Friday, December 21, 2007

CHRISTMAS MARKET IN BRUSSELS

CHRISTMAS MARKET IN BRUSSELS

Sunday I took the train to Brussels to see the Christmas tree on Grand'Place and the Christmas market. It is very hard to find a parking space in the city center that's why I prefered to take the train. On week-ends it is very cheap, from Waterloo to Brussels only 3.80 € for a return ticket. The Central station as the word says is just a few meters from the Grand'Place away. For those who don't know where Waterloo is located, it is just 15 km away from Brussels and almost considered as a suburb.



First thing I saw was this hotel, just in front of the station and also the crowd which moved towards the Grand'Place.


All around the central station the beautiful old houses had been demolished in the 60th and replaced by these ugly glass buildings. Here is one which fortunately survived.


Walking futher I thought that whole Belgium plus tourists had the same idea as I ! The streets were crowded !



A little Christmas market was just before the Grand'Place. The buildings behind had all been rebuilt in the 90th by copying the old style, to hide the disaster they had done in the 60th



One of the Galleries around the Grand'Place



This door had been put up as an entry to the Grand place's Christmas decoration



The first thing I saw was the Nativity scene in human size figures. I was a little disappointed because usually on Sundays there are real persons in it.



But at least there was one real sheep, the goats, chicken, and donkies were missing



A british group of young Santas



One of the Restaurants



and another



now I saw the tree too

 
 


It was only decorated with blue balls and looked a little poor



compared to the tree of last year (above)



People were already sitting there waiting for the traditional Christmas"Sound and Light" and the lights on the Christmas tree. Everybody was wondering why it hadn't started yet because it was 4.30 and quite dark.



There also were some street performers



The Christmas market started just behind the Grand'Place with an information stand



Of course the German Glühwein (hot wine) was not missing



and Manneken Piss, Brussels symbol neither



all along the streets between the Grand'Place and "La Bourse" is the Christmas market

 
 


Christmas decorations and many other things to buy


 
 


and then I walked by the Saint who brings you luck and happiness if you touch his arm and hand and also for the health of your pet if you touch the little dog who sleeps at his feet.



There are a lot of Brussels' lace stores around the Grand'Place



and one of the best Hotels, just behind
I then returned to the Grand'Place to take a picture of the lightened tree, but there still was nothing and it was 5 by now. I had to catch my train so I went back to the station. And there again a lot of people had the same idea as I, it was full ! Even more then during a week day. I hardly found a seat in the train.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

EXCURSION FROM HURGHADA TO LUXOR - THE CONVOY

The 6t-agers on the road !

Trip from Hurghada to Luxor

1. KARNAK

2. THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS

3. HATCHEPSUT

During our 2 weeks holidays in Hurghada (Red Sea) we decided to do an excursion to Luxor where all the important historical places are located around the town. The distance was only about 350 km (218 miles) and we thought it would be a pity to be so close and not to visit all these wonderful places.

It was an organized tour with a guide. To get to Luxor you have to go through the desert as you can see on the above map. It is not allowed to go through that area without military police escort and only by convoy. This has been created because of the massacre of tourists on November 17, 1997 at the Hatshepsut Temple. Six gunmen disguised as police, emerged from nearby cliffs, and fired randomly at tourists, killing 70.

The convoy gathered at a parking lot outside Hourgada and at 7 am we started. About 3 1/2 h later, we made a first stop to visit an alabaster factory. I had done this trip already in 2001 but it was still a quite thrilling feeling to go through the desert escorted by heavily armed police while the landscape looked so peaceful.

The convoy was made up with tourist buses, trucks of all kind and sizes and private cars (only Egyptian citizens, no tourists). Tourists are not allowed to travel alone. If they want to go by their own, they have to rent a car with a driver. I have to say it would never come into my mind either to go of my own. The touristic cities are quite safe and the tourists well protected from beggars and very aggressive street sellers. But in other areas it is not at all the same.

The population on the countryside is rather poor and therefore a tourist a good victim to get something from him. Even when it's only a ballpen. Egypt's economy depends mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum exports, and tourism. Therefore there is a lot done for the safety of the tourists.

In Safaga the Convoy is Almost Ready to Go, Egypt.

The parking lot where the convoy is put together immediately surrounded by sellers of all kind

The Convoy to Luxor, Egypt

children and women ready to pose for a picture for little money

The Convoy to Luxor, Egypt

It starts !

and it is very long ! About 80 vehicules (only) because it's low season in summer there are much more.

View out of the window. Everywhere military police watching points

Desert and Mountains Between Hurgharda -Safaga After Sunrise, Egypt

The Convoy from Safaga to Luxor, Egypt.

and the beautiful landscape of the desert

After having been escorted behind, besides and in front of the convoy with military jeeps, the convoy separated at one point and we stopped in a little village Zalat to visit the Alabaster factory. Honnestly I would have prefered to continue to Karnak and have more time to visit there. But the factory was interesting too after all.

We all wanted to see how they work alabaster

Here is the place without people. I waited until they were all in the annexed shop !

Before going inside I took these pictures of wonderful wall paintings. Look at the last one which shows cute little tourists (with camera of course) visiting the sites.

Inside was a real cavern of Ali Baba !

Cats, pyramides, statues, bowls etc. whatever you wished

And these are some pictures of outside the factory. (with a lonely tourist who probably escaped from the Alabaster factory).

I found a video on the web and as it is exactly the same as what we have seen I propose to look at this to get an idea of going through the desert in a convoy.

Next stop will be tomorrow Dec 2 at the the Karnak temple complex.

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About Me

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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