Saturday, 2 January 2016


From Paris we took the Thalys high speed train to Brussels, a journey of just 70 minutes.  Police and Army presence was significant at Gare du Nord, and baggage was X-Rayed before we could take our bags on board.
The Thalys at Brussels Midi station

After checking in at our hotel opposite the station we caught the new metro system to the centre of the city and walked through the Great Market square.  This is an astounding place and one of the great treasures of Europe.  I'm sure the gold adorning the buildings had been polished since our last visit.  Here are some of the beautiful buildings in this wonderful public space.

From the splendour of the Great Market we walked on to visit "Mannekin Pis", one of the the symbols of Brussels.  This little statue is less than a metre tall and has his own wardrobe of about 800 costumes.  On the day we saw him he was dressed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of a Belgian institution whose name I failed to record.

He also comes in a chocolate version.
From central Brussels we went to the suburb of St Catherine where quite a nice Christmas Market was in full swing.  At either end of the market area was a carousel.  They were similar in style but had differing "rides" for the children. 

Our carousels tend to be dominated by horses which may go gently up and down.  Not these!  The children riding the carousels could choose from a variety of interactive contraptions which they pedalled, wound, pulled or operated in some other way.  The children had such fun, and so did the people watching them.

We may have been too big for the carousel, but not for the giant wheel.  From the top we had a fine view of Brussels - but it was cold in the icy wind!

And now for some images of the market after dark.

From the St Catherine's market we returned to the Great Market to see the illuminated buildings.

The giant Christmas Tree in the centre of the square
with the elaborate Town Hall in the background.

Brussels seems to have had an undeserved reputation as a place of little interest, but we have enjoyed visiting it in both winter and summer.  It has a lot to offer and is well worth a visit.

Paul and Judy
Brussels, Belgium
December 2015

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