Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Brussels

Fri Dec 23, 2011 8:01am EST
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By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Brussels has long been defined by trade. Once it was a crossroads where silk and tapestries changed hands. Now it's the capital of Europe for the exchange of ideas and extremely tough negotiations, especially of late.

Forty-eight hours is barely time to scratch the surface of past and present identities, but correspondents with local knowledge offer tips on how to make the best of a short stay.


9 a.m. - Brussels divides into an upper and a lower town. The upper part is home to the European institutions and a huge expatriate community of politicians and lobbyists, energetically promoting competing causes.

You can get there on a short Metro ride from the Eurostar terminal if you've arrived from London or Paris.

Get off at Troon/Trone, a walk away from place du Luxembourg, home to the European Parliament.

Its glass and steel architecture, admired by some and hated by others, sums up the mixed emotions the European Union inspires.

Like it or loathe it, the European Union is fundamentally well-intentioned and visitors are warmly welcomed in the bloc's 23 official languages. Brussels itself operates in at least two, Flemish and French, and street and place signs are bilingual.   Continued...

<p>A dog stands on Brussels' Grand Place August 11, 2011. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, which is also the administrative heart of Europe, attracts thousands of tourists to its main square all year-long. REUTERS/Yves Herman</p>