Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Brussels. More Wanderings.

Kunstberg or Mont des Arts (Mount of the arts) gardens with a view of the unmistable spire of Town Hall in the background.

A

fter patiently waiting for Z to wake up on his own, I finally gave up and rustled him awake at 11a. Like so many kids his age, he stays up to the wee hours of the early morning and then sleeps til past noon, if let be.  I'll let him sleep but not til noon!

Today was Z's day to decide on the itinerary and he decided we should go see the Atomium.  I know from pictures that I've seen on the structure but beyond that I'm clueless.  It'll be a nice change from the historic landmarks that filled our attention yesterday afternoon.

It was an overcast day and I could swear I felt a raindrop or two hitting my cheek as we moseyed along our way.  I just kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn't rain any time soon as we had at least a half hour walk to make it to our first destination - the train station.

The Atomium is located on the edge of the city and you have to take the train to get there.  The station stop for the Atomium is Heysel and from downtown Brussels, you can travel there from the Brussels Central Station (Bruxelles-Central).

I don't know why I was navigating us to the Central Station.  I should have let Z take the helm.  Not that I'm a bad navigator - how can you go wrong with Google Maps?  But because getting us around was his responsibility and I should have not jumped in as I want him to fully participate in this trip.  I will make mental note to not do this from now on.

Our walk took us past several more of Brussels landmarks and as always, I was ready to capture an image at a seconds notice.

At one point, we crossed a large square - Place Royale where the the Church of Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg stands.  In front of the church is the statue of Godfrey of Bouillon.


We continued walking and passed by another tourist attraction - the MIM.  It used to be a store called "Old England" that sold British goods but today it is home to the Musical Instruments Museum.
The MIM aka.  Musical Instruments Museum.

I just love the traditional architecture of the old buildings here.

We crossed paths with a large group of school children, presumably on a field trip of some sort.  Each was pulling along a bicycle.  There are no buses to shuttle these children around - they are learning at a young age to bike around.  I think it's a great idea!  Most of the kids had reflective vests and helmets on.  Safety should be a priority however, there doesn't appear to be a helmet law here - I've noticed a lot of riders without them.  Brussels definitely caters well to bicyclists as there are plenty of them.  All the large roads have dedicated bike lanes and they are heavily used.  Bikes definitely reign supreme in this land.  It's no wonder Belgians are so fit - you don't see too many overweight people here!



By now, it was close to lunch time.  Neither one of us had had breakfast so on the way to the metro, we ended up in an underground shopping center.  There, we found one fast food eatery after another.  The places were getting crowded as worker bees were having their lunch break.



I just picked a spot and it turned out to be a cafeteria style place.  Z ended up with a plate of chicken something or other and I settled for a piece of quiche.  For fast food, it was cheaper than eating in a restaurant.  It wasn't much food but I considered this to be our *breakfast* so it's good enough to keep us going for a few hours.  I'll need to make sure we have a more substantial meal for dinner.


After our quick meal break, we continued on our walk towards the Central Train station.  I'm quickly finding out that Z is a fast walker and I'm finding that it's become par for the course for me to be at least 15 paces behind him!  My short legs are really getting a work out!


It was our first time buying tickets at a Belgian train station so it took a few minutes for us to figure things out.  Z and I split up.  He headed for the map and the ticket kiosk.


While I stood in the line for the ticket counter.  All we wanted to do was buy round trip tickets to and from Heysel, the train stop that is the closest to the Atomium.


In the end, we bought our tickets at the counter.  Z navigated us to the platform where we stood and waited for the train.  The stations here are spotlessly clean and the trains run pretty frequently and a ride costs 2.10 euros anywhere within the rail system.


I like the way how the center pole is divided into three making it much easier for several people to hang onto at the same time.

It was a fairly short ride to Heysel.  After all, Brussels is not a very big city.  When we exited the station, it was raining.  We could see Atomium in the near distance and although there were no signs directing us towards it, I just hoped we would make it there in a few minutes as the raining was coming down harder with every step I was taking.


Atomium, here we come!