Monday, September 19, 2005

Car-Free-Day in Brussels

Sunday was the annually car-free-day in Brussels, with no cars allowed and almost all museums and public buildings open for tours.

We mounted three bikes on the car and went to the outskirts of Brussels and then spend the whole day riding through the city. Luckily for us and the thousands of other people biking, it was a sunny and beautiful day.

This day the 'Manneken Pis' statue was dressed up and was relieving himself with Kriek, the Belgian cherry beer that we had quite a few bottles of (wine bottle sized!) the evening before.

Again, biking requires eating a lot of fatty stuff! These are huge slices of bread packed with 'frites', burgers and sauce, called "machines-guns".

The city is separated in the lower and upper town, with the lower being the most interesting and lively and official and glass-and-steel jungle being on the higher part, including the EU-buildings.

One curiosity in Brussels and Belgium is that there are four (!!!) parliaments in the city. The parliament of the region Flanders, the parliament of the region Brussels, the Belgian federal parliament and then the European parliament. Crazy place this, and I guess that they don't want to be alone with this mess, so they are spreading it via the EU to the rest of us. Or is it we that want to share the pain with them?

"One of the amazing moments of Brussels" according to Thomas is when you come up at the John Kennedy Ln and see the Brussel version of Arc de Triumph in front of you with the Belgian flag seen through the arcs. "It's like being launched into the monument". Then you enter a new tunnel and come up again as seen in the picture above. Guess this is the only day of the year this can be experienced by bike.

This is where much of the European mess is cooked up, the commission.

And here is a lot of talking going on - European Parliament. That is when they are not in Strasbourg talking. One of EU's fantastically wasteful and inefficient compromises is that the parliament have to move between Brussels and Strasbourg every month. As usually I blame the French for all of it. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Wasteful and inefficient....mmmm, my guess is that after the first couple of months, they learned to pack light.
Looks like a nice city, (despite the myriad of parliament houses).
Have fun, K.

Johan said...

My guess the parliament members can move whatever they want for free, so I doubt they pack light. They just put it outside the door and let some moving company make a big buck moving unimportant papers securely between two cities.

The city was really a pleasant surprise!