Two days of total immersion in the sights and sounds of World War 1 and Son was ready for something a little bit different. In charge of itinerary planning for the next day, light relief and fun were top of his list, a whistle stop tour of Europe in the morning at Mini-Europe in Brussels and then a closer look at the Atomium was his plan. All fine by us.
An hour’s easy drive from Bruges and we were just north of Central Brussels at Bruparck, site of Mini-Europe and a number of other attractions. Having been aware of this place for years, I’d always given it a miss on previous visits. A child’s paradise, not much there for adults was my reasoning but let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. Tickets purchased we headed inside and were given a guidebook to refer to and help us around the park. I was expecting something a bit like Legoland with plenty of cute little buildings. At first glance that is exactly what it was like – models of Europe’s biggest and best landmarks with everything from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the Eiffel Tower to Big Ben.
The guide book was fabulous. Son wasn’t too interested in reading it, I was happy to hog it for myself. It had stacks of information about the park and the 350 plus miniature structures but also fascinating facts on various European countries and places – our never-ending travel wish list instantly got longer.
The whole place is built on an exact scale of 1:25. The nerd in me loved this and the fact you could see different landmarks close to each other and instantly see how they compare in height.
We strolled around Paris, London and Venice while checking out the canals of Amsterdam, the windmills of Spain and the Brandenburg Gate. The models took years to build and the attention to detail is amazing to the extent there is real glass in the windows. The craftmanship is simply incredible.
Interactive stuff aplenty too, there were ferries that moved, trains that whizzed around and much fun was had driving our own radio controlled boats through the waterways of Europe.
Too early to see the flower carpet in the Grand Place in Brussels, at least we got to see it in miniature here.
A little Flanders Field area with cemeteries and war graves was poignant considering our last couple of days.
We loved the Channel Tunnel in miniature and a model of the ship in which we actually sailed over that waterway. Mind blowing how huge it really was – it wouldn’t have fitted inside the Grand Place.
A European Interactive Exhibition at the very end was a bit of a letdown and then there was the requisite visit to the gift shop before leaving. Outside in a sunny beer-garden with drinks in hand we all agreed our whistle-stop European tour had been lots of fun and the perfect way to spend the morning.