Tuesday, 24 August 2010

African History in Brussels



Andy and I are fast approaching our second wedding anniversary. Last year we decided that, rather than buying anniversary presents for each other, we'd prefer to spend our money on doing something together - and given our addiction to travelling, a weekend away seemed like the perfect way to celebrate our first year of marriage. So in early September, we hopped on the Eurostar and went to Brussels.

Aside from eating a lot of waffles, we also found the city was full of great museums. One morning, we took a tram across to the African history museum, housed in a stately home on the outskirts of the city.



We arrived before the museum was open, and after admiring the gardens, and the elephants...





...we decided to see if we could find somewhere to get a coffee (and warm up - it was a chilly day). After a short walk we found ourselves in the middle of a sweet little market, with various bric-a-brac and craft stalls spread out in the streets of a small town.



Of course, this being Belgium, we didn't have any trouble finding a little coffee shop. We'd walked off the edge of the guide book and found a lovely spot to while away an hour or two.

The museum itself was full of interesting artifacts and well worth the trip. Before we went to Brussels I hadn't really known about the Belgian presence in Africa, so it was interesting to hear about the history of the colonial period, and the exploits of various Belgian aristocrats. It also gave me a longing to see African wildlife, thanks to a taxidermy display - can you believe the beaks on these birds?! (They may well be extinct by now, I have no idea.)



We're thinking about Amsterdam for our anniversary trip this year - anyone have any tips?

21 comments:

CambridgeLady said...

I've just been to Brussels and loved it. Can't wait to visit again. That museum looks very interesting.

Yenta Mary said...

What a great idea for a gift to/for each other! And what a fascinating experience, too!

Writing Without Periods! said...

Never been to Brussels. Those elephants are so interesting!!! I love them.
Mary

Stephanie V said...

Love the elephant. I expected it to be much bigger from the first photo.
I enjoy taking little detours from the beaten tourist track. You never know what you could find. Yours was pretty interesting.

Alice Braga said...

I love the photos and "walking off the edge of the guidebook." Thank you for broadening my almost-nonexistent knowledge of Belgium. Keep enjoying those adventures together!

Emma said...

I've never been to Brussels but it looks like a lot of fun! Amsterdam is pretty cool too. Anne Franks house was a must see for me, a tour of the Red Light district.....very interesting and there are some awesome museums. Hiring a bike for the day is a fab way to get around and cover a lot of the City instead of being stuck on Trams! xx

yogurt said...

Having recently finished reading The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte where she talks about her 18 mos in Belgium, I do appreciate these pictures!

Jules said...

Belgium is such a fab country! I recommend a visit to the Rijksmuseum while in Amsterdam, it was the highlight of our trip. We loved the waterbus, a great way to get around. Have a wonderful time!

Bibliomama said...

Brussels. On the weekend. Pardon me while I squelch my envy.

Joanna said...

Now that's the way to celebrate an anniversary! I've got a blog award for you over at my place.

The Blonde Duck said...

I've never been out of the US, so I'm worthless. And I ate bbq for my anniversary. On parchment paper and paper towels. I destroyed a chicken, brisket and sausage like no one's buiness.

Obv., I was cute.

Elizabeth Braun said...

Wow, what a place. Rather unexpected really!

We decided not to buy gifts this last anniversary (our 11th) so as to avoid accumulating stuff that needed shipping home, but as we have some money and some luggage space left after 3/4 boxes going with courier companies, I'm going to treat myself to the box of pencils after all!! British ones for about 45% of the UK price.....

We hop over to Seoul this weekend, but I'm still posting Japan over on B on T.=)

Bells said...

We are similar with our wedding anniversary in that we don't buy gifts either - we much prefer to do something together and most years it turns out to be an expensive dinner at a restaurant that we either love or haven't tried before - we use it as an excuse to be extravagent in a way we aren't the rest of the year. Much better than trying to find gifts for each other!

Thanks for the glimpse of brussels!

Melissa aka Equidae said...

what a lovely way to spend your anniversary and Brussels seems more interestng than I thought. Passed by from SITS

ScoMan said...

My only tip for Amsterdam is stay away from people with knives and guns.. but I guess that's pretty much true of everywhere.

Mama Hen said...

Oh how I have been itching to travel again lately! That elephant looks so neat! This trip looks amazing. You sparked the travel bug Rachel. Have a great day my friend!

Mama Hen

Deirdre said...

As always, lovely photographs and interesting info.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Love the elephants!

Christine said...

Thankyou for this. I am very interested in the colonial story in Africa and was fascinated by the portrait of the elephant. We are planning a trip to Europe next year... Belgium is now on the list.

cornflakegirl74 said...

I love that you and your hubby nix the gifts in favor of an activity (TRAVEL!) you can enjoy together. My kind of couple :)

Lovely photographs--sounds as though you had an amazing time! I haven't been to Brussels in years but enjoyed it when I went to visit many moons ago.

Jen@BigBinder said...

Well, this fulfills the "learning something new every day" category. I had no idea Belgium was in Africa. What an interesting trip, and a wonderful idea for an anniversary!

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