Bruges is a beautiful town and when in Brussels you should make the effort to visit for at least a few hours. Your effort will certainly be richly rewarded and we count our 6 hour visit in the rain to be one of our best memories from our recent 7 week holiday through Europe.
The train trip from Brussels Central took an hour, the only stop being at St Pieters, Gent. Return fare for 2 persons totalled Euro 49.20. Trains appear to run every half hour and generally full.
Bruges is a beautiful old town with magnificent old buildings, churches and the canals where you can take a 30 minute boat tour.
We caught the 10 am train from Brussels Central for the 2 hour trip to Aachen. The train went direct to Leige, approximately 1 hour, where we changed trains and continued on to Aachen.
The train trip was enjoyable, good seats and the wide windows gave a good view of the countryside. The 10 am train was popular, and I recommend that you quickly board to obtain a good seat.
We found Aachen to have some very old buildings and churches in the old city area, also some nice cafes for lunch. From the rail station the city is well signposted and when we came to the Information Centre we obtained a Tourist Map. A most enjoyable day trip.
I think the return train trip was close to 50 Euros per adult.
In one of the chambers we were received with champagne and sat around a big old table chatting. ! The organising Belgian ladies told us we were to be received by the mayor, something he only does rarely. But guess what! He never showed up nor sent a replacement. So we had our drink and left. Strange experience...
This must be the room where the town council used to meet. Of course in these mordern times I'm assuming that all administrative stuff goes on in the many office buildings around Brussels. To be honest, the inside of the town hall was a bit disappointing. It's impressive enough but lacks lustre and it's a bit run down.
And again (due to lack of guides) I do not know the name of this hall. But I think important guests are received here. On the walls are huge, antique tapestries which are wonderfully bright in colour.
I changed the setting on my camera that did sharpen the images but turns everything quite yellowish. Sorry, can't do any better!
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart (situated in the Suburb of Koekelberg) is labeled "the national Basilica of Belgium". It was built to remember the 75th anniversary of the Belgian independence.
Since March 1997 visitors can climb into the dome of the Basilica from where one can have a beautiful panorama over Brussels and its surrounding area.
That's what the signs in the subway stations said. Then I saw this bus pass by while I waited for SOMEone to return from work one evening. ;-) It's apparently true though, there is such a price set-up which enables those with the ability to plan waaaay ahead, to travel by comfortable motorcoach, the 2.5hr drive to Luxembourg from Brussels' Delta metro station...for a mere and singular euro each way.
Thank god I was given a tip to go to Brugge. It was just about a half hour train ride away, and just as cute and cool as can be. I spent the whole day there and wished I had stayed the night. But because I had already paid for the *** hole hotel in Brussels I was committed. This place was so awesome I did a whole write up on it. (See Brugge)
Really a nice place, not far from Brussels :
GRAND LEEZ, in the province of Namur, at 5 km from GEMBLOUX : There is a castle with a beautiful garden and an art gallery called DIELEMAN, famous for its sculptures (there are also sculptures in the garden)
A little South to Brussels, near Dworp, you will find 'Het Hallerbos'.
At the end of April and in the very beginning of May, the wild flowers, like wild hyacints, are growing and covering up the soil.
It is a magnificient view!
Some more pictures can be viewed in my travelogues
Ever thought of a trip from Ronquière to the Harbour of Brussels?
Ronquire is a monument of technology and inventivity.
It has succeeded to shorten the time of the boat trips from Charleroi to Brussels.
The first elevator lock at Ronquiere - where the boat trip starts - can also be visited.
This lock replaces 13 former locks!
We will pass a few more on our way to Brussels.
Coming into Brussels by water is really a very different experience!
If you are curious about the pictures taken on my way to Brussels, then please visit my Fotki album! You won't regret it! There are some marvelous vies!
The trip was organised for Karibu - a voluntarian group that organises activities for our foreign Phd and Postdoc students, guest professors and - asisstants, along with their families.
See more in travelogues
Leuven is certainly an 'Off the beaten path' destination.
Although the inhabitants from Brussels as well as from Leuven won't like it that I put these 2 towns under the same name. There is a kind of rivalry between both cities, that dates back to the middle ages.
More info about Leuven can you in the travelogue.
This statue of De Kotmadam can be found at the Oude Markt.
Why, you MUST join a day excursion to the quaint and beautiful town of Brugge. Better still if you can spend an idyllic weekend here (read: at least 2 or 3 days). In which case, you must travel to Brugge on your own.
This quaint little town seems to be the most widely-visited place here in Belgium. It would not be too far-fetched to even say that Brugge is probably also the most perfectly preserved medieval town in the whole western Europe world.
What can a tourist/ traveler do in Brugge?
Oh, plenty! Let's begin with the many museums found here. In quite a few of these museums, you'll even get a chance to glimpse at some of the most superb Flemish masterpieces. Not kidding. Don't forget to check out the Town Square too.... best seen on foot. Then, there is the Helig Bloed Basiliek or the neighboring Stadhuis to keep you occupied for a short while. Some really picturesque houses and buildings lining the banks of the waterways are also worth capturing on camera/ film.
If you happen to crave for a drink or a bite to eat, Brugge has many good bars and lovely restaurants. So, no worries about going hungry here. :-)
And finally, because the surrounding countryside is so beautiful and PEFECT for cycling, it would be a real waste if you don't rent a bike and go for a well-deserved cycling tour of the countryside (albeit a short one if you don't have much time to spare)!
Ah, so many things to see and do... but so little time! ;-(
Take this road to get out of town. It's a beautiful road, the hills slowly rear up, you get glimpses down the Meuse at Namur as you shoot over a high spanning bridge, and the road connects easily with the Bvd. General Jacques on the `ceinture' running around Brussels.
The Walloon tourist authorities have put up beautiful plaques by the side of the motorway, really poetic, drawing attention to the things you are driving past at top speed. For example, for the area around the monastery at Villers-la-Ville you've got `le pays ou les pierres prient'; for some amusement park just outside Brussels there's a picture of a rollercoaster and the slogan`cris et chuchotements'; for the agricultural area around Nivelles there's the plaque `le pays ou les granges sont des navires'; for some chateau bristling with turrets they've got `Trois crayons dessinent le ciel', then for Dinant, home of the inventor of the saxophone, you've got `La Meuse frissonne sur un air de sax', `Coule, coule la Lesse', for the Ardennes forest there is `Bois, fourrure de la terre'.. I can't think of others right now.
The mayor of Brussels had invited us to a reception at the town hall, so we returned on foot to the Grand Place.