It's Saturday so I caught the train into the city after parking in the empty commuter carpark and thus avoiding the bus trip and the long hill climb up the cobbled road to the Villa.
I came out of the station and straight into the Red Bull Go Cart races which had closed off many of the city streets. I watched for a while and even though the weather was not wonderful, the whole area was packed with thousands of people.
The one thing I didn't have time to do yesterday was Grand Place or Grote Markt.
I have never known a city not to have an Information Centre at the main train station. The Info booth is apparently at Grand Place - but there are no maps telling you how to get to Grand Place. Its only about 1/2km from Central but with all the tiny winding cobbled streets, it's not straightforward finding it. I eventually stumbled across it and fought my way into the Tourist Info Centre.
What a debacle! 25 tourists crammed into a little room with no maps on the wall and no brochures apart from Events or Ticket sales for shows. No free leaflets or booklets that you find in every tourist office worldwide - two young girls behind the counter trying to answer the same questions whilst pointing to a map that is glued to the desk. You can BUY a map - or you can BUY a whole booklet/ guide to the museums (full of advertisements so it should be free anyway) because obviously nobody has told Brussels officials that tourism is GOOD for a city!
I opted not to buy a map and instead I would use the Serendipity Method of Discovery.
This worked quite well and I managed to find the Chocolate Museum, The Beer Temple, Chocopolis, hundreds of junk souvenir shops, dozens of Waffle bars and Frite outlets and lots of other weird and wonderful stuff all within a 1km radius of Grand Place. I wandered around for hours and got some desperately needed exercise for my legs - although they didn't thank me for it.
One little fella I had been told about was Manneken Pis. He is a small statue of a boy peeing and was once a drinking fountain. They dress him up for special occasions and this happened to be one of them because he was dressed like a jockey - no idea what the occasion is though.
Apparently he has over 700 costumes and they are on display in the Brussels Museum in Grand Place. I went and had a look and there were some brilliant ones on show. Just about every country has donated a costume but I am ashamed to say that Australia has not. Poor show Australia - we need to immediately rectify this situation and send the poor lad some Bondi Rescue budgie smugglers!!