Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Taste of Brussels

So I went to Brussels last week for work, we arrived Sunday afternoon after an overnight flight from Ottawa. The meetings were at NATO headquarters on the outskirts of Brussels near the airport.  Our hotels were quite near the city centre so we had to take a tram or bus to get out to the meetings.  I had a little trouble getting in the first day as they had put the wrong dates in for my pass so there was no pass at the gate for me. I had to call around so that someone from the Canadian delegation could come and get me. It was a good thing I had gone early.

NATO Headquarters
The meetings were quite long nearly every day so there wasn't a lot of time to get around. My third afternoon I had the time to walk down to the Grand Place and we finished at noon on Friday so I had a half day then too.
View from the hotel
Our hotel was at Place Rogier, one of the metro stops and only one stop from the North Station, a large bus, train and Metro station. The large spire seen in the picture is the Grand Place, quite a touristy area of shops and restaurants, all on little side streets.


All of the pictures above are of the Grand Place. It's a market square that in the spring, summer and fall is filled on weekends with stalls but it was little too early in the year for that. I only saw a few vendors on Friday afternoon.

There were many little side streets around the Grand Place; but being by myself, I was careful about which ones I went down. It would be too easy to get lost as many of these little streets didn't have street signs.

I did have two missions on my visit to Brussels, one was to find the Tintin Boutique and the other was to find the three peeing fountains.

Brussels is quite famous for Manneken Pis (Little Man Pee). He is quite a little guy actually so except for all the tourists you could easily miss him.  The fountain is not far from the Grand Place just two blocks down this street which is right off of the Grand Place.
The original statue dates from the 1600's but this one was made in 1965.  They dress him up throughout the year in various costumes, while I was there he was in Irish dress for St Patrick's Day but I didn't get down again to see him. 

But did you know there are two other peeing statues?  One is fairly well known but hard to find and other isn't well known at all and is also quite hard to find. They are statues of a little girl (Jeanneke Pis) and a dog (Zinneke Pis).  The little girl is also off the Grand Place and is on a dead end street. If I had't know she was there I wouldn't have walked down that little alley.

Then there is also the dog. He isn't off the Grand Place but on streets opposite the Bourse about a block away from the Grand Place.  He was hard to find not because he was in a little side street but because the streets often don't have street signs to let you know where you are. And then even some of the directions on the Internet were wrong.  The dog doesn't actually pee although some web sites state that he was plumbed just never connected. 

My other mission was to find the Tintin Boutique. I expected to see more signs of Tintin than I did as he was created in Belgium. I did find the Tintin Boutique; it too was right of the Grand Place. And I did find some other signs of Tintin; a mural on a wall and in the restaurant we ate in on Friday afternoon.

So all in all it was a good trip, got to experience meetings at NATO and still had time to see some sights. Just a little taste of Brussels although I do have to say patates frites were really nothing special. I brought home chocolate, who doesn't, so we'll have to see if  that's the real taste of Brussels.


  1. I love all the buildings! SO pretty. Fun to have a bit of a treasure hunt to go on too. The statues are great!

  2. Looks lovely! One of my colleagues is going for work in a few weeks and is nervous about being there because of all "problems". I think I would risk it!

    1. I was just there during the last police operations. I think people back here were more worried than I was.

    2. I read this and then the next day, terror again! So scary!

  3. Sounds like a lovely trip, even if it was for work. Glad you came back when you did though. :(


We love to get your comments on our activities. Please drop us a line.