If you just reached here and wanted to read the start of our journey, let’s go to Part 1!
Monday, 20th February 2017
Journey to Brussels
Our last day in Brugge and one of our final destinations before our trip ended. It was so sad leaving Bruges; 2 nights staying in this romantic city had a peaceful effect onto us. We had our last breakfast at the Adornes Hotel where the whole room was empty except for the two of us. We ate a lot of breads since there was no other people. Intermittently, we walked to the fireplace and stood there to warm ourselves.
After breakfast, the staff at the hotel called the taxi for us and we took a taxi back to where it started – to the Brugge train station. It was a gamble for us. We decided to go to Brussels but we had not booked any train ticket to the city. I walked to the ticket counter and asked for “2 tickets to Brussels, please?“. Gladly, there were still many tickets available. After all, the journey from Brugge to Brussels is just a mere hour away. The ticket costs 14,70 Euro per person.
We bought the tickets, dragged our luggage to the platform and waited for the train to arrive. It was not long before we saw our train and hopped onto it. The train proceeded to Brussels, passing through several cities including Ghent.
From romantic Brugge to Gheto-like Brussels
Our train arrived at Brussels Central station and since it was raining heavily, we decided to take a cab to our hotel. We waited in front of the main entrance of the train station and saw a black taxi just dropping off a passenger. I ran towards the taxi and asked the driver whether he can take us to Hotel Bentley where we had made our booking. He said okay and off we went.
It was a bit of a culture shock for us after we arrived at Brussels. Firstly, there were no motorcycles on the road except for a few superbikes. It was totally different as compared to many Asian cities. Secondly, the taxi was a Mercedes. In fact, most of the taxis are Mercedes. While we worshiped Mercedes as a symbol of richness back home in Malaysia, in Brussels, it is a symbol of public transportation.
But the most shocking thing for us was when we arrived at Hotel Bentley. It is situated at Avenue Rogier 51, 1030 Schaerbeek, Belgium. While it is a bit far (but still reachable) from the city centre, we chose the hotel because the price is cheap. What we did not realize is the fact that the area is full with immigrants and while I did not want to sound racist, we noticed that some of them were unfriendly and I did feel unsafe at the area. It felt a bit like in Gotham city, I guess?
What did we do during our first day in Brussels?
After we paid the taxi 20 Euro and booked him for our trip back to the train station tomorrow, we checked-in the hotel and rested for a while. After that, we decided not to waste our time and we went out to explore Brussels. We walked from the hotel heading towards Botanique metro station using the screenshot of Google Map that I saved earlier.
Before reaching the station, we saw a Turkish restaurant and had our late lunch there before proceeding to the station. We bought a MOBIB card for 5 Euros each and purchased the 48 hours passed for 14 Euros. The pass allows us to travel along the whole STIB lines as well as on the TEC and De Lijn urban networks. Further info can be read here.
We took the tram and below is our journey throughout our first day in Brussels:
Place du Petit Sablon at Petit Sablon station
We stopped at the Petit Sablon station and we walked leisurely at the little garden at the Place du Petit Sablon or Kleine Zavel in Dutch. It was so beautifully manicured. There are also many beautiful and heritage buildings nearby including the Synagogue de Bruxelles, Anglo-Belgian War Memorial and the massive Palace of Justice.
We walked further and found a Godiva store but decided not to buy anything. We also found the Tin Tin gallery before we finally reached the Grote Markt. It is a massive square surrounded by many UNESCO World Heritage buildings including the City Hall. As compared to the Brugge’s Markt Square, this square feels more enclosed and more hectic. After all, it is the capital city of Belgium.
The luckiest place in Brussels – Everard ‘T Serclaes’s statue
Nearby the Markt Sqaure is the statue of Everard ‘T Serclaes. It is a reclining statue of a heroic Brussels citizen and legend said that whoever touches the statue will be in good luck. We found that the statue has changed its colour due to the many hands which have touched it.
Guided by the signboard erected in the city, we walked further to Mannekin Pis, the iconic statue of Brussels. The statue is very peculiar but cute nonetheless. It looks huge in photos but upon watching it live, it was so small, as small as the boy’s…Ok, I will stop here. There are other pissing statues as well but not as famous as this. Maybe it is because of the statue’s cuteness that many people thronged to see it.
Hard Rock Cafe Brussels
I have never been to any Hard Rock Cafe, not even in Kuala Lumpur. However, influenced by our friend – Raihan’s photo that she took there during her visit a few months earlier, we decided to have our dinner there and took the same photo style as she took. It was nice and delicious – we had salmon there. And the waitress was so friendly that we decided to become a member and bought some souvenirs back home.
Ended our day in Primark
And finally, we ended our night with a trip to Primark. We bought perfumes and t-shirts and other cheap things to fill in our luggage before decided to return to the hotel by taking the metro and the tram.
What we think about Brussels?
While many people may love Brussels, but since we had just arrived from Brugge, we did not quite like the city. For us, Brussels is very busy and chaotic. Apart from that, it seems like the city has many Turkish immigrants and their demeanor is different from the locals. Nevertheless, in terms of the food and the attractions, we love it and the public transportation is also efficient.
Back at the hotel, it was not long before both of us fall asleep. Despite the room’s strange smell and the blaring honking sound from the main road outside (we had to open the window a bit otherwise it felt stuffy), we still managed a decent sleep.
Next: Part 41
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