From the first, the city of Brussels already took us by
Brussels is one of those cities that although its very beautiful, you always end up finding other more attractive destinations to go to instead. Luckily, my company sent me to several meetings there, giving me the opportunity to soak in its beauty and charm, which were much better than expected. My stay in the Belgian country was five days long with time to walk through its streets and see its history. With full summer weather, walking in the streets was very pleasant and enjoyable. Through a series of articles I will try to bring you a little more about this country and encourage you plan a trip there.
At five p.m. we had our flight to Brussels with Iberia. Although they were scheduled to leave at four, everybody already knows what happens with airlines lately and their respect for the consumer. The flight was short and sweet, landing at seven in the afternoon approximately. Arriving at Brussels airport, you realize that in Spain we are not so bad in some aspects, such as the usability of the directions, in Spain we do much better.
To begin to situate ourselves in the city, the airport (if you are not flying with Ryanair, which leaves you at Charleroi at 65 km away) is located northeast of the city of Brussels, Zaventem specifically is about twenty miles from the city center. I opted to go by train, because I love to cross and see the outskirts of cities. The landscapes were very nice, but nothing caught my attention until we crossed the business area and entered Brussels.
The end of the route was at Central Station (Gare Central, there’s also the option to get off at Gare du Nord). The hotel for the first two nights (which the company paid) was on the Boulevard Anspachlaan barely ten minutes from the Grand Place. The most logical option would be to take the metro, but the double transfer for something that was supposed to fifteen minutes as they said, made me opt for walking.
On the way to the hotel I noticed that people started to drink much sooner than in Spain and there was a great youthful atmosphere with the perfect weather. The first anecdote happened very close to the hotel, where a group of young people had wrapped a sheet around a central statue. Suddenly I turned my eyes and I started to see flames. It seems that in the north, people are also entertained by this nonsense. The area didn´t seem like a bad neighborhood, but it also gave me a certain feeling of insecurity in some parts, which I attribute to the time, knowing that in the north begin to go out much earlier.
I finally got to the hotel which gave a pretty positive first impression (of the Grand Place hotel Eurostarts we’ll talk in detail in another article.) I came into the room, I dropped my things and I finally felt like I was in Brussels, ready to take advantage of every second that I had available. It was time for dinner at some nice place and I deserved it (and also because it paid by the company). In Brussels, everything is close and you can walk through the center bringing to mind the past. The houses were old-fashioned and the passage of time reflected on the walls transported me to another era.
Although we will talk about the city tour in another article, we´ll discuss briefly the first sensations of being in the center. The first image that comes from Brussels is that of the Brussels Stock Exchange (the Bourse) which is very similar to the New York Stock Exchange. The temperature of 20 degrees at eleven p.m. made the walk even better and increased our desire to walk the streets. Bordering the stock exchange on the left we entered the cobblestone streets that gave access to the true heart of the city: The Grand Place.
The retina is able to memorize and to immortalize those mental pictures that really impress us. When you enter the Grand Place and watch the majesty of what is before you, you know you have one of those moments. It is a huge square full of details on each of its corners and many buildings. On its walls there was always a bit of beauty. For photography lovers like me, it is the time when there are an excess of snapshots that could be part of my personal gallery.
Although I had recommendations of many places to eat, I preferred to enjoy the views from the Grand Place and dine on the terrace of the restaurant “Le Roi Espagnol.” Meatballs in sauce, with pear and apple, accompanied by my Leffe beer while overlooking such a monumental plaza made the night a show where all the senses vibrated in unison. Also, the friendliness of the staff and their complicity made my first experience in the Belgian capital more than positive.