Friday, August 28, 2015

Europe: Day 8 (Belgium)

Good day my dear...

We are at our final city, Brussels before heading back to Amsterdam. Yesterday was a hectic but awe-inspiring day in Paris. We would definitely visit Paris again for Disneyland and Château de Versailles. Belgium is one of the most ignored country when one travels in Europe. Before this I only know Belgium is famed for chocolates ad waffles. Let's see what it has to offer...

And yes you can climb up to each "ball" of the Atomium.
We woke up at 7am today. Say goodbye to our suite. You can get more details about Only Suites Paris CDG in my Day 6 post.

Breakfast at around 8:30am because like I said the day before, the kitchen takes time to prepare breakfast.

OMG! The first snow in like days coz its officially winter now. We checked out of of our hotel and headed straight to Brussels with only 2  highway stops. It takes 3 hours 30 minutes to reach Brussels.

You can see abundant of industrial zones on the way to Belgium. Hubby said these twin tanks look like boobies. And of course, more graffiti on the wall.

 Erm...is that a nuclear plant? Pardon me I never see a nuclear plant in real life.

 Coffee break...they have this cool self service machine at their rest stops.

If only our convenience store has food and juice like this which kinda remind me of Japan.

We entered Brussels around lunchtime. To be honest it looked kinda ghetto. There were abandoned buildings, vandalism, rubbish etc. It's not as appealing as other cities when we made entrance.

Approaching Grand Place, the buildings got nicer. The architecture and design is bias towards Dutch.

Our bus dropped us right outside of this "museum". Well, it really looked like a museum of natural history but sadly its not. We will get back here in late afternoon and I'll tell you about it.

 It was really joyful to see the Christmas market. All the stalls looked so pretty!

The market is huge! Usually Christmas markets will start operating from 26th November till Christmas day or extended till New Year. Opening hours are normally 10am - 7pm. You really must experience the holiday winter vibes.

Brrrrr.....Temperature was -2°C according to my app.

It was the coldest place yet till I have to cover my mouth coz I couldn't feel my face with each breath. Even Switzerland and its alps didn't feel this cold.

Let me introduce to you the Grand Place. It is also known as Grote Markt to the locals which is a Dutch translation. The central square of Brussels is surrounded by opulent guildhalls and two larger edifices; the  Town Hall and the Breadhouse that contains the Museum of the City of Brussels. It measures 68 by 110 metres.

In the 10th century a fort was constructed on Saint-Géry Island, the furthest inland point at which the Senne river was still navigable. This was the origin of what would become Brussels. By the end of the 11th century, an open-air marketplace was set up on a dried-up marsh near the fort that was surrounded by sandbanks. The market was called the Nedermerckt (Lower Market) as mentioned in a document from 1174.


I wonder if this Christmas tree is as tall as the one in front of Notre Dame.

A person who always complain about being too hot all the time did feel the cold too.

Behind me is The Museum of the City of Brussels. It was constructed in 1860 and inaugurated in 1887. The museum is situated opposite the Town Hall in a building known as Maison du Roi (King's House) or Broodhuis (Bread hall). Idk why they call it the bread hall.

The museum features artifacts, paintings and tapestries from Brussels' history. One room presents nearly 750 costumes of the Manneken Pis. I'll show you the Manneken Pis later on. The Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Entrance fees are between €1.50 to €4.

This gothic building behind him is the Brussels Town Hall. It was built from 1402 to 1420. There is a 96 meter high tower in Brabantine Gothic style. By 1455 this tower had replaced the older and smaller belfry which is a bell tower.

After the bombardment of Brussels in 1695 by a French army, fire broke out that completely gutted the Town Hall destroying the archives and the art collections. The interior was soon rebuilt, and the addition of two rear wings transformed the L-shaped building into its present configuration completed in 1712. The Town Hall accommodated not only the municipal authorities of the city but also the States of Brabant until 1795. In 1830, a provisional government assembled here during the attempt of the Third French Revolution which provoked the separation of the Southern Netherlands from the Northern Netherlands resulting in the formation of Belgium as is known presently.

Wefie with out reliable SJ4000.

Jump jump!

The gold embroidered building behind us houses mostly restaurants and cafes.

Beside the golden building is a nativity scene of Christ. I was surprised to see there were 2 live sheep inside.

Damn hungry now. Time to hunt for lunch around 1:15pm. We were informed that we should try mussels in Brussels.

Starbucks? No...

Finally settled down at La Brouette coz it looks so inviting.

What a warm and cozy interior. Feel's like a grandma & grandpa's home.

The price is not bad even after converted to MYR. It costs over RM40 for a plate of steak back home.

We both ordered hot chocolate coz we don't drink coffee. You all know about my allergies to coffee as explained in previous entries. It's thick, rich and creamy and most importantly warmed us up.

 Oooopsss...

Loving this table coz of the view.

Hubby ordered pavé de boeuf which is a thick slab of steak. It costs €17.90.

I had moules marinières which is mussels in white wine that costs €16.90. All of dishes are served with Belgian fries.

It's a great choice to come here after all.

We spent almost an hour in this gorgeous restaurant while most tourists would have lunch by snacking at the Christmas market.

There's nothing much do do here so my advise is to just spend an hour walking around the buildings and taking photos unless you wanna enter the museum or dining or when there's a festival like the Flower Carpet which takes place every spring of even years. I'm sure you will be amazed by the huge carpet of begonias.

Oh, hi horsie!

Here's another horse carriage. A 30 minute ride costs 39€ per carriage and no reservation is necessary. 

Now we are going towards Manneken Pis. From the Grand Place, just walk directly opposite of Brussels City Museum and you will see a lorong beside the Town Hall. From the left lane next to Town Hall, walk straight ahead and you will see the little boy statue. If you ever lost your way, just ask anybody in the ample shops surrounding you.

Love the golden trees.

You will pass by Hotel Amigo.

And another horse carriage. Although there are hardly any cars here, you should always walk on the sidewalks.

Haha he felt so cold that day. It's a 3 to 5 minute walk to Manneken Pis according to Google Map but it's 30 minutes for us. I'm very sure you will get distracted by the gift stores.

Dear Santa, I've been a good girl this year so can you grant me a wish? I guess it's been granted since my dream is to experience Christmas in Europe.

 We bought lotsa souvenirs here. It's dirt cheap.

Awww...the bags are so pretty.

 We dropped by this Belgian chocolate store.

As usual lah I love cuci mata.

I love Brussels indeed...well, except the ghetto part.

We finally made it. It's not as big as expected lol.

Manneken Pis literally means little man pee in Dutch.  This landmark is only a small bronze sculpture of 61cm depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain's basin. It was designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder and put in place in 1619.

There are several legends behind this statue, but the most famous is the one about Duke Godfrey III of Leuven. In 1142, the troops of this two-year-old lord were battling against the troops of the Berthouts. The troops put the infant lord in a basket and hung the basket in a tree to encourage them. From there, the boy urinated on the troops of the Berthouts who eventually lost the battle. What did I just read? Urinating will make you win a battle eh?

Another legend states that in the 14th century, Brussels was under siege by a foreign power. The city had held its ground for some time so the attackers conceived of a plan to place explosive charges at the city walls. A little boy named Julianske happened to be spying on them as they were preparing. He urinated on the burning fuse and thus saved the city. Oh, this is the version I often heard. In conclusion, it's all about a boy peeing.

There was at the time perhaps as early as 1388, a similar statue made of stone. However, the statue was stolen several times.

The statue is dressed in costume several times each week according to a published schedule which is posted on the railings around the fountain. His wardrobe consists of several hundred different costumes with majority can be viewed in a permanent exhibition inside the City Museum. The costumes are managed by the non-profit association The Friends of Manneken-Pis who review hundreds of designs submitted each year and select a small number to be produced and used.

It's such a shame we didn't get to see any costume during our visit. We expected a Santa costume but he was all bare and naked. There is also a statue of Manneken Pis in Tokushima, Japan which was a present from the Belgian embassy. Since 1987, the Manneken has had a female equivalent, Jeanneke Pis located on the east side of the Impasse de la Fidélité/Getrouwheidsgang.

 Here are some of the little fashionista's costume I found online.

 There's a Belgian waffle stall right opposite of the statue. Only €1, really?

You haven't been to Belgium if you have not tried their waffles.

We bought a piece with strawberry topping which costs about €2.50. Add topping sure more than €1 ler.


So good! Crispy on the edges and soft on the inside.

Ater a few turnings, walk straight ahead and you will come back to the main street.

The stalls beautify the already attractive "museum". I will keep calling it a museum even if it's not.

Awww...the fairy lights looked so pretty. Melts inside....

If this is not a museum of natural history then what is it? Those posters are really misleading to me. It is actually the Brussels Stock Exchange abbreviated to BSE. It was founded by decree of Napoleon in 1801.

On 22 September 2000, the BSE merged with Paris Bourse, Lisbon Stock Exchange and the stock exchanges of Amsterdam, to form Euronext N.V. the first pan-European exchange for equities and derivatives and was renamed Euronext Brussels. The most well known index on the Brussels Stock Exchange is the BEL20. It now belongs to the NYSE Euronext group, the first global stock exchange.

I can't get enough of the Christmas market.

It's already 5pm and time to leave for our final tourist hot spot.

It took just 20 minutes to get to Atomium from Grand Place.

Like the Eiffel Tower, Atomium was originally constructed for Expo 58 which was the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. This museum stands at 102 meter tall. Its nine 18 meter diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.

It seems like most world fair structures are so amazing that they converted from temporary to permanent landmarks.

Tubes of 3 meters in diameter connect the spheres along the 12 edges of the cube and all eight vertices to the center. The enclosed stairs, escalators and a lift in the tubes to allow access to the five habitable spheres which contain exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere includes a restaurant which has a panoramic view of Brussels.

CNN named it Europe's most bizarre building.

We spent only 15 minutes here coz it was so cold. We wished to be able to dine at the restaurant inside but I bet it will be super expensive.

It takes 2 hours from Atomium to Amsterdam. We had a quick rest stop long the highway. Damn cool la they have self service Starbucks.

Whoa they have so much Magnum variety that we don't have in Malaysia.

This would be my choice as we don't have Marc de Champagne. It is available in Singapore tho.

We arrived somewhere in Amsterdam at 8pm for dinner.

Cool lonely tree

 We had dinner at Nam Kee.

A quick visit to Heineken Experience. Make sure you are above 18 to enter. Opening hours are Monday to Thursday from 1030am till 7:30pm and Friday to Sunday from 10:30m till 9pm.Tickets are priced at €18. So what are the activities in store for you? You will get a tour about the history of brewery, tasting bar, stable walk, bottle your own Heineken, be a DJ and many more.

We checked into the same hotel as our first day, Park Plaza Amsterdam.At least this time they got the name correct.

Here's part of our haul of the day but trust me we have more mini Manneken Pis statues stored in luggage.

Our super yummy supper with some tapao fries from la Brouette. Damn I miss the tiramisu. wish we have prepacked tiramisu in our convenience store. Goede nacht and see you tomorrow as we ride Amsterdam canal cruise and a visit to Volendam, the windy village by the sea.



11th April is our 11th Anniversary
11th April is our 11th Anniversary.. A special dedication to my wife.. Love Love..
Posted by Keong Da'Great on Friday, 10 April 2015

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