We left toasty Minnesota on Monday, July 16th with enough luggage for two weeks and a little extra room for all the fabulous merchandise we plan on bringing back.
After a brief layover in NY and an almost nine-hour flight across the Atlantic, we reached Belgium at around 2:30 a.m. US Central time. Of course it was "tomorrow morning" here so after finding our flat and throwing our stuff inside, we decided to explore the area on foot. We're just around the corner from the Palace of Justice. Completed in 1883, it was the largest building constructed in the 19th century. So many people were displaced by its construction, calling someone an architect became a great insult in Brussels at the turn of the last century. It is home to Belgium's supreme court of law and has been covered with scaffolding since 2003 as it is currently being renovated. We were still able to see the incredible interior and it was a nice introduction to the architectural wonders that one is treated to in Brussels at every turn.
After some sandwiches for a quick lunch we made a beeline for our first obligatory waffles of the trip and the world-famous Mannekin Pis statue. We also saw boobs on a couple of ads so the kids think Europe is pretty cool.
The statue is on the corner of a busy street with lots of great shops and eateries and is just a couple of blocks away from La Grand Place. None of the pictures we took did it justice; one is surrounded by 360 degrees of glorious gilded and statue-packed monumental buildings and it is a place that has to been seen with one's own eyes to really appreciate the splendor. But we will return at night when Betsy says it is even more spectacular and I will be sure to include a photo from that visit.
The kids and I were thrilled to visit La Boutique Tintin as well. Betsy has returned home with some gifts from the store in the past but getting to see all the stuff for ourselves was great. We shall be back to spend some Euros there before we move on.
Finally, our little passengers conked out in the car on the way to the local Delhaize grocery store where we stocked up on food and necessities. As I finish this entry at 11:30 p.m. Belgium time, they are all finally down for good. We've got nothing planned for tomorrow except to get out and explore some more and see what wonders strike our fancy.
A few quick observations:
It is in the mid 60s here and very pleasant. Nice to get a break from the heat and humidity back home.
Jaywalking is a full-time hobby for many and most don't seem to bother looking first. People must be flattened by buses here on a regular basis. We threw traffic off when we stopped at an intersection to wait for an opportunity to cross.
Belgians love their car horns. My chauffeur got honked at while waiting for a red light to change and for having the nerve to almost t-bone a Citroen when the other driver blew a stop sign and tried to pull out in front of us. I hollered at him in English and he didn't honk again so I guess I showed him.
You won't find milk and eggs in the refrigerated aisle in this part of the world. Both are usually just sitting out at room temperature at the store. We've got both in the flat, staying American-cold in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow.
We're still awaiting our first Belgian beer sampling. Oh I guess I do have something planned for tomorrow!