This morning we meet Adele and Bergen DeLisi in the lounge for breakfast. We trade information on sightseeing plans and I decide to meet them to tour the European Parliament later in the afternoon.
I have time to do a little shopping, first. Brussels is known as a fashion designer nexus and many of the boutiques are located off one street, Rue Antoine Dansaert. I like to walk this street (sans Morgan, who stays at the hotel watching something on the computer) and look for outlet bargains. Most of the stores are really exclusive and expensive, but have great windows. Finally, I find a store that has clothes in the back for 20 and 30 Euros ($30-40). The 30 Euro rack yields an amazing jacket and a nice long sweater. Success!
On the way back to the hotel, I grab a sandwich and a salad for lunch before our EU tour. We hop on the metro and are there in 20 minutes. We meet Adele and Bergen, get our tour sticker, go through security and get our audioguide. After a bit of fumbling, we figure out how to use it and hear about the EU.
Founded after the 2nd World War by 6 countries, the EU now has 27 members. The headquarters is here in Brussels. Here, the Parliament and Consilium make laws in a similar fashion to our House and Senate. Each person there is elected by their countrymen and serves for 5 years. The ability of the member states to get along and be flexible, but maintain their own individuality is represented in a 3 story tall mobile sculpture. It’s possible to move part of the piece and have it turn into a completely different piece.
We move to the room where all the members convene. It’s a huge hemisphere (hemicycle), with booths above it where the translators of the 23 member languages sit. When they meet, each representative can speak in their own language and it is translated simultaneously to every other individual member. I wish they were meeting there today, but it’s empty. Still pretty cool.
I make a bathroom stop and find a cool EU bag that someone discarded in the trash. Can’t get any better than this!
Dinner tonight is in the only Ethiopian restaurant in Brussels. The only one in town and good thing we got there at 6:30. By the time we left, the place was packed.