Plain and simple, my random wanderings and last minute decisions to do stuff brought me to some of the most unique ends and corners of Brussels. Japanese pagodas, giant atoms, the Thinker, a gorgeous cemetery, not too mention a small town named Binche (pronounced Banch, with the anch ending somewhere in your upper nasal cavity) where the town dressed up in somewhat politically incorrect costumes and marched to the same song over and over and over and over again. (Unfortunately that morning's adventures had completely exhausted my camera's life, so I took memory shots, all up in my brain, not of much use here, but I want to remember those few hours in Binche, well good for me, I suppose you should go there yourself...or just wikipedia it).

AWESOME THING 1) An atom, on climbable.
Yes yes, the big shiny ball thing that you can see from behind the Paleis van Justistie. It was made for a Worlds Fair way back, but I after the man hours, they most likely protested its demolishing. Pretty much you take an elevator way up to the tippy top with a bunch of over-intrigued German tourists, get a wonderful view of Brussels, and can easily plan the rest of your route for the day. This is in Laeken, a giant royal park northwest of Brussels. Could I have run there? Yes, but a 2Euro tram ticket just seemed all the better at 9 in the morning after a night of stagiairing.
Atom in Brussels? Check.

AWESOME THING 2) The world's 4th largest chapel----in Koekelberg
It's big. Really big. It takes up quite a large gray space on any map, and you can see it from almost anywhere of any elevation, and it simply dwarfs everything around it. So, on a wonderful half-Friday I decided to do it. Ran up, ran back (with a stop in the little town of Ganshoren, which had the brick streets, windy back allies, and little houses like Ouderkerk...). Airy, very airy, and being built my a maniacal builder king, one would think he'd go for the gusty and make it gaudy. But it was very...plain...nothing to spectacular on the inside, save that you could have a circus, rib cook-off, and car show in the main hall all at the same time. Also, the houses are all Art Nouveau, and downright stately and shapely and curvy and beautiful, but I was running, and stopping at every house would just defeat the purpose. So I only stopped at a few...

AWESOME THING 3) The Laeken Cemetery
I am not one to walk around cemeteries. Yes I did read Edgar Allan Poe's entire anthology in October and yes, I do love a good statue. But this cemetery made me want to stay, but Binche was calling and my battery level on my camera was flashing angrily at me. Everything is a very somber, yet uniquely gray tinged with the occassional green-bronze (or nickel?) statues of soldiers, sailors, lions, and guys with prominent facial hair. But the prized possession, the one the I was on my list almost a year ago and it's been nagging me ever since then was to see The Thinker. Just that nude guy, pondering about what? Whether he wants cous-cous or bulgar wheat, or maybe he's thinking about which pancake was better, the Guiness one or the sweet potato one, or maybe he's thinking of whether he really needs to work out any more. Regardless, the cemetery is offset by the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Laeken Kerk. It was definitely the best sight all day. Binche is nice and all (especially their hot chocolate), but the quietness and sheer amount of grey memorials had something about it.

AWESOME THING 4) Who knew the King loved Asia
On top of a guy thinking, a giant atom, and a second royal palace, there is the Japanese and Chinese pagoda. Just standing there. There are museums, but really, why the hell not just plop down to traditional Asian architecture pieces in the middle of North Central Europe? Maybe King Leopold like judo or was fond of fried rice. Well whatever the case, he put them there, all within walking distance of his royal residence. At 11am in the morning, it kind of hit me that, yes I am in Belgium. Yes Belgium is in Europe. Yes these are two pieces of fine Asian architecture here. No I am not crazy because the sign in confirming it. I think your empire has reached quite the peak when it can accurately recreate buildings from the other side of the globe with no difficulty. Besides producing awesome chocolate and awesome beer, what mysteries of the universe are left? Seriously just open up a wormhole King Leopold, then you'll have anything you could ever have wanted. Anyways, Laeken=Good Time. And a park that I will definitely run in the near future, and this time charge my camera the entire way so that I am not running through a cemetery trying to find that one thing I really want to document...

(crepe, waffles, bread, chocolate...oh Belgium)

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