Instead of paying 20 euro per day for a CitySightseeing bus, we recommend that our visitors pay 6 euro for a day pass on the Brussels public transport system that includes trams, metros, and buses. This JUMP pass can be bought at all train stations and at automated ticket machines at all metro stations.
If they’re not catching the metro to see the Atomium and Mini-Europe, then I recommend bus 27 as a great line that stops at many interesting places. It runs from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every 12 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends.
|Gare du Midi
||Thalys and Eurostar international trains
||Everyday. 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.
|Jeu de Balle
||Everyday. 6 a.m. – 2 p.m.
||Wittamer cafe and Marcolini Chocolatier
||Every day. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
||Musical Instruments Museum and Magritte Museum
||Tuesday-Sunday. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays, 1 Jan, 1 May, 1 & 11 Nov, 25 Dec
||Mon 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. Tues-Sun 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed 1 Jan, 1 May, 1 November, 24 & 25 & 31 Dec
||Natural History Museum
(10 minute walk through the park)
|Tues-Sun 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays, 1 Jan, 1 May, 25 Dec
||Military Museum and Autoworld
||Tue-Sun 10:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Closed Mondays, 1 Jan, 1 May, 1 November, 25 Dec
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During the long weekend, the Hasselt Japanese Gardens celebrated o-hanami, the Cherry Blossom Festival. It is the one day of the year where one is permitted to sit on the grass underneath the sakura trees. Kim and Adrian colluded in order to create a suprise picnic for me that was accompanied by bubbly, green tea, and sake. The sun even came out for a few hours to we could sit in the warmth and watch Hayden enjoy some colourful hard-boiled eggs. (Interestingly, in Belgium, they seem to celebrate Easter by eating actual eggs rather than gorging on chocolate like we do in Australia.) After Adrian had peeled one for him and Hayden had taken a few mouthfuls, Hayden decided it was a lot more fun to just crumble his up and roll around on top of it until both he and the picnic blanket were covered in tiny specs of yolk.
The Hasselt gardens proclaim themselves to be the largest Japanese gardens in Europe, however at 2.5 acres by my research they come in fourth, after the 39 acre Valley of singing stones in Lithuania, the 29 acre Parc Oriental de Maulévrier in France and the 3.3 acre Kaiserslautern in Germany. Still, it was a fun way to mark the time of year in which Spring is supposed to arrive, and I hope that the sun will decide to spend some more time in Belgium sometime soon.
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Posted by: Lydia in Belgium, Family, tags: Baby, beer
Happy Oktoberfest Friends. Our trip to Munich was cancelled at the last minute, so instead we celebrated with some German friends in Liège. Maybe next year Hayden can have his first taste of bier und brezel (beer and pretzels).
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Last weekend Adrian treated me to a spa package in Spa, a small town in Belgium, from which the word originates. To get there, I caught the train through the Ardennes, passing over rivers and watching the spring calves find their legs. I found most of the activity of the town of Spa to be centered around the main road. As it was a beautiful day, most people were eating and drinking out on the terraces of the cafes. While in Leuven, most cafes will proudly display “Stella Artois” signs to advertise their house beer, the most prominent beverage advertising here was that of “Spa water”. Looking down the beverage list, I discovered ten different types of Spa water on offer. I decided on a Spa citron to accompany my Tagliatelles fraîches aux truffes noires.
The town still retains the semblance of a nineteenth century sanatorium, with many couples walking through the classical parks for their daily constitutional. I visited the Museum of Water, finding the most interesting part to be the temporary exhibition of historical advertising posters proclaiming “Eaux minerales ferrugineuses” (iron-rich water), “tir aux pigeons” (shooting pigeons) and “trajet en 7 heures de paris” (journey in 7 hours from Paris). Those who came from France and Spain in their flamboyant costumes to partake in the water from Spa were called bobelins (perhaps derived from the Latin bibelus (heavy drinker)), which I believe now is used in Wallonia to mean “stupid and weird”.
On Sunday I caught my private funicular to the top of the highest hill to visit the Thermes de Spa. Nestled amongst the trees are some very picturesque indoor and outdoor baths. I began my relaxation in the outdoor baths, enjoying the feeling of weightlessness, as well as the contrast between the cooler air and the warm water. Eventually wandering back inside, I enjoyed a bubble bed before drying out in the dark and forest-scented relaxation room. My Spa weekend culminated in a Watsu – a water shiatsu massage. The therapist attached foam to my legs so that I could float effortlessly, and then gently whoosh me through the water while tenderly stretching and relaxing my limbs, leaving me feeling completely relaxed and rejuvenated by my Spa weekend.
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