Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Teeny Tiny Europe.

Posing in front of mini Grand Place.

F

rom the Atomium, we made our way over to Mini-Europe.  I think we came in via the *back door* so it took us a while to find the place as we first had to wander through a section of the park that was filled with all sorts of eateries.  There was absolutely not a soul around but I can imagine just how packed this place is on a nice summer day.



With directions from a friendly passerby, we eventually found the entrance.


Since we had a combo ticket, we were waved on through.  The entrance leads straight to a path that takes you around the park.



Mini-Europe is basically small scale reproductions of actual European landmarks.   Technically speaking, I have been to most of Europe but much of that was done when I was a very young child.  I don't remember any of it and therefore, I consider Europe to be a place that I need to travel to.  As Z said, walking about Mini-Europe was like looking at a travel guidebook.  Indeed, it gave me ideas of places I would love to go to one day.....when I am older and no longer able to be quite as adventurous in my travels as I am now.

As I t walked around, I took photos all the while getting a kick at how cute many of the reproductions are!  What follows is my Mini-Europe photo album.

A real crow standing nearby a toy sized windmill and train.

Z had the brochure and I have to give him credit for reading up on each landmark in the park!

Something kinky is taking place on the Enola. *wink, wink*

Nyhan (New Harbor), Copenhagen, Denmark.

No!!  Don't jump!  What is the guy, in his underwear, is doing on the rooftop??

The Freedom Monument, Riga, Latvia.  I got to see this in person when I traveled to the Baltics in 2013.

The Atomium can be seen from various vantage points in the park.  I still can't believe that's actually a building!

Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania.  This was another place I visited on my 2013 trip to the Baltics.

Stock Exchange Building, Copenhagen, Denmark.  I love the twisted dragons' tails on the spire!

Atomium in the background.  In the foreground, the red colored buildings of the Castle Hoensbroek on the left and the  Town Hall of Maastricht on the right.  Both towns are in the Netherlands.

Church of Our Lady (Collegiale Notre-Dame), Dinant, Belgium.

Looks like a wedding is taking place at the church!  Where was my invite?

Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium.  Every two years, in mid August, the city creates a giant floral carpet in Grand Place.

A tour group in Grand Place....to add to the realism of the reproduction. Very cute!

The modelers even added the barricade around the carpet.

These shoes were begging for a selfie!

Alkmaar, the Netherlands.

It's all about the cheese at the Cheese Market in Alkmaar.

Amsterdam, Netherlands.  I've been to Amsterdam but I don't remember this view.  Must go back!

In addition to reproducing European landmarks, Mini-Europe also pays homage to the four years 1914-1918 that Europe was embroiled in World War I. 

A family paying respects a tomb of a loved one.

Troops during battle.

Reminder plaques, with a red poppy, were posted up alongside the names of the cities representing Belgium and France.  Why the poppy and why these two countries?
The plaque for the model of the city of Gent, Belgium.

Scarlet corn poppies (popaver rhoeas) grow naturally in conditions of disturbed earth throughout Western Europe.  In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were ripped up as a result of battles during World War I.  When the conflict was over, the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields.

Canadian surgeon John McCrae memorialized the poppy as symbol to the fallen in his poem "In Flanders Fields".  The poppy soon came to represent the sacrifice made by countless fallen soldiers who died in World War I and later conflicts. 



Town Hall and guildhalls of Antwerp, Belgium.  I have it on our itinerary to visit Antwerp.  Looking forward to visiting this place!

Ghent, Belgium.  We'll be here in a few days.

Atomium in the background, the Belfry of Bruges, Belgium in the foreground.

Posing behind Big Ben.

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, London, United Kingdom.  Been there, done that but will happily go again!

Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France.  I have been to Paris countless times, never to Sacré-Cœur.

The Atomium towers over the scale model of Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France.

Somewhere in France because there's a grape harvest going on.

Plaza de Toros (aka bull fighting ring), Seville, Spain.

If you say *ole* into the speaker, you can make the bull go around and the crowd shout *ole, ole, ole*  He had to do it!

Can't remember where I took this shot but dolphins were jumping in and out of the water along with a scuba diver.

Berlin, Germany.  Press a button and the bulldozer knocks down a section of the wall.

From left to right.  Eltz Castle, Germany;  Prague, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia.  Must go to all three places one day!

Not all the landmarks were buildings.  Airports, ports and even traffic highways were represented.  Many of the displays were interactive but the most fun was the one for Mount Vesuvius which erupted when you pressed a button. If you stood right in front of the button, the wooden platform that you're standing on vibrates - presumably to give you a very tame sense of the ground shaking during a volcanic eruption.


I couldn't help myself but I had to make a noise as the platform shook beneath my feet.  I can very quickly revert to being a child :-)


Last but not least, I had to indulge Z.  He insisted that I pose inside each of four figures.  Given all the times he's had to pose for me, it was the least I could do to return the favor.  Plus, it gave him a good chuckle and seeing him laugh was worth it though I am still harboring thoughts of revenge.

Clockwise from upper left, I am a:  Greek evzone, Queen's guard, medieval warrior, grape picker.  Notice the blue *hair* peeking out from the side of the photos on the right.  That's actually my rain poncho.  Rain was occasionally falling as we made our way around the park.  Photos by my loving nephew :-)

Last view of the park before we exited.
From the park, we exited to a museum with educational displays covering various aspects of the European Community.


Many of the displays were interactive and Z could not resist trying several of them out.


....Including one that required you to correctly answer several trivia questions in order to get the key code to open up the safe.  Z proudly announced he got all the answers correct and then challenged me to take the quiz.  Sadly, his aunt was not so knowledgable :-(  Hopefully, he will not remember this moment.


Just before we exited, there was one last game to be played.  It took us a few minutes to figure out the objective which turned out to be quite symbol.  Jump up to catch the musical key and then jump up once again to place it in proper sequence.  When you've placed all the keys, the song plays.


We exited the museum to a sunny day and a rainbow.  Our timing sucks.  It should have been like this two hours ago! The weather gods had not been nice to us today!


Seriously.  Doesn't the park look much nicer with the sun shining?


We headed back to the Heysel train station and from there, back to the Central Station in Brussels.  By now it was close to 6p but we weren't done with our day yet.


It was a thumbs up for both Atomium and Mini-Europe.


It's back to the old city for a bit.