Vivid headgears worn by Minorities @ Sapa Market

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Mango dessert sold in Hoi Lau San @ Yau Ma Tei


Rare glimpse of Proboscis Monkey @ Bako National Park


A Blue & White (青花) Vase displayed @ Forbidden City

Brussels (Aug '10) - Overview

Went to Brussels (布鲁塞尔) with my colleague over the weekend from 13 Aug (Fri) to 15 Aug (Sun). On the second day, we joined a Day Tour to Ghent (根特) and Bruges (布吕赫) to visit the many UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Brussels, or Bruxelles in French or Brussel in Dutch, is the capital and largest city in the Kingdom of Belgium (比利时), and interestingly the de facto capital of the European Union (EU). During our trip, we were extremely lucky to be able to see the flower carpet at the Grand Place held every two years. We didn't even know this event when we booked the flights.

Leisure trip at a glance

Country: Kingdom of Belgium
Period: 13 Aug to 15 Aug 2010
Flight timings:
13 Aug: EZY 1537, GVA–BRU, ETD 1935 ETA 2050
15 Aug: EZY 1538, BRU–GVA, ETD 2115 ETA 2225

Flight tickets: Return tickets at CHF 190.20 per person (inclusive of airport taxes)
Bruegel Hostel (13 to 15 Aug)
Currency exchange rate: EUR 1 = SGD 1.72 (Aug '10 period)

There is no time difference between Switzerland and Belgium; both countries are in Central Europe time zone. Total damage was about SGD 400 including flight tickets, airport taxes, transport, food and hotel, excluding personal expenses.

Here's the overview of the trip itinerary:

Day 1 – Evening flight EZY 1537 from Geneva International Airport (Switzerland) to Brussels Airport (Belgium). Took Airport Express to Brussels Central station and walked for about 10-mins. Checked-in hostel and had a good rest.

Day 2 – Visited Grand Place and Manneken Pis. Joined the Day Tour to Ghent and Bruges. After the tour, went back to Grand Place to take photographs of the flower carpet at night.

Day 3 – Visited the St. Michael and Gudula Cathedral, followed by the Comic Museum. Next took the subway to Cinquantenaire park and visited its nearby Royal Military Museum. Walked by European Quarter and Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Had the chance to visit the Royal Palace. After which we visited the Law Courts of Brussels. Finally took the train to Airport.

Brussels Airport

The Brussels Airport is located 11-km northeast of Brussels, and currently the 25th busiest airport in Europe. The IATA code for this airport is BRU.

Brussels Airport (photos below) uses a single terminal where all the facilities, with the exception of Pier A, are located under a single building. The terminal building consists of several levels: the railway station is located on basement 1, Buses and Taxis arrive at ground level, while Arrival Hall is located on level 2 and Departure Hall on level 3. Both levels 2 and 3 are connected to the airport's two piers A and B.


Getting in/out from the Airport

The easiest way to get in/out of the airport is by train for first time visitors. Conveniently the train station is located at the basement of the airport. We took the train to and from the Brussels Central station.

The cost of each single trip was EUR 5.10 for a second class cabin. Following are the train tickets that I took during my arrival and departure day (photos below).

Brussels Metro System

The Brussels Metro system consists of four conventional lines and three pre-metro lines consisting of 69 stations in total. Each line can be differentiated by its color. Click on the map below to enlarge.

Train design is typically as those in major cities of Europe (photos below).

Each single trip, with possibility to change between different lines, cost EUR 1.70 during my visit. Here was my purchased ticket (photo below).

Brussels Central Station

First operated in 1952, Brussels Central Station is a metro and railway station in Brussels (left photo below). Known as Bruxelles-Central in French or Brussel-Centraal in Dutch, this is the busiest railway station in Belgium and one of three principal railway stations in Brussels. The Brussels Metro station (right photo below), also known as Gare Centrale - Centraal Station, can be reached 5-minutes from the railway station through a pedestrian tunnel.

The main entrance and ticket office are at ground level on Keizerinlaan/Imperatrice, and there are several other entrances on the other streets (photos below). The Brussels Central Station had became our sole station of transportation during our visit.


Bruegel Hostel

The Bruegel Hostel (left photo below) is a city centre hostel situated just 5-mins walk from the Brussels Central Train. Facilities in the hostel include a dining room, luggage room (right photo below), bar, TV room, common room, courtyard garden, internet access and breakfast.

Booked this hostel via the internet at EUR 49.51 for a Four-Male Dorm for 2 nights. The price paid also includes daily breakfast. Each of the dorm consists of two double deck beds and a door less cupboard.

This was my first time sharing a room with total strangers. Glad that I only carried a light luggage bag that can be placed on my bed during sleep for security purpose (left photo below). During our stay, we shared our room with other two Japanese who came to Belgium for their graduate trip (right photo below). Not too sure if the hostel purposely grouped Asians in the same room.

The dinning area was relatively spacious with good view of the neighborhood (left photo below). Breakfast was totally self-service with pre-packed selections (right photo below).

There were limited selections of bread, cereals and beverages. Thus choices of my breakfast (photos below) were rather similar for the two days.

Interesting Observations

  • "Open" male toilet was spotted outside the hostel (left photo below).

  • Contemporary Art spotted near parliament building (right photo below). Probably this structure was built for visually impacting rather than functional.

  • Nicknamed as Comic City, walls throughout the Brussels city are painted with graffiti (left photo below) and large murals (right photo below) of comic book characters.

  • Huge statue of Gaston Lagaffe (photos below) could be spotted near to the Comic Strip Museum, which is along the comic strip route. Gaston Lagaffe is a comic strip character portrait as a lazy and accident-prone office junior. First created in 1957 by Belgian cartoonist, Gaston is very popular in large parts of Europe, especially in Belgium and France.

Suggested Souvenirs

  • Various versions of Manneken Pis are the most popular souvenirs among visitors (photos below).

  • Figurines of Smurf perhaps are other nice souvenirs from this comic city (photos below).

  • When comes to food souvenirs, rock candies (left photo below) and chocolates (right photo below) are great choices.

  • Speaking of chocolates, perhaps the best chocolate producers are Switzerland and Belgium in the whole Europe. In Belgium, there are the famous brand Godiva (left photo below) and the locally more popular brand Leonidas (right photo below).

Travel Tips:

If you're staying in Brussels for more than 2 days and a museum-lover, then it is worth the money to get a Brussels Card (left photo).

This Brussels Card provides, during 24, 48 or 72h, free entry to over 30 museums, free use of public transports and exclusive offers in shops, exhibitions, restaurants & attractions. For comparison, a 24-hour Brussels Card would cost EUR 24, while a 48-hour card would cost EUR 36. Do check out the website to find out more to take the full advantage of the discount card.

Useful Links:

Visit Brussels:

Brussels Info:

Brussels Travel Guide:

Wikitravel – Brussels:

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