未看到尿尿小童（Manneken Pis）就被尿餲圍攻，嚴重程度好比在南美國家的落後地區。是啤酒喝得多，抑或大家都不願付錢上公廁？暗街窄巷有餲味，情有可原；地鐵站內，空氣不流通，困獸鬥般難受；最不可思議的是在漂亮的 Monts des Arts 庭園中，亦瀰漫著公廁般的臭餲，要掩著鼻子急步離去。但在尿尿小童銅像附近，卻諷刺地沒半點餲味，相信是遊客太多，醉漢不便解手。
We’ve been enjoying our time in Europe so far, but compared with the other continents we’ve visited, we are moving much faster through countries than we previously have. This is because the countries are smaller in Europe and there are so many that we want to see. Since we had been moving so fast, when we got to Belgium and only had one full day in Brussels, we decided to join a free walking tour to learn the most about this city in a short amount of time.
The main plaza in Brussels, Grand Place, is absolutely gorgeous. There are only two buildings there that are not decorated with gold leaf and these two buildings are the only survivors of the bombings from French King, Louis XIV, in 1695. After the plaza was destroyed, the many guilds of the city were able to rebuild their own meeting places. Since they were all in competition to have the most beautiful, they all decorated these new buildings with gold leaf.
Out of all of the buildings, the Brewers’ Guild is the only one in the plaza that is still owned by the original guild that built it all those years ago. So although the Baker’s Guild may have been the most wealthy back then, the Brewers’ Guild never lost its popularity to this day. And that could be the reason before coming to Belgium, the only thing I knew about this country was their amazing beers.
Many of Belgium’s beers are made by monks in Trappists. The Trappist beers are special for two reasons. One, these beers tend to be much higher in alcohol than your average beer. And two, Trappist monks produce beer not for profit. All of the money made from the sale of their beers goes back to fund their process and to help the community. So, as you are enjoying your beer, you can also feel good about making a charitable donation.
After walking around the city of Brussels learning history and current events (while tasting beers) we came to one of the most famous landmarks in the city, “Manneken Pis”. This statue has become an icon of Brussels since the 15th Century. The statue is of a young, naked boy who is peeing into a fountain. With all of the attention that this statue attracts, I thought it would be something grand, but in actuality, it is just a small garden fountain.
The statue is only about the height of my knee, but just about everyone that visits Brussels pays him a visit. He is so popular that there is a museum which displays his 900 different costumes. That’s right, for holidays or sports events or anything important to the city, Manneken Pis is dressed for the occasion. Also, during the beer festival of Brussels, his fountain is filled with beer instead of water and people wait in line to have him fill up their glasses.
Brussels seems to have found the formula to mix history, government (the EU headquarters is here too), architecture and fun together to create the perfect atmosphere. That could be what attracts so many people to this city, as 62% of Brussels population is not from Belgium at all. There is something for everyone here and so many visitors just end up becoming residents.