A Day With A Pair of Brussel Sprouts

The strong Belgium beer eventually got the better of us....

The strong Belgium beer eventually got the better of us….

In 2008…….. 7 frickin’ years ago!….we went on a university trip to Belgium. For educational purposes of course. Ahem, however…Simon and I instantly thought….”hmmm, Belgium = BEER!” Brilliant!

So to be honest, it wasn’t the most cultural of trips, and towards the end the lure of so many different types of beer was too much. Accidentally dropping and smashing a bottle of beer in from of our lecturers on arrival at our hotel isn’t one of my proudest moments… for shame.

Nonetheless, we managed to squeeze in some cool places. After getting lost in the city centre we randomly stumbled up on the Atmonium after taking a mystery metro journey out to the suburbs.

Le Botanique, a cultural centre housed in a former botanic gardens, hosts a number of music events throughout the year.

Le Botanique, a cultural centre housed in a former botanic gardens, hosts a number of music events throughout the year. Shortly after walking by here we got horrifically lost and just jumped on a random metro train to see where we ended up.

The Atomium in Brussels. We never heard of it before, but the second we saw it we realised we must venture towards it!

The Atomium in Brussels. We never heard of it before, but the second we saw it we realised we must venture towards it!

So it turns out that the stainless steel Atomium was built way back in the 1950’s for the 1958 Brussels World Fair. It represents the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times and is 102 metres high.

Inside there is a permanent museum featuring photos and exhibitions of Brussels and post-war Europe in the 1950’s. The museum leads up to the top deck where panoramic views of Brussels can be had. Other temporary exhibitions are held as well. At the moment the Modernika exhibition reflects on the influence of American architecture in Brussels after World War II.

To be honest the museum is quite underwhelming, but exploring the structure (aka getting lost) and admiring the views from the top make it worthwhile.

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Up into the Atomium – each sphere is connected and it’s a great adventure working your way through each sphere.

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The view from the top sphere down towards Earth. It really feels as if you are in spaceship ready to take off on an expedition to the edge of the Galaxy!

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UP AND ATOM!!

The large statue Don Quixote and Sancho Panza - last time I checked they never made it as far as Brussels so we never figured out what the connection was between a pair of Spanish vagabonds and Belgium.....oh well.

The large statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza – last time I checked they never made it as far as Brussels so we never figured out what the connection was between a pair of Spanish vagabonds and Belgium…..oh well.

EU parliment

Posing at the EU parliament. Of course, 7 years ago we had high aspirations of one day debating EU law here. Hasn’t quite worked out that way so far….

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The dominating EU Parliament looks more like Mr. Burns evil headquarters or something.

Brussels is most commonly known as the headquarters of the European Union. It is here that government heads from across European come and debate, eat, drink and laugh about the problems facing the European Union. All provided by course by the evil Global corporations….mwahahahaha, take that peasants!! Realistically though, it is the powerhouse of Europe and it is fantastic to see that all countries in the European Union have the common goal of peace and stability.

The Grand Place in the heart of Brussels is a magnificent city square, in fact I’d say that it’s probably the most ornate in Europe. The stunning square is dominated by the 96 metre high Town Hall, which is topped with a statue of St. Michael slaying a demon. And on the opposite side lies the City of Brussels museum, built in the 19th century. The square is flanked by ornate 17th century Guildhalls, which were restored after much neglect in the 1890’s.

 

Grand Place Brussels

The most obvious male tourists you could come across – hand in the pockets and all. The Grand Place in Brussels is pretty grand, and quite a place indeed!

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It would be lovely to visit the Grand Place in winter, when it is turned into a giant Christmas market and all lit up. The square is a UNESCO World Heritage site. On the left is the City of Brussels museum.

Grand Place Flowers

Every 2 years, in August, a carpet of flowers is laid out on the Grand Place. Up to one million flowers are used, attracting thousands of tourist everyday. (Credit Eddy Van 3000 (Flickr)

Come the end of our day in Brussels it was time to go back to our accomdation in the small city of Leuven. Leuven is a popular student town, and it is home to one of the most popular beers in the world – Stella Artois. And so of course, after a long hard day of sightseeing there’s nothing better than a cold beer. But wait, what?! You can get a metre long stick of beer?! SOLD!

What appears to be a fantastic looking church is actually Leuven Town Hall. It dates back to the 15th century and despite the town being destroyed in World War I, the town hall managed to survive.

What appears to be a fantastic looking church is actually Leuven Town Hall. It dates back to the 15th century and despite the town being destroyed in World War I, the town hall managed to survive.

Belgium beer

The famous Belgian metre sticks of beer. And so the night begins…. The town is home to 35,000 students, so the main square is lined with cheap bars that are packed every night of the week.

Belgium beer

Most Belgian beers are pretty dam strong, one we had was 17% and tasted like a mix of beer and vodka….eurgh. So as you can see, it had an effect. And where did those glasses come from?!

So after the metre stick of beer we decided it time to sample more of Belgium’s many, many beers. The night started out good, sampled some of the Leffe varieties, which were looovely. Note this was before the “craft beer” revolution so to taste different types beers was quite the experience. In our naivety we didn’t take into account the strength of the beers….soooo the night results in alot of table top dancing and the molesting of public statues. Ahem, we won’t go there…..

The following morning we were dragged out of bed and marched to the airport for our flight home. And so came the end of our brief, but exciting Belgian trip. The thought of one more beer in the airport was too much, and I gently slid away and found some rest space….

Sleeping airport

Homeward bound. Please, just let me get home to my bed!”

 

So, have you been to Brussels, or anywhere else in Belgium? You most likely saw much more than we did in our brief time there!

 

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