Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tour of Brussels Secret Sites

We were given a secret tour of Brussels by the kids at Institut Arthur Haulot who are in the last year of their program. The tour was used as a class presentation to give them some realistic experience.
I've been here quite a while and not seen any of this except the Marolles District, or more precisely the flea market at Place Jeu De Balle.

The tour started at the Justice Palace with a visit to the Law Courts, some unique history, and the architecture of the building.
We then broke for lunch at a small diner underneath the train station, with the trains shaking the walls as they passed over. After stopping to look at the Pieter Bruegel house we took the metro to the Park Cinquantinaire.

Next was a visit to the "Pavillion des Passions Humanaines" which is normally closed to the public but for one day a month, but they opened it for the group.
It was the first building by Victor Horta, finished in 1889 to protect the impressive relief named "Human passions", sculpted by Jef Lambeau. Unfortunately, it caused a fuss and was forced to close only 3 days after the opening. Evidently there were politically correct groups around then too!

Next was a visit to the Plaster Casting workshop which I found was truly unique in that you can purchase replicas of world famous art sculptures for what I thought was some great prices.
John's manhood was insulted by the instructor after this cheesy pose next to the Venus de Milo.

Next stop was a visit to the Toy Museum next to the Botanique. A genuine treasure trove, the Toy Museum is located in a beautiful 1900 family mansion, and has all the attributes of a typical grandmother's or grandfather's attic.
Thousands of toys, the oldest dating back to 1830.
Last stop, and the highlight for me, was the visit to Planète Chocolat. (pictured at the top) We first spent some time in their small museum of chocolate and got a thoroughly entertaining demonstration, and some history on the evolution of cocao, the manufacturing process, and hand made pralines right before your eyes. The tour ended with a chocolate tasting of different pralines and a chocolate drink. They also have workshops available where you can bring in a group to make your own chocolates.
The way out the door was precluded by a large charge on the VISA in the chocolate boutique.

So thanks to the kids for a great tour, they did a fine job. Good luck in your future careers.
We need a little bigger turnout next time on some of these outings. I'ts not like you guys have pressing schedules or anything, we didn't even start till 11, I would think most of you would be up by then.....

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