Jonathan Sumner Evans
Sumner Evans
Software Engineer at Automattic working on Beeper

Brussels - Day 1

Written by Human, Not by AI

This year, I once again travelled to Brussels for FOSDEM (see my post from last year). I took the Wednesday 13:30 flight out of Denver through Chicago O’Hare to Brussels, and arrived on Thursday morning. The connection through O’Hare was a bit tight. As scheduled, I only had 50 minutes, and then due to our incoming flight being vectored to the wrong runway on the first approach, we had to circle around to land at the correct runway. I was at the back of the plane, but luckily my gate was not very far away and I made it just fine.

I’m doing this trip with only a personal item (my Aer Travel Pack 3 Small) so I was able to go straight from the airport to sightsee. Since I’ve been to Brussels before, I decided to try and go see some of the less-visited attractions.

Musée Banque Nationale

The first thing I went to was the Musée Banque Nationale. It was a free museum, and it had exhibits about the history of money from the earliest coins, to modern fiat. There were also exhibits about the Euro and the Eurozone.

The exhibit that I enjoyed the most was one about all of the security features that are included in the Euro bills. There are many intricate features from the watermarks to the threads that are only visible under specific UV lights. One of the coolest features is that under infrared light, a bunch of the bill’s face is not visible! The combination of all of the features seem a bit overkill to me as a small subset of the features would probably be sufficient to prevent counterfeiting.

Royal Military Museum Brussels

The next museum that I went to was the Royal Military Museum Brussels. It’s located near the Cinquantenaire Arcade and is a huge collection of war artefacts dating back to the mediaeval period. There was an extensive display of armour, swords, and lances in one gallery. Another room contained artefacts from the period of the Spanish Netherlands and included many muskets, cannon, and sabres.

A large gallery was dedicated to the time around the French Imperial wars and subsequent Napoleonic wars. These wars strengthened the Belgian identity, and created the Belgian independence movement of the 1830’s. Some Belgians enlisted and many more were conscripted into the French Grande Armée during the Napoleonic wars, while other Belgians joined in resistance movements and allied with the forces with the various coalitions that fought King Louis XVI and Emperor Napoleon I during the Coalition wars.

There was a very large gallery dedicated to WWI, as Belgium was the site of the vast majority of the fighting during that war. They had many artillery pieces and even a tank on display! However, that was not the largest gallery, there was an entire hangar full of warplanes! Everything from biplanes used during WWI to more modern postwar craft were on display in the hangar.

After visiting the museums, I headed over to my hotel. I’m staying at the same place that I stayed at last year as it was a convenient location near the intersection of two perpendicular tram lines. I was very tired at this point and despite my best efforts, I ended up taking a short nap. Then, I went to dinner and then bed.