Bits of Brussels

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April 5th 2010
Published: March 26th 2011
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Going back in time again; almost a year ago I have made this big trip (for me, two weeks is a big trip), during which I saw some bits of the Belgium capital – Brussels. The trip took place of April 5, 2010, after a most exciting stay in Warszawa, Paris, and Amsterdam and Utrecht.

I was browsing the Ryanair website and randomly searched for the price of flight from Brussels to, say, Wroclaw. I found it to be very cheap, so I decided that, after seeing Amsterdam and partying, I would visit Brussels for several hours, and then fly to Warszawa. I would return to Poland because one is expected to spend the most days in the country, for which Shengen visa was issued (I had the Polish Shengen visa), and was afraid that somehow the authorities would want to check this. In any case, I spent most days during that trip in Poland.

I definitely knew the distance between Amsterdam and Brussels would not be long. During my second day in Amsterdam, I went to the railway station and bought the ticket from Utrecht (because I was supposed to be in Utrecht on April 5) to Brussels. I also asked some officials, at what time does the train to Brussels leave, and they said, it leaves every hour during the day. It pleased me much – it meant no trouble with transportation.

After I had slept in Utrecht after Trance Energy, I felt awfully bad. Notwithstanding this, I got up and took the bus to Utrecht Centraal and then the train to Brussels. There would be a change of trains in Rotterdam; approximately 15 minutes between the trains. I remember that I sat in the wrong class, and when the person came to check tickets, he told me, Sir, you’re sitting in a wrong class; I just nodded and went to the right class. The trip lasted for 3 hours and the train was so convenient and lovely (two-storey! awesome!) and the scenery behind the window attracted my whole attention. I managed to see some of tall buildings in Rotterdam. Certainly, I had the wish to sleep, but didn’t. Perhaps I was too emotional.

Arriving to Brussels, I had no map and so at first I just wandered as I pleased, seeing a cathedral here, a square there, etc. I must say I liked Brussels at the very first sight. Definitely, several hours were not enough to see the city well. It struck me as unusual (as compared to Russia) that trains came to the city centre under the ground, the same as in Warszawa. In Russia such train stations are not to be encountered. The main sights I saw were the Park van Brussel, Kerk van Sint-Jacob (choose any language you like, Belgium has two official languages, French and Nederlands. I prefer Nederlands. English is universal), Koniklijk Paleis, Palace de Justice, some other buildings. Well, we’re not on a guided tour, are we? I like the sound of Holland speech immensely. I studied this language, and intend to develop it further as soon as I have new textbooks.

I definitely needed a map, most definitely. So far I saw no relevant shops, but the city has its major attractions placed rather prominently, so I just used my eyes. And legs. And the camera, the camera! There is the Eglise Notre-Dame-au-Sablon on the Regentschapstraat (oh, that “aa” sounds truly charming in oral form). The Eglise evokes the image of Notre Dame de Paris, it’s similar in style. Almost in front of the Eglise, you find a small park for rest in the shadows of the trees, called the Kleine Zavel. I have an oral orgasm pronouncing all those names.

The Justitiepaleis is so big. Though, its full majesty was hidden behind lots of scaffolding. From there, I actually did not know where to go, but geographically I knew that I should go with my back turned to the Paleis. Near the Paleis there is a view spot. The whole city can be seen from there. Panoramic views are particular favourites of mine. I intended to find the Stadhuis, because that was the most prominent thing I saw after egressing from under the railway station. I wandered along some small and narrow “rues”, managed to see some comics on the walls (later, in a magazine I read about Brussels residents’ passionate love of comics), remains of an ancient fortress, Eglise Notre Dame de la Chapelle, what not. Sad, but I did not see the famous statue of the pissing boy, simply did not know about it. Next time, for sure. When I and my g. go to on a honeymoon I suppose it would be a good idea to spend a whole month visiting as many European cities and towns as we can. Or go to Brazil?.. Well, if I go to Brazil, I will certainly take the opportunity to visit some other Latin America countries as well. Peru, for instance, but enough dreaming and planning.

Then I saw that the streets became livelier and that meant that I had a chance of seeing a book shop to buy a map. I bought the map and a coke and tried to determine my geographical position. Oh, Brussels, remembering you, I definitely want to see you again and spend more time with you. The temptations!..

That’s perhaps the most exciting square I ever saw – Grote Markt – I mean how deeply amazed I was when I saw the Stadhuis and the other buildings, the square struck me as complete wonder. My all narratives are very boring because I don’t have too much exciting things happen and usually I spend too little time in the places. Though, the European trip, when completed, will have a lot of adventure.

I had a bite in one of the cafes. I tried a very tasty dish for 8 or 10 euros and completely forgot its name. I was unbelievably tasty and the portion was big. Referring to the size of the dish does not mean that I am a glutton.

There was a sort of trade fair on one of the streets and that was the only instant in my life when I had the desire to taste beer. Actually, I had such desire when I was seriously sick many years ago, and also I tasted beer one-or two times. Only tasted, and disliked it. So, I saw a big table with beer glasses looking so seductive. I even thought I might try one, but there was no seller, so I left.

When time came to leave for the airport, I found a map stand where the bus routes where shown, and found the necessary bus stop. I needed to go to the Charleroi Airport. Though, I was very close to committing a huge mistake, because Brussels has another airport also, and my first intention was to go there. It surprises me how confused I am sometimes. It turned out later, when I was hopelessly sitting in the bus and google-ing in my telephone, that the buses to Charleroi airport depart from some center station and take only 40 minutes or so. When I undertook that four capitals trip, I had no beforehand instructions and no informations. Notice the word informations, the spelling checker said it was wrong. I usually prefer to go without previous preparations, though sometimes I do read. The bus I took violated the schedule, and made stops at every little village on the way to Charleroi. How nervous I was. I tortured the driver with my poor French, like ‘ou dois-je descendre?, ou est le Charleroi?, ce bus va-t-il au Charleroi?’, but, stupid me, I just had to stay until the last stop. I would jump up from my seat every now and then and bother the driver. There was time when I hoped to arrive on time, but gradually the hope disappeared. It also turned out that I had to take another shuttle bus to Charleroi from that final stop. Finally, I arrived at Ch., God bless it, some five minutes before the plane departure. Everyone should understand there is little, if any, hope of getting on board FIVE MINUTES before departure.

I was very nervous. I went to the ticket office and asked whether it was possible to fly to Wroclaw. It was my initial plan, visiting Wroclaw and Krakow, and then flying to St. Petersburg from Warsaw. I discarded that plan, because there were no flights that day to Wroclaw. Instead, I asked, ‘so are there any flights to Warszawa today?’, and the answer was yes, 100 euros. I was very happy that I had the money and the departure was in two hours, by Wizz Air. They asked me two put my backpack into a device to check whether its size complies with the standards for free cabin luggage; I handled the formalities feeling very emotional and nervous, and one of the officials noted this. There was no trouble except that the flight was delayed by an hour approximately. I hate it when the airlines do not announce the delay; that happens quite often. They just delay flights for half an hour or an hour and no announcement is made.

I arrived to Warszawa at about midnight and there was nothing to do but to sleep because all the offices were closed already. The airport was so empty, with only a few people here and there. The opening time was 5-6 in the morning, so I though I would just sleep and then try to exchange my ticket for an earlier date. In the morning, after some 3-4 hours of solid sleeping, I came to the ticket office and asked and got the negative answer.

What should I do, I thought. The initial idea was to spend a week or so in St. Petersburg after flying from Warszawa. My next thought was, to hell with St.Pb., I’ll take a train to Minsk right now and then go straight home. So, to Warszawa Centralna I went and joined the queue. I tortured the ticket saleswoman with my Polish pronunciation, ‘jest bilety do Minska’, and was requested to go to the international ticket office. Now look, the way Fate is playing with us. There was a man buying something. I was rather firm in my decision to go to Minsk by train. I waited for a couple of minutes and the man did not leave yet. I waited for many more minutes, and lost the hope of ever buying the ticket. I got angry and left and decided to go to

Kerk van Sint-Jacob
the Tamka Hostel, where I stayed previously, and book a room there. After that f-word Amsterdam phrase, ‘we’re fully booked’, I was in lowest spirits possible. But, lo! ‘we do have a spare room, but you have to wait till the check-in time’, that I didn’t mind at all, though my body needed lots of sleeping.

After this, you proceed reading about Warszawa, as for Brussels, that’s it. Grote Markt is among the list of my most favourite places. That speaks for itself.

With every good wish.

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