Wednesday, February 04, 2015

February 4, 2015 -- Brussels Belgium

This will be my last blog entry from Europe until I return in July for my third attempt at completing the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I will try to do a final wrap-up entry of the trip from Phoenix on either Friday or Saturday. When I arrive home tomorrow night, I will be too intoxicated from lack of sleep to write.

I walked this morning to the Plaramenterium, which is the multimedia center that attempts to explain the workings of the European Parliament to those of us who might not be very politically astute. I can't claim to now understand with workings of the European Union's government, but I do at least understand a little bit better the workings of the Parliament branch. I am still completely ignorant of of how the European Commission fits into the scheme of things, for example. Nor do I completely understand why the Parliament performs some of its functions in Brussels and others in Strasbourg, France. Well, I do know why; the French government at the time had the biggest clout in the organization (the UK had not yet joined, and Germany was still keeping a low profile due to guilt feelings about the Second World War), and the French wanted to be at the center of thing.

I was going to take a bus to the Parlamenterium until I checked the price of a bus ticket. It's WAY more expensive than in Paris. Then I remembered that I was here to walk and that the distance was only a few kilometers each way, so I walked both directions.

Entrance to the Parlamentarium
I didn't try to take any photos inside the Parlamenterium. It wouldn't have worked, because the place is a multimedia visitors' center with touch screens, audio, and a 360-degree surround movie theater that puts the viewer in the center of a parliament session.. However, the photo above shows the entrance.

Security was like that of an airport, in theory at least. I had to leave my two small pocket knives outside for safe keeping, and after emptying all of my pockets, I failed the metal detector on three attempts. Then I failed the wand screening. Finally they just let me go through.

I was surprised that the security staff and welcoming committee spoke very basic English. After not understanding much when a few of them insisted on using their English with me, I stubbornly stuck to French, which I at least speak well enough to be able to communicate.

On the way back, I passed through the Parc de Bruxelles, which seems to be the place to go for a run. There were hundreds of runners, almost all of them running around the park's perimeter in a clockwise direction. There was an occasional runner on on of the park's other paths, and naturally there were a few who didn't get the message and were running counterclockwise in the face of the oncoming thundering herd.

Runners in the Brussels Park
Well, that's it for this trip. As I wrote above, I'll do one final entry on Friday or Saturday when I'm in Phoenix. I will have a lot of things to do when I get home, as there is no food (or beer) in the house, and the yard is probably overgrown with weeds. Oh, yes, and then there is that darn bicycle race on Saturday, which I am no only committed to racing but to working, as it is our bike-racing team that is putting it on.

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