Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I was in...

...Europe on a work trip, last month. Due to an odd itinerary, I had a few hours to kill in Brussels, the "Capital of Europe".

I didn't have a plan, like I usually do. Since the entire trip got underway in a very short period, I didn't have time to make a plan. I barely managed to figure out two things - where to leave my suitcase while I explored the city, and how to get into the city within a sensible budget.

In case you want to know, there are lockers on the 2nd floor (the bus floor) at the airport, and there is a train into the city. Both of which aren't hard to find, and a reasonable number of people in Brussels speak fluent English, so it's easy.

Once in the city, I have to admit that I was lost. I loitered around aimlessly - I couldn't figure out where the Grand Place exactly was, even though I walked around it twice. And it was too early in the day to find enough people to ask. I felt stupid. I felt like an idiot for not having a plan. In my daze, I had a hard time locating a tourist office too. The clock kept ticking, since I had a connection to catch, in a few hours only.

At the same time, I was generally awe-stricken at being in Europe and being surrounded with so much general beauty. Every building looked like a piece of art, and there were ancient sculptures and stuff everywhere. It was my first day in Europe - I wasn't mentally prepared.

And then.

I finally located a tourist office. Which felt nothing like any tourist office I'd been to. I felt like I was intruding into a silent exhibition hall, and would be shooed away in a moment for making footstep sounds and disturbing the peace. But I went up to the desk and asked for a map. The friendly lady gave me one, and answered all my questions.

- Is Herge's house is too far way to visit?
- Yes sir, it is. It's some way off. Why don't you go the museum instead.
- Uh... I'm not really in a museum sort of mood.
- Oh, but it's a comic book museum
- A what??? Are you pulling my leg
- *Smile*. Take the yellow tram that'll pull up on the station opposite, and ask for the Bande-Desinee Musee
- Oh wow. Thanks.

So I decided to walk, since that would ensure that I got to take in some more of Brussels as I went along. I didn't intend finishing at the Museum in a hurry anyway. Might as well finish the touristy nonsense first.

There's not much to report. I did find the Grand Place. I also, only by sheer chance, found the Pissing Boy, Manniken Piss. Cow had told me not bother. I could see why. It's such a disappointment, that statue. I did have me a waffles and chocolate ice cream too. A check on all the things I had to do. I also found this lovely statue of Van Gogh, with the backdrop of a Tintin panel, one of the 30 comic walls you might find in Brussels.

Next: The Museum of Comic Art.


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