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She Reports on Brussels
--her hometown

 

Journeywoman Katrien Dermaut-De Graeve lives in Brussels, Belgium, where she (along with her husband) designs web sites , teaches classes, promotes the Internet and writes for several Belgian E-zines. Katrien writes..."since you were interested in hearing something about my part of the world, I decided to write an article about Brussels, the city I live in."...


Brussels is a multicultural city -- it has the NATO headquarters as well as the European Union headquarters within its city limits. Brussels also hosts the most American corporation head offices in Europe and just about every country of the world has an embassy here . There are three official languages --French, Dutch and German but they are certainly not the only ones spoken in the city.

There are a lot of special places to visit in Brussels, but I definitely recommend the downtown. It's the oldest part of the city and also the most beautiful.

The Grand'Place -
sightseeing, shopping, cafes

You must visit our Grand'Place. Some people call it the "The most beautiful square in the world", and I will certainly not contradict them. Some of the houses here date back several centuries and are topped with ornamental gold-plated statues. Today, these renovated old buildings house both romantic cafes or charming boutiques selling either lace or mouth-watering pralines. During the winter people flock to these cafes with their crackling fireplaces and warm comraderie. The Gothic style city hall (dating from the Middle Ages) is also located on the Grand'Place. Its tower has just been restored, and the gold-plated Saint Michael ,the patron saint of the city, is shining again.

What About The Girl?

Everyone knows about "Manneken Pis"-- Brussel's famous statue of a little "peeing" boy. But, does anyone know "Jeanneke Pis", the little girl? This statue is much more difficult to find and much less famous. Jeanneke stands in a very narrow, dead-end street in the Rue des Bouchers. Don't miss these two tiny statues that are answering Mother Nature's call. And just in case your friends or family may not believe what you saw, there are post-cards of the two of them on sale everywhere.

Delicious Pralines - A Million Calories

Pralines are the one thing you just can't miss while in Brussels. In the States, I believe that there's a fast food restaurant on every corner. It is probably safe to say that in Brussels there is a praline shop on every street. When you buy a kilo, be sure to choose your candies yourself. We, Belgians never accept a "pre-packed" package. That way we are sure our pralines are fresh.

The prettiest praline shops --the Neuhaus and the Corne are in the "Galerie du Roi" Another praline shop, always beautifully decorated and also one of the best is "Wittamer", on the Sablon place. These wonderful chocolate bon bons would make perfect presents for your friends back home.

Bon appetit in the Rue des Bouchers.

The little streets here, in the market area, are just wonderful to walk through at night. During the warm weather, most restaurants have tables outside, so when it doesn't rain (which in Belgium is most of the time), you can enjoy your meal under the very, very blue sky. Some restaurants display their beautiful seafood selection where the customer can pick his or her own lobster, squid, crab, oysters and much more. If you like mussels, there is one restaurant you shouldn't miss: "Chez Leon", the most famous (and the best) mussels restaurant in Belgium. P.S. Pasta and pizza lovers needn't worry! They will find their favorite food in an adjacent street.

Fries, Fries, Fries!

Not tempted by any of the above? You can always do as the Belgians do: buy a "cornet" of French fries (here we call them Belgian frites) with a big splash of ketchup on top. Where and when do you eat them? In the street, while enjoying the beautiful buildings, scenery or events. There is a wide variety of sauces to choose from for the fries . But, for your information, most Belgians eat their fries with mayonnaise. Delicious!

Networking with Belgian women

For women who are interested in a little bit of networking with women's organizations, I recommend the "Amazone Center". This center houses about 20 female organizations and even two women studies-related libraries. They also organize events open to the public a couple of times per month. Both French and Dutch speaking organizations are represented, but you'll find a lot of English information also. You can drop them a line when you visit their website at http://www.amazone.be/

If you enjoyed this article, why not read Antwerp Delivers

 

 

 

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