Archive for June 25th, 2019

June 25, 2019

Botanical garden of Brussels!

So in my wandering days over most of Europe I came to Brussels. It remain one of my favorite cities and love to come back to it each time. I have come here by plane, train, and auto and never mind, in the city we try the metro and the bus but we walk and walk most of the time.

One of those walks took us to the Jardin Botanique de Bruxelles or Botanical Garden of Brussels.  Well what was there is a garden there but the main thing is the cultural center surrounded with a park with statues and fountains that holds events and it is very livley. I like to tell you a bit more on it ok.

The Jardin Botanique or Botanical Garden of Brussels is located on the territory of  Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, at the corner of Rue Royale and the boulevard du jardin botanique, is a public park located on the site of the former State Botanical Garden in Brussels created in 1826, and whose buildings house a cultural center, the Botanique, known as the “Bota”.   Victor Hugo, during his first stay in Brussels in 1852, wrote: “Brussels has two unique wonders in the world: the Grand Place and the panorama of the Botanical Garden”.

Brussels

Thus, in 1826, the territories of present-day Belgium, which had been part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands for the past ten years, acquired a beautiful wooded, airy and well-supplied area, to create a complex housing Brussels collections of existing plants. The Royal Horticultural Society of the Netherlands was born. Later under Belgium independence from 1830   was the Royal Horticultural Society of Belgium.

The Orangery consists of a central domed rotunda and two glass side aisles with two columned buildings at the ends. The pattern of the monumental structure corresponds to that frequently used in the 19C. The building and gardens were officially opened with fireworks, a country festival and a banquet at the first exhibition of horticulture products organized by the Royal Horticultural Society of the Netherlands from September 1-3; 1829.

It was at the end of the 19C that the sculpted decoration of the Botanical Garden was commissioned and realized. It is decided to equip the park with a series of sculptures with the aim of both beautifying it and stimulating public art. The ensemble includes 52 sculptures, executed between 1894 and 1898, including various fountains, sculpted groups and figures evoking time, seasons, plants and animals, as well as electric lights.

Brussels

 

In October 1938, the decision was made to move the botanical garden. On January 1, 1939, the State took possession of the 93 hectares of the Bouchout estate in the town of Meise, which will now be devoted to botany and where the National Botanical Garden of Belgium, renamed the Botanical Garden of Meise, was established after its transfer to the Flemish Community on 1 January 2014. In April 1940, the plants of the outdoor collection were moved, then it will be the turn of the trees and shrubs, then the large greenhouse raised in Bouchout. In an unrecognisable site, the building is saved from abandonment by the decision of the Ministry of the Wallonie Community to convert it into a cultural center, whose name Le Botanique recalls its former assignment. The last element that graces the upper part of the park, an iris garden was inaugurated in 1995. This park garden is served by the metro station: Botanique on lines 2 and 6.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Brussels on the botanical garden

Gardens of Brussels, the garden Jean Massart

There you go another maybe can say off the beaten path site of Brussels as it is outside the main ring road away from tourist heaven Grand Place. Enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of the Le Bota now.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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June 25, 2019

Midi and Geel, Belgium!

Got you! the title is a bit odd even for my creative ungenius but is all I could come up with! As I brag so much about my road warrior pasttime all over Europe, many times I have to encounter folks who think that weird I do not take public transport in France. Well ,if you live in Europe you know that cannot be true.

I have done many many train rides (grand voyager frequent traveler lol! )all over not to mention riding on tramways, buses, metros, and taxis to know and be able to speak about transportation. Of course,not to forget my educational background is aviation ::)

So this is as good an opportunity to tell you about one train trip took several times to our neighboring Belgium. The title should be longer as I started the journey always at Gare du Nord in Paris but have written before on it so will spare you the sermon lol! However, from Paris Nord took Thalys to Midi train station in Brussels and there rented my Avis car rental to reach Geel just outside Anvers or Antwerpen. The places are very familiar by now…. Let me tell you a bit on the trips, briefly!

The train; the Brussels Capital-Region has three main train stations: Brussels-South (Sud), Central (Midi) and North (Nord).  I have walked by the others, but the one used has been always Midi. From Paris Nord station (Gare du Nord) you can take off on the Thalys to Brussels Midi . At Brussels-Midi, the main station of the Brussels agglomeration, Thalys high-speed trains take you comfortably and quickly back to Paris with 23 daily Thalys trains ensuring the connection in just 1h22 without intermediate stops.

brussels

Brussels-Midi station, more commonly known as Gare du Midi, located on the territory of the Brussels municipality of Saint-Gilles. This station, which was a terminus when it was inaugurated in 1869, and the second station was inaugurated in 1949, and  covered with a yellow and smooth brick facing and is surmounted by a square clock tower became a station of passage from the junction Nord-Midi in 1952. The station has 22 lanes, including two dedicated exclusively to Eurostar trains. It is located at Avenue Fonsny 47B ,Brussels main entrance and back side is Place Victor Horta, 26 Saint-Gilles side and where I get my car rentals Avis!

Belgium train webpage in French on the Midi

Thalys train webpage in French on Paris Brussels

From there took my glorious rental car to Geel.I guess could be shorter to do Anvers but I book for Brussels because like it better ok!

Geel is a Dutch-speaking city of Belgium located in the Flemish Region in the Province of Antwerp. The central point is the pleasant market (markt)  square, facing the Saint-Amand  Church. With its attractive terraces and easy parking . The oldest part of the city hall dates from the 17C. Not far away, the Sint-Dipna Church marks the place where the saint was buried.

A bit of history on Geel, briefly !

In 1795, the Duchy of Brabant was dissolved and Geel made part of the French department of Deux-Neuves, the precursor of the present province of Antwerp. Geel actively participated in the Belgian Revolution of 1830, resulting in the award of an honorary flag from King Leopold II.  A major occurrence in the history of Geel is the battle of Geel (also referred to as the “Gheel bridghead”) in September 1944, one of the heaviest and bloodiest fights during the liberation of Belgium. Eventually the territory of Geel, and the smaller villages around it, were finally liberated on September 23 1944.

One big event taking place here is the Reggae Festival. The Reggae Festival, one of the larger reggae festivals in Europe, takes place usually early in August just outside the city center. More info in English here:  http://www.reggaegeel.com/en

One nice monument I always like to have my beer looking at it is the Church of St Amand.

The Sint-Amandskerk or St Amand  is the oldest parish church in Geel. It is located near the Markt square in the center of the city.  It is a late Gothic church that was built from 1489-1532. The predecessor burned down in 1489. This was built in Brabant white sandstone. The rebuilding of the church took place in 1490 in brick. A few parts of the sandstone structure remained. The tower has a substructure from around 1400, partly also from 1489, and was raised to 59 meters in the mid-16C. In 1567 most of the works of art in the church were destroyed by the iconoclasm. Only images of Saints Dimpna and Gerebernus were spared, as well as two paintings, including an Adoration of the Three Kings.  The interior of the church, as it is revealed today, dates from the Baroque. It concerns the paneling of the side aisles and the confessionals. In addition, the choir stalls from the end of the 17C, a pulpit from around 1715 , the high altar from 1748. Furthermore, on the pillars the statues of the Apostles and the marble choir enclosure from 1693.  The stained glass windows can be seen in the south facade.

Tourist office of Geel on the Church in Flemish

Geel

The market square,(Markt)  facing the St-Amands Church and bordered by attractive café terraces, is the focal point of the city  Stroll through the shopping streets Nieuwstraat, Pas and Stationsstraat and end your shopping with a relaxing terrace on our traffic-free market!  The annual fair takes place from 22 to 26 June. The autumn door is on 2 October and during the weekends of 10, 11, 17 and 18 December you can come for Christmas shopping.  An overview of all stores and events can be found here: https://www.geelcentrum.be/winkelen-in-geel/

One excellent hotel to stay here and walking just around from the main square with excellent personal service is the Hotel Verlooy.

Hotel Verlooy , at Pas 117,(street address) Geel  . The 12 rooms are luxuriously furnished with comfortable beds, unique light design and spacious bathrooms. Oak parquet floors and the use of natural materials create a comfortable space for body and soul.The rooms take their name from the world of pastry with a nod to the neighboring bakery-pastry Verlooy, renowned in the region. Your morning starts in the best possible way with a crisp breakfast in the veranda, overlooking our winter garden. Possibility to rent bicycles and e-bikes only with prior reservation. Parking, WiFi and minibar in the room are free. Hotel Verlooy is a comfortable base just 200 meters from the main Market (Markt) Square.

Hotel Verlooy webpage

Geel

And the overall tourist webpage for Geel is here: Tourist office of Geel in Flemish

There you go a nice train ride which as said can be taken all the way to Anvers but much better the ride from Midi into the side roads of Anvers to reach wonderful picturesque Geel. Hope you enjoy the ride.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

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