A Movie Location in the Heart of Brussels

This is not a movie location in the classic sense of the word, a location where a movie crew made a movie. Rather, this is a place that briefly pops up in an animated movie. The film I am referring to is The Adventures of Tintin and the location is the Brussels Flea Market. In Dutch, the square where it takes place is called Vossenplein, a reference to the nearby Vossenstraat. The French name is Place due jeu de Balle, referring to the ball games that used to take place here in the 19th century. At this market you will find vintage and second-hand stuff (clothing, photographs, decorative objects, books, …), in one word, old stuff, hence also the name ‘old market’.

The flea merket attracts interested buyers, tourists and visitors driven by curiosity. The place does have a unique vibe and is open every morning. It’s accessible via public transport, by bus (27, 48, stop Vossenplein), metro (lines 2 and 6, stop Hallepoort) and tram (3, 4, 51, 32 and 82, stop Lemonnier). You cannot buy food here but in the neighborhood, there are bars and restaurants, serving typical Belgian food.

The Flea Market of Brussels is an important place in the movie, because this is where Tintin finds the miniature ship that will lead him to a treasure hunt.


Discovering an Island in the Heart of Brussels

Did you know that Brussels is one of the greenest capitals in Europe and even in the world? Each municipality in the Region of Brussels has at least one park at its disposal. One of the most popular ones is the Bois de la Cambre, which belongs to the City of Brussels itself. It was laid out in 1861 and has a surface of more than 1 square kilometer.

The lake that you can see on the pictures is an artificial one. In the center, you can see the island, called Robinson Island. With a small boat, you can gain access to it.

The building you can see on the island is a bar-restaurant. The original building dated from 1877, but was destroyed in a fire in 1991. This one is from 2006.

As you can imagine, eating and drinking in an exclusive setting such as this one will not be a cheap experience! Have a look at their official website.

Let’s show you a map, so you can orientate yourself better:

Later this week, we will introduce you to our newest project! Stay tuned!

How to Have a Stroll amongst the King’s Flowers

Back in good old Belgium! We have been a bit absent from our website, but that is mainly because we have been doing some exploring, in and around Iznalloz (mainly). I still have a lot of pictures and videos to edit, but expect lots of new content very soon.

Today, we introduce you to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken (Brussels).

As you can see on the map, the Greenhouses are not far from the Palace of Laeken, which is actually the private residence of the Royal Family. Those grounds are never open to the public. The Greenhouses, on the other hand, can be visited 2 weeks every year, in April-May, depending on when the flowers bloom.

Once you have paid a small entrance fee, you find yourself in a magnificent complex of tropical, subtropical, and cold greenhouses. Part of the trail also takes you outside.

The Royal Gardens are private however and date from the 18th century. The construction of the greenhouses themselves is from the second half of the 19th century.

At a certain moment, you will pass a small cottage, which is actually the studio of Queen Elisabeth.

In the background, you can see the Japanese Tower, which is unfortunately closed to the public as well.

Enter the first greenhouse and allow yourself to be amazed!

This is the interior of Queen Elisabeth’s studio. Keep on following the trail and admire the Winter Garden, the Palm Greenhouse, the Azalea Greenhouse, The Iron Church, the Sacristy, and so on.

You can access the Royal Greenhouses by car and public transport (www.mivb.be). The opening of the greenhouses is usually announced in the Belgian press and on the official website of the Belgian Royal family.

By the way, did you know that some of the original plants from the greenhouses still exist? And that there are some really big quantities of rare and valuable plants?

Later this week, you can dine with us in Albania and explore another corner of Spain!

Exploring an Underground Palace in Brussels

I am not sure if you are aware of this, but there is more than one royal palace in the region of Brussels. The one in Brussels itself is the main residence. Let’s call this the office of the king. It is also the place where he receives other royalties and heads of states. And… once a year, you can visit it, when the royal family is on holiday.

The royal family itself lives in the palace of Laeken. By the way, this is the municipality where the Belgian royals have always lived. Since this is a private residence, it’s never open for visits. But every spring, you can pay a visit to the Royal Greenhouses on the same domain. And that’s something I highly recommend. But more about that in another post.

But… did you know that you can actually explore an underground palace in Brussels?

Welcome to the Palace of Coudenberg, which got its name from the small hill in the Belgian capital, where it was built. Let’s start with a bit of history!

Once upon a time, the Coudenberg Palace towered over the city of Brussels. Charles V and many other of the most powerful rulers ever to reign in Europe made this princely residence their home between the 12th and 18th centuries, until it was consumed by a terrible fire.  Every trace of this prestigious palace simply disappeared underground for many years. (official website of the Palace of Coudenberg).

The Palace of Coudenberg is also known as the Palace of Charles V. Other notable figures who have lived here, are Philip the Good, and the Archdukes Albert and Isabella.

I can already hear you ask: if the Palace of Coudenberg was built on a hill, how come that it is now underground? The website of the Palace has the answer:

The former Palace of Brussels was built on a hill, taking up both the east side of the valley of the River Senne and the south side of the Coperbeek Valley.  To make up for topographical variation and also to fix the building firmly into the hill, the buildings that housed the chapel and the great ceremonial hall were given cellars with one or two levels. At the end of the 18th century, the entire district was levelled so that place Royale and the buildings surrounding it could be laid out. The cellars located on the slopes of the hill were preserved, primarily to be used as foundations for the new buildings. It is these cellars that now form the Coudenberg archaeological site.

Apart from these cellars, you can also see the rooms under the main banqueting hall and the warehouse under the chapel.

The educational trail ends in the Coudenberg Museum (Hoogstraeten House), where you can admire some of the archeological finds, discovered during the excavations.

This is the address:

Place des Palais, 7 in 1000 Brussels. The nearest metro station is Park. The entrance itself is via the BELvue Museum. More practical information such as the admission charges and opening hours is here.

An Interactive Experience of Railway History

Just like every Spanish resident, my travel mate and I spend almost all of our time at home now… Rumors are spreading since this morning that the lockdown could take longer than 2 weeks, but we still have more than enough material to keep you entertained! Besides, temperatures have gone down anyway and it’s raining, not exactly the ideal weather for excursions nor trips.

Today, we take you back to Belgium. Our visit to Trainworld was actually one of the last excursions we made there before leaving for Spain. Join us on a trip to the past, present, and future of the Belgian railways!

The museum is located in the train station of Schaarbeek, very close to Brussels. You can reach it by train (obviously) or tram (which very conveniently goes right to the center of the Belgian capital).

Enter the big hall and admire the first steam-trains! You can even climb in them.

The exhibition allows you to follow the history of locomotions, carriages, and railways from the very beginning to the present day.

There is also a replica of a railway cottage from 1958.

By the way, the biggest group in Belgium that uses the train are the commuters. And when the weather is fine during weekends and holidays, we also travel by train, usually to the coast!

Let’s face it: people used to travel in style in the past…

And international train travel looked cozy as well! Fancy a sandwich with ham or cheese?

Obviously, if you are not into trains, this is certainly not the museum for you! But if you are, you will at least have half a day of (educational) fun and lots of photography opportunities. Check out their website for more information. Because of COVID-19, the museum is currently closed. Let’s hope the lockdown ends soon!

Later this week, we will treat you to a very special trip in Romania. To be honest, this is one of our favourite travel experiences and we hope you will enjoy the fascinating history and stunning locations of this country. I will also introduce something completely new as well, also on our movie website.

The Ultimate Guide to the Most Beautiful Crypt in Brussels


I know that I had planned a completely different post for today, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I have to postpone this to next week. Instead, let’s return to Belgium!

Today we will have a look at one of the most beautiful crypts in Belgium, the Laeken Cemetery Crypt. This is not to be confused with the Royal Crypt of Belgium, which you can find underneath the nearby Church of Our Lady of Laeken; as the name suggests, this is the burial place of the Belgian Royals. The Laeken Cemetery Crypt, on the other hand, stretches out under Laeken Cemetery itself, which is one of the oldest and most beautiful cemeteries in Belgium. Many famous Belgians are buried here and the cemetery is also known for its magnificent tombs and works of art.

Where Exactly?

Laeken Cemetery is located in Laeken, a municipality to the north of Brussels. It is the home of the Royal Castle (not to be confused with the Royal Palace in the Belgian capital itself) and the Royal Greenhouses.

When you enter the cemetery, just follow the main path until you can go no further and then turn left. You will see this building:

Just take the stairs downstairs.

There are three tunnels in the crypt, similar to the main paths in the cemetery above. They were constructed at the end of the 19th century. The most recent burials date from 1978, when the crypt had already been neglected for a long time. Due to liquifying coffins and exploding caskets, the place was a nasty state. More than 30 years later, the local government restored the crypt and in 2017 it was open again to the general public.

Although the crypt is in a lot better state now -most of the mold and the rust are gone, walking around in the many galleries still gives you an eerie feeling.

The Cemetery Itself

…is also worth a visit.

Practical Information

The address: Leopold I-straat, 66, 1020 Laeken.

The cemetery is open every day, from 8.30 am to 4 pm.

At the entrance you can park your car. There is also a metro nearby (stop: Bockstael) and trams 62 and 93 pass in the neighbourhood as well.

In the Company of Rats – The Sewer Museum

Want to see Brussels from a (literally) completely different angle? And you are not afraid of occasionally running into a rat? Then why don’t you pay a visit to the Sewer Museum and learn everything about the history and infrastructure of the sewage system of the Belgian capital!

Brussels has actually had a sewage system since the 17th century. But in the beginning it was far from perfect; the network was incomplete and inhabitants of the city kept on throwing garbage into the river Senne. As you can imagine, this led to a lot of pollution and in the 19th century drastic measures had to be taken: the vaulting of the Senne in the centre of Brussels. This explains why you can’t see any river (anymore) in the heart of the Belgian capital.

The museum also pays a lot of attention to the infrastructure of the sewers in Brussels. Building this system must not have been an easy task, given the presence of traffic tunnels and the metro and pre-metro system. In the 19th century, the sewer network was about 45 kilometres long, nowadays it’s more than 350 kilometres! In the museum, you can also learn everything about the installations such as the pumps, pumping stations, siphons and so on.

The Sewer Museum is not located in the heart of Brussels. The exact address is:

Pavilions d’Octroi – Porte d’Anderlecht
1000 Brussels

You can come here by public transport: take tram 51 or 82 or bus 46 and get off at the stop Porte d’Anderlecht. You can also come by car, of course, because there is parking space in the area. Just a word of warning: this is not exactly the fanciest neighbourhood of Brussels, so be really careful with your valuables. Anyway, at your arrival at the Porte d’Anderlecht, you will see 2 pavilions: one is the entrance and the other one is the exit of the museum. Finally, if you want to know all about the entrance fees, the guided tours, activities for children and the like, better check the official website of the Sewer Museum.

The part of the museum that I liked the most was the small fraction of the sewer system that you can visit. It’s like being in a completely different world. The personnel in the museum is very friendly and most of them know French, Dutch and English. Another fun part of the Sewer Museum is the gift shop; don’t hurry or you will miss the hilarious collection of rat dolls. All in all, my visit to this museum was a very pleasant one. Moreover, according to some other visitors, the Sewer Museum in Brussels is more interesting and more fun than the one in Paris.

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