Monday, June 13, 2011

A Short Stay in Brussels, Belgium (part two)



We left the Grand’ Place and the little streets around it and walked away on the cobblestones – a bicycle would have been nice…



I could not stop taking pictures of small alleys along the way.



Some cheerful music could be heard. We came closer and saw a trio enthusiastically playing for several “badauds” (idle pedestrians.)


Click on collage to enlarge, then click on individual picture

This was more of a shopping area with a variety of shops: fashion, souvenirs, chocolate (of course), oriental pastries and more.




The shop below was especially nice. I don’t know what merchandise they sold because I was too enthralled by the architecture.




Below is a postcard showing some famous products of Belgium: chocolate, diamonds, beer, lace, mussels and “frites” (they don’t call them French fries there) and the statue of the little Manneken-Pis, a bronze fountain of a little boy.


Postcard photograph courtesy Andrew Critchell

In the 15th century the Manneken-Pis was a fountain used to distribute drinking water. In the 18th century little Manneken-Pis was dressed four times a year. Now he has more than 800 suits I hear – 100 of them can be seen at the Museum of the City of Brussels. I bought postcards showing him as a Christmas helper, in judo clothes, as a western African nomadic Fula farmer (to mark World Milk Day) and with his little European suit.



While I stopped to look at a lace shop




I could hear someone playing the guitar. I turned around and saw a musician playing close to a construction site, but no one was around listening. I moved to a better spot to take his picture, and then clapped and made a donation when he was finished.



As in Paris, I saw that Brussels does not destroy their old buildings. When they are crumbling inside they totally gut them but keep the historical façades. (In Atlanta they tend to most often destroy the whole building.)




Soon we were at the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, which is an early 19th century glazed shopping arcade. It has twin street-like courtyards under an arched-glass panel roof.




There are two sections called Galerie de la Reine (Queen’s Gallery) and Galerie du Roi (King’s Gallery) separated by a series of columns. It was inaugurated in June 1847 by King Leopold (1790-1865), first King of the Belgians. He was a Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and uncle of Queen Victoria.




Since its inauguration the galleries have been offering luxury goods to Belgian shoppers. Below is a sample of some of the boutiques and restaurants there.




How about a pair of men shoes below? Only 375 Euros (US $550.)



We passed a frites maker (aka French fries in the US) but went on to have a beer in an old brasserie called Falstaff.




This “brasserie” which translates into brewery/pub was first a wine bar, back when it was established in 1903. Then it was remodeled by an interior decorator working for the famous Art Nouveau architect Baron Horta. It was still early afternoon before the “happy hour” so there were plenty of tables to choose from.




We decided to go into the back room close to the wonderful glass picture windows of Falstaff in the center with two other Breughel Flemish style picture windows on either side.




By the way, the name Falstaff comes from Sir John Falstoff (1378-1459), who was a British Knight and Captain during the Hundred Years War. It is said that Shakespeare based his fictional character of Sir Falstaff on him.



It was also a joy to look at the ceiling, the lamps and mirrors of this famous place.




I may add that it was also pretty jolly to drink the refreshing “white” beer.



Actually it is called “biėre blanche” (white beer) in French. In Dutch it is called witbier and wheat beer in English. I had not tested it before but found it quite refreshing. Back in the car we drove around some more. Passing a large cathedral I asked that the car be stopped so I could take a better picture of it for my blogging friend Ginnie, of the blog In Soul from Holland.






It is Ginnie’s birthday today, Monday 13 June. She likes to visit historical churches and other places of worship, so since we did not go inside this cathedral, I found some pictures on the Internet (courtesy of Wikipedia) for her. This is the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral. It is a Roman Catholic cathedral that has been used for major ceremonial events since 1312. The pulpit on the left is a wooden carving created by Hendrik F. Verbruggen in 1699. It depicts Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden.



Below are two historical prints, circa 1835. Happy Birthday Ginnie!




This concluded our first day in Brussels. We still have a second day to talk about and many opportunities for more pictures….

40 comments:

Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

Lovely pics and story, Vagabonde. It reminded me of my visits to Brussels, many years ago, when my family lived in Lille (Northern France.) I have always enjoyed going to Belgium. Need to go back soon, but not on the upcoming trip. We wil be driving South this time!
A bientôt, Veronique aka French Girl in Seattle

Kay L. Davies said...

We had one evening and one morning in Brussels, and spent both with blogging friends. We managed to get to quite a few places, but our photos are not as detailed and delightful of yours. I can see that we will have to return to Brussels to visit unseen delights, just as we have to return to Paris.
Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos and I'm sure Ginnie is happy with her birthday gift!
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

DJan said...

Yes, it is lovely to walk the streets of Brussels with you... Happy Birthday to Ginnie, and thank you again for taking me along! :-)

Lelé Batita said...

Lovely post! I miss Brussels.
I've been very unhappy there, but later, very happy!
So, that's all right, at the end!
Kisses and hugs.

Nance said...

Stunning! I feel like such a provincial dolt in the face of all this magnificence.

Ann said...

thank you for sharing these marvelous photos and your trip!! the architecture is breathtaking..love the narrow streets..the lace shop i could spend hours in! I simply don't understand why in the U.S. "they" find it so necessary to tear down old buildings. I know they don't have the same kind of beauty as the ones in Europe, but charm and beauty they still have!
I simply can't express how much I enjoy your posts!! I look forward to every one!! thank you for all the time and effort you put into them..I always feel as though I've been able to take the vacation with you!

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Belgium sounds like such an inviting place, then I heard someone say that Brussels was very industrial/business centered. But your photos make me want to visit there! I would love to try the Belgian chocolates.

Retired English Teacher said...

Your photos are just wonderful. I can see that I my husband and I missed most of Brussels a year ago. I am feeling very cheated. I guess we must return again. You have inspired me to make another visit.

wenn said...

great! I will be in Belgium soon..

Pondside said...

Thank you for that stroll down memory lane. I have spent a lot of time in les galleries - not a lot of money, but a lot of time gazing at the lovely windows.

Margaret said...

I can't imagine anyone listening to the sermon if the priest stood in the pulpit... I would be studying the pulpit!

Shammickite said...

What an interesting trip you are having! I would love to browse the shops in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.... I think I could do some power shopping there, and then I'd need a glass of biėre blanche and perhaps some frites.... and some Belgian Chocolate for dessert, of course!

Ginnie said...

What a delightful birthday gift for me, dear Vagabonde. THANK YOU. Merci. Astrid and I will go back to Brussels one weekend to see more than the historic city center. Now that we have a car, there is so much more we can see. You have definitely whetted my appetite. Maybe we'll even find some open churches!

kyh said...

Such a lovely city!! the Manneken-Pis is such a cutie :)

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Happy Birthday Ginnie.
I would love to visit all these places. Your photos are fantastic but I love the penny farthing best :-) Diane

*Honest Abe said...

Lovely photos again. I was not there but came close to moving there back in the 1960s...

Reply about Amish Country...

You would want to go to the town of Berlin and Holmes County, Ohio. Type in Amish Country Ohio in your browser and there are lots of places and links to visit.

Jeruen said...

Hello Vagabonde, I always appreciate reading your blog posts: they're very informative, and very personal. I like that. I also love the pictures and the collages you put in between the text. Thank you for showing us Brussels through your eyes, I enjoyed vicariously traveling by reading your writings!

Claude said...

Vous avez fait une formidable visite de Bruxelles. Je repasserai, pour lire tout, en français.

This is Belgium said...

A W E S O M E !!
Congratulations on this wonderful post about my hometown !! You did an excellent job of rendering justice to this city and showing the beauty of the place. I have often felt that tourists pass by Brussels (not to speak about Belgium) way too quickly and leave without haven gotten exposed to what is really is like.
Your pictures are fantastic ! your explanation thorough and very interesting !
I hope you are enjoying your second day and I can not wait to see what you are up to and read the report soon !
Bonne chance

Tim said...

Looks like you are having a great time!

Lonicera said...

I'm enjoying your travels around Brussels, and the Mannequin Pis all dressed up.There have been a lot of pictures in magazines lately of the famous flower carpet in the main square - I can't get over how wonderful it is. You have a pic too, I notice.
Typical me, I thought the fried potatoes were the most delicious I had ever tasted, all thin and crispy...
Caroline

Frances said...

Vagabonde, it is such a pleasure to have you guide us along the cobblestones of Brussels. Wonderful old architecture, wonderful contemporary spirit in those street musicians, and in that magnificent brasserie.

Wow! I look forward to the next installment. xo

Dutchbaby said...

I browsed through your last few posts. Such lovely adventures you lead, Vagabonde!

I didn't know what a clothes horse Manneke-Pis has become. He was always in the buff when I lived in Holland.

The shopping galleries look like a dream. I enjoyed my little shopping excursion with you.

Cloudia said...

thank you for the fun visit!



Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral

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Pierre BOYER said...

Merci pour cette belle visite...

Pierre

Snowbrush said...

In the old print of the Cathedral (outside view), there is something round above the door that is lacking in the new photo. I suppose it could be a clock.

I had a friend with a bike like the one in the second photo, and I rode it for a few miles around town one day. One of the original names for them was "penny farthing," and they didn't--and still don't--have brakes. The back wheel carries too little weight for brakes to do any good on it, and the bike would flip you onto your head if brakes were applied to the front wheel. In fact, flipovers were a significant problem on these bikes even without brakes.

The Broad said...

Your post brings back so many happy memories of my visits to Brussels -- such a beautiful and intimate city.

Pat said...

Your post makes me regret that I never visited Belgium. It looks full of delights.
I wonder who gets the job of dressing the little statue. What fun!

Wanda..... said...

Belgium satisfies all the senses and more, from the grand architecture, delicate lace, tasty food and drink, lovely gift shops and works of art everywhere to the sound of a lone musician and trickling fountains!

Beautiful tour!

Reader Wil said...

Merci de ce tour en Bruxelles! J'aime les photos des vitraux, mais aussi des ruelles et de la cathédrale. J'ai acheté ici la dentelle pour ma robe de mariée en 1963.

PEA said...

Bonjour Vagabonde:-) Oui je suis française et je le parle et je sais comment le lire très bien, mais bien écrire en français est un peu plus difficile puisque je ne l'ai pas utilisé dans de si nombreuses d'années. So, I'm more comfortable writing in English but you may certainly continue to write me in French if you wish:-) It's so lovely to meet you and I'm so happy that you found me and left wonderful comments on my blog. I'm sorry it took me a few days to come visit you here but I haven't had much time for the computer this week, been busy planting flowers and the veggie garden...never a dull moment around here! lol

Your pictures of Brussels are magnificent and really make me want to go visit there. I just need to get over my fear of flying first! lol The architecture is stunning, it's no wonder I've always had a fascination of old buildings like that. I would have gone crazy in that lace shop, I just love lace!!

Happy Birthday to Ginnie:-) I must now read more of your posts so that I can get to know you a bit better. Have a lovely day! xox

lorilaire said...

Que de souvenirs, c'est avec une amie bruxelloise connue en vacances que nous avons visité Bruxelles !
C'est vraiment une très belle ville et ses habitants sont charmants !
Bon week-end
Bizz
Lori

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a GORGEOUS city this is!!! Your pictures are wonderful---all the beautiful buildings and those glorious shops---I would have gone crazy there, wanting to buy everything I saw...lol! I truly feel I have had a little glimpse into the exquisiteness of this city through your eyes, my dear Vagabonde....Thank You! Looking forward to more.....!

Jeanie said...

I know little of Belgium -- it is wonderful to see it through your eyes and discover this new spot (to me) with you. I fear I would have gone wild at the lace and chocolate shops! And that beer looks wonderful!

bayou said...

Salut Vagabonde! Your tour through Bruxelles is just wonderful. I am not a big fan of Bruxelles, having worked there I mainly had bad memories of endless traffic jams and big problems to find a parking space. But your pictures are delightful and make one believe that this is a gorgeous town. I thought the first picture was taken of "Chez Léon" a very nice restaurant around the Grand' Place but could read where it was taken. And the shop where you said you did not know what they sold, says they sell cristal du Val Saint Lambert, very famous around "my" Liège as the factory is here. Falstaff, however is one of my prefered roses in my garden and now I know where his name came from. Thank you so much for that wonderful post. Belgium has often a bad reputation and is not well known by most but is so full of different 'façettes', I don't know any other country with so many faces and every corner so different whilst (even without gouvernment) it is so pleasant to live here. Will be following your trips and adventures from now on :-).

Darlene said...

Belgium has always been at the top of my bucket list. I am so glad you gave me a chance to visit through your wonderful photography.

Ah, were I only younger so I could see the wonderful places you go to.

Vagabonde said...

To all my blogging friends – thank you for coming to my blog. I enjoyed sharing my trip to Brussels with you. There will be more on Brussels in the coming weeks. It brings me much pleasure to read all your kind comments.

A tous mes amis - je vous remercie d'être venu sur mon blog. J'ai aimé partager mon voyage à Bruxelles avec vous. J’aurai plus à racconter sur Bruxelles dans les prochaines semaines. Tous vos gentils commentaires me donnent beaucoup de plaisir.

Miss_Yves said...

Je rentre d'un petit voyage.. .qui explique l'absence de publication de commentaires (sur mon blog, simple mode automatique pour les billets)

Je repasserai plus tard lire et regarder tout cela!

Vicki Lane said...

Wonderful pictures and commentary, Vagabonde! Such a beautiful city!

ELFI said...

une découverte.. très intéressant!
joli blog.

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