Thursday, November 11, 2010

Journey to the west : BENELUX

Starting with 2 countries of BENELUX : Belgium and Netherlands. Facts: The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe that comprises three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg

The summaries of the whole trip are as following:

30th October – from Prague to Brussels. Stayed 2 nights in Brussels.
31st October – Day 2 in Brussels.
1st November – From Brussels to Rotterdam, Rotterdam to Amsterdam. Stayed 2 nights in Amsterdam.
2nd November – Day 1 in Amsterdam
3rd November – Day 2 in Amsterdam, flight back to Prague
*Brussels, capital of Belgium.
*Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Cities in Netherlands.
Total spending in 5 days include transports, accommodations, meals and souvenirs: 245 EUR
Day 1, cloudy and rain
In group of 3, we set off from Prague RuzynÄ› Airport to Brussels-Charleroi Airport using Wizzair. Since our flight was 6am in the morning, so we decided to stay overnight in the airport. There are benches available in Prague RuzynÄ› Airport and it's quite safe to stay overnight but make sure you keep all your luggage with you.
Arrived in Brussels-Charleroi airport at 7+am, find out that there are two options available for us to get to Brussels city center. Charleroi airport is 1 hours away from Brussels city.
Option 1, direct shuttle which cost 13 EUR; Option 2, bus to Charleroi centre and transfer to train cost 11.30 EUR. Opted for the second to save money for Belgium Waffle.
As we arrived in Brussels-center, it's still raining and we do not have a map with us. However, we finally able to find the tourist information center after 30 min. The information center is located  near the Grand Place. Good tips is to get a GPS phone! As the free map given to us wasn't in English version, but what more can we ask for? Here we embark on our journey!
Highlights of day 1
Town Hall in Grand Place, an UNESCO world heritage site. Is one of the must visit spots in Brussels. Grand Place is a square in the center of Brussels which surrounded by Town Hall and Breadhouse.

Breadhouse in Grand Place, also known as King's House
As the place name is Grand Place, the square is surrounded by a lot of "GRAND" and old buildings. Awesome view!

Chocolate shop. Isnt it obvious.

Chocolate shops can be found everywhere. Prices range from a few Euro to a few hundreds. However, it's really worth the price.
Must try food 1: super delicious Belgium Chocolate. Some shop do offer free testing, you can walk around and maybe you will be lucky enough to find 1.
Beurs, Stock exchange center of Brussels. Nearest metro station to Grand Place

Historical building
Found out that there are alot of beautiful landmarks in Brussels but all are not well maintained except for Grand Place and a few famous spot. However this are not open to the public, but able to take some photos.

 Belgium waffle
Our lunch - Super yummy Belgium Waffle topped with banana and strawberry. Cost 3.50 EUR.
Must try food 2 : Belgium waffle topped with belgium chocolate. Awesome!

Modern side of Brussels, a huge difference in terms of architecture between the old town(Brussels center) and new town(Brussels-Noords).  

More beautiful buildings for sightseeing.

I find this very interesting,it is a place for dog to shit in the city center. 

Wedding ceremony
Came across some Turkish people having wedding ceremony. They blocked the whole street and dance on the street. Interesting huh? Do you notice that they are holding 2 wooden spoon in their hand as musical instrument. 

Sunset in Brussels.

Brussels Cathedral.

Above are all shots of the Grand Place at night. Still have a lot of tourists even at night. Nice view and great for photos

 Another must visit place is the Manneken Pis.
Some fact about the Manneken Pis; icon of Brussels. A 15cm tall statue that able to attract millions of visitors a year. Hence, you know why we are there.

That's all for day 1.

Day 2, cloudy
Woke up a little bit late since we are tired from walking the whole day the day before. 
Our first stop, is another must visit spot – Atomium. Took the metro to Heysel and walked for 5 min. we decided to buy a day ticket. If you are travelling in group, you can consider to buy a group ticket which cost 10 EUR for 5 person. A single ticket will cost about 4.50 EUR.  
There are a few interesting places near Atomium, which is the Mini-Europe and Bruparck.

The weather is still very bad, not a good period for travelling. This is Atomium, about 10 storey high building with fancy architecture. I guess it does look very atomic-ish (atom and molecules)

Autumn in Bruparck, amazed by the different color tone of leaves. Mark the end of Autumn of 2010 as winter is approaching

Entrance to Mini-Europe. We decided not to enter Mini-europe since the weather is too bad for photography. Instead of looking at the fake buildings, we want to save it to see the real deal later!
Ticket price for Atomium : 8EUR ;  Mini-Europe : 13 EUR

Another waffle as lunch. "Special Waffle Factory Waffle". See how addicted it is. Yummy, but i still prefer the previous one.

Manneken Pis costume changing
Costume changing ceremony of Manneken Pis (the statue). He is now dressed. We are lucky that we are able to see a naked Manneken and a dressed Manneken within the 2 days.

Later in the evening;

Brussels, the sky was all covered with cloud. Amazing isnt it.

Later that evening we stopped at the Parc du Cinquantenaire also known as Jubelpark. A very nice and beautiful place like Hero’s Square in Budapest but with much lesser statue.

Since our bus to Rotterdam is scheduled at 6 am, we planned to stay overnight in Brussels-Noord station, but the station closed at 1+am, thus loiter on the street for 3 hours when the temperature is around 5 Celsius and raining.Hint, please make sure you have a hostel in Brussels even if you are planning on saving money,as there is no 24 hours shop, only McDonalds’ on certain days.

I guess it's a little bit long here, I continue Rotterdam and Amsterdam in next post.

See you!


ryn said...

i like you night photography..nice.

IuhniX said...

the sunset at brussel and the waffles are love!

cheeyang said...

It's been awhile! Haha, can't believe I really wrote some posts!