Grand Place, Manneken Pis and rainbows in Brussels

This is the blog of Mark Wordsworm, the travelling worm. I’m a 25-year-old bookmark and can proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC).

Today’s travel notes

Me and the TC hopped over the border from the Netherlands into Brussels, before catching the Eurostar train to London.  Brussels is chaotic, gorgeous, and mostly friendly but sometimes not.

My impressions? Grubbiness and gold.

The book I’m in

Poet’s Cottage, by Josephine Pennicott. A delightfully rambling tale of ghosts, heartbreaks and triumphs, set in rural Tasmania.

Travel tip

An essential fact to know when in Belgium is that everything has two names: one in Dutch (Flemish) and one in French. Until you appreciate this fact, you will find yourself getting very confused and becoming very lost.

Recommended accommodation

Pantone Hotel, 1 Place Loix, Saint-Gilles, Brussels. When reserving a room, you can choose a colour as well as the usual bath/shower and single/double options.

Recommended restaurant

Houtsiplou café-restaurant, 9 Place Rouppe, Brussels. Cheerful and fast service, great atmosphere, good food. Photos below.

The photos

Me and Manneken Pis in Brussels:

A row of windmills looms over the road on the border between the Netherlands and Belgium. The blades were turning in eye-catching synchronisation as we approached:

We dropped in for a quick lunch at Houtsiplou café-restaurant:

Houtsiplou is cheerful and friendly, in tune with the mural on the wall inside:

The wall in the ladies’ toilet at Houtsiplou is covered with blackboard. Pots of chalks stand at hand. The TC, bless her heart, decided to draw a picture of me. Can you imagine! She’s no artist at the best of times. When the “TC once removed” saw the drawing, his immediate impression was that this worm is sitting on the loo. The TC hastened to assure him that the rounded protuberance at the bottom of the drawing is part of this worm’s body.

Ceci n’est pas moi:

Nearer the centre of the city, a view “above”:

The buildings aggrandise and the crowd buzzes as you approach the Grand Place:

The Grand Place (Grote Markt) is huge, magnificent, and not a little tawdry:

The Grand Place is the central market square of Brussels, surrounded by grand buildings, many of them decked out in gold. Here is another side of the square:

A gold-leafed statue of Charles of Lorraine tops the Maison de Brasseurs in the Grand Place:

More of the buildings surrounding the Grand Place:

A few blocks away, Manneken Pis holds court in his little alcove. Strange, that so many crowds of people flock to see this small, rather insignificant statue in its grungy surrounds:

Like everything else in Brussels, Manneken Pis has a French name as well as a Dutch one. His is le Petit Julien. This venerable little chap is made of bronze, and has inhabited his alcove since 1618 or 1619. A closer view:

The view from our room at the Pantone Hotel – a rainstorm drifts in across the rooftops of Brussels:

Ten minutes after the rainstorm, the late sun and a rainbow light up the scene:

That’s all for today, dudes.


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