Back to Brussels–Day 18

In the quest to always move east, we took a week out to roll around Belgium.  We are now back in Brussels for a last look before boarding a plane again.

                                                                     Who’s this guy??

                                He is a statue.  He is dressed up in a uniform.  He is a fountain and he is….!!

AHHHHH!!  Don’t get wet.  I found out this is Manneken Pis.  A rather famous fountain to commemorate…there are several stories.  He has been standing there doing his bit since 1618 so his origins are faded.  The one I like best is the small boy who found a way to extinguish the fuse of a bomb and save the city.  This guy is famous.  He has a better wardrobe than most of us and his outfit is changed often.  There is even a special museum dedicated to his wardrobe and, of course, we visited. 

                                   Only some of his outfits are on display.  The rest are packed in drawers.

                                                     Do you like Elvis?  Well, Elvis is in the house.

            This is taken very seriously as he has been there for close to 500 years.  It is considered an honor for him to wear a costume and the submission process is quite complicated.  He has been given honors by several countries.

            He is a great hero among us short inanimate people. Who else can attract a crowd with umbrellas to watch him go about his 500-year business. 

                         Enough of this culture stuff.  Time to find an even more serious place to escape the rain.

            Kind of says it all.  Nothing better on a wet day than a tavern with many taps and an underground room.                                                                                           What could go wrong? 

            A couple of pints later and I’m ready to go back out and see the sights.  We stopped at a shopping arcade.

 

 

                                            Rick bought a snappy hat that looks like his other snappy hats.

            We then stopped by the Cathedral des Saints Michael et Gudule.  I think the guard may have detected the previous pints as he pointed the way out.  Or at least one way out.

                                                 Must be time to board the first plane out to the east.

                                                     I wonder where this place may be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 17 Waterloo

Bubba is on day 17 of his quest to go somewhere east.  Heading back from the Ypres area toward Brussels, we passed near the battlefield at Waterloo.

On June 18, 1815 The forces of France led by Napoleon Bonaparte met the European forces aligned against him led by Wellington and Blucher near the hamlet of Waterloo in Belgium.  We could not pass this area by without a stop.

            Battlefields generally look like an empty field and you have to use your imagination to reconstruct things.  Waterloo is a little different.  In spite of being 200 years ago, there are still some relics and, over the centuries, new sites have been laid out.  A little Bubba sized person like me has problems seeing such a vast area but I’m told there is a platform where I can get a better overall view.  It was easy to find, up by the big lion.

Waaaay Up

How do I get up there? Oh look, a staircase. Just a few steps to go.

But once you get to the top, you get a great overall view of the area with a chart showing the battlefield highlights.

The mound was put in about ten years after the battle, so things were still pretty fresh. Left on the site are a farm that figured prominently, another farmhouse where Napoleon spent the night prior to the battle. There is also a Panorama housed in a round building put in about 100 years ago and a great museum. They chose to build the museum mostly underground so as to not interfere with the views.

                We stopped off at the museum and there was the man himself. Kicked back in a chair checking the polish on his boots.

          I like the cut of those uniforms. The beats my shirt any day and they get some pretty cool hats instead of this peg thing on my head.

Hey guys!! Do you have a place for me? I’m looking for a laid back position, with maybe some built in nap time.

             It must be time to leave now. I’ll go look at the farmhouse where the Emperor spent the night prior to the big battle.
His bed and desk are still there.

He must have left in a hurry. He didn’t make the bed. One more stop to pay homage at the spot that was the last stand on Napoleon’s Old Guard.

Back to Brussels for a brief stop before boarding a plane and heading east again.
Travel tip: The world is so rich in history. With a little research, you can find some bit of history, a notable place, a tiny museum, near to anywhere you happen to be standing. Give yourself some time to hunt out these places so you can visit and enhance your trip that much more.

Day 11, 12 Belgium

My first for real Belgian waffle!!!

 In Amsterdam, I hopped on a train and headed to Brussels, Belgium.   Now I know I said I would always head east but I have to move a little bit west to go east.  The road takes you where the road wants you to go.

The train station in Brussels in in the basement of a building that houses the airport and the rental car places.  I could have hopped another train into the city center or points west but I talked Rick and Spider into getting a car instead.

The first stop in our quest to go west in order to go east was Bruges.  We parked the car and quickly forgot where we put it but that would be a problem for later.   Bruges became a place-to-come-back-to right from the start.   Knowing that our beds for the night still lay west of us, we were unable to fully explore this city.

In the few hours we had to spare, we saw a rich array of medieval buildings.

The churches have been around for a couple of years or centuries and have picked up a few monument and statues.

Sometimes I can’t tell if they belong together.  Is that supposed to look like that?

  A can’t miss is the Ghent Altarpiece.  Twelve fifteenth century panels painted by the brothers van Eyck.  It has a rich history of its own.  Looted by Nazis in WWII, the panels were found in a salt mine by the famous Monuments Men and were featured in the movie of the same name.  Sorry, no photos.   Bubba was properly humbled by the masterpieces.

 We found this place.   Maybe we could get a bite to eat here.

You can pick up a ham sandwich here, if you can reach the ham.   Even the butcher shop is an olde worlde building.

The medieval architecture here is amazing.  If it wasn’t for the banana on the bike, you wouldn’t know what century you were in.

This city is on the come back to list.   But now I must move on…  If we can find the car.

Yeah, well, we did do a little searching before we found it.  The problem occurs when you come to a place like this, you exit the car park, looking at all the buildings and not where you happen to be at that time.  

Day 9, 10 Amsterdam

Here we go, back in a plane and heading east once again.  I got on the plane, I got off the plane and I am now at my hotel.  The streets here are not paved with gold, they are paved with water.  I’m in Amsterdam.

 

Another beautiful city with a look of its own.  For most people, Amsterdam is a bike riding town.  For a Bubba sized bike, it would take some time to get around.  Amsterdam is also a great walking town. Moving too fast would mean missing the incredible views of all the unique Dutch architecture.

The people here are extremely tolerant and laid back.  To show wealth is seen as a sin by some while sins here come with a different definition.  Some of the houses here have funny red lights out in front.  I’m not sure what that means.

It is also a city of culture. The Rijksmuseum can be a several day distraction.  Many of “those paintings you only see in books” are located here.

   The Night Watch by Rembrandt is here.

 

And this painting by Vermeer.

That is one cute Amsterdamian girl!

Rick liked the library.

WOW! I found the girl pouring the milk.  How do you say, “Wanna party like a Dutch girl?”

Or how do you say, “Just kidding Millie my dear.”

After the museum, we went to a world famous sporting event.  “The World Cup!”  Well, sort of.

Amsterdam is one of those places where it is hard to take a bad picture.  It is a supermodel of European cities; it always photographs well.

As much as I like Amsterdam, I’m on a semi strict time schedule.  I must head east once more.

I’m tired of planes so the next step will be by train to…

Day 7, 8 More Time In Iceland

            Yesterday was spent in Reykjavik so, today, I’ll head out into the countryside.  There is a whole lot of beautiful nothing out here punctuated by occasional glaciers and geysers.

     This is a new land.  The result of volcanic activity in relatively recent times means there is very thin soil, not a lot of trees but lots of rocks.  It is said that if you spend the night in the lava flows, the trolls will come out to get you.  I saw them in Reykjavik and I think Rick has been converted.   

Glaciers feed rivers that create some waterfalls of gigantic proportions.  This one is Gullfoss, It is actually two waterfalls one on top of the other and set at about 90 degrees. 

A little too tall, too loud, and too deep for me.  This is more my size but is still impressive.

     Because this place is so new, there is a lot of volcanic activity around.  You can take a walk and notice that the ground seems to be smoking.

There is a local saying, “If this grounds a smokin’ don’t go a pokin’” meaning if you poke at the ground, you may get a surprise.

Uh, no Bubba.  That’s a geyser.  That’s what their job is.  There is no corny smokin’/pokin’ saying.

With all this hot water around, it gets used to provide power for the country.  Over a quarter of the electricity and almost 90% of the heating and hot water, comes out of the ground.

Along with that, they have some great hot spring bathing areas.  This is the Blue Lagoon, a product of the power plant in the background.

I got my armband and joined in.

Hey Look!  It’s Millie!  I can lounge hot spring side with her.

I could sit here all night. 

            Iceland has been a real treat.  It is another Bubba sized country but it is time again to head east.  Where next?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reykjavik, Iceland, Day 6, 7

Bubba is on day six of his trip to go east, young man.  His destination is east…just east.  He has just arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland from Toronto Canada.

I caught a bus from the airport and found a room in this house.  It was built in the early 1900’s and was once an embassy.

                                                                        It has a nice view of some local artwork on the wall across the street. 

                                         That could explain why this is a former embassy.  The Ambassador reportedly said he felt he was being watched.

                                           On top of the hill, I saw what looked like a huge rocket, set to go to Mars and beyond.  As I got closer, I saw …

            This must be the most impressive bit of modern church architecture on the planet.  In a place that has as little as four hours of daylight in the winter, they have built a bright, airy interior.  Not the dark and gloomy gothic structures I am used to seeing.

Even the pipe organ is grand, majestic, and yes, Viking like.

            Whoa!  Too much inspiration and culture.  I think I’ll take a walk and hang out with these local folks.  They look to be more my type, especially the troll on the left.

            I need someone to show me around.  I’ll ask this guy.  He pointed down the street to another guy.

This man looks like an Icelander.  He is set for weather, is willing to show me around and the price of his tour is just up my alley.

            Travel tip:  Do this!  It was a great walk with lots to learn.

                                                                                            He showed me some historic buildings.

            Some more wall art.

And the church at the end of the rainbow.

            We also saw the Reykjavik commute of blockhead businessmen.

            This statue may refer to the Icelandic financial crisis of 2008.  Deregulation of banks and other businesses entities caused a deep financial collapse.  In true Icelandic form the people staged the “Pots and Pans Revolution where they gathered outside Parliament and banged pots and pans to express their displeasure.  The leaders of the government resigned and were replaced. 

 

Reykjavik is a great city but I’d like to see some of the rest of the country.  I think I’ll venture out tomorrow and maybe even take a cruise in a local boat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Eastbound, Day four, Day Five, A Wedding!!

            Niagara Falls.  The place of honeymoons and where Marylyn Monroe plotted murder in the film, Niagara.  Sinister wedding events abound.

            Heading a bit east from the falls I came to little town of Niagara on the Lake.  Just on the outskirts, there is a tiny, tiny church.

                                                                         It is not only small, it is the world’s smallest. 

                                    This chapel is Guinness book tiny.  This place is so small, they had to put the name on a sign out front.  It has been known to turn away basketball players due to height restrictions.  

 

                                              What can be done in a church that small?  I peeked inside and sure enough, there was a wedding going on.

            Yeah, that happened…again. 

That guy must have left his tux at home.

The minister and his wife posed for wedding photos.  They also doubled as best man, maid of honor, and wedding guests.  That about filled the place to capacity.  It is a tiny place when you have to go single file down the aisle.

            After the wedding what comes next?  The reception!  Or at least a trip to the pub for fish and chips and a pint of stout.

This was the Angel Inn on Niagara on the Lake. It was established in 1789 but this is the place after a remodeling in 1812.  The server told a tale of an uneasy guest.  In 1813, a Canadian militia officer, Captain Colin Swayze, missed out on the British retreat to hang with his new found lady friend.  He hid in a barrel in the cellar from the invading U.S. forces.  They entered the pub and probed the barrel with bayonets and pinned him to the spot forevermore.  He is said to roam the building but is harmless as long as the Union Jack flies over the building.

            The server gave me another pint to ease my fears.

Or not.  Must be time to head east again.  Where to now?