Sunday, June 9, 2024

Long Weekend in Aachen, Germany and Brussels, Belgium

In May, there are a lot of German holidays. May being a junior had a lot of homework and projects due for the end of year one of the IB program. So Richard, Clarissa, and I headed off on an adventure. We drove about three hours to our first stop, Aachen, Germany. Aachen is the one (of 48) tripoints in Europe. Tripoints are where 3 countries meet. Within the Schengen area country borders are open and typically marked with a sign. So visiting tripoints is easy and fun. Some are in water and unmarked and others are on land and have markers. 

In Aachen, I am standing in Germany, Clarissa is standing in the Netherlands, and Richard is standing in the Belgium! Our you can stand in all three countries at the same time. 

We stopped for lunch near the parking lot and then took a short hike to the tripoint. Then we continued on our roadtrip for almost two hours to Brussels, Belgium. After checking into the hotel, we walked around a bit before meeting a friend for dinner. We found the Palace of the Nation (which houses the Belgian Federal Parliament).

We wander through Parc de Bruxelles which has a ton of statues, doesn't allow any fun, and life size Richard

We made it to the Grand-Place in Grote Markt. We admired the Grand-Palace as well as the Guild Halls surrounding the market. 

We were a little disturbed by a statue of a wolf nursing Romulus and Remus.

Brussels had all the typical European narrow streets with old, ornate buildings on all sides.

On our walk back to our hotel, after dinner, we discovered the secret ingredient!

On our next day, we did a hop-on-hop-off bus to see the maximum amount of the city.

We saw a cool clocktower, 'The Container' by artist Luc Deleu, and the Monument voor de Dynastie.

We got off at the Atomium! A giant iron crystal magnified 165 billion times that was built for 1958 World's Fair. It was meant to be a temporary structure, but given it's so popular they restored it in the early 2000s. 

We had purchased tickets in advance (strongly recommend) to go inside. We still had a bit of a line for the security check but we didn't have to wait in the long ticket line and the possibly have an entry time hours later.

One of many views from the top of the Atomium. Facing the Place de Belgique (the convention center).

After getting a snack, we got back on the bus. Drove past parts of the comic strip walk. Even though she loves graphic novels, Clarissa wasn't too keen to go walk and look at the all the art.

We wandered around the Grote Markt some more, got the world famous Belgium fries (no pics....we were, and saw the Cathedral of St. Michel and Gudula.

We got back on the bus and headed over to the House of European History. Entry is free, you just have to make a time reservation.

The museum goes into the history of European Union. Fun fact: The EU has four main locations in four different countries. Those four locations are in Brussels, Belgium (Executive primarily); Strasbourg, France (Legislative primarily); Luxembourg, Luxembourg (Judicial primarily); and Frankfurt, Germany (Financial - European Central Bank). We have visited all four cities!! 

The museum has lots of interactive exhibits.

No pressure for a confused

Waiting for on our on/off bus.....yes the name was funny....Toot! (but it is the environmentally green line).

We returned to the stop closest to our hotel....the Royal Palace of Brussels.

On our last full day, we started off with a Belgium waffle making class....naturally!

Clarissa was not a true chef, she did not don the hats were given (total Steak and Shake vides). We used a hand beater to whip the egg whites.

We were instructed to hold over our heads to determine if they were whipped enough. Lucky for Richard we were successful.

Folding in the egg whites.....then we put our batter in the waffle iron and enjoyed our waffles. Common theme....they were so good, we didn't get any photos.....we also had some leftovers we got to take with us. Yummy afternoon snacks!

After our class, we walked over to see Manneken Pis, a bronze statue of a naked boy peeing. Sometimes he is dressed up for occasions, but he was au natural that day. 

We checked out a fashion and lace museum, spotted some Fijian rum, and enjoyed some gelato to end our little adventure.

The next morning we drove back to people had work and school!

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