Sunday, January 25, 2015

Brussels; Manneken Pis & Grand-Place

Hi guys! First post of 2015 and what better way to start off the new year but by sharing pictures of a city that has truly impressed me with its eclectic architecture? I know we're a bit far into the month of January and I will explain in a post why is it that I have been neglecting my blog lately.

The last city I have visited during my stay in Europe was Brussels, back in June. I got to stay at someone's place right in the heart of the city, though the first night I got there I had to stay at a hostel because my host wasn't available before the day after.

Just so you know there will be many posts on Brussels and many pictures. It's one of those cities that are just so full of wonders and different architectural styles that I couldn't just pick a few pictures. I mean, you walk one street and you already have fifty buildings all different from one another.

So I got off the plane, took the train, then the subway, and went to the Hello Hostel (which I had booked about two weeks before) at the subway station Simonis. After waiting for a terribly long time for absolutely no reason I left my stuffs in the room I was sharing with three other girls and went for a walk. Nearby is the Elisabeth Park and at one of its ends is the Sacré-Coeur National Basilica in Koekelberg.

The park itself is a big linear patch of green with benches and trees on each side. People walk, run, play, or sit down to chill.

Separated by a street from the park is the Basilica. I was mesmerized by its green domes that really stood out in the landscape.

Really, just take a look at the park on Google Earth, you'll see how symmetrical and perfect the layout is.

The morning after (leaving also took me a very long time for absolutely no reason) I started walking towards my host's place. Bruxelles isn't a big city and I had a small luggage (plus the weather was so nice) so I thought it would be a good idea to start getting familiar with the surroundings. Lucky me my host lives on boulevard Maurice Lemmonier, about five minutes away from the Manneken Pis.

So I got to her place, met some of her roommates, and started "planning" my day. I'm usually the no-plan kind of person. I get somewhere, ask locals what I should see, do, or eat, and my trip gets planned on the spot. Since the weather was nice I took a stroll downtown. First stop : Manneken Pis.

And yes, it is very small.

So ridiculously small I instantly regretted not bringing my zoom lens with me. And as if that wasn't enough, there are tourists everywhere trying to pose with it and there's a store selling chocolate replicas of the peeing little boy.

Not really knowing where I was going and trying to figure out the streets on the map I got from the hostel, I proceeded to walk towards Grand-Place. On my way there I have come across a few interesting sights, such as this swirling bench around a tree.

Or the Jacques Brel publishing house, which picture I obviously sent to my best friend because he kept sending me lyrics of Jacques Brel songs during my stay in Brussels.

Now look at this ... an asymmetrical glass and steel honeycomb pattern affixed on a plain white building, which is located right next to a classic building with a glass dome ... Welcome to Brussels!

I kept walking and realized I was getting close to Grand-Place. There was a lot of people and some renovations but that was totally worth it. You have probably seen pictures of it with its giant flower bed. The event usually takes place in August once every two years and I hope one day I will have the chance to see it with my own eyes.

In the meantime here are some pictures of this beautiful architectural clusterfuck.

If you are slightly obsessed with symmetry like I am, you have probably realized the door, the ornaments, and the windows aren't aligned. I swear it drove me mad as I was trying to take a picture that doesn't look like I don't know how to take pictures.

After visiting Grand-Place I kept walking around. The Bourse de Bruxelles is another great building. This side is the one on Rue du Midi.

In front were two men playing music. It's actually the perfect spot when you think about it.

When you turn around and look at the buildings on the corner of Rue du Midi and Rue du Beurre, you realize they have been added to the side of a church.

When you look at this spot on Google Streets you see they weren't there before. There used to be a lot of wasted empty space there and I guess this is how they decided to fill it. I know things like that wouldn't be done in Quebec. Instead, we'd try to reuse the wasted space and turn it into a public place. I found the Bruxelles approach very interesting but also very ... Bruxellish. It just seems right in this context.

And so that's it for today guys! I hope you enjoyed the first part of many posts on Brussels. Until next time!

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