Nothing gets your day off to a good start like a bowl of Coco Pops. Not every day, that would be a bit indulgent, but, if you’re sensible and don’t go hog-wild, it’s a great boost to your morning. I went to Brussels yesterday. I had no real plan, so I ended up going to see two things that I’ve seen before, but a fair few years ago: the Atomium and Mini-Europe.
I like the feeling in Brussels. There’s something about it that feels incredibly European. Obviously, it’s the home of the European Union, but I love the mix of Flemish and Frenchiness, the amount of different ethnicities you see there, and that they have subway stations called Jacques Brel and Eddy Merckx. The problem for me, though, is they all speak the French, and I don’t. I’m dislocating my brain sockets reaching for words that I learned at school.
Anyway: the Atomium. One of my favourite buildings. Built for Expo ’58, it’s a stunner. I’ve not seen it since it re-opened after a renovation in 2006. The aluminium balls were replaced with stainless steel balls. And even on a grey day like yesterday, it was super shiny.
Here’s a couple of comparisons of the old and new; photos I took in 2002 (with a real camera) and photos I took yesterday.
Nine euros to get in and the renovation job inside seems really nice. They’ve replaced the bits that looked like you were in a disused East German factory, but kept the feel of the place, and there’s a splendid exhibit of lots of artwork from the Expo. I adore these pins that indicate the languages spoken by interpreters.
Next door to l’Atomium is Mini-Europe. As you might’ve guessed from its name, it’s a miniature village-y type thing with lots of European buildings. A bit more professional-looking than the thoroughly-charming Mini Mundo in Gremado, Brazil. I love these things. And Mini-Europe is a great thing to visit should you ever be in Brussels. Although the selection of buildings is a bit odd at times. Not sure that Dover Castle and Longleat are particularly famous British buildings. Or are they? I don’t know. Still, it’s worth a visit if only for the crappy JCB truck that knocks down a little bit of the Berlin Wall. Made me chuckle, that.
More photos of the Atomium and Mini-Europe on my Flickr page.