Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brussels part 2

Last weekend Justin and I went on our first trip out of the country. We decided on Brussels after we found some cheap airline tickets on Ryanair that we just couldn't pass up. We were excited to go to Brussels for many reasons, one of them being the food, which I already told you about. Another reason we decided to head to Belgium was because neither of us had been there before. We were excited to experience a new city together.

We arrived Friday afternoon and were instantly greeted with a cold wind and snow. Having lived in Michigan for the first 23 years of my life, you would think that I would be able to handle cold weather and winter conditions. But 2 years in California and now the mild Mediterranean climate of Italy has softened my tough Michigan self. It was COLD!

After finding our way to our hotel and checking in, we decided to bundle back up and head outside to explore the city for awhile. At this point, it had already started to get dark (and colder), so we didn't wander too far. Our hotel was very close to the city center, so we walked around there, had a nice dinner, and then headed back to our hotel so we could get an early start on the next day.

Saturday morning wasn't much warmer, which gave us a good excuse to visit some museums. First we went to a museum for the city of Brussels, which was located in the old city hall in the city's majestic Grand Place (this is the main square of Brussels). After this visit, we took the metro north of the city to visit the Atomium, a giant structure in the shape of an atom which was built for the 1958 world's fair. There are different exhibits in each of the atom's spheres, and a great view from the top (well, our view was actually pretty snowy and limited, but I can imagine that it would be great on a clear day).

After seeing enough museums for the day, we continued our walking tour of the city, and ended the day with a hamburger and a beer. I was very excited to have a burger for the first time in at least 5 months (Italians think that McDonald's has good burgers, they have never heard of father's office I'm guessing). Then we decided to see a movie since movies in Belgium are shown in their original language (unlike Italy, where they are dubbed in Italian).

On Sunday we walked around some more, ate more waffles and chocolate, and saw a few more sites. We visited a couple of parks, saw the Royal Palace, visited a couple of churches, and also went to the museum of the Belgian bank (we needed to warm up again, but actually, it was pretty interesting).

Sunday concluded our sightseeing as we left for the airport early Monday morning. We both enjoyed Brussels and the experiences of a new place together. One of the things that I really liked about Brussels after being in Italy for almost 5 months was the diversity of the city. I know this might sound a little stupid, but everything in Italy is so Italian. This is also why I love Italy, but sometimes I just want a burger and not pasta! Brussels was a nice change for the weekend, but I was happy to return home (yes, Italy feels like home) to a langauge that I understand, warmer weather, and even a big bowl of pasta.

Fancy buildings in the Grand Place

The Atomium

More buildings in the Grand Place

A typical looking Brussels building. Actually, this is the restaurant that we ate dinner in the first night. Notice the painting on right side. There are murals throughout the city on random walls. Belgians really like comics and I think these are characters from a comic strip.

The old city hall in the Grand Place.

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