Friday, August 11, 2006

Benelux - Belgium - Brussels

The next stop of my Benelux tour was to proceed Northeast for Belgium. I guess the place to visit when visiting Belgium is to head for Brussels, the capital of the European Union.

I bought my ticket from Luxembourg the moment I reach there. I asked the ticketing salesperson for a one way ticket to Brussels, but she told me that it's cheaper to get a return ticket and bought me the return ticket instead for €16.90. I later checked from the internet that the one way ticket cost €19.90. Like amazing~ I passed my return ticket to Gabriel since I knew there's no way I'd make a trip from Brussels to Luxembourg. If any one fine day he might want to make that trip, he can use that ticket. He did used that ticket in the end, like about one month after my trip, or is it more than one month? Anyway, the ticket was not wasted~

The person informed me that the train came by the hour, and I could take any of them. But as I reached the train station earlier than the scheduled time, I found out from a platform master than there were many more trains plying other than the one that came by the hour. He told me to get on the train. And I did. At first I was a bit afraid that I might have the wrong ticket, but in the end, the ticket inspector turned out to be the platform master I met earlier, so no problems.

Reaching Brussels was a headache because I couldn't understand road signs and couldn't find my way to the hostel which I'd booked a room from. I asked about 3 people for directions, but they all gave me different directions. In the end, after walking and go staning, and walking a lot more, I reached the hostel. I thought I could finally take a good rest. BUT the receptionist told me that the hostel was fully booked. I said I made a reservation, showed her my handphone call logs and the number I'd called. And made many pitiful faces. She can't possibly asked me to sleep in the streets after all I did booked a bed.

After some negotiation, and I think she realised the mistake made on her part, she relented and gave me a room. But it was a single room. She said it was the only room available. €30. €9 more than budgeted. But the non-membership tariffs and sheets were waived, so I was offered the basic rate of €30 with the benefits of the sheets and not being a member but paying member prices. It turned out to be okay. FOr the price I paid, I made full use of the room. I bathed. In the private bathroom. I slept early, to make full use of the room and bed and sheets. I ate breakfast there too. So it can be considered quite worthwhile for the price I paid.

I checked out just about 15min the checkout time because I wanted to make full use of the money I paid for the room. I had wanted to deposit my bags there while I toured the city, but in the end decided against it because the walking trip back to the hostel was a bit of a hassle. I had not bought any public transport tickets in either Luxembourg or Brussels. I went on my two feet to everywhere. I dropped my bags at the lockers at the train station and went out exploring the city. Somewhere in between I bought tickets to Utrecht. After buying the tickets, I realised to my horror that I needed to transit and I didn't know where to transit. Had to queue all over again to get that itinery.

Going everywhere on my two legs means really exploring and finding places that normal people might not be able to find. Travelling the Joan way means not having any inkling of what the city is like before going down there. It also means having no expectations. Take Luxembourg for example, I never knew there was a fortified ancient castle there, much less it's a UNESCO world heritage site. I found it from my walking and was very pleasantly surprised. It was the same for Brussels. I walked and I discovered.

A walk around Brussels.
brussels walk

Although I numbered the pictures, I'm not talking about it. hehehe~ I think some pictures you can just look and understand. Maybe I've seen like so many of the same kind of stuff that I'm like numbed to all of them already. But anyway, a little note about the Mannequin Piss. It's probably the stupidest icon ever, only losing out the ther Merlion. It's just an ugly little boy pissing (but at least he's not vomiting water, what crap?!), but what's stupid is that he's dressed, he's dressed in a different outfit with every season. In the picture above you see him dressed in the getup of an American footballer. I bet if Belgium had made it to Germany 2006 which they didn't, that boy would have been in the football jersey.

This day in Brussels was the second day of the start of the good weather. A sign of god weather? Everyone's out in the garden. The public gardens were filled with people lying on the grass. To also reiterate the point that the weather was getting hot, I had to buy a top in Brussels because I hadn't thought that I'd sweat so much and needed this many change of clothes. I wanted to buy a skirt too, and shed my long pants but I couldn't find a nice skirt.

Somewhere in between my walking I came to an art museum. Maybe you haven't noticed, but art musuems don't attract me, maybe some history museums might, but generally, I don't really like museums. But this museum was different. It looked big, and it was cheap, and I hadn't got any better idea on what else I can do. And the museum had a cafe, I can have lunch there. For all these reasons, I went there. And as always when I head out to something I've no expectations of, I was pleasantly surprised.

Art Museum. (It's the biggest art museum in Brussels. Think you can google for the name. I didn't bother finding out what's the name of the museum, to me it's a nice museum can already.)
brussels art museum

The thing I was so pleasantly surprised with, the art piece that redeemed the money I paid for the ticket, picture number 8. Death of Marat. For all those who don't know, I'm a big big fan of David, Jacques-Louis David. It's my European history upbringing and reading too much romantic revolutionary ideals and Maximillian Robspierre and Napoleon and those dictators that made me fall in love with that painter. I'd say, he's the founder of propaganda. wahahaha~~~

My lunch is in number 12, 22 shows the special exhibition which I also went to. It's named Bing. No photography was allowed inside. It's a stupid exhibition la... Nothing much... Or maybe I just preferred the normal exhibition stuff. I thought by going to visit a museum on a weekday, I could have the whole place to myself and be in some peace and quiet. It turned out that weekdays meant that there were lots of school trips. There were like at least three big groups of students doing art appreciation there. One group even gave a presentation of Marat, making me unable to get a picture of him. I had to return an hour later to get that picture of Marat.

I think there were like 6 galleries in the museum. Some galleries were closed during certain hours, as told to be by some security officer in the museum. But it turned out to be bullshit la. I went to the gallery, it was open, and nobody chased me out.

After the museum tour, I was tired, and I didn't know where else I could go. My legs could only carry me this far. Then I noticed some brightly coloured buses that brought people sightseeing. I asked the price and decided that I can use that one and a half hour journey to occupy my time before I head down to Utrecht.

Sightseeing Bus.
brussels sightseeing tour

I think the reason why I put those numbers is to prevent people from taking my pictures unauthorised. Also, if you noticed, I stopped putting up full sized pictures, everything's either collages or animated gifs. Must prevent plagarism and priracy~

The bus driver had quoted me a standard price when I asked for pricing, but later as I noticed the ticket, there was an option of a cheaper price for students, so I managed to get my ticket at a lower price. This was to happen again at the Mercedes-Benz Museum. I had checked out that as students we're offered concessions, but in the museum, it was not stated. I just went to the counter and asked for a concession ticket and got it. The person didn't even check my identity for concession. hehehe~

Interesting things to note. 7 shows a Japanese garden. Like diaoz... 9 shows an stom thingie which apparently is as much of a Belgian icon as is Mannequin Piss, but I've never heard of it until I saw it. It looks just as dumb anyway. And it's so out of the way. Unless you drive or you take a sightseeing bus you won't be able to see it, but so many people make a trip down to see it, and it's plastered across many many postcards of Brussels. 16, 17, 18 is in Brussels economic region which I was not able to make it there on my two feet. I should have like just took a bus/train there and can spend the whole day in like shopping centres. But then again, crap la, I go all the way there just to shop meh? I want to shop can shop in Singapore. hahaha~ But it turned out that I did go to somewhere just for the purpose of shopping in one of my later travels. To Zurich. Oh man... The shopping district in Zurich is the ultimate sia... But that will be in another travel log.

Also interesting is 13. It looks like the Brandenburg Gate, but it's just a gate in Brussels. It was a gift from the monarchy, I think it was the king to the city on I think National Day or something. It's really a damn stupid gift. Of all things, a gate??? Like what would the people of Brussels need a gate for? It becomes just another stupid icon like the Mannequin Piss and that atom thingie.

After the sightseeing trip, it was also time for me to take that train down to Utrecht. In all Brussels was great. If I've the chance for me to go there again, I'd head for the economic district to tour instead.

Next up, watch out for my Holland pages~

1 comment:

cindy said...

got ppl take ur pics w/o ur permission?