This was another trip made possible by a meeting that Diana had. A quick two days back in Barcelona after our whirlwind Italy trip, we flew up to Brussels to spend time checking out Belgium before going on to Amsterdam for a couple of more days, something that I was really looking forward to.
Brussels (and Belgium as well) is one of those places that I never figured that I'd visit but I was excited to "add" another country to the growing list (I'm a simple guy, I guess). There had never been a reason before but, there we were, in the city that's sort of the Washington, DC of Europe. Like its United States' counterpart, there seems to be a lot of folks with money there. You know, people in suits, big SUVs everywhere, and really expensive places to get a drink. In the case of Brussels, it's caused by the fact that the European Parliament, which serves as the centralized government body for Europe, and NATO (among others) are based there. The it-probably-won't-be-winning-any-architectural-awards-anytime-soon European Parliament building:
What I can tell you about the city is that it rains. A lot. They say around 200 days per year (not just cloudy - but RAIN) and I can attest that it's wet there. We were walking through the Grote Markt (the Grand Place), the city's main square, on our only full day in town and it was coming down like we were taking a shower. In a lot of good ways, the city reminded my of Munich, especially in the main square and surrounding area. The Brussels Town Hall and Grote Markt:
We arrived on Wednesday evening and Diana's meeting was early on Thursday. After her meeting, we headed into the city center to walk around and achieve my goal of eating some of the food items that Belgium is known for (I'll write about that in another story). When it wasn't raining unbelievably, the city was quite lovely and seemingly a nice place to live but probably not as interesting as Munich or some of the other places that I've been.
This little street was full of buildings that housed restaurants serving tourist-style bowls of cooked mussels. Diana and I had dinner in one and the mussels were delish and quite a deal at 10 euros per serving. It's not often that you can get a decent meal for two in a super touristy, and quite-expensive area for under $30 (U.S.) but we managed it! Score one for Bussels!
Other than the food and the area around the Grote Markt, the other tourist hot spot is a small, peeing statue named Manaequin Pis. This little dude has been letting it all hang out in this spot for almost 400 years, which I guess is pretty surprisingly although the statue isn't "original" as it gets stolen from time to time - but still. Also, the day we were there he didn't have any clothes on but people apparently put outfits on him for different reasons. Oh, it's also worth mentioning that Mr. Pis looks a hell of a lot like my nephew.
I ended up enjoying our quick Brussels flyby even though what I'll probably most remember about it besides the peeing statue (and maybe the food) was that my feet were wet the entire time...and, no, these two things were not related...