Trip Start Sep 2008
Trip End Sep 2008

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

After twelve hours of travel time from Seattle to Brussels and a nine hour time difference, we arrived exhausted.  My circadian rhythm never did reset, so I remained sleepy and on a weird schedule pretty much the whole trip, so that much of our strolling around the neighbrohoods of Brussels seemed to happen very early in the morning; that's why you'll see some shots that look quite dark.  The Belgians seem to be more "night people", so we did a lot of walking by closed things.  Nevertheless, the architecture of Brussels was truly amazing.  Brussels (I didn't know this either) is considered the capitol of Art Nouveau.  A little refresher:  Art Nouveau is a design style that was poplular at the turn of the 20th Century and is known for organic motifs and curvilinear forms. Here are some of the fantastic examples we saw of this style:

Here are some interesting scenes from our walks around Brussels:

We wandered into this library and found that they had preserved the facade of the original building within a glass-covered courtyard.

This is an example of the comic murals that can be seen all over Brussels.  The Belgians are very big on comics; this is the birthplace of the Smurfs, Tintin and many other cartoons.

The Place du Petit Sablon is an adorable little formal garden; it's been around since 1890.

The Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert is a shopping archade built in the mid-1800's.

OK, this is that famous statue of the little boy peeing.  It's called Mannekin Pis and it's origins are somewhat hazy.  It has been surrounded by legends, stolen several times, inspired many copies, decorated for holidays by the locals, and is sometimes hooked up to a keg of beer from which one can draw a pint.

The main market square, and most popular tourist destination, in Brussels is called the Grand Place.  You've got to click on some of these photos to see them bigger - the detail on these buildings is amazing.  On one side is the 15th Century gothic Town Hall... faces the King's House.

Another side is lined with the Guild Houses.  These were built in the 17th Century in the Italian Baroque style (after the originals were destroyed by French bombardment) to house the workers' guilds (bakers, boatmen, archers, haberdashers, ect.).  Now they're all filled with tourist traps.

This is the historic hotel that we stayed in our last night in Brussels, upon our return from Bruges.  It's called Hotel Metropole, the style is French Renaissance, and is the city's only surviving 19th Century hotel.  And I mean everything is surviving, right down to the scary elevator you have to pull a gate across to close.  

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j-eunit on

This is a very informative entry. I will be visiting Brussels and some other parts of Belgium this June, and this blog has very helpful information.

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