Thursday, May 15, 2014

Brussels - not sprouts, but the real big historical kind of Brussels

Monday, May 12th - I realize that today is actually May 15th and I am several days behind in posting daily blogs. Maybe I should stop taking pictures and then these blogs would be very short. But no, I like taking pictures and I will probably not catch up anytime soon but by the time we fly home we may get caught up.

So lets take another look at Brussels - this time during the day.
On our drive into Brussels we were impressed with the sheer volume
of government buildings. With the European Union headquarted here that
is not at all surprising. We drove past many embassies and this
happens to be the Belgian Ministry of Finance. Nice high gates to
keep the likes of us out.
This just so happens to be a popular mayor of Brussels from a long time ago.
Even today he is popular. You can see where people come and sit on his
lap and rub his mustache and tell him how the city should be run.
He and his dog listen intently to all the good advice.

Just like in Brugge and Ghent, the houses like to
compete to see which can stand the proudest.

The Music Museum was formerly a fancy turn of the century (1900 that is)
British department store. 
Blanka thought that Tom Bookhout would like this museum.
Comic strips have a long history in Belgium, Tin Tin being
one of them that has also become popular in the US. There are
dozens of these huge wall painting in and around Brussels.
Three story high comic strips - pretty cool.

This would be a cool house to live in.
Lunch time - where to eat … how about down these old stone steps
into the king's cellar? Quite literally all you saw from the square was the
door and the menu board.
As you descend down, the room opens up into this lovely space. It really could
have been the wine cellar for the king. 
Blanka couldn't wait to dig into her delicious rabbit with
"croquettes" (deep fried mashed potatoes.)
Over the years, Brussels has kept growing so every couple of
hundred years they build another wall around the city.
This happens to be from the first wall build in the 13 century. 

Of course this is pretty much in the center of the city and
everyone seems to think nothing of building right on top of it.
On to this enormous structure that we kept seeing in the distance. It is up
on a hill and is probably bigger that two football fields. It was build to
house the Belgian Justice Department.
I don't think I have ever seen any building that looked this imposing.
I suppose this building would intimidate anyone brought to justice here, just seems like a lot of very big stones piled very high just to issue justice.
Some quite delightful parks also scatter around Brussels.
And bigger and grander gardens as well.

The town hall is the center of the town and its tall tower makes sure it
can be seen from nearly every where.
Town hall, Brussel's style. It dominates the town square.
The detail of the stone work on the facade is astonishing.
Hundreds of life sized statues ring the building.
Flower market in the foreground adds color to the stately buildings
across the square from the city hall.
Now for some thoughts about the Belgian psyche. I don't know why but two things are never far from their thoughts - chocolate and beer. If you have ever been around Blanka for any length of time you know she is fanatical about Belgian chocolate and beer. Well it turns out that it is not just Blanka but the whole country. You can find 3, 4 and 5 chocolate shops on the same block. 
Not just little hole in the wall shops, but big ones like this!
I may make fun of this but I am the one that reaps the benefit -
Blanka doesn't complain when I buy chocolates here.
As for beer, Blanka was disappointed that this shop only has 250 different beers.
She was quick to point out that there are at least 350 different Belgian beers.
250 bottles of beer on the wall, 250 bottles of beer. Take one down and … .
We didn't finish the day with beer though,
we finished it with another Belgian waffle! 

Tomorrow we are off to France!