A Smurfy Look at the EU's Capital city
We weren't in Brussels for that long—only two full days—so we tried to pack in a lot of exploration after we'd finished our Sandeman's Free Walking Tour of Brussels. Here's what our explorations turned up.
A Giant Smurf!
Belgian artist Peyo introduced the world to Les Schtroumpfs in 1958. So we shouldn't have been surprised to see a giant Smurf (identity unknown) sitting atop a mushroom in front of MOOF (Museum of Original Figures) and what's billed as the world's only Smurf store.
We don't know much more about the history of this sculpture, but it sure is smurfy!
One day we took the Brussels Metro out to see something I've long wanted to see—Atomium, a building designed after the atomic structure of a magnified iron crystal. I'd seen plenty of pictures of it over the years, but seeing it up close was worth the trip.
The structure was built for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, and it's been named one of Europe's most bizarre buildings—and it is indeed fantastically strange. It's now a museum, with a permanent exhibition about Atomium itself and rotating temporary exhibitions that are displayed inside the building's spheres. The highest sphere has great panoramic views of Brussels. Although we didn't venture inside (the €34 entry fee was too steep for our budget), but we enjoyed seeing it in person.
Manneken Pis is Everywhere
If you didn't get full picture from yesterday's post, the Belgian people love their statue of a urinating baby and you can see him all over the place, from restaurants ...
... to all manner of tasteful tourist trinkets.
It takes a bold people to embrace the statue of a 400-year-old urinating naked boy as a national symbol, and the Belgian people are bold lot indeed.
The Best Beer in the World
We stopped in a beer shop near the statue of Manneken Pis to check out what the hubbub around the Belgian beer scene was all about. There are a lot of different beers brwed in Belgium, and this shop had a lot of them, including a few cases of Trappist Westvleteren 12, commonly thought of as the best beer in the world. The gent at the shop told us it's the same recipe as St. Bernardus Abt 12 (which is also pretty good), but uses different water.
The only way you can get this beer is from the monks at Brouwerij Westvleteren in West Flanders (about two hours from Brussels). They only sell a limited number of bottles each month. to get your hands on some, you have to make an appointment and you can only buy two cases on a visit.
This is impractical for many travelers, so the shops take advantage of these restrictions to make some money. This shop sold a single 330ml bottle of this beer for €18, which is pretty steep, but a small price to pay for the best beer in the world (we later found it in Bruges for as low as €11).
It was, of course, quite excellent.