Last weekend, Schrobbenmaster and I went for a quick trip to Brussels. He had received two first-class train tickets to Brussels for doing the NS Try Out Festival 2009. Although I had done the newspaper for it, I wasn't around till the end, so I didn't get anything *sniff*.
Luckily he received two tickets, so we booked a night's stay at Le Meridien and hopped onto the international train.
I didn't know what to expect at all. From Schrobbenmaster's stories about Brugge and Antwerp, I assumed that Brussels would be a kind of small Amsterdam.
Boy, was I wrong.
Just arrived at Brussel Centraal, or Bruxelles Centrale in French.
Brussels uses two main languages of Dutch and French, but in recent times, the French influence has gained more momentum. It's quite funny to see all signboards in both Dutch and French. Now I don't have to feel so annoyed when I see both Malay and English used on our signboards.
Le Meridien is directly opposite the train station so it was very convenient upon arrival to check in early and when we left, to just pick up our bags and go within a few minutes.
Schrobbenmaster tried speaking Dutch to the receptionists but they insisted on speaking French. I guess that although all their signs are dual language, some people are just more French-minded.
And just as a note, the hotel was nice, but the staff weren't and most especially the concierges. You'd expect the concierges to be the most courteous and helpful, but once, when I asked, "Do you have a plaster?", he just said, "... Non.". And they answer your requests for maps or baggage keep without a single smile. Only the receptionist on our checkout actually smiled and even switched to Dutch when she saw Schrobbenmaster's name.
Anyway, after checkin, we headed straight back out towards the only tourist spot we knew (no research done beforehand), which was the Grand Place or Grote Markt.
(I think for ease of reading, I'll call the places by their French names, since everyone there speaks French)
Touristy street with restaurants.
And... Grand Place! I was awestruck by its grandness. As I said before, I only expected a mini Amsterdam, but by George, the buildings here are even grander and richer than the ones in Dam Square.
Yah, it was so nice that I had to take photos of every single corner and side.
Just outside Grand Place, looking at directional signboards, although we really didn't know where else to head to. So we just walked.
Look how busy it is, by the way. And I wonder what that girl on the left saw.
Okay, break for now, heading home from work. To be continued!