Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium is an attraction you just cant miss. The Museum is actually made up of four different galleries, the Magritte, Modern Art, Old Masters and the dreamily named ‘Every end is a new beginning’ gallery. They are really good value as well, I think we only paid €4 for a multi pass that got us into all four.
The lady at the front desk said that the Modern art part was closed which I was bummed about, but although the main part of the museum had closed they had moved the popular bits all through out the other museums, which was fine by me (I love just seeing the good bits).
My favourite had to be the two rows of sculptures, that poked fun of the traditional Roman bust. What started off normal quickly turned weird the further you got down the row with the addition of horns, poked out tongues and sunglasses. It was so bizarre and fun and I fell head over heels for it.
We originally went there for the Magritte museum, you will know his most famous painting of the man in a bowler hat with an apple for a face. Not hugely a fan of the style, but that painting was the lead character in the Pierce Brosnan movie the Thomas Crown Affair, so of course I had to visit. Although maybe I shouldn’t have asked the serious man behind the desk the way to the James Bond museum, he looked less than amused.
The obvious answer to this is anywhere that sells waffles. But since they are on every menu and street corner I thought I would go a bit left field and tell you about a salad bar in an art gallery, the Green Kitchen Restaurant at the Belvue Museum. I know, you normally don’t go healthy on a holiday but these salads are tasty in the extreme.
You get one of the massive bowls and then create the salad of your dreams yourself. There is pretty much every topping you can think of, I went for sun dried tomatoes, feta, pumpkin seeds and meat and things. Then when you have finished your salady masterpiece you take it to the nice Belgian man who weighs it, that’s right all their prices are based on weight.
Then you can sit down and relax in the light filled atrium and feel good about your healthy choice of lunch and make plans for your next waffle stop.
The Parlamentarium is one of the most fun learning places that I have been to in Europe. Full disclose I have a degree in Politics so I am a bit of a dork when it comes to this topic, but it was still a phenomenally interactive museum to visit. At the door you get a fancy shmancy audio guide, which when you hold it next to a photo or display will burst into life and start spewing history into your ears.
Stand out parts of the museum were the comfy lounge set up where you could put up your feet and listen to stories of real life Europeans who the initiatives have directly helped. The giant map on the floor was pretty cool too, with roller podiums that revealed how the European Parliament has changed those countries (when we could get it working…we were being a bit special). And by far my favourite room was the mock parliament room that where the round walls turned into video screens to put you in the heart of the voting action. Although I really hope that the actual parliament dosent have iPad games to play while you are sitting down…
I was more excited about taking the Eurostar than I was about the day in Brussels. Something about train travel is so special, to be able to get from London to Europe without taking a plane is just magic. The Eurostar takes about two hours, which for me was just enough time to fall asleep and start drooling on the lumberjack that was sitting next to me (why do I always get into these situations?).
When you get to Brussels the metro is super easy to navigate, and we found that the most cost effective ticket to be the all day pass. Although the metro did lead to the best ever ‘first line’ that a country has ever given me…
Scene – Runawaykiwi purchases a metro pass, and then is too slow when going through the barrier, she approaches a friendly Belgian metro man for assistance.
Runawaykiwi: “I put it in and the doors closed”
Mr Belgian: “Thats what happens with my wife”
A massive thanks to Eurostar for sending me to Brussels and Bruges, Eurostar offers any Belgian station tickets from £79 return, with stations including Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and stations along the Belgian Coast. Eurostar operates up to 9 daily services from London St Pancras International to Brussels Midi and from there passengers use their any Begian station ticket to connect on to local services to their final destination. Fastest London-Brussels journey time is 2 hrs. Tickets are available from eurostar.com or 08432 186 186.