can try it there in La Grande porte and Les Petits oignons.
The pubs and estaminets are rather specific: one with live music, another with masks on the walls...etc.
Also, don't forget the flea market that is held daily on Place du Jeu de balle, in the morning (till 1 pm). Still, the Sunday market is the most important (till 1 pm).
Apart from the flea market, the area is the place where to find antiques, second hand shops & libraries. With neighbouring Sablon, they form the antiques Mecca in Brussels (cf. shopping tip).
It is always a pleasure to wander in Rue Blaes (that forms with Rue Haute the main streets of the district), entering the many antiques shops with their delicate, sometimes well-worn items. With Eva (diageva), we had spent some hours in there, entering the shops, talking to antiquaires, just browsing around the tables, displaying paintings, trinkets, lamps, books.. whatever...
The other side of the church was spot lighted in BLUE very Nice at night!..probably it's because chistmas, it caught attentions to many people.
Fondest memory: Haha...I remember at the side of this church there were an open male toilet for urinating, you can see them facing the wall while using it... but it was a toilet I witnessed. Since it's an open air, the smell was hell! I I just don't know what the idea behind of putting a toilet like that, I should be mistaken for a temporay one during xmas but I think no.
Favorite thing: Belgium is not only known for it's chocolate and waffles. Comic books are also a big part of their culture. To celebrate this fact, walls all over the city have been painted to commemerate one of the Belgian comics. I've seen 3 during my stay in Brussels, but there are many more. You can even do a Comic Art Tour and try to see as many painted walls as you can. Go to this website: http://www.brusselsinternational.be/en/comic.htm
This area is where the christmas market in Brussels. I believe this one is in the ' Vismarkt ' a short walk from the Grand Place and Bourse. Thanks to Norali a Vt friend who showed me the xmas market...I got wrong info before and now I found it right!
Fondest memory: I like the carousel although it's for kids...well, it wasn't an ordinary one, isn't it antique Norali?
The first time I saw the church was in daylight, I was together with Norali a VT friend who toured me around the area of Vismarkt, Brussel where this church nearby. Actually I was more attracted to the architecture inside rather than the pink spoted at night.
The following day, I returned to the same place and took this picture, that time was dark enough to view the church in pink.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of this place?...Hmmm, the churrus stall where I bougth my hot choco and Norali found her first taste of Churrus a typical spanish delicacy, then on the right side of the pic was a stall of belgian fries/specialties. I bought a pack of fries and shared it with Norali. The nice thing is, I am thankful to discover the place and just the next day I went back here with hubby, Kyle and my sister.
While you are enjoying the christmas market around like tasting foods, not only belgians but there are always chance to find food specialties from other countries.The very popular 'gluwhien', hot chocolates and Jenever are just around the corner.
If kids are bored hopping around, put them in the carousel, I'm sure they will appreciate it, there was a giant ferries wheel too.
Fondest memory: Hanging out with the family during xmas season is always the best thing.
It happens... forgot the map at home, tourist information centre is not open yet, so you think you will get lost in Brussels?
Well you are lucky as Brussels made since a couple of years a big effort to add direction panels all over the place!
They are very helpful for the lost tourists and not-Bruxelois(e) like me `-)
Fondest memory: Trying to read maps :)
Leaving the Gare du Nord on the first day of my first visit in Brussels I was excited to see everything. There was one sight I would never have expected in a million years, but it drew me back. Just to make sure.
Looking out the window of the car I saw something different--from anything I'd ever seen in the USA, even at the movies--a mannequin in a window wearing printed bra and underpants. At that time, in the USA we had colored ones, but not printed.
Suddenly the "mannequin" moved. It took me by surprise and it wasn't until we passed a couple more windows with moving mannequins before I realized that what I had been seeing were actually prostitutes sitting in the windows. I was so intrigued that I went back another day to take pictures.
That street was full of store front windows with hookers wearing nothing but underwear. As soon as they saw my camera they either hid behind the curtian or 'gave me the finger. I thought that was pretty funny. Obviously, I was not detered.
The main reason for going to Brussels was to meet several Belgian friends who lived near. We spent most of our time at the Grand Place eating and drinking, so I saw more of this lovely town square thann of the other sites.
One thing I really enjoyed and would suggest is to see the city from a rooftop. Somewhere near the gare du nord there is a parking lot at the top of a tall building. The view is worth the price of parking your car. If you don't use a car, pretend you're going up to retrieve your car and check out the view. Quite a charming city to see.
There seemed to be quite a few interesting things to see/do within walking distance of the north train station, shopping, the Grand Place, Manniken Pis, chocolate shops and lots of places to have a meal/drink.
Fondest memory: Of course, my Fondest Memory of Brussels was meeting old friends.
However, I'd have to say that the prostitutes sitting in the windows, near gare du nord will stay in my memory forever!
on our way to the central place ("Grote Markt") we passed by these beautiful little streets, full of souvenir shops and restaurants. Here you´ll find the famous belgican choclate and all other typical stuff.
In the background of the picture are already buildings of the Grand Place.
BRUSSELS IS THE CITY FOR LOVERS OF ALL KIND
Maybe it does not have the romanticism of Paris or Venice, but it has its charm and a lot to offer for the body and mind: art, museums, food, beers, sights, outdoors...
Keep all your senses alert and the city will enchant you in a surprising way!
I will open-up my heart and present you some of my favourite and -dear- places I still like to go to.
I've made several trips into Brussels as I mostly stayed in other cities while in Belgium. Most of these "trips into the city" were to met with various friends on various days. Each friend took me to see things and their choice of touring was interesting and different from the others.
I hadn't actually prepared to be in Brussels except to change trains. Now I wish I had researched this city before going there so I'd know of all the interesting things to do and see, and then maybe I would have been able to see more of it's many offerings.
Fondest memory: My first time in Brussels, I learned that I had to go to the post office to make a long distance call. That was a first for me. While at the post office, I saw that they sold Lottery tickets. So, my fondest memory is that I did play the lottery and I WON!! (3,50.00BF)
It wasn't really a big win, but I didn't care about the amount, just the fact that I won. These unique, little surprises are the type of moments that I most enjoy while traveling.
Favorite thing: If you don't know what are the must-see sites in the city and have just limited time to explore, the best thing to do is to take of the guided bus tours which take you around the city. There is information about the specific sites and their significance. It helps you get the bearings of the city and make the decision on what you would like to spend more time seeing. Besides, it's lovely to just go around and take a quick look of the pretty city that Brussels is.
OF COURSE THERE ARE SPECIAL SHOPPING AREAS but walking through the smaller streets the chance to see this wondrous things and many others....is far greater and I for one love seeing such surprises!
The bike in the photo is completely made of ROTAN, even the saddle and the handle bars, everything except the wheels.....
It was perfectly done, using thick and thing, light and darks pieces of bamboo!
I had to take this photograph.
BTW the bike was in front of a shop selling ROTAN/BAMBOO furniture which I love very much.
Fondest memory: Just walking there, keeping my eyes wide open and my mind alert.....
Having an ice cream in the summer on a terrace and a hot chocolate in winter in a snug and cosy place.....
Talk with the friendly people, lots of them here speaking my language, my Dutch, although Brussels is a FRENCH enclave on Flemish ground......