Sunday was travel day and we sadly said goodbye to the cute little town of Baarn and hopped on the train for Brussels, Belgium. The two and half hour train ride turned into three and a half as we sat on the tracks for about an hour with a mechanical breakdown. It gave us time to reflect on what we had seen in Holland and we wished that we had booked more time there. Everything is so clean and tidy, with street sweepers going by every half hour or so in Amsterdam. The tulips are starting to bloom, hedges are trimmed and out in the countryside, horses are frolicking in the new green grass. It’s all as pretty as a picture and we are so fortunate that we were able to experience it.
We arrived in Brussels about 7:30 PM and after stopping in at the BNB, and having a pleasant conversation with our hostess as she was finishing up changing the bedding, we headed out for a bite to eat. We found a wonderful Italian place that made everything fresh and it was delicious!! Back at our apartment we couldn’t help but notice that it was not very clean and in fact had spoiled food in the fridge and fruit flies and regular flies everywhere. We debated about leaving and going to a hotel but in the end we sucked it up, bought some Raid and paper towels, did some cleaning and decided that we wouldn’t be spending much time here. Considering all the BNB’s that we have been to in the last 9 months, this is only the second one that has given us the heebie-jeebies. That’s not so bad.
As April 8th is Richard’s birthday, we headed out for a day on the town. We walked the forty minutes to the downtown stopping along the way for a birthday drink at a cute little cafe, having lunch at McDonald’s (Richard’s favorite made even more so because they serve beer at the McDonalds here) and just looking at the sites. The downtown is vibrant and very busy with tourists. We checked out some churches, walked past the palaces and courthouse, checked out the government house before heading back home. Richard’s birthday supper was Chinese ordered in with Uber Eats. Now that’s slick!! Just order online from anywhere in the city and Uber delivers to your door. Sweet.
Today is laundry day and as it is raining we probably won’t stray too far from the apartment although we do have to go to the train station to reserve our tickets. We’ve cleaned ourselves a nice little area in the living room where we can settle in and watch some Netflix. Tomorrow we head to Lille, France where we rent a car and start following the path of Canadian war memorial sites. That should be very interesting.
The Manneken Pis. Little Pee Man in Flemish.
The peeing boy is a small bronze fountain statue from the 17th century that is tall just 61cm (24 inches). One would not normally call this art piece ‘majestic’, but the locals have so many stories and ways of celebrating with this little boy that even the toughest critic would find some fondness for the bronze doll.
Many great legends bring this little statue to life in the hearts of visitors, and the question is why was this statue erected? One story tells of a tourist father who lost his son in the city and after receiving help from villagers to find the boy, he gifted this statue to them. Another, more daring, tale is one where the boy was a spy during a siege of the city. He literally put out a ploy to bomb the city by urinating on the explosives! Many stories such as this have given the Manneken Pis a firm place in Brussels’ city-life but none would compete with its present-day glory.
The people of Brussels don’t simply look upon the cute statuette and show it to tourists. The Manneken Pis plays a full part in the city’s annual calendar and even has an outfit for every occasion. Peeing boy’s wardrobe ranges from Santa suits to national costumes from countries around the world. One of the recent additions is a red leather Chinese costume presented by the city of Haining, China. On special occasions, brass-bands would play here and Manneken Pis would be hooked up to different flavours of Belgian beer, which is poured from his fountain tip and given out to the public. With such love and care for the peeing boy, who needs Big Ben? 🙂
To give peeing boy a playmate, another statue was built called Jeanneke Pis in the 80s. This other statue is a little girl fountain, but she is lesser known and hides in an alleyway a short distance away from Mannekin Pis.
Some images from Brussels.
I snapped this last picture as we were finishing up our last meal in Amsterdam before catching the train to Brussels. Now I know that Amsterdam is a progressive city and the Dutch are little ahead of us on some things such as their laws on prostitution and drugs, but I thought this one might be a bit much.