Friday, January 3, 2014

Belgium-Brussels and Flanders (Ypres)

The beginning of December we spent a week touring around Belgium, Netherlands, Luxumbourg and Germany--whew!!  We had such a fun time--December is a great time to travel because so many towns in Europe have Christmas markets which are so charming and so fun.  Here is the first installment of our trip--the first day we spent in Brussels.  We went and saw the atomium, a giant sculpture that was built for the world's fair--it was unique, we saw manneken pis (the statute of the boy peeing), the main plaza in Brussels--which was unbelievable, etc.  We had a great time.

The Atomium behind us

Grand Place in Brussels--the main plaza--it was unbelievable.

So the Grand Place in Brussels is the main square--it was very interesting--back in the 1600s it was destroyed in a war.  The square was rebuilt a couple of years later by the city's guilds and each guild wanted to outdo the next and so each building is so unique and pictures just don't do them justice--I was surprised at how ornate each building was.

Manneken Pis--I was surprised at how small he was.  Apparently each week they dress him in different clothes, he obviously wasn't dressed the day we saw him!

The coolest merry-go-round I have ever seen--very steampunk

 When we were in Liege, Belgium we went to an aquarium and saw this creepy mermaid--it was made by a professor--creepy!!

One day on our trip we went to Ypres (Flanders), Belgium.  Ypres was the center of intense battles between the Germans and the Allies during World War I.  It was fascinating learning about the history that occurred here and the thousands upon thousands of soldiers that died here fighting.  It was very sombering.
At one of the memorial cemeteries

The unknown soldier

As part of our learning, we went to a very interesting museum about the war and the role the Flanders area in Belgium played in the war.  One of the cool things was that you wore a poppy flower bracelet and as you went through the museum you could scan your bracelet and learn about real people that lived during that time and what impact the war had on them.  It was very interesting.
On top of the museum looking over the city

The museum had a carillon tower and the kids are pretending to play the carillon (bells).

On the Belgium seashore--not quite as warm and nice as the Spanish coast--it was VERY, VERY WINDY!!!

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