Ah, Brussels. A place filled with amazing food, old school brewing techniques, and famous peeing statues. (It’s also a great backdrop to go a little Dubsmash crazy.) We thoroughly enjoyed our week here, and have a few more bits and pieces to share!
First of all, let’s take a moment to thank Belgium for filling the Saturday mornings of my childhood with tiny blue human-like creatures who live inside of mushrooms. The Smurfs, originally called Les Schtroumpfs, were born here, and you can find them all over Brussels, including in the grocery stores…
And in the chocolate shops…
And in absolutely smurftastic cluster-smurfs of window shops.
Tintin was also created by a Belgian artist, but gets much less love. Probably because nobody born after 1980 knows (or cares) who Tintin is.
Brussels also has some beautiful architecture, you guys.
The guildhalls were my favorite thing along the Grand Place (besides the Godiva shop, of course). They’re all gold-plated and fancy. And despite being totally impractical, the decorative gabled rooftops remind me of silly mustaches and I love them.
Not seeing what I’m seeing? I took the liberty of doing a quick Photoshop. (You’re welcome.)
(Also: someone should totally steal this idea for one of those crazy beard contests.)
Even just wandering around the neighborhoods is fun, because the residential buildings (despite the lack of gold-plated glitz and glam) have a similar aesthetic that takes you back in time.
And the shopping arcade in the middle of town (which was built in the late 1800s), is the same way. I halfway expected people to be carrying around canes and parasols for no reason.
But Brussels isn’t all mustache roofs and antique buildings. It’s also the center of modern international politics and serves as (essentially, but not formally) the capital of the European Union.
You can take a tour, and there’s also a section with interactive exhibits and displays on how the EU works. They want to be sure this is accessible to everyone, so when you walk in, they give you an iPod with a chip that’s configured to the language of your choice. (You can choose from any of the 24 officially recognized languages of the EU, and there are also options for Braille, sign language, or closed captioning). Then, when you hold your iPod up to any of the sensors throughout the building, it tells you about that display in whatever language/format you choose. Pretty sweet!
(Unfortunately, our Dutch and French weren’t quite up to snuff after only a week in Brussels, so we just went with English.)
During our week here, we also went to the fine arts museum. And while I promise I actually do enjoy and appreciate art, I always make a point to find all the most ridiculous paintings.
The one below isn’t really that silly. But there is so much activity! It reminded me of a Where’s Waldo or I Spy book. So it gets an honorable mention.
And this painting is similar, but with more flying aliens and fish people and frogs ripping open their stomachs to reveal creepy staring eyeballs.
The best part is that this was painted in 1562, when artists were essentially only allowed to paint Jesus, the royal family, and bowls of fruit. So I have to imagine that it raised quite a few eyebrows back in the day.
And (although it’s hard to compete with the masterpiece above), here’s my favorite!
I just love this painting SO MUCH. From the weirded out look of the kneeling guy to the fabulous “whatever” pose of the lion guy. It makes me laugh every single time.
And if you’re following along on Facebook, you know that we posted our first ever #CaptionContest for this beauty. Thanks to everyone who participated! The winning caption was from Jeremy: “You’ve got something on your head and I’m not lion.”
Be on the lookout for your postcard in the mail, Jeremy!
And as a consolation prize for everyone who didn’t win, here’s one more quick Photoshop.
Stay tuned for more! Germany’s coming up next.