A snowy blanket fell over several places in Europe last weekend. I was in Belgium at the time. I spent the day in Brussels last Saturday, snapping some photos in the blistery, winter wind.
While it wasn’t actually that cold by Canadian standards (about -5 C), the wind made my fingers raw, so I didn’t take as many shots as I wanted. I guess living in England is making me weak.
Brussels is actually prettier than I expected. I had always heard that it was a boring government town. The architecture reminded me of the traditional villages you see depicted around Christmas time. I could easily picture Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread house in Brussels. And frankly, the tower of Brussels’ Hotel de Ville is breath taking. (Especially at night, see below!)
Of course you can’t go to Brussels without seeing the Mannekin Pis. So I dutifully went and took a picture of the statue of a small, peeing boy. Though, in the winter he doesn’t actually pee.
Even so, the crowd to get to the statue was still impressive.
Probably my favourite part about Manneken Pis, wasn’t the statue itself, but its wardrobe. It has become a tradition for visiting heads of state to donate traditional garments from their country to clothe the statue. Over the years, he has amassed dozens of costumes. They are all on display in the Musée de la ville de Bruxelles, housed in the Maison du Roi in Grand-Place. Entry is only 3 euros with a student ID.
When you entre the room with the wardrobe, there are signs everywhere that say no photographs. Fortunately, the security guard in the room took a phone call just as I walked in and sat chatting loudly by the door.
I actually didn’t see very much of Brussels. I met with a friend of my father’s for dinner and then went off to Antwerp on Sunday. But I did spend enough time in the city to discover that people in Brussels can be very nice.
While I was waiting to meet up for dinner, I walked into a chocolate shop and decided to taste one. Yes, just one. When I was younger, whenever my mom and I went shopping, she would buy one chocolate for me and one for herself. I like to keep the tradition alive.
I asked in French for a noisette (hazelnut), just one, and the woman behind the counter gave it to me for free! (It could be that she didn’t like my Canadian French and just wanted to get rid of me. But that’s ok.)
Our restaurant was right near the Grand Place, so I went back at night to see it all lit up.
The next morning, on my way to Antwerp, I got a chance to see the Atomium and Royal Palace.
Oh, and my favourite beer from the weekend was Grimbergen. Definitely try it if you get the chance.