My sister is currently studying in Ghent and I took this opportunity to visit her and in the mean time see some of Belgium and one of my long desired destination – Amsterdam 🙂 On the first day of my trip I arrived to Charleroi airport and stayed in a nearby hotel and the next day took a shuttle to Brussels where I met my sister.
Although we were not lucky with the weather, Brussels left a nice impression. It was raining most of the day and it was around 6 °C but we still managed to see a lot in just one day. We started our day at the Atomium, one of Brussel’s landmarks. It represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times! It was constructed for the World Fair in 1958 and it is still impressive.
We continued our visit in the European Quarter. Brussels is not just the capital of Belgium, it is also a capital of European Union. We visited the hall where European Parliament has sessions. It was interesting that all brochures, writings and audio guide was also in Slovenian language but Slovenian language is just one of 24 official languages of the European Union. Although the official seat of the European Parliament is in Strasbourg, there is this hall also in Brussels where all 751 members can meet. All around the hall there are booths for the translators which translate everything said to all official languages in real time!
After the newer landmarks, we visited the old part of Brussels, which is concentrated around the Grand Place. The Grand Place is really impressive and huge and is also under the UNESCO protection. There was a large Christmas tree in the middle but it still looked really small in comparison to the whole square. 🙂 All around the Grand Place are historic buildings – The City Hall, Museum of the City of Brussels… One of the main events on the square is in August, when the whole square is covered with flowers to construct a huge carpet – surely a reason to come back to Brussels. Around the Grand Place is a walking district with many cafes, chocolate shops, fast food joints … It is really a nice area to just stroll around.
Near the Grand Place there are also three interesting monuments – Manneken Pis, Jeanneke Pis and Het Zinneke, which show a peeing boy, girl and a dog. The original one and the most famous one is the Manneken Pis. It was constructed already in the 17th century and was stolen and damaged many times, but is still here. On special occasions, it is dressed into a costume. Today, it was dressed to celebrate the parade of Saint Verhaegen by the students.
An advice when travelling to Brussels: In the morning, we bought the 24h ticket for the Metro for 7.5 eur which was really convenient as it is not so pleasant walking around when it is raining the whole day.