Brussels, Home of European Union

Brussels, home of European Union
A Youth Backpacker in Europe
Chapter VI

City: Brussels
Country: Belgium
Currency: Euro (€)
Travel dates: 3 May 2008
Travel buddies: Egon, Rahma

Caption: Jumping in Grote Markt, with Dutch like building background.

After so many different destinations, Jiann Chyuan has finally gone to a place where he should be thankful of.

If it wasn’t because of this place, if it wasn’t because of this organisation, if it wasn’t because of the scholarship it gives out, I wouldn’t stay in Europe, I wouldn’t travel around, I would probably just sit in an office, staring into a computer and working my fingers through various engineering programmes.

Brussels, the birthplace and centre of European Union was my stop after Paris. Brussels in a sunny day was so pretty. However, it wasn’t all that easy for me to find a comfortable position to fit myself in. It was all about whether you would like to be French, or Dutch.

Caption: Chocolates and how people look happy in front of them.

Brussels to me is a very confusing capital. Thinking that this is the hub of EU, it must have its own charms to be crowned the “home” of EU. Of course, you may argue that the location of the country is a major factor. However, situated between the Netherlands and France, the capital itself loses its unique characters. Its official languages are French or Dutch. Its people, similarly to the official languages, look French or Dutch. Even walking on a street gave me the feeling of walking on a dry canal in Holland. Where is the something Belgian?

Despite all the confusion, I was clear and determined to attain my main goal in Brussels. Leaving Brussels South Station, I was holding only a brochure with a coupon saying “10% discount” and “free trying” of the finest chocolate store in Brussels. Of course, everybody claims that he is the best. So to save the trouble of finding the “real” finest chocolate shop, I just went to this shop located next to the popular landmark of Brussels, the city hall.

There were indeed a lot of chocolate shops along the street. In fact, there was too many and many of them are too big until I was stunned to find out that the “finest” chocolate store in Brussels was so tiny and with only one staff; the chocolate maker himself. Well, don’t judge a store with its size. For chocolate sake, it was giving free trying, but only one!

Caption: Belgian Waffles with Australian Ice-cream, and Brussels garden view.

Guess that was the strategy, once you walk into a chocolate store, and pick up your one and only free trying sample, the next appropriate thing to do is just to buy some. As a chocolate super fan, of course I bought not only little. It was a staggering 40 euros in just ten minutes. Well, not exactly a lot. But it was still a notable amount to a poor student like me.

Quickly ran out from the store to avoid pocket burning, the only welcoming hand outside was even more chocolate stores! I fought hard against the temptation of beautiful chocolate stores to only find out after half an hour that it was pathetic as I finally surrendered and wet my feet again in another chocolate sea. Digging into my already thinning wallet, forked out another colourful note, I walked out the store with another bag of chocolate.

Caption: Town Hall in the Grote Markt and Atomium.

But Brussels has more to offer than chocolate alone. Belgian waffles, wait, did I just said Belgian? Oh, finally there was actually something Belgian. Okay, Belgian waffles are yet another attraction of Brussels. However, my very tantalising walnut waffle with whipped cream was bought from an Australian ice-cream shop. Not sure whether it was still something Belgian, but it was undoubtedly tasty.

Perhaps you are wondering why the only limelight stealing agent so far in Brussels is food and not tourist attractions. The answer is pretty straightforward; there isn’t a lot of attraction in Brussels. Perhaps the only three most recognisable items are the century old maneken pis and the newly created masterpiece, atomium, and the city hall square.

Caption: Maneken Pis and the crowd to prove his popularity.

But honestly, they aren’t really that attractive and worth visiting, except that you might only share the questions as millions of tourists on why the maneken pis is so small. Okay, I know exactly what you are thinking about. Was his pee really sufficient to save the whole Brussels from fire? I don’t know. But at least he is peeing twenty-four seven now. And darn it that he actually has more clothes than I do!

So that is it, all about Brussels. A moment, maybe going to a pub and have a few glasses of Belgian beer is another typical thing to do in here. But again, as the centre of EU, Brussels is indeed a capital meant for business. However, it is still worth the walking to climb up to a higher spot in Brussels to grab the whole city view, especially when the weather is fine.