[From Beth & Mike] This morning we elected to take a later train to Belgium than expected since all of us appeared to need the extra sleep. When we arrived, we had the benefit of Saara and Mike’s exceptional navigational skills to get us from the train, through the subway, to our hotel without mishap (it took about four hours before I could find a single street sign). We planned better today, with snacks on the train, so a late lunch wasn’t a problem, and we could make it to one of Brussels’ signature sights Grote Markt (“The Grand Place”) before we had to eat without a complete meltdown – but not much before. We have yet to calmly navigate a foreign menu without completely freaking out about whether a mixed salad might include ranch dressing, or not.
Also, I think I owe an apology to the Germans for hinting that they overdid it with the Cologne Cathedral. The Belgians are clearly the “Shock an Awe” aficionados of the European Union. Take their Maison du Roi and Hotel de Ville (“Town Hall”) for instance:
Speaking of late lunches, Steak Tartare isn’t on the kids menu for a reason, and you should expect to switch your Belgian chicken casserole out with your eight year old if you let him order for himself.
After our late lunch/early dinner, we walked to an area southwest of the Grand Place to see one of Brussels most celebrated monuments: Manneken Pis. This little cherub is cherished by the local population, and a must see for local tourists, including a couple of pre teen American boys who like to say “Mannekin Pis” over and over again in a high pitched, giggly voice. The locals dress this little statue up for special occasions, and for really big days, fill the fountain with wine or beer.
We walked a couple miles back to the hotel, past Cathedral Michel, the Belgium Parliament, through the huge Parc de Bruxelles to the Palais Royal and a bunch of European Union offices. Now the kids are parked in front of a movie, Beth is showing no signs of salmonella, and the hotel has a nice lounge, so all is well.