Our first excursion out of The Netherlands was to Brussels, Belgium, which is a short hour and a half from our home. Belgium borders both The Netherlands and France so both Dutch and French are spoken there-decidedly more French the further you go from The Netherlands’ border. They also speak a mixed language known as Flemish.
Our first stop on arriving in Brussels was a small statue that has become very famous known as Manneken Pis. Sometimes this statue is dressed in different costumes, but today he was au natural.
Essentially it is just a fountain statue of a little boy tinkling. But the street he is on is filled with souvenir shops, chocolate shops and Belgian waffle shops. And almost all of them pay homage to the statue (like this chocolate version).
After sampling a little Belgian waffle with white and semi sweet chocolate, we headed on to the Grand Place. This is the center square of the city and houses the Town Hall as well as a museum and other buildings (hard to see in the picture but there is lots of gold overlay on the buildings).
After the square, we walked through a market building with a very cool ceiling. Again there were lots of chocolate shops (one even had a bust of their founder carved from chocolate), lace stores and a whole lot of displays with Smurfs-apparently they were created in Brussels.
Next, we visited the cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula. Being that it was Sunday, they were having mass so we were only able to see parts of the church.
Next we toured the Royal Palace, though the royal family do not actually live there.
They even had dinner ready for us!
But, alas, we had to decline as we had more pressing matters such as viewing this room with a ceiling covered in beetle wings.
After the palace, we visited the Notre Dame du Sablon. Mass was also being conducted here, so while we didn’t get to see a lot of the cathedral, we did get to hear some beautiful singing.
After heading back to the main square for a lunch of mussels and beer and grabbing another Belgian waffle each (sorry no pictures-by the time we thought to take one, we had eaten it all! But, I can report that they were delicious!), we decided to leave Brussels and head north to Antwerp.
In Antwerp, we went to the Middelheim. This is a large park with various modern art sculptures and other works spread along the walking paths. It was an interesting trip-our son was excited to see a play area with swings, only to be disappointed when he got there and realized it was actually an artwork. He felt that was trickery. And all of us were a bit surprised to walk upon this statue (warning-not suitable for tender eyes!)
So after a good laugh, we decided that we had had enough male genitalia for one day and headed back home.
All in all, our trip to Belgium was a nice day trip. And I’ve got a few Belgian chocolates to try over the next few weeks, so I’d say it was a success!