Happy Friday Everyone! Hope you all had a good week.
Today was sight-see Brussels, part one. We started off by grabbing some lunch at a cafe nearby our apartment. I had a wonderful panini with mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto, which was delicious. Then we got on the metro and rode out to the outskirts of Brussels to see the Atomium. For those of you who don't know, the Atomium is a large structure made to look like an atom that was built for the 1968 World's Fair that was held in Brussels. The structure was a lot bigger than I had expected. We spent some time taking pictures, but found out that it was closed and that we could not actually get in. This wasn't too big a deal, but I had heard that there is a nice view of the city from the top. I'll probably try to get back out there one of these days to actually go inside. After the Atomium, we rode the metro down to Grand Place, where there just happened to be some sort of concert going on celebrating cultural diversity in the EU. It's always fun to stumble across these things when you're not expecting them. The concert was mainly percussion, but it was fun and interesting and we stayed for a couple of songs. Then, we went out in search of the Mannekin Pis. Again, for those of you who don't know (don't feel bad... I had no clue before I decided to come here), the Mannekin Pis is a fountain of a little boy peeing, which has become a symbol of the city. There are several stories behind the statue (most of which aren't really true), but my favorite is that the little boy diffused a bomb that was meant for Brussels by peeing on it and thus saving the city. Apparently, the statue is very popular in the town because there are little Mannekin Pis trinkets everywhere. Also, the town dresses up the statue for different celebrations (he has over 500 outfits, each with a strategically placed hole). He even has an American soldier's outfit to celebrate D-Day. Anyways, we found the Mannekin Pis, which is actually very small, and took lots of pictures there as well.
Afterwards, we stopped at a restaurant and had some dinner and then wandered home. I guess we went the wrong way because we took a very roundabout way to get home. We basically went a giant circle, but we eventually got home and we got a lovely tour of Brussels along the way. While we were wandering, we saw a big parade of inline skaters being escorted by police, kind of like a parade. It was very interesting and made me realize that roller blading on cobblestones is probably not the best idea (we saw a number of people fall, but they had a bunch of paramedics and doctors on the scene). We continued wandering and eventually came across the same group of skaters again.
Tomorrow we plan to do some more sightseeing, which should be fun. There are a couple museums that I definitely want to go to at some point and this weekend would probably be the best time to do it. I will keep you all updated and I'll try and post pictures either tomorrow or Sunday.
Love to all,
PS - Some other items of interest: The Euro 2008 Football (Soccer) matches are heating up across Europe. Today we saw a number of cars driving by honking, with people hanging out of the windows holding flags (we later figured out they were Romanian flags). The matches are on at all the restaurants and cafes around town and everyone seems to be watching. We also spotted some Frenchmen and Dutchmen taunting each other in the Grand Place (which I didn't really understand because France had just suffered a big loss to the Dutch). It's neat to see how this sports phenomenon has swept the entire continent.
Also in the news a disappointing blow to the EU today with the Irish vote against the Lisbon Treaty. It's funny how after only a few weeks of EU classes that I can be so ardently supportive of the EU now and how disappointing seeing this set back to the further development of the EU is.