Monday, April 16, 2012

Travel Notes: Brussels High and Low

We tourists all look up in awe at the spire of the City Hall in Grand Place; we are all compelled to gather at the feet of Manneken Pis, the little pissing boy sculpted in 1619 by Jerome Duquesnoy.  The small shops in the vicinity hawk chocolate replicas of the little chap in various sizes you can take home.

Why the fascination? To be honest: it’s liberating to be naughty. Especially for tourists visiting a made-up country divided between Flemish and French, a state where the European Union Parliament can meet with the least contention.

The streets and walkways of the Old Town are small, square blocks of stone, which draw a deep rumble when autos, motorcycles and luggage pass by. I spend as much time looking down at the streets and pavements as looking up at the building facades.

I am hearted to find that the peregrine falcons that live at the top of St. Michael’s Cathedral are doing well. Two years ago I watched a female sit on eggs via the live feed black and white monitor at street level. This year, I watched a parent return with a rat and tear it apart to feed three fledgling chicks.

I could do some audio of the afternoon bells at St. Michael’s and the rumble of suitcase wheels on the stone streets but will leave that to your imagination. Better you share the wonders of Falcons For Everyone.

--Mike Sato

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