Sunday, November 22, 2015

Brussels, Belgium

It's taken me a while to write this post, mostly because I got some advice about watermarking my photos and after I edited them, I had to go back in and watermark, it was quite an extensive process. But I finished and seem to have gotten the hang of it.

Brussels has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. When my sister was in college she did a study-aboard trip and lived in Brussels for a bit. I remember being super jealous. I can't believe it's taken us this long to make the trip.
Since hotel's in Brussels were the cheapest, we decided to use it as our home base. We stayed at the Newhotel Chrlemagne. We chose to stay there because it had everything we were looking for, Free Parking, Wifi, and no pet-fee. So we were able to bring Rylie with us for free. Usually, I try to look for a hotel with breakfast, but I couldn't find one within our budget. But it all worked out because we picked up breakfast supplies at Ramstein Air Base that lasted the weekend.

Our hotel was located next to the European Comission building (because Brussels the the capital of the EU!)

After checking into our hotel, our first stop was to Cinquantenaire, since it was a 10-minute walk away from our hotel.

The Cinquantenaire, is a U-shaped large urban park. Most buildings of the U-shaped complex, which dominate the park, were commissioned by the Belgian government under the patronage of King Leopold II for the 1880 National Exhibition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Belgian independence. Today the various buildings of the Cinquantenaire host three museums and one mosque.

 The Royal Military Museum has been the sole tenant of the northern half of the complex since 1880. The southern half is occupied by the Cinquantenaire Museum and the AutoWorld Museum. It's a beautiful place to visit. People are laying in the middle of the grass areas, in full suits just relaxing after a long day of work.

Since we spent the day in Luxembourg, Rylie was exhausted and we left her in the hotel room and started searching for food. We headed off to the main center of town where the Grand Palace is located looking for a place to have dinner. We ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe, I had a coupon for a free meal, since I'm a member of their rewards club. (Sign up, if you haven't! You get a free meal during your birth month) I wouldn't suggest going to the one in Brussels. The service was awful, it took forever for our server to come to us and he couldn't even remember what we ordered. If it wasn't for the fact that I was getting my meal for free, I would've walked right out. Save yourself the trouble and find another place to eat.

While we were waiting, we did check out the main area, and see the Grand Palace light up at night. It is absolutely beautiful!
We did check out the nightlife in Brussels, after dinner. We stopped in to one of the local taverns and had a Belgium Bier Sampler.Before sitting down, there was a couple next to us, and we saw their sampler. It didn't look like much so we ordered the same thing. It was the 9 bier-sampler. Each bier was a quarter liter! It was a great taste of Belgium Beer!

Our next day in Brussels, we took the metro in and headed back to the center of town to see the Grand Palace during the day! It is something you need to see during the day and night. Near the Grand Palace are some main sights.

Next to the Grand Palace there was a little store that was selling waffles for 1 Euro, the line was out the door, so I thought it must have been worth it. Of course they get you with the add-on toppings. The waffles were great though. BUT don't waste your time standing in line, if you walk down a couple blocks, there are more stores that also sell waffles for 1 Euro, but without any lines.

The Manneken Pis, one of the more famous landmarks of Brussels, it is a small bronze sculpture, that depicting a naked little boy urinating into a fountain's basin. It was designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy and put in place in 1618 or 1619. It is literally the only thing to see in that part of town. We got lucky because when we showed up there was no one around so we were able to get a quick picture, but by the time we snapped a picture there were crowds of people around us!  We did see a Escargot stand next to the Manneken Pis, snails, YUCK! (but I thought I would mention it, just in case anyone is interested)

A little funny story; a long, long time ago when Drew and I were just good friends, I got him a birthday present called the "Little Wizzer". which is a liquor dispenser with the Manneken Pis on top. Funny, we would run into the statue that inspired the gift, nearly 10 years later!

We stumbled through the main area, finding chocolate and beer stores on every corner, every man and woman's dream!

We headed away from the center of Brussels to the Infantry Memorial. Drew loves going to see things that involve military. It was a hike, but you get a nice view of the city skyline!

 The Infantry Memorial was designed by Edouard Vereycken, the Infantry Memorial of Brussels stands in memory of the Belgian foot soldiers who fought in World War I and World War II. The memorial stands in front of the Palais de justice de Bruxelles and across the Place Poelaert from the Anglo-Belgian War Memorial. The memorial rests on a raised platform that overlooks the city center of Brussels. Translated in English the inscription reads: "To the infantrymen who died for their country".

After leaving the Infantry Memorial, I was ready to head home. I was exhausted, but there was one more sight Drew said we had to see, the Halle Gate, is a medieval fortified city gate of the second walls of Brussels. It is now a museum, part of the Royal Museums for Art and History. Built in 1381, Halle Gate is a 14th-century city gate from the second set of defensive walls that enclosed Brussels.

The gate was named for the city of Halle, in Flemish Brabant which it faces. The original gate included a portcullis and drawbridge over a moat. The structures that housed these are still visible. While the other six gateways and the defensive walls were demolished, the Halle Gate was the only one that survived since it was used as a prison. At other times used as a customs house, for grain storage, and a Lutheran church. It is pretty impressive, we sat in front and took selfies. Haha, full tourist mode.

I was exhausted by the time we made it to the Halle Gate. We thought we had to walk a few more blocks to get to the metro, but literally right around the corner there was a metro station. We caught the metro back, I wasn't sure if we could take Rylie on it, but no one said anything when we brought her, and thankfully on public transportation she's great!

We had one last stop before heading back to Ramestein, We wanted to check out the Atomium. The Atomium is a building in Brussels originally constructed for Expo 58, the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. Designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak, it stands 102 meters 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.

Today, it is a museum. We didn't go inside the museum. When I was doing research, I found out that it was 13 euros a person to enter, and all the reviews I read all said that it wasn't worth it. So instead we just took pictures and hit up the frites truck. The fries alone were worth it in my opinion.

After our long weekend in Belgium, we headed back to RAB. Rylie was so tuckered out she found a sleeping position and slept the whole way there.

 We jammed a lot of things in such a short time, but in the end, I enjoyed Brussels and would love to go back one day! It truly is a beautiful city in an equally beautiful country.