A diet of waffles, frites, beer and Godiva chocolates: sounds rich – and not just for your arteries. Known for its comics, peeing statues, NATO headquarters, blonde and brown pints, steaming mussels, and Art Nouveau, the “capital” of the European Union has a little bit for a lot of people.
The first thing I saw in Brussels was the atomium, an enlarged iron crystal. This symbol of science is enormous enough to be seen from most of the city. Created for the World Fair of 1958, the cellular design was made with many a metaphor in mind. Its nine orbs (one a restaurant, another an exhibition) symbolise the 9 provinces of Belgium. It’s also a nod toward transnational peace and the hope that science can save humanity. I was not on top of it, because the waiting period was too long for us. But most people think that it’s worth it. It is even more beautiful by night, when the balls are illuminated.
Next stop was the grand place. It is beautiful by day and also by night. So map, camera, action! The King’s House, Town Hall and gilded houses set a baroque and Gothic-styled stage for the square. Tune into the choir of international accents around this visual treat. Eavesdrop on a nearby tour, where guides spin tales of lives long past. In its early years, the square was a market: hence the food-named streets (herbes, fromage) surrounding the site. Just sit down and enjoy the lights, a warm coffee or even a cold beer.
Nearby this market place is Maneken Pis. A two-feet tall, pissing cherub. That’s right. The urinating boy embodies the Belgians’ bawdy sense of humour. This little guy’s taken a lot over the years: he’s been kidnapped and dressed up in over 100 costumes. Relieving himself since 1619, the bronze statue has become Brussels’ unofficial mascot. Word is he once saved the city from burning with his anatomical hose. It sure is nice to see, but to be honest: If I would have not known that this is a famous attraction, I would not note this little boy at all.
I think also for not very religious people, visiting the Notre-Dame de Laaken is a must-do. It is a neo-gothic church of the nineteenth century, located at the end of the Avenue de la Reine, in Laeken. Built by order of Leopold I to receive the remains of his wife, Queen Louise-Marie d’Orléans (whose avenue recalls the memory), it has since served as a necropolis to the Belgian royal family.
On the way to the european parliament, we saw a nice gallery with pretty shops. We did not want to go shopping, but I think Brussels would be a nice place to do so. The european parliament instead was rarely disappointing. I thought that this would be much more impressive than it was:
There is quite a lot more to visit, but we had only one day, so we concentrated to the most important things. Next time, I want to visit the Comic Strip Museum, the army museum, the carworld and I want to take a running workout through the parcs.
It was a nice day, and in fact, what I liked most was the chocolate, the food and for my friend the cold and delicious beer! You can’t leave Belgium without gaining some extra pounds on the hips. But trust me: it’s worth it! Life is delicious!