Monday, January 20, 2014

December's Adventure: Day 6 Continued, Brussels

We left Valkenburg in the Netherlands on Thursday evening and drove to Brussels in Belgium. I purposefully arranged the schedule so we would arrive past rush hour; in this case, it was 7 p.m. However, it was still a mess with congestion and driving lanes that would converge with no warning then spread out again. The government in Brussels is actually considering closing down parts of the city to auto traffic because of congestion problems. It's recommended to take public transportation in Brussels and not drive, for sure!

We finally found our hotel and dumped the car at the underground parking at the hotel across the street. The parking was 23 euros per day, which seemed a bit steep after being in the other cities, but I was feeling so tired and frazzled by that time that I just wanted to be rid of the car so it was worth the convenience.

We checked in at the Hotel Villa Royale (more detailed review to follow, at some point). It was freshly decorated with small but comfortable rooms. Since it was still somewhat early, we headed out to the main part of downtown, the Grand Place. It took us about 20 minutes to walk downtown. Once we arrived at Grand Place, we enjoyed the Christmas light and music show. It's quite pretty.

Our next stop was to buy some chocolates. I've been to Brussels before so I suggested my favorite store: Corné Port-Royal. We each bought some delicious chocolates and enjoyed the rich, fresh taste, as good as I remembered it from my visit in 2008. The other wonderful thing about the store is where it is located, in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a beautiful 19th century shopping arcade.

We then went to visit Brussels's famous statue: Manneken Pis (literally "Little Man Pee). There are so many legends surrounding this small statue who is also a fountain, but the residents mostly love him (or roll their eyes). The funny thing is that the statue is quite small at about two feet tall. He was naked when we saw him but he does have a huge collection of fancy costumes to wear and even a city employee to dress him. To find him, instructs the curious to find him at "...Rue de l'Étuve/Stoofstraat and Rue du Chêne/Eikstraat. To find it, one takes the left lane next to the Brussels Town Hall from the famous Grand Place and walks a few hundred metres southwest via Rue Charles Buls/Karel Bulsstraat." Getting tired after our Brussels fun, we walked back to the hotel.
 Delicious chocolates in a gorgeous 19th century shopping arcade? Check!

 Cheesy tourist attraction? Manneken Pis: check.
 My astute cousin D. pointed out this Cactguy after I told her the disconcerting story about the Cactguy I know.

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