The bus serving as public transport takes a U turn at busy intersections. Most of the time, the bus do not gracefully enter the road going in the reverse direction and have to back it up a bit to get the U-turn right. This was my first impression on the way to the center of the city from my hotel. First impression is not the correct term as this is my second time in the city. The first time was in 2003 a few weeks after my marriage. So, this is the second time.
Brussels is the capital of Belgium. Like the other cities in Europe, Brussels also features architectural beauties, culinary wonders and themed museums. The differentiating factors of this city are the love & innovation for comic strips along with transformation of seafood into mouthwatering dishes with their culinary skills.
The city of Brussels is divided into lower town and upper town. During the olden days, the upper town was for meant for the rich. The upper town is located higher ground when compared to the lower one. So, it has fresher air to stimulate thinking. Anyways, that is what was widely claimed.
I walked around the Lower Town. Due to time constraints, I couldn't tour the Upper Town. But the three hours of walking in the Lower Town was sufficient to fill my camera with pictures and also to tire my legs.
The most prominent landmark in the Lower Town is the Grand Place. It is a square surrounded by seven buildings built by various guilds in the city. They do share architectural styles. But there is no uniformity in appearance. Moreover, they have tried to outdo one another. The sculptures on buildings are so intricate & unique that one can spent hours looking or photographing. One of the building is the Town Hall named Hotel de Ville. Yes, hotel has a different meaning in this part of the world.
I walked through the small streets emanating out of the Grand Place. Some of the streets are named after food. There is one for butter, herrings, meat etc. On the street named after butter, there is a famous shop named Biscuiterie Dandoy selling buttery biscuits. There are a street name translating the route for grains.
One of the curious sights was that of La Bourse. This is the stock exchange. Facing one corner of the the stock exchange is the church Eglise St-Nicholas. Also facing the stock exchange is the Art Nouveau cafe Falstaff. In a twisted way, pray, make money and spend.
Some parts of the Lower Town is built on top of the river. Where the water flowed through once upon a time is now roads or trendy cafes. There was also a canal that is undergone many transformations. It became a fish market and then it was replaced with pools & fountains. Now it is lined with seafood restaurants as a tribute to the old fish market.
No walk is complete without sighting a church. I saw three of them.
Then there is Place de Brouckere known for the French influence in architecture and famous Metronome hotel. One of the monstrosity witnessed here was a beautiful tall building whose regal appearance is dwarfed by a Coca-Cola ad on it's top.
Martyrs of the 1830 revolution are also buried in the Lower Town. This is close to Rue Neuve where shops with reasonable price attracts a lot of customers. From here, I moved to Galeries St-Hubert. It is a shopping arcade. There is a butcher's street aptly named Rue des Bouchers emerging out of the arcade. There is hardly any place to walk this street because the restaurants lining the narrow street put their tables outside their establishments making the street come alive with noise and smell of food but at the same time making it difficult to navigate.
I gave Manneken Pis aka the Pissing boy a miss. During the last visit, this was hyped and turned out to be a disappointment. Unless someone points it out, you will never know it is the one even if you walk by it.