Monday, June 04, 2007

Brussels, 2007

Took a break from posting last week because of work and my travel to Europe. Last Saturday, i met up with fellow blogger Hillblogger and her husband. After a delicious and filling dinner featuring her husband's roasted lamb and potatoes, we went around the city and saw the Grand Place, which i consider one of the most spectacular looking town squares in Europe and is on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

The picture above shows the reclining statue of Everard 't Serclaes, an honored citizen of Brussels from the late Middle Ages. (Rubbing the statue is supposed to bring good luck which accounts for my hand on the statue.)

A few meters from the main square is the world famous Manneken Pis and i was surprised to find that the statue is smaller than it looks from the standard photos.

Among the Brussels (and Belgium)-related facts i learned from Anna and her husband are:

  • Belgium is the most heavily wooded among the Western European states, with 40 percent of the area covered by trees.
  • Thirty percent of Brussel's population is made up of expats working for (and with) the European Union.
  • Belgium as a State came into existence in the early 19th century as a neutral buffer state between the French and the Germans. History shows that, unlike in the case of the Swiss, this arrangement has not worked in their favor.
  • Throughout its existence, much of Brussels has been periodically flattened by war (the latest being World War II) which accounts for the relatively young age of its structures as compared with the rest of Europe.
  • A lot of the older structures have nevertheless been torn down to make way for the EU offices in a manner that would make our Manila mayors happy.
  • Near the center of Brussels, you can find a statue of Spanish literary characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, which may not be all that suprising considering that the area was once under the Spanish Crown. Anna also believes that these characters reflect the disposition of the Belgian people.
  • The Members of the European Parliament keep their papers in boxes ready for shipping to and from Strasbourg in France, which is the other place where they hold sessions. This less than optimal arrangement is a concession to EU politics.

I'm glad to have had the chance to finally meet Anna in person after two years of exchanges in the Blogosphere.


6 comments:

mschumey07 said...

Anna will be visiting the Philippines too. I look forward to meeting her. I believe she'll be here in August just about the same time you'll be here. Yes, another EB is in order.

chi said...

I'm glad that you two beautiful people have finally met.

Jego said...

You went to Brussels and didnt mention anything about the-yum!-beer? :-D

I missed Anna de Bruxelles when I was there. She had to go to Paris at the time. We spoke on the phone. Lovely woman, I could tell even from the phone call.

Manila Bay Watch said...

hi cvj,

so kind of you!

very happy to have met you too finally.

Manila Bay Watch said...

Hi Jego,

Yep, sorry to have missed you then. Hope we can set a date soon.

Thank you for the kind words.

Manila Bay Watch said...

Schumey, chi,

Looking forward to our group EB in Pinas one of these days...