We set out again at about 5:45 pm (local time) and headed for the station. So far, we had used our 24-hour passes on the tram only so it was now time to introduce them to the bus!
We went for a bus ride but I am not sure where we went. Not that it mattered as all routes are good when we are wandering at random.
Tigger, however, had a plan, in pursuit of which we changed to a tram heading for a destination which she had chosen. I didn’t know where we were going but began to guess as the scenery became familiar.
I knew for certain when we left the tram and walked up the hill to this striking building. It has given its name to the district which is called Porte de Hal.
This is the last remaining of the 7 gates in the 14th-century defensive wall around the city. In its history, it has served many purposes under many regimes, including a granary, a prison and place of execution, an archive and a museum. We see it today as it was refashioned in 1868.
Interesting as this historical artifact might be, it was not the reason for our coming here. That honour belonged to a certain restaurant called Au Faucon which, it being my favourite in Brussels, we tried to visit on each trip here.
Alas, a disappointment awaited us. The first sign that things were not as we expected was that the name had changed. It was now Le Nouveau Faucon (“The New Falcon”). When we entered it was obvious that it was now under new management. We had, after all taken the trouble to come here so we might as well have a meal. We picked up a menu only to be told that the kitchen closed at 3 pm.
Sadly we beat a retreat and looked around for another likely venue. We spied out a few places and perused a few menus but nothing appealed.
Remembering our success this morning in scoring a cheap breakfast in the station, we returned there to see whether we could repeat the trick for the evening meal.
Next to the breakfast place we found Wok Away. I don’t quite know what the name is supposed to convey but, more importantly, I saw that they had two vegetarian meals on offer, one with rice and one with noodles. We chose the noodles. The food is served in cardboard containers but it was hot and filling and with a bottle of Fuzetea each, cost about half what our restaurant meals cost yesterday.
Fortified by our noodles we set off again. So far, we had used our travel passes on the trams and on the buses. What was left? Ah, yes, the Metro!
We went to the Metro station and presented our passes to the automatic gate. The entrance gates of the Brussels Metro are formed of two transparent panels about the height of an average adult. They are closed when you reach them but open to admit you on presentation of a valid ticket. That’s for a single person. Would you believe that there are also special gates for two people?
It’s true. These gates have two sets of panels forming a cubicle. You press a button and the first set of panels opens to admit the two of you and then closes behind you. You now touch each of your passes on the special pad and, if all is well, the second set of panels opens to let you out!
It’s not as complicated as it sounds and took us only a few seconds to make our way through. There are analogous gates-for-two for exit as well.
This is where the Metro brought us. You can probably make out the name of the station which is Heysel (in French) and Heizel (in Flemish). This will be familiar to football fans. The football stadium of the same name is nearby. Fortunately, there was no match scheduled for this evening or the place would have been crowded out.
Heysel (or Heizel) is also the nearest Metro station to this famous Belgian attraction. This was as close as we came to it today but you will find better pictures online. It is called the Atomium and it was built in 1958 for the Brussels World’s Fair (Expo 58). It represents a vastly magnified iron atom and is now a museum which can be visited.I
We, however, jumped aboard a tram that was about to leave.
We left the tram at a stop called Montgomery and changed to bus 27.
If one were to wonder why the tram and bus stop was called Montgomery, a statue in the middle of the road, with its familiar outline, would resolve all such doubts!
Bus number 27 terminates at Brussels Midi Station from where we made our in foot to our apartment and temporary home.
We have plans for tomorrow. We will be successful in carrying them out?