It was an easy drive of just a few hours from our house to the hotel in Brussels.  The skies got grayer and the temperature chillier as we drove, but fortunately it didn’t actually rain on us while we explored a few of the sights.

brussels_201006dsc_0254Our first stop was the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.  It was a nice enough cathedral, but probably the most memorable thing about it was they were tuning the organ while we were in there, which was a less than pleasant experience.

Following our quick stop at the cathedral, we headed for the Grand Place (Grote Markt), which has some beautiful architecture.  Several of the buildings are gilded and are probably quite dazzling when the sun is shining.  We had a little guide I found on the Internet that told us the history of the buildings around the square.  Mostly shops and cafés now, the buildings used to be the guild halls; in one case, the Maison des Brasseurs Belges (House of the Belgian Brewers, 1698) is still the headquarters of the Brewers’ Guild, as well as holding the Belgian Brewers’ Museum.  There’s also a yummy-smelling chocolate shop where you can watch a chocolatier at work.

brussels_201006dsc_0264After a turn around the Grand Place, we walked the couple of blocks to see the famous Manneken Pis.  Rebecca was, of course, mortified, not to mention  puzzled as to why people would travel to see such a thing.  In all honesty, the only answer I had was that it’s the thing to do in Brussels.  The little statue may hold the same cultural significance to Brussels as the Little Mermaid does to Copenhagen, but it’s not anywhere near as pretty.

We then took a walk back toward the hotel, taking the route past the Bourse (the Brussels Stock Exchange), which is an attractive building for something so mundane.  Our meal was nothing memorable, except perhaps for the weird beer Roy ordered.  It looked a lot like a fizzy red wine, but upon inspection of the bottle, turned out to be a cherry beer.  brussels_201006dsc_0291

We headed back to the Grand Place to a coffee house for dessert, which was memorable–Belgian waffles with strawberries, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream, accompanied by a coffee with cream for Roy and white hot chocolate for me and Rebecca (actually the coffee was better).  It was good, but WAY too much sugar; Rebecca and I couldn’t even finish ours (so Roy helped).

On the way back to the hotel, we went by the tourist shops.  I was looking for some Belgian lace, but didn’t really see anything I liked (too touristy).  Rebecca found a t-shirt and Roy bought a couple of Belgian beers.

Brussels is okay for an overnight stop after a few hours drive–but I’m really looking forward to seeing the Flanders Fields Museum tomorrow.

See the photo album.

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