Day One, Brussels: Flight; Grand Place; Manneken Pis

17 November 2006

I took the bus to New York on Thursday the 16th. That night David and I met up with Dave and had sushi and some beer at a bar near David's apartment. I went into work with David, couldn't get into the employee gym, ate breakfast, and then headed out. I went to the Guggenheim to see the exhibit on Spanish art, and then walked back to David's office (89th St to 46th St).

We took the E to the AirTrain to JFK and checked in. We bought cards and played poker to pass the time while waiting for the flight. When they turned on the television that displayed the flight and destination said Budapest, Hungary. The monitors listing all of the flights still said that the gate was the same, but many of the passengers were noticeably agitated. They had to correct the problem by changing the channel on the TV.

Once we got on the plane we had to wait about an hour for takeoff. The flight itself was uneventful overall, mostly spent trying to sleep.

18 November 2006

We landed in Brussels at around 8:30 AM. After passing through customs we tried to use a pay phone to call the hostel because David couldn't remember which one we had reservations for. The pay phones didn't have a coin slot, and our credit cards didn't seem to work. I don't remember how we contacted the hostel, but it was Hostel Jacques Brel. After taking the train from the airport to Bruxelles-Nord we walked to the hostel on Rue de la Sablonnière and dropped off our bags.

We walked from the hostel to the Grand' Place to look for coffee and breakfast. After cappuccino and waffles with strawberries and cream La Chaloupe d'Or (The Golden Boot) we looked around.

The Grand' Place is Brussels' central market, or Grote Markt in Dutch. It is the site of the Hôtel de Ville, or Town Hall, which dates to the 1400s.

The Hôtel de Ville

A close up of a uniformed individual standing on a balcony at the Town Hall. You can see some of the amazing ornamentation of the building.

More of the Grand' Place

More of the Grand' Place

More of the Grand' Place

The Grand' Place is also the home of the seventeenth century guild houses, which housed the different craft guilds of the city. One of these is the brewers' guild house, which now houses the National Brewery Museum of Belgian Brewers. We didn't go to the museum, but I took some pictures of the outside of the building.

The Brewers' guild house

Hop vines decorate the columns

Off of the Grand' Place is the Manneken Pis. The famous statue of a boy urinating, which was, honestly, underwhelming. The statue was much smaller than I had expected.

The Manneken Pis

A shot for scale.

After the Grand' Place we went to Brasserie Cantillon and the Museum of Gueuze, which will be the subject of my next post.

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