Friday, April 22, 2005

Brussels Part Two

Here beginneth the second epistle from Brussels, if anyone at all is reading it...

My legs are now tired, and I needed a break from the walking, so I am back in my favourite net cafe for another update.

This morning I began by going to Marolles, where there was a flea market happening. Seemingly it happens every weekday in the morning... basically it is a big cobblestone square, where people lay down blankets and try to sell junk... interesting for a walk round just to see what it was like, but nothing worth buying.

Oh, en route to Marolles, I went past the Palais de Justice, where the court system is based. It is a huge building at the top of what is probably translated as Regent Street, with a golden dome on top. Outside it there are not one, but two war memorials - they seem to take their war memorials and the gratefulness to the Allied forces very seriously. The first was opposite the Palais, and was to the British effort, an the other was in the square in front of the Palais, to a Belgian regiment. Underneath it, you could see what appeared to be the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Indeed, the last time we were here in Brussels, we had a meeting to go to in the European Commission building, but the delegation was slightly early, so we were hanging about outside, when we noticed a statue down the road a bit, standing on the edge of a roundabout, looking towards the city. We took a walk down to see what it was, and behold! Field Marshall Montgomery, an Ulsterman, being honoured in Brussels! There's even a metro station named after him, so it's nice to see a wee man from home held in such honour and esteem.

So after Marolles, it was on down Regent Street, and into the Royal Belgian Art Gallery. I only checked out the ancient art section (16th - 19th centuries), and most of it seemed to be of religious themes - crucifixion scenes, the Pieta, the annuciation, the adoration of the Magi etc... From there it was past the Houses of Congress and down onto the shopping streets around Grand Place. This is the most amazing square I have ever seen, with beautiful buildings in gothic architecture rising into the sky. The tops of them were lit up last night - what a sight to behold!

I even managed to get a visit to Mannekin Pis, and the female version. Mannekin Pis is a statue of a wee lad standing on top of a fountain, only the fountain is of him peeing... It appears to be a huge tourist attraction, with the shops in the street beside it selling all sorts of merchandise with him on it. The female version, on the other side of Grand Place and down a wee poky alleyway didn't have any water, and she was locked behind bars.

So since then, I have done a wee bit of shopping, getting myself a classical cd in a big music and book shop, and some gifts for the family etc.

Later, we're meeting for a group meal in the hotel, and then tomorrow we head back (possibly with a couple of hours in the city before we leave for the airport).

But disaster also struck earlier... One of the local delicacies is sweet waffles, with any number of choices of topping (e.g. cream, chocolate; strawberries, syrup, or a combination of them). So I thought this would be a bit of a different thing for lunch. Sadly, it was a bit messy, or rather, I was a bit messy... The plastic spoon broke quite early in the eating, so my hands were plastered in the chocolate sauce... but I thought I had gotten away without any major problems, until I looked down, and behold, a huge dollop of chocolate sitting on my trouser leg... Wiping it was to no avail, so there's a big brown stain on the trousers... Ah well... it'll come out in the wash!

So that's my update from Brussels. The next time I write will probably be back home at some stage...

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