Brussels, Belgium of June 2004, Log 01

 
     
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• Brussels Log 01

Some of the things in Belgium:

That they speak both English and French / Flemish (depending on which part they're in). And that when they drive (fabulous drivers) to get into a really tight parking spot, they mount the kerb and then come on down (which is instant failure in Singapore Driving test). Then do you know that a good bottle of rosé is 3€? Do you realise that the when parking (yes back to it again) they leave the cars in first gear so that another car can bump them further so that they could move into position? Ok, finally, bananas, that they can be left out for 2 weeks, turn black and yet the fruit/flesh inside still stays good and edible!

     
 

We arrived from Paris here in Brussels Midi station, awaiting Em to come pick us up. Our friends (who took the bullet train instead) are heading off to the Marathon and we're going to be staying with Alex and Emily.

It's cold and raining as we arrive and the first thing I notice is the horrible traffic and the many Albanian folks around.

Em picks us up in her Peugeot and the driving here is one of its kind!

     
 

You know what Brussels is famous for? Many things ah. For one, it's WAFFLES! Yes, honey soaked and then baked crisp and you can add all types of toppings even Chocolate! Which is of course any amazing item. Go to any GODIVA, any LEONIDAS and it's from Brussels!

Of course, we got to go to the best which is Pierre Marcolini, reputedly the best chocolates in the world and from what we've been having so far, it's GOOD!

     
 

What else is good you say? Well Beer! Well over 700 types of beer are available. Ok, so you've gotta tilt your head here to have a look... From the standard HOEGAARDEN to peach beer to champagne beer, you want it, you have it! Some are done by the monks too and you get them in most shops.

We also headed madly into one of the supermarkets and with Em's good recommendations went off with all kinds of food for the journey! I'm happy! Many wines!

     
  New York has the Statue of Liberty, Copenhagen has the mermaid and Brussels has the Manneken Pis. He is believed to be nothing more than a decoration on top of a fountain, where people in the Middle-Ages came to get fresh water. The official origin can be traced back to the 13th of August 1619 when the city ordered the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy to make a new bronze statue of manneken-pis to replace an old and withered one. During the course of the centuries our little manneken has often been hidden to protect him against bombs of invading armies. He has also been stolen several times by plundering soldiers and even by the citizens of Geraardsbergen, a city in Flanders that claims to possess the oldest statue of a peeing boy in Belgium.

A lot of people do not know that the manneken-pis is very often dressed. At the moment he has a wardrobe of more than 600 costumes, which are all preserved in the King's House, or City Museum at the Grand-Place, the central market square of the city.

     
 

There are many legends about the Manneken. According to one of them a little boy had watered against the door of a witch who lived where the fountain now stands. The witch was so angry that she turned the little boy into a statue.

Another legend says that a man had lost his little son. He found the child after two days near the place where now the fountain of manneken-pis can be seen. When the father spotted his child, the latter was peeing. As a token of gratitude the father had the fountain with a statue of a peeing boy constructed.

     
 

And then there was Tintin... As Snoopy is to Jen, I suppose you could say Tintin is to Ad. Here we are at the shop, but we found Papa Smurf instead. The shop owners gladly allowed us to take photos.

Almost bought a couple of books that are only in French or other non-English languages but decided against it. The postcards were really neat! We also found Bart Simpson stuff here and figured it be a neat gift for another friend.

At another shop, we managed to see a real neat Simpsons chess set! They had all kinds of chess sets; from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars and even Star Trek!

Now there's something else if you are ever there that you've gotta try and that is FRENCH FRIES!

     
 

One of the meals we had together as a group was at a traditional belgium restaurant and I ordered mussels and it came as a whole pot all cooked and simmered in white wine and a whole lot of stuff. YUMMY!

Another thing to get when in Brussels, Escargot! Which of course we really didn't get to eat except see the aunty who was selling it clean up and pack up. Till the next time!

     
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