I must admit that it was such a shame of me that, having lived in the Netherlands for more than two years, I had never visited Belgium. Well I actually went to Belgium twice before, but they were merely for festivals; the TW classic and Dour. So I felt rather obligated to go to the Dutch neighbour before returning to Jakarta. After a long and intensive thought, Maarten and I decided to go only to Brussels and Bruges for 3 days.
We arrived pretty early at Leiden central station and took the intercity train from Den Haag Hollands Spoor. We arrived at Brussels Zuid by mid-day and we went to the hotel first to put our bags. We decided to stay at a hotel outskirts of Brussels because it was even cheaper than staying in a hostel in Brussels.
As we were waiting for our train, Maarten told me that Belgium has really funny city names. For example, the hotel we stayed in was located in a small town called Ruisbroek, or literally translated (Dutch) as “Noisepants”. To go to Ruisbroek, we had to take the train in the direction to ‘s Gravenbrakel (littrans. Count Vomit).
key card with allows us to make 10 trips brussels-outskirts and return
Anyway, our first destination in Brussels was the Museum of Musical Instruments (MIM). Maarten had gone there with his father few months before and they really enjoyed it.
museum of musical instruments (MIM)
We spent quite a long time walking around the first floor, which was filled with traditional instruments. There were various accordions, drums, bagpipes, ocarinas, sitar, and even gamelan.
The second department we visited was filled mostly with guitars and pianos. The next department was also filled with pianos.
Then we went to level -1, where they had a collection of modern musical instruments, from moog keyboards to theremin to a temporary exhibition by a Dutch artist (which unfortunately I failed to remember his name) who made an acoustic instrument that created sounds from frosting water and melting ice, with sheets of paper as speakers! (woot)
the awesome “water-based” instrument
My other favourite instrument was the Componium, which at that time might just looked like an improvised and more developed draaiorgel, but for me it was the ancestor of fruity loops.
After 2 hours at MIM, we walked to the Belgian Comic Strip Museum (or sometimes also known as CBBD — Centre Belgee de la Bande Dessinée).
On our way there I was fascinated by the Brussels facade. They were more like French buildings (grand, exquisite, classy) instead of Dutch (small, humble, but still sweet). We passed the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula that looked like the posh Cathedral of Notre Dame. The white church looked even nicer when the dusk fell as the setting sun gave a crimson shade to the church wall.
Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula
We arrived at the comic strip museum 2 hours before closing time so we couldn’t really see everything in our relaxed (read: slow) pace. But still it was a really nice visit.
The showroom contained various sketches of famous Belgian comic strips from Spirou to Cedric to Marsupilami to Cubitus. The second floor had a section (among several others) focusing on Tintin (or Kuifje in Dutch).
Capt. Haddock and Tintin
There were also special sections on Smurf, Lucky Luke, Spirou, and Gaston. Yes, Gaston! I am a big fan of Gaston and I was so excited to see that lazy-ass lucky bastard character :p
me at the office of gaston la gaffe
Unfortunately, we didn’t really have much time. And for slow people like Maarten and I, having merely two hours to finish a museum was both a difficult task and big annoyance. But I think we managed to see the whole museum, although not as intense as we wanted to.
And last but not least, I had several photo takings, first with Tintin’s rocket (inside the museum) and second with a gigantic Gaston statue (hooraaaaayy!!!).
with tintin’s rocket to the moon
maarten and me with gaston
We finished our day by having a nice gezellig dinner near the Brussels central station and a tasty-smelling waffle at the station:)
dinner! yum yum yum
Anyway, we almost we missed our train to Ruisbroek that night due to the ‘invisibility’ of the train that only consisted two wagons. The railway track at Brussels central was not really straight, and despite that we had waited for 15 minutes at the right platform, the train didn’t stop in front of us because it was terribly short. We were suspicious when we heard the whistle from the train conductor, and we ran as fast as we could to the other side of the platform, gasping our breath until we finally were on board.
Oh I forgot to tell that when we arrived at Brussels Central, there were lots of awesome leafless trees!
more photos can be found here