The day was April the 14th and the year was 2015.
That day, we went to Brussels, Belgium from Den Haag, Netherlands just for the day. It was going to be a [relatively] short journey, seeing as we were going to an entirely different country (don’t you just love that about Europe?). More importantly, it was going to be fun and waffle filled!
We made it to our train on time (which was usually a struggle with 2 kids and 2 adults). We made it to all the connections on time too. Life was good. We got to Belgium, then the hunger started to creep in. But hey, we were in Belgium- Hello, Belgian Waffle! We got the first set of Belgian Waffles right at the train station once we got off in Belgium and we all devoured it within 2 minutes. It was soooooooooooo good- warm, soft, thick, yum, everything.
Unfortunately, I just realized I do not have even a single picture of any of the waffles we ate (before eating them, of course)! Just goes to show we bought them for one reason and one reason only- to
devour eat them! However, I took a picture of the trash ensemble close to the stall we got the first set of waffles (and where the waffle wrapper was discarded a couple of minutes after purchasing the waffles). I thought the people of the land of Belgium had taken recycling to a whole new level of colorful!
We were all thinking it- we wanted more. So we bought another set. I savored this new batch, allowing myself to enjoy every bite-ful. It was nothing like I had tasted in the U.S. It had it’s own syrup on it already (at least that’s what I think it was) and it wasn’t runny or soggy- just the right level of sweet.
Then we decided we’d better pump the brakes. We had the whole day ahead of us. It was my sister, my 7 year old nephew, my 18 month old niece, and myself. None of us was fluent in French and didn’t really have much of a clue what to do once we got to Brussels. I had read about the Atomium from my ‘extensive’ research on Pinterest for things to do in Brussels, especially if you have kids with you. But that was all I got. I had read about other things but I either couldn’t remember them at the time, or it would have been too complicated to get there.
We thought the best thing to do would be to go on one of the ‘hop on hop off’ tour buses. That had worked for us quite nicely a few days ago in Paris. We got to see pretty much all the important places in Paris without our legs falling off from too much walking :). So we found the ticket office and looked at a list of all the stops on the tour. None of them, except for maybe 2 stops, looked familiar or sounded fun (they were probably fun and important but they didn’t strike us as such). And the 2 we were interested in weren’t even any of the first few stops- so we would have to sit on the bus for ages before even getting there. On top of that, the tour bus ticket was expensive- even more expensive than Paris. So we decided we would brave the metro system to get to the Atomium.
We went to the metro ticket counter hoping to find a nice, friendly ticket master that would tell us exactly how to get to the Atomium. He wasn’t friendly and he was impatient. But he sold us tickets and kind of sort of gave us directions. To be honest, I was convinced we were going to end up at the opposite end of our stop but my sister got us to the right stop in one piece.
After getting out of the station, the Atomium was right there and most people were going there anyway. However, we made a quick stop at Mini Europe before heading to the Atomium. The Atomium is kind of shaped like atoms, yes. 100% score for originality in naming. Lol. It is quite the impressive structure. It’s like the Willis (Sears) Tower of Chicago or the Empire State Building of New York City, or the CN Tower of Toronto. Ok, maybe not that tall- but similar concept.
At the front of the building is a huge welcome sign. I’m on the far right in the header picture. It was going to be impossible to be the only human in the picture without waiting for ages or getting there at the crack of dawn. Even getting that spot was a bit of a struggle. Haha. The line to get to the observation floor was ridiculously long and we contemplated just cutting our losses and leaving as my niece was getting fussy. But we persevered and were duly rewarded.
You go up the escalators and super cool elevators to the observation floor (check out my short video of part of the ride up) and have a great view of the entire city (or otherwise large impressive area) or even another country in addition (very likely in a place like Europe).
They also had a restaurant in the Atomium; to get to the restaurant, you had to climb some stairs from the observation floor and my niece decided she was going to get up there. She had only just started walking, let alone climbing stairs and these stairs were not at all kid-friendly. Talk about spacing between the railings wide enough to fit a motorcycle through! Ok, I kid. But anyway, I was tasked with making sure she didn’t break any bones so I had to follow her slowly up the stairs (when there were other people also trying to get to the restaurant) and when we got to the top she wouldn’t come back down without screaming. So I was the mean aunty who made a little girl scream at the Atomium :).
They also had cool science and engineering facts and exhibits all around, just like a museum. Information about the design and construction of the structure was also there for anyone curious. Smaller scale models of the structure were also available to view and marvel at. My engineering love tank was replenished some :). Check out my [definitely non professional] photos of the inside of the Atomium and other happenings that day.
It was a fun day overall. When we got out, we were hungry. Again. So we had some more of those awesome waffles before we went back to get the metro. The metro station was cool- it had a sign board with all the stops on the line and LEDs indicating where all the trains were. Helpful to let you know how long you’d be waiting. The station also had cool paintings/pictures on the walls. After waiting for a bit, the metro came and we started the
long short journey back to Den Haag.
So the Belgian Waffles were great but I had so much of them that day, that if I don’t eat another waffle, Belgian or otherwise, for the next couple of years, I would be just alright :).
Header Photo: Welcome sign in front of the Atomium. April 2015. Photo by O Muoka.