Sometimes it’s hard to find enough time and money to go on holidays for a whole week. So was it in this case with us and that’s why we organized another one day trip. That time the destination was Brussels – the politicial center of Europe :) Don’t miss our story how we explored Brussels on a budget in just 24 hours and didn’t spend a lot.
As we landed at Charleroi airport in the late evening what we could expect from that day was only a smooth transport to Brussels and then to our apartment. However it turned out to be not so easy. We took a shuttle bus to the capital and arrived at Midi. It’s the biggest station in the whole Belgium and the success is not to get lost there. The metro also stops there. Unfortunately some shameless pickpockets are used to fool around at this station and the security doesn’t seem to keep up with them. Another problem we faced was to buy tickets for metro rides. Ticket counters were closed, ticket machines accepted only coins (which we were run out of) and they refused our debit cards. Nobody had change. Happily the staff of the station allowed us to enter the platform without a ticket and we finally bought them from the driver.
After getting off the metro we had a short bus ride and reached our destination, after all. For the first time we decided to use a popular website – Airbnb to book a stay for a night in the house of private person. Of course we were afraid to sleep in some strangers’ apartment at first but as it turned out, it was needless to be concerned about anything. Actually, it’s even better because we had an opportunity to talk with locals and hear some advices about what to visit :P By the way, the standard of the flat could be compared with classy hotels and was placed in a nice and peaceful neighborhood of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert.
EUROPEAN UNION HEADQUARTERS
And the very, very early morning we started our great sightseeing! :) At first we headed to visit EU buildings i.a. European Commission building and took a walk there to made there lots of pictures!!!
Then we went inside the European Parliament (this time we didn’t have to book anything in advance :) The free-of-charge visiting with an audio guide always starts at fixed hours and we needed to be there 15 minutes earlier. There is a security check similar to this at the airports. The main point of the visit was to see the Plenary hall. We learnt about the history and work of the Parliament and had the possibility to take a few photos of the Hemicycle from one of the galleries. For us the tour was very valuable because we are interested in politics (Paweł) and the job of translators who work there (Agata).
Then we took the metro to Atomium. It’s far from the center, so takes much time to arrive there, even by fast subway. At first we weren’t planning to go up but we enjoyed that place so much that we had to. Ok, maybe it’s not so high but the view is nice and the price for entrance is quite low. And we actually spent lots of time there. From the top we could notice Mini-Europe and Heysel Palace. We know that Atomium isn’t such a popular attraction but definitely should be the one. There’s much greenery around and the area is convenient when you need to relax or go for a walk with your other half.
Then we took the metro to the city center to see the central square of the city – Grand Place with the incredible, historic Town Hall.
Also we took a look of nearby Manneken Pis. It’s a little sculpture presenting fountain of a peeing boy, which is the symbol of Brussels.
King’s House, which is located just opposite the Town Hall, is worth to see as well.
Because staying so long in Atomium area, we hadn’t much time left. That’s why we had to visit it in a rush :P We really enjoyed the city center, so it was a shame that we were run out of time and promptly had to come back to the airport :( During our way back we saw one more antique monument of Brussels – the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.
To sum up, the trip was very successful :) Although not many locals spoke English, we could always find someone who wanted to help us :) Plenty of various touristic sites make Brussels a city which any tourist shouldn’t skip.