Destinations Magazine

An Alternative 60th Birthday in Brussels – Part 1

By Ingridd @cosytraveler

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So far, 2016 sucks big time... Due to health problems, car troubles and financial woes, we haven't done as much traveling as we would like to or as we are used to. Of course, I know that there are far worse things going on in the world right now; but being denied traveling for people like Lars and myself... well, it sucks. We miss it too much. Luckily, since I didn't have a lot of blogging opportunities last year - mainly because of my depression, I still have a lot of travels of last year to post about. But... to be honest, we cannot wait to do some new exploring!

But luckily, things are looking up. And if things go well, we should be on the road again in October. And our first long trip is up at the end of the year. And, sick or not, poor or not, there are always special days that we need to celebrate and there are always ways to do so. So, although it was our dream to celebrate the 60th birthday of Lars in Romania, we had to change our original plans. And I somehow managed to let my beloved Lars experience new things... for free!

First up, I organised a visit to a museum. Usually, when Lars and I go to such a place, it will be related to art. This time, I chose a completely different topic. Moreover, it was free. Want to know which museums in Brussels are free on certain days? Then have a look at this website.

I picked the Museum of Natural Sciences, or to be correct, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Now, I am going to be completely honest: I was there once, a long time ago. I thought it was a dark and dusty museum and the sulky, moody teenager that I was hated every second of it. But ... in order not to be bullied I didn't tell anyone that I actually thought the dinosaurs looked kind of cool.

Flash-forward to 7 September 2016 and I cannot wait to see all those majestic skeletons... again. I was so eager to give this museum a second chance and to let Lars experience something completely else. This is what we saw in the main hall.

Lars and I were ready to see the big boys in their separate glass cases, but a fire-drill interrupted our plans. All of us had to go outside and about 30 minutes we were back.

We took the elevator one floor down and saw what creatures used to live in our seas and oceans millions of years ago.

Afterwards, we went to the top floor and admired the view.

The museum offers a lot more than dinosaurs. You can visit the Gallery of Mankind, the Gallery of Evolution, BiodiverCITY, 250 Years of Natural Sciences, the Mineral Hall, the Shell Hall and the Insect Hall.

The museum was a lot bigger than I had anticipated. I think you need at least 3 hours to go through all or most of the galleries.

This little fellow didn't mind a close-up.

But there is more than education and entertainment; a lot of research takes place here as well. Or as the museum itself states it:

The museum is the showcase for the research that our institute has been carrying out for more than 170 years. Today, our research team comprises 165 scientists and dozens of scientific staff, technicians and volunteers. It is a varied team that includes biologists, ecologists, geologists, mineralogists, palaeontologists, anthropologists, oceanographers, engineers and computer experts. This enables us to carry out multidisciplinary research.

Our research falls into three main categories: evolution, biodiversity, and ecosystems. This research sheds light on a complex and diverse world that is billions of years old. Our researchers don't spend all their time in the lab, far from it; several hundred international expeditions are organised every year.

Our enormous collections, made up of approximately 37 million specimens, form an inexhaustible research resource. These 'biodiversity archives' are used to classify existing species and identify new ones, and to study their ecosystems. This research enables us to amend policies in order to protect and preserve biodiversity. And now, with new techniques such as CT scans, isotope analysis and DNA sequencing, researchers are able to glean new information from old material on a daily basis.

By the way, the fun already starts at the entrance!

On the website of the museum you can find all useful information. Join us for our next post to see what else happened on the 60th birthday of Lars!

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