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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Day 6 - Belgium and Rotterdam

I'm not sure if it was the snake oil, the magic pills or divine help but my foot miraculously healed!!

I was as right as rain!  No pain! No limp!

And boy, was I ready to start our tour of Belgium!

Belgium was a walk down memory lane for The Hubs as he was here for a conference 14 years ago.

Our customary group photo in front of The Atonium in Brussels

Now a museum, The Atomium was designed by Belgian engineer André Waterkeyn and built in 1958 for the Brussels World's Fair. The Atomium Bruxelles is the only structure left standing after the event ended. World's fair (or World Expo) is an international event which began as a technology exhibition and later progressed towards national propagation.

The Atomium represents a single unit of iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. There are 9 spheres representing atoms which are connected by tubes with escalators and lifts. Each sphere is about the size of a large apartment (18m diameter). Only 6 of the spheres can be visited.

The Grand Place

Considered one of the most beautiful medieval squares in Europe, the opulent Grand Place is the center of Brussels, where many historic buildings dating from the 17th century are located.

More photos and history of this square in an upcoming post.

The Manneken Pis
Literally translated as 'little pee man", this unimposing statue is the most iconic figure in Brussels.

More photos and stories surrounding the inspiration of this fountain in an upcoming post.

After an amazing lunch of Brussels mussels (an absolute must, I was told), we had a couple of hours  of free time  to explore and shop for Belgian chocolates in the city. And yes, we had their divine Belgian waffles!!

Random photos of Brussels







The best chocolates on the planet come from Belgium!

Chocolate shops are everywhere!



I couldn't get enough of these!!

Macarons, anyone?





One of the items on my bucket list was to sit outside a cafe in Europe with a drink and people watch. But at 13°C?!! All I wanted was to get inside a heated place fast!


Galaries Royales Saint-Hubert

A shop selling tapestries

This shop has a wide range of items including wall hangings, table runners, cushion covers, throws and bags.



Oooo! Belgian waffles!!
More photos of Brussels Mussels, Belgian Fries and yes, Belgian waffles in an upcoming post.

Toting bags of chocolates and souvenirs, we were then corralled to our coach for our next leg of the tour to Rotterdam. Some of us had to buy an extra luggage to carry our shopping haul back to Malaysia!


Our coach was waiting patiently outside this cathedral.
Cathedral of St, Michael and St. Gudula
Doesn't this cathedral kinda look like Notre Dame? So sad about the fire.

This beautiful park (Parvis Sainte-Gudule) was right in front of the cathedral.

We came across this curious bust which turned out to be a monument to the King of Belgium - Baudouin l.
One royal couple you probably never heard of is the Belgian King Baudouin (1930-1993) and his consort Queen Fabiola (1925-2014). Theirs is a beautiful story of Christian love. The couple did not have any children. Queen Fabiola suffered 5 miscarriages and had a stillborn baby. We were told that each time her pregnancy was announced, the Belgian people would send flowers to the palace, rejoicing at the happy news of their beloved King and Queen. Sadly, each time a brief quiet announcement would turn the people's joy to sorrow. King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola, however,  bore their cross with grace and turned this adversity to triumph by welcoming all the children of Belgium into their hearts.

Their incredible Christian love story here.


ROTTERDAM

Expecting storybook buildings, canals, cobble-stoned streets and windmills, I was surprised to find  that Rotterdam was an open-air gallery of modern and contemporary art, set against a backdrop of some very quirky and audacious architecture.

Strolling along the streets of Rotterdam was like visiting an outdoor art gallery. Giant sculptures and contemporary artworks were exhibited publicly everywhere!

A Quick History

The WWII devastation by the Nazis that bombed Rotterdam to ashes gave architects and artists a blank canvas to work on during the city's massive reconstruction.

"It takes more than 100 years to rebuild a city that has been bombed to the ground... The people from Rotterdam did not look back in history. Don’t think about the past, they said, look at the future." — Wim Pijbes

Uninhibited by the need to respect historical skylines or aesthetic standards, world-renowned architects transformed the decimated city into a city of the future.  Rotterdam rose phoenix-like from the ashes and, today, has some of the most daring and forward-looking architecture in Europe.

Think cube houses, a pencil-shaped tower, a  market hall in the shape of a giant upturned horseshoe, a flying saucer-like metro station ....

It's hard to describe this city of cool in just one post. Each and every building/structure/sculpture has a story to tell. I will share them all in upcoming posts.

Meanwhile some random photos...


Markthal


The Erasmus bridge (Erasmusbrug)
Because of its elegant shape, the bridge is nicknamed The Swan.

The yellow Cube Houses

Blaaktoren (Pencil Tower)

Monument of Marten Toonder (comic artist)

De Rotterdam

These stacked buildings contain offices, residences, and a luxury hotel, as well as conference halls on the lower levels. They kinda look precarious, don't they?

We were taken on a slow drive along the Westersingel Sculpture Route, a pavement by the side of a canal where 17 interesting sculptures are located.

La Grande Musicienne
This sculpture is  supposed to be a kneeling woman playing a lyre. Like they say, beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder!!!

L'Homme qui Marche

The Destroyed City
Named The Destroyed City, this sculpture near Blaak is a moving monument to the fallen in the devastation of Rotterdam during WWII. It is, in the sculptor's own words: ‘A cry of horror against the inhuman brutality of this act of tyranny.’
The sculpture depicts a distressed figure with its head and hands lifting skywards, allegorical of desperation, hopelessness, pain, horror... the gap in his torso represents the hole left in the heart of the city following the 1940 bombardment.

Witte Huis
Witte Huis (White House) was the tallest office-building in Europe when it was built in 1898, and one of the few buildings in the center of town that survived the bombing raid on May 14,1940 during World War II. Witte House is a symbol of the old Rotterdam.

Standing at a place which once was nothing but a city of ashes and being surrounded today by high-rises and quirky modern buildings was inspiring. I love that the city chose not to look back but instead, embrace a future where only the sky is the limit. Rotterdam recovered from the destruction by freeing itself from the past and moved on with a great dose of pragmatism.

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

13 comments:

Sandee said...

What an adventure and your foot is right as rain. Excellent. What great shots.

Have a fabulous day. ♥

betty said...

That was great about your foot! Oh my gosh, Belgium! What a great place to visit! I would have had a hard time resisting all those chocolate places! The buildings are amazing! I'm glad you are sharing your trip with us because I doubt I'll get there in my lifetime, but it is neat to see your pictures and your wonder of it all too with your trip!

betty

Hena Tayeb said...

Oh wow what great pictures.. Belgium looks wonderful.
Rotterdam wouldn't have ever been on my radar but it sounds like a great city with a great history.

Alexandra said...

Absolutely fabulous photos, Veronica! It looks like you're having an amazing trip. I feel like Brussels hasn't change much since I was there last, but Rotterdam? Oh, my, what a change. All that art!!

Mother of 3 said...

I am so glad to hear your ankle healed in time for you to still really enjoy part of your trip!

Meditations in Motion said...

Thank you for sharing your Rotterdam and Brussels photos with us. The chocolate and the waffles sound yummy, but I didn't see any photos of Belgian beer! How can that be? ;)

Lydia C. Lee said...

Glad you were okay - I loved Belgium, would have been a shame to miss it. Such a beautiful country

Mandy said...

That looks like an amazing trip. I would love to have chocolate in Belgium at some point. YUM!

With Love,
Mandy

Keiths Ramblings said...

Belgium is so underrated as a tourist destination. I love it and fortunately, I live close enough to make the occasional day trip to Bruges with its cobbled streets and canals. Mussels, waffles, beer and chocolate - the best in the world!

Heather Keet said...

How great that your foot was better in time for such a grand adventure in Belgium. It looks like a fabulous place to visit, I could get lost staring at the gorgeous architecture. #GlobalBlogging

Kinga K. said...

I love both cities❣

Twicemicrowaved tea said...

Brussels looks lovely and it's somewhere I'd love to visit. And the chocolate and waffles are a definite bonus! #thatfridaylinky

An Apel a Day said...

I like the yellow cube houses! What a cool a-ray of sculptures they have. I wish we had more here. It seems like the US is going backwards, for their appreciation for the arts. :(