Olivia Johnson
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

After leaving the European Commission we walked back to our hotel to meet our tour guide for the evening, Joe. During the first few stops of our walking tour Joe gave us an expedited education about Belgium. He stressed to us that Belgium does not have one language, but three different languages dictated by geographic region. In the northern part, Flanders, the citizens speak Flemish which is the same as Dutch. Although the two are the same grammatically the pronunciation of some Flemish words and phrases are different than Dutch spoken in the Netherlands. In the southern portion of the country French is spoken. Lastly, in the eastern part, German is spoken. The city of Brussels itself is bilingual. On nearly everything, including signs, advertisements, and even uniforms, Flemish and French are represented. The city is separated into lower and upper sections due to the 40 meter elevation difference in the city. The lower part consists of merchants and traders while the upper part is banks, insurance, palaces, and government buildings.


The next stop on our tour was the Grand Place where there were many lavish buildings with gold trimmings. The entire square was constructed in the 5 year period between 1695 and 1700. The older homes in the city have a crests above the doorway which represents the family that lives in the home.


Directly off the Grand Place was a glass covered walking street. Inside were chocolate, hand bag, and jewelry stores. The structure was constructed in 1847 and originally was used by the wealthy people of town to walk from their residential area to the Grand Place so they didn’t have to be exposed to the weather or the poor parts of town.


We then walked through the train station to get to the upper portion of the city. The train station itself was very nice and clean compared to other train and public transportation stations we have traveled through. Once out of the train station we saw beautiful views of the city from a balcony. We then began our journey back toward our hotel, stopping at various shops and locations to view the culture of the city. Our tour guide was not only very informative about the history of the city and country, but also told us of common faux pas and gave general tourist advice.


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