Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brussels Day 1/2

I can't call it Day One simply because we didn't spend the whole day here; however, it's been a glorious evening filled with lots of frites and exploring.

After a brief catnap to revitalize a bit, we headed off for the Grand Place. We wandered up and down various cobblestone streets and gauked at numerous stores with displays of chocolate fit for a king. I saw a fountain of chocolate and while I was ready to throw a rock through the window to get to it, others said it looked almost gross. Please tell me how milk chocolate flowing is gross! Maybe they've watched Augustus Gloop fall in one too many times. Anyway...we finally made it to the Grand Place which is home to many beautiful buildings, cafes, markets, and shops.

We strode through the Galleries which includes more shops carrying delicious Belgian chocolates and expensive chic clothing. Upon exiting, I looked up and saw the bell tower of a cathedral and insisted we head over "that way." We turned from behind a building and there stood a beautiful Gothic cathedral, La Cathedrale des Sts. Michel et Gudule. It was simply breathtaking. I went inside to pray (and listen to the organist tune the massive piped instrument) and to take a look around. The church is named after the male and female patron saints of Brussels, and while Michel is more well-known, Gudule is more popular in town. Gudule's symbol is that of a lamp, said to have been extinguished by the devil, but was relit when she prayed. The church has undergone several serious renovations due to the Protestants and the French attacking her and her relics.

Onward back to the Grand Place, we stopped for some frites (YUM!) and relaxed a bit. We meandered through the streets, headed back toward our hotel when we stumbled upon Saint Catherine's, a neo-Gothic church constructed in 1854. It is dilapidated beyond belief, but is home to a 15th Century statue of a Black Madonna said to have been rescued from the Senne after being thrown in by angry Protestants. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was too late to go inside and see the statue. Maybe tomorrow.

After that, it was back to the hotel. We're calling it a relatively early evening (it's 10:05 now and finally dark) so we have more energy for a full day tomorrow. Tomorrow's plan is to head back out into Brussels until mid-afternoon and then drive about an hour to Bruges.

Cathedrale des Saintes Michel et Gudule

Grand Place

Baptismal font inside Cathedral

A view from behind the High Altar

Saint Catherine's

1 comment:

Gashwin said...

AWESOME photos girl! Can't wait for the next installment.