Mill perdones, por favor! Estoy muy ocupada con muchas cosas aqui en España! A thousand apologies, please! I am very busy with many things here in Spain!
Did that sound dramatic enough???? Really, though, I have been busy here and haven’t found time to sit and just blog! So here it is:
I’m not going to lie, when I decided to join my roommate Clarrise and her friend from home, Sarah, to go to Belgium, I wasn’t expecting much. All I knew was that Belgium was home to waffles and delicious beer. So in reality I was all in (HA). However, after some research on the internet, as well as a viewing of the movie “In Bruges” (see link below), it became clear that Belgium was going to be one of those “Surprise countries.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-gG2qo_l_A (Warning: Harry Potter actor reunion)
Now what is a “Surprise country” you ask? Well it is a country that you initially think wont be super exciting. For example this country isn’t Italy or Germany where you know you will be blown away with the culture, history, and its people. However, once you start exploring this country and experiencing its locals and its culture, you start thinking. You start thinking “hey this place is pretty cool…and wow look at that, I didn’t expect that!” And then BOOM the country that you thought wasn’t on your radar of being wickedly awesome, turns out to be a pretty special trip.
Well, in a nutshell this is exactly what happened to me while in Belgium. And here are the things that made Belgium so exciting:
1. Manneken Pis
Yes, this little guy here is peeing. The statue is named after that exact activity: Peeing man. There are many legends of why this little guy is here today.
The first and most famous is the one about Duke Godfrey III of Leuven. In 1142, the troops of this two-year-old lord were battling against the troops of the Berthouts, the lords of Grimbergen, in Ransbeke (now Neder-Over-Heembeek). The troops put the infant lord in a basket and hung the basket in a tree to encourage them. From there, the boy urinated on the troops of the Berthouts, who eventually lost the battle.
Another legend states that in the 14th century, Brussels was under siege by a foreign power. The city had held its ground for some time, so the attackers conceived of a plan to place explosive charges at the city walls. A little boy named Julianske happened to be spying on them as they were preparing. He urinated on the burning fuse and thus saved the city. There was at the time (middle of the 15th century, perhaps as early as 1388) a similar statue made of stone. The statue was stolen several times.
There are many more legends including many missing boys who were found urinating in many different places, and in some even witches and wizards are the ones that turn these boys into stone statues for peeing in public.
Another great part of this statue is that the city dresses this guy up! Seriously! He gets new outfits every week and there is a whole ceremony that includes beers and singing! Sometimes they even hook up a keg to the statue and he pees beer! After he is dressed they sing this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TegfOkTzrvs
2. Delirium bar
This famous beer house is right across the street from Jeanneke Pis. It is rightfully named Delirium because here you can drink over 2,000 different types of beer. Sadly I didn’t have enough time to try all of them (I got to 6 over the weekend), but I did to have a great time people watching.
You should know by now that my trips always revolve around the different types of food I am going to consume. I love Spain and its food, but a person can only survive on tapas for so long. Here in Brussels, I was ready to stuff my face with waffles, fries, beer, more waffles, and more waffles.
Although I did enjoy Brussels, Bruges is where it is all at. It is the perfect example of an old school European town. It looks pretty much the same now as it did in the past, but there are A TON OF TOURISTS. Seriously, they were EVERYWHERE. And that is because this city is an UNESCO World Heritage site. It has also been known as the “Venice of the North,” and once was chief commercial city in the world because of its port location.
A great “surprise” of this city was that we discovered the smallest street in all of Europe. And at the end of this street is a small bar that sells its own brew of 13% alcohol (seriously, you are only allowed 3 of them in one sitting).
Hopefully you all understand why Belgium was such a surprise country and how refreshing it was to explore. It truly helped me to discover my passion for traveling again! With that said, one last piece of advice for everyone: