Monday, June 21, 2010


Covered shopping street...expensive!
After several days in Brugge, it was time to return to Amsterdam for the remainder of our trip. But first, a stop in Brussels. Right off the bat, I have to confess that I didn't really take to Brussels all that much. It seemed a bit too big and gritty, and touristy, especially after Brugge and Delft. Now, I will say that this is probably mostly a symptom of the fact that we only spent a few hours there, between trains. And it was rather warm, almost hot, and we got lost (not badly, just enough to make us miss our planned train).  But we did get some really good chocolate there, and saw some notable sights. So, while it wasn't my favorite stop on the trip, it wasn't that bad.

We followed two Rick Steves suggested walking paths, to quickly hit all the main sights in the center of town (which is probably why it felt too touristy!), including the Grand Place.  It is a large square, surrounded by very ornate buildings, and filled with tourists, gawking (like we did) and eating lunch, and wandering around looking up.

Very ornate, after the medieval austerity of Delft and Brugge. And no canals.

We did stop to see the Manneken Pis, a strange little statue that people all over the world come to see. Some days he is dressed up in costumes which are kept in the Brussels city museum. You can buy tacky tchochkes of all kinds with him on it, or mini-replicas. Heck, in the Sky Mall on the plane you could buy your very own life-sized working replica. Huh. It is supposed to be representative of the great Brussels sense of humor. I don't really get it.

After the peeing boy, we headed up-hill to the more governmental part of town. This is the Royal Palace, although no-one actually lives there. The royal home is in another part of town; the king does have his office here, however.

We stopped in at the Church of Notre Dame, where there were many neat statues of women saints (for once), and a statue that was stolen from Antwerp in the middle ages and supposedly protected Brussels from plague.

At the end of the Upper Town walk is the Hall of Justice (scaffolded, like many buildings we saw on the trip), and a great view over the lower part of the city. Lots of apartment blocks in the distance.  By that point, we were too pooped to do any more sight-seeing, apart from chocolate shops... When we finally made our way back to the train station, it was time to head back to Amsterdam.

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