Brussels, Belgium; Day 3

Today we had a full complement of 5 Adventurers to explore this capital city of Belgium and, in a way, the European Union.

We chose to travel on the Brussels Metro to get around. We found this Metro to be a bit shabbier, smaller, and more expensive than the Paris version but it was much more convenient than walking that distance.

Our walk to the nearest Metro station this morning took us past the town hall for our municipality named Anderlecht. The 3 flags shown here are the blue and gold for the municipality, the Belgian national flag and a flag supporting Pride Month.

Gemeentebestuur Anderlecht

The Metro trip took us about ten minutes toward the city center and was relatively uncrowded.

When we emerged into the sunlight the kids restated their desire to play in a park. We chose to visit Parc de Bruxelles which was built in 1774 in conjuction with the construction of Place Royale which sits at the southern edge. We relaxed for a while and had snacks from the cafe.

This park was lovely and we enjoyed our time here but we were also interested in seeing one of Brussels’ most famous attractions, the Grand Place.

This huge central square is surrounded by buildings which are each centuries old. This large spire sits atop the old Brussels Town Hall which was built in the 14th century. It is the largest secularist gothic building imaginable. Quite an interesting site. We sat here for 30 minutes just looking at it and the other buildings in the Grand Place.

Yesterday, the kids were taught about the fine art of Belgian Waffle making. Today was about their other key reason for visiting Belgium: Chocolate.

We visited the Choco-Story Brussels which is a museum with a chocolate crafting demonstration held every 30 minutes. The exhibits were very interesting and we all spent more time looking at these unique items than we would have guessed.

Here, for example, are cups that men would use to sip chocolate. They are specifically called mustache cups and you can see that the ceramic has an insert to protect the whiskers from picking up any unwanted chocolate. Lefties beware, we saw no cups for you to hold in this exhibit!

After viewing the displays we entered the live demonstration. Brussels is where Belgian pralines were invented back in 1912 and they have been a signature component of high end Belgian chocolatiers ever since. Different from American pralines, Belgian pralines are thin shells of chocolate with a soft inside – usually blended nuts or cremes.

We got to see a chocolatier fill the mold, drain the excess chocolate, pipe in the center, add another layer of chocolate to seal it and then release it from the mold. It was fun to watch and he made it seem easy but we’re sure it’s not.

At the end of the demonstration we were all treated to a sample of the final product. This one had a hazelnut center which was delicious.

We left the land of chocolate and walked over to the center of European decision-making near the Parliament building. It was late on a Friday when we arrived so it wasn’t very busy with legislators or tourists.

Our day ended by scratching another itch. We haven’t had good sushi since Thailand in January but tonight we had some which was almost as good as that.

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