We headed out to Brussels this last weekend because we wanted to explore some places we used to live when I was a child and mom was at SHAPE teaching for the British Forces Schools. We got cheap weekend tickets to Brussels as there are Benelux specials going on right now – 50% off from Friday to Sunday. Our tickets were only about 36 euros for adults and 5 euros for the children round trip.
It was a sunny day in the 70s so perfect for sightseeing. Train travel is so much fun and we all enjoy it so of course it starts things off well. We pulled up into Brussels and got off the train and I was immediately transported back to my youth. Nope – not for the architecture in Central Station but sadly for the smell. The overwhelming smell of urine throughout the streets of downtown Brussels was strong from memory in the 70s and I am sad to say still exists. And nope I did not influence the children’s thoughts – they kept commenting on it and holding their noses!
Sad that the capital city of Europe reeks of urine and has been claimed as Europe’s most “boring city.”
The Grand Place is pretty and a short walk from the station. Filled with lovely old buildings and cafes it is lively and fun. The few streets around it are also vibrant and fun. Funnily enough the most known site of Brussels is a tiny fountain on a side street titled Manneken Pis – the little statue of a boy peeing. It used to be seen as rather rude and people side stepped it but now the tiny statue is given fancy outfits for holidays and revered on every postcard and shirt from Brussels. Max and Charlotte were stumped as to why it should be so highly visible and a landmark as after visiting it, they claimed it rather sad. Charlotte said it was sad and perhaps the reason Brussels smells of “pee” is because they celebrate a statue of a boy peeing. Rather insightful thoughts from a 6 year old.
In the afternoon we went to the museum area where they have the classics and a more modern museum. It’s a pretty area with places to sit and picnic in the middle. Our goal was the large exhibit of Rene Magritt in the modern museum:
Spread over three floors this has a large collection of this artist’s surreal work. Having been to the Dali museum near our home in Florida and the Escher museum in The Hague, we had high expectations of this. We saw some neat pieces but sadly it did not impress highly. Much of the work was his publishing times when he was doing corporate advertising etc. And of course there was a whole separate section for 18 plus that we did not visit. I AM glad they put that separate though!