Brussels day 2
The forecast for Brussels on the Friday was for rain to sweep in, but as we headed down for breakfast the sun was shining. The breakfast was what we come to expect from continental hotel snow, so we were well fed with a variety of fruit juices, hot and cold choices of food and as much tea or coffee and you could want. But with rain not far away it was time to make the most of the present sunny weather and head to the city centre.
We began our city tour in the Grand Place; the buildings around the square looked more magnificent in the daylight. After some difficulty we did find the Tourist Information Office, which was on the square, where we were given a free map of the city, it would come in useful.
From the Grand Place we then searched for the Manakin Pis. We spotted a sign directing us away from the old centre of the city and so we prepared for quite a walk. After a few hundred metres, though, the signs stopped, so we were puzzled as to where to go next. But on looking around we found that we were right beside the Manakin, it was just so small we could easily have missed it if it had not been for the number of people around it taking pictures. So what makes it so popular with visitors? Well the Manakin Pis is a small statue with a water feature – it pees and at certain times it pees water over the visitors who come to see it. Fortunately I remained dry!
The next place to visit was Brussels Cathedral, an imposing building not far from the Grand Place. The stained glass windows in the cathedral were lovely and the side chapels were impressive. A descent into the crypt lets you see the remains of the original cathedral.
While the sun was still shining, we took the opportunity to walk a bit further, through Brussels Park and past the Royal Palace taking in views of the Palais de Justice. After all the walking it was time for a beer, so we headed back towards the Grand Place and found a very friendly little bar, the St Nicholas, with a good selection of beers. Having been sufficiently refreshed we returned to the grand place to look around the museum there which showed the development of Brussels and a room full of differently dressed versions of the Manakin Pis, different national costumes, different celebrities etc. During our time in the museum, the rain had begun to fall, so we were not looking forward to getting wet. From the museum we headed out of the Grand Place again and walked through a shopping gallery with different shops selling expensive looking goods. While walking through the gallery we noticed a street filled with restaurants leading off from the gallery. This street needed to be explored. There were so many restaurants, all specialising in sea food, especially mussels. We decided that our evening meal would be in one of these restaurants. The rain was coming down steadily so it was decided to head back to the hotel to rest for a while.
So about 5pm we left the hotel once more and headed back for the restaurant street. The rain was still falling and as we approached the street it became increasingly heavy. So we were glad to get to the shelter of one on the restaurants, the heaters were on and it felt quite cosy. The obligatory beers were ordered as well as soup starters followed by mussels in white wine and monkfish in green peppercorn sauce. All was very tasty. After paying the bill we headed back to the hotel, fortunately the rain was easing.
The hotel bar was warm and welcoming and once again beers and wine went down a treat. It had been a hectic day with lots of walking, but it had been a satisfying day.
It looks like the pictures have not uploaded in the right order - many apologies!