It’s always fun coming back to a foreign city that you’ve already visited. My last trip to Brussels was a little more than two years ago. A lot has happened in my life since then but this city looks and feels about the same. In some ways, it’s comforting.
After a coffee and chocolate filled croissant, it was time to brave the masses and head onto Grand Place, the city’s tourist-clogged central square. It’s the top attraction for a reason though. The buildings, including the Town Hall, date back to the early 15th century and have been lovingly maintained; the entire area is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Somehow, despite the disgusting crowds, it’s still difficult not to be completely struck by this place.
Even after multiple visits, I’m still trying to figure out how the train and subway ticket systems effectively work in Europe. It’s essentially all on an honor system – you buy tickets, self-stamp them and board the cars. Apparently, tickets can be checked at any point although that probably never happens. Could this ever work in the States? And if not, why?
By the time I’d come up with an answer, my subway doors opened and I’d arrived at the Atomium. This wild looking monument was constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. The interconnected spheres form a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.
The line to get in was long but moved quickly. Escalators and stairs allowed visitors to move between the various pods in which exhibits had been set up.
Soon, a steady rain started to fall — signaling my time to head home. Back at the hotel, there was massive consumption of free Wi-Fi and sauna, as well as some sink laundry. With a big day of travel in front of me, it was an early night.
Tomorrow, it’s onward to Russia.