Sunday, April 15, 2012

Manneken Pis And The Rest Of Brussels

Manneken Pis, THE attraction of Brussels, is a tiny statue of a little boy, relieving himself into a small pool. Supposedly, the current statue has been in place since 1619 but it is believed that a similar statue has been there as early as 1451. In 1698, the governor of the neigboring Netherlands bought the little statue a gift in form of a blue coat. Visiting heads of state continued this tradition by bringing miniature versions of their national costume. Manneken Pis has over 800 outfits, among them a Santa Claus outfit and an Elvis suit.
When we were there he was dressed as a vampire for a few hours. (Wonder who brought that...Romania?)

"Champagne - oui! Chocolate - oui, oui! Foie Gras - no, merci!"

"Maison Antoine" at Place Jourdan 1, Brussels 1000, is know for its perfectly cooked, delicious frites, wrapped in newspaper. Whenever I am on an overnight in Brussels the crew goes there to eat lunch and/or dinner. I just knew husband and the kids would like it, too.

That's me, after I opened all my birthday gifts, with a Belgium breakfast consisting of cappuccino (in Belgium, always with whipped cream) and vanilla and raspberry maccarons, in front of me. I had such a great day!

We will be back!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Atomium, Brussels

Husband and I realized we had to go to Brussels and show the kids the Atomium after watching an episode of "The Amazing Race" where the teams "make their way through Brussels and find the pitstop at the Atomium. The last team might be eliminated."... or something like that.

The Atomium is a funny structure. It looks so much smaller in pictures than it actually is. Built in 1958 for the World Fair it depicts an iron atom, magnified 165 billion times.

What made our visit to the Atomium special for daughter was that her friend, the older lady who lives in the apartment below us, came here in 1958 as a 13 year old. She remembers it being a very special day and kept her ticket all those years.

I wish we had been on the Amazing Race. We didn't get lost in Brussels once!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


To me the most beautiful place in Bruges is the Begijnhof. We stumbled upon it by accident but it was here that I felt like plopping myself on the grass, in between the hundreds and hundreds of daffodils, and just be. It is magical!

The Begijnhof was founded in 1245 as a lay sisterhood. Women could live and dress as nuns but they did not take vows and were able to return to their "old lives" if they wanted.

Since the 1930s Benedictine sisters live and pray in the small church and the little white houses surrounding a park with old trees. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Belgium Food

The moment our feet touched Belgium ground our kids walked around with smiles like that...

...and I am quite sure the food had everything to do with it. Belgium food is a child's dream food. It is the stuff they would eat on a daily basis if they could. On every street there are "frites" stands, which sell fries with different sauces. (Ketchup with curry, onion dip, Andalouse, Bicky and many, many more.) They come in little cups and you dip the fries in it. Afterwards, for desert, you will purchase a waffle from one of the many waffle stands. All of Belgium seems to smell like waffles so you are constantly reminded of them. Some waffles come with different toppings like strawberries and whip cream or bananas and nuts while others have raspberries or chocolate or apples and cinnamon baked into the dough.

Belgium is also known for its chocolate and there are more specialty praline shops than grocery stores. Another specialty are "speculoos" which taste like gingersnap cookies. They remind me of Christmas but are eaten here all year long.

Something fairly new is the Speculoos spread. The "crunchy" kind is causing quite a hype. While in a grocery store I was reading the label of a jar, when a man came running up behind me, grabbing the last jar of "speculoos crunchy" on on the shelf and taking off with it.
According to the owner of "Juliette's Cookies" in Bruges, who makes her own speculoos spread you eat it on warm toasted bread but basically you can put it on everything from waffles to apple slices.
Unfortunately, having to eat gluten free, I can't try it but my family says it is "very, very tasty!"

Bruges II

Smack in the middle of Bruges, our hotel, "Ter Reien" ("hotel on the canals")

right next to a canal...

...and across the street... to one of our rooms...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Greetings from Bruges, Belgium

For my birthday husband took me and the kids to Brussels and Bruges, a place that I have wanted to visit for many, many years. It is an unspoiled medieval town, close to the Belgium coast. Till the end of the 15th century when the river "Zwin" silted up, Bruges had been a important port and its habitants were wealthy. Lucky for us, the charming little houses and churches were never replaced with modern buildings and though out the town you will walk on cobblestone streets. What you won't find are high rises or oversized billboards...

...and so you walk and walk through this charming place and one house is cuter than the other...

...and you cross the canals...

...and poke your head into a few entrance ways...

...and wonder if the friendly people of Bruges realize how good they have it?