1) December saw the arrival of the Christmas markets. Similar to the Edinburgh markets but on a much larger scale, there is a very continental feel to them. Despite an army presence they went ahead smoothly and the Grand Place looked beautiful with a big tree and a nativity scene that included a real sheep. I even (finally) tried ice skating for the first time which went a lot more smoothly than expected.
2) The centre and markets felt Christmassy, but elsewhere not so much. The UK has definitely gone a bit overboard with Christmas decorations and the pressure to get all your presents bought by mid-October. Everything is more chilled here; the public transport even runs on Christmas day.
3) The wardrobe of Manneken Pis is housed in the Museum of the City of Brussels in the Grand Place. Embassies, tourist offices, sportsmen and artists to name but a few have donated outfits for the quirky statue. Here are a few of my favourites amongst the myriad of costumes…
4) The camera never lies… or does it? Watching tourists take photos in the Grand Place is an intriguing thing to behold. Families can be in the middle of a major disagreement and the minute a camera is put in front of them it is smiles all round. The following scrutiny of the photo always highlights how nobody really ever cares what anyone else looks like in the photo apart from themselves. And as far as selfies go, there is something pretty comical about watching 20 people with a selfie stick all try and fit in a photo when there are literally hundreds of tourists around them who would be willing to take the photo for them.
5) The Christmas period also marks the end of my stay in Brussels. It has been a whirlwind semester of new experiences and new friends and I have some great memories to take away. The next time I write a blog, it should be from somewhere that is significantly warmer, significantly further away and somewhere I’m very excited about exploring: that sunburned land down under.