A walk of 25 mins from the Nord station and we dumped out stuff at the hostel. Decided to hit the Grand Place Square. The square is one of the most important tourist attractions in the city and has hundreds of tourists looking in awe at all the buildings around it. You have the towering Town Hall, the King’s House, the Guild Houses and a lot of cafes. There also a shop tucked in a corner called Gautam Diamond. Apna Gautambhai che ne aiyaan!!
Click here for a 360 degree panoramic view of the square. Trust me it’s worth it.
The square has something or the other happening at all times. Perfomers, pianists, violinists, puppeteers, dancers etc and the likes. The atmosphere is charged and it’s a joy to sit in one of the cafes around the square and enjoy a coffee or a beer.
A bylane just left of the Town Hall leads you to Manneken Pis, the symbol of Belgium to much extent. Having a prior experience with such symbols (The Little Mermaid), I was prepared for the worst and my dear friend Mr Murphy's Law never fails me. The 2 feet bronze statue of a naked boy urinating in a fountain is hardly impressive. Cute but not impressive. There are several legends behind the statue. The version which I heard is that a certain Duke wanted a statue to be erected and he wanted it to be of some comman man so he went out one day and swore to build the statue of the first commoner he saw. He saw this small boy taking a leak and we got Manneken Pis.
Belgium is reported to the first in covered shopping malls and you can go through the St. Hubert Gallery in the city center. A shopper’s mecca if u r looking for Belgian chocolates, leather goods, ornaments, designer net cloth etc. The gallery has the famous Neuhaus Chocolate. And speaking of chocolate, Brussels is a chocoholic’s paradise. Chocolate for breakfast, some more for lunch and yet some more for dinner. There is always a chocolate shop just round the corner. The bigger ones will have a chocolate fountain on display. Just watching it is a delight in itself, conjuring thoughts and images of all the mentionable and unmentionable things you could do in that fountain. The possibilities are endless ;)
The next day we went to visit Atomium and Mini Europe. Mini Europe houses replicas of the famous buildings n monuments from all countries in the European Union. The incomparable chimes of Big Ben welcome you to the heart of London. The gondolas and mandolins will invite you to discover the charms of Venice. Follow the T.G.V. from Paris to the other end of France. You can make the models work yourself : the eruption of Vesuvius, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the bullfight in Seville and many more… In total 300 models and sites in a quite unequalled craftsmanship. The ticket is €12.
At stone throw distance away from Mini Europe is the Atomium, which was built for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, the 103-metre tall monument represents a unit cell of an iron crystal, magnified 165 billion times, with vertical body diagonal, with tubes along the 12 edges of the cube and from all 8 vertices to the centre.
Coming up – The 1 day trip to from Brussels to Bruges.