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Table of Content for belgium:

More pages: December 2016




2016/12/26 Bruges' Choco Story and Bruxelles' Chocolate Village Museum
π 2016-12-26 01:01 in Belgium, Museums
Belgium is obviously known for good chocolate, and they have lots of it. In both Bruges and Bruxelles, we went to see chocolate museums, which were both informative.

Let's start with Bruges' Choco Story. Sadly by the time we arrived there, it was 16:30, or 30mn from closing time. so we had to go through it quickly. Still, it gave a good overview of how cocoa beans were discovered, which birds ate them, and the complicated process to turn them into yummy chocolate :) (they also had a demo showing how to make a specific kind of chocolate):



pretty, that bird that eats the cocoa beans :)
pretty, that bird that eats the cocoa beans :)

the beans are colorful too
the beans are colorful too





Choco frites, really? :)
Choco frites, really? :)


all the reasons why chocolate is good for your health :)
all the reasons why chocolate is good for your health :)




yummy samples to try on the way out :)
yummy samples to try on the way out :)

A few days later, while in Bruxelles, we went to see the Chocolage Village Museum, which sure took its museum job seriously, and had even more displays:



fantastic model of the basilica
fantastic model of the basilica


atomium
atomium

They also had a place where wthey were growing real cocoa plants:


chocolate is easy
chocolate is easy

a 'mere' 15 steps...
a 'mere' 15 steps...

I quite enjoyed their poster and comics collection too:






you be a good boy and you get chocolate, simple :)
you be a good boy and you get chocolate, simple :)

2016/12/26 24H in Bruges
π 2016-12-26 01:01 in Belgium, Trips

Since we were going to Holland, close to the Belgian border, I figured we should take a few days to visit Belgium. It was only 4 days, not enough, but then again, that's what we had. We started early on December 26th with a Thalys high speed train to Bruxelles and a connection to Bruges. We got there in only 2h20 or so.

first time I've seen X-Ray machines before boarding a train
first time I've seen X-Ray machines before boarding a train


Once in Bruges we went directly to our B&B (Saint Sauveur, Bruges), run by a super nice French lady who gave us loaner bikes so that we get around more quickly (mind you Bruges is very walkable, but bikes helped us get around a bit more quickly, especially when we went to the edge of town).
Most people do Bruges in 2-3 days, we did pretty much all of it in 26 hours :) (and that includes waiting for things that only opened at 10:00), delaying us quite a bit:


Saint Salvator Cathedral
Saint Salvator Cathedral

Church of Our Lady
Church of Our Lady






Then, we went to walk around:





We then did a boat tour, a good way to look around:













The main plaza was next, starting with Belfy Tower, which we climbed to the top after a 30mn wait in line:











music box for the bells
music box for the bells

We then did the rest of the main plaza and the museum there:













Next, we went to the chocolate museum, where we had only 35mn before it closed (everything closes early):










We then went to visit the bruges story museum, which thankfully closed after 17:00, unlike everything else:




Main Plaza looks great at night too of course:




We then went out for dinner to conclude our day:



The next morning, we had to wait for museums to open. One of them opened at 09:30 instead of 10:00, how nice:












We then biked to the city gate:






And we finished our trip by visiting the French Fry Museum (which of course are not French, but Belgian):





We then had to pick up our rental car, and drive to our Dutch Family gathering.

See more images for 24H in Bruges
2016/12/27 Partial Day in Ghent
π 2016-12-27 01:01 in Belgium, Trips
After finishing breakfast in Holland after our family gathering, I drove back to Beligum to Ghent (barely one hour) and found the nearest parking lot where we could leave the car for the day.


Sadly it was foggy, so we didn't get great views from the towers there, but we still had a good time enjoying the views, little Xmas houses, and another canal boat ride:

Sint Michielskerk
Sint Michielskerk


Saint Nicholas' Church
Saint Nicholas' Church

sadly, not much of a view from the top of those churches, bummer... (Belfort and Saint Bravo's Cathedral)
sadly, not much of a view from the top of those churches, bummer... (Belfort and Saint Bravo's Cathedral)

So, we went to Saint Bavo's Cathedral while hoping that the fog would lift:










They have a very nice triple panel painting, which you can see closed and noon, and opened the rest of the time:




We then went back to Belfort tower, but the fog didn't lift




Sigh...
Sigh...



Music box that actuates the bells of Belfort
Music box that actuates the bells of Belfort

Ghent was full of little Xmas houses. We went to see a few:






chocolate tools, yummy
chocolate tools, yummy





Just like Bruges, the canals were nice to see and do a ride on:






narrowest house in Ghent
narrowest house in Ghent






From the canal ride, we went to see Castle Gravensteen:




just like the rest of Ghent, the view wasn't fantastic due to fog
just like the rest of Ghent, the view wasn't fantastic due to fog




Before long, it started getting dark, got a few pictures:


We then went back to the train station, drop off the rental car, and took a train to Bruxelles:

err, where did I put my bike? :)
err, where did I put my bike? :)

See more images for Partial Day in Ghent
2016/12/28 5 Course Tasting Menu at Alexandre, Bruxelles
π 2016-12-28 01:01 in Belgium, Dining
After arriving in Bruxlles, we tried to make a reervation in the nice restaurants that were open, which was hard given that it was between Xmas and New Year's. Eventually some stupid tripadvisor owned side, fork.be, told us we had a reservation at Alexandre, when in fact we had none at all, and they did not expect us at all when we showed up.
Thankfully they very nicely agreed to take us anyway, although we were limited to the 5 course tasting menu instead of the full 9-10 course one. Life can be tough that way at times :)










2016/12/28 48 hours in Bruxelles
π 2016-12-28 01:01 in Belgium, Trips
After a partial day in Ghent, we took an evening train to Bruxelles, checked in at l'Epicentre, our B&B in an authentic historical narrow building that was challenging to get into with luggage, but the location was hard to beat and our host was super nice and helpful.

a mere 30mn from Ghent to Bruxelles
a mere 30mn from Ghent to Bruxelles


it was 'fun' to get our luggage up the stairs :)
it was 'fun' to get our luggage up the stairs :)

On our way down, we walked by grand place, beautiful, and went by the famous manneken pis on the way too:




We then went to Alexandre for Dinner



The next morning, we had breakfast at our B&B and headed out for a walk while everything was closed (nothing opened before 10:00, sadly, making the day kind of short). We ended up at Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Cœur à Koekelberg when they opened at 10:00 and went to the top for so so views due to the fog not having quite lifted yet:





every city seems to have a ferris wheel now :)
every city seems to have a ferris wheel now :)

finally we made it to Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Cœur à Koekelberg thanks to uber, still foggy at 10:00
finally we made it to Basilique Nationale du Sacré-Cœur à Koekelberg thanks to uber, still foggy at 10:00





it did look better by the time we left :)
it did look better by the time we left :)

From the Basilique, we walked to the Chocolate Village Museum and had an informative tour


From there, we took the subway to the Atomium and Mini Europe:


We did mini Europe first, which was fun


We then went to the atomium, which I figured was a bit of a washed out attraction during low season, so I didn't worry much about lines. I was wrong, there was a 2H+ line to get in. Even with line optimization, it took us a while to get up. The main line was to get to the top, which had reasonable views. Then you had a different entrance to see just a portion of the balls, the other ones were not in use anymore, which was a bit of a shame, but the remaining ones had some expos inside:






escalators or stairs between the balls
escalators or stairs between the balls



part of the expo recounted when Belgium still had an airline, Sabena (since then bankrupt)
part of the expo recounted when Belgium still had an airline, Sabena (since then bankrupt)


nice plane food back then
nice plane food back then

Once done with mini Europe and Atomium, much later than I had planned, we took another uber to the Comic Book Museum. Belgium is probably the capital of the world on commic books, especially in variety, I grew up with them:




Hergé is famous for the great job he did with Tintin, but he was just one of many
Hergé is famous for the great job he did with Tintin, but he was just one of many

the museum pointed out that the first comic strips actually came from the egyptians
the museum pointed out that the first comic strips actually came from the egyptians


I also loved the schtroumpfs (smurfs)
I also loved the schtroumpfs (smurfs)





After the museum closed, everything was closed, so we went back to Grand Place to see the light show on the buildings. Click on the video for more:



We then walked around to see the little Xmas houses and get dinner:





During our short time in Bruxelles, we say many chocolate shops, as well as beer shops, and those were only a very small sample:

beautiful Galeries Royales St Hubert, filled with shops
beautiful Galeries Royales St Hubert, filled with shops














The next morning, we went to the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, which was nice enough to open at 09:00:








Inside the museum was a very nice (and cold) hangar filled with planes


And across the street was a great car collection at Autoworld


After Autoworld, we walked to the Google Office for a quick visit


And nearby was the European Parliament, where we went to visit Parliamentarium:





We when used the little time left to see Mont des Arts, Place Royale, and Église Notre-Dame du Sablon before we had to head back to the train station for our fast train back to Paris (just 1h15) and have a reveillon dinner with my dad:






See more images for 48 hours in Bruxelles
2016/12/29 Mini Europe in Bruxelles
π 2016-12-29 01:01 in Belgium, Public
For our first day in Bruxelles, we went to check out Mini Europe because it looked fun. and it was. The only mistake is that we should have gone to see the Atomium first, before the line got stupidly long. I did get a few pictures Mini Europe from the Atomium, and those were nice:






sacre coeur
sacre coeur

And here are some pictures taken from inside:









nice model of centre george pompidou
nice model of centre george pompidou


sacre coeur
sacre coeur



pisa
pisa

venice
venice






See more images for Mini Europe in Bruxelles
2016/12/30 Bruxelles Autoworld
π 2016-12-30 01:01 in Belgium, Cars
While in Bruxelles, we went to check out Autoworld, which turned out to be a really good. Two floors filled with cars, mostly European, some quite rare, some unique. I spent a couple of hours there while Jennifer was waiting for me, and it was time well spent.













double tire, interesting
double tire, interesting








This electric 'car' was the fastest one in the world in 1899*, at 105kph
This electric 'car' was the fastest one in the world in 1899*, at 105kph

















pretty colors :)
pretty colors :)




fancy futuristic car :)
fancy futuristic car :)


lamborghini
lamborghini










damn, a citroen-maserati, didn't even know those existed
damn, a citroen-maserati, didn't even know those existed





pretty
pretty

The belgians, kings of comic books, even had comic strips portraying a race car driver.



Bruxelles Autoworld, if you're anywhere close, go see it.

See more images for Bruxelles Autoworld
2016/12/30 Brussels Air Museum
π 2016-12-30 01:01 in Belgium, Flying
While visiting the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History in Bruxelles, we entered the hangar where they kept all the planes. That section of the museum is effectively Brussels' Air Museum, with a nice collection. It seems like the museum doesn't get a lot of funds, the hangar wasn't heated (as in near freezing), many plane tires were flat, but it doesn't change the fact that the collection was quite good and well worth a visit.

Considering the airport wasn't nearby, I also came to wonder how they got all those planes there.












some kind of training drone?
some kind of training drone?










another interesting midget plane
another interesting midget plane














what was that?
what was that?

another training drone?
another training drone?

See more images for Brussels Air Museum
2016/12/30 quick visit of the Bruxelles Office
π 2016-12-30 01:01 in Belgium, Google
While coming back from the war museum and walking to the European Parliament, the local Google office was conveniently on the way, so we went to have a quick look. It was December 30th, so the office was understandably virtually empty, but we're happy we still got to have a quick look.












More pages: December 2016

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