by Katie Fair
Vesalius, Belgium

Bonjour! I have so much that I want to share with y'all about my last week or
so! I have had the chance to explore some of the museums and exhibits here in
Brussels last week. Then I spent my 3-day weekend in three different cities: The
Hague, Antwerp, and Bruges.

 First up, the museums! While Brussels does have a ton of museums, I only
visited two of them and one traveling exhibit. The first museum I visited was
the BELvue, which is basically a museum dedicated to the more recent history of
Belgium (from around the time of their independence in 1830 to present).
Although pretty much all of the exhibits were in French or Dutch/Flemmish, I was
still able to learn and to see many really cool historical artifacts. The second
museum was the Musee de la Ville, which shows historical artifacts from the city
of Brussels. One of the coolest rooms (and one of the sole reasons I went there)
was for the costume gallery of Mannekin Pis. Unfortunately, cameras were not
allowed, so I couldn't take pictures. Mannekin has hundreds of costumes, but
they rotate which selection are shown in the room. I was fortunate enough to go
at a time where they had the Elvis costume on display. That is a sight that I
will never forget!
 
Picture
The traveling exhibition that I was able to go to was on Leonardo daVinci.

While they did not have the original artwork available, they did have replicas  available to view (including both the front *and* the back of the Mona
Lisa).   They also had journals of daVinci's. The exhibition included many re-created inventions of daVinci's from his notes in his journals! It was  so amazing to see
some of the things he came up with, and how similar some  of them are to things  we use nowadays!

 Friday I went on my first trip out of Belgium. I  visited The Hague in the  Netherlands on a solo day trip. I took a 3 hour  (ish) train to the city. While  there I was able to see some of the main
city, but that was not my main focus.  First I visited the World Forum area,  where I saw the buildings for the  International Criminal Tribunal for the  Former Yugoslavia, Europol, and the  Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Next, I went to the Peace  Palace and did the short tour
through their visitor center. While I did not get to see the International  Criminal Court (but I get to go back to visit it in July), I did walk down  a couple miles to see the beach! I had no idea there was
a beach there, so  I wasn't really prepared to get in the water. It was a lot of  fun to visit,  though. 
Saturday I went with Alina, Rachel, and Mollie to see Antwerp. We had originally
planned to go to Amsterdam, but we hadn't planned far enough ahead which meant
tickets were super expensive! Being the flexible travelers we are, we instead
bought tickets for the next train to Antwerp. The city of Antwerp is very unique
in its mix of old and new, often side-by-side. Most of the other areas I have
seen have old sections of town and then newer, more modern sections in a
different part of town. So that in and of itself was really cool to see. We had
a great time walking around, and we had these huge "personal" pizzas. I'm using
the quotation marks because I'm pretty sure that our personal pizzas were only a
little smaller than some of the mediums back home. Anyway, it was a beautiful
city, and it was both warm and sunny (which we don't tend to see too many of
here in Belgium). 
 
Last, but certainly not least, I went with Alina and Rachel to Bruges on
Sunday. Bruge is by far my most favorite city I have been to. Ever. US and
Europe combined. Aside from the tourist shops and modern conveniences, the town
could have stepped right out of history. I joked with my friends saying they
could just go on back to Brussels without me. There were horse-drawn carriages,
boats on the canals, beautiful bridges  and buildings, and huge churches and
cathedrals. All of this with no real "modernized" city in sight (ie sky
scrapers, huge apartment buildings, etc). If I ever decide to one day live in
Europe, Bruges is at the top of my list!
 





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