We woke up early to get an uncrowded view of the Mannekin Pis.
Brussels residents and tourists alike love this little pissing boy. His image is used in all manner of tourist trinkets as well as advertising for everything from Coke A Cola to hamburgers at McDonald’s.
We also took advantage of the lack of tourists in the early hours of morning to rub the statue of the mayor of Brussels, Evrard ‘t Serclaes for luck.
In 1356 he was tortured and killed for refusing to hand over the city keys. Now, people rub the statue for good luck, which explains why it is so shiny.
From there we purchased tickets for the train to Bruges. And yes, I’ve seen the movie. But that’s not why we went.
We decided to go to Bruges to revisit our favorite chocolatier, Dumon, which we discovered during our previous visit several years ago.
We were also interested in seeing the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival.
When we got off the train I was wondering how hard it would be to find the location of the festival. Then we saw the sign which cleared it all up.
What we did not expect, but soon found out was that the festival was held inside a refrigerated tent complex that was cooled down to a cozy -5 degrees Celsius. That’s 23 degrees Fahrenheit for us stubborn non-metric system adopting infidels.
As it was, the outside temperature was only 27 degrees Fahrenheit as we stood in for about 1/2 hour to get into the exhibit.
It was very crowded and the line moved very slowly and toward the end we were quite cold, especially in the footal areas. But what a site to see!
Giant ice doors opened up to a small dark tunnel that lead you into room after room of sculpted ice.
It was spectacular to see, and oh so very very cold.
We got out and caught the bus to Bruges.
Bruges was way more crowded than when we last visited and the market was pretty cheesy. We walked about and even got a little lost.
We did find the Dumon Chocolate Shop and I resisted the urge to defenestrate myself from the bell tower, a la “In Bruges”
When we boarded the train to go back to Brussels someone came on the intercom and said something in French and Dutch that we did not understand. The people in the seat next to us were from Barcelona and explained to Cynthia in Spanish that the train was delayed due to technical problems.
After awhile there was another announcement and everyone started getting off the train. We didn’t need an translator to explain this part.
We followed the crowd to another platform and caught a later, much more crowded train back to Brussels.