Friday, October 21, 2011

Belgium Part 2

After touring Waterloo, we headed to the Grand Place in Belgium. This is like a town square surrounded with very architecturally, ornate, European looking buildings. It was beautiful. Between those buildings are narrow streets and then there are alleyways off of those streets. I would have loved to have spent more time here exploring all the shops. In one of the buildings Karl Marx stayed and wrote part of The Communist Papers.

I just loved the looks of these buildings.
The Grand Place was extremely busy this Saturday. There was a huge stage and tent and speakers and jumbo tv screen set up in one area with bands and a speakers and a little parade, but I don't remember what they were celebrating.
In the next pics I just loved the ornate statues and gold and especially the window flower boxes. You saw window flower boxes everywhere in Europe!

These gold lions were high up on a building--I just love how my camera can zoom up close to things so far away!

In history, whenever you saw a white swan on a building, it meant that building was a brothel.
I believe this statue was St Michael (in white) stomping on the devil (in the black)--do you see it? I was looking into the sun, so I guess I didn't get the entire part of St Michael.

I believe these were all apartments above the shops. Not sure I'd want to live here though--I can imagine the noise.

The next pics are of one of the most famous statues in Brussels, although I had never heard of it before. It is a little boy peeing. He is dressed in a soldier outfit, but I actually saw a few postcards showing him dressed in other outfits such as Santa Clause. There are a few stories behind this statue. One is that a Belgian Prince went missing one day. The King told his soldiers to go looking for him and then to report back to him exactly how they found him so he could make a statue to celebrate the finding of the prince. The soldiers found the boy peeing, so that is how they made the statue. Another story is that there was a fire somewhere and a prince peed on it and put out the fire so they made this statue to honor the prince. The REAL story behind this statue is that it represents the poor boys of Belgium who used to pee and turn that into the leather tannery in order to make money. The pee was used to soften the leather. The statue is peeing into a little pool of water and it is blocked off with a fence. You should have seen all of the people trying to get in front of the statue to have their picture taken with it. CRAZY!

Now, not to be left out, Shawn told us there was a less famous statue of a girl squatting to pee. We had to walk down a couple of alleys until we found it. It was in the back of the alley. It may be kind of hard to see looking through the bars.

There is also another statue of a lady that legend says if you rub it you will someday return to Brussels. Roger and I both rubbed it, so I guess it remains to be seen if we ever return again or not.

On several street corners in the Grand Place there are waffle shops. You just walk up to the window and order your waffle and there are a variety of toppings you can get on it. Then they gave you those little french fry forks to try to eat it with. Those forks didn't help hardly at all, so we ended up trying to eat our waffle covered in strawberries and chocolate, with out hands trying not to get too messy.

I loved walking the brick (and maybe cobble-stoned [I can't remember for sure]) streets and alleys. However, there were times you really had to watch your step because some bricks would be missing and you could twist up your ankle. One of the streets was covered somewhat and I learned that this street contained the high end shops. One of the shops displayed a picture of the King and Queen of Belgium.

 If we could not find a place to park the vans along the streets, there were underground parking garages. We parked on the 6th floor of the garage--UNDERGROUND!

Our hotel was very nice. It was on a busy street where a cable car ran up and down (look at the 3rd pic). Our room was on the backside of the hotel and I guess some of our team whose rooms were on the front side of the hotel were bothered by a nightclub across the street until the wee hours of the night. Roger and I heard nothing thankfully. After being up for soooo many hours now (remember there is a 7 hour time difference, we barely slept on the plane, and we spent an entire day touring Brussels) you'd think we'd get a great night's sleep. Roger was about one of the only people on the team who did. I slept for 4 hours, was up for 3 and then was only asleep for maybe another 1 1/2 hours. Man, I wish I could sleep like he does.

Look how narrow the streets are. You can see one cable car, there is a track right beside it for another cable car, and look how the van is over that white parking line even though it is right up against the sidewalk. Now I know why all of the cars in Europe are so small. Vans, and even pickup trucks are kind of unusual in the cities.
Overall, the Brussels area was a great place to visit, full of history and lovely architecture. You definitely do not have to worry about speaking the language--English is know all around Brussels. In fact, our pastor on the flight over sat by someone who works for the American Embassy I think, and she commented to him that Brussels is one of her least favorite places in Europe because it is so Americanized. Still, I enjoyed it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm enjoying reading about your trip. So glad you guys got to go on this adventure.