And then I turned around and went off gallivanting again! LOL Instead of it being a full (extended) weekend trip like London, I simply drove up to Brussels for the day. (It was only about a 2 and a half hour drive...it wouldn't have taken so long if not for the copious amounts of construction! LOL) I was going up to meet and visit with Mikayla, as she is one of the students my BFF had while she was teaching French. Mikayla is finishing up her time as an exchange student to Belgium, and it seemed a little ridiculous for her to be so close and for us to not meet! She brought along her friend that had come from the States to visit her for about 2 weeks...she literally got off the plane and onto the train to get to Brussels! LOL The poor girl was quite jet-lagged!
We didn't really have a plan of what to do or see, so we wandered about in a random way (that caused us to backtrack a few times, lol) and just took it all in. One of the first things we saw upon departing the train station at which they arrived, was this dancing street performer!
|A STREET PERFORMER DANCING WITH A MEMBER OF THE CROWD|
|IN THE GRAND-PLACE|
|THE TOWN HALL IN GRAND-PLACE|
There was a lot of road torn up all over the place (yay for construction...) as well as cleaning/restoration scaffolding everywhere (a commonplace thing for European cities), so we sort of wandered about in a non-organized fashion, and came across this lovely "little" church.
|IN NOTRE-DAME DU BON SECOURS|
When Mikayla realized we missed the Mannekin-Pis, we had to double back towards the Grand-Place.
This statue is a) really small, and b) kind of weird. Seriously, Misha's younger son is probably about the size of the actual sculpture of the boy. And the weirdness? Well, it's a statue of a boy peeing. How is that not weird? And the story behind it?...Well, according to Wikipedia, there are a few different ones. The one I heard was the one of an artist (instead of a merchant...I think, anyway...it was 2+ weeks ago...lol) whose young son went missing, and was found on a street corner, peeing. The artist was so grateful to find his son in well-being that he created this statue and fountain as a monument to express his joy and gratitude.
Now, as a parent, I totally get the heart racing, gut-wrenching feeling of your child disappearing. It's happened to me in the BX before. (Not even out on city streets like in the story!) It's terrifying. And I totally get the relief in finding your child okay. I completely get that. But to make a statue of your child peeing to show your gratitude?...Yeah. Weird.
After that, we went a little further up that same torn up road back to the monument to Everard 'T Serclaes. Mikayla said that if you rub his hand, you are supposed to get good luck. (Much like rubbing the boob of Juliet in Verona, evidently...) There was a woman nearby that turned upon hearing this and said, "Really? Just luck? I heard it was to help a woman get pregnant..." Needless to say, I didn't take my chances and didn't even approach the monument. LOL
|THE EVERARD 'T SERCLAES MONUMENT|
|A DISPLAY OF BELGIAN WAFFLES|
|MY FIRST AUTHENTIC BELGIAN WAFFLE|
While in the Grand-Place, Mikayla pointed out these "shell markers" that appear all over Brussels, which mark the journey of some person that I don't recall...I'll let you know when I find out...so far Lord Google has failed me...
We then headed toward the Parc de Bruxelles (which used to be the hunting grounds of Dukes way back in the day), where we headed down toward the end and saw this lovely fountain, and then headed onward in the direction of the Palais de la Nation, which is the building Parliament convenes in. However, Brussels has been without an acting government for over a year now. (Don't ask me how that works, because I have no earthly idea...)
|THE FOUNTAIN IN THE PARK OF BRUSSELS, |
IN FRONT OF THE PALACE OF THE NATION
Walking away from the government buildings, I began to take notice of the lamp posts...I love the detail on them! (Not that I'm pulled toward things with leaves and vines or anything...lol)
|THE DETAIL ON ONE OF THE LAMP POSTS|
|L'EGLISE SAINT-JACQUES SUR COUDENBERG|
By that point, we were all starting to wear down, as we had no actual plan and walked around in circles and seriously lacked organization of nearly any sort (LOL). We got a pleasant little surprise, though, upon entering the next church we came to!
|FACADE OF NOTRE-DAME DU SABLON|
|A WEDDING IN NOTRE-DAME DU SABLON|
|THE FOUNTAIN IN THE SABLON SQUARE|
|SOME OF THE WINDOWS THAT RECOUNT |
THE VIRGIN MARY'S LIFE
|DECORATION UNDER THE ORGAN LOFT|
After that, we stopped to get some Belgian fries (or "frites," as they're called there), which did taste different to me than the U.S. version. I don't know if it's because of the way they were cooked or what they were cooked in, but dipping it in the Brasil sauce that we got with it...YUM!!!! (I'd have taken a picture of the fries, but we were all pretty hungry by that point that they disappeared pretty fast...lol) We sat on a bench near Notre-Dame de la Chapelle to eat.
|L'EGLISE NOTRE-DAME DE LA CHAPELLE|
And upon trying to make our way back to the train station (and my car), we came across an unexpected surprise: the Aneessens Tower!
|THE ANEESSENS TOWER|
After that, we oriented ourselves with the map and made our way back to the train station to get Rachel's luggage, and we piled into my car and headed to the Atomium.