Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Daytrip to Brussels

The emblem of Brussels - Saint Michael slaying the dragon

Ever since my employer moved his offices to the outskirts of Brussels, I haven’t been into the city centre. That was in May 2007! I can’t say that I miss it, as Brussels is very often the scene of protest marches, blocking the city’s main arteries and thus causing gigantic traffic jams. I can’t count the times that I’ve been stuck in one of those during the 11 years that I worked in the city centre.

As recently as last Monday, angry farmers marched on the EC building to protest against the poor price they get for their milk. They want the European government to fix new production quota. By reducing the production, they hope getting a higher price for their produce. Last month it was just Belgian farmers causing havoc in the European district, but on Monday farmers from all over the EEC found their way into the ‘Capital of Europe’.

It was a very angry crowd that got even more frustrated when the European ministers of Agriculture, who were having a meeting in the building of the EC commission, refused to receive a delegation of the protesting farmers. As a revenge they set fire to some tires and poured thousands of litres of milk into the streets. What a waste!

The protest march ended around 5 p.m. For hours the slow moving convoy of tractors leaving the city centre, blocked the E411 motorway and other parallel roads leading south, thus slowing down the already busy evening traffic of commuters retuning home after a days’ work.

I hope they won’t have another protest march today as my friend and I have planned a little outing to the ‘Grande Place’, the central city square, with its beautiful historic buildings, cosy alleys and the statuette of Brussels’ most famous citizen: Manneken Pis. And then of course there are the numerous restaurants and typical cafés and bistros.

Talking about restaurants, when you’re in Brussels you must visit ‘La Petite Rue des Bouchers’. Mind you, I said ‘visit’ … but whatever you do, DON’T eat there! The little alley is lined on both sides with restaurants with attractive and appetizing outdoor displays of seafood and fish. The waiters are standing in the doorway trying to lure you in by offering a free aperitif or a three course meal at a set price. Don’t let them coax you, as you’ll regret it! This is a standard ‘tourist trap’, offering poor food and drinks at exorbitant prices.

Later this week, I will give you some tips about the best places to have a drink or an honest and high quality meal at a reasonable price. So stay tuned …

Maybe you have been to Brussels and have a (un)pleasant experience that you want to share with us!?



chm said...

The last time I was in Bruxelles was in 1937, so my memories are somewhat shaded. However, I remember vividly enjoying one or several "pistolets" for breakfast at the hotel I was staying near the botanical garden, taking pictures of the beautiful "Victoria regia" and having a "pain à la grecque" or a piece of cramique in a bakery near the Grande Place, not to mention the most famous Bruxelles' citizen.

Of course, I also recall visiting with great pleasure the Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Isn't Bruxelles called a "petit Paris", or is it the other way around? LOL

ladybird said...

Hello chm, Lovely to read you again!

Ahhh, 'pistolets', they still exist but they don't taste like they used to (I'm talking about the sixties!!).

During today's visit to the Grande Place I heard a German guide mention 'pain à la grecque'. Even I didn't know that it was a Belgian classic!.

'Petit Paris' ?? ... why not, maybe we Belgians should stop being so humble ;)!


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