Belgium

In early July of 2022, we flew to Belgium for a five-day stay. This trip had been planned and postponed before; this time, everything worked out, and shortly before 2 p.m. on July 5, we landed at Brussels airport. While deplaning and walking up the jetway, it was already obvious that we were in Hergé territory: where else could one expect to see an airplane painted to look like Tintin's shark submarine?

This is part 1 describing our Belgian trip; part 2 will be published next month.

Brussels

For our entire stay in Belgium, we were at l'Art de séjour in Brussels. This is a very small hotel, five rooms in all, but oh, what attention to detail! Take a look at their web site to see what we mean! When we go back to Brussels, we will make our travel dates dependent on when l'Art de séjour is available—it is that good. We began our visit by going to the Grand Place, the central square of Brussels, a mere few minutes from our hotel. From there, we walked up to the Sablon, one of the seven hills of Brussels. We had dinner up there before strolling back down.


On the Grand Place, the central square of Brussels The 'Maison du Roi' (King's House) is home to the Brussels City Museum

On the Grand Place, the central square of Brussels

The Maison du Roi (King's House) is home to the Brussels City Museum


Detail of the King's House façade Guild Houses on the north-western end of the Grand Place

Detail of the King's House façade

Guild Houses on the north-western end of the Grand Place


Guild Houses on the south-eastern end of the Grand Place House of the Dukes of Brabant: one façade for seven Guild Houses

Guild Houses on the south-eastern end of the Grand Place

House of the Dukes of Brabant: one façade for seven Guild Houses


Up on the 'Place du Grand Sablon' Heading back down on the 'Rue de Rollebeek'

Up on the Place du Grand Sablon

Heading back down on the Rue de Rollebeek


Shielded by plants, we had coffee and a pastry here People enjoying the outdoors in the 'Kolennmarkt' (Coal market)

Shielded by plants, we had coffee and a pastry here

People enjoying the outdoors in the Kolennmarkt (Coal market)


Every establishment has at least a couple of outdoor tablest After 7 p.m., on the 'Place Fontainas', it was hard to find a table

Every establishment has at least a couple of outdoor tables

After 7 p.m., on the Place Fontainas, it was hard to find a seat


For some reason, I had always wanted to see the Atomium. Other than stopping in the Belgian capital while on a road trip with friends in 1975 (goodness, 47 years ago!), I had only been to Brussels a few times for the purpose of picking up a rental car at the airport and driving to Antwerp on business. This, then, was my first opportunity to see this structure that represents an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.


The Atomium was built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair Detailed view of part of the structure

The Atomium was built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair

Detailed view of part of the structure


Arik Levy's 'Rockgrowth' sculpture One of the nine 18 meter (59-ft) spheres The Atomium represents an iron crystal

Arik Levy's Rockgrowth sculpture

One of the nine 18 meter (59-ft) spheres

The Atomium represents an iron crystal

We had purchased tickets at a station in town and taken a subway, then walked the roughly twenty minutes from the end of the line to get to the Atomium. We now had to go back the same way. We never did figure out how to legally ride the subway back: there were no ticket vending machines on the platforms, and there did not appear to be a way to purchase tickets on the train. Fortunately, nobody checked, and so we got a free ride.


François Anneessens Square and monument On the 'Rue du Midi'

François Anneessens Square and monument

On the Rue du Midi


In the courtyard of Town Hall Sculpture 'l'Escaut' by Pierre-Denis Plumier

In the courtyard of Town Hall

Sculpture l'Escaut by Pierre-Denis Plumier
s

Murals remind us that we are in BD territory The famous 'Manneken Pis' Across the street from the 'Manneken Pis'

Murals remind us that we are in BD territory

The famous Manneken Pis

Across the street from the Manneken Pis

A quick word about waffles: strictly speaking, at least within Belgium, there is no such thing as a "Belgian Waffle". Instead, there are several varieties of waffles, the main ones being the Brussels waffle and the Liège waffle. Brussels waffles were introduced to the United States at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City. Because it was assumed that most Americans could not identify Brussels as the capital of Belgium, they were called, no, not Belgian, but "Bel-Gem" waffles.

Be that as it may, the best place to sample the most authentic Brussels and Liège waffles is the Maison Dandoy; thay have been making waffles and other delicacies since 1829, so they have a bit of experience. We sat in the upstairs room of their main location on the Rue au Beurre (Butter street. You just can't make up stuff like that!) from where we had a great view of the spectacular back of City Hall and observed a couple taking a selfie with fries in the street below.


A delicious Brussels waffle at 'Maison Dandoy' This is the first of many Godiva chocolate stores; it opened in 1926

A delicious Brussels waffle at Maison Dandoy

This is the first of many Godiva chocolate stores; it opened in 1926


The Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert... ...is a very classy indoor shopping mall built in the mid-19th Century.

The Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert...

...is a very classy indoor shopping mall built in the mid-19th Century.


In addition to fancy shops... ...there are places to get a bite or a drink. Fries on the balcony on the 'rue de la Madeleine'

In addition to fancy shops...

...there are places to get a bite or a drink.

Fries on the balcony on the rue de la Madeleine


Charles Buls fountain on Agora Square Brussels Convention Centre's three-story tall glass cube

Charles Buls fountain on Agora Square
Brussels Convention Centre's three-story tall glass cube


The Old England department store is now the MIM (Musical Instruments Museum) Very elaborate neo-gothic commercial house on the 'Coudenberg' (Cold Hill)

The Old England department store is now
the MIM (Musical Instruments Museum)

Very elaborate neo-gothic commercial house
on the Coudenberg (Cold Hill)


Façades by architect Paul Saintenoy completed around 1900 Heading to the 'Place Royale' with its Godfrey of Bouillon statu

Façades by architect Paul Saintenoy completed around 1900

Heading to the Place Royale with its Godfrey of Bouillon statue


The Royal Palace of Brussels, the official palace of the King and Queen of the Belgians

The Royal Palace of Brussels, the official palace of the King and Queen of the Belgians


Another view of the palace Heading down the 'Mont des Arts' on the way back to the hotel

Another view of the palace

Heading down the Mont des Arts on the way back to the hotel


The photos on this page were taken on July 5 and July 7, 2022.




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