Brussels, Belgium: Our hotel has a three-mile jogging route that just happens to go past all the cool monuments, statues, parks, and important structures in the city. We decided to take this route, but walk it, of course. We ended up walking about five miles though, as we took many side-trips.
As I wrote yesterday, the "symbol" of Brussels (the site of the European Union, no less) is a 2-foot tall bronze statue of a little boy peeing - Mannekin Pis. It seems a bit undignified to me, and it a bit distasteful when you can buy a tin of (very expensive and luscious) Belgian chocolates with a depiction of the little pisser on the top. (Though if I find a piece of chocolate shaped like Mannekin Pis, I am buying it for Leo.) The statue is very close to our hotel and we can always see tour groups parading their way to the site. For a 2-foot statue, it gathers crowds rivaling the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
Not sure what all the fuss is about... but he has been kidnapped so many times, this statue is only a replica. The real pisser is in a museum nearby! Yes, the dude has his own museum and hundreds of people/countries have sent their national dress to the M.P. and he wears the costumes on the country's national day… like, Uncle Sam on the 4th of July.
Then we began our "jogging" tour in earnest, climbing up to the top of a hill in Brussels to Albert Square:
Belgian-born Bouillon was the King of Jerusalem from 1099-1100. He was the grandson of Godfrey the Bearded, and raised by his uncle, Godfrey the Hunchback. (I can't make this stuff up, you guys.) The cathedral beyond the statue is the Royal Parish and Cathedral of the Belgian Armed Forces.
Next, we entered the area of the Royal Palace (no longer the residence of the Belgian royal family):
Then we had to walk about a mile on very boring city streets, filled with modern office buildings containing every aspect of running the European Union, dotted with the occasional bank or embassy. Reaching the top of another hill, we entered Cinquantenaire Park, a 74-acre park, where a fantastic half-circle exhibition hall was constructed in 1880 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Belgian Revolution. These halls now contain many museums (none of which we visited).
At the bottom of this hill, we found a little pop-up-type restaurant run by a brewery, so we sat ourselves down and enjoyed a cold one (Silly Pilsner) and split a sandwich.
It was at this point, we began our "jog" back toward our hotel and the old part of Brussels, walking through Leopold Park and through the European Union headquarters (a ghost town, guess it is not in session).
On this route, we were once again able to walk through Brussels Park and have a better look at the temporary exhibit by cartoonist Phillipe Geluck, called The Cat Walks. I am not familiar with his work, but there are 22 statues - all with a big cat and a little bird - on display in the park and they are all very funny and clever:
And just for fun: Dave and I appreciating art in Europe:
Back at our hotel, I had 16,000 steps on my pedometer. That is a lot of walking, especially since we went up/down so many hills and steps. We had a nice rest and nap and I edited all the photos I snapped during our walking tour (of the jogging tour).
After arriving to Brussels yesterday, we went to Aux Armes de Bruxelles restaurant to make dinner reservations on any night they could fit us in. Turns out, it was tonight. So at 7p we were at the restaurant which is supposed to serve the best chicken Waterzooi soup in Brussels - my favorite Belgian dish.
The restaurant has been open since 1921 and has a very classic dining room with professional wait staff, and turned out to be the finest dining we have enjoyed since our luncheon on the Alain Ducasse boat in Paris (on the first day of our trip!). Appetizers:
Waterzooi is a very traditional Belgian stew made with either fish or chicken. It is served as a stew, with a few boiled potatoes, in a very rich thickened (with cream/egg) broth. This version was also served with sauteed leeks and carrots. It was perfect and incredibly luxurious, but way too much food for me. (Oh, you know how I feel about wasting food, and must say this trip has probably put me in some-sort of tourist wasteful hell.)
No dessert. We still need to eat waffles, fries, and chocolate.
Walking back to our hotel, the views in the Grand Place - with the buildings lit up - was so pretty!
Until my next update, I remain, your soup-loving correspondent.
Pedometer: 18,000 steps. Ouch.