Day 5: Brussels (16 Mar) #1

First and only full day in Brussels.

After all excitement of yesterday, I woke up relatively late. And since Brussels is scheduled to be sort of a ‘break stop’ after London’s hectic schedule, I wasn’t hard pressed to get out roaming early.

I went down to a Lidl grocery store near my place. From the main door, turn left and just go a couple hundred meters down the street and take a another left into an alley. The store was just at the exit of the alley.

Now, the one thing that hit me immediately upon walking into the alley was the smell of human excrement. Down the 100m alley there has to be like 6 or 7 different piles of it. Mind you, this was all in winter/spring, so the smell wasn’t half as bad as it would have been in summer. And the alley was quite a well trafficked one.

Long story short, I had to hold my nose going through the alley. I got some bread and food at Lidl, and I had to hold my nose going back as well. One thing to note at Lidl though, the bread section had some weird contraption that made sure that you’ll never touch the bread in the case with your hand. You’ll have to hit the bread with a long bat into a chute, which drops the bread into a tray at the side.

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For breakfast, it was an assortment of bread while for lunch I whipped up some soup and noodles with a can of meatball soup and an egg. Being able to cook is one of the perks of booking Airbnb over hotels.

I set off to explore the city at 1pm, but one good thing about Brussels is, a lot of the attractions that I wanted to see is within walking distance, save for the EU Parliament.

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As my Lycamobile data wasn’t working, I was effectively wandering blind with the hugely inaccurate GPS. It teleports my position all over the map, and couldn’t tell where I’m facing, so effectively it was no good for navigation. Luckily, some parts of town do have pedestrian signage, so I was able to navigate around with those.

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Straight out of my place, I ran into the Church of our Lady of Sablon. As cathedrals weren’t really my thing, I snapped a few shots and continued on.

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Continuing down the road, I entered the Quartier Royal with the Palace of Brussels and Brussels Park. The Palace wasn’t open that day, so again, a few snaps and I moved into the park. I did spot my first glimpse of a ‘sidewalk cleaner’? I’m not entirely sure on the terminology.

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The Palace of Brussels.
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One of the fountains in Brussels Park. It wasn’t operating when I was there.

Coming out of the other end of Brussels Park, I turned west and came upon the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral. I’d actually seen the spires from a distance and was interested in seeing what that was. I did went into this cathedral, but didn’t take any photos of the interior.

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It was beautiful inside, very ornately decorated. The floor of the side galleries had a lot of grave markers in them. I’m not sure about the protocols regarding those, but I did avoid stepping on or over them as the whole ‘stepping on someone’s grave’ thing is disturbing. It turns out they have a souvenir coin machine in there! Needless to say, I got one. It was 2 Euros if my memory is correct. Bear in mind though, a lot of cathedrals and churches in Europe have archaeological remains and excavations under them. This one was no different.

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The park in front of the cathedral was a bed of blooming flowers.

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Cross the park and you’ll come upon a row of souvenir shops. I popped in one and got a Brussels patch. I was really tempted to buy a Manneken Pis wine opener, you get the idea.

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Still heading west, I came across the Galeries Royales St. Hubert. It’s a shopping arcade, but I didn’t really fancy anything there. Also, there were fully armed and equipped Belgian Army soldiers on guard outside, a stark reminder of the terror threat all over Europe.

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Belgian Army soldiers on patrol.

I did stop for a snack in one of the cafes opposite of the Galeries. Belgian waffles and chocolate, can’t miss out on those. But truthfully, I feel like I’ll get diabetes after eating all of those. They have super high sugar content.

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Waffle with cream on the top left, and with bananas, chocolate and marshmallow on the bottom right. Sickeningly sweet, but it was nice.

 

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