Friday, April 21, 2017

Parc du Cinquantenaire (Brussels, Belgium)

Bilingual warning signs, one written in French and another one in Flemish (which is actually almost like Dutch with a strange pronouncing), had a pretty much confused me while I was waiting for next train at the station somewhere near Brussels. One elderly woman told me that I should not be upset about it because even many locals do not know how to speak correctly both of the languages and that even the national television of Belgium has two separate newsrooms. When I arrived in Brussels I could not feel this language division among the younger people since probably it is the capital city, while in the other smaller towns of Flanders & Wallonia there are some obvious cultural differences in all fields like history, architecture style and language.

Parc du Cinquantenaire by Igor L.
(Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels)
Photo taken by Igor L.

At first glance, I liked Brussels so much because the city has a similar vibe to Belgrade and even some hidden places like cool museums, strange clubs or hypster chilling spots which you come across by total accident. The first place I visited with a company of great friends was Delirium Café in which it was possible to order a lot of craft beers not only from Belgium but also and from countries all over the world. Since we were in the city center area we stopped up by Stock Exchange building eating a hot chocolate waffle that we bought right next to the main square and heading towards bronze "Manneken Pis" boy statue fountain. It was easy to move around with a public metro so we enjoyed the rest of our day in spacious Parc du Cinquantenaire having a great view on the huge Triumphal Arch in front of us and resting for a lunch at nearby budget African restaurant.

Queen Elisabeth Statue by Igor L.
(Queen Elisabeth Statue, Brussels)
Photo taken by Igor L.

Evening was fallen and instead of going out to a party we decided to simply sit with others in front of the Grand Place because the weather was very good and without any rain. The whole plateau began to glow in the dark, young people, tourists and locals appeared from everywhere and I suddenly felt like at some urban picnic in the middle of Brussels. With best Belgium beer, laugh and talk we went to sleep after a while because tomorrow I should continue with my city tour again just this time alone. Next day my goal was to check the hill of Mont des Arts which offers a beautiful view on the whole Brussels with some important monuments. During the road I came across many statues and each of them tells its own story about this place. Among them I recognized statue of Belgium Queen Elizabeth since I reading that she was popular in the past among people because of her front and wounded soldiers visits during the time of WW1. In appreciation, state raised beautiful statue which will always remind locals of who she was...

Old Buildings View by Igor L.
(Old Buildings View, Brussels)
Photo taken by Igor L.

Royal Library of Belgium, Protestant Church, Royal Palace of Brussels, Museum of Fine Arts, Saint Jacques Church and other buildings are just some of interesting wonders which you will be able to visit if you climb at the top of the Coudenberg hill. In my opinion however "Palace of Justice" which is located on the end of one large tram street is certainly special architecture jewel where you might even enter for free and feel some shade energy of this building with pigeons and echo that rumbles throughout the walls. On my returning back to the other side of city I set in a couple of parks to rest and among them my favorite would be Petit Sablon which is a small but still very nice park with interesting fountain statue of Egmont and Horn. By the end of that day I succeeded to visit also and European Parliament with which I was not thrilled (honestly nothing special) as well as to take a picture of the Atomium!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Forte di Belvedere View (Florence, Italy)

Finally I got back from a well deserved vacation in Italy and city that maybe left the strongest influence on myself after only a two days of visit was Florence! While walking among the very old busy streets, you can really feel the full history of this wonderful place which was in the past scene of centuries long war between the two aristocratic Strozzi & Pazzi families. Some of the famous constructors, sculptors and philosophers had left their most important works right here and it is enough to just look around to realize that you are surrounded by the world's heritage.

Santa Maria del Fiore by Igor L.
(Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence)
Photo taken by Igor L.

When I go to the famous European cities generally I do not like to rely on free walking tours but this time I give them a chance and its needless to say that I was thrilled by the knowledge of our tour guide! Michelangelo's works, statues of all major artists from medieval time, squares, palaces, churches and stories which are somehow all united in this place. Besides the other beauty, I can say that Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is something what can stands out and the dome made by architect Brunelleschi in the 15th century, simply can leave everyone breathless. The main city square, Piazza del Duomo was in that time flooded with tourists which is of course the case with the most of Italian towns but I managed to hear all story from our guide despite the noise and to continue forward alone.

Dante Alighieri Monument by Igor L.
(Dante Alighieri Monument, Florence)
Photo taken by Igor L.

Search for fresh water has led me even to the great food! After I filled the small bottle with water from the nearby drinking fountain, I had noticed that the locals and other tourists stand in the line waiting for something. All of those people told me that in fact they waiting for a great sandwiches with prosciutto made in "All Antico Vinaio" bar which arrange sandwiches in front of you, so after only 20 minutes it was the best sandwich I've ever tasted! Since I had eaten very well, I went to another place that I still wanted to check and it was the Piazza di Santa Croce with a church and statue of "Dante Alighieri" in front of it.

Forte di Belvedere View by Igor L.
(Forte di Belvedere View, Florence)
Photo taken by Igor L.

End of that long sunny day and the sunset theater time was reserved for the other side of Florence by crossing the Ponte Vecchio bridge and directing towards hill. I was a little bit disappointed when the local security guys told me that it is possible to stay on Forte di Belvedere only till the sun comes down for some unknown reasons but I had enough time to enjoy on the fantastic Florence view and to come back straight to downtown while sipping wine which I bought together with others in the local supermarket. My recommendation to you is sitting on the wall next to Ponte Vecchio bridge where group of young people played guitars and made a great public show for all that we listened into the night laughing and remembering the funny moments...