As we should all be able to surmise, adr = after the departure of Ruth… As sad as it was to watch her train to the airport disappear down the tracks in the morning, Brussels eased me into solo travel with a parade! And not just any parade, the annual cartoon balloon float parade (who knew that this existed?) featuring icons such as Sponge Bob Square Pants, Betty Boop, a smurf, the blue teenage mutant ninja turtle, local hero Manneken Pis, and my personal favorite…the stars of “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”:
Not technically the main entertainment (but equally as fun to look at) were the leaders of the marching bands that filled the gaps between the balloons…these guys - Very serious and quite impressive:
I also spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Brussels, taking in some more of the sights and of course sneaking in one last Belgian waffle:
St. Michael’s Cathedral / beautiful stained glass window
The Old England building, classic example of Brussels’ Art Deco architecture, now home of the Musical Instruments Museum (apparently the saxophone was invented in by a Belgian guy with the last name Sax!).
Another main attraction around Brussels is Atomium, a giant atom originally built for the 1958 Worlds’ Fair held in Brussels. According to Wikipedia its shape is “a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times” which means it is super big, over 300 feet tall. However, visiting Atomium pretty much requires an afternoon (it’s 30-45 minutes outside of the city and requires various forms of public transportation). On advice of a very helpful guide/map which included tips from locals I learned of a way to get a glimpse of the atom without leaving the city center or paying anything! What’s the catch? I had to take this to get there:
Possibly the shadiest elevator I’ve been on in a while, it belonged to a random parking deck in the midst of Brussels’ other sights - not classy, but it’s open roof deck offered great views of the city. Because it was a Sunday there weren’t very many other people around, and I have to admit I got a little creeped out. But the view was worth it. And I even got to see Atomium! (Can you find it in all the pictures below?!) Zoom is a beautiful thing: