Brussels, Belgium: After a lazy morning and breakfast in the hotel dining room, we were going to head over to the Brussels City Museum, but were distracted by a parade - complete with band - traversing the city streets. What was all the racket about? A group of people were carrying Manneken Pis in a cart to his fountain. Like the changing of the guards, this was a "changing of the outfit" ceremony. And we learned it doesn't happen every day. No. Some days it happens many times a day if some-such country has their national day on the same day as another country... or if it is the birthday of the King of one country and the birthday of a famous person all on the same day. To this date, the Manneken Piss has 1136 costumes.
We learned all this because after witnessing the melee, we walked another block to a little museum where they store his costumes and have a constant change of the displays. There is some sort of computer system on-site where you can search-out which costumes each country may have contributed.
Today Mr. Pis will have four wardrobe changes; tomorrow five. (Beyonce, you had better step it up.) If nothing else, I have learned to spell Manneken Pis, and we did see chocolate candies molded in the shape of the little pisser, but I just couldn't.
And then, in some random alley-way, DT discovered a giant snake that could crush me to death, and insisted I send Lenny photos as Lenny just hates snakes. Lenny's father-in-law is always thinking of him.
But, wait! There's more! The other museum we wanted to visit today was the Brussels City Museum on the Grand Place. This building used to be the Bakers Guild Hall. The bakeries were all located outside of town, as their hot ovens (basically kilns, right?) posed too much of a fire danger for the center of town, so the bakers brought their loaves to this hall each morning to sell.
The museum has three floors of exhibits, telling the history of Brussels. We learned so much about all the places we visited yesterday and saw paintings or drawing of the exhibition hall on the day it opened, and saw paintings of the royal family strolling in Brussels Park (across the street from their "house").
The museum also had several rooms filled with Belgian porcelains and silver pieces. My happy place.
The Brussels Museum also has the original weathervane from the top of City Hall, made of hammered brass, by Maarten Van Rode in 1455. This statue of Michael slaying a dragon (aka, the devil) withstood bombing in 1695 and five centuries of weather. It was replaced in 1996, and this original was carefully dismantled and restored for display in the museum. A wimpy dragon, am I right?
The Brussels Museum has an entire room devoted to Manneken Pis, and the original statue (maybe from as early as 1400) is housed here. Poor guy is missing his most vital part, but can stay here in safety while his doppelgangers pee freely down the street.
And then it was well past noon, and time for the famed Belgian frites. They were perfect, served only in a cute to-go cup, with a little cone to hold your sauce choice (I went with the traditional mayo). These frites are served to eat as you stroll the city. Fun!
This evening, we walked in a new direction from the hotel and found ourselves near the gorgeous stock exchange building, surrounded by 100's of little restaurants and thousands of locals having dinner. It was fun! We sat ourselves down at a pasta place, shared a caprese and bowl of spaghetti.
Early to bed, early to rise. Day Trip Tomorrow!
Until my next update, I remain, your fried correspondent.
Pedometer: 9,000 steps. Thank goodness.