Here is my experience and way to see city. Some great person said, experience is best teacher so people don't understand until they try and experience it. Its worth learning. :)
Recently I planned a trip to Brussels (or Bruxxeles in French). Its interesting to see and understand the spirit of the city and its culture! It was middle of Jan'2012. It wasn't cold enough to snow or warm enough to be sunny. But weather was just OK to go out. I guess, that was still best weather for Brussels as its said to be mostly raining with bad weather.
I started journey from Paris at 9am. Reached to Gare de Midi / Brussel-Zuid. Names are confusing but the city has protocol to write all names in French as well as in Dutch. Its confusing for tourist but you will understand the protocol very soon. Most of people also speak English. Here most of people means almost 90%, while 80% are said to be French speaking and small portion with 20% Dutch speaking. Its good that 100% population knows more then 2 languages. Either of French or Dutch is must and English is secondary. I observe lot of Muslim originated population so naturally they also speak Arabic or Urdu. However preference of language is more natural and easy to change unlike Paris. Parisian love their language and don't prefer to change it unless its really needed. In fact, only 50-60 Parisian may be knowing English well. Rest of them keep using some of French common words in English. No wonder 30% of English and French have same vocabulary. Brussels is better in that context.
Brussels is full of tram ways. All over the road and each main route connecting various site-seeing places and town place, its all filled up with dense network on tramways and their wires pulled over the building around the tram way. But its still interesting to maintain the city traffic signals for tram, metro, bus and private transport. My experience with tram was not so great as 1 or 2 times in 2 days journey, I (along with all passengers) was asked to go out of tram as it was not functional due to some technical reason. Be careful, no such announcements are made in English. It only happens in French and Dutch. Tram-ways are spread all over the sub-urban areas and you could end up at unknown strange place if you try to just roam around the place so be careful before to take the tram.
Ticket rates are interesting. If you take ticket in bus, it will cost 1.80 Euro while if you take before entering in bus, it will cost 1.70Euro. logically its good policy to reduce pain for driver. Transport system is good and they have short planes to go for 2-3 days duration. I prefer to understand complete thing as native citizen so I could understand the core part of living in city. Metro lines in Brussels are very limited. Roaming around in tram is best way to explore the city. I would suggest the same if someone is visiting the town for couple of days.
Arabic Bangla-deshi professor and Muslim teachings:
As I got in to the metro, i saw a guy with Indian look and pyjamas walking on platform. There was drama going on with police and girl who didn't had ticket. I was wondering why girl is lying on platform while police were trying to wake her and let her go. It was strange but I didn't bother much as police were doing their job. As metro approached , I got into and found decent place to gather my way and direction of metro. Guy in pyjamas got place next to me. I thought to check on my direction with him.
"Hello, I want to go to Atomium, is it right direction?"
"This is metro 6 but there is tram which i know"
I was little confused to believe the strange so easily. He asked me,"Are you from India".
I said, "Yes. But I think train is in opposite direction."
Pyjama guy said,"Yes, you are on wrong direction. Don't worry. I will tell you best way to reach."
I said, "How do you know I am India"
Pyjama guy: I'm from Bangla desh and I live here.
I said, "Oh good! So you should be speaking Hindi ?"
Now Bangladeshi said, Yes, I do. Accha hai.
I could easily understood, he is Muslim and is good guy to rely for direction. I felt little good when he said he speaks Hindi. Its little weird to find someone who speaks Hindi at so far place.
Its wasn't so difficult to discuss after that. We discussed the city and its way of living. He said, he is professor in Arabic college where they teach Muslim history and culture. I understood the city and immigration happening from Middle-East Asia to Europe. Ottoman had huge effect on Europe. I gather info needed and moved my way to tram 7 to reach Hyzel station to see Automium.
Spirit of City: Manneken Pis
Status of little boy pissing with cute costume. Its very near from Grand Place. Just roam around and follow direction on road to get to see him. This status is surrounded by many small gift shops and waffles shops.
There are many stories around this little kid pissing. Some one said, witch converted the boy to statue as he was pissing on her palace. Others said, he is some price who is pissing on army who had lost the war against some enemy.
People of Brussels follow same spirit of pissing on road after drinking lot of beer without caring for the city's cleanliness. City have good architecture but not as good as Paris!
Atomium: 1958 Science exposition : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expo_58
Its large structure representing atomic structure. Its allowed to go on top flor. Its nice view to the city from top. You should not miss it. You have to take metro line 6 from Gare de Midi. OR Tram way 7 going toward Hezel.
Brussels has been more famous for European meetings and other international peace meetings. Its interesting to visit parliament. If you are European or hold residence of European country, you can attend the session of parliament if want to. Don't forget to carry your identity card for visit. But its not open on weekend so i couldn't visit it.
Its nice old road with grand square with grand buildings surrounding. Right in center of the town. You can reach by walking from central Brussels metro station. This place is nice to have food. There is small lane nearby where you can easily find some Italian and crepary to have quick food. Its worth a try with price they offer with quality. I had nice lunch here. Its open most of time in late afternoon 4pm so no problem on time.
I gathered special chocolates of Belgium from Marconi. It was nice trip for a weekend. There is always lot of things to see, understand and learn more while exploring the world !!! Just open up your mind. :)