We spent about an hour walking around in the forest, and it felt like about half that amount of time. It really was enchanting, and I'm not sure the photos do it justice. I hadn't been expecting, in particular, the dense drifts of red leaves that were also covering the forest floor - they made for a lovely contrast with the rivers and pools of bluebells lying under the trees. We went there on a drizzly Saturday, which turned out to be a good choice, as the forest protected us from the rain but there weren't very many other people there. There's a carpark right there and it's all easily walkable for the average person.
We're having a nature overdose this spring, as this weekend we decided to visit the Royal Greenhouses at Laeken, on the 1st of May. The greenhouses are only open for a few weeks a year, as they are actually "royal" in the sense of being in the grounds of the royal palace. Cue much dark muttering from me as we went round about the unearned wealth and privilege of this family who live off taxpayers' money and ill-gotten Congo gains and then expect us all to doff our caps at them when they have the grace to let the great unwashed into their private domain once a year. My parents will be laughing at that, since I used to be quite the fan of the royals when I was a little girl, but as it says in the Bible, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child..."
Anyway, I had heard from colleagues and the internet that it can get horrifically crowded in there and to expect long lines, so we decided to go for the evening session, when hopefully it would be a bit quieter, and turned up half an hour before it opened - by which time a pretty long line had already formed. Luckily the evening wasn't too cold or rainy, and it actually turned out to be not as much of a nightmare as I had feared. It was good that we got there while it was still light, as it was worth it in order to see and photograph the grounds before going into the greenhouses. Once you're in, you do have to process around the exact same route (and at pretty much the same speed) as everyone else, so I can imagine it getting quite unpleasant on a hot and crowded day. Everyone seemed pretty content to take their time (and plenty of photos) though, so I never really felt like I was trapped behind a slow moving crowd, which is something I really hate.
|Looking back at the rest of the queue after we got in|
|Jules joked that this boar was saying "paint me like one of your French girls"|
|In front of the palace (you're not allowed any closer)|
|An empty greenhouse|
|Selfie in front of the Japanese garden|
|This crown-topped greenhouse with its towers reminded me of a mosque or the Hagia Sophia|
If you're ever in Brussels in spring, it's worth a look, not least for the fact that it's the only time of year you can visit - but be prepared to queue! The queue to get in evaporated fairly quickly I think, but as I said, it's worth making it in while it's still light, so weigh up whether you really want to go when it's quiet or whether you want to see it in daylight etc.