Monday, July 16, 2007

The Raven in Brussels

Monday July 16 2007

On to Brussels, Belgium!

Belgium, a country the size of Maryland with 10.5 million people, is a country rich in history and culture, art and architecture from Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque periods. There are more castles per square mile in Belgium than anywhere else in the world.

And then there's the world famous cuisine, and the beer and chocolates and desserts!

There's hundreds of Belgian beers – Belgium lays claim to having the most varied and numerous collection of beers in the world. Beer-brewing in Belgium originated in the monasteries in the Middle Ages, a fine occupation for monks, eh?

Three leading chocolate makers are headquartered in Belgium: Neuhaus (founded in Brussels in 1857!), Godiva (founded 1926 in Brussels) and Leonidas (founded by a Greek living in US in early 1900's, but he subsequently moved to Belgium).

The Raven got a ride into Brussels and took a walking tour around the city.

Besides the sweets in Brussels, The Raven most enjoyed one of the parks where he made the acquaintance of a raven.

The main centerpiece of Brussels is the Grand Place , with its Baroque and Gothic guildhouses (house guilds of bakers, carpenters, archers, boatsmen, haberdashers), most built in early 1700's. The Town Hall (Hotel de Ville) dates from the 1200's. The Grand Place as been the commercial hub of the city since it was built as a market in the 1200's. You can gorge here at the cafes, chocolate stores, and souvenir stores. You can visit any number of museums, theatres, luxury and designer stores, historical monuments, art galleries, markets, cathedrals (the St Gudule and St Michael’s Cathedral dates from the 1400's) here. You cannot, however, visit a Starbucks!

Which is why The Raven and I partook of our friend's expresso machine and had some serious Belgian coffee at home.

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