Tuesday, June 24

Brussels


In years past, Garry and I have briefly driven through Brussels enroute to other nations. Last weekend we finally got to see the city up close. I surprised Garry with a couple of Eurostar tickets at Kings Cross station on Friday night. He's not an easy man to fool. However, following months of marticulous planning, I'd successfully convinced him we were headed North. Our final destination was a mystery until the moment he was presented with his passport and escorted to neighbouring St Pancreas Station.

Brussels is a relatively easy destination to reach. The new Eurostar link puts it within two hours of London. This meant we could kick back and enjoy dinner on the train, yet arrive rested at our hotel shortly after 11.30pm. I booked us into Be Manos, a funky boutique hotel close to the station. Web reviews rave about it. We weren't disappointed. Our room was huge. The service was friendly. The public places were fashionably smart and genuinely comfortable.


Saturday was set aside for a walking tour of the city's most popular sights. Our first stop was Manneken Pis, a tiny black statue of a small boy peeing from a high ledge into a corner pond. The site was easy to find. As we turned the corner of quiet side street, we were greeted a large noisy crowd. The scene was made all the more surreal by the almost dismissive size of the statue in question.

The first statue on this site was erected in 1619. Since 1698 it been traditional for the statue to be dressed in a miniture outfit. Over the centuries visiting heads of state have donated tiny national costume for the lad to wear. On Saturday he was wearing some sort of sailor suit. I'm not sure which nation this represents. No doubt my description will spark a diplomatic incident. Stay tuned.


Our next stop was The Grand Place, the traditional heart of Brussels. Its a cobblestone square surrounded by incredibly ornate Flemish Renaissance buildings. Most prominant is the City Hall, also known as Hotel de Ville. Built in 1459, this building can only be rightly called a truly stunning architecture masterpiece. Its entire facade is adorned by 137 statues and intricately carved window frames, capped by a 96 metre wedding-cake spire. On Saturday the entire spectacle was complimented by a colourful flower market in the plaza's centre, surrounded by bustling cafes.


I'll share more details about our time in Brussels tomorrow.

1 comment:

Rhonda said...

You were very sneaky, I'm sure Garry had no idea of where you were heading. What a great surprise and it looks like a fine weekend from the colour of the sky.