So, I decided that after my last couple of trips I would like to travel some more. I have made a deal with myself that I would try to travel somewhere once a month.
Even before I made the deal, I got an email in November or December last year telling me about a deal on Eurostar. I managed to bag myself a return fare to Brussels for just £64. I thought this was a steal. I only paid £22 for the return tickets to London too. I thought I would give it another try after the disastrous visit last time we were here. I was pick-pocketed and they managed to spend $900 in about 10 minutes!
I decided since I was going alone (Jamie declined the offer), that I would try out Airbnb to see what it was like (also because I am a cheap skate – just ask Jamie!). I searched for a few days for somewhere to stay. I liked the look of a couple of them and one of them declined as they had no spaces left on the days I wanted. I found another one that was really close to Brussel Zuid (or Bruxelles Midi depending on whether you speak Dutch or French) and figured this would be easier as this is where Eurostar goes to. It worked out well as it was close to mainline trains and the tram network.
I was in for a shock when I got to the “hostel”. It was a foam mattress on a floor with no wi-fi (despite being listed as such) and I had to rent the towel for €2. I got what I paid for and for somewhere just to sleep that was close to public transport, I did pretty well.
I decided that I wouldn’t spend all of my time in Brussels and that I would explore outside of the city/country. I decided that I wanted to go back to Amsterdam and that I also wanted to visit Rotterdam. The Hague was a spur of the moment decision (owing to the size of Rotterdam).
On the plus side, they are generally VERY clean
I had a look at the map and decided that I wanted to head down towards Central Station as there were some sights that I wanted to see there. I got on the tram and just sat there admiring the architecture and scenery. I love the different architecture of the countries I have visited. I could sit there for hours just watching it go by. Anyway, I finally decided to get off the tram and see how close I was to the centre of Brussels.
I went to the tram stop on the other side of the street and looked at the map. A friendly local came up to me and asked where I needed to get to. I told her and she gave me some good directions towards Central Station.
I hopped on the tram and got off whenever I saw something interesting. I ended up spending around 3 hours sightseeing in about a mile length of street because of all the fascinating sights.
I got off by Koninklijke Sint-Maria [Église Royale Sainte-Marie]. I took some pictures and then decided to head back up the street on the tram to another stop where I saw some more interesting architecture/monuments.
I got off at Poelaert where I had seen some WWI/WWII memorials. On one corner was a wall memorial to the soldiers of WWI and on the other corner was a memorial statue to the Belgian Infantry. This was right in front of the Palace of Justice. The other side of the statue gave a panoramic view of Brussels. I decided that I would take a panorama too.
After that, I then headed to the Parc tram stop as I had noticed another ornate building. This turned out to be Sint-Michiels en Sint-Goedele kathedraal [Cathédrale des Sts Michel et Gudule]. This is the church that is used for royal ceremonies. I then headed to Central Station from here and headed back to the hostel.
There was just so much to see on that on little stretch but not enough daylight!
I then went back in to the centre on my last day (Thursday). I was a bit cranky this day. My back was aching from the foam mattress. The city sightseeing driver was rude and ticked me off. It was raining. I had a sit down for about 20 minutes under and umbrella and it was just the rest I needed. I had a wonder round where I was and took a walk down a side street. Wow – what a view! It was very ornate! It was the Grote Markt [Grand Place]. I took some pictures and then headed to the City Sightseeing bus.
The cost is €23 (The most expensive one I have been on)
They don’t take cards (How stupid in this day and age [All the others I have been on have taken cards])
It was nice to be out of the rain and cold. It was nice to see other arts of the city too. It was good that the bus had windows that slid open (one of them did anyway). Brussels is very ornate.
Once the tours had finished, I headed down to the Mannekin Pis statue to take a picture (It was a statue on the corner of a building – I though it was gonna be a bit bigger than it was). I then stopped by the Grote Markt again and then up towards the station to head to the Eurostar terminal.
Here are some pictures from the days I was here.
The rest of my Brussels pictures are here.
It was a very early start for me today. I wanted to make sure I made the most of the time I had.
Once I got there, I headed to the City Sightseeing stand to buy my ticket for the bus. I also made sure to buy my day travel ticket so I could use the trams when I was there. I headed to the bus stop for the sightseeing bus, I had a wait of about 15 minutes before the bus turned up. I got on and gave them my ticket. It turns out the lady in the shop sold me a boat ticket and not a bus ticket. The chaps on the bus were nice enough to change it to a bus ticket for me. The buses here were a lot more regular and ran for longer than in Brussels.
I stayed on the bus all the way round and scouted out places I wanted to get off. The bus was another one where the windows slid open. It allowed me to take some window/smear free pictures.
The rain was off and on most of the day. I forgot my umbrella, but luckily I had a hood.
I got off by the Windmill and headed to the Dapper Markt. I bought some cheese for Jamie – it was really smelly. It smelled like sweaty socks. It was disgusting. The taste was OK thank goodness.
The next stop I got off at was by the Jewish museum. I spent about 20 minutes here just walking round getting a few pics. There are 2 synagogues in this area – well only one now – the Portuguese synagogue. The Askhenazi synagogue is now the Jewish museum. I wandered around and found a Jewish memorial by the Dutch Hermitage. It was really good to just wander round. I then headed back to catch the next bus (Also, it was raining at this point too).
My next stop off point was Dam Square. The Royal Palace is situated here. It was very ornate. I spent about 10 minutes here and then hopped on the tram to Centraal Station to pick up the sightseeing bus again.
My final stop off point was Westerkerk. This is where the Anne Frank house is located. I didn’t stop by as I didn’t have time and didn’t want to go without Jamie. Like most buildings in Amsterdam, the Westerkerk is very ornate and colourful.
I went back to Centraal Station so I could find somewhere to eat as I was hungry. After eating, I decided to hop on a tram and visit the neighbourhoods. By this time, it was rainy again and dark. I stumbled across the Rembrandt monument as I was wondering around. After taking a couple of pics here, I then headed back to Centraal Station to head back to Brussels. I was ready for my bed for sure!
Here are some pictures from the day.
The rest of my Amsterdam pictures are here.
I decided that I didn’t want to spend money on the City Sightseeing bus so mapped out where I wanted to visit. It turns out, there were no buses to be found anyway.
I got off the train and bought my travel card for the day and hopped on a tram. As it turns out, I got on the right tram but in the wrong direction. I got off at the terminus and spent a few minutes looking at the map trying to figure out where in the hell I was. It shot my plans out the window. I got on a tram and headed to the city centre. I got off and wandered around the city centre. It was cold and the rain was off and on (spotting a pattern?). I still decided to walk around and take some pictures.
I got back on the tram and headed to a different part of town to take some more pictures. By this time, I decided I would go to The Hague as I had seen all I wanted to here.
After The Hague, I headed back here as I needed to get the train from here back to Brussels. As I still had time, I hopped on a tram to the neighbourhoods and had a wander around. I then headed back to the station to catch an earlier train so I wasn’t getting back to Brussels as late as originally planned.
Here are some pictures from the day.
The rest of my Rotterdam pictures are here.
I wanted to hop on the trams and go to the neighbourhoods, but I didn’t really have the time to do that. Such a shame.
Here are some pictures from the day.
The rest of my Den Haag pictures are here.