Saturday, July 09, 2005


Brave little Belgium

My day in Brussels, June 18, 2005

Cannon guarding front entrance to the
Royal Museum of the Army and Military History, Brussels

Last week you, my readers, warmly reassured me that you'd like me to continue posting travel blogs with photos even though I'm back home. Some of you even find them important to your mental health. So what do I go and do? I don't travel blog for a whole week!

"Brave little Belgium" is, I believe, a phrase that appeared in the British war propaganda in 1914 after Germany invaded neutral Belgium as an invasion route to get to France. Britain had a treaty obligation to defend Belgium and so entered the war. The Belgian army fought on to the end of the war, even though all of its territory but a tiny corner of Flanders was occupied by the Germans from September 1914 on.

I think the tenacious persistence of its armed forces in 1914-1918 remains part of Belgian national pride and helps to offset its perception of its less glorious capitulation to the Germans in 1940. Anyway, the Royal Museum of the Army and Military History in Brussels has the most amazing collection of World War I artifacts, possibly in the world. Two samples:

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Left: WWI biplanes. Right: a British Mark IV tank from 1916, the first tank
deployed on a battlefield. These are preserved or restored originals!

It turns out that the Brussels War Museum was the place to be that day. No, the smoke in the photo at the top of this post is not from cannon.

It's the smoke from...

Bar B Q!!!


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Turns out it was the "Portugese in Belgium" festival (or something) in Brussels.


The plaza in front of the Museum was the site for a huge food festival, with several Portugese restaurants grilling the heck out of chicken, sardines, and pork, pork, pork. Each booth was an impromptu outdoor cafe with waiters running back to the cooking tent to grab your order.


Portugese BBQ cafes. Note the backgrounds: War Museum,
above and below left; Brandenburg Gate style thingy, below right.

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Folks were as likely to order wine as beer on this hot day.


I'm pretty sure I ate some of this:


I was also able to solve the riddle of the carrousel horses in the Military Museum warplane hangar. They were in fact being stored, for some sort of carrousel horse festival, with a prize going to the best paint job. They were only beginning to set up the day I was there.


For carrousel horses, they were amazingly lifelike!


Holding the festival right in front of the Military Museum created a nice "swords into plowshares" feel:




Best use of a picture of road apples I've seen anywhere! It's not easy making shittake funny, in a way that doesn't require one merely to indulge the jokester, but you've succeeded. The pic with the smoke is clever, too. Nice eye, Oscar!
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