Belgium

There was a lot of rain while I was in Belgium. It didn't interfere with my sightseeing, but I was glad I had my raincoat and several pairs of shoes! I arrived there on September 12 and was a little apprehensive for the first couple days - being American and alone. But the support I saw eased my apprehension - and the rain came in handy, since my eyes would fill with tears every time I saw a flag at half-staff, a support sign, or a prayer entered into a prayer book in a church.

This is a gargoyle from the fascinating Town Hall at the Grand Place in Brussels. The facade is covered with figures, some of them amusing, some serious. Also facing the Grand Place are 17th century guildhouses - all quite ornate. It's definitely a must-see sight!


Flags at half-staff (to honor those killed in the U.S.) along the Rue Royale across from the Parc de Bruxelles. The park was beautiful and will probably be even more so once the construction that was underway is finished.


A detail from the Chinese house in Brussels. It was on the route of one of the "Visit Brussels Line" bus tours (whose driver pulled to the side of the road and asked for 2 minutes of silence in memory of those who died on September 11.) This house was very ornate and just gorgeous!


The Cathedral of St. Aubain in Namur is beautiful. It's newer than many of the cathedrals I've visited, dating from 1751. It's in the renaissance style instead of gothic and is light and airy with a beautifully carved pulpit. Another site in Namur is the Citadel with well marked walking tours and great views of the surrounding city and land.


The Three Towers of Ghent as seen from the Castle of the Counts. The castle is impressively forbidding. Part of that feeling may have come from the collection of implements of torture housed inside it. The three towers, from left to right, are St. Bavo's Cathedral, The Belfry, and St. Nicholas' Church.


Except for a few brief pauses - it poured while I was in Bruges! It's a very attractive town, even in the rain. I looked through some hand made lace shops, went to a Dali exhibit, and had my first Belgium waffle (in Belgium anyway.) I also toured the Basilica of the Holy Blood. Unlike many churches, it's not free-standing. The lower part (through the arches) is plain, but the top part (wooden doors) is very ornate. The upper part also holds a relic since 1149 - a fragment of cloth stained with blood that was washed off Christ's body by Joseph of Arimathea. I didn't actually see the cloth, just the reliquary that holds the vial that holds the cloth.


Started out my day in Liege listening and following a band and public gathering. They were celebrating (as far as I could tell) the anniversary of Wallonia. This parade must have been for the same reason. Besides the bands and big carried figures, there were people who "attacked" people (including a cop near me) with confetti. I also went to a museum covering Wallonia history and handicrafts, including marionettes (Museum of Walloon life.) The last thing I did was climb the 353 steps (pant! pant!) of the Montagne de Beuren for a view of the city. Remarkably, there are houses lining the stairway - I'm guessing none of them had a step-machine!


The Town Hall of Antwerp on the Grote Markt. The fountain is topped by the figure of Silvius Brobo, about to fling the hand of the giant Druon Antigon into the river. The fountain splashes all over the square. Another must-see site in Antwerp is the beautiful Cathedral with its gilt sculptures and carved wood.


 

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