- 27 January 2000
27 January 2000 – People complain about boring Brussels, but Grand Place is the most extraordinary square Jim or I have seen. Grand Place, originally home to guildhalls built after 1695 when the French destroyed the town, includes Hotel de Ville, a Gothic town hall dating back to the 13th century with a 96-meter (315 feet) tower topped by a gilded copper St. Michael statue. Plus, local food is delicious. Does life get any better than lunch of blonde Leffe beer, meatballs in tomato sauce, mussels in beer and waterzooi – a creamy, chicken stew – and, of course chips (fries) with mayonnaise. And, those Belgian chocolates. Some prefer Godiva, others like Wittamer or Neuhaus, but I like it all! Needing a bit of exercise, we walked to Cathedrale des Saints-Michel-et-Gudule, built in several stages from the 13th to the 17th centuries, where the Pulpit of Truth, carved of Congo oak, is a massive masterpiece, as is The Last Judgment, the rear, stained-glass window. When leaving I noticed a small sign explaining contributions accepted in Belgium Francs, French Francs, Netherlands Guilder, Deutsche Marks, US dollars or British pounds.