Brussels is a great city for travellers and Paris is a great city for tourists – as announced subjectively by me in a previous post). The bottom line is that Brussels, like my home town of Birmingham, takes some work to fully appreciate.
In which case, it is useful to have a local guide. I recommend Spotted by Locals: Brussels – this site pointed out some quirky or less usual places that seemed to suit our style more than the official Brussels tourism site. Here are three of the tips we followed, with the Spotted By Locals links for details and location maps.
One of the things that makes me feel more of a traveller and less of a tourist is getting to grips with local public transport. It beats resorting to costly cabs or, at the other extreme, getting tired from endless walking. So here is just a little lo-fi video of what it’s like to ride the Brussels tram, from Louise to Stade (near the Atomium). Our ride on tram line 94 took about an hour, with plenty of sights at the start before it headed into the suburbs (equally fascinating in their own way).
How to get a ticket
You can either buy a Brussels Card, which gives free transport and lots of tourism discounts for the validity of the card. Or various travel cards and single tickets are available at main stations; there are also individual ticket machines at tram stops. With all of these you have to validate your ticket when you board or enter the transport system.
Surely Brussels’ Atomium is on a list somewhere of the world’s top 10 most astonishing buildings. Hand-riveted bolt by bolt in the 1950s into the shape of a 102-metre-high iron molecule, this is a building that only a photo can do it justice. So here’s a couple more…
One of the three best things about our weekend in Brussels – the others are to be blogged – was seeing the city by Segway. If you don’t know what a Segway is, above is a video of me riding (driving? operating?) one.
It is FUN!
That was the question we had to answer very quickly one night when Eurostar announced its January sale and tickets for trains at reasonable hours were disappearing .
It came down to this: we’d been to Paris, several times, but never Brussels. ‘Brussels!’ announced Pete on a whim. ‘Booked!’ I replied.
I announced the happy news on Facebook and then the jibes started. Why did we want to go to Brussels? Brussels is boring! Go to Paris, it’s way better! Or Bruges. Or Ghent. Basically anywhere but the poor old capital of Belgium.