Things to see: The Royal Palace (100 things #6)

The Royal Palace in Brussels is open to the public, free of charge, during the summer until September. This was one of the things that weren’t mentioned on the list of things to do in Brussels – but I’m really glad we did.

We were actually looking for how to get into the underground parts of the city when we realized that the Royal palace was open, and free of charge.

They had put together an exhibit of “Faces” when we were there the first weekend of September, and there was also a science exhibit for kids.

Not that these things were strictly necessary – the rooms themselves are more than impressive, and it was cool to go from ball room to more personal-feeling sitting rooms and look around. (Yet, since the royals aren’t living there full time, I did not get the same feeling that I got at Alnwick Castle – that I was walking into someone’s home without permission.)

If you go to Brussels during the summer – check out the Palace. Well worth it, in my opinion, especially since it is free. Afterwards, check out the underground parts of the city next to it.

Things to see: Chocolate museum

In my series of things to see in Brussels (although, honestly, waffles and fries will get you very far), the chocolate museum makes its way, dubiously, onto the list.

A chocolate museum should, in theory, be a fantastic thing. This museum, however, is more worth the visit because of the building it is in, rather than the chocolate museum aspect.

The building is old and rickety and seems quite like the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. And I love the creaky stairs.

The museum bits, well, you can tell that is a private collection that fairly recently was made into a museum. It’s an okay collection, with some neat spread of different chocolate beans on display, and some interesting chocolate sculptures, but if you have any knowledge on how chocolate is made, it is probably better to go straight to a chocolatier and eat the chocolate instead.

I think part of our frustration with the museum part here is that it looks like they’ve decided to put everything on display, when they should have been more diligent, in my opinion, and weeded some things out.

The bonus is that it is just off the corner of the big square, so it is not out of the way for anything in Brussels.

Things to see: The Atomium

When I talk to people after my visit to Brussels, and tell them about The Atomium, my most frequent reaction is “What?”┬áThis leads me to believe that I’ve really picked up on it being a “thing,” from my dad’s comics from the 60s and 70s – again, a lot of Belgian artists there.

The Atomium was made for the 1958 World Expo in Brussels. Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, you can go into it, and it has become an iconic symbol of Brussels. (It’s either this, or the boy who pees.)

We didn’t go in, and our guide book said that it was not really worth the admittance fee, especially since most of what we were there for were the pictures and to grasp an understanding of the size.

We took the Metro out there, and the tram back. And honestly, it was worth the trip, even though it is a bit out of the way of the city centre.

The tram trip back made me see that Brussels as a city – might be nice to live in, as it went through residential neighborhoods that looked, affluent, to varying degrees, but also less cultural confusion between Flemish and French architectural styles .

Things to see: Comic book museum

When I was looking up things to see in Brussels – the only reason I was going there was because I’d never been and it was a quick train ride from Paris – I asked around if anyone had any tips on what should be seen.

I got a lot of tips on what to eat (most of it fried, and it was delicious), but I also got a couple of other helpful hints.

One of these was the Belgian Comics Strip Center. Belgian comic book writers are so plentiful that they’ve made a museum dedicated to them. A lot of them staples from my childhood, either from the library or from the collection my Dad amassed in the 60s and 70s.

We could easily have spent more time in the museum than the 2 hours we were there. I also discovered the work of Posy Simmonds there. I’ve seen Tamara Drewe, but I’d no idea that it was based on a comic strip.

The only sad thing about it, was that the comics for sale in their shop were mostly either in French or Flemish.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone going to Brussels, with the slightest interest in comics or drawing.