If Geneva is the world capital, then Brussels is surely the European capital. Home of the EU and the EEC, the city touts itself as the ‘heart of Europe’. I’ve had a great time here, mostly because I’m staying with an old friend. The centre features the impressive Grand Place, a large square surrounded on all sides by huge guildhalls and the magnificent Hôtel de Ville. Nearby is the collossal Palace of Justice overlooking the ‘low town’, the former lower-class area, where convicted criminals would once hang for the whole town to see. The dome of the palace was clearly visible from the train on the way in, dwarfing all structures near it.
On the other side of town, the space-age Atomium, a model of an iron atom, stands like an alien spacecraft above an entertainment complex featuring restaurants and a cinema. At night the sculpture is lit up by hundreds of pinpricks of light, rather giving it the impression of an overblown Christmas decoration.
I didn’t have time to see much culture or history here, but I did spend a long night out in some awesome bars, sampling Belgian beers and rock bars. We met a charming Spanish couple, and although they didn’t speak much English, and a little French, we managed to have a great time with them (somehow language barriers break down with alcohol!).
Well, that’s it for my great European adventure. I’m off to catch a train back through the Chunnel to London St Pancras where I first set off.