Monday, July 25, 2011

Leuven, Belgium 2003

Back in Sept 2003, my spouse went for a business trip to Leuven, Belgium and as usual I tagged along. Leuven is known as a university town for one of the oldest university (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) is located there. From the airport, we took a train to Leuven and then walked to The Novotel Leuven Centre hotel to check in.

Hotel room and view of the Stella Artois Brewery from the window of our hotel room
Then we walked to the main market square (Grote Markt) which is about 1.5km away to do some sightseeing. After a while, it was time for dinner. As my spouse prefers to eat "South East Asia style meals", we found a Thai restaurant (Krua Thai) and had our meal there. I don't remember the dishes that we ordered. All I remember is that the food there is delicious.

Krua Thai restaurant where we had our dinner
2nd Day

The next day after my spouse went for work, I was left to explore Leuven on my own. I walked to the main market square again and took photos of the town.

Left: Town Hall     Right:  Saint Peter's Church
Then I walked to visit the Grand Béguinage of Leuven (Groot Begijnhof van Leuven), a restored historical area which originated around the 13th century to house a community of unmarried, semi-religious women (Béguine - definition from the : "(in the Roman Catholic Church) a member of a Dutch lay sisterhood, formed in the 12th century, and not bound by vows"). The area consists of streets, squares, gardens, parks, with houses and apartments built in traditional brick and sandstone style. Now students and staff of the Catholic University of Leuven live there.

Groot Begijnhof van Leuven
After all the walking, I was hungry. Since my spouse was not around, I was free to eat non "South East Asia style" meals. The previous night, I found great online reviews for this restaurant - Restaurant-Bistro Timory - so I made my way there by foot with the help of a street map. Had an enjoyable meal there - I don't remember all that I ate but I knew I had a waffle with ice-cream for dessert. Back then, I do not take photos of my food. The only downside about eating alone is that I had to carry all my belongings into the washroom with me and there was no one to "guard" my table.

Restaurant Timory
After a satisfying meal, I continued to wander around Leuven and noticed the many statues standing or sitting here and there so I took photos of them. Below are the photos that I took of the statues. The description and name of the statues are copied from this pdf file "A guide to the statues of Leuven" that I found online. This guide even states the location of the statues and has a map marking their locations. The guide contains many more statues than the ones I saw.

De Kotmadam - by Fred Bellefroid built in 1984 in honour of the kotmadam. “Kot” is Flemish slang for a student room, and the “kotmadam” is the landlady of the building, who would prepare meals for the students, tidy their rooms and help them when help was needed.

Renée - Reading a book entitled “Loveniers Armand”, the name of the sculptor. This statue is meant to represent the active female students in Leuven, built near Atrecht College, the first to offer university degrees in teaching to women. It was named after René Depret, head of the Merchants Association of Leuven and the Friends of Leuven Museums, among many other associations.

De Bakkers (The Bakers)

Dit Beeld Werd Geschonken boor - In memory of those drafted into the crossbow corpse (always 60 men strong) who trained along this pathway, outside the inner wall

Paep Thoon - an organist/jester at the Holy Sacrament of St Peter’s church in the 15th century, who used to tell the truth through dark humour;

Fons Sapientiae (Fountain of Wisdom): a university student who pours wisdom into his head by reading a book.
3rd Day (also the last day)

On the 3rd day, we checked out from the hotel early in the morning and my spouse left for work with all our baggage. I then took a train to the Brussels-Central railway station to do some sightseeing around Brussels. I've been to Brussels before in 1999 during a 2-week Europe package group tour but that was a short stopover so this time I bought a ticket at the Central station and got on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour around Brussels. I sat on the upper deck of the open-top bus.

Hop on hop off sightseeing bus
I did not get off at most of the stops (got down at only two stops), just sat there and enjoy the city sights. At Stop 9 - Heysel, I alighted from the bus and bought tickets for myself and my camera to enter the Atomium (built in 1958). Since my camera has a ticket, I took many photos inside the Atomium.

Atomium - ticket counter and close up

Exhibition hall inside one of the steel spheres

Escalators or stairs inside the tubes connecting the center sphere to the other spheres

More escalators and stairs in the connecting tubes

Observation deck and view from the deck
After boarding the bus again at Stop 9, I alighted at Stop 12 - Bourse-Grand Place (Grand Place square) where I walked around looking at the various buildings around the square, searched for the famous Manneken-Pis and had my late lunch there - a bowl of mussels broth.

I think this was where I ate my late lunch - the sign says "Poisson Viandes Fruit de Mer" (Fish, meat, seafood)
After lunch, I took my own sweet time walking around window shopping looking at the chocolate displays until I lost track of the time. When I realised it, I quickly walked to a bus stop and waited very long for a hop-on-hop-off bus to appear. I was so afraid that I missed the last bus and had to take a cab back to the train station. Fortunately a bus appeared after more than half an hour and I hopped on, only to find it crawling as the traffic was congested.

Traffic congestion
When I reached the train station in Brussels, I quickly bought a ticket and boarded a train to the airport. Met up with my spouse at the airport and took a flight back to UK.

Lesson learned: when sightseeing alone, must remember the time at all times.


  1. Lots of neat photos! Looks like a fun place to visit. The waffle with ice cream sounds delicious. All the statues are really cool.

  2. Thanks Jamie! Yes, it's a fun place. I would like to go there again. :)

  3. I haven't been to europe (well, spain does not count! haha)... Envy you leh:) Nice place you went!

  4. WOW! Especially love the commentary on the statues!

  5. Hi Elizebeth, Spain does count! :D

    Hi Aileen, the commentary that I copied from the pdf file (URL in the above post) I found online is really good! The person who wrote that really did a great job!

  6. Great photographs- had to chuckle when I saw the Thai restaurant. Reminded me of my friend's mom who insisted on going to Malaysia Hall for nasi lemak after touching down in London. :P

  7. Thanks miracle8! We even had Thai dinner in Edinburgh before. ;p

  8. OMG! looking at your pictures and your posts gave me a boost to study harder and go to places i want!!

  9. Hi April, yes, some day you will be able to go to the places you want! :)