Belgium: Bruges and Brussels

Belgium: Bruges and Brussels


HI I’M RICK STEVES BACK WITH
MORE OF THE BEST OF EUROPE.
THIS TIME, WE’VE GOT
BUCKETS OF MUSSELS,
THE BEST FRIES IN EUROPE —
WITH MAYONNAISE —
MONK-MADE BEER,
CRUNCHY WAFFLES,
AND DREAMY CHOCOLATE.
YEP, WE MUST BE IN BELGIUM.
500 YEARS AGO,
A TRADE BOOM LEFT IT
WITH DAZZLING ART
AND ARCHITECTURE.
AND TODAY IT’S REEMERGING
AS A TRADE CAPITAL OF EUROPE.
FOR TRAVELERS, IT’S A BREEZE.
EVERYTHING’S CLOSE TOGETHER,
WELL-ORGANIZED.
THERE’S ALMOST
NO LANGUAGE BARRIER,
AND THE PEOPLE,
THEY’RE WONDERFUL.
ENJOYING THE HIGHLIGHTS
OF BELGIUM, WE START IN BRUGES,

WITH RENOIR CANALS,
FANCIFUL GILDED ARCHITECTURE,
SERENE FLEMISH MASTERPIECES
AND, ACCORDING TO LOCALS,

THE BEST BEER IN THE WORLD.
WHERE ELSE CAN YOU BIKE
ALONG A CANAL,

SAVOR HEAVENLY CHOCOLATE —
WOW!
— AND SEE A MICHELANGELO,
ALL WITHIN EARSHOT

OF A BELL TOWER
WITH A HYPERACTIVE CARILLON?

THEN WE HEAD FOR BRUSSELS,
HOME OF THE EUROPE’S MOST
MAGNIFICENT MEDIEVAL SQUARE

AND CAPITAL
OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.

ALMOST LOST BETWEEN GERMANY AD
FRANCE IN THE MIDDLE OF EUROPE,

TINY BELGIUM IS
EASY TO OVERLOOK.

BUT WE’LL SEE WHY
IT’S WORTH DISCOVERING.

AFTER EXPLORING BRUGES,
WE’LL RIDE THE TRAIN
TO THE CAPITAL, BRUSSELS.

WE’RE STARTING IN BRUGGE,
AS THE FLEMISH PEOPLE
WHO LIVE IN THIS PART OF BELGIUM
CALL THEIR TOWN.
THE FRENCH-SPEAKING HALF
OF THE COUNTRY,
AND ENGLISH SPEAKERS,
CALL IT BRUGES.
HOWEVER YOU CHOOSE
TO PRONOUNCE IT,
IT COMES FROM THE VIKING WORD
FOR WHARF.
IN OTHER WORDS,
IT’S BEEN A TRADING CENTER
FOR A LONG TIME.
ABOUT A THOUSAND YEARS AGO,
THE CITY GREW WEALTHY

AS THE MOST IMPORTANT TEXTILE
MARKET IN NORTHERN EUROPE.

BACK THEN, THE CITY’S CANALS
PROVIDED MERCHANTS

SMOOTH TRANSPORTATION.
TODAY THEY PROVIDE VISITORS
SMOOTH PHOTO OPS.

A SHORT CRUISE SHOWS OFF
THE TOWN’S OLD WEALTH.

BY THE 14th CENTURY,
BRUGES’S POPULATION WAS 40,00,
AS LARGE AS LONDON’S.

AS THE MIDDLEMAN
IN THE SEA TRADE

BETWEEN NORTHERN
AND SOUTHERN EUROPE,

IT WAS AN ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE.
IN THE 15th CENTURY,
WHILE ENGLAND AND FRANCE

WERE SLOGGING IT OUT
IN A HUNDRED-YEARS-LONG WAR,

BRUGES WAS
THE FAVORED RESIDENCE

OF THE POWERFUL
AND SOPHISTICATED

DUKES OF BURGUNDY
AND AT PEACE.
COMMERCE AND THE ARTS
FLOURISHED.

[ clopping of horse’s hoofs ]
BUT IN THE 16th CENTURY,
ITS HARBOR SILTED UP,
TRADE MOVED TO THE PORT
OF ANTWERP
AND THE ECONOMY COLLAPSED,
ENDING BRUGES’ GOLDEN AGE.
THE TOWN SLUMBERED
FOR GENERATIONS.
THEN IN THE 20th CENTURY,
TOURISTS DISCOVERED
THE CHARMS OF BRUGES.
TODAY THIS UNIQUELY WELL-
PRESERVED GOTHIC CITY

PROSPERS BECAUSE OF TOURISM.
EVEN WITH ITS CROWDS,
IT’S THE KIND OF CITY

WHERE YOU DON’T MIND
BEING A TOURIST.

AND IT HIDES
SOME SWEET SURPRISES.

THE PEOPLE OF BRUGES ARE
CONNOISSEURS OF FINE CHOCOLATE.

YOU’LL BE TEMPTED
BY CHOCOLATE-FILLED DISPLAY
WINDOWS ALL OVER TOWN.

LOCALS BUY THEIR CHOCOLATES
FRESH DAILY,

LIKE OTHER PEOPLE BUY PASTRIE.
THEY LOVE THE FAMILY-RUN
PLACES, LIKE DUMON,

WHERE MADAME DUMON AND HER
CHILDREN ARE HARD AT WORK.

THEIR GANACHE, A DARK CREAMY
COMBO, WOWS CHOCOHOLICS.

BRUGES SEEMS TO HAVE A
CHOCOLATE SHOP ON EVERY CORNER.

AND SOME ARE MORE ADVENTUROUS
THAN OTHERS.

THE CHOCOLATE LINE,
FAMOUS FOR ITS MANY
gastronomiqueVARIETIES,

PROUDLY SHOWS OFF ITS KITCHEN.
EVERYTHING HERE
IS LOVINGLY MADE BY HAND.
SOME SPECIALS COME WITH
AN EXTRA DOSE OF CREATIVITY.
SO HOW MANY DIFFERENT
FLAVORS DO YOU HAVE?
ABOUT 60 DIFFERENT
KINDS, WE HAVE.
SIXTY?
WHAT ARE SOME
INTERESTING —
YOU MUST HAVE
SOME SPECIAL FLAVORS.
WE HAVE
SPECIAL ONES
LIKE CUBAN TOBACCO
OR SAFFRON CURRY
OR GINGER.
CUBAN TOBACCO?
YES.
IS THAT LEGAL
FOR AMERICANS?
YEAH.
CAN I
TRY ONE?
YEAH,
SURE, SIR.
SO HOW IS
THIS MADE?
IT’S A LAYER
OF MARZIPAN,
FLAVORED BY A
TOBACCO OF CUBA.
CUBAN TOBACCO
LEAVES?
YEAH.
WOW.
IT’S PROBABLY NOT AS GOOD
AS A CUBAN CIGAR,
BUT IT’S VERY GOOD
FOR CHOCOLATE.
THE MARKET SQUARE,
RINGED BY RESTAURANT TERRACES,
GREAT OLD GABLED BUILDINGS
AND THE BELL TOWER
MARKS THE CITY CENTER TODAY
AS IT DID
IN ITS MEDIEVAL HEYDAY.
BACK THEN, A CANAL CAME RIGHT
TO THIS MAIN SQUARE.
FARMERS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
WOULD SHIP THEIR WOOL AND FLAX
INTO BRUGES.
BEFORE LOADING IT
ONTO OUTGOING BOATS,
INDUSTRIOUS LOCALS WOULD
MAXIMIZE THEIR PROFIT
BY DYEING, SPINNING AND WEAVING
IT INTO FINISHED TEXTILES.
THE BELL TOWER HAS STOOD
OVER MARKET SQUARE SINCE 1300.
CLIMB THE 366 STEPS
FOR A COMMANDING VIEW.
THE TOWER HOUSES
A GRAND CARILLON.
RATHER THAN FINGERS,
THE CARILLON PLAYER USES
HIS FISTS AND FEET.
[ tune played
by ringing bell notes ]
[ tune played
by ringing bell notes ]
AIME LOMBAERT, WHO’S RUNG
THESE BELLS SINCE 1984,
ARRANGES HIS OWN MUSIC
AND ENJOYS SHARING HIS ART.
GRAB A BENCH IN THE COURTYARD
TO ENJOY ONE OF THE REGULAR
AND FREE CARILLON CONCERTS.
[ bell notes ringing ]
[ bell notes ringing ]
[ clapping ]
THE OPULENT SQUARE CALLED BURG,
BRUGES’ HISTORICAL BIRTHPLACE,
POLITICAL CENTER
AND RELIGIOUS HEART,
IS DECORATED WITH SIX CENTURIES
OF FINE ARCHITECTURE.
THE SQUARE’S HISTORIC HIGHLIGHT
IS THE BASILICA
OF THE HOLY BLOOD.
THE GLEAMING GOLD KNIGHTS AND
LADIES ON THE CHURCH’S FACADE
REMIND US THAT THIS CHURCH
WAS BUILT BY A CRUSADER
IN THE 12th CENTURY
TO HOUSE THE DROPS
OF CHRIST’S BLOOD
WHICH HE BROUGHT BACK
FROM JERUSALEM.
INSIDE THE BASILICA,
THE STARK DECOR
REEKS OF THE MEDIEVAL PIETY
THAT DROVE THOSE CRUSADING
EUROPEAN CHRISTIANS
ON THEIR HOLY WAR
AGAINST THE MUSLIMS.
WITH HEAVY COLUMNS
AND ROUND ARCHES,
THE STYLE IS PURE ROMANESQUE.
STAIRS LEAD TO THE BRIGHTER
GOTHIC-STYLE UPPER CHAPEL.
THE PAINTING AT THE ALTAR
TELLS HOW THE HOLY BLOOD
ACTUALLY GOT HERE.
DERRICK OF ALSACE HELPED
CONQUER MUSLIM-HELD JERUSALEM
IN THE SECOND CRUSADE.
HERE HE KNEELS BEFORE THE
GRATEFUL CHRISTIAN PATRIARCH
OF JERUSALEM, WHO REWARDS HIM
WITH THE RELIC.
DERRICK RETURNS HOME AND KNEELS
BEFORE BRUGES’ BISHOP
TO GIVE HIM THE VIAL OF BLOOD.
NEXT DOOR IS THE TOWN HALL.
15th-CENTURY BRUGES WAS A
THRIVING BASTION OF CAPITALISM,
AND THIS BUILDING SERVED AS A
MODEL FOR TOWN HALLS ELSEWHERE,
INCLUDING BRUSSELS.
ONE OF EUROPE’S FIRST
REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENTS
CONVENED RIGHT HERE.
IN THE ADJOINING ROOM,
OLD PAINTINGS AND MAPS
SHOW HOW LITTLE THE CITY
HAS CHANGED OVER THE CENTURIES.
THIS MAP SHOWS
IN EXQUISITE DETAIL
THE CITY AS IT LOOKED IN 1562,
WHEN A CANAL CONNECTED THE
NORTH SEA TO THE MARKET SQUARE.
A FORTIFIED MOAT
CIRCLES THE CITY.
OF THE TOWN’S 28 WINDMILLS,
FOUR SURVIVE TODAY.
THE MILLS MADE PAPER,
GROUND GRAIN
AND FUNCTIONED AS THE MOTOR
OF THE MIDDLE AGES.
MY FAVORITE WAY TO EXPLORE
BRUGES IS ON TWO WHEELS.
JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE IN EUROPE,
WHERE THE BIKING’S GOOD,
YOU’LL FIND HANDY
AND INEXPENSIVE BIKE RENTALS.
GET LOST ON THE BACK STREETS,
AWAY FROM THE SHOPPING
AND THE TOUR GROUPS.
WORKING UP AN APPETITE,
YOU’LL BE TEMPTED
BY THE SMELL OF FRENCH FRIES.
CALLED FLEMISH FRIES HERE,
THEY’RE A LOCAL SPECIALTY.
AND IN BELGIUM, FRIES ARE AN
ART FORM, TAKEN VERY SERIOUSLY.
Rick:
WHO MADE
THE FIRST FRY?
BELGIUM.
THIS POTATO WAS PEELED
THIS MORNING,
CUT IN PIECES
AND PUT IN THAT FAT.
YOU ACTUALLY COOK IT
IN THE GREASE TWO TIMES?
TWO TIMES.
ONCE IN THAT,
THEN IT RESTS HERE,
AND AFTERWARDS,
THE SECOND TIME,
HIGH TEMPERATURE.
LOW TEMPERATURE,
RESTING, COOLING,
HIGH TEMPERATURE.
THESE ARE FORMING
A SKIN RIGHT NOW?
YES, YOU SEE,
THESE FRIES ARE SWIMMING
LIKE FISHES IN THE FAT.
SEE IT?
YOU HEAR IT?
THEY ARE TALKING.
YOU HEAR IT?
I HEAR IT,
YES.
WHAT ARE
THEY SAYING?
OH, THAT THEY ARE
READY TO BE EATEN.
[ laughs ]
[ clank ]
AH.
[ clank, clank ]
WHAT DO THEY
NEED MORE?
TASTE ONE,
PLEASE.
AH, HA, HA, HA.
IS IT HOT?
USE THE TOP OF THE FINGERS
BECAUSE IT’S HOT, YES.
MMM.
ONLY A LITTLE BIT OF SALT
ON IT AND IT’S PERFECT.
IN THE 1500s,
RICH MEN AND WOMEN
DECIDED THAT LACE COLLARS,
SLEEVES AND VEILS
WERE FASHIONABLE.
FOR THE NEXT 200 YEARS,
LACE WAS THE RAGE.
IT ALL HAD TO BE MADE BY HAND,
AND COUNTLESS WOMEN
EARNED EXTRA INCOME
MEETING THAT DEMAND.
THIS SCHOOL MAKES SURE
THAT TRADITIONAL LACE-MAKING
SURVIVES IN BRUGES.
PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE WORLD
COME HERE
TO STUDY THESE 400-YEAR-OLD
TECHNIQUES.
TO MAKE BOBBIN LACE,
WHICH ORIGINATED HERE
IN BRUGES,
WOMEN JUGGLE DIFFERENT STRANDS
TIED TO BOBBINS,
WEAVING A DESIGN
WITH THE MANY THREADS.
UNLIKE KNITTING, LACE-MAKING
REQUIRES TOTAL CONCENTRATION
AS YOU FOLLOW
INTRICATE PATTERNS.
NEARBY, THE GRUUTHUSE MUSEUM,
A 15th-CENTURY MANSION
OF A WEALTHY BRUGES MERCHANT,
DISPLAYS PERIOD FURNITURE,
TAPESTRIES AND MUCH MORE.
THIS REGION WAS RENOWNED
FOR FINE TAPESTRIES.
THEY WERE POPULAR
WITH THE WEALTHY.
COLORFUL, GREAT FOR WARMING UP
BIG, DRAFTY INTERIORS,
AND A FUN OPPORTUNITY
FOR A RICH GUY TO TELL A STORY.
THIS SERIES TELLS
OF COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE
IN THE EARLY 1600s.
THE SCENES
AND THEIR OLD FRENCH CAPTIONS
SUBTLY SPIN A STORY
OF YOUTHFUL LUSTINESS
THAT UPSETS STEREOTYPES
ABOUT MEDIEVAL PIETY.
SCENE ONE, CALLED
“SOUP-EATING LADY,”
SHOWS A SHEPHERD GIRL
WITH A BOWL OF SOUP IN HER LAP.
THE FLIRTATIOUS SHEPHERD LAD
CUTS A SLICE OF BREAD —
THAT’S FOREPLAY
IN MEDIEVAL SYMBOLISM —
AND ACCORDING TO THE TEXT,
SAUCILY ASKS
IF HE CAN DIP INTO THE GOODIES
IN HER LAP.
NEARBY, ANOTHER WOMAN
BRAZENLY STRIPS OFF HER SOCKS
TO DANGLE HER FEET IN WATER.
IN SCENE TWO,
CALLED “THE DANCE,”
COUPLES FREELY DANCE TOGETHER
UNDER THE APPLE TREE
OF TEMPTATION
AND AROUND A BAGPIPE,
SYMBOLIC BACK THEN OF HEDONISM.
THE WEDDING PARADE SHOWS WHERE
ALL THIS WANTONNESS LEADS:
MARRIAGE.
MUSIC PLAYS, THE TABLE’S SET
AND THE MEAT’S ON THE BARBECUE
AS THE BRIDE AND GROOM ENTER,
RELUCTANTLY.
THE BRIDE SMILES, BUT SHE’S
CLOSELY ESCORTED BY TWO MEN,
WHILE THE SCARED GROOM
GULPS NERVOUSLY.
FINALLY, IN THE LAST SCENE,
CALLED “OLD AGE,”
THE NOW ELDERLY HUSBAND
IS TANGLED IN A WOLF TRAP.
THE CAPTION READS, “ALAS,
HE WAS ONCE SO LIVELY,
“BUT MARRIAGE CAUGHT HIM,
AND NOW HE’S TRAPPED
IN ITS NET.”
THE MERCHANT WHO LIVED HERE
HAD IT ALL.
IN FACT, HIS MANSION EVEN HAD
A PRIVATE CHAPEL
WITH A BOX SEAT OVERLOOKING
THE CATHEDRAL ALTAR.
THIS WAS THE ULTIMATE
IN CHURCHGOING CONVENIENCE.
HE COULD ATTEND MASS
AND NOT EVEN LEAVE THE HOUSE.
FOR 600 YEARS,
THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY
HAS STOOD, WITH ITS
400-FOOT-TALL TOWER OF BRICKS,
AS A MEMORIAL TO THE POWER AND
WEALTH OF BRUGES AT ITS HEIGHT.
INSIDE, RECLINING STATUES
MARK THE TOMBS OF THE LAST
LOCAL RULERS OF BRUGES,
MARY OF BURGUNDY,
AND HER FATHER,
CHARLES THE BOLD.
THIS DELICATE MADONNA AND CHILD
IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN
THE ONLY MICHELANGELO STATUE
TO LEAVE ITALY IN HIS LIFETIME.
IT MARKS THE TOMB OF
THE WEALTHY BRUGES BUSINESSMAN
WHO BOUGHT THE STATUE
IN TUSCANY.
MARY, SLIGHTLY SMALLER
THAN LIFE-SIZE,
SITS WHILE YOUNG JESUS STANDS
IN FRONT OF HER.
THEIR EXPRESSIONS ARE MIRROR
IMAGES OF EACH OTHER,
SERENE BUT A BIT MELANCHOLY,
WITH DOWNCAST EYES,
AS THOUGH PONDERING WHAT LIES
AHEAD FOR THE YOUNG CHILD.
THOUGH THEY’RE LOST IN THOUGHT,
THEIR HANDS INSTINCTIVELY LINK,
TENDERLY.
JUST ACROSS THE STREET,
A MONASTERY RAN A HOSPITAL.
IT RECALLS HOW THE SICK
WERE TREATED.
IT ALSO DISPLAYS MASTERPIECES
BY THE GREAT FLEMISH PAINTER,
HOMETOWN BOY HANS MEMLING.
SOME 500 YEARS AGO,
THE NAVE OF THIS FORMER CHURCH
WAS LINED
WITH THE SICK AND DYING.
NUNS SERVED AS NURSES.
IN MANY WAYS, THIS WAS LESS
A HOSPITAL THAN A HOSPICE.
IT HELPED THE DOWN AND OUT
MAKE THE TRANSITION
FROM THIS WORLD TO THE NEXT.
RATHER THAN DYING
IN THE STREETS,
THEY DIED HERE, WITH DIGNITY.
CARE WAS MORE FOR THE SOUL
THAN THE BODY.
RELIGIOUS ART REMINDED
THOSE SUFFERING
THAT CHRIST COULD FEEL THEIR
PAIN, HAVING LIVED IT HIMSELF.
TODAY, RATHER THAN
THE SICK AND DYING,
THE WARDS NOW HOUSE
A HANDFUL OF EXQUISITE
PAINTINGS BY HANS MEMLING.
MEMLING WAS A MASTER
OF FLEMISH PRIMITIVES.
PRIMITIVE IS NOT AN INSULT;
IT WAS A 19th-CENTURY TERM
FOR THE NOSTALGIC,
PURE AND SPIRITUAL ART
OF THESE HIGHLY SKILLED
15th-CENTURY OIL PAINTERS.
EMPLOYED BY AND OFTEN
PORTRAYING BELGIUM’S WEALTHY,
THEY CAPTURED THEIR WORLD
IN ASTONISHING DETAIL.
HANS MEMLING’S
“ST. JOHN’S ALTARPIECE”
WAS DESIGNED TO COMFORT
PATIENTS IN THE HOSPITAL.
GAZING AT THIS SLICE OF HEAVEN,
THEY COULD IMAGINE LEAVING THIS
WORLD OF PAIN AND ILLNESS
AND JOINING MARY AND JESUS
IN A SERENE SETTING,
LISTENING TO HEAVENLY MUSIC
AND CONVERSING WITH THE SAINTS.
MEMLING’S HEAVEN ECHOES
WEALTHY BRUGES IN THE 1400s,
SHOWING THE CITY SKYLINE,
ORIENTAL CARPETS
THAT PASSED THROUGH HERE,
FINE FURNITURE MANUFACTURED
BY THE CITY,
AND THE LATEST
ITALIAN FASHIONS.
IN THE RIGHT PANEL,
MEMLING THEN TAKES US
ON A JOURNEY
TO THE END OF THE WORLD.
JOHN THE EVANGELIST SITS
ON THE ISLAND OF PATMOS,
TRANSFIXED AS HE ENVISIONS
THE APOCALYPSE NOW.
HE WRITES DOWN HIS VISION,
A REVELATION
OF THE END OF TIME,
WHICH EVENTUALLY BECOMES
THE LAST BOOK OF THE BIBLE,
“REVELATIONS.”
UP IN HEAVEN,
IN A RAINBOW BUBBLE,
GOD OPENS THE SEALS OF A BOOK,
UNLEASHING AWFUL EVENTS,
FIRES, PLAGUES AND WARS
THAT STRETCH AS FAR
AS THE EYE CAN SEE.
THE DREADED FOUR HORSEMEN
GALLOP ACROSS THE DREAMSCAPE,
CHASING HELPLESS MORTALS
WHO SCRAMBLE FOR COVER.
IN THE “ST. JOHN ALTARPIECE,”
HANS MEMLING SHOWS US
THE FULL RANGE OF HIS PALETTE,
FROM MEDIEVAL GRACE
TO RENAISSANCE REALISM
TO AVANT-GARDE SURREALISM,
ALL IN A LUXURIOUS SETTING
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN BRUGES
AND HEAVEN.
BELGIUM IS RIGHT UP THERE
WITH GERMANY, ENGLAND
AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC
AS ONE OF THE WORLD’S
GREAT BEER COUNTRIES.
AND WHEN IT COMES TO VARIETY,
BELGIUM IS NUMBER ONE.
IF YOU’RE NOT UP TO SAMPLING
ALL 120 LOCAL TYPES,
GO RIGHT FOR THE HOMETOWN
FAVORITE, STRAFFE HENDRIK;
LITERALLY, STRONG HENRY.
THE HAPPY GANG
AT THIS WORKING FAMILY BREWERY
GIVES ENTERTAINING
AND INFORMATIVE TOURS.
[ clang, clang, clang ]
FOR THE ENGLISH TOUR, PLEASE,
FOR THE ENGLISH TOUR.
GOOD MORNING, LADIES
AND GENTLEMEN
AND WELCOME IN THE BREWERY
OF THE STRAFFE HENDRIK.
THIS BREWERY STARTED IN 1856,
BUT WE KNOW THAT THERE
WAS A BREWERY HERE
ON THIS PREMISES NEXT
TO THE CANAL IN 1564.
SO IN BELGIUM WE HAVE
120 TYPES OF BEER
AND THAT’S BECAUSE
WE LIKE USING
ALL DIFFERENT TYPES
OF NATURAL INGREDIENTS.
SO IF YOU DRINK BELGIUM BEER,
YOU MIGHT RECOGNIZE
SOUR CHERRIES,kriek,AS WE SAY,
RASPBERRIES, CHAMOMILE FLOWERS,
LICORICE, GINGER, JUNIPER
BERRIES, HONEY, SEAWEED.
AS LONG AS IT’S NATURAL,
IT’S OKAY.
WE REALLY HAVE A BEER CULTURE.
AND WE DON’T DRINK TO GET DRUNK.
WE DRINK TO ENJOY THE DIFFERENT
TYPES OF BEER
AND MAKE QUALITY TIME
WITH FRIENDS.
SO I’VE HAD PEOPLE
ALL WORRIED ON TOUR
IF BELGIAN BEER IS HEALTHY
FOR THEM, IF IT’S NUTRITIOUS.
WELL, I CAN HAVE A GOOD ANSWER
TO THAT ONE FOR YOU.
BECAUSE IT SAYS HERE
ON THIS LITTLE POSTER
THAT ONE LITER OF THE BELGIAN
LAMBIC BEER IS EXACTLY THE SAME
AS 200 GRAMS OF BREAD,
180 GRAMS OF MEAT
AND 72 CENTILITERS OF MILK.
WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?
I MEAN, IT SAVES A LOT
OF SHOPPING,
AND IT’S A GOOD EXCUSE.
WHO NEEDS AN EXCUSE?
WHEN THERE’S SO MANY TYPES
TO TRY
AND AN INVITING TASTING ROOM
WITH FRIENDLY PEOPLE,
IT’S TIME TO DRINK BEER
LIKE A BELGIAN.
WE’RE CATCHING ONE
OF THE FREQUENT TRAINS
THAT ZIP FROM BRUGES
TO BRUSSELS IN ABOUT AN HOUR.
LE GRAND-PLACE, EUROPE’S
GRANDEST SQUARE,
IS JUST A SHORT WALK
FROM THE TRAIN STATION.
BRUSSELS GOT A LATE START.
600 YEARS AGO, IT WAS JUST
A HANDY PLACE TO BUY A WAFFLE
ON THE WAY TO BRUGES.
THEN IT WAS GIVEN
FREE-TRADE STATUS
AND ITS ECONOMY TOOK OFF.
BY 1830, IT WAS THE CAPITAL
OF AN EXUBERANT AND NEWLY
INDEPENDENT COUNTRY, BELGIUM,
BOOMING
WITH THE INDUSTRIAL AGE.
TODAY, WITH
OVER A MILLION PEOPLE,
IT’S THE HEADQUARTERS OF NATO
AND THE CAPITAL
OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.
BRUSSELS’ TOWN HALL
DOMINATES THE SQUARE.
THE FANCY SMALLER BUILDINGS,
GIVING THE SQUARE
ITS UNIQUE CHARACTER,
ARE FORMER GUILD HALLS,
WITH ORNATE GABLED ROOFS
CROWNED BY STATUES.
ONCE THE HOME OFFICES
FOR THE TOWN’S DIFFERENT
PROFESSIONAL GUILDS,
BAKERS, BREWERS, TANNERS
AND SO ON,
THEY ALL DATE
FROM SHORTLY AFTER 1695,
THE YEAR LOUIS THE 14th’s
TROOPS SURROUNDED THE CITY,
SIGHTED THEIR CANNONS
ON THE TOWN HALL SPIRE
AND BOMBARDED BRUSSELS.
THE FRENCH DESTROYED SEVERAL
THOUSAND WOODEN BUILDINGS
BUT MANAGED TO MISS THE SPIRE.
AS A MATTER OF PRIDE,
BRUSSELS’ BUSINESSMEN
REBUILT THEIR OFFICES
BETTER THAN EVER,
ALL WITHIN ABOUT SEVEN YEARS.
TODAY THEY LOOK DOWN OVER
THE SQUARE, TALL, IN STONE
AND WITH RICHLY
ORNAMENTED GABLES.
THE NEIGHBORING STREET,
RUE des BOUCHERS,
IS BRUSSELS’ RESTAURANT ROW.
BRUSSELS IS FAMOUS FOR GOOD
EATING, SERVING MANY CUISINES.
THE CITY SPECIALIZES
IN SEAFOOD.
THE MOST POPULAR DISH:
MUSSELS IN BRUSSELS.
FOR SOME REASON,
EVERY VISITOR HAS
THE MANNEKEN PIS ON HIS LIST.
EVEN WITH LOW EXPECTATIONS,
THIS BRONZE STATUE IS SMALLER
THAN YOU THINK.
STILL, THIS LITTLE SQUIRT
IS A FUN, LIGHTHEARTED SYMBOL
OF BRUSSELS.
TRADITIONALLY,
VISITING VIPs BRING
THE MANNEKEN PIS A COSTUME.
A NEARBY MUSEUM DISPLAYS
HUNDREDS OF HIS OUTFITS.
TODAY HE’S A VENEZUELAN COWBOY,
OR SOMETHING.
FOR HIGHER ART,
I LIKE BRUSSELS’ TWO GREATEST
ART GALLERIES,
THE SIDE-BY-SIDE ANCIENT
AND MODERN ART MUSEUMS.
THE ANCIENT ART MUSEUM,
FEATURING FLEMISH
AND BELGIAN ART
FROM THE 14th
TO THE 18th CENTURIES,
IS PACKED WITH A DAZZLING
COLLECTION OF MASTERPIECES
BY van der WEYDEN, BREUGHEL,
BOSCH AND RUBENS.
RUBENS’ HUGE CANVASES
GRACED PALACES AND CHURCHES
FAR AND WIDE.
THE BREUGHEL ROOM
TAKES YOU BACK IN TIME.
FLEMISH ARTISTS
LIKE PETER BREUGHEL THE ELDER
WERE MASTERS
OF EVERYDAY DETAIL.
IN HIS “CENSUS AT BETHLEHEM,”
BREUGHEL GIVES US
A BIRD’S EYE VIEW
OF A SNOW-COVERED VILLAGE
NEAR BRUSSELS.
IT’S FULL OF LIFE.
KIDS THROW SNOWBALLS
AND SLED ACROSS THE ICE
AND MEN LUG BUSHELS
ACROSS A FROZEN LAKE,
WHILE A CROWD GATHERS
AT THE INN FOR THE CENSUS.
INTO THE SCENE RIDE
A MAN AND WOMAN —
IT’S THE CARPENTER JOSEPH
LEADING PREGNANT MARY —
LOOKING FOR A ROOM.
BREUGHEL DEFTLY
SYNTHESIZES RELIGIOUS SCENES
AND SLICE-OF-LIFE DETAIL
IN A LOCAL LANDSCAPE,
FAR FROM THE HOLY LAND.
PETER BREUGHEL THE ELDER’S SON,
PETER BREUGHEL THE YOUNGER,
WAS A FINE ARTIST
IN HIS OWN RIGHT.
IN THIS PAINTING, “THE STRUGGLE
BETWEEN CARNIVAL AND LENT,”
WE SEE A CLASSIC BATTLE
BETWEEN FEASTING AND FASTING.
THE ROBUST FIGURE OF CARNIVAL
JOUSTS WITH THE HAGGARD FIGURE
OF LENT.
OVERLOOKING THE SQUARE,
THE TAVERN AND THE CHURCH
COMPETE AS A REFUGE
FOR MORTAL SOULS.
THE ATTACHED MUSEUM
OF MODERN ART
GIVES AN EASY-TO-ENJOY RAMBLE
THROUGH THE ART
OF THE 19th AND 20th CENTURIES,
FROM NEOCLASSICAL TO SURREALISM
AND BEYOND.
THE BELGIAN SURREALIST
RENE MAGRITTE
USED HIS TRAINING IN
ADVERTISING TO PUSH OUR BUTTONS
WITH A COLLAGE
OF BIZARRE IMAGES.
HE PAINTS REAL OBJECTS
WITH CAMERA-EYE CLARITY
BUT JUMBLES THEM TOGETHER
IN NEW AND PROVOCATIVE WAYS.
PEOPLE MORPH INTO ANIMALS
OR CHAIRS,
AND STAIRS LEAD NOWHERE.
THE SURREALISTIC JUXTAPOSITION
ONLY SHORT-CIRCUITS YOUR BRAIN
WHEN YOU TRY
TO MAKE SENSE OF IT.
AND SOME OF BRUSSELS’ TOP ART
IS EDIBLE.
MANY TOURISTS CONSIDER
THE LOCAL WAFFLES
A CULTURAL HIGHLIGHT
WORTH TRAVELIN’ FOR.
WHILE THE PEOPLE OF BRUSSELS
LOVE THEIR FUN TASTE TREATS,
IT’S ALSO A CITY
OF SOPHISTICATES.
AS THE UNOFFICIAL CAPITAL
OF EUROPE,
THE PLACE IS COSMOPOLITAN
AND HOSTS BUSINESSMEN
FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
THOUGH BRUSSELS, LIKE BELGIUM,
IS OFFICIALLY BILINGUAL,
MOST OF THE PEOPLE HERE
SPEAK FRENCH FIRST.
BONE UP ONbon jourAND
s’il vous plâit.
BRUSSELS IS THE POLITICAL NERVE
CENTER OF THE UNITED EUROPE.
ONLY WASHINGTON, D.C.
HAS MORE LOBBYISTS.
WHEN EUROPEANS
HAVE A GRIPE,
THIS IS WHERE THEY DEMONSTRATE.
AND THE MOST IMPRESSIVE PART
OF THE CITY SKYLINE THESE DAYS
IS THE GLASSY HEADQUARTERS
OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT.
EUROPE’S GOVERNING BODY
NOW WELCOMES VISITORS.
THIS BUSY SYMBOL
OF EUROPEAN UNITY
IS FILLED WITH A CACOPHONY
OF POLITICIANS
SPEAKING THE FULL RANGE
OF EUROPEAN LANGUAGES.
VISITORS LISTEN
TO A POLITICAL SCIENCE LESSON
WHILE VIEWING THE CHAMBERS
WHERE THE MEMBERS
OF THE EURO-PARLIAMENT SIT.
TODAY HUNDREDS
OF PARLIAMENT MEMBERS
REPRESENTING
AN ENTIRE CONTINENT
ARE HARD AT WORK SHAPING
EUROPE’S FUTURE.
FOR CENTURIES, EUROPE’S CULTURAL
AND POLITICAL DIFFERENCES
HAVE LED TO WAR.
TODAY’S DAUNTING CHALLENGE:
TO RESPECT THESE DIFFERENCES
WHILE BUILDING A DEMOCRATIC,
PROSPEROUS AND PEACEFUL EUROPE.
AND A FUN PART OF TRAVEL TODAY
IS WATCHING THIS STORY UNFOLD.
THANKS FOR JOINING US.
I’M RICK STEVES.
UNTIL NEXT TIME,
KEEP ON TRAVELIN’.
Au revoir.

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