Brussels is a beast of a city. It should be issued with a Health Warning!
Every street is filled with the wafting aromas of chocolate, cakes or waffles.
(Oh come come, surely not every street, Lyn? Aren’t you exaggerating a teeny bit for Poetic Licence?)
wwlbelgium043Nope. Every single street. I kid you not. Never has a woman been so cruelly taunted and tested!
At first I paused outside every confectioner’s window, pretending to admire the display, and inhaling deeply while viciously poking my stomach to remind myself of the damage that overdosing on calories can do/has done to my body, and glaring at all the slim Belgians!
After a while I kept muttering about the big dinner that would be served in a few hours, ‘And you don’t want to spoil that, now do you? And anyway, they’re bound to serve something chocolatey, aren’t they?’
That morning, I caught the Eurostar from St Pancras, direct to Brussels, and then got a taxi to my hotel, a few minutes away. It was a quick, easy journey, and after checking in, I was ready to go out and explore.
From the Hotel Steigenberger, I walked along Louise Avenue, which has an interesting, varied selection of shops.
wwlbelgium013Brightly-coloured trams chuntered past, along their rails. One of them had music coming out of the doors. A man was playing an accordion and all the commuters seemed to be enjoying it. What a good idea for London Underground!
There aren’t any warning signs. Belgians obviously have the sense to notice a giant  yellow object coming towards them along railway-like rails, and to get out of the way.
I doubt if we Brits could manage that without being told to Look both Ways, etc!
At the end is Poelaert Place which has a view of lower Brussels, and a WWl war memorial.
In the distance is the Atomium. Temporarily built for the 1958 World Expo, it’s a replica of an iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times.
wwlbelgium035On the left are the Law Courts, with a huge golden dome on the top. I was told that I could see the whole of Brussels from the top. Unfortunately it was closed and had scaffolding all over it.
Every other building seems to be encircled in scaffolding. The others show how filthy they all are, due to all the passing traffic. I don’t know if Brussels is having a mega-clean-up, or if it’s an ongoing problem.
Turning right and curving downwards, I came to the Place Royale on the right, with a church and a statue.
I kept on walking, across the road and still curving down the hill, passing some shops with just a few strange expensive objects d’art in the window that I can’t imagine anyone wanting to buy, however rich they are!
Jutting above the shops and buildings was a high dome, leading me fork right to the Grand Place.
It makes you gasp as you reach the end of the narrow street and enter the huge square. All the buildings are Medieval, and completely individual.
wwlbelgium038The square dates from the 15th Century. It was bombarded by Louis lV’s French troops in 1695, and then carefully rebuilt by craftsmen.
Sight-seers half-filled the square, taking photos in every direction.
I wanted to the see the Manneken Pis, the statue of the little boy having a wee.
It was easy to find. Just turn left and follow the groups of tourists as it’s their next stop. Walk along Etuve Street, and then past the souvenir shops lined up one after another on either side, with naked weeing boys in every shape and form; jelly boys, plastic boys, and of course, large chocolate boys.
All the tourists marched left into a small square, looked around them, and then their faces dropped with disappointment. I saw why when I turned the corner. Instead of the statue and fountain in the middle of the square that I imagined, it’s flat against a wall, with a railing round it. And the boy’s bronze statue is only about 61cms high!
The statue dates back to 1619, but it has been stolen many times. The original is now kept in the Maison du Roi, in the Grand Place.
There are many Urban Myths about what the statue represents. The real story has been buried under all the fiction long ago!
wwlbelgium008What a load of effort to see a little boy with his willie in his hand, having a piss!
A sign fixed to the railing shows photos of some of the costumes that the boy is dressed up in for special occasions. There are over 700 costumes. The last one was St Patrick’s Day, when he’d been dressed like an Irishman. Oh b’Jaysus, what a fuss! It’s hardly The Pyramids!
Mentally ticking another necessary-to-see-while-you’re-here tourist thingy off my list, I retraced my steps past all the tempting sights and smells, back to the hotel where a box of complimentary chocolates and a half-bottle of champagne were waiting for me. Well, I’d worked off enough calories after my walk!