Brussels Apartment

Brussels Apartment

Brussels Apartment

Brussels Apartment

Brussels

This will be our first visit to Brussels, a place that was on our list for many years and we are looking forward to our time here.  Our apartment is centrally located, about a block from the Bourse de Bruxelle. Le Comptoir de Mathilde, on Rue au Beurre, is just around the corner and a bit. It will be handy to have a gourmet food store like this so close by. Anything on the avenue of butter must be well matched for good cooking! It is only a 5 minute walk to the Royal Gallery of Saint Hubert.

 Cinquantenaire Arc

Cinquantenaire Arac (Photo: March Rychaert)

Galeries Saint Hubert

Galeries Saint Hubert, built in 1847 look fabulous. (Photograph: Jpotakal)

Law Courts

The Law Courts (Photo: Karmakolle)

Brussels is bilingual, officially recognizing the Dutch and French speaking communities of Belgium. About 90% of the people speak French. Signs for streets, railway stations, bus stops and other places will have names in the two languages. English is spoken but less prevalent.

Brussels is known for architecture, beer and chocolate. The chocolate will make Karen very happy. I like European beers and I always enjoy photographing architecture so this should be a great week. We have found a great apartment so now the planning commences.

We will consider getting the "Brussels Card" as for about 22 Euro it gives free admission to over 30 museums and monuments.

Some of the sights to see include:

  • Grand Place - this is the town square, ranked as one of the most beautiful in the world. It is lined with history. It is the small medieval core - about four blocks and the streets are well preserved. This is a pedestrian area with small streets.
  • Brussels Centrale is near Grand Place, and Centrale is a historical marketplace that is written up as a must to see.
  • Days trips to Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Leuven, and Mechelen evidently provide much larger medieval centres that remain.
  • La Monnaie, the Mint. This is the opera house.
  • The Pentagon follows the outline of the second city walls and it encloses the core city with numerousrestaurants, bars, museums and the like. It is small enough to be explored by foot.
  • European Quarter is the home to the European parliament.
  • Business District is said to have little value for tourists, herer are business towers but it also have the North Station is an impressive Art Déco building.
  • Schaarbeek was once a commercial hub but now this area is said to have decayed into a a hotspot of crime. Visit with caution is what I have read.
  • Royal Palace while no longer the residence of the King, the Palace now houses museums and churches.
  • Old England Building - is a former department store (1899) in art nouveau architecture style. The black facade, wrought iron and arched windows should be impressive. It has the MIM music museum. The rooftop cafe is noted as offering a great city view.
  • Marolles/Marollen - is a neighbourhood of Brussels best known for the daily flea market on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein. There are many shops selling everything from old radios and bent wipers to fine china and expensive Art Nouveau trinkets. Visit on Saturdays or Sundays are recommended.
  • Brussels/Ixelles-Elsene - is said to be a vibrant part of town with a high concentration of restaurants, bars and other services to satisfy the good-looking or the heavy-spending.
  • Saint-Gilles/Sint-Gillis - is the city's bohemian epicentre with thriving French, Portuguese, Spanish, Maghrebi and Polish communities. The area around the Parvis de St-Gilles/St-Gillisvoorplein is the arty part, with the area around the Chatelain/Kastelein and the Church of the Holy Trinity being decidedly more yuppified. Like Schaerbeek, Saint-Gilles boasts several Art Nouveau and Haussmann-style buildings.
  • The Law Courts - were the largest building in the world at the time of construction, overlooking the old city from Poelaert Square.
  • The Basilica of the Sacred Heart - is the 5th largest church in the world, and a corner stone in art deco architecture.

Belgium has one of the most best developed railway networks in Europe. Domestic trains are operated by the national railway operator SNCB logo.svg - memorize the name of your destination in both French and Dutch so that it is easy to recognize as the name as you may know in English might not be used at all.

Frequencies and approximate travel times from Brussels Central station to selected cities in Belgium:

  • Antwerp - six trains an hour, the trip is 40 minutes to 1hr 15min
  • Bruges - two trains an hour, trip is about 1hr 10min
  • Gent - six trains an hour, trip is about 40 minutes.
  • Leuven - five trains an hour, about 25 min each way
  • Mechelen - seven trains an hour, 25-30 min

There are also trams that travel through Brussels. One take a scenic 10 km long journey through the Sonian Forest (20 minutes) with a frequency of 5 trams per hour. A single ticket is €2.10, and allows you to get off at any station along the way and back on the next tram within the ticket validity of an hour. Tickets can be purchased in Tervuren station or from the tram driver at an additional fee.

For the metro, A single ticket Jump costs €2.10. Tickets must be purchased from a GO vending machine in either Kraainem or Stokkel metro station, and can only be paid with euro coins or Maestro compatible cards. Bills are not accepted.

Galeries Saint Hubert is a beautiful glass-topped shopping passage.