Con Lavinia Cinca a Brussels…in a tram

Ecco un interessante articolo su Bruxelles scritto in inglese da Lavinia Cinca, che da due anni vive e lavora nella capitale belga. Lavinia è una professionista della comunicazione ed ama viaggiare attraverso l’Europa

Brussels has embraced me in his welcoming arms as my new home town for almost two years. In his time, after having had many talks with people who have lived in several cities, I have figured out that the town you are living in loses charm. More precisely, you start looking at it rather from the dweller’s lenses than from the tourist’s ones.

This time I decided to break the habit and get on one of the most charming trams, 94 and lead you through the most exciting places you can see from a cheap, straight-forward and simple hop on and hop off. I will get on at Botanique, the former national Botanic Garden of Belgium. What you should know is that the construction of the Botanic Garden started at the end of the 18th century and it has gone through harsh times. It is a beautiful park sheltering more than 50 sculptures and a wide range of exotic trees. It is a true pleasure and relaxation to wander in here for a couple of hours!

The next stops are Parc and Palais. Something that Brussels can definitely be proud of is its big number of parks. The city’s grey sky is strongly contrasting with the numerous oases of green gardens. The Royal Park is an enchanting place to be in on a warm afternoon, you can either jog, sun bath on the grass, or read a book in front of the huge beautiful fountain. The Royal Palace is the office of King Albert II and you can see if he is in as the Belgian flag is up. It has undergone a lot of changes since the 11th century when it had been built and the nowadays façade dates from the 1900s.

I continue my journey and stop in Place Royale. If you are here, just pop into the Belvue Museum Café and enjoy the excellent bio food.

Very close, you can see the equestrian statue of Godefroy de Bouillon, a legendary crusader turned into a national hero in Belgium’s attempt to built national identity. I cannot neglect the georgeous imposing National Musee des Beaux Arts, one of the most famous museums in Brussels bringing together over 20 000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings, from the early 15th century to the present focusing on the extensive collections of Flemish painters, especially of Rubens. Rambling around, I get distracted by the charming atmosphere of the antiquity sellers and cafes in Petit Sablon

The following stop is Poelaert, with the eternally under refurbishment Palais de Justice. This place is special for at least two reasons. Firstly, you can take the elevator of the city to arrive in Rue Haute, a picturesque street with antiquities and cheap things mixed altogether. Secondly, you can have a breath-taking view on Brussels and even use a telescope to have a closer look at the Atomium, for instance. Just pray the mighty Lord to allow you to be here on a sunny day!

After such a long way, have a break in Galerie Louise. This is the centre of the fashion world in Brussels, hosting many fine brands. I continue our walk along Avenue Louise and through Place Stefanie and admire the prêt-a-porter shops, chocolatiers and patissiers along it. On the left, I see a modernist house, Hotel Solvay designed by the famous architect Victor Horta. The luminous Art-Nouveau style building ordered by the chemistry magnate Armand Solvay is listed under the UNESCO world heritage.

My last stop is Legrand, just at the entrance of Bois de la Cambre, part of Soignes Forest. It was turned into an 18th century-style park in 1861, by the German architect Edouard Keilig and it had been the place where the royal family used to spend their leisure time. Le Lac, an artificial pond in a comma-like shape, the island Robinson and the five geyser fountains in the middle, the hippodrome and Theatre de Poche are some of the most attractive sites worth visiting.  If you want to come here for a relaxing afternoon, you will be surprised of how many activities you can undertake: skating, horseback riding, cycling, canoeing, fishing, and participating in sporting events, outdoors concerts, animation theatres, depending on the season.

It’s time for me to enjoy the sun-set and reflect on my lesson: there is always much to discover in the familiar. Everything which is well-known can become an adventure and can grant you pleasant surprises if you have the patience and the desire to flavour the right spices in it. And Brussels has not disappointed me insofar.

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5 thoughts on “Con Lavinia Cinca a Brussels…in a tram”

  1. Wow, such nce suggestions on what to do in Brussels!
    I have been there for two months in 2004, I was doing research for my BA thesis and spent most of my time at NATO headquarters. I had nevertheless the chance to go around and discover the city, as well as some beautiful sites not far from it such as the fascinating Bruges and the historic Waterloo. I am not sure, but it may be that I walked on Galerie Loiuse once: I perfectly remember the shops of the most famous brands!
    I hope to come back one day to refresh my memories of a city I immediately liked.
    Thanks to both Lavinia for her wonderful guide through Brussels, and Silvia for she always hosts very interesting stories.
    All the best!
    Aury

  2. Lavinia

    Hi Aury,
    Thank you for your kind comments. You are welcome and if you ever come to Brussels, please let me know, and I will show you some other interesting places as well. Best wishes, Lavinia

  3. I hope too, I’ll visit Brussels soon. I was there more than 15 years go. Since I was a littel chemist as well, I enjoyed very much the Atomium…terrible. Visiting the city with adult eyes will be more interesting.
    Aury, I was in Waterloo too: grass with a Napoleon statue…nothing more…

  4. Lavinia

    Hi Silvia, I would be very happy to take you to some secret lovely places here. I like the forest by the Atomium as well. See you here! Lavinia

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