The last weekend afforded me the chance to go to Brussels for some sight seeing. I went to the Leuven train station at around 10 am. The ticket lady sold me a weekend round-trip ticket which cost me 5 euro. My stop was to be Brussels Central; I managed to figure which train I should ride after deciphering the train schedule, which was in Dutch and French. I could make some sense of the Dutch, being close enough to German, and for this I have to thank the German 1 and 2 lessons I took at Goethe Manila.
So off I was to Brussels. The trip took just around 30 minutes, and I soon found myself walking out of the Brussels Central station. I had no idea where to go, so I just followed the trail of tourists going up the road. I went inside a hotel, took a map, and sat in the lobby for a while to study my itinerary. Brussels is more French than Dutch, and so the streets are Rues instead of Straats. I decided the first stop had to be the Grand Market, at the center of Brussels.
The Town Hall and the Grand Market, similar to Leuven’s, but bigger:
Underneath one of the buildings is a metal bas-relief of one of the medieval princes of Brussels, who died while defending the city from attack. Touching the arm of the prince is believed to bring goodluck; true to form, people (myself included) were touching not only the arm, but the whole of the statue, hoping to get the luck in torrents, and this is how it has kept its shine throughout the centuries!
Probably the most famous symbol of Brussels is the Mannekin Pis, or the peeing boy. In pictures, it is almost always taken close-up, so I was surprised to see how small the statue was. Apparently it is a custom to dress up the boy on different occasions; that day it was dressed up in a Robin Hood attire. There are different versions of the origin of that statue, but it seems to immortalize the bravery of the son of a prince, who was urinating in the field, where a battle was taking place. The cup of beer I’m holding is free beer given by the folks who dressed up the boy. In fact, earlier the boy was peeing beer! (Notice the hoses which connect to the plumbing and can be attached to the beer keg).
The rest of the day was spent going around the other landmarks of Brussels (yet more Gothic buildings hehe). I ended the day with mass (in French) at the Notre Dame de Chapelle. I was back in Leuven at around 8pm.