Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Brussels...a great place to explore

We met with another teacher from ASD, Arianne, who is from Belgium. She was visiting her mother and so volunteered take us on a tour! She met us at the apartment and whisked us off to a walking trip through old town, a view of numerous churches and historical buildings, and then off to the countryside.

Belgium apparently is quite divided between the southern French speaking portion and the generally northern Flemish (Dutch). 

Brussels, the capital, is one of the few places where things are available in both French and Flemish, although admittedly, there are things like the information booth where there's one for the Flemish portion and one for the French. Pity the poor tourist just looking for information!

TinTin - famous
cartoon character
European cities of old always have a town "square" or market place. Generally various important buildings surround the squares; government, shops for different trades, religious, as well has houses. It was generally considered to be the most important place in the city, a place to gather what you needed, along with the local news and gossip. Their function has generally remained, with tourist shops and restaurants taking over the trades and tourist groups gathering information from guides fluent in numerous languages. Performances of various kinds often occur, from jugglers to musicians. Belgium did not disappoint.
We headed off through the streets towards a park called Tervuren, located outside Brussels. It is a huge natural area with paths wending through a sloping forested area with large and small bodies of water. A few buildings are present there including the Royal Museum for Central Africa. Apparently King Leopold bought an area in the Congo, making it a Belgian colony.  During the 1897 World Fair, a huge building was built to house a colonial museum. Sadly we were there too late in the evening to have to opportunity to explore it.

 Had to include the cartoon clip - it was found on the wall of a building. There are stores here that specialize in selling TinTin dolls, all the books and all sorts of paraphernalia. My kids at school would go crazy with it - the books are extremely popular!

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