Belgium is like that quirky friend you have who is classically beautiful, has a heart of gold, and wears bright blue extensions in her straight, blond hair and striped rainbow stockings under her black pencil skirt. You know what I’m talking about, right? Surely you have a friend like that.
and all sorts of quirky architecture.
I think I’m in love.
I came home from our weekend wanting to tell you all about it, but I realized it would be a mammoth post. So I shall have to content myself with telling you about Belgium today, and give you a guided tour of Brussels
tomorrow very soon.
We stayed just outside of Brussels, which is part of Wallonie. The Wallons speak French. There are also the Flamands, who speak Dutch and retain the influence from when they were occupied by the Netherlands. And there is a small part that speaks German as well.
(you could see the lion monument that commemorates where the battle took place from the window where we spent the night)
But given their centuries of oppression, and the fact that they shared neither language nor religion with the Netherlands (the Wallons are Catholic and the Dutch, predominantly Protestant), they decided they had had enough. This weekend they were celebrating their independence so there were lots of people in traditional costumes.
(and yes, that is a line to buy french fries in the middle of the afternoon)
(this is a cookie similar to gingerbread, but more crunchy and more of a taste of cinnamon than ginger)
(We didn’t have time to visit the Musée de la BD – the museum where you can see TinTin and the Smurfs – which are Belgian, by the way).
There’s also the lace, although a lot of it is being imported from China now. We went to Belgium because my husband was asked to preach at our sister church there on Sunday. They had heard him preach at our French-speaking church retreat that is held once every two years in Alsace, and since they don’t have a minister, they invite people to come give a message from time to time. It’s a small congregation of the absolute loveliest people. I don’t think I’ve ever received a warmer welcome (although it’s a close race with the Philippines and Taiwan and Kenya).
We only had a couple of hours to tour Brussels because we had been invited to dinner by a family that lived about 45 minutes outside of the city. Brussels is actually quite small, but the suburbs extend far into the countryside. The drive was so scenic.
Did you know that Brussels is considered the de-facto capital of the European Union? They have a history of hosting the other member countries, which is how it all came about. I suppose that is why there is such a large, impressive neighborhood for the diplomats.
The next day we were given such a welcome at service, followed by a pot-luck lunch so we could all get to know each other better. And then we were sent on our way with a 60-piece chocolate sampler from Newhaus. I just spent a weekend being showered with love and affection. No wonder I love this place.
And I’m sending some of that love and affection your way.
PS If you missed it, my last post was a giveaway that it going on until this Friday. And if I do say so myself, it’s a cool giveaway, so feel free to leave a comment for a chance to win!