February 18, 2007
Speaking of Heart-Shaped Things: Belgium
We were astonished (and the girls were delighted) to see a series of these Heart-Shaped Traffic Lights in Brussels. We need more of these around the world. They made us smile and hope for lots of red lights to wait at, grinning.
Last weekend we drove from England through France to Belgium and back. Isn't it amazing we can do that? I am still impressed with the Euro-Tunnel under the British Channel. It was our second time using it.
We missed our allotted time slot on the way over to France, but luckily they have a grace period of two hours and just put you on the next available train (there are 4 per hour). No problem.
On the way back, we were a few minutes late for check-in and thought we'd miss that train as well, but we were among the last few cars allowed onboard, and thus we were on the bottom level of the train for the first time (it's a double-decker car-carrier, and we'd always been on top before).
We spent one night in Calais, France (as we had arrived late at night), had fun in the hotel pool in the morning, and then were on our way to Brussels, where David lived from 3rd grade to 8th grade. We toured his old elementary school (where his mom taught kindergarten and preschool), peeked at his old house, and enjoyed some Northern European cuisine. Also speaking of visiting churches around the world, Sunday morning, we stopped by the Brussels Vineyard Church, which has simultaneous translation from English into French for those who need it (with headphones you can pick up at the back).
We walked around a bit in downtown Brussels. Can you name any landmarks? We focused on two: the Grand Place and the Manneken Pis.
Here's a 360 degree rotating view of the Grand Place - we were standing right there, but in my photos it's cloudy and windy and grey. This link shows it better. My main issue with the Grand Place is the grammar of it. Place is feminine in French, and Grand is masculine. I have not been able to find an explanation of this oddness. I would think it would be Grande Place. Oh well. Really, it bothers me each time I say, hear or type it! If someone knows why it is this way, I'd love to hear the reason.
How would you feel if your town's most famous landmark was a little statue of a boy peeing? That is what the Manneken Pis is. The main impression upon seeing it: it's really small. The same kind of impression we had upon seeing Stonehenge, only a lot worse, because there was no majesty or mystery. Apparently the town used to get their water here, and apparently he pees beer at certain times of the year, when he gets to don various outfits. Very interesting...Actually I think that may be an urban legend. But he does wear different clothes.
So what is Belgium really famous for? Belgian chocolate, Belgian lace and Belgian waffles, right? They really do sell a lot of wonderful-looking waffles along the touristy streets, but what cracked us up was this sign at the front of a lace shop, admonishing people NOT to eat the waffles in front of their window! Since the waffles are often dipped in chocolate, this tied together all three commodities in one shop window.
The chocolate fountains were tempting, and the smells wafting out were mouth-watering. Next post: browsing in the Brussels Chocolate Museum, and walking in the Belgian beech woods where David used to walk his golden lab as a boy.
February 18, 2007 | Permalink
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Hm - I thought I had left a comment here earlier, but apparently it disappeared!
All that chocolate is amazing and made my mouth water! I love the heart-shaped traffic lights - I've never seen anything like that before. What a fun idea.
Mannekin Pis - for some reason, my grandma had a statue of that in her house!
Posted by: Birgit | Feb 22, 2007 10:11:40 AM