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Published: November 13th 2015
Originally I had planned to stay in Brussels for two consecutive days but I had to rearrange my itinerary slightly to fit in my trip to Luxembourg. I could have easily moved my couple of days in Brussels to the following week, but faced the dilemma of missing the annual Belgian Beer Festival and I was really looking forward to this so I decided to do one of the two days and revisit Brussels the following week.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and I knew driving my car into this large city would most probably be stressful and expensive. I did some research and discovered that there was a free car park on the outskirts of the capital next to the metro station called Ceria. The Ceria metro station is only 20 minutes away from the city centre. When I arrived at the car park it wasn't very big and was full. I was feeling a bit flustered at the thought of trying to find somewhere else to park my car. I started praying saying "please, oh please, let there be somewhere for me to park" and to my amazement someone signalled to me that they were leaving their
parking space. Could this really be a coincidence? or did somebody answer my prays? who knows!
At first, I found it strange to start seeing signs and hearing people talking in French as I had been in Belgium for nearly a week and hadn't heard much of it being spoken. I learnt that the country is split into two with the north speaking Dutch and the South, along with Brussels, speaking French.
As I ventured into the centre of Brussels, I spotted the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. This is a famous 19th century shopping mall has a soaring doomed glass roof that covers three gallery sections and is filled with a range of luxury shops and cafes. I could not resist the temptation of macaroons and brought a box with a variety of different flavours.
I then found the Grand Place, full with lots of people, mainly tourists, but right in the square was the Belgian Beer Festival. The square offers the finest example of Belgium's ornate 17th century architecture all in one place. The beer festival wasn't open until 6pm to the public so I couldn't resist killing some time by popping into the good old Hard
Rock Café for a burger and funky cocktail.
Not far from the Grand Place is Manneken-Pis, an unlikely attraction, however, seems very popular! This tiny statue of a young boy barely 2 feet high weeing into a small pool seems very much part of the main attraction of Brussels as I battled my way with tourists to get some photos of Manneken-Pis.
When back at the Grand Place, I queued up for about 30 minutes to get into the beer festival. This was the first day of a three day event. For the cost of 10.00 EUR, I could get myself 10 bottle tops and choose from sampling over 200 Belgium beers. Depending on the brand, you could get a pint of beer from 2 to 4 bottle tops. After about four pints, I started feeling tipsy. I found it hard being at the beer festival alone when everyone else seemed to be in groups and I felt shy to talk to random people so decided to head back to my hotel via walking past the Royal Palace of Brussels. I was gutted to learn that in two days time the palace would close its doors for the
year to visitors and so I would not be able to visit upon my return. It seems the palace is open to visitors from 22 July to 6 September.
Not too far from Brussels is the famous Battle of Waterloo. I stopped off here on my way to Luxembourg from leaving Brussels. Here you can see the Battle of Waterloo monument (a loin), the actual battle fields and visit the museum. My understanding of the Battle of Waterloo is that the French Napoleon had been defeated and exiled to the Island of Elbe because he took over half of Europe and started 12 years of brutal warfare. However, Napoleon escaped the Island of Elbe in what became known as the 100 days and he returned to France, and the armies of France abandoned their leaders to join Napoleon. The allies that originally brought down Napoleon re-assembled to stop him again. Napoleon invaded Belgium, during the 100 days there was about 6 battles, and Napoleon won 5, but the biggest and therefore most important was Waterloo, at this battle the British forces led by the future Duke of Wellington and the Prussian forces led by General Blucher defeated Napoleon and
his army. Although Napoleon escaped, he was later captured and exiled to the island of St Helena and remained there until 1821 when he died.
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