Friday 21st September.
We woke to a wet morning, the first of our trip so we can’t complain. Our train from Bruges to Brussels was leaving at 10 am and so we had a rather peaceful preparation for this given the weather. The trip was rather uneventful and we arrived at our hotel, The Novotel Grand Place, by about 11.30 am. We dropped off our bags and then walked down to the Grand Place, or main market square to have a look around as this reported to be one of the most beautiful squares in all of Europe.
Our first stop was to see the famous Belgian statue of the Little Pisser before having a coffee, more of a walk and a quick lunch before our 1.30 pm walking tour. Our guide did such a good job on this tour that we decided to take his 6 pm Beer Tasting tour! Adelin was full of personality and brought us up to see with a thousand years of Belgian history in a couple of hours.
Key points along the way included:
- Belgian began as a merchant town as it was a route that was half way between Paris to Cologne.
- It was a place of relatively dry ground and, hence, the appeal.
- The market square is surrounded by buildings belonging to the Guilds of many of the merchants.
- City hall: looks lop sided because it is; the RHS was built 200 years later.
- Beer Museum is the site of original beer guild.
- Swan guild: Les miserable was written here. Victor Hugo visited and Karl Marx once lived here.
- Little pisser. 600 years old. 3rd most famous statue; after Statue of Liberty and Brazil’s The Christ. There are around 500 legends about this statue. Most likely a symbol of the leather tanners who used to pay children for the urine to soften the leather. The statue has around 1,000 costumes.
- Food: french fries actually ‘frenched fries’ and originally from Belgium. Frenched: was a style of cutting the spud to look like the precursor of small bait fish that were used originally.
- The beautiful Galleries shopping mall: since 1847. Mostly chocolate shops. Mary’s has been there since 1919. Famous chocolate maker to the Royal Family.