Sunday, July 4, 2010

summer trip : DAY 08

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The day was as sunny as yesterday, but windier. Just nice for a walk around the city. We had a little breakfast prepared downstairs at the hotel. Damn good! Heh. From the hotel, we just walked to the centre of the Brussels city as most of the attractions are located at the central area. I was thinking of taking the metro, but the receptionist suggested to just walking from the hotel. Anyway, we could save some money.

The first destination was the Grand Place. It is the city’s chief landmark. We blurred a while upon arrival. We didn’t have an idea of what that place is and what the surrounding buildings represent. We went there too early that we couldn’t see the real life there. So I went to the Tourists Information Office to ask few things. Grand Place is actually popular for the flower carpets they put in spring every year. We came in June, so we missed that celebration.

We later went to the famous Manneken Pis. It is a statue of a pissing boy. I’ve read few versions of the legend on the statue which I thought are like quite absurd. No matter. The city was very silent that morning. We didn’t see much people. The great thing was that we saw many Muslims along the walk. I was really proud and relieved by the fact that Muslims contributed quite a number on the population in Brussels. We saw many women covering their hair. There were also a bunch of Halal shops and restaurants.

From the so-called famous statue, we moved our feet to reach the Grand Sablon where the tourist officer told about how the place is quite known with chocolates. But we didn’t find any. We did see maybe two or three stores. But that was it. Nothing like a paradise of chocolates I expected it would be.

The walk didn’t go well from the beginning. We were clueless. This included our next visit to the Place Royale which is said to be a great palace. This time, we couldn’t find any entrance to the palace. So we thought it was either not opened yet or it is not opened for public visits.

Decided to move on to our next destination, we walked away from the palace and saw a beautifully designed park just beside the palace, Parc de Bruxelles. It is like a garden with many trees and an ornament fountain. We walked to the end of the park and found the Parliament just at the opposite side of the street. Our next stop was the Kathedraal. I think it is the great church of Belgium. Or so I thought. The design of the church is somehow resembles the Notre Dame in Paris. They could be related. I mean, who knows… Next, we dropped by at the Comic Museum. It was built upon the famous cartoon Tin Tin originated from Belgium. We decided not to enter the museum so moved on to our next destination.

It was at the Bruparck that we had more enjoyment. We bought a promotion ticket for 5 people to be used in the metro, buses and trams for all day. We took the metro to reach Bruparck. The first place we visited was the Atomium. It symbolizes an iron crystal. There are 9 spheres connected by tubes but only 5 are opened to the public. We didn’t enter it despite the combined ticket (with Mini Europe) they promoted. Too expensive.

Then we headed for the Mini Europe. Of all other places we visited that day, this was the most satisfying. This place recreated any monuments and landmarks found all over Europe down to small sizes. It was a very unique experience. It was like travelling the Europe in few hours. We were provided with a descriptive booklet to give brief information on every model exhibited. Models including Eiffel Tower of Paris, Melk Abbey of Austria, Rila Monastery of Bulgaria, Burg Eltz of Germany, Bath’s Circus of United Kingdom, Acropolis of Greece, Venice of Italy and many others.

I kept on reminiscing the lines from The Duchess, when passing by the model of the city of Bath in United Kingdom.

“We’ve come to Bath to get away from London and all of London has come away to Bath.”

There are also simulations like the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the fall of the Berlin Wall and many others.

At the end of the visit, we could find an exhibition called Spirit of Europe. I think it was included as a package together with the Mini Europe. It presents the information about the European Union (EU) with interactive ways of exhibitions. There are multimedia quizzes and games. I even got a chance to send an e-card to anybody with my face on the Mini Europe themed card. I sent it to my sister, my friend in Egypt and another one to my own e-mail. Heh. I wanted to send it to my mother but I forgot her e-mail address.

On our way to exit the Mini Europe, we passed by a shop selling our pictures with the mascot of the place. Or so I thought. I bought 2 pictures and 2 key chains (with a picture of us on it). The guy at the store asked me where I’m from. When I said Malaysia, he asked again from which city in Malaysia. I answered Johore, and to my surprise he knew Johore. He’d been in Malaysia on vacation once. He told us how he visited Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. He had a tour around the country. There was a sad story behind his holidays in Malaysia when he met a Malay woman. He sort of fell for her and asked her hand for marriage or so. The name was Suhaila. She refused due to the different in their beliefs. He brought up this story as he saw one of the girls smiling reminding him of her, as he couldn’t forget her. That was quite a drama I guess. Heh.

There was this idea of spending a day in Amsterdam. So just in case, I thought we should have a day reserved for that idea. Thus I was eager to finish Brussels in a day. From Bruparck, we went straight to Palais du Cinquantenaire, situated in Parc du Cinquantenaire (Park of the Fiftieth). It is a building built by the government for the 1880 National Exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of Belgian independence.

Later, we took a metro to have a look on the European Union Parliament Quarter. It is indeed very near but we just thought it would be worthy if we maximize the use of the whole day ticket. At first, we kind of lost our way in the park behind the Parliament. We just saw the back of the building from the park. But later, on our way back to the nearest metro station, we finally found the front view of the Parliament unintentionally. Haha. There are actually 3 European Union Parliaments located in 3 different countries; France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Then, for all we were worth, we headed back to the hotel.

At 9.00 pm, we went back again to the Grand Place to experience the night environment. There was a shuttle provided from the hotel. The night at Grand Place was completely different from the morning we had that day. The place got crowded as the night crawled darker. We reached there before the sunset. Maghrib in Belgium (in summer) was at 10.00 pm.

The last shuttle back to the hotel would be at 11.00 pm so we just hanged around and bought some souvenirs and chocolates. Yeah! We tasted a sample that morning and we couldn’t agree more that Belgian chocolates are the best! Well of course we checked the ingredients before buying. I bought some for me and friends in Jordan and a box for my family. We ought to take some time watching a street performance; an acrobat riding a unicycle.

At 11.00 pm, we waited the shuttle at the place been told. It was in front of a building called Bourse. Brussels was as crazy as Paris that night. It was again about FIFA. I think Spain must’ve won a match that so many people crowded that building and the cars honking here and there. There were also people running here and there with Spain flags in their hands. It was a nice view actually seeing them altogether assembled and sitting on the stairs of the Bourse building. They were shouting and cheering.

to be continued...

0 responses:

◄Design by Pocket, BlogBulk Blogger Templates. Distributed by Deluxe Templates