For a week, I walked about in Brussels which is the largest urban area of Belgium and also its capital. It is a compact city that sits within a 14th Century hexagon shaped 'Petit Ring' around the city. It was easy to cover most of the main sites by foot. The city is located on the shores of the Senne and hosts more than 1 million inhabitants. It is for this reason that the Senne river has been labeled one of the most polluted in Belgium as much untreated waste is deposited there by the urbanized environment. Most citizens of Brussels speak Dutch or French which are both appointed as official languages. The city also hosts hosts the headquarters of the European Union as well as NATO and is one of the largest convention centers of the world. The name Brussels has been derived from the old Dutch word 'Broeksel' which means 'home in the marsh'. One of the main places to visit in Brussels is the 'Grand Place', a square lined with buildings that reflect medieval and gothic construction. It was extremely interesting to see the streets named after comic characters as Brussels is also the capital of the 'comic strip' and hosts a comic museum too. The famous Belgian chocolates and waffles are rampant around the city and most if not all tourists always purchase chocolates when visiting Brussels.
View of Notre Dam du Sablon Church
Photo – www.Sleepymaggie.com
The best way to reach Brussels is by landing at the Brussels Airport locally still commonly referred to as Brussels National or Zaventem. It is located near Zaventem which is a nearby Flemish municipality. There is also the Brussels South Charleroi Airport which is smaller and located about 50kms from Brussels near Charleroi. Ticket prices vary according to booking dates but can range approximately between INR 25000 to 40000 one way from Mumbai, my hometown. A taxi to the centre costs about 35 Euros but Buses and Trains are available regularly and are a cheaper option.
Brussels is easily accessible by rail if you are traveling from other cities around Europe or UK as it is connected by high speed rail links like the Eurostar which is connected to London via the Channel Tunnel and takes about 2 hours. The Thalys rail is connected to major cities like Amsterdam and Paris and takes about 1.5 hours. There is also the German ICE which connects Cologne and Frankfurt to Brussels. Train tickets from other cities range from about 60 to 120 Euros depending on the train, distance and booking time. Traveling from other cities by Bus is another more economical option if one has the time and patience as tickets vary from 30 to 60 Euros and all buses in Europe are equipped with a bathroom unlike interstate buses around India. For example, an 8 hour bus from London Victoria station to Brussels is 39 Euros. Around brussels, The Brussels Metro also known as the premetro costs about 2 Euros. The entrances to the Metro are marked with a blue and white 'M' and makes transport fairly easy. Renting a bike also known as a 'Villo' for a week costs about 7 Euros with 0.50 Euros per hour. Brussels bike tours let you discover the city in just 4 hours!
A beautiful park on the outskirts of the City.
Photo – www.Sleepymaggie.com