06 July 2019

The Belgian Long Weekend

Back in March, Berlin had an additional holiday. International Women's Day was announced to be a public holiday from 2019 onward for Berlin, and since it happened to be on a Friday, it gave us a long weekend. And I used that as an excuse to get out of the city for a while. As a last-minute choice, I headed to Brussels.

I've been to Brussels before, quite a few times. In fact, this visit is my fifth time to Belgium, and of course, I went through Brussels during all those previous visits. This time, I opted to stay in the neighbourhood of Matongé, in Ixelles. Matongé is actually known for its African character, as it takes its name from a district in Kinshasa.

So, on an early Friday morning, I headed out and went to the airport to catch the first Brussels Airlines flight from Berlin to Brussels. That was uneventful. I arrived on time, got myself a weekend ticket for Brussels' public transport system, and an hour later, I found myself in my hotel. I couldn't check in yet, so I just dropped off my bag.

I checked out some sights: I stayed away from the top-sights since by now I have seen them already. Instead, I headed to the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg, which was perhaps the largest art-deco church in the world. Then I went to check out the BELvue Museum and Coudenberg, which is an archaeological dig right in the middle of Brussels, underneath a square.

The next day, I headed out to Wallonia, by doing a day trip to Tournai and to Mons. It was actually my first visit to this region of Belgium, and by doing so, I think I have extensive coverage of the country by now.

On Sunday, I stayed in Brussels, visiting Autoworld, as well as the Visitor's Centre of the European Parliament. That was actually an interesting an educational visit, as I learned about the origins of the EU. Knowing what the EU stands for, it makes me look forward that some day in the future I could actually be a part of it. Finally, I also visited the Horta Museum, which was a fantastic art nouveau building.

One other thing that I liked in this short visit was that I was able to visit my favourite restaurants again. Of course I went back to Viva M'Boma, which is a restaurant that specialises in internal organs. I also headed back to Nüetnigenough, which has an amazing beer collection, not to mention that it's a very top-notch Belgian brasserie.

So, after visiting Belgium for five times now, I think I can say that I have scratched more than just the surface. I think I can be comfortable retiring my Belgium guidebook by now, having used all chapters already. And I must say it was actually a fun experience!

Of course, pictures will follow. So stay tuned!

2 comments:

  1. This is a city I visited once in the 1990s and I would gladly go back to if given the chance. It's way more exciting and interesting than (most) French people claim!

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    1. Zhu,

      While I don't know what stereotypes French people have about Brussels, I have heard others say that Brussels is a smaller and dirtier version of Paris. I can see where they are coming from, but truth be told, given what Brussels can offer I don't think that's a bad thing at all!

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