If you're planning on visiting Brussels for the first time, one of the best ways to see the place is by following the route of the number 81 tram. It leaves from the Montgomery stop, and starts its journey off through the more fashionable inner suburbs (a good way to see some of the Art Nouveau architecture, then on towards the Porte de Louvain where some of the more fashionable shops can be found. From here it goes to the Gare du Midi, where you might want to join it if you've just arrived by Eurostar. Next, it moves in through the historic town centre, where it travels underground (so you'll probably want to walk this part).
After having been to the Grand Place and done touristy such things, rejoin the tram at the Bourse. It now takes a meandering route out through the northern suburbs to Heysel, where it terminates. Here you'll find Kineopolis, a very nice and very large cinema. You could also have a look at the semi-famous Atomium while you're here
This tram line would make a very good pub crawl (akin to the circle line pub crawl) for those who have the stamina.

Alternatively, if you'd rather head out of town, take the number 44 tram out to Tervuren. The scenery along the way is quite pretty, and you may want to stop at one of the parks or the tram museum along the way. In Tervuren itself is the African museum, which is fairly magnificient, and there are more parks and lakes.

Among the reasons for visitng Brussels are drinking Belgian beer, eating Brussels waffles and the aquisition of Chokotoffs.

One of the Pepperidge Farm Distinctive cookies.

This is another sandwich cookie, much like the Milano cookie. Unlike the Milano, the Brussels is a 3/8" thick, 2" diameter circular cookie. The chocolate center is much like the Milano's, although perhaps thinner. The cookie part itself is very thin and crisp. More similar to a potato chip than a cookie, although still sweet (and not salty).

The Brussel also comes in a mint variety, where the chocolate center has a white, minty additive. As this is identical to the mint Milano, it is likely the center of both cookies are identical.

Although it is eclipsed by the glory of the Milano, the Brussels is a fine cookie in its own right.

Despite its role as the "capital of Europe", Brussels is quite a small city; you can set out eastwards from the Grand'Place and be in the forest in under an hour on foot. The city is formally bilingual, but the population is about 85% French speaking; there are sizable central African, Portuguese, Moroccan and Turkish minorities. English has a considerable role as a neutral language between the francophone and Dutch-speaking communities and increasingly as a street language.

The heart of the city is the "Pentagon", formed by the boulevards which run where the city walls once stood ("boulevard" is from the same root as "bulwark" for that reason). The tourists mainly gravitate towards the Grand'Place, a fine 17th century reconstruction of a medieval square, the Manneken Pis, and the Galleries Royales, which are all in the "Ilot Sacré" roughly in the centre of the Pentagon at the foot of the ridge on its Eastern side. South of the Ilot Sacré is the Marolles, a traditional working class district with lots of good junk shops in the Rue Haute and Rue Blaes, while north of it is the Rue Neuve, the main shopping drag, and the Place des Martyres, a 19th century square being rebuilt behind the original facades. Much of the central area is scarred by Bruxellisation, evil property development practices involving allowing historic buildings to collapse through years of neglect and then redeveloping the sites.

On the heights east of the city centre ("Haut de la ville") the Palais de Justice stands in a prominent position, just south of the cluster of the royal palace, the Palais des Beaux-Arts (concert hall), and the main public art galleries. Across the park (Parc de Bruxelles or Warande) stands the Parliament building, at one end of the Rue de la Loi which extends out eastwards, lined with government buildings, embassies and European Union buildings culminating in the Berlaymont (European Commission) and Justus Lipsius (Council of Ministers) buildings at the Rond-Point Schuman.

South of this administrative district is Ixelles/Elsene, a lively area with a large African population and the city's best beer shop (Bières Artisanales, on the Chaussée de Wavre) and some of its more interesting shopping; the Avenue Louise on the boundary between Ixelles and Saint-Gilles is a Mecca of high-class consumerism.

The area to the north of the Pentagon (Saint-Josse) is split by the main railway lines and the Gare du Nord/Noordstation; to the west are a cluster of skyscrapers (some now derelict) around Place Rogier, built in the 1960s giving the area the somewhat mocking nickname of "Manhattan"; a newer business district is growing up just to the north of it, all mirrored glass and private security guards; to the east of the railway lies the red light district and the Jardin Botanique (whose great orangery is a major concert venue). North-west of the centre lie Laeken (with its park and royal residence), Heysel (home to the Atomium, the city's main exhibition centre and the newly rebuilt King Baudoin football and athletics stadium) and Koekelberg (dominated by the dome of the Basilica, the world's fourth biggest Catholic church). On its western side the Pentagon comes up against the industrial Canal du Centre, the closest there is to a water feature; beyond it are Molenbeek (poor but with some good clubs) and Anderlecht (which mixes poverty, Erasmus's house, the Cantillon brewery and the eponymous football club).

Vlaamse lesers: life's too short om ieder straatnaam tweetalig te maken en - for better or for worse - de engelstalige gemeenschap van Brussel en meeste touristen kennen gewoon alleen de franse namen. Will do better as I edit this node up, of course ...

Brus"sels (?), n.

A city of Belgium, giving its name to a kind of carpet, a kind of lace, etc.

Brussels carpet, a kind of carpet made of worsted yarn fixed in a foundation web of strong linen thread. The worsted, which alone shows on the upper surface in drawn up in loops to form the pattern. -- Brussels ground, a name given to the handmade ground of real Brussels lace. It is very costly because of the extreme fineness of the threads. -- Brussels lace, an expensive kind of lace of several varieties, originally made in Brussels; as, Brussels point, Brussels ground, Brussels wire ground. -- Brussels net, an imitation of Brussels ground, made by machinery. -- Brussels point. See Point lace. -- Brussels sprouts Bot., a plant of the Cabbage family, which produces, in the axils of the upright stem, numerous small green heads, or "sprouts," each a cabbage in miniature, of one or two inches in diameter; the thousand-headed cabbage. -- Brussels wire ground, a ground for lace, made of silk, with meshes partly straight and partly arched.


© Webster 1913.

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