I have visited Brussels twice on NESSI business and on holiday with Mrs. L. These trips were originally blogged on my sun/oracle blog as series of article, I have brought the articles across here, and presented them as two articles, This article chronicles the social visit, including the European Parliament meeting, the “Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts” and the Comics museum.

Back to Brussels for a flying visit, but planning to stay on for a couple of days to enjoy the sights, food and drink in Belgium’s and the EU’s Capital. Today, after my meeting, opposite the Berlaymont, we walked around the lower town looking for somewhere to eat. We enjoyed the “Winterfest” at La Bourse & Place St. Catherine and returned to the Grand Place and were able to enjoy the opera and lights together, having eaten some Tapas, with a rather fine Rioja, a Faustino No 7.

Today we walked over to the Upper Town in order to visit the “Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts” to look at the Magrittes. We were rather impressed by the Social Realists and came across a couple of pictures by Laermans, of whom I’d never heard but were a bit of a find. The museum is located in one of the palaces that the historic, dynastic rulers no longer require. After this, we walked up to the park. This is not in the best of states in the middle of winter, but the views across the lower town are pretty impressive. We then walked over to the European Quarter, as we wanted to visit the debating chamber of the European Parliament. We went via the Place Jourdain, where we bought some ‘frittes’ from Maison Antoinne. This is a stall which has an arrangement with the surrounding bars so you can eat indoors and warm up with your drink of choice, coffee or schnapps. The parliament building permits visits to the debating chamber, as they should, we pay for it. So we went there and had a look round.

eu debating chamber brussels

Outside the the building there are plaques and flags for each of the member states, together with a statue of a women holding the Euro symbol. The buildings are contemporary and stark contrast to the Hapsburg grandeur of the Upper Town. In the park beside the parliament building is a section of the Berlin Wall, with its graffiti presumably untouched from when it was in Berlin. When we entered the chamber, hanging above the chamber are the the translation booths, and while there are 27 member states, there are 23 official languages, so one booth for each language really brought home the linguistic diversity of today’s European Union.

After a high minded day yesterday, we walked across the lower town to the Belgian comic museum  This has one gallery on Belgium’s most famous comic  export, Tin Tin. I know there are some that believe that Tin Tin comes from Teeside, but that’s not the case. The museum shop seemed to have every single Tin Tin book ever, including the first which is in black & white and called  “Tin Tin in the land of the soviets”; he wasn’t an admirer. The museum had a number of other exhibits beyond Tin Tin, as it seems that Belgian comic authors have been prolific over the years. The building is worth visiting itself as an example of Victor Horta’s architecture; lots of iron and glass.

Here are the rest of my pictures;

Created with flickr slideshow.

On our way home, we caught the train out to the airport and found ourselves in the tender care of Flybe. Our flight, planned as the last of the day,  was cancelled and while we were put up in a 5* hotel, the airline pays a 2* rate which is reflected in the service. While one might expect Brussel Sprouts to be served in Brussels, it was a surprise to have them served with Lasagne. The room was great but they really jerk you around once you’re in this fix.


Originally blogged on my sun/oracle blog as series of articles, and reposted here in July 2016.

Brussels: business & pleasure
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